These Movies Once Had Oscar Buzz But Lost It
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
As we just heard, "Get Out" is getting lots of attention as a possible Oscar contender this year. The nominations come out tomorrow morning. And missing from the list will be films that at one point were considered Oscar contenders but now are not, movies that had all the right stuff on paper - prestige directors, A-list actors - but just kind of died when they made it to theaters.
Some of them were tanked by controversy. All of Hollywood felt the effects of the #MeToo movement this past year. But as our next guest explains, other films just didn't have it. Joe Reid is the creator of the blog This Had Oscar Buzz, and I asked him to give us some examples from 2017.
JOE REID: This year had a few. There was a movie called "The Zookeeper's Wife" starring Jessica Chastain. She played a zookeeper's wife in World War II during the Holocaust.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE")
JOHAN HELDENBERGH: (As Jan Zabinski) Thousands of people are dying - the littlest of children.
JESSICA CHASTAIN: (As Antonina Zabinska) We have room. We could hide them.
REID: That was one of those - again, I always go back to these are the movies that look good on paper - Jessica Chastain, former Oscar nominee, Niki Caro, director of an Oscar-nominated movie, World War II, big Oscar-favorite of a topic. And yet the movie didn't happen for any number of reasons.
MCEVERS: And you write that biopics are usually like a slam dunk for a nomination.
REID: Very much so, yeah.
MCEVERS: But that's not necessarily the case this year. What are some of your favorite biopics from this year that we aren't talking about right now, that haven't been nominated?
REID: Oh, gosh, I mean, I think when you talk about, like, biopic, true life story, like, "All The Money In The World" feels like another one.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD")
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER: (As John Paul Getty) I have no money to spare.
MARK WAHLBERG: (As Fletcher Chase) What would it take? I mean, what would it take for you to feel secure?
PLUMMER: (As John Paul Getty) More.
REID: It's this true-life story. J. Paul Getty...
MCEVERS: This is the movie that Kevin Spacey was starring in...
MCEVERS: ...And then was not starring in once allegations came forward about him. And they...
MCEVERS: ...Recast his part. And there's controversy about who got paid what.
REID: So much - like, so much stuff. And that's a movie that if you look at some Oscar prognostication - because it got Golden Globe nominations, and that's one of those indicators that you feel like, well, maybe it's still an Oscar contender. And I could be - you know, come Tuesday's nominations, I could be proved wrong about that.
REID: "Detroit" was another true-life story, Kathryn Bigelow's movie about the 1967 riots in Detroit.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DETROIT")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Here in Detroit, a city of war, violence continues.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) We've made state police and national guardsmen available.
REID: Bigelow - she's the only woman to ever win best director at the Oscars. She's had...
REID: ...Two movies as best picture nominees. And that was a movie that was met with both this sort of muted to confused reception and a lot of, you know - maybe she was not the person to make this movie.
MCEVERS: Is there, like, a formula here? You know, is there just something about the ones that make it and the ones that don't? You said, like, ones that look good on paper...
MCEVERS: ...You know, you got Oscar-nominated director, Oscar-nominated actor.
MCEVERS: But then, like, what is it that just doesn't quite click?
REID: Well, that's one of the things that I really like about doing this blog especially - is it's nostalgic, especially for a sort of very niche kind of nerd like I am, a Oscar nerd that I am.
REID: But it reminds me, that, like, there is a formula, but it - like, there's a little bit of, like, magic that goes into it for lack of a better word where, like, you can have all of the ingredients on paper. One example I like to think of from this year is "Mother!"
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOTHER!")
JENNIFER LAWRENCE: (As Mother) We spend all our time here. I want to make it paradise. Are you happy?
JAVIER BARDEM: (As Him) I love you.
REID: Jennifer Lawrence - huge Oscar favorite, Oscar winner. Like, it seems like she can't miss. She's, you know, getting nominated for "Joy" - Darren Aronofsky, former best director nominee for "Black Swan."
REID: So it all seems to work on paper. And then you see the movie. And of course, just the second you see the movie, love it or hate it, the kind of movie that it is, the Oscars were never going to go for it (laughter). Like, it's one of those things where, like, movies are not math where, you know, it could all add up on paper and yet things can go good or bad. And that's what I love about movies. And that's what I, you know, love about Oscars.
MCEVERS: Joe Reid is a senior entertainment writer for the film and TV site decider.com He created and runs the blog This Had Oscar Buzz. Thanks so much for being with us.
REID: Thank you. This was fantastic.
(SOUNDBITE OF AFROCUBISM'S "MALI CUBA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.