This week brings two films that could/were meant to compete in the Oscars this year:
Free Birds and Last Vegas Dallas Buyers Club and Diana. One has a very good shot at getting some nominations, the other….
Let’s talk about the albatross first. Diana stars Naomi Watts as Princess Di. There’s no possible way that the whole movie wasn’t conceived (even before Watts came on board) as a vehicle for a female star, and likely a vehicle to win her awards. Sometimes this works, and it’s possible that the film might attract some older academy voters when screeners go out. Michelle Williams was nominated for My Week with Marilyn, and that film seems forgotten to time already. Heck, she even won the Golden Globe for that one.
It’s why Madonna was (at least partly) so dead set on playing Evita. Meryl Streep won for playing Margaret Thatcher, and was nominated for playing Julia Child, and this list goes on and on. But Diana has already been savaged and currently has a 7% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Sometimes these films get a soft pass because of the performers and a general perceived quality. This one? Not so much.
The question with Dallas Buyers Club is if the performances are enough to elevate the film into a serious awards contender. No one is denying that Matthew McConaughey gives an Oscar-contending performance in it, and people are also saying Jared Leto does amazing work. But it also sounds like the film is a little formulaic, and that means that the other essentials like director, screenplay, etc. might not cut the mustard for nominations, while few are taking about Jennifer Garner‘s work in the movie. And though sometimes a performance can get all the way to the win without much other Oscar support (like Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side), it’s a lot easier to win when the film around you has a number of nominations. Often it seems like they don’t like good films to go empty handed, even if that’s just a technical award or two.
Of course, that depends on the year, and 12 Years a Slave could net four of the big awards (Picture, Actor, Director, Screenplay). Which may mean that Jared Leto could have the odd chance to win if he behaves himself while going through the award rigamarole. He’s going to have to act humble, say that this was a great opportunity, etc. Show the world that he’s been humbled, and is ready to act serious/seriously act. It’s also possible that McConaughey’s “comeback” — which has been rolling along for a while now — could be the story, that this shows what a great actor he is, and he definitely put his body through the ringer to play this character (who has A.I.D.S. and suffers great weight loss), which shows dedication to the craft.
The best thing that can happen to Dallas Buyers is if it becomes an arthouse sensation. If they can crack $50 Million domestic. If they can crack $100 Million domestic. If audiences want to see it. And that’s possible, it’s at the start of its run, and we’ve seen films like it do great business if they catch the public’s attention. Will this be that picture? It could be the difference between a likely pick and a sure thing. Now it’s up to audiences.
What roles would you give Matthew McConaughey an Oscar for?