Mon. Nov 18th, 2019

‘Joy’ Screens: It’s a Major Oscar Player

Jennifer Lawrence has a hot cup of 'Joy' tea to spill
Jennifer Lawrence has a hot cup of ‘Joy’ tea to spill

 

The highly anticipated Christmas release Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, screened last night in LA and AwardsWatch* was there to take in what was either going to be a huge success or a big disappointment. Being one of the few films that has yet to be seen in full (The Revenant and The Hateful Eight are other majors), it’s kind of a big deal to get an idea of where this film will land.

I can report that the screening was a pretty massive success. While the film isn’t quite finished it’s closer than most people might think; a few sound mixing issues and some tighter editing and the film should be locked soon and definitely within time to be seen for the upcoming critics and industry awards season. Some of the comments that came out of the screening were pretty clear in their praise:

“David O. Russell’s best film since Three Kings.”

“It’s such a director’s film and I think a culmination of everything from DOR’s career so far plus more.”

“100% Jennifer Lawrence show- in every scene. Could easily win.”

Erin Brockovich/Mildred Pierce vibes.”

“It’s such a rich, complex story that, I think, that doesn’t hold the audiences hands.”

Joy has been a huge question mark in this year’s Oscar race by many pundits. Most have held back from predicting it almost anywhere other than Jennifer Lawrence in Best Actress but even then it felt like she was a placeholder. AwardsWatch’s team of Oscar experts, The Gold Rush Gang,  has been bullish on the film’s Oscar chances since last April, where it’s been #1 by a pretty big margin every month. The Forum Oscar Polls, which are tabulated by votes of hundreds of forum members, has had Joy in the top 2 since March. I’m not really sure what the hesitance is to predict Joy for multiple nominations considering the trajectory of David O. Russell’s last three films. Let’s take a look at their box office and Oscar nominations:

[box type=”shadow” align=”alignleft” class=”” width=””]The Fighter – 7 nominations – 2 wins – $93.5M box office

Silver Linings Playbook – 8 nominations (including BP, BD, all four acting cats – first time since Reds in 1981) – 1 win – $132M box office

American Hustle – 10 nominations (including BP,BD, all four acting cats – first time since Sunset Blvd. in 1951 to have no acting wins from four noms) – 0 wins – $150M box office[/box]

So that’s an interesting path indeed; the number of nominations and the box office keeps increasing but the number of wins drops. Is that setting up Joy for success or failure?

What I’ve seen circulating amongst Oscar pundits is a sense that David O. Russell can’t possibly four-peat, which was the same thing that was said about American Hustle, that he couldn’t three-peat his success. He did. ‘He has THREE editors, ha ha ha, the film is a failure!’ I’ve heard. This despite that both Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle used multiple editors and both films received Oscar nominations for Film Editing. But wait, there’s more. ‘This fight between Russell and Annie Mumolo over writing credit for the screenplay will definitely sink him this time!’ is also a bell that’s been rung but I’m not buying it. We’ve seen this kind of controversy before, with the co-writing credits for Pulp Fiction and the arbitration fight over 12 Years a Slave. Both of those films went on to win Screenplay Oscars. The next obstacle pundits will probably throw in front of it is that with The Martian‘s success 20th Century Fox now has three HUGE films to push this Oscar season and in lots of similar categories. It’s a big task, to be sure, but far from impossible.

This season of Oscar watching has seen more and more pundits playing the ‘wait and see’ game, pouncing on whatever they’ve seen the most recently and declaring it the new frontrunner in a season that has been surprisingly bereft of one. Currently Spotlight seems to be the favorite among the major pundits but I can’t help to think that the journalism aspect of the film might have them a bit biased. I could be wrong and that isn’t to infer the film isn’t fantastic or deserving of its praise or predictions at all. I do also want to point out though that at this time last year the same thing was circulating around American Hustle. Pundits seemed teamed up against it and then the test screening happened, almost at exactly the same time in October, and AwardsWatch reported back that the film was a pretty big success and just needed a bit of tweaking, like Joy. That turned out pretty well for that film in terms of reviews, box office and Oscar nominations. I get that AwardsWatch is the new kid on the block in the Oscar pundit race and there is and will be a lot of side-eye and questions. But, our short history speaks for itself and if you look back to our time at AwardsDaily, we did a pretty good job then as well.

So, what’s the hesitance, folks? Is it time to give in or does the film still need to be “seen” to be properly analyzed and predicted? To me, that seems to take the joy out of predicting (sorry for that pun). Taking a gamble on an unknown, especially early on, is fun. Sure, it gives bragging rights if you’re right but it’s equally as possible to blow up in one’s face. The risk is part of the challenge, part of the game. Game on.

* I feel a clarification needs to be made here that should have been in the initial story. I, Erik Anderson, did not personally attend the screening. I had two AwardsWatch members attend the screening who reported back to me. I did not intend to obfuscate that and I apologize for being unclear. 

13 thoughts on “‘Joy’ Screens: It’s a Major Oscar Player

  1. Yes, bragging rights, here we go! I predicted JOY was going to win Best Picture/ Best Director and Best Actress since the teaser trailer came out. From the first reactions, I can tell I was right. David O Russell and Jennifer Lawrence did it again! Now I really can’t wait…

      1. Cate Blanchett already has two oscars and won one recently in 2014, so she is not going to win imo. This is going to be the first nomination for Brie Larson and honestly I don’t think she is going to win, also Room is a lot lower than JOY and Carol in the predictions of critics who saw the movies. When JOY comes out, I predict Jennifer Lawrence will be the frontrunner and favorite to win.

          1. Maybe because her movie JOY isn’t out yet? How can those predictions be accurate if nobody has seen the film? By the way, other sites like awards daily or awards watch have Jennifer Lawrence in first place, only based on the trailer…so if the first screenings of Joy were an indication, I predict a 2nd Oscar win for Jennifer Lawrence.

        1. So, what if it’s the first nomination for Brie? You sound like those JLaw fans who said that Lupita Nyong’o couldn’t win in 2013, because she was “nobody”.

  2. Very nice article about “JOY”.

    It’s very highly probable that “Joy” will be a very strong FILM AWARDS contender, 2015/2016 all season long !

    And please don’t forget –

    1., Fox 2000 hasn’t even dropped a full 2nd trailer yet.

    2., Fox 2000 hasn’t even started with any “Campaignings” yet ….so far.

    3., Fox 2000 hasn’t even started their “Marketing” like sending
    “Screeners” or “Kissing Pundits neither Kissing Babies nor Kissing
    Mums”.

    4., Fox 2000 hasn’t even started to think or to make financial calculations about Advertising

    “FOR YOUR CONSIDERATON” in all print or Online magazines, not yet, not yet !!!

    5., Fox 2000 for now only sits & waits !!!

  3. I’m a fan and truly believe that this will be DOR’s year. I love Three Kings and Silver Linings Playbook the most. Joy might be the film to break the supposed curse. The trailer was incredibly intriguing. He is in it to win it.

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