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October 20, 2008

Oscar's new focus


Let's go ahead and say the studios did it for money reasons because, well, they most likely did. Please, Paramount, don't give us that pseudo-correct excuse that it would be in poor taste to release a drama about a homeless schizophrenic ("The Soloist") because of the current economic collapse.

Really, no one's buying that for a minute.

The result, though, of several Oscar-bait movies being held, pushed, rescheduled or otherwise knocked out of fourth quarter could be a tighter, more focused awards season.

And let's go ahead and say huzzah for that.

Now, Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Craig, Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. may not feel that way, with their Oscar chances potentially melting away for "The Road," "Defiance" and "The Soloist." (Word has yet to come about qualifying runs.)

But there could be a silver lining here for Downey, as THR's Steven Zeitchik points out today. The absence of several Important Films from this frame could mean a new lease on awards life for such standout performances as Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor" and crowd-pleasers such as "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man."

Downey's still alive! We liked him for best actor for "The Soloist" -- that prediction pile is now being reshuffled -- but we also could see him contending for trophies for "Iron Man" or "Tropic Thunder." He's so in the game, people.

More to come on the Evolving Race.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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