Good Morning Oscar, October 12: Early Kudos for Morgan Freeman, Roger Deakins

Veteran actor and noted cinematographer get a head start on awards season

In this morning’s roundup of Oscar news ‘n’ notes from around the web, Morgan Freeman and Roger Deakins get a head start on awards season.

Morgan FreemanAfter five nominations and one win, Morgan Freeman won’t be in the Oscar picture this year. So the American Film Institute has stepped in to pick up the slack, voting the 73-year-old actor its annual lifetime achievement award for his 40-year career on film and in the theater. “Morgan Freeman is an American treasure,” AFI board of trustees chair Howard Stringer said in a press release. “ … [H]e embodies a calm authority that demands respect for the character and for the art form.” But the 2010 awards season will be long past by the time Freeman gets his AFI honor, which won’t be presented until a star-studded dinner next June. (Reuters via Yahoo! News)

Roger Deakins, on the other hand, won’t have to wait quite as long for his honor. On February 13, 2011, the British-born cinematographer will receive the 2011 American Society of Cinematographers’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the ASC announced on Monday. Deakins’ track record in recent years has been remarkable, including a year, 2007, in which he received Oscar nominations for both “No Country for Old Men” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” His other Oscar nods include “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Fargo,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “The Reader.” (He shared the nomination for that last film with Chris Menges.) Astonishingly, he has yet to win, though it’d hardly be a surprise if he turns the trick this year for “True Grit.” In fact, he’s probably a strong competitor for the ASC honor for that film as well, which means that when the ASC Awards take place next February, Deakins could very well find himself going home with two awards – one for his lifetime of achievement and one for his latest film. (American Society of Cinematographers)

Dave Karger has a pretty good track record in these things, so his “early guesses” at the Best Picture lineup have as much authority behind them as it’s possible to have at this early date – which is to say, a little. He puts “The King’s Speech” at the top of his list, followed by the movie nobody has seen, “True Grit.” His biggest stretch probably comes when he puts James L. Brooks’ romantic comedy (now there’s a genre Oscar likes to ignore) “How Do You Know?” at number five, though he also goes out on a limb with “Love and Other Drugs” at number 10. And I think he’s underestimating the passion that “Black Swan” will stir up among some voters … unless I’m overestimating it. (Oscar Watch)

If Best Actress looks to be one of the deepest and more crowded acting categories this year, you probably can’t say the same for Best Supporting Actress. Kris Tapley surveys a fieldthat he says is “seemingly thin,” and finds a frontrunner (Miranda Richardson in “Made in Dagenham”), a couple of next-tier choices (Dianne Wiest in “Rabbit Hole” and Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”), and a bunch of question marks that begin with Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom.” (Memo to AMPAS members: You have the screener. Watch it.) “Let’s watch it unfold and appreciate what we have,” Tapley advises. (In Contention)  

Sasha Stone, a “Hereafter” partisan, defends Clint Eastwood’s movie against David Denby’s pan in the New Yorker. “I’m surprised that certain critics see the film so literally,” she says, “without thinking that it might not mean what they think it means.” (Awards Daily)