Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Nine out, Trek in at Oscars?

Viz comic used to great mileage from the fact that, as the editors saw it, nobody cared much for Fulchester goalkeeper Billy the Fish. His exploits were often accompanied by copy such as “the strip everybody hates” or “everyone’s least …

Tue, Jan 12, 2010, 22:46

   

Viz comic used to great mileage from the fact that, as the editors saw it, nobody cared much for Fulchester goalkeeper Billy the Fish. His exploits were often accompanied by copy such as “the strip everybody hates” or “everyone’s least favourite Viz character”.

I am beginning to suspect that Oscar gossip is Screenwriter’s equivalent of the great piscine footballer. The regular updates on the waxing and waning of various titles’ chances for the awards is usually met with a mixture of boredom and hostility. Fair enough. The Oscars are rubbish I suppose.

It is, nonetheless, time for another rumination. What’s changed since last time? Well, The Messenger, an interesting indie film concerning Iraq, has  not picked up the support that might have been expected. More dramatically, the largely appalling reviews for Nine — including one from this writer — have finally propelled that musical into the outer wastelands of Awardsland. Now, the weird thing is that Nine still could win best musical or comedy at the Golden Globes on Sunday, but that is only because the competition is — in Awards terms — not all that juicy. The Hangover and (500) Days of Summer are both better films, but they don’t have that necessary middle-brow sheen about them. If that does happen then it’s back in the running for an Oscar nomination. The picture has, however, no chance whatsoever of winning.

startrek1.jpg

The crew of the Enterprise marvel at intergalactic levels of tunelessnes in Nine.

The other big mover of the new year has been Star Trek. When it was announced, back in the summer, that there were to be 10 nominations for best picture, everybody felt that the superbly reviewed, financially satisfactory science fiction romp was now a dead cert. By Christmas  its hopes had faded and it looked as if we would be stuck with yet more big, dull potboilers in the final 10. But what’s this? Star Trek has just received nominations from the Producers Guild of America, the American Cinema Editors and the Writers Guild of America for those organisations’ respective awards.  With that and Avatar in the final running the Academy might actually get the populist ceremony on which they were counting.

Meanwhile, propelled by absurdly positive reviews, Avatar has become the second biggest film ever at the world box-office. It is now the runaway favourite for best picture.

SCREENWRITER’S PREDICTIONS FOR THE BEST PICTURE NOMINATIONS

1. Avatar
Sam Worthington saves the Smurfs. James Cameron saves Hollywood.

2. Up in the Air
Suave, old-school Clooney pic will definitely get many nods. But what can it now win? Even the best adapted screenplay could go to…

3. Precious
Though utterly different in tone, the grim drama is this year’s Juno, Sideways or Little Miss Sunshine. The quasi-indie that could.

4. The Hurt Locker
Been a lock for a nomination ever since it received raves in the early part of the year. Mind you, its box-office takings in the US were truly appalling.

5. Up
Why not just give it the best animated feature gong now?

6. Inglourious Basterds
Well, well, well. Who knew? Quentin’s unruly war flick has been picking up vast numbers of nominations throughout awards season and is now certain of a place in the final 10. Christoph Waltz is the big favourite for best supporting actor.

7. An Education
Again, nobody went to see it in America. But the surge behind Carey Mulligan should keep it afloat.

8. Invictus
Eastwood’s tale of rugby in post-Apartheid South Africa is fading a bit. But the classy personnel — Clint, Morgan Freeman — will continue to appeal to Oscar voters.

9. Star Trek
Loved by all — though it underperformed outside America — this is the critically acclaimed crowd-pleaser the Academy was hoping for when it increased the number of best picture nods. Boosted by nominations from a host of professional bodies.

10. A Serious Man
It’s back. Just hovering outside the top 10 last time, the Coens’ masterpiece should profit from Nine’s decline.

In: A Serious Man (re-entry), Star Trek.

Out: Nine, The Messenger.

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