Originally scheduled for release last December, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" finally opened on May 10, but its Best Picture hopes may be as doomed as Gatsby himself. More than 50-percent of readers polled think the film will be snubbed in top Oscar categories and contend only in technical races.
The lavish production boasts elaborate costumes and sets that could be contenders at next year's awards; both were designed by Catherine Martin, Luhrmann's wife, who won both categories for Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" in 2001. And three of the last four Best Cinematography winners – "Avatar," "Hugo," and "Life of Pi" – have also been technically audacious 3D productions.
Only 30-percent of readers think the film will be nominated for Best Picture, however, with just 12-percent expecting the film to win. Another 13-percent predict nominations in major categories, but not Best Picture.
Reviews for the film were mixed, scoring 55 on MetaCritic and 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that alone may not be a deal-breaker. A handful of films with similarly mixed reviews – "The Reader," "The Blind Side," and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" – have managed Best Picture nominations in recent years. And last year, "Les Miserables," which also met with strong criticism, still managed to earn a Best Picture nod and win three Oscars.
"The Great Gatsby," like "Les Mis," has the benefit of strong box office. It opened with a better-than-expected $50 million domestic haul; "Les Mis" had a softer opening – $27 million – but nevertheless reached $148 million domestically and almost half a billion dollars worldwide. If "Gatsby" continues to perform well, it could minimize the sting of some of its negative notices when it comes to its awards prospects.
Its last major hurdle will be its release date. Oscar voters often have short memories and typically vote for fall and winter films over long-gone summer fare, but several early releases have prevailed at the Oscars, including "Gladiator" and "Crash," both May releases, and "The Hurt Locker," which opened in June.
Fortunately for "The Great Gatsby," only seven-percent of readers think it will be snubbed entirely, so even if its Best Picture hopes are dashed, it may not leave the Oscars empty-handed.
In “The Great Gatsby,” Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a man for whom money can’t buy the one thing he really wants. It’s a role that must be close to the actor’s heart. Despite being one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, Di Caprio has yet to claim that elusive Oscar statuette, losing his bids for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), “The Aviator” (2004), and “Blood Diamond” (2006). Many thought his villainous supporting turn in “Django Unchained” last year would finally do the trick, but it was costar Christoph Waltz who emerged victorious from that film.
Now it looks like Leo fans will have to wait until “The Wolf of Wall Street” to start banging the drum for another Best Actor campaign: with a middling 48% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 55 on Metacritic, any serious Oscar hopes for Di Caprio’s performance in Baz Luhrmann’s frenetic reimagining of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel are slim. Same would seem to go for whatever prospects the film has of bids for Best Picture, Director, Actress (Carey Mulligan) and Supporting Actor (Tobey Maguire).
But not so fast! What about the box office?
After all, “Gatsby” has proven to be a surprise hit, grossing $51 million this weekend, about $20 million more than analysts were predicting. Plus, Lurhmann’s no stranger to Oscar: his “Moulin Rouge!” (2001) received mixed reviews as well, and that film scored nominations for Best Picture, Actress (Nicole Kidman), Cinematography (Donald Alpine), Film Editing (Jill Bilcock), Sound (Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Roger Savage, Guntis Sics), and Makeup (Maurizio Silvi, Aldo Signoretti), winning for Costume Design (Catherine Martin, Angus Strathie) and Art Direction-Set Decoration (Catherine Martin, Brigitte Broch).
So while it’s hopes in the major categories aren’t exactly squashed, they aren’t exactly strong either. The May release date doesn’t help matters much: if “Gatsby” is gonna prove longevity against so many heavyweight contenders, voters have to really, REALLY love it, and while some may go for Luhrmann’s pop sensibilities, others may not.
One area the film is likely to factor in is the tech categories. Those stylish costumes and lavish sets by Martin are catnip for the Academy. Let’s face it: a Costume Design nom is almost a guarantee, unless the branch takes a sudden disliking to 1920s period garb. Sequins, frills, fedoras: hell, we might be looking at this years Costume Design WINNER.
The film shouldn’t be discounted for Cinematography either, since three out of the last four winners in that category have been 3D films (“Life of Pi” (2012), “Hugo” (2011), “Avatar” (2009)). So DP Simon Duggan, whose credits include “Knowing” (2009), “I, Robot” (2004), and “Live Free or Die Hard” (2007), could be looking at his first nomination.
It's the third film and first documentary from director Sarah Polley, who was previously better known for her work as an actor in the TV series "Avonlea" and films including "The Sweet Hereafter," "Go," and "Dawn of the Dead."
After helming three shorts, she made a successful feature filmmaking debut in 2007 with the drama "Away from Her," which earned Polley an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and Julie Christie a Best Actress bid as a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease.
Her second film, "Take This Waltz" starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, flew under the radar when it was released in 2012, but with such rapturous reviews for "Stories," could she be primed for a return trip to the Oscars?
In "Stories," Polley turns the camera on herself and her family to explore a long-kept secret about her mother that has only recently come to light. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers says of the film, "The result, with its flashing perspectives and stealthy wit, is unique and unforgettable." The New York Times's Manohla Dargis calls it "an affecting documentary tale about a mother and wife who ached in many of the familiar ways, but didn’t always follow the typical female playbook, which also gives her life the resonance of a mystery that’s too good to spoil here." And Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek describes it as a "wondrous, absorbing little picture."
But even with such great reviews can the film win?
In recent years, Best Documentary Feature has favored either uplifting true stories like "Searching for Sugar Man," "Undefeated," and "Man on Wire," or trenchant social/political exposes like "An Inconvenient Truth," "Taxi to the Dark Side," and "Inside Job."
"Stories We Tell" hews more closely to the first category, though it's hard to neatly categorize Polley's film, which also sets out to examine themes of memory and personal narrative.
Voting and eligibility rules for documentary features have been in flux in recent years. Currently, films must complete seven-day qualifying runs in both Los Angeles County in California, and the Borough of Manhattan in New York, be advertised in a major newspaper, and be reviewed by either the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times.
Last year marked the first time voting for the winners was expanded to the entire active Academy. Prior to that, only members who attended special screenings were allowed to vote.
"Gravity" is finally ready to take off after delays of almost a year.
The two-hander, now due out Oct. 19, showcases Oscar champs Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and George Clooney ("Syriana") as astronauts marooned in space. The just-released tense trailer includes the moment when their spacecraft is damaged, leaving them tethered to each other as they circle the earth.
The Warner Bros. release marks a welcome return for Alfonso Cuaron who has not directed a film since "Children of Men" in 2006. That dire look at the future was a critical darling and reaped three Oscar nominations, including bids shared by Cuaron for Adapted Screenplay and Editing. He pulls triple duty on "Gravity" as well.
Lenser Emmanuel Lubezki, who picked up the fourth of this five Oscar nominations for "Children of Men," reunites with the helmer here. Shooting 3-D films such as this has proven to be the way to win Best Cinematography as of late.
Take a look at the trailer below and then decide how it will fare at the Oscars. Make your predictions in the top races here.
From the looks of the first trailer (watch below) for "August: Osage County," it sure seems like Meryl Streep is a slam dunk to reap her 18th Oscar nomination. She shines in the role of Violet Weston, a pill-popping mad matriarch, who tangles with her eldest daughter Julia Roberts in the midst of a family crisis.
John Wells' much-anticipated screen version of Tracy Letts' 2008 Tony and Pulitzer champ is produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov who just won the Best Picture Oscar for "Argo." And it is distributed by the Weinstein Company which wrote the playbook for awards campaigning.
Even before the debut of this trailer, Streep was the frontrunner for Best Actress. A win would give her three Best Actress Oscars, following victories for "Sophie's Choice" in 1982 and "The Iron Lady" last year.
And with her 1979 supporting prize for "Kramer vs. Kramer," Streep would be tied with Katharine Hepburn who won Best Actress four times -- "Morning Glory" (1933); "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967); "The Lion in Winter" (1968); and "On Golden Pond" (1981). That last win for Hepburn came in the year that marked Streep's first time in this race for "The French Lieutenant's Woman."
The Broadway run of "August: Osage County" won Tonys for Deanna Dunagan as the vile Violet and Rondi Reed as her long-suffering sister Mattie. Emmy champ Margo Martindale ("Justified") now plays that part and she could well reap a supporting Oscar nod.
But where will the Weinsteins position who co-stars as Barbara, Violet's oldest daughter, and engages in one mother of a battle with her momma. At the Tonys, Amy Morton contended in the lead race, losing to Dunagan.
Currently, "The Great Gatsby" is scoring 55 at MetaCritic. While it reaped raves from the likes of Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) and Lou Lumenick (NY Post), it was dismissed by Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal) and Peter Travers (Rolling Stone). A.O Scott (New York Times) was tempered in his praise as was Richard Corliss (Time).
However, before dismissing the Oscar hopes of "Gatsby," remember that Luhrmann's 2001 spectacle "Moulin Rouge!" proved to be just as polarizing. But it reaped a Best Picture bid when there were only five nominees, ultimately losing to "A Beautiful Mind."
With the new system of voting rewarding those pictures that inspire passion and up to 10 nominees, "Gatsby" could well be an Oscar contender for Best Picture. Do you agree? Vote in our poll below.
The film was to be the centerpiece of Warners' Oscar campaign last year but got bumped from Christmas Day to this spring when Luhrmann asked for more time to get it just right. For this lavish 3-D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel, he has reteamed with Leonardo DiCaprio, whose career was launched in 1996 with Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet."
The director worked with Craig Pearce, who co-wrote "Moulin Rouge!" as well as "Romeo + Juliet," to adapt this classic tale of an enigmatic millionaire (DiCaprio) who falls under the spell of a southern belle (Carey Mulligan) with dire results. DiCaprio's pal Tobey Maguire plays the cousin of this siren who narrates the story. While he will likely be touted as a supporting actor, Maguire has the most screentime and is a revelation.
At last Saturday's general meeting, academy president Hawk Koch revealed that 90% of the members cast ballots for this year's Oscars. Compare that to the 57% turnout by the US populace for the 2012 presidential election.
The academy introduced electronic voting this year. While only about one-third of members signed up for this new system, 96% of these early adopters followed through by voting.
Of the two-thirds who stuck with the traditional method, just 80% of them mailed in their final ballots. Paper ballots were sent to all members who had not registered for the new method.
Given that Koch touted this year's participation of 90% as a record, e-voting was the key to boosting balloting. While there were the inevitable growing pains associated with this new way of doing things, it proved worth it in the end.
However, with a majority of the membership choosing to stick with pen and paper, the old-fashioned method is unlikely to go the way of silent films for some time.
At Saturday's town hall meeting, academy officials confirmed that the last two Oscar categories with restrictive voting -- Foreign-Language Film and Documentary Shorts -- will be opened up to the entire membership.
In making the announcement, Hawk Koch, the outing academy president, explained: "This change continues our efforts to expand our members' participation in all aspects of the Academy's activities including, of course, voting for the Oscars. Building on this past season's 90 percent record voter turnout, we want to give our members as many opportunities as possible to see these great films an vote in these categories next year."
For the most recent Oscars, the academy scrapped the special screening process for Documentary Feature and both Live Action and Animated Shorts. Instead, voters received DVDs of all the nominees. That policy will extend to these two final categories this year.
Removing the compulsory attendance at screenings for the five foreign language film nominees could mean an increase in campaigning for this coveted award.
Robert Osborne may not recall the name of the first movie he saw, but the images from it nevertheless stir in his memory. “I remember it had to do with a horse race and gangsters,” Osborne reminisces. “I remember covering my face with my hand most of the time, because I was watching the race and felt so badly for the horses who were trying to win and were losing. I was fascinated by films: I thought somehow they were papers dolls, like the ones my sister had, being maneuvered, and I couldn’t imagine how they could make them look round like people, instead of flat.”
Osborne has been the host of Turner Classic Movies since it launched in 1994, a job which perfectly fit a man who knew he wanted to be in the movie business, but didn’t know quite what to do in it. “I wanted to be apart of it; I just didn’t know where I fit in. I knew I couldn’t sing, I knew I couldn’t dance. I just lived in a small farm town in the Northwest. I didn’t know where I fit in. I was happy that Ted Turner started a channel and I got to be the guy. That was my great luck.”
He’s busy this weekend hosting TCM’s Classic Film Festival, now in its fourth year. “We recognize the fact that we’re really pleased to bring all these films that for years were in a vault, hidden away, to people through television,” says Osborne. “But the only way to really see a movie is on a big screen, with an audience. There’s no lack of that in Los Angeles, or in Chicago, New York, or San Francisco with revival houses. But there’s a lot of people who don’t have access to these movies on a big screen.”
“To see ‘Casablanca’ (1942) on a big screen with an audience of 2,500 other people, with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart three stories tall, is a totally different experience than watching it on a television screen in a room on a couch by yourself,” he continues. “It’s very important because that’s the way they were made to be seen.”
The festival kicked off Thurday with a restoration of “Funny Girl” (1968) at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The festival will include tributes to Max von Sydow, Jane Fonda, Eva Marie Saint, Ann Blyth and Albert Maysles, as well as discussions with Mel Brooks, Norman Lloyd and Jane Withers.