Good Morning Oscar, October 18: A Curiouser Oscar Theory

Voters are invited down the rabbit hole, and the Supporting Actress field takes a beating

In this morning’s roundup of Oscar news ‘n’ notes from around the web, voters are invited down the rabbit hole, and the Supporting Actress field takes a beating.

The calls and emails started going out last week from publicists floating a novel theory: that Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” deserved to be in the Best Picture running, at least partly because it made more than a billion dollars worldwide. So far there haven’t been many takers to support that notion, given that first-quarter films with only 51 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 53 on Metacritic don’t generally compete for Best Picture, no matter how much money they make. But Pete Hammond is always ready to float a studio’s or producer’s new trial balloon, so he gives producers Joe Roth and Dick Zanuck 1,000 words to explain how they’re about to launch a campaign that’ll prove all the pundits wrong. The push starts with four-day engagements this week in Hollywood and Santa Monica, with ads aimed at guild and Academy members. “I think it would be terribly disappointing not to make the Top 10,” says Zanuck, who presumably has been in the business long enough that he's learned to deal with disappointment. (Deadline)

Animal KingdomSasha Stone’s look at the Supporting Actress race starts with a history lesson of sorts, and a note of skepticism: “There are many actresses who were just the thing of the moment and, looking back, one wonders how in the world they ever won.” She comes up with 14 possibilities, from ones she loved (Sissy Spacek in “Get Low,” Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom,” right) to ones she hasn’t seen (Barbara Hershey in “Black Swan,” Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”). But all of her guesses come with the warning that “the supporting category, I dare say, has been filled with mediocre performances for decades now, with a few great choices here or there.” (Awards Daily)

Nathaniel Rogers picks the same category, and explains all the reasons why the people you think will get nominated might not. Helena Bonham Carter? The Academy doesn’t like her. Miranda Richardson? The role is too easy. Marion Cotillard? “Inception” isn’t an actors’ movie. Jacki Weaver? Hollywood doesn’t know who she is. Fortunately, all these cranky, judgmental, know-nothing Academy members he’s taking about have to vote for somebody. (The Film Experience)

Guy Lodge sees five of the foreign-language submissions, and gives his impressions. France’s “Of Gods and Men”: “had my attention, [but] it did not have my heart.” Argentina’s “Carancho”: “a whipcrack entertainment that wears its social consciousness as loosely as a last-minute accessory.” Estonia’s “The Temptation of St. Tony”: “this is the kind of invigorating oddity for whom the projection ‘Never in a million years will this get an Oscar nod’ can be read as nothing but the highest praise.” Kyrgyzstan’s “The Light Thief”: “two parts easygoing rural fable to one part only moderately less easygoing political satire.” China’s “Aftershock”: “All shonky digital effects, frequently perplexing dialogue … and performances so unreadable someone elected to subtitle even the English-speaking actors, ‘Aftershock’ is a veritable howler.” (In Contention)

“If Hilary Swank were a stock, would you buy, sell or hold?” Kyle Buchanan and Claude Brodesser-Akner ask the question of anonymous industries (“one publicist,” “one top agent”), and reach the nice, noncommittal conclusion that the answer is to hold your shares of the two-time Oscar winner, but not buy any new ones. Seems they’re all worried about her, and they think she needs to “take a vacation from Oscar-baity dramas for a while.” (Vulture)