Thursday, December 9, 2010

12 Hungry Films (Plus: Black Swan Geek-Out)

My Oscar charts are in terrible need of reassessment but I've been devoting all my hours to working on the new website. It's a hungry beast. So, in the interim, you should check out my new article at Tribeca Film where I wonder about the 12 pictures that seem to have the most heat going into balloting season. 8 films have looked to be fairly settled for Best Picture nods for a couple of months now (The Social Network, 127 Hours, The Town, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, The King's Speech, Inception and Winter's Bone) but the problem is that there are 4 newer, and thus shinier, December pictures that want in (Black Swan, True Grit, The Fighter and Another Year). 8 + 4 10 so something's got to give.  Which films are most vulnerable? And will the Globes upset expectations, as they are prone to do, propping up a 13th or 14th option?


Many of you (here and offblog) have told me that I've been underestimating Black Swan's Oscar capacity and I tend to agree; just haven't had time to update the charts. Next week everything will need a major overhaul anyway given the busy awards calendar.

<-- Beautiful Barbara Hershey. Will any critics group acknowledge her unsettling maternity in Black Swan?

I had the pleasure of attending the Fox Searchlight holiday party earlier this week here in NYC and though four films were being honored, Black Swan was sucking up the oxygen. Otherwise James Franco was consistently surrounded by well wishers, journalists, and other industry types and Conviction's Sam Rockwell (see 'best in show' article) and Juliette Lewis (our fab interview) were in high spirits and on their way to a charity event after the party.

I had a geeky fanboy moment with Darren Aronofsky, who I had to share with a few other critics since he was so in demand for conversation. After thanking him for a filmography that's always worth writing about (a huge plus whether you consider the individual films follies or masterpieces), the group conversation somehow turned to top ten lists. He actually teased me about how high Black Swan would place in mine. 'Top ten? That's it?' he asked in mock disappointment. 'What, does that mean, like, #9? These things are important.' Funny guy who one expects would be ├╝ber serious in person; blame those obsessively dramatic films that we've dramatically obsessed over for the past decade.

Glory of the 80s: Barbara Hershey's
consecutive Cannes Best Actress Wins
Finally, me being me, you can probably guess that I made a B line for Barbara Hershey the second I arrived. I had to tell her how great it was to see her in something high profile again and then we chatted briefly about some 80s movies. (Hannah and Her Sisters and The Last Temptation of Christ are, as it turns out, the movies people stop to talk to her about the most.) I brought up A World Apart and Shy People "It's not even on DVD!" she exclaimed about the latter. I co-miserated. I didn't bore her with this next bit but I consider it a huge failing of our modern film culture that even if you win Best Actress at Cannes (Twice!) your films can sometimes vanish from view entirely.

"You sweet girl."
When I said goodbye I told her that I hoped her phone is ringing off the hook post Black Swan. "Not yet." she replied.

Sheesh, what's a girl got to do for Hollywood to recognize her gift? Casting directors need to jump on that. She's still beautiful at 62 (Black Swan downplays this, given the terror implicit in her role, but in person it's a different story) and still a fine actress. Not that anyone should have doubted her ability after that special '84-'88 run, the Oscar nomination for Portrait of a Lady (1995) and this Swan dive into a major portrait in miniature. How can she pack so much into so little screentime as Erica Sayers? It's all there from lost dreams, to shut-in enabled demons through to the total negation of self. She's emptied herself out to make room for vicarious living through Nina. It's just too tragic that even her vicarious living is self sabotage, she's projecting failure every chance she gets.
It's the role, isn't it? I knew it would be too much for you. I knew it.
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