Why I’m not pumped for Body of Lies

October 9, 2008


Body of Lies comes out tomorrow starring heavy weights Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.  Directed by Ridley Scott (American Gangster, Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator) this movie doesn’t need an introduction to how star-powered this high production really is.  BUT, why doesn’t it seem like the big blockbuster like it should be?

Okay, I’ve seen commercials.  I’ve seen the trailers.  They’re pretty awesome.  I’ve seen Russell Crowe promoting the film on late night talk shows.  But… I just don’t feel like this is going to be as big a hit as it should be.  Of course, it has as much potential as any other film this year.  I mean… it’s Leo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe!  They should totally kick-ass in this anti-terrorism action movie!

Wait… maybe that’s the problem.  It seems as though Americans are fed up with all of these political movies.  There was an onslaught of political film last year that just bombed (Rendition, In the Valley of Elah, The Kingdom).  No one wants to watch a movie about the war overseas anymore.

Okay, what else could be ruining Body of Lies’ chances of being a smash hit?  Well, I hate to say it, but Ridley Scott is slipping.  After his incredible back-to-back masterpieces with Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, he’s made good but not great films.  Kingdom of Heaven was just continuing the epic-movie craze, A Good Year was a departure from his comfort zone, and then there was last year’s American Gangster, which actually was a smash hit ($43.6 opening weekend).  So why am I not completely pumped for this movie like I was for American Gangster?!

Is it because of Denzel?  Is he really the deciding factor through all of this?  He is definitely one of the most (if not THE most) bankable actors today.  So replacing Denzel with Leo doesn’t cut it.

All right.  Why the rant?  Well, just because I would not be surprised if Body of Lies doesn’t break $20 this weekend… and with such a stellar cast and a proven director, that’s pathetic.  Will I be seeing it?  Probably not.  It’s already getting mixed reviews from the critics (currently a 52% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes)

Oh well.  Even though American Gangster was successful in the box office, it failed terribly in the Oscars where it only tallied two nominees.  Look for the same result with Body of Lies, just with a significantly lower box office.


SAG Awards Nominations

December 21, 2007



Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl)
Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

This is a stacked category.  No matter what awards ceremony presenting this will surely have plenty of actors snubbed.  But this being the SAG awards, this holds a special place in the actor’s accomplishments.  It seems as though Daniel Day-Lewis is the man to beat and the clear frontrunner in this category.  Behind him are George Clooney and Ryan Gosling, but they’re not that close behind.  I am happy for Viggo Mortensen and Emile Hirsch’s nominations, but their inclusion means none for Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and James McAvoy.  But in past years, the lead actor race have been on lockdown since the beginning of awards season (Whitaker and Hoffman)… will Daniel Day-Lewis have the same success?

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart)
Ellen Page (Juno)

This race isn’t as plentiful as the lead actor category, but it is a lot tighter.  I’m actually surprised Cate Blanchett got a nominee for her role in The Golden Age.  It looks as though Julie Christie’s the slight frontrunner here, but Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard are right on her heels.  I expected Jolie to get a GG nod, but I am surprised at her SAG nomination.  This means that Keira Knightley (who was snubbed for Pride and Prejudice by the SAG), Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter and Laura Linney is left out. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford)
Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men)
Hal Holbrook (Into The Wild)
Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

The Oscar Igloo called the big three in this category as “behemoths” for their acclaimed performances: Javier Bardem, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Tom Wilkinson.  I’m more than happy that John Travolta didn’t make the cut.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)
Ruby Dee (American Gangster)
Catherine Keener (Into The Wild)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

The talk about Cate Blanchett’s role in I’m Not There has been surrounding this category forever.  But watch out Bob, Amy Ryan’s performance has her in a close 2nd.  Tilda Swinton and Catherine Keener are nice and worthy challengers in this race, but I was surprised at Ruby Dee’s nomination.  I would’ve expected Saiorse Ronan from Atonment, or even Jennifer Garner from Juno.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
3:10 to Yuma
American Gangster
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men

Now this is where my anger heightens.  How can Hairspray, 3:10 to Yuma, and American Gangster be in this race when they have a total of 1 individual nomination?  No Country for Old Men and Into the Wild were locks from their success at the SAG nominees, but the other three truly surprised me.  Michael Clayton had a number of nominations, but missed the boat on the big award?  And how did Atonement get completely snubbed?  Also, I feel this hurts Juno’s chance to get Best Picture… being coined as “this year’s Little Miss Sunshine” it was LMS who walked away with the Best Ensemble Cast award last year.  Anyway, No Country for Old Men have separated themselves from Atonement in the Best Picture race, Into the Wild gets a huge boost after being ignored by the Golden Globes, and Atonement and Juno takes a hit.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Hugh Laurie (House)
James Spader (Boston Legal)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Glenn Close (Damages)
Edie Falco (The Sopranos)
Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters)
Holly Hunter (Saving Grace)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Steve Carell (The Office)
Ricky Gervais (Extras)
Jeremy Piven (Entourage)
Tony Shalhoub (Monk

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?)
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boston Legal
The Closer
Grey’s Anatomy
Mad Men
The Sopranos

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 Rock
Desperate Housewives
The Office
Ugly Betty

Oscar Watch

November 21, 2007

With about three months away from the Oscars, it’s about time to start getting serious about the contenders and the will-be contenders.  Of course, still far away from award season, this is still a good time to start some predictions.

This year has boasted a very strong array of Oscar-worthy films… along with many disappointments.  It seems as though the trend for the disappointments deal with political/war films such as In the Valley of Elah, Lions for Lambs, and Rendition.  But throughout the entire year, and even the summer, there are a number of movies who could sneak into the best picture race with the right campaigning and support.

We’ll start out with the top five, which of right now, I think will be the nominees come February.  These movies include:  Atonement, No Country for Old Men, American Gangster, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Kite Runner.

Atonement – Directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice).  Starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Why this should be nominated? 

This film has been very well received thus far, and my expectations are extremely high.  Based on Ian McEwan’s award-winning novel, Atonement is a war-drama between two lovers who are split up because of false accusations of a younger sister.  The buzz from this film is ear-splitting. 

Why this might miss the top five? 

The only thing that could bring this movie down is the pattern of war films to the American public.  That or if this film is anything less than a masterpiece.

No Country for Old Men – Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo).  Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. 

Why this should be nominated?

This crime-thriller, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, is being touted as the best reviewed movie of the year.  The Oscar Igloo says this will probably become the critics’ darling of the year and that should be enough to keep it safe in the top five for the rest of the season.

Why this might miss the top five?

Some might say there’s too much violence, or unless it’s a success at the box office then it’ll lose steam.  Nonetheless, The Departed won last year with a lot of violence and Crash won the year prior grossing only $55 million. 

American Gangster – Directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator).  Starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

Why this should be nominated?

The all-star cast of Ridley Scott, writer Steve Zaillian, Denzel Washington, and Russell Crowe should be enough to at least get a nomination right?  This was full of buzz before it was released, and be sure this will get a very strong campaign to launch it into the top five… not to mention the very good numbers at the box office.

Why this might miss the top five?

The reviews were good, not great.  The similarities to last year’s The Departed.  And in my opinion, I don’t feel like this is going to be one of my top five favorite films of the year, but I’m not saying who my top five is, I’m predicting which five films will be nominated, and I really believe this will.  Do I think it will win… no.  Out of the top five I have at the time, I believe this has the slimmest chance at taking the golden statue.

Charlie Wilson’s War – Directed by Mike Nichols (The Graduate).  Starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

Why this should be nominated?

Like American Gangster, this film has a lot of star-power.  Will that be enough though?  This movie is receiving a lot of buzz, but the fact is that no one really knows anything about the film.  It just seems too much greatness on paper to be anything that’s no remarkable… unless it’s this year’s Dreamgirls.  The trailer also suggests a lighter tone compared to the bulk of dead-serious movies this year. 

Why this might miss the top five?

Until the film is released, it’s just a guessing game with most of the guesses leaning towards a best picture nomination.  But again, is America tired of movies about war?  And can the star-studded cast carry this film into a decent box office?  Marked as the movie most likely to fail, nothing can really be certain until it’s released.

The Kite Runner – Directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland).

Why this should be nominated?

This best-selling novel, written by Khaled Hosseini, will have all of the loyal readers behind this film.  Using unknown actors, Forster puts all the concentration on the power of the story.  Already being discussed as a Best Picture candidate, will this drama with guaranteed devastation have what it takes to make the top five?

Why this might miss the top five?

The unknown cast might damper its box office success, although I believe the word of mouth and knowledge of the best-selling novel will give this film decent numbers.  But wrapped up in controversy, the release date had to be pushed a month back from November 2 to December 14.  And as AwardsDaily.com mentioned, “The Academy have been known to why away from controversy in the past, so one must wonder what, if any, impact it will have on the Best Picture race.”

Other movies to consider:

There Will Be Blood – This film is being seen as possibly “too dark” or “too weird.”  The films that don’t make the top five because of such reasons are usually celebrated by making the Best Writing categories, in which Paul Thomas Anderson has scored two nods.  So I expect the same for this film.

Into the Wild – This movie has been receiving raves from critics, but what might hurt this film is that… seriously… who actually saw it?  The best chance for this film is to stay consistently strong at the critics’ awards (oscar igloo).

3:10 to Yuma – The chances of this movie being on the top five at the end of the year are very unlikely, but LionsGate is pushing hard for this, along with Away from Her.  Depending on how much effort is put into campaigning, just expect a few nods… hopefully one for Russell Crowe and another for Ben Foster. 

Juno – This year’s Little Miss Sunshine, can this dramedy make it through?  Receiving a large amount of buzz has me very excited to trek out to NYC for this film… but will the almost certain low box office affect Juno’s Best Picture chance?

Sweeney Todd – This didn’t even end up on my top ten until I saw it on the top five on oscarigloo.com.  I think this will be an enjoyable film, like most Tim Burton projects are, but really… Best Picture worthy?  I doubt it.  But as the Oscar Igloo says, “It still needs to win the Golden Glove over the beloved Juno [to have a shot.]”
That about wraps it up.  More updates to come as the countdown to the Oscars keeps on ticking.

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