Thursday, February 2, 2017

Updates for Oscar / Sundance Sails into the Sunset / Jenkins on Moonlight

Welcome to Thursday and another day on this cinematic road...


We are a week removed from the announcement of nominations for the 89th Academy Awards and, as you might expect, Oscar prognosticators are beginning to offer their opinions regarding what performers and films will now actually win the statues in 3 -plus weeks.  The ceremony happens on Feb. 26th.

The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg has a first pass at predicted winners.

Scott currently has Damien Chazelle's La La Land still in front to win despite the success of Hidden Figures at last weekend's Screen Actors Guilds awards.  Additionally, Feinberg says La La Land will also win: Direction (Chazelle), Actress (Stone), Cinematography, Costumes, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song (City of Stars), Production Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing for a total of  11 Oscars. Personally, I'm not as bullish on La La Land's chances to get to that total.

Feinberg also currently has TFF #43 films winning in a few other places on Oscar night.

He has Moonlight winning Supporting Actor (Ali) and Adapted Screenplay.

He has Manchester by the Sea winning Original Screenplay but now favors Denzel Washington/Fences  over Manchester's Casey Affleck for Best Actor.

A few other notes.  Feinberg favors Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman in the Foreign Language category over what has been regarded as the front runner for many months and that's TFF #43 and Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann.

Feinberg doesn't mention it and I have been reluctant to mention it as well, but I have wondered if there might be a surge for The Salesman in light of the Trump administration's  Muslim ban and Farhadi's announced intention to not attend the Oscar ceremony.  I think that's a very real possibility and it seems that Feinberg may be thinking that as well.

Among the Short Film categories, Feinberg has The White Helmets winning Best Short Doc.  It also played TFF last Labor Day.

All told, Feinberg has Telluride films winning 15 of the 24 Oscar categories.

Additionally, Variety's head Oscar guru, Kristopher Tapley, also has an initial pass at winners up at his In Contention section of that publication/website.  His take:

He has La La Land winning Best Picture, Director, Actress, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song (City of Stars), Production Design and sound Mixing.  Total: 11

Moonlight winning: Supporting Actor with Ali and Adapted Screenplay.

Manchester winning: Best Actor for Affleck.

Tapley has Toni Erdmann winning Best Foreign Language Film bit doesn't have any TFF #43 films picking up any Oscar hardware for the Shorts categories.

His Telluride total is 15.

Check all of Tapley's predictions here.

Meanwhile, the gang at Awards Watch led by Erik Anderson has their first wave of picks for winners up as well.   You can see their complete list and tally here.

Awards Watch predicts that La La Land will win Best Picture, Direction, Actress, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Costumes, Original Score, Original Song (City of Stars), Sound Mixing and maybe Film Editing...based on AW's nomination predictions for that category.  Total for La La Land according to AW: 11

Moonlight is picked for Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Manchester by the Sea's Casey Affleck is favored over Denzel for Best Actor

Other TFF #43 films favored by AW: Toni Erdmann for Foreign Language and The White Helmets for Best Short Doc.

The AW Oscar total for Telluride is 16.


The Sundance Film Festival closed last weekend and that's always at least a little bit interesting.  For years it's seemed like there are always rumors that one of more Sundance film swill end up on the Telluride program even though that "rule" about T-ride only programming films that have not yet screened in North America.

We know that rumors floated early this time last year that Fox Searchlight was going to push hard to get Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation into T-ride after spending $17+ million bucks.  We also know that didn't pan out almost certainly due to the PR swirl and negative publicity up regarding Parker's past.

BUT...Manchester by the Sea and The Eagle Huntress both made the TFF #43 list after having bowed at Sundance marking, at least in my experience, the first time that two films were programmed that bucked the "rule".  I have noted on a number of occasions that The Savages did the same in 2007 as did An Education in 2009.  Sembene! did in 2015.

I think we have to wonder if the 2016 presence of two Sundance titles indicates a growing willingness to program a hot Sundance title or two from now on.

It might also be noted that both Manchester and Eagle did NOT play Cannes after their bow at Sundance.

So, looking at this year's Sundance crop, can we deduce any films that might fit the mold to go to Telluride?

I took a look at the films that earned Sundance honors and critical acclaim as well as what films sold to which distributors and finally, the directors.  Keep in mind that Manchester ended up at Amazon/Roadside Attractions and Eagle Huntress  which was distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

Indiewire's Anne Thompson posted a story this week assessing the films of Sundance in the context of the 2017 awards season.  Zack Sharf, also of Indiewire, posted and updated a running list of the acquisitions for the fest.  So, I combined the two...

Call Me By My Name - Dir: Luca Guadagnino-Sony Pictures Classics
The Big Sick- Dir: Michael Showalter- Amazon (and likely Roadside Attractions)
Mudbound- Dir: Dee Rees- Netflix
Novitiate- Dir: Margaret Betts- Sony Pictures Classics
The Hero- Dir: Brett Haley- The Orchard

City of Ghosts- Dir: Matthew Heineman- Amazon
Icarus- Dir: Bryan Fogel- Netflix
An Inconvenient Sequel: Dir- Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk- Paramount
Chasing Coral- Dir: Jeff Orlowski- Netflix

 It's also worth noting that A24 has the distribution for A Ghost Story from director David Lowery.

Looking at the combined lists, I can't find any single film that seems head and shoulders a likely Sundance/Telluride crossover.  None of the directors have a feature TFF track record.


I have added a couple of articles that feature Moonlight writer/director Barry Jenkins talking about the making of the eight time Oscar nominated film that is widely regarded as the only real threat to steal Best Picture from La La Land.  Here they are:

From the Film Society of Lincoln Center

From The Playlist

That's all for this Thursday.  Have a great weekend...


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