EDITORIALS

Sunday Discussion: Are There Too Many Great Oscar Movies?

by
October 26, 2008

Are There Too Many Great Oscar Movies?

The instant answer to that question is of course - no! There can never be too many great Oscar movies, right? It's a question I've been mulling over for the past few weeks. The Weinstein Company's decision to move The Road to 2009 initially sparked my interest in exploring this discussion further. More fuel was added to the fire when Paramount shifted their fall release schedule, pushing The Soloist to 2009 (and knocking it out of Oscar contention) and in turn starting up an Oscar campaign for Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. Now I'm just not sure if all of the Hollywood studios are worried that there are too many Oscar movies? Will this Oscar season be so crowded it will be hard to find the gems?

Starting with the most recent news, I'm a bit baffled by Paramount's recent release date changes. Did they really think a comedic role in a mildly successful summer movie would be enough to beat out Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight? And on top of that, did they really think that Robert Downey Jr. would be a better Oscar bet in Tropic Thunder than in The Soloist, where he plays a LA Times journalist who helps a schizophrenic homeless man become recognized as the musical prodigy that he is? I guess why I'm asking these questions is because it leads into the discussion that there could be too many great Oscar movies. There are so many Oscar contenders already, that Paramount couldn't fit The Soloist in this year.

Let's take a quick look at some of the big Oscar contenders that haven't hit theaters just yet. I may be missing a few smaller indies, so please bear with me. In November: Slumdog Millionaire, Australia, and Milk. In December: Frost/Nixon, Hunger, The Reader, Gran Torino, Doubt, Seven Pounds, The Wrestler, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Revolutionary Road, Valkyrie, Last Chance Harvey, and Defiance. I'm confused - this doesn't seem like that many? Of course, there are a few that haven't had enough buzz yet to really strike me as strong Oscar contenders, like Nothing But the Truth and Steven Soderbergh's Che (which doesn't have an official release date as far as I know).

We also can't forget the handful of movies that have already been released that have gained some early Oscar buzz: The Visitor, Rachel Getting Married, Happy-Go-Lucky, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and of course, The Dark Knight. With these two lists, I'm wondering why this year looks so much different than the past few (e.g. The Departed was released in October, No Country for Old Men in November). December is loaded with an excess of Oscar movies, but it seems like some of these already released films, while not the strongest contenders, are causing the studios to freak out about their fall movie season and prioritize certain stronger releases. But there really aren't that many?

I guess I'm forgetting that this is a business and the studios are more worried about making money. Out of the 22 films I just mentioned above, the average moviegoer will see at most three to five of them by the time we get to the Academy Awards. What I'm not forgetting is that there can only be one winner and five nominees. No matter how hard they try and no matter how good some films are, not all of them make it to the Oscars. Which is why this is such an interesting discussion. Watching great movies is never a bad thing, but when too many movies are shooting for Oscar consideration, too many of them get lost in the mix. I'm certain most people haven't even heard of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly even today.

Let's get back to the topic at hand. I don't think there are too many Oscar movies this year. In fact, I don't think there are enough. I would have loved to see The Soloist and The Road this year in addition to the 22 I already mentioned. Even if neither of those movies gets nominated at all, they still would have been better to include in this year's line-up. Now they're going to be buried and forgotten. I'm really not sure why Paramount and The Weinstein Company decided to move both of those films, but I don't think it's because audiences feel the Oscar season is already filled up. Then again, I see almost every movie, so I'm not the average moviegoer. I'm excited to see everything, but maybe everyone else is worried that there are too many great Oscar movies left to see this year? What do you think?

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  • Davor
    Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder that must be joke right.
  • Beetle
    Ive seen Rachel Getting Married & Happy-Go-Lucky, both are average movies.
  • Derek
    I actually hope Robert Downey is nominated for Tropic Thunder although I doubt it will happen. It would be nice to know that the Academy actually nominates based on acting and doent consider film genre as a reason to hold back on a nomination. I mean yeah it was a summer action/comedy, but that doesnt change the fact that Downey did a great job in that film and took a risk trying play that role and did it perfect. For some reason I think compared to last year this fall and the upcoming Oscar potential seems weak compared to last year, there doesnt appear to be as many. Im not complaining. I loved The Dark Knight, and the less competition, the more chance it atleast gets nominated for some awards, giving it the recognition it deserves for being a great film, regardless of being based on a comic book superhero.
  • Beetle
    For me great is big word to use. I love movies but that does not mean I think alot of them are great. In fact I think most of them are average. But then one comes along that blows me away! This year I only think Wall-E and The Dark Knight were the only great films. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man, Wanted, Tropic Thunder,In Bruges and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I would not say they were great. Last year personally only There Will be Blood and No Country For Old Men were great. I loved Bourne Ultimatum but I would not go as far to say even that was great.
  • Florian
  • Nah
    You mean people still watch the Oscars? Hahaha Now that's funny.
  • Here's my oscar line-up Animation-Walle Comedy-Tropic Thunder Documentary-American Teen Drama-Curiuos Case Of Benjamin Button Action-The Dark Knight Horror-Cloverfeild Actor-Daniel Craig Supporting Actor-Heath Ledger Actress-Keira Knightly Supporting Actress-Queen Latiefa Movie-The Dark Knight
  • Nah
    Don't forget Chris Nolan for director!!
  • Kenneth Van Castle
    I agree. There aren't too many movies. And, to add to your list, other oscar contenders include The Duchess, W., Changeling, and RocknRolla. I'm actually very upset to see The Soloist, Defiance, and The Road being moved. I was ecstatic to see Viggo Mortensen have another role where the Academy might recognize; had it not been for Daniel Day-Lewis, 2007's Oscar for Best Lead Male Performance would have been his. And, of course, Robert Downey Jr. Talk about a heart-warming story for the Thanksgiving weekend, a prodigy and being lost and learning how to care for someone who you know nothing about. I find it an insult that he'll be nominated for playing a brother in a Ben Stiller comedy, and not for the journalist. And even though Defiance is still slated for this year, they still decided to give it limited release on the 31st of December, and then expansion on the 16th the following month. And, like I started out, I definitely agree with you. There aren't too many movies out there for the nomination. The more, the merrier. It would probably help Hollywood if the Academy didn't count the season from September to December, but actually counted the entire year, but hey, they never listen to the people they should. Even though those movies have been moved, they'll still, at some point, be appreciated. Let's not forget 2007's March release Reign Over Me with Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle. Not contended for oscars and released in March, but a very breath-taking heart warming tale. It made you sad just to see the credits roll because the story came to an end. Same feeling that came from Scent From A Woman with Al Pacino; you hated seeing it end. And then The Road will be coming about next year, and contended for those Oscars. We're forced to wait, but the anticipation will make it just a slight bit sweeter. Especially since we rather see it done right than the post-production being rushed because of a Thanksgiving release. It'll be coming out next year, and every true movie fan will be waiting. It's still too bad though.
  • Shige
    This year looks to be the worst Oscar wise in a long time. Comic book flicks are good popcorn movies but they are not memorable in any way, yes that counts Heath Ledger whose role has been overblown by the sensation loving fanboys and the Nolan fanboys in general.
  • I thought Defiance was pushed back until next year? And as far as #10's comment - a good film is a good film. It can be a cartoon about alien super spy robots attacking Pluto and if it's well done it deserves Oscar recognition just as much as a Scorcese. And although I'm sure you get off on being a part of the minority and it probably makes you feel super duper cool!, Heath's performance was amazing, and he deserves every bit of praise he's gotten, comic book film or not.
  • Shige
    #11 Yes I Did not like the 2008 comic book bonanza. That makes me cool ? If you say so.
  • Rolando
    No. There are not many GREAT films running for 2008 OSCAR
  • tzarinna
    Yes, there are too many. I don't have to the funds to see the ones that really strike me.
  • 790
    The independent film "The Fall" is deserving of an Oscar, as is the little girl in that film. "Catinca Untaru",,, she had a pretty hard role to pull off.... Josh Brolin's role in the Oliver Stone film "W." is also Oscar worthy. Not to mention Richard Dreyfuss as Cheney...
  • without a doubt it will be The Dark Knight dt will steal most of the oscars...
  • m4st4
    My favorites: 1. THE DARK KNIGHT Best pic, supporting role (Heath wins!), photography, tehnical stuff...Director? too good to be true, but I cheer for Chris Nolan... 2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Best actor (Pitt, finally!!!), David Fincher (Best Director, finally!!!) 3. the Wrestler Not sure...Screenplay, or Marisa Tomei or smthng like that...Mickey Rourke nom.? (HL owns it, remember?) Darren for best director?
  • Alex, early word is on the test screenings for THE SOLOIST is dire. It might be a smart move after all.
  • I loved Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder (I mean, come on, he was one of the best parts of the whole movie, since I didn't think most of it was really all that great), but I don't think he deserves an Oscar nom. for the role :/ There aren't really a whole lot of movies I was 'completely blown away' by, other than the Dark Knight to be honest, but a lot of that could be that I wasn't actually expecting to be wowed by it when I went in to see it. I didn't find Rachel Getting Married to be anywhere near as 'awe-inspiring' or great at all really. It was okay....could have been a hell of a lot worse of course but it could have better as well.
  • Tyler
    What about Elegy? I really believe that Dennis Hopper should at least get a nomination for best supporting actor.
  • Conrad
    Number 1, have you seen Tropic Thunder? Robert Downey Jr. was incredible! comedy or not, he deserves the nomination - by the way, that news has actually been out for a while now...
  • I agree. That's the basic truth of it. What would be so wrong about all these films showing at the same time? I think it shows how much good writing is still out there, and it all came tumbling out after the strike. Personally, I found the last few Oscar years not up to their usual standards. It felt like the Oscars had dramatically lowered the bar due to the past few years of poor films. Don't think that I didn't believe that those that won did not deserve them, but no offence, their competors weren't that hard to beat. At last we are getting a dose of what cinema should be about and studios are running scared, scared that their list of films won't make enough money if there are too many good movies to be seen that month. If anything, the competition should make for bigger box office numbers. Nothing spreads like word of mouth, and when people say "go see it", most do just that. So many good movies means the more you MUST go to the movies to see them all. And when you have seen them all and they all start to trickle into the cheaper theatres, you'll more than likely see a movie again with that friend who didn't see it if only to catch what you missed the first time because you were so busy watching everything else. Whats wrong with so many contenders? The more the merrier I say. Finally I can spend my 20$ movie going experience on something worth seeing. and on a fan girl note. I'm just mad that they moved the Soloist to March. It's ROBERT DOWNEY JR., hello!? The man is having a box office golden year and your worried his drama flick won't make it ?? R O B E R T D O W N E Y JR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you, and good night.
  • brandon
    Best supporting actress - catinca untaru in The Fall . Catinca Untaru as Alexandria gives one of the most natural performances you could ever hope to see from a child actor. Here is "Catinca Untaru Petition Nomination 2009-09 award season" - Please vote !!!! http://www.petitiononline.com/CatincaU/petition.html
  • 790
    Hey good call Brandon! I signed the petition!!! The Fall was a great film! And she deserves the Oscar!

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