Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 DOUBLE (AND TRIPLE) THREATS: IT TAKES TWO (OR THREE) TO MAKE AN OSCAR CAMPAIGN GO RIGHT


Are you kind of over all my Oscar talk yet? Okay then, bear with me. I've got some more obsessing to do, but I promise to keep this post relatively short and sweet (okay, well maybe not so much).

In 2010, as in so many years past, it seems like Oscar buzz is flocking to the double and triple threats. Let me explain: If you have more than one critically acclaimed performance -- or blockbuster hit, or one of each -- to offer as proof of your worthiness, you stand a better chance of making the shortlist for Oscar's shortlist.

Let's consider some of the most buzzed-about contenders in each category.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Both George Clooney (Up In The Air) and Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) costarred earlier in 2009 in the well-received The Men Who Stare At Goats. (George also had the critically hailed but commercially challenged Fantastic Mr. Fox, which has built-in Oscar cred for being one of those Wes Anderson things.) Though A Single Man's Colin Firth had a bit part in A Christmas Carol, that was pretty much The Jim Carrey Show.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
There's an embarrassment of riches among the frontrunners. Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) and Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) both scored a pair of 2009 box-office hits. Meryl's other one was It's Complicated, and Sandra kicked off her 2009 comeback with The Proposal. Though Meryl's Fantastic Mr. Fox (see above) didn't register commerically, neither did Sandra's All About Steve. Meanwhile, An Education's Carey Mulligan delivered on the hype by earning critical props for her cameo in The Brothers.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Matt Damon's likely Invictus nod is looking more and more like a consolation prize for a probable snub for his better-received leading role in the The Informant! (I think he'll have to settle for the Golden Globe in the comedy category.) It's still a crapshoot whether Stanley Tucci will slide in for The Lovely Bones or for Julie & Julia -- or at all. Woody Harrelson no doubt will make the cut for The Messenger (above, above), but his 2009 box-office hits Zombieland (above, below) and 2012 (inset, with John Cusack) boosted his visibility and completed his long-gestating comeback. Finally, The Last Station's Christopher Plummer has three other 2009 films -- Up, 9 (not the musical, the upstaged animated one with the numerical title) and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus -- to impress the Academy. Can frontrunner Christoph Waltz of Inglorious Basterds say the same? Will it even matter on Oscar night (March 7)?

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The two in-contention Nine girls, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cottilard (the latter of whom is being pushed lead but has a better chance of getting in here), both have other Oscar-bait tricks up their lovely sleeves. Penelope reunited with her mentor-director Pedro Almodovar to favorable, if not acclaimed, effect in Broken Embraces and Marion got some of the best-in-show reviews for Public Enemies. Unfortunately, Nine's dreadful reviews may leave them both out of the running, which would be great news to A Single Man's Julianne Moore, who played second fiddle in 2009 to both Colin Firth and Robin Wright Penn (in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee).
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