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I am very pleased to bring you the twelfth episode of “Feinberg & Friends,” THR‘s weekly awards podcast.
Each installment features a discussion between me and a different guest — a film blogger, critic or journalist of some other variation — about 10 different awards-related topics (which we list in the text accompanying the audio so that you know exactly what you’re signing up for) and runs for approximately 30 to 40 minutes (so that if one topic is not of particular interest to you it will only be about three or four minutes before we’re on to the next one, which hopefully will be).
I was delighted that my friend Dave Karger — a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly whose work appears both in print and online, and who is one of the best Oscar prognosticators out there — agreed to join me for this episode. I really enjoyed our chat, during which we tackled the following 10 questions…
1. After the past week’s flurry of developments — among the Critics’ Choice Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, and the BAFTA nominations announcement — is the smart money still on The Artist to win the best picture Oscar race, or has another film — perhaps The Help, The Descendants, or Hugo — managed to surpass it?
2. This week, the usually-demure best actress Oscar hopeful Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) appeared on the cover of GQ showing a lot of skin — something that virtually every recent best actress Oscar winner has done, and that seems to play well with the heavily-male Academy. Could this help Williams to move past her category’s presumptive favorites Viola Davis (The Help) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)?
3. Are most Academy members aware of things like which studios are distributing which films and which producers are responsible for them? And, if so, do they try to spread their support amongst a number of them or just vote for what and whom they like? And, similarly, with regard to the new preferential voting system, do most Academy members understand how it actually works? And how many of them manipulate their ballots to try to help films that need it?
4. The SAG Awards predicted 19 of 20 and 17 of 20 Oscar acting nods over the past two years, respectively, and four out of four winners each of them. Will that pattern continue this year in the best actor category, or will SAG nominees Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) and/or Demian Bichir (A Better Life) be bounced next Tuesday by the likes of Michael Fassbender (Shame) and/or Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and/or Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)?
5. How will the best supporting actor Oscar field — for which only Christopher Plummer (Beginners) seems like a mortal lock — pan out? Which four of the following people will claim the remaining spots in the category: BFCA/HFPA/SAG nominee Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn), HFPA/SAG nominee Jonah Hill (Moneyball), BFCA/HFPA nominee Albert Brooks (Drive), BFCA/SAG nominee Nick Nolte (Warrior), SAG nominee Armie Hammer (J. Edgar), HFPA nominee Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method), BFCA nominee Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), BFCA nominee Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), BAFTA nominee Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady), and/or BAFTA nominee Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)? Or could one of the two veteran actors’ actors at the center of strong best picture contenders — Ben Kingsley (Hugo) and/or Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) — still crack into the category?
6. Is War Horse — which was nominated by the PGA and ACE, but not by the DGA, SAG, WGA, ADG, or ASC — still a sure-thing for a best picture Oscar nomination? Or have the tides turned on its prospects?
7. How many best picture Oscar nominees does it now appear we are likely to end up with?
8. The Academy’s foreign language committee released its best foreign language Oscar short-list earlier today, and, In what has become something of a tradition, has stirred up a firestorm of controversy over the exclusion of some highly acclaimed submissions — among them Aki Kaurismaki’s Cannes FIPRESCI Prize-winning dramedy Le Havre (Finland), Nadine Labaki’s Toronto International Film Festival Audience Award winner Where Do We Go Now? (Lebanon), Zhang Yimou‘s epic war film The Flowers of War (China), Bela Tarr‘s critically acclaimed The Turin Horse (Hungary), Valerie Donzelli‘s moving domestic drama Declaration of War (France), Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s murder mystery Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkey) and/or Gerardo Naranjo‘s based-on-a-true-dark-story Miss Bala (Mexico). Do they deserve the criticism they are receiving?
9. How does Ricky Gervais‘ third stint as the Golden Globes host stack up in comparison with his previous two appearances?
10. The Sundance Film Festival gets underway this week in Park City, Utah. What are the most buzzed-about films playing at this year’s event? And is the festival, in this day and age, an effective launching pad for wannabe awards contenders?
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