Friday, October 23, 2009

Can Sam Rockwell really get an Oscar nomination?

The oddest thing about the Somali pirate story that grabbed our attention for a few days earlier this year is that no one has bothered to make a movie about it, but that's about to change.

It seems that Billy Ray has been hired to pen the story of captain Richard Phillips, who was held hostage by Somali pirates until Barack Obama gave the order for some rather badass snipers to give them three shots to the head. (I only mention Obama because he could certainly use whatever goodwill he can get these days.)

Ray is easily one of my favorite screenwriters. "Breach" finished in my top 10 for 2007, and if you haven't seen "Shattered Glass," his flick about serial journalistic fabricator Stephen Glass, it's even better and well worth a rental. He was also one of three (wtf?) writers listed for "State of Play," which I just watched on DVD and enjoyed quite a bit.

Assuming this all comes to fruition (and why wouldn't it?), I would hope they pick someone besides Ray to direct it, because although I like all the movies he's helmed, they're very claustrophobic and cat-and-mouse, really not what we have here.

And in other, odder news today, it seems that the often great Don Cheadle is somehow getting into the sitcom business with NBC.

It's certainly not surprising that NBC would order up more comedies (last night's episode of "Community" was easily the funniest one yet - and on another network, of course, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" also had its funniest episode of the new season.) But why would Cheadle lower himself to TV?

I suspect it's due to the involvement of "Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder, who will write and I'd have to assume at least sometimes direct for the series. He'll certainly have to tone down his act for this new show about "mismatched brothers who reunite to open a private security company," but here's hoping he can keep it raw enough to be very funny.

But what sparked the headline for this post was that I saw there's now an online petition with about 700 signatures on it to get Sam Rockwell an Oscar nomination for his work in "Moon," and as far as empty gestures go, this one certainly has its heart in the right place. If you want to sign on, click here.

I had the distinct pleasure of squeezing into the screening of Duncan Jones' flick earlier this year at the Atlanta Film Festival 365, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It does steal more than a little directly from "2001," but it's still the kind of very smart sci-fi allegory we don't see on the big screen nearly often enough these days (and that, frankly, Neil Blomkamp's "District 9" only thought it was.)

And if you've seen this flick (if you haven't, it's finally coming to DVD Dec. 29), you know that Sam Rockwell's in just about every frame all alone, and he's sensational. Though Rockwell could have easily hammed it up with the descent into madness, he instead let it play out at a natural pace and turned in easily one of the best male performances I've seen this year.

So, is there any real chance that he could get a Best Actor Oscar nomination next year? I don't think so, but looking at the competition, I'd say he's at least a fairly healthy dark horse. Here's a look - as best as I can gauge it - at the contenders so far, plus a few players to come later. In my heart, I certainly wanted to include Peter Capaldi's gloriously profane turn as Malcolm Tucker in "In the Loop," but I really couldn't see that happening, so here goes:

Someone from "The Soloist"
I haven't seen this one yet because it just looks way too mawkish for me, but my fellow cubicle slave Randy Waters - whose taste I almost always trust - swears its good, so I should probably give it a shot on DVD. I'm certain, even without having seen it yet, that either Robert Downey Jr. or Jamie Foxx will get an Oscar nod for this - if not both - and I'd put my money on Foxx.

Someone from "The Hurt Locker"
Outside of Rockwell's run in "Moon," Kathyrn Bigelow's (not pro- or anti-, just) war movie has the best two male performances I've seen this year from Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner. Though they both just perfectly capture the state of soldiers in combat, I can't imagine they'd both be nominated, so I'll bet on Renner.

Matt Damon
I suppose this could come for either Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant" or for his upcoming role in Clint Eastwood's South Africa flick "Invictus," but I sure hope it's for the former. In Soderbergh's flick, he was just the perfect definition of a weasel as he kept digging deeper and deeper with the lies of Mark Whitacre, and it was thoroughly fun to watch.

Johnny Depp
And no, not just because he's Johnny Depp. In "Public Enemies," which made a surprisingly strong $97 million or so at the U.S. box office, Depp just carried the movie with ease as bank robber extraordinaire John Dillinger (and since he also had to carry the pretty much dead weight of Christian Bale as lawman Melvin Purvis, that was some truly heavy lifting.)

Future contenders

George Clooney
With "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Men Who Stare at Goats" and "Up in the Air" all coming in short order very soon, this fall will certainly be the season of Clooney, and I suspect you'll hear his name called next year for his role in the latter, the new flick from Jason Reitman and one I'm certainly looking forward to seeing.

Daniel Day Lewis
Because, well, he's Daniel Day Lewis and because, as the only dude in a sea of Oscar-winning women in Rob Marshall's epic musical "Nine," he'd have to just really, really suck to not snag a nomination for this, and I can't see that happening.

And there you have it. Please feel free to mention any I might have missed, and have a great weekend. As for my movie weekend, I'll probably go see Chris Rock's "Good Hair" and maybe "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," but not "Paranormal Activity," not because it looks too scary but because "The Blair Witch Project" was just easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen and I just don't think I can sit through another horror gimmick flick. Peace out.


Jess said...

I really doubt the Soloist will have any contenders. It's not good, and the acting isn't terrific. Downey Jr. is good, but it's just not a good movie, your initial instincts were right.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the good word, Jess ... It's not on my to-rent list now, so perhaps I'll just keep it where it is in the queue

pomme said...

"soloist" is awful to see! beurk their acting yell "i want an Oscar"

the one and only reason to nominate Depp is he wears well the hat and the suit.Yes,Depp is charismatic and it's all.And if you dislike Bale in Public enemies,you dislike Robert Duvall and Clint Eastwood!

Matt Damon is so seriously funny in "the informant"

the guy in "hurt locker" is very good(better than Depp)

i didn't see the movie with Sam Rockwell or the other movies who aren't in my country

Chalupa said...

You should see The Soloist at some point, but like everyone else is saying - I wouldn't rush out to watch it tonight. The story is amazing and very interesting, but the movie is slow and kind of boring. It has some good elements, but is lacking as a whole work.

We first found out about it on a 1k mile road-trip. It was on NPR and was really interesting. It was the actual journalist talking about the story and recounting everything that had happened.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I think Sam Rockwell does have a chance, what a stellar performance. Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker too. At least I'm hoping so *fingers crossed*.