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Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

How Will Comedy Do at This Year's Oscars?

The Oscars have historically been an awards show that doesn't give comedy its proper due, but last year, things looked like they were starting to change, with Bridesmaids receiving two nominations (Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy and Best Original Screenplay for Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo), Jonah Hill scoring a Best Supporting Actor nom for his turn in the drama Moneyball, Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie winning an Academy Award for his song "Man or Muppet" from Jason Segel's Muppets movie, and Nat Faxon and Jim Rash winning a screenwriting Oscar for The Descendants. This time around, it doesn't look like comedies and comedians will do quite as well at the Academy Awards ceremony in February, but there are still plenty of comedy folk who have a shot at a nomination and there are still a couple more months of buzz and speculation before things are set in stone. Let's take a look at the comedy-related contenders, shall we?

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson's coming-of-age tale Moonrise Kingdom has a better shot at Oscar glory than just about any other comedy out this year. While the critically-acclaimed movie scoring nominations for any acting categories is a long shot, the film is considered a serious contender for Best Picture by top Oscar prognosticators Rope of Silicon and IndieWire. Plus, two-time Academy Award nominee Wes Anderson has a shot at nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (with co-writer Roman Coppola).

Silver Linings Playbook

The only other major comedy besides Moonrise Kingdom with a serious chance at Best Picture is Silver Linings Playbook, writer/director David O. Russell's movie about a guy (Bradley Cooper) with bipolar disorder who moves in with his parents after being released from a mental health facility and starts dating a lady with her own problems (Jennifer Lawrence). Silver Linings is a shoo-in for a Best Picture nom, and there's a lot of this mysterious "Oscar Buzz" on stars like Cooper, Lawrence, Jacki Weaver, and Robert DeNiro. Plus, David O. Russell's directing and writing work are also probably going to get recognized by the Academy.

This Is 40

The Judd Apatow-produced Bridesmaids received two Oscar nominations last year, and this year, he's back with the first movie he's written/directed since 2009's Funny People. Funny People felt a little Oscar bait-y at times, but the movie's ambitions didn't pay off when it was met with mixed reviews from critics. This Is 40, on the other hand, has been receiving raves from critics so far, and the movie may very well score a nomination or two. Variety reports that stars Leslie Mann and Albert Brooks are in the mix for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor nominations, respectively. Brooks was expected to be nominated for a the Supporting Actor prize last year for his turn in Drive but was snubbed. He has one nomination in the supporting category under his belt, from 1987's Broadcast News. Judd Apatow's screenplay is also a long shot for Best Adapted Screenplay, but crazier things have happened.

Bill Murray for Best Actor with Hyde Park on Hudson

Bill Murray plays U.S. President FDR in the new movie Hyde Park on Hudson, which looks so Oscar bait-y that it probably wouldn't have been made at all if the Oscars weren't a thing. The movie has been met with lukewarm reviews, but critics have praised one-time Oscar nominee Murray's performance and both Rope of Silicon and IndieWire list him as a contender, although he is considered a long shot. Plus, even if Bill Murray does pull off a nomination, the award itself is as good as Daniel Day-Lewis's already.

Alan Arkin for Best Supporting Actor with Argo

Ben Affleck's Iran Hostage Crisis thriller is far from a comedy, but longtime funny guy Alan Arkin provides a lot of the film's comic relief. Despite spending a scant amount of time onscreen in the movie, there's some of this Oscar buzz stuff surrounding Arkin's performance, which would make for his fourth Academy Award nomination.

John Krasinski for Best Original Screenplay with Promised Land

The Office star John Krasinski co-wrote and co-starred in the upcoming movie Promised Land with Matt Damon (based on a story by Dave Eggers), a drama about two gas company salesmen visiting a small town to buy up drilling rights. The movie will have a limited release on December 28th, which will qualify it to be an under-the-wire Oscar contender. Krasinski and Damon's screenplay and Damon's performance have been singled out as award-worthy and may well score nominations next month, as well as the movie's director, two-time Oscar nominee Gus Van Sant.

Miscellanea

One of the frontrunners for Best Picture this year is director Kathryn Bigelow's "how the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden" movie Zero Dark Thirty, which features performances from comedy mainstays like Chris Pratt and Mark Duplass in supporting roles. While Pratt and Duplass don't have any mysterious Oscar buzz around them, it's still cool to see them in a serious movie that's about to get a ton of prestigious awards thrown at it. Another major Oscar contender, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained isn't a straight comedy, but it does contain a ton of humor and a Jonah Hill cameo.