Oscar Update: Doubt in ‘Doubt’, Eastwood’s First Acting Oscar and Winslet’s Works

Following the recent AFI screening of Doubt, which was actually an unfinished print, media that was in attendance was asked not to discuss the flick, but a few nuggets are leaking out here and there and the film remains a high profile feature. Most recently Dave Karger at “Entertainment Weekly” called it one of “three sure shots” at the Oscars this year alongside The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon. He most recently took the naysayers to task with a recent post saying the following:

An intimate character piece, Doubt doesn’t boast the expansive production values of The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonAustralia, or even Revolutionary Road. And with crowd-pleasers like The Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire in the picture, a tougher film like Doubt could get squeezed out. But here’s why I think it may make the final five. It’s looking fairly likely that four of the film’s actors-Streep, Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis-will earn acting nominations for their work in the movie. Since the Academy Awards began, 22 films have received four or more acting nominations. All 22 of them also made it into the Best Picture race. So for now, Doubt’s got Oscar history on its side. But if one member of its acting quartet begins to lose momentum (Adams is probably the shakiest of the four, since her role is the least showy), then I could very easily end up being dead wrong.

I think it is interesting he doesn’t mention Focus Features’ Milk, which Anne Thompson recently gave glowing marks to over at Variety saying, “Milk is the perfect Academy movie-moving, and political, especially in an Election year with Proposition 8 on the California ballot-and could get to Best Picture. It reminds us of how far we’ve come, in a short time, and how far we still have to go.” Perfect Academy movie? I will know soon enough, I am seeing it this Thursday.

I also think it is interesting Karger even mentions Australia. This Fox flick is expected to be a massive flick with an epic scale, but for some reason a negative air seems to be clouding its prospects. I just found out today I am seeing it in two weeks in a double-header with WB’s Four Christmases (there’s a pair) and I am anxious if Fox will have their first quality live-action flick of 2008 and a real Oscar contender or if 2008 is going to be a big bust for the folks at 20th.

Meanwhile, Gold Derby has just posted a new round of Best Picture, Actor and Actress picks and The Dark Knight works itself into the swing of things. The fact that four of the six polled made it one of their picks leads me to believe there is a slow realization that the film simply is that good and that the films we have seen up to this point just aren’t living up to expectation.

The one film that gained the most votes for Best Picture is Slumdog Millionaire, a feel good film of sorts that I think will have just enough of a dark side for the Academy to get behind, or alternatively may have far too cheesy (yet emotionally fantastic) ending for them to consider it one of the best. (By the way you can try and see it free by looking for screenings in your area right here)

In the Best Actor race it seems three actors are assumed to be locks: Sean Penn (Milk), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler). Jenkins definitely deserves the attention as the stand out of the year so far in terms of films that have been released to the public and Penn and Rourke have been long expected to be contenders. Frank Langella is running a close fourth and confidence in Brad Pitt for Benjamin Button seems to be waning a little as he only earned two votes along with Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) and Will Smith (Seven Pounds).

I personally think Eastwood is a lock for a nomination only after watching the trailer for Gran Torino, a film that may end up being close to his last acting turn and considering he has never won an Oscar for acting if his name is in the ring on February 22, 2009 at the Kodak Theatre I wouldn’t hold out hope if I was going up against him. The last thing the Academy wants is for Clint to become the next Peter O’Toole.

The Best Actress race hasn’t changed much at all, outside of the fact pundits seem to believe Kate Winslet will be earning her nomination for Revolutionary Road as The Reader is nowhere to be found in this latest round of predictions. Revolutionary Road is yet to be seen by reviewing media but Anne Thompson received the following review from an editor friend of hers after a long-lead screening of the flick:

first screening long lead today at paramount. the word from me is wow! very powerful two-hander for Leo and Kate, all grown up now as a married couple unhappy but still in love. they go at it fiercely and you can sense the real-life bond that lets them really go for it, all defenses down. it’s powerful and also beautifully written and filmed. Sam Mendes doing suburban angst again, but this time in the 1950s. I daresay it may be a modern classic. also, the screenplay race this year is unusually light on adaptations, so this being an adaptation of the Richard Yates novel, I’d look for a nomination.

It’s not a lot to go on, but it is enough to get you excited for the film’s release on December 26th. As for Kate’s other flick, well Thompson has a mini-early review of that one as well:

I noticed that you mentioned in your column not knowing anyone who has seen “The Reader.” Well, I have, in its almost-complete form (missing only the final music). While I would rather you not mention my name, feel free to say that I found it terrific! Although I have not yet read the novel, the film has a real moral complexity. “The Reader” is beautifully acted, especially by Kate Winslet. This is the third superb Ralph Fiennes supporting performance I’ve seen this year (in addition to “In Bruges” and “The Duchess”), and newcomer David Kross is very fine in the lead.


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