As awards season heats up and the growing surge of Oscar pundits weigh in more frequently, every Thursday the Daily Read will round up their worthiest efforts. And every Friday, as usual, we post the Oscar Talk podcast: this week we welcome London Fest attendees Guy Lodge (In Contention) and Peter Knegt (indieWIRE).
- Movieline's Oscar Index monitors the ups and downs of the best picture oscar contenders given "carefully timed rating controversy and/or Oscar-qualifying run," i.e. Blue Valentine's NC-17 rating. (Their leading ten for best pic: The Social Network, The King's Speech, Black Swan, 127 Hours, True Grit, The Kids Are All Right, Inception, Toy Story 3, The Fighter, and For Colored Girls (Outsiders: Blue Valentine; The Way Back; Secretariat; Another Year and Made in Dagenham.) They put Natalie Portman and Jesse Eisenberg at the top of their best actor lists. David Fincher tops the best director category. And The King's Speech's Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush top best supporting actress and actor, respectively.
- Gold Derby also hails the The Social Networks's current frontrunner status - a piece of cake for a film that's killing it at the box office (for the moment). However, they suspect the period-drama-loving Academy will swoon for The King's Speech when it opens on November 26, and will take over the buzz that 127 Hours is bound to get following its November 5 release. Toy Story 3 has the support of many critics, who nudged last year's The Hurt Locker towards its statue. And don't forget Black Swan, Gold Derby says, "the most artistically daring flick of the year and also very sexy," which will heat up the screen December 1. (Their current list, counting down from the number one spot: The Social Network, The King's Speech, Toy Story 3, 127 Hours, True Grit, Black Swan, Inception, Hereafter, The Fighter and lastly, The Kids Are All Right.) They also post an underdog poll.
- Meanwhile, Pete Hammond is calling Secretariat this year's The Blind Side. You know, a feel-good film toplined by a woman and based on a true story. One difference: Diane Lane is no stranger to awards talk - Sandra Bullock was. So far the film has mixed reviews: generally good but not excellent. People like horses and true stories, and they loved Secretariat director Randall Wallace's script for 1995 best pic winner Braveheart. But 2004's Seabiscuit was nominated for seven Oscars, winner of none - with better reviews than Secretariat (77% vs. 63% on the Tomatometer). We should, however, keep an eye on Diane Lane, who lost to Nicole Kidman (The Hours) in the 2003 best actress race for her role in Unfaithful--a far cry from this Disney family fare.
- If any category is likely to be blindsided it'll be the best foreign language film race, the "one area of the Oscars" that indieWIRE's Anthony Kaufman "feels compelled to predict." Here are his five guesses for the hardest-to-predict category: Life, Above All (South Africa), Biutiful (Mexico), Of Gods and Men (France), The First Beautiful Thing (Italy), and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand). TOH lists four of those five in our analysis of the foreign Oscar race.
- And in case you've forgotten the difference an Oscar can make, The National would like to remind you that Jeremy Renner has gone from being an unknown to a star in approximately eight months - The Hurt Locker won on February 22, 2009, and now he's starring across from Ben Affleck in The Town and soon, Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 4. The National notes that Renner has been compared to Sean Penn, but "internalizes his performances more." Renner is attracted to "on-edge" characters, he says: "I certainly command a certain complicated character." He wants to avoid being typecast, though: "There's not a lot of creativity in Hollywood...Whatever you do is repeated, so it's my responsibility as an artist to avoid that."