The uproar over the late screenings of “The Girl With the DragonTattoo” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” has finally died down, and really, not a moment too soon. Though the debate over early screenings for critics is bound to drone on (and on), those two films were the final pieces of a puzzle that really starts to take shape mid-December. What the Gotham Awards, the Independent Spirit Award noms, New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review announcements started just after Thanksgiving will start to gain real momentum this week.
On Sunday, the American Film Institute will announce its 10 Movies of the Year, which this past year lined up almost exactly with the 10 best picture nominees. The one film that was missing from AFI’s list — “The King’s Speech” — was, of course, the one that took home the Oscar, so make your own conclusions about the AFI’s status as a bellwether. However, the AFI’s list is likely to include many of the films that have been percolating this season: “The Descendants,” “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris” and “The Artist.”
The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. will also hash out a decision for its best picture behind closed doors Sunday morning. LAFCA member (and Variety contributor) Glenn Whipp wrote in today’s Los Angeles Times Envelope that the org’s decision is likely to come down to “The Descendants,” “The Tree of Life” and “Melancholia.” “Tree of Life” spawned a lot of debate (at least in this office) about whether it’s artful or indulgent — it seems like most lean toward the latter, for the record — but “Melancholia” has generated more Spirit Awards conversation than anything else. It would be surprising if LAFCA chose anything other than “The Descendants.”
The Boston Film Critics are also scheduled to weigh in midday on Sunday with its awards announcement.
But the real big guns will come out later in the week when the Screen Actors Guild announces its nominees on Wednesday and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. reveals its Golden Globe noms on Thursday morning.
All eyes will be on the noms for SAG’s unique ensemble award (“The Help,” “The Artist” seem like locks), as well as the wild-card supporting actress category, which could yield a few surprises from SAG’s nomination committee (Will Melissa McCarthy continue the streak she started at the Emmys? Will Shalene Woodley get recognition from her actor peers?).
The Golden Globes, which appear to have been carving out a niche separate from the Oscars over the last few years, are sure to have plenty of surprises designed to make for a good telecast. Several frontrunner films with distinctly American perspectives (“The Help,” “Moneyball,” “Extremely Loud”) could challenge an org that’s known for having more of an “international” slant on nominations. The org’s rules that divide films between drama and musical/comedy might help “Bridesmaids” or even “The Muppets” eke out a musical/comedy nom. But it could make things a little harder for “The Help,” which Disney wanted to have compete in musical/comedy and instead had to submit in the very crowded drama category.
The studios are going mostly dark after Dec. 16, but don’t think awards strategists won’t be working overtime over the holidays, trying to make the most of the remaining days of December.