Trophy Talk: On the Oscar Potential of ‘Gone Girl’
People love watching famous people accept trophies. So, every so often, The Huffington Post’s Chris Rosen and ScreenCrush’s Mike Ryan will speculate about these trophies and which famous person might win one. It will be fun. Let’s talk some trophies! Today, we pick up where we left off last week and continue to discuss why 10 Best Picture nominees isn't working and we discuss the Oscar potential of 'Gone Girl' (which premiered last Friday at the New York Film Festival).
Chris: After last week's chat about the failed extension of the Best Picture category, we received a bunch of responses, notably from Vulture's Kyle Buchanan and In Contention's Kris Tapley. The gchat version of those nuanced conversations is "we're dumb!" The longer recap is that having more than five nominees in the category helps get the "little movies" like 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' 'Amour' and 'Winter's Bone' into the mix, while also making sure 'Django Unchained' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' have representation too. Which is definitely the idea, but one we kind of felt wasn't being executed because there are just too many movies. Or have you gone over to their side, leaving me on an island with the 'Short Term 12s' and 'Guardians of the Galaxys' of the world, small and big movies that definitely could have gotten nominated in another time?
Mike: I think we both concede that the the first year, and arguably the second year, of the 10 possible Best Picture nominees sort of worked. But then the voting process was tweaked and now it doesn't work. I think people were calling us "dumb" because we didn't properly define "work." If someone thinks getting 'Amour' and 'Winter's Bone' nominations is the definition of "working," then of course that person (Kyle in this case) is going to think it's working. And that's completely fair. But we were talking about the Academy's original intention, which was to get more mainstream, populous movies nominated -- a movie like 'The Avengers' or, as we mentioned last week, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' -- and that most definitely isn't working. And Kyle agreed that 'Guardians' should be nominated and Tapley agreed that we should go back to five nominees.
Chris: So, I guess we were kind of right. The internet worked, everyone is happy! That aside, what I think we all agree on completely is that there is no going back. If anything, the Academy Awards might expand more in OTHER categories. Deadline.com's Pete Hammond made that push on Sunday, asking for 10 Best Actor nominees. This year is pretty busy, but that seems like madness. Reading that piece, I felt like Kyle and Kris must have felt reading ours. To say nothing of the fact that there was no mention of Best Actress, which, hey, is actually pretty packed with possibilities this year. At this point, let's just give everyone a trophy (talk) and call it a day.
Mike: Yeah, let's just expand it to 100. Why not? Trophies for everyone! And I think that's our main points here: by expanding the number of nominees, it will eventually expand the amount of attempts to get that nomination, further alienating the populous movies and the 'Short Term 12' movies that weren't made specifically to win some sort of statue. Less is more. Let me ask you this: Do you think it's harder to for a movie like 'Short Term 12' (or, this year, maybe something like 'Listen Up Philip') to get attention because with ten movies, there's so much more studio money flying around trying to snag those extra nominations, these movies get even MORE lost? That there's more noise created by studio money then there used to be?
Chris: That's the sense I get, but it could just be a sense. Maybe this is what it was like in the '80s and '90s, but since there weren't entire outlets devoted to writing about the Oscars, we didn't know about it. But in my experience over the last few years, it's never really about the movie. It's about the narrative and the campaign. It helps when the movie is great, yes -- that's why '12 Years A Slave' won Best Picture -- but it's not the only requirement. Maybe it never was, and we're pining for a time that simply didn't exist. But the Oscars are like that old cliche about gambling: you have to bet big to win big. If a studio isn't going to bet big on a movie, it isn't going to make it. In the end, as Kyle noted, that's the biggest demerit to the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' campaign. Disney isn't pushing it as a viable Oscar contender, and so it's not. Which maybe brings us to fall's first "blockbuster," 'Gone Girl.' It feels like Fox is going to spend big on this movie. Will that be enough?
Mike: How about this nonsense statement: Tyler Perry for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. I want to this to happen. And poor Ben Affleck. This is probably the best performance of his career, but this is a very crowded year. (And, no, I don't think the category should be expanded just to get him in.)
Chris: Tyler Perry! Hey, why not? He's great in 'Gone Girl.' In fact, while we're adding numbers to categories, why not just add another category. If there was an Oscar for Best Casting, 'Gone Girl' would have to win. Everyone in this movie is perfectly cast in the most unexpected ways. I guess that could translate to a Screen Actors Guild ensemble award. 'Gone Girl' is our new 'American Hustle.'
Mike: Oh, I agree. It's almost like the totality of the cast might overshadow the individual parts. Except most likely Rosamund Pike, who is working on a different level than the already high level of everyone else in the cast. It's been a long time since a David Fincher movie wasn't nominated for something.
Chris: Putting aside all the technical categories where 'Gone Girl' will definitely make a show (Editing, Cinematography, Score), it feels like Pike and Gillian Flynn's script are the two sure thing nominees. I'm not sold on Fincher getting a Best Director nod, nor am I certain the movie gets in either. Again, there are too many movies! 'Gone Girl' will be popular, but I could see it missing out. 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' didn't make it in 2011, and while that movie kind of pales in comparison to what Fincher has done here, it was also a less competitive year: 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' was a Best Picture nominee. Remember that movie?
Mike: Which was a movie that very few people liked, made SPECIFICALLY to get an Oscar nomination, and it did. This is life with 10 nominations.
Chris Rosen is the senior editor of Huffington Post Entertainment. You can reach him on Twitter.
Mike Ryan is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.