12 Days of Christmas Catch Up, day 2: Toni Erdmann, Huppert blues, & adapted screenplay

This morning when I was thinking about what to write I was a bit shocked to realize this is only day 2 of Christmas Catch Up. I immediately felt an urge to give up on this idea of being able to compile a Top 10 list by the end of the year. I'm still a bit heartbroken about not being able to see "Jackie" in time. Who knows, maybe Christmas will come early. (Fox Searchlight, can you hear me?)

Yesterday morning the sting of Isabelle Huppert being left of the SAG list did not ease as Dallas-Forth Worth, Detroit and Phoenix ignored her. But it was a joy to see Detroit nominate "The Edge of Seventeen." I loved that movie, and along with "Moonlight," "Swiss Army Man," and "Sing Street" are really the movies that have stayed with me after seeing them. And I have come back around to "Manchester By the Sea" as well. It's certainly still in the running.

Another development yesterday was the Academy's decision that "Moonlight" and "Loving" would be considered adapted screenplays. "Moonlight" seems a complete no brainer. It was based on a play. Previous material. Who cares if it wasn't produced. Wasn't it published? "Loving" is a bit of a surprise. I saw the documentary the Academy considers the material the film was adapted from, but it was years ago when it played at the Tribeca Film Festival. I read yesterday that much of the dialogue was lifted directly from the documentary. Not sure how that counts...especially if it is real life conversations? Maybe it was from narration? Not sure, but I guess I trust the Academy on that one. Seems like Kenneth Lonergan's Original Screenplay Oscar to lose now. Although, who knows? They like to surprise there. Remember "Precious" won. Although last year, they had a chance to surprise with "Ex Machina" or "Room" and went the safer route, awarding "The Big Short."

Now...on to last night's viewing.

I saw what is considered by many to be the frontrunner for Best Foreign Film, Germany/Austria's submission, "Toni Erdmann," written and directed by Maren Ade.  I was stunned by a few things with this film. First of all, it is almost 3 hours, quite simplistic, realistic, and funny...but in a subtle way. I only really laughed aloud a few times. But it NEVER feels long. Just like "Elle," I was completely captivated by every frame. There is a sex scene between Ines (played by Sandra Huller, so real in this part you almost forget she is a skilled actor) and Tim (played with complete abandon by Trystan Putter) that is so awkward, kinky, and real...my roommate and I were talking about how an American film would never put something like that on screen. That sex scene showed more about those two characters than almost any other one in the film. Especially Ines. She is a wound tight business woman. But who shifts, ever so slightly depending on the situation, who she is with. Such a subtle shift. This is the type of performance that doesn't receive awards attention because without bombast, eyes don't open.

This all being said, I have to admit that I don't see this winning the Oscar. I'm not sure I can pinpoint the why of it, but I feel this might be one of those cases where the critics/prognosticators see one thing, but in the end it is something else that wins over the Academy. Either way this is not a slam dunk. Especially not like "Ida" was (although that year I thought then that "Wild Tales" might sneak in. But only as a dark horse).

I see this more as a "Pan's Labyrinth" situation. "Toni Erdmann" very well might get nominated for screenplay. In a wonderful world, director as well.  But It might not take home the big prize.

This is not a consensus film. But then again, is "Elle?" Or "The Handmaiden?" Oddly enough "Julieta," Almodovar's safest entry in years could come on top if it actually gets nominated. And then there is "The Salesman." It is way too early to talk in these terms. More will be revealed.
SO...here is my list. I'm thinking that tonight I will watch either "Hell or High Water" or take it a bit easier with "Maggie's Plan."  I'm also putting "Captain Fantastic" on the 2nd tier list.

Must sees (12 Days of Christmas Catch Up)

Closet Monster
Hail Caeser
Toni Erdmann 
Hell or High Water 
Nocturnal Animals
The Witch
Rogue One
La La Land
The Red Turtle
Maggie's Plan
The Lobster

2nd tier
American Honey
The Eagle Huntress
Miss You Already
Knight of Cups
Other People
Captain Fantastic

Probably ot happening....
20th Century Women
Land of Mine
Finding Dory 
X Men Apocalypse
Suicide Squad
Batman v/s Superman
The Meddler
Miles Ahead
The Hollars
Don't Think Twice


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