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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

How Do You Know A Studio/ Producer/ Filmmaker Is Staining Their Jockey Shorts?

They show their Oscar-chasing art film to Fantastic Fest or Butt-Numb-A-Thon, where they know they control the dispensing of opinion, before they show it in less tightly controlled circumstances….
And sometimes, they even get a sweet kiss from a trade blog

99 Responses to “How Do You Know A Studio/ Producer/ Filmmaker Is Staining Their Jockey Shorts?”

  1. IOIOIOI says:

    Oh come on! Fantastic Fest is important. It’s like the TIFF of… Texas. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

  2. Alan Cerny says:

    “They show their Oscar-chasing art film to Fantastic Fest or Butt-Numb-A-Thon, where they know they control the dispensing of opinion”
    Utter, complete horseshit.
    Thanks for playing, though.

  3. hendhogan says:

    i thought sxsw was the tiff of texas

  4. David Poland says:

    Impressive, AC… a comment with no actual content.
    Really, please put up or shut up. If you want to make the argument about how strong a choice it is or that it’s not a play to manipulate AICN, go to town. But to whine and throw down the mic? Weak.

  5. bobbob911 says:

    Sort of pisses me off that this is, arguably, a bigger ‘get’ than anything that premiered at TIFF (if you look at the number of TIFF ‘premieres’ that played Venice and Telluride).
    It was, frankly, a little shocking how few true premiers TIFF managed to get this year. Perhaps its time for them to throw their weight around a little more?

  6. Alan Cerny says:

    I’ve never been to Fantastic Fest, sadly. But I’ve been to BNAT many times. And I assure you, I saw some lousy premieres there. I even wrote about them. So to say they control the dispensing of opinion is incorrect at best, and an out-and-out falsehood at worst.
    Or should I list the suckitude for you? There’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, there’s ED GEIN, there’s HOUSE of 1000 CORPSES, there’s UNDEAD, there’s SMOKIN’ ACES (which, I’ll admit enjoying on a base level, but it’s not exactly “good”)… or there’s those films that were mediocre, like THE MAJESTIC, or TOO LONG KONG. And I’ll admit being very impressed with THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST at the time, but I’ll chalk that up to hype and distance from it, because I don’t care for it too much now.
    But you continue to insist that they control the opinions coming out of such events. Whatever, man. It’s called being wrong.

  7. David Poland says:

    The problem that TIFF and other festivals have is that the studios don’t want to risk everything anymore by exposing themselves that way unless they really feel they need the help.
    NYFF has, I believe, one North American premiere… Darjeeling.
    The problem with a stunt like this for Vantage is that they have limited their exposure, but made the film look like a problem movie that needs this kind of hand holding. It’s not that the crowd at Fantastic Fest is not one of the best you will find in the world. You won’t find more true movie lovers than you will there. But if you’ve got a non-genre film, it is still the back door.
    The fact that it worked okay for Mel Gibson is no great help to this film. Christians worldwide weren’t waiting to hear what people at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon thought before going. And there was backlash… on a level that will hurt this film while it didn’t matter to TPOTC.
    It is, to be fair, an inside baseball issue. But this is an inside baseball movie. To premiere the film at Fantastic Fest WHILE THE NYFF IS HAPPENING is close to suicidal… except that like geeks on horror, the arthouse folks will go anyway, drooling for DDL and PTA, as I guess, on some level, it is fair for us to be doing.

  8. bobbob911 says:

    I don’t disagree what you’re saying, but nevertheless if a studio is going to take it’s film to festivals at all, there has to be a first one :)
    It just seems to me that TIFF is losing more and more of them, probably due to the more friendly attitude they have towards letting a film play somewhere else first.
    I read several times that TWBB was nowhere close to being ready and thats why it didn’t play TIFF. Clearly this was not the case (although I can respect a director not wanting to rush his film for a festival).

  9. Hopscotch says:

    Though he’s a good director and made one undisiputable masterpiece (Boogie Nights), I still see Anderson as a “fan boy” director, a la Tarantino. Sure the critics love them both as well, but the bread and butter is in the land of film geeks and that’s where they premiered.
    And the last one of these where the entire Austin Crowd went bonkers was…. V for Vendetta. Not a bad movie, but not exactly amazing either. But the word from Austin when it preemed there is that it was the second-coming.
    I hope this film is great. I sure is hell can’t wait to see it.

  10. Jeremy Smith says:

    Some NYC critics saw THERE WILL BE BLOOD the night before the Fantastic Fest premiere. I’m sure Richard Pena is cheesed, but PTA probably forced Vantage’s hand on this after having Tim and Harry threw that (by most accounts) wonderful 10th Anniversary BOOGIE NIGHTS screening in Reseda this summer.

  11. jeffmcm says:

    I think Anderson is a good director, but you can certainly dispute that Boogie Nights is a masterpiece. A good movie, yes, but kind of…I don’t know…fluffy.

  12. Crow T Robot says:

    Anderson is an unlikely geek director, but a geek director nonetheless. In a weird way that’s what makes “There Will Be Blood” the unlikeliness of genre films. Showing it at a geek festival isn’t that much of a surprise to me. What I find funny is that PTA really doesn’t display that many geek fetishes in his work. He’s more Altman than Tarantino. But one virtuoso shootout in Boogie Nights and he’s “one of us.”
    My problem DP is that you seem insulted that this movie isn’t designing its flightplan around winning Oscars. At least not to your liking. Using words like “stunt” and “suicidal.” Apparently a fall movie is only as good as the awards it gets. That a good storyteller must do more than tell a good story. Do you really believe that? Ain’t It Cool Aid you’re serving, Dave?

  13. Hallick says:

    “They show their Oscar-chasing art film to Fantastic Fest or Butt-Numb-A-Thon, where they know they control the dispensing of opinion, before they show it in less tightly controlled circumstances….”
    I don’t understand how showing a movie at a film festival enables more control over the ensuing word of mouth than a media-only screening with an upfront embargo on when a critic’s opinion may finally be sprung loose on the public. Unless you’re talking about the expectation that the kind of crowds that gather at an FF or BNAT are packed with people guaranteed to bring roses for casting at the filmmaker’s feet after the screening.

  14. Drew says:

    I find your reaction particularly telling, David, and not in a way that has much of anything to do with AICN, although that’s certainly there in the way you reported it.
    This is why I loathe the Oscar game, and in particular, why I hate this part of the year as far as film writers are concerned. All you give a shit about… everything you parse and everything that you filter… is about the Oscar. The Oscar race. Positioning for Oscar. Chasing the Oscar. Losing the Oscar.
    Yawn. Maybe… and I’m not sure, since I’m not in Austin, and I’m not part of the decision-making process for this festival… but maybe PTA decided he didn’t want to do the dog-and-pony route in Toronto. Maybe he didn’t want to go to the NYFF and do the thing that is expected as you chase that little fucking statue. Maybe he just wanted to take it somewhere to screen it where they would WATCH IT AS A MOTHERFUCKING MOVIE FIRST.
    I hope the movie’s as good as I’m hearing.
    And I almost perversely hope this was a “suicidal move” concerning its Oscar hopes. If I were PTA, I’d wear it as a badge of honor that a bunch of self-important arbiters of taste decided that where my movie premiered somehow meant ANYTHING about the quality of that film.
    And David, here’s a serious question for you… obviously you think that there are only certain places a film is allowed to premiere if it is to be taken “seriously” by the Oscars. What happens when that landscape changes? What happens if someone spends a decade or more dedicated to building a new alternative, a new festival (or two) that offer a different way to start the dialogue on your film?
    What makes it valid? At what point has something existed long enough and premiered enough films and programmed enough substance to be part of that landscape?
    Or is your contention that it will never and could never happen because it’s just that fat fuck from Texas who you hate?

  15. Unison says:

    For what it’s worth, PTA actually said months ago (well before there was any finished product, during Cannes) that he didn’t want the film to be caught up in festival hype, and planned to premiere the film at a smaller festival, which is exactly what happened.
    Direct quote: “I just got out of the mix a few weeks ago and the first screening is going to be very discreet at a small festival. I don

  16. lazarus says:

    Drew I don’t know if you needed to throw that last jab in there, but I agree with much of what you’re saying. I don’t know how one can criticize the way the game is played, and then scoff at an artist (or studio) that opts out of playing it.
    Shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that this reportedly slow-paced and challenging film is appealing to a crowd with a slightly shorter attention span? Isn’t that a coup of some sort? And while I’m sure the audience was poised to be positive because of their lucky break in even seeing it, until I see a dissenting opinion I’m going to be optimistic.
    What bothers me is that the motivation of this post seems to be either picking fun at an unorthodox strategy for getting the word out, or trying to slap down the geek demographic, which comes off hypocritical as DP rants about mainstream media not taking the blog media seriously.

  17. Alan Cerny says:

    They don’t have a shorter attention span. this is a crowd that is ravenous about film, whether it’s a genre film or a fantasy/sci-fi/horror film. You’re making the mistake of judging the viewer, as way too many internet film critics are prone to do.
    I would certainly trust an FF attendee’s opinion about a film over David Poland any day of the week, that’s for damn sure.

  18. James Leer says:

    It’s weird that anyone would hear about this film’s reception and instead of writing, “Hey! A possible masterpiece could be on its way,” write a nasty take-down for no discernible reason whatsoever.
    Too true that far too many internet pundits see year-end films through the prism of Oscar and disregard any film that doesn’t fit that bill. And that sucks.

  19. Doesn’t Texas kind of make sense anyway, considering the film was largely shot in Marfa?

  20. bipedalist says:

    Uh….not really. I think what Poland’s commenting on isn’t that he premmed the fest there but that the early raves from that premiere can’t really be trusted as they would if the film had opened with more skeptical eyes on the watch.

  21. lazarus says:

    Alan, stop being so damned defensive. I didn’t say the Fantastic Fest crowd was a bunch of drooling dorks, I said “slightly” shorter attention span, and I meant relative to a regular industry/critics screening. If you’re telling me that isn’t the case, especially in a venue that is showing predominantly genre films, you’re misjudging the viewers even more.

  22. Unison says:

    The film showed in NYC this week, and buzz is equally good, though.

  23. IOIOIOI says:

    Only Oscar season brings this kind of love… right here… TO THE HOT BLOG!

  24. Bilge says:

    As another poster noted, THERE WILL BE BLOOD screened for some long-lead critics here in NY a day before its FF premiere. The people I’ve heard from who were at that screening were extremely enthusiastic, suggesting that the FF buzz is indeed correct. Though whether that means Oscars or not is obviously far from settled.
    As for why PTA didn’t premiere the film at another blue chip festival, I take him at his word. He’s won enough prizes. Maybe he just didn’t want to deal with that pressure alongside the pressure he’s probably already feeling to deliver a hit.
    Also, an important point: Showing the film at a major film festival now means getting a lot of reviews, features, interviews, etc. right now, which in some cases will pre-empt and obviate more coverage in two and a half months, when the film is released, and when it will really need it. Distributors HATE that.
    Also, what’s wrong with wanting to control the buzz a little bit? Even the most confident of filmmakers doesn’t really know if they’ve delivered until their film finally faces an audience.

  25. David Poland says:

    A. I don’t hate Harry (or you, for that matter, Drew) and never have. And in spite of your nasty inference, I have never referred to Harry as a “fat fuck” or written a word about his weight as a defining characteristic. Play fair.
    B. This bullshit about “why does it always have to be about awards” is pathetic. Why do you think they financed the movie? How do you think they intend to turn a profit? What planet do you people live on?
    The only way an expensive – and it’s expensive – art film like that with Daniel Day Lewis, who has no box office draw past the first $500k, in the lead, is to run it at the Oscars and other awards. The illusion of the renegade holds a lot more water when the movie costs less than the rest of the (big) studio line-up.
    C. As for the “new landscape” at Alamo Drafthouse… I know you believe that, Drew. DO you really want to sell the idea that the road to Oscar starts at AICN?
    This is the dichotomy of the last decade of your site… you want all the upside of being perceived as an important part of the industry, but also want to play the renegade card as though you still have it in your hand.
    With due respect, AICN is the most powerful media outlet for genre pictures in the world. And for everything else, utterly irrelevant.
    Frankly, you should be happy with and celebrate the niche you own. I know that in my little universe, I am perfectly happy to be a niche player.
    I know that you don’t agree with Harry about everything, but the site, however mainstreamed it has become, is still not a serious place to discuss non-genre film. Whether you like it or not, the perception is that the site’s editorial tone is for sale… and that is not because I hate someone, but because you guys have cloaked yourselves in this “we’re film advocates, not journalists” crap for a full decade and continue to operate in the shadows. When your operation is open and above the board (which is not an accusation of malfeasance, just of long-honed mystery), then you might be able to be taken seriously on some other level…. or not. You guys have self-selected your roel pretty aggressively.
    You have always wanted it both ways and screamed when anyone suggested that you were soft on either side. But it is what it is. And if it isn’t, you guys should make yourselves transparent.
    D. As someone who “They” try to play all the time, I do understand the difference between a game and a non-game.
    This screening is a game. It’s not “a small festival.” Telluride is a small festival… also filled with cineastes. New York, by the way, is a relatively small festival.
    Anyway… Daniel Day Lewis was not honored at Telluride by coincidence. The fact that footage was being shown at the tribute was leaked by the studio, not the festival.
    And even the two screenings, here and in NY, which Jeremy mentioned… the studio positioning itself from getting killed by critics who would be pissed off and dangerous after their NY Film Fest was scooped by The Fantastic Fest.
    E. As I said before AC, I have no disrespect for the people who go to Fantastic Fest and love movies. You want to tell me that I am judging the viewer, but I am not. And your comment that you would trust a FF attendee’s opinion over mine is both fine and a sign of irrationality… really, any attendee… buy a ticket and you’re automatically a better judge than David Poland? Great wisdom there.
    This post was never about the people at the Fantastic Fest. It is about strategy.
    And if any of you considered, for a moment, the scores of millions going into this little film from the studio, you might still disagree with me on strategy, but this “he’s a rebel” shite would be in the dustbin where it belongs.

  26. Devin Faraci says:

    I just don’t get why this was at Fantastic Fest, which I thought was a genre festival. Did I miss the memo that DDL discovers the monsters from DESCENT when drilling his well?

  27. Noah says:

    I think the important thing here is the distinction between whatever the quality of the film is and how the studio is marketing it. Playing the film at Fantastic Fest is a marketing move and it is indeed strange for a film starring Daniel Day Lewis and set at the turn of the century to be playing at a genre festival.
    The important thing for me is whether or not the film is any good. It seems that the chorus of rave reviews would indicate that the film is indeed solid. I don’t know whether or not I can trust ANY critic, so I wouldn’t trust or not trust these early reviews more so than any others.
    Will this effect the box office or the potential awards for this film? It doesn’t matter to me (as I said, I only care about whether or not the film is good), but I don’t think it matter. People will want to see the film if they like the previews and it will get awards if the people in the Academy like it. All of this other talk is a bit conservative.

  28. IOIOIOI says:

    Actually; he discovers the monster of common decency — or some such — and learns a valuable lesson. Yay. Nevertheless, Oscar discussion, derision, and the old Heat vs AICN chestnut that never seems to come to end. Wow. Feel the lively debate all of a sudden over an Oscar film whose director wants to act as if it’s not an OSCAR FILM. Again… yay.

  29. David Poland says:

    It is an ongoing fascination that IO can be so irritating and so rational from post to post. It really does cause me to take the irritaing parts more seriously.

  30. bipedalist says:

    Directors still make great films just for the sake it. They still make films for no money just for the sake it. They also still dangle that big fat greasy Oscar bait just as they always have and it’s obvious from a mile away. If the film is THAT GOOD none of this will matter.

  31. Alan Cerny says:

    I have always found this wariness to trust people’s opinions on a movie, or a critic’s for that matter, to be strange anyway. You’re not buying a car. You’re spending $9 and perhaps 2 hours of your life on a completely voluntary experience. So when people read rave reviews for a film the guard inexplicably goes up. Is getting excited for a upcoming film verboten now? If it is, then I’m in trouble, because I’m not going to stop my enthusiasm for anyone.
    DP, I likely know many of the people at Fantastic Fest anyway, and they’re as rabid, and likely more so, about films than I am. If they went nuts over THERE WILL BE BLOOD, it’s highly likely I will too. When I say I trust their viewpoints more than you, I speak from experience, because frankly, you’ve trashed quite a few films that I ended up loving. The only time I agreed with your opinion without reservations recently was RATATOUILLE.
    But you have been guilty of judging the viewer. I’ve read it. You pretty much said that people who loved THE ASSASSINATION OF… are drinking the Kool-Aid. I’m not calling you out alone on this tendency – Wells does it, hell, even Ebert did it a few times – but I will say that it’s a terrible habit of reviewing that some people tend to get into, about as bad as tossing in the word “pretentious”, which is a long discussion for another day.
    I understand the purpose of this site. It’s about prospects and it’s about Oscar chances and it’s about box office numbers. Genuine film love and discussion happens, but not nearly enough for my tastes, and most everything is viewed through a veil of cynicism and snark. Some days it’s fine. Skepticism can be a healthy outlook, especially in journalism. Variety and Cinematical may have drank the Kool-Aid in regards to this movie, and you don’t have to trust anything anyone tells you because of your jaded nature. Or, you can be excited and joyful about the possibility of a great movie coming down the pipe. I certainly know where I’d rather be.

  32. I’ve noticed this before DP…but I can’t think of a specific instance BUT…
    You seem to get extremely pissed off when a film debuts somewhere you aren’t. It’s as if you’re saying “how dare they show this film at Fantastic Fest when me and the other Oscar Prognasticators weren’t there to bless it with our presence!! They don’t have a chance in the Oscars now because they didn’t play at the place where everything else plays!!”
    F that.
    I think it’s frigging awesome the film premiered secretly to fans who not only wanted to see it but had no idea it was going to play. That’s a gift to people who love film. I also think Matt Dentler and Tim League are the finest programmers around and they made this happen because they love film.
    The masses sure as hell aren’t going “oh man, I gots to go to FF next year! My boy PT was there!” My point is, it wasn’t done to put them “on the map” like say, TRANSFORMERS at LAFF or OCEANS 13 at CineVegas was.
    I mean, is the Oscar race soooo important that films now have to open in “Oscar Worthy” places and a certain pattern MUST be followed? That’s frigging lame and boring. In the end it’ll cater to less interest in the Oscars due to the pandering that’s already such a turn off.
    In your response to Drew, DP, I can’t help but get this undercurrent of “AICN should not be in the Oscar game but my site should be.” Truth be told, I bet 75% of us regulars don’t really give a shit about the Oscars and if you didn’t post “Guru’s of Gold” we wouldn’t even think twice until after the New Year. I can’t even begin to think about who will or won’t be nominated until I see the films and you’ve got stuff on there that isn’t even out yet.
    It all just seems very horse before the cartish…like you’re all falling over yourselves to be the ultimate predictor.

  33. David Poland says:

    But you keep saying that I am writing about the quality of the movie, AC. I have not.
    It could just as easily be my favorite film of the year. I spent plenty of time defending Magnolia. No one was a bigger Boogie Nights or Sydney fan. Not the point of this post. When I see the film, I will review the film.
    Yes, a few times a year, I think there is a Kool-Aid film. There is no reason to think this is one of them. Some – not I – would tell you that Into The Wild or The Savages are Kool-Aid films. I think that there are films, like Jesse James, that are so pretentious and inaccessible that they are like sugar to flies… including some very smart, strong minded flies. I also think there is usually one or two summer movies where these is a wave of overpraise and usually one film that is unneccessarily slaughtered because of critics trying to find the wave. We are humans, not gods. But that is about as often as you will find me taking that position. 3 or 4 times a year max.
    If you don’t share my tastes, God bless you. Live and be well. I don’t think I am Neo.
    And BiP… if it’s THAT good, it still matters. THAT good doesn’t assure awards or box office. And again… this is an expensive film and not some renegade project. Careers may be changed… people may be fired… other filmmakers will be affected by how this film impacts Par Vantage.
    I will be thrilled if the film is thrilling. I pray that this is a truly great film. And as always, I will have an opinion when I have enough information, in this case, seeing the film. And frankly, when studios play this case of hide and seek and hope that buzz from a couple of small screenings and/or Fantastic Fest will infect the rest of the world, I have to work doubly hard when watching the film to not be reacting to the buzz – positive or negative – but to the film.
    Maybe you know Marjorie Baumgarten’s work? I don’t. No reason to disbelieve her – or to think of her as Capital V Variety. I know and like Scott Weinberg (who wrote about the film for Cinematic)… but do I look to him to define my opinion?
    So these two smart, but barely defined critical voices for me, should define my opinion? Long lead writers in New York or L.A.?
    And on a purely personal level, whatever my ultimate opinion of the film is, it will now be tainted by being perceived as a reaction to these couple critics… to Fantastic Fest… to AICN… all of which I will do my level best to eliminate from my brain while watching the film and probably watching the film a second time before I review. And that SUCKS for me. It is a discourtesy by the studio and the filmmaker. And yes, maybe it doesn’t matter one iota. But before you tell me how horrible I am, think about being in that position. I haven’t read Wells in 8 months and some idiot will tell me that my opinion is related to his. Fun, huh?

  34. David Poland says:

    PS – I have read neither Variety nor Cinematical beyond the headlines… don’t want to know… don’t need to know…

  35. ManWithNoName says:

    It’s a discourtesty by the studio and filmmaker to not allow YOU to watch THEIR film and review it before someone else? Really? They need to take into consideration how you’re impacted by internet buzz? Really?

  36. anghus says:

    They showed Uwe Boll’s Postal and There Will Be Blood at the same ‘festival’.
    That alone makes my head hurt.
    I would think screening a film like There Will Be Blood there would do wonders for it’s stature as a festival to be taken seriously, but they took a Uwe Boll film.

  37. So….your critical view of the film-as a self standing art form-will be forever tainted because AICN and/or Cinematical saw it “first.”
    Wow. Maybe you should just stick to Oscar guessing than cuz that’s really sad.

  38. David Poland says:

    Wow… you must be a perfect human or dishonest, Pet.
    What you hear before you see a movie doesn’t inform you at all?
    It is part of my job to put it to a side. But it does require effort. And anyone who says otherwise is a liar.
    They don’t HAVE to do anything ManWithNoName. And when someone calls me out on my evntual review for it somehow being a response to something else, I look forward to you defending me to the death.

  39. David Poland says:

    P.S. ManWithNoName… I didn’t say anything about when I would review. When I review is a completely separate issue. The context in which I see the film is the issue.
    And if you don’t think that a part of how “they” handle these things is to color the water as they want it colored before I and Bilge and so many others see it, you would be wrong.

  40. I try and avoid pre-judging a film all I can. I never read reviews of movies before I see them (if I can…and if I plan on covering the film, I do NOT). But, I don’t let what outlet said what about a film tarnish (or improve upon) my view. I certainly have sites I admire (yours, Ray Pride, some blogs) and some that I don’t place any interest in at all (AICN) but I’m not so jaded I’d pre-judge a film based on what OUTLET got ahold of it first.
    You should judge what you see on the screen, not judge what you see on the screen based on what media outlet laid their eyes on it before you. AICN isn’t like, some girl you’re hoping to sleep with but are irreparably grossed out because Harry Knowles plowed that field first.

  41. David Poland says:

    You keep saying “I’m not so jaded I’d pre-judge a film based on what OUTLET got ahold of it first.”
    Neither am I, Pet.
    Never said I was.
    Others have put those words in my mouth, but not accurately.
    But don’t think that isn’t an issue in a lot of editorial out there either.

  42. “And on a purely personal level, whatever my ultimate opinion of the film is, it will now be tainted by being perceived as a reaction to these couple critics… to Fantastic Fest… to AICN… all of which I will do my level best to eliminate from my brain while watching the film and probably watching the film a second time before I review. And that SUCKS for me.”
    Oh, my bad…I must’ve misread what you wrote…?

  43. PMartin says:

    I saw the film at Fantastic Fest last night, wrote a brief review, and am still mulling over it. It’s lingering in my mind in a very pleasant manner right now, even though I can still see the flaws, and I very much want to see it again. As it stands, I think it’s Anderson’s best work and a big step forward. But I don’t expect anyone to be guided by my opinion; I’ve just tried to express my reaction to it.
    I feel fortunate I was able to see it with very low expectations, which made it much easier to form my own opinion as I watched it unfold. The points that David raised are, of course, quite valid as it pertains to marketing and critical perception. Naturally, the business side is never very far away in his reviews, which is why I like to read them for that perspective.
    Honestly, I have no idea if the FF screening will help or hurt its box office or award potential, and I have no idea if PTA insisted or Par. Vantage decided this was a viable alternative way to go. But I would like to point out that FF consciously expanded the type of material it screened this year to include a wider array of comedic and dramatic features, in addition to the straight genre fare that has predominated the first two years. BLOOD is obviously and admittedly an arthouse film but has elements that make it more accessible to mainstream or genre audiences.
    Comparing BLOOD to classics of American cinema is not only premature, it’s overstating the case, in my opinion. I’ll be interested in reading everyone else’s thoughts when it finally opens.

  44. David Poland says:

    Yes, you did Pet.
    “being perceived as a reaction to these couple critics”
    Not “a reaction to these couple critics”
    Get it now?

  45. transmogrifier says:

    More soul-crushing salvering devotion to the Oscar game, making the actual films and artistic content contained within not just irrelevant, but sometimes downright detrimental to the way the sick, pathetic little awards game is played. I used to like your reviews, David, but they seem really beside the point now, as you Post-It everything with Oscar-obsession, and it has become painful to read.
    Enjoy your beloved season. I’m gonna try to find some films to like for merely being the films they are.

  46. Noah says:

    Look, I think people are really missing the point here. I agree with most of you who care more about whether the film is good or not than whether it has a chance at the Oscars. But the thing is this: watching movies is an extremely subjective experience. So talking about what someone thinks about a movie is ultimately pointless because you will either agree or disagree with the assessment. I mean, I love having a passionate discussion about the movies we love, but it’s not something that is quantifiable.
    What David does is look at movies with a more scientific approach (at least as scientific as Oscar watching can be). He’s not reviewing the movie here, but is reviewing the marketing strategy as it pertains to winning awards. Does opening a film at Fantastic Fest rather than Toronto hurt the film’s award chances? I don’t think so, but it does seem like a strange choice by the studio if it feels like it has a surefire Oscar nominee on its hands. And I think that’s all David was pointing out; that if the studio wanted to show confidence in the film’s award chances, it would have shown the movie to people who could influence that race rather than to a bunch of film lovers in Austin.

  47. Yeah, I get it. I stupidly fell into the trap most regulars have fallen into where we call you on your bullshit and then are told we were wrong. It was, indeed, my bad.

  48. transmogrifier says:

    What Noah wrote:
    What David does is look at movies with a more scientific approach (at least as scientific as Oscar watching can be). He’s not reviewing the movie here, but is reviewing the marketing strategy as it pertains to winning awards. Does opening a film at Fantastic Fest rather than Toronto hurt the film’s award chances? I don’t think so, but it does seem like a strange choice by the studio if it feels like it has a surefire Oscar nominee on its hands. And I think that’s all David was pointing out; that if the studio wanted to show confidence in the film’s award chances, it would have shown the movie to people who could influence that race rather than to a bunch of film lovers in Austin.
    What I read:
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    zzzzzzzzzzz
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    “reviewing the marketing strategy” of a movie when you are not part of the marketing department or upper echelons of the studio in question surely must be one of the most deadening hobbies to have in the world. It’s surely deadening to read.

  49. swhitty says:

    I don’t know, I think maybe they booked “There Will Be Blood” by mistake, thinking it was a re-titled “Saw IV”

  50. anghus says:

    as this conversation goes on, i begin to wonder just how these seeds get planted.
    i want to see There Will Be Blood. It looks great. But where do these notions of ‘classic’ and ‘oscar contender’ come from? I’ve been hearing that There Will Be Blood will be an award contender since the first images began to appear online.
    What about the film warranted this kind of pre-award badge? Daniel Day Lewis? Paul Thomas Anderson? The source material on which it’s based?
    It reminds me of last year. The first thing i heard about Dreamgirls, some 10 months before it came out: Eddie Murphy will get an oscar nomination. Sure enough, he did. But where did that come from? How early do they start this kind of whispering, and how does it take hold?
    I won’t lie. This topic fascinates me, because i’m beginning to wonder if the Prognostication chatter has more impact on the nominees as every year goes on. With so much time spent breaking down who should be nominated, are these conversations actually planting seeds of who and what will receive nominations?

  51. Noah says:

    Anghus, I agree with you. That’s what I’ve been saying, that these prognosticators have more power than they believe, especially when they proclaim these things months and years ahead of time so that all the movie has to do is not suck completely and it gets a nomination. It all goes back to the notion of “buzz” and where it comes from. I don’t think the prognosticators have the power to create buzz where there is none, but I think they can help sustain it.
    Transmorgrifer, I agree that it is much more entertaining to read about the quality of the movie and not the quality of the ad campaign. I’m with you there. But, this is what makes David unique and like I said, it’s also a less subjective way of looking at film. We will never all agree whether a movie is good or not, but we might be able to find some common ground when it comes to predicting what movies have put themselves in a position to get nominated for an Oscar (good or bad).

  52. jeffmcm says:

    Anghus, ditto. It’s basically an echo chamber/ feedback loop/self-fulfilling prophecy.

  53. IOIOIOI says:

    Heat stated; “It is an ongoing fascination that IO can be so irritating and so rational from post to post. It really does cause me to take the irritaing parts more seriously.” Welcome to the exact same way you have made me feel over the last six years from reading your column. Consider us all squarsies.

  54. movielocke says:

    I was completely puzzled about DP claiming this premiere was a bad thing, then I realized that because it’s related to AICN and their festival that he simply can’t be rational. AICN is like the Louella Parsons to MCN’s Hedda Hopper, and DP isn’t very rational that AICN has defined what web based movie news sites mean (I was just glad to find a movie news site that wasn’t a blatent AICN copycat serving the same audience, like CHUD etc), and as DP so adroitly pointed out, his response is about a turf war, “[AICN] should be happy with and celebrate the niche [they] own. I know that in my little universe, I am perfectly happy to be a niche player.” AICN’s niche versus his oscar niche, and he doesn’t like it when he thinks another dog has marked territory in his niche.
    It doesn’t matter where the film premiered unless DP leads a Munich-redux charge of journalists to be against the film because of who saw it first.
    Personally I think this move was based on one thing. Competition. Two weeks ago in Toronto or three weeks ago in Telluride or Venice There Will Be Blood would have had to compete for time and attention and schedules of Journalists trying to pack in all the major movies premiering while balancing out with a few smaller movies–and everyone suffers from that, DP even ducked out midway through a screening in Toronto because of crazy scheduling. So instead of There Will be Blood only gettin 5% of the Toronto or Venice attention, they released a trailer and waited two weeks, now they get 100% of the movie news attention. That seems to me to be a very savvy opening campaign maneuver rather than a disasterous one. Only someone very biased would think this was a bad move, imo.

  55. bipedalist says:

    “More soul-crushing salvering devotion to the Oscar game, making the actual films and artistic content contained within not just irrelevant, but sometimes downright detrimental to the way the sick, pathetic little awards game is played. I used to like your reviews, David, but they seem really beside the point now, as you Post-It everything with Oscar-obsession, and it has become painful to read.
    Enjoy your beloved season. I’m gonna try to find some films to like for merely being the films they are.”
    What an irritating snob you are. Don’t you see they are all connected? Great movies can go unnoticed at awards time and thus not make a dime and disappear onto some video shelf only to be casually mentioned at a Thanksgiving dinner by that arty nephew who uses Netflix to dig up “neat” looking flicks. It’s still about good movies. DP always stipulates when he thinks it is ONLY about awards. After all, this whole dumb argument started because he said the film was “Oscar chasing.” Surely that sits on the same stink bus as your condemnation of the whole absurd affair.
    It makes me chafe in places I never speak about when people accuse those who follow the Oscar race as somehow dumbing down the process or that they don’t love movies. On the contrary, my dear. You might think it’s ruining movies but the fact is since DP has been doing this (which is almost as long as I have) more obscure movies have been getting award attention and thus careers are born and thus more movies are made and thus you get to see more of them. I’ve seen great changes happen in Hollywood due only to the great Oscar grab.
    Anyway, it’s the money demographic that is ruining Hollywood.

  56. David Poland says:

    If you only had the slightest idea of how little I care about a non-existant turf war with AICN. I have always asked the same of AICN as any other outlet in this business… not even an even playing field… just an honest one. You read something on one level and twisted it into what you want to believe, Movielocke. And so it goes…
    The energy expended continuing to fence with those of you who want to fight like someone you are about to end a once romantic relationship with is not worth it and goes no where. But one of these days, I’d like to have a clean, professionally moderated discussion with Drew about the principles that we both hold so dear. We agree, I think, on about 80% of it… and that 20%… very distinct differences. My apologies if I was uncivil at any point in this thread.

  57. Drew says:

    So if we had that “clean, professionally moderated discussion,” would you insist on casting baseless personal aspersions like in your Don Murphy interview, where you make one of the shittiest, smallest attacks on me for no reason? Or would those be off-limits for that one moment?
    I believe it was you that wrote (regarding Sasha’s continued linking of your name to Jeff’s) “I wish I could be, but I cannot be in charge of what others choose to think based on my work. So all I can do is write what I feel I need to when I need to.I wish I could be, but I cannot be in charge of what others choose to think based on my work. So all I can do is write what I feel I need to when I need to.”
    I wish I could be in charge of what others think, too, and that after a decade of being completely honest, that it would count for something instead of finding myself constantly scolded by you as if you hold some moral authority over me.
    Ultimately, David, I don’t need or want your respect. But I do find it discouraging how incredibly condescending that last remark back to me was. Everything I write about any film that’s not a “genre” film is “utterly irrelevant”? Really?
    Well then fuck me for trying and for caring about the entire spectrum of art. Fuck me for not writing more about bullshit numbers. And fuck me for never caring about awards season, but instead always caring about the film as an experience by itself. Because my ten years of work and my 2.5 million words expended on everything from silent comedy to Satyajit Ray to exploitation trash to high-brow studio fare… it doesn’t matter. Because obviously David Poland says we should only write about genre in our “niche,” and since he says it, it must be true.
    Just like those aspersions you cast on my own personal ethics. Right, David? And don’t even try to weasel out of that shitty crack in the Don interview. Finally, on video, that’s the real David Poland when my name comes up, and not the pretend civility you like to put on when anyone else is watching. You say you don’t take any of this personally, but go watch that video again, David. You do. You absolutely do.

  58. transmogrifier says:

    bipedalist:
    You ARE dumbing down the process. You always have. It’s as simple as that. Sorry if you can’t see it.
    And as for “obscure movies getting Oscar attention” give me a break. As soon as something non-traditional (in the Oscar sense) comes along, you and your fellow group-think pioneers, dedicated to forcing movies of all shapes and sizes through the artifical keyhole of the hypothetical reaction of 6000 people, will use that non-tradition as an axe-handle to beat it to death out back while the shallow fool’s gold party keeps on shaking its liposuctioned hips inside, all vacant eyes and vacant minds.
    Whatever you do, don’t try to convince me that you do anything of benefit to anyone. It’s a obnoxious little parlour game writ large on the blogs of people with little interest in what the movies have to say; it’s all about trying to be smarter than everyone else. It’s all about the allure of having an opinion that can be quantified with lists and canned speeches. If that’s your bag, good for you, but don’t bother pretending its anything else.

  59. IOIOIOI says:

    Come the fuck on moggy. The focus on the Oscar seasons now HAS led to some films that may have not been noticed 10 years ago… getting the attention they deserve. Do you think a movie like fucking SIDEWAYS would have gotten some love back in the late 90s? Hell no. The net has cranked up a good deal of attention towards little films that translate to magazines as well and upwards. If you want to be pissy about the Oscar season — go right ahead — but please do not act like the new version of the OSCAR SEASON has not helped little flicks that have needed the love.
    That aside; I think a couple of guys posting in this thread need to man-hug.

  60. anghus says:

    it’s really odd, but after reading drew’s post, i had an epiphany of sorts. I started thinking of websites like Strictly Ballroom.
    Does every dance need to be structured and judged according to a rigid set of rules and regulations, or is there room for personal interpretation and improvisation?
    Maybe we shouldn’t be faulting sites for having a wide range of taste and coverage. I do it myself, like with the Postal comment here (though the thought of Boll being invited to a festival still seems perverse to me). If AICN does stories on award caliber movies, does that make them a non niche site? Is that what rubs people the wrong way? Do we want our apple cart to only have apples and our orange carts to only have oranges?
    But the street does run both ways Drew. I’ve heard you malign people before for their interest in the award season, writing the whole thing off as political campaigning and reprehensible. Some people enjoy the conversation. Some people are fascinated by the topic, but it doesn’t make them any less a fan of the art of film. Some people enjoy watching Baseball, some enjoy following the statistics in the paper, some enjoy collecting memorabilia. There are different levels of fandom, but none of them are any more right or wrong. Just different.

  61. transmogrifier says:

    I’m sorry, but using a whole bunch of hypotheticals to make your argument is a waste of my (and your) time. I remember going to great “little” films like Bound, Swingers and Big Night in 1996, to pull a random example, that didn’t require an army of self-righteous, Oscar-bloggers dragging them in front of the stinking, unappreciative masses in order for them, or their filmmakers, to survive.
    Overstate your importance much?
    The fact is, this whole Oscar game has become simultaneously incestuously dick-swinging and self-affirming in its towing the “common wisdom” of what makes an Oscar contender line, that it has all become so monumentally pointless.
    Anyway, by your own standards, you can be equally responsible for the box-office failure of films like Zodiac because the Bloscars labelled it unworthy of Academy recognition from the get-go, right? It has to work both ways, right?
    Or, you could go my route and say its all sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing. Oscar coverage is to film appreciation as crotchless Britney Spears photos are to music appreciation. Attention grabbing due to its simplicity of presentation, but ultimately totally meaningless.

  62. bipedalist says:

    Trans, you are a sad little baby. No one is grabbing you by the hair and shoving your face in this. Before people were writing about the Oscars they were writing about movies, as you say, jerking off just the same. Maybe you’re right about the contest being the thing that has corrupted Hollywood and your precious movie-loving disposition but guess what, chump, it always was a contest. Try picking up an Oscar history book once in a while. The difference between now and then is that there are people writing about the shit that goes one rather than simply watching it from the sidelines and waiting for the big show so that they can come downstairs and watching with mommy and daddy and gee, aren’t the Oscars fun?
    Well guess what? That meant that, to date, no out gay man has ever won an Oscar for acting and directing. No black woman had ever won an acting Oscar before Halle Berry (had it not been the heated topic on many a blog it probably never would have happened). That change came way too late. And you are, let me guess, a middle aged (maybe a tad younger) white guy with a decent paycheck. I know you don’t look at the world from the perspective of someone who can’t get what they want but open your eyes and take a really good look at what these blogs do.
    You are kidding your sad little self if you don’t think the Oscar game was ALWAYS a gross and sleazy competition. It was, though, in the hands of the studios who controlled the Academy, or tried to. They vote in a vacuum and yet, these wins are treated as American film history. I don’t know about you but I would like my own film history to reflect the really good films. Maybe you don’t care at all. Maybe you just want to get back into your cuddly bunny feet PJs and go back upstairs and wait for mom and dad to call you down cause guess what, the Oscars are on!

  63. transmogrifier says:

    Actually, biped, I remember a time when Poland wrote about movies for what they were, and I quite liked it. Now he’s primarily a numbers and buzz guy, and that’s something to be mourned.
    Say what you like about Jeff Wells, when he goes off on a movie, good or bad, he lets all the biz bullshit slide and grooves on the old movie high, with some pretty damn sharp writing. Sure, he has the Oscar posts, like all infotainment bloggers, but underneath it all, he’s into the films for the films, not for industry cred.
    You….well, I don’t know you from a bar of soap outside your mindless Oscar banter here, so I’ll leave the cute cyber-profiling (hint: read over a few more case studies) and IMDB-messageboard-level people skills to you. I really don’t know or care what you are like as a person. You just happen to be neck-deep in a soulless enterprise, and can’t seem to impress on me much more than “It’s always been like this” and “You’re a poo-head for not enjoying my wallowing” when it comes to defending your pasttime.
    So be it.

  64. anghus says:

    “Say what you like about Jeff Wells, when he goes off on a movie, good or bad, he lets all the biz bullshit slide and grooves on the old movie high, with some pretty damn sharp writing. Sure, he has the Oscar posts, like all infotainment bloggers, but underneath it all, he’s into the films for the films, not for industry cred.”
    are you serious?
    did you not read the email he sent to James Mangold?
    That was sycophantic film biz bullshit.

  65. bipedalist says:

    So you’re really only whining because Poland doesn’t write about movies anymore. And you’re a Jeff Wells fan. That explains it all. If you knew me and what I did you would see there is nothing soulless about it all; quite the contrary. I object to people like you painting “the process” with a muddy brush without getting, or caring to get, the bigger picture.
    If you want to talk about it being a contest, at a time in American culture when it is all about contests — and oh, how horrible all of that is.– I would say, at least we’re not the Romans who killed people for fun.
    Poland AND Wells pay their bills with Oscar dollars. You just have to put up with it. Or not.

  66. transmogrifier says:

    anghus,
    Yeah, a guy looking for naked pics of an actress is after that industry cred. What point are you actually trying to argue?
    You noticed the use of the “when he goes off on a movie…” clause of my statement, right?

  67. anghus says:

    congratulations on your ability to bucket and compartmentalize people like that. “when he goes off on a movie” and “asking a director for screencaps of a movie so he can go off” are directly related.
    if you think wells isn’t desperate for approval after reading that email, then i’d reccomend a psych 101 course.

  68. transmogrifier says:

    bip:
    In order of your sentences:
    1. No. It’s part of it. But the biz stuff is boring. His Toronto wrap, I made it through one paragraph.
    2. He’s great when reviewing movies, and as he often is among the first to see them, he’s a valuable resource for initial reactions. He’s a neg head, likes to harp on the same subjects, and has a penchant for spoilers, but the guy can write. So in short: kind of.
    3. Does it? You hold yourself to a very light burden of proof.
    4. Well, given your retorts so far, I have very little interest in getting to know you; on the contrary, I would actively avoid you.
    5. What bigger picture? You are yet to even pencil in a sketch, let alone paint this beloved big picture of yours.
    6. Uh, as long as you’re not killing people, I guess. Whatever gets you to sleep.
    7. Good for them.
    8. No I don’t.
    9. There you go.

  69. Noah says:

    Honestly, I don’t understand all of this drama; there is room for both. David does talk about movies, but he talks about them with a twist. I enjoy any discussion about movies and if you want to talk about serious movies in a quantifiable way, then the Oscars matter.
    It may not change your opinion of a film if it wins an Oscar, but if it does you must concede that there is a certain portion of people that liked the movie a whole lot. It is pretty much the only standard measure that matters in a very subjective art form. It doesn’t mean we have to like Crash because it wins Best Picture, but it means we have to admit that a lot of folks do.
    This Oscar talk doesn’t ruin everything because we’re STILL talking about movies and isn’t that what matters? Try finding a good movie website this time of year that doesn’t take awards into consideration when it discusses prestige films. If people want to talk about quality, then this message board helps to shift the conversation in that direction. But, honestly, many folks want to talk about awards because there is more of a chance for agreement there.
    Personally, I love the Oscars, always have since I was a kid. I love that they make for great discussions about quality movies more often than not. More than anything, I love hating the Oscars when they miss on something. So, all I’m saying is that we shouldn’t get on people’s case for wanting to talk about awards. There is room for everything, just like there is room for MCN and AICN.

  70. anghus says:

    Noah, i agree with you. There is room for many voices on film. The problem is that instead of just riding the wave and seeing where the internet takes us, we are still trying to apply old labels to it. There is friction because some people are fine with the complete lack journalistic principles, while others are angered by it.
    Basically, ten years into these sites, the kinks are still being worked out. Most of the friction stems from hubris and ego, and i doubt that will ever change.
    I think the only way we can really grow is to agree to disagree and realize that questioning the integrity of other people/websites is only going to lead to further friction. Some people enjoy the flame wars. Personally, i’ve grown rather tired of them. I used to be one who loved to step into a scrap and stoke the fires, but i’ve learned that there is no right or wrong (other than posting people’s emails/asking directors for nude screen caps or dismissing someone else for their opinion), just appreciation for the craft and business of film.
    I also think that coming to someone’s site and posting in a blog that you purport to dislike is counter productive.

  71. seenmyverite? says:

    What’s that sound? Ah! It’s people ditching the Oscar kool-aid! Thanks for the fresh air, guys. now you’ve just got to keep this up for the next, um, 20+ weeks …please? (not the animosity, rallying against O-kool-aid).
    I was already looking forward to TWBB, but my appreciation of PTA just moved up a few notches. True or not, just the thought of a gifted director – with a film starring one of the best actors alive on a current essential topic – who isn’t completely pulled by Oscar’s strings, is enough to give me sweet dreams for a week.
    anghus, noah – would agree – the top contenders are laid out by various industry sages and forecasters who give their view of Academy views which in turn help shape Academy views. And those who pick the horses that will race make a chunk of change off the horse race (from the horse’s owners).
    As for Oscar holding the unknowns up to the light – it’s the success of the indie movement that made it financially smart for the “small film” to go mainstream – for studios to have their indie-style offshoots, which made it chic and kosher for Oscar to consider those “small films.” Oscar just jumped on the bandwagon, including some Oscar-stylized version of Indies which are studio-based and backed.
    and noah – the Oscars are “the only standard measure that matters in a very subjective art form?” Sheeshka – now that’s drinking the Oscar kool-aid. Wretch that ghastly stuff up and get back to independent thinking! Dontcha remember Zodiac and mom and apple pie? It still matters!

  72. James Leer says:

    “No black woman had ever won an acting Oscar before Halle Berry (had it not been the heated topic on many a blog it probably never would have happened).”
    Ooof! You had me, then you lost me. Do you really believe that in 2002, the thing that put Halle Berry over the top was Oscar blogs? Did Oscar blogs even exist in 2002, and do you really think that the older, voting members of the Academy were checking them out? It may have been just over five years ago, but it was still a very different time, internet-wise.

  73. jeffmcm says:

    The other question is, did Halle Berry really deserve to win her Oscar that year. You could argue that the hype (first black woman who could win!) put her over more deserving nominees.

  74. Drew says:

    I don’t have any problem with anyone being into the awards season, anghus.
    I do have a problem when people want to hijack any and all conversations about film between September and February and make them about one particular awards show, as if that actually means something about the industry as a whole.
    Try living in LA and working in the business and avoiding Oscar talk at all for that THIRD of the year. If you feel, like I do, that the Oscars are a farce of a sham of a joke of a mockery of an outrage… or, to be more honest, just sort of a bore… then it becomes oppressive to try and just talk about movies as movies during that time period.
    Having said that, feel free to tell me where I have ever tried to dictate what David should or shouldn’t cover.
    That’s not me. That’s him. And that’s the point. David is the one that ALWAYS begins this antagonism, every single time. David is the one who lectures others on what they’re allowed to write or how they’re allowed to write it. ALWAYS. Not me. All I’ve ever done is defend myself or clarify something that I feel he gets substantially wrong. If you can find one place where I’ve done anything like he does in that Don Murphy video regarding him, then I’ll apologize and never call David out on his schoolmarm bullshit again.

  75. James Leer says:

    Halle Berry wasn’t favored to win that year anyway (Sissy Spacek was, then Nicole Kidman), so I don’t think it was a “Let’s get together and give it to Halle to make history” sort of decision. She really had not racked up any awards until her upset SAG win. Still, looking back, she gave a classic performance that Oscar loves to reward: she had tons of crying scenes, she got naked, and she was a pretty actress made to look less pretty.

  76. Noah says:

    Drew, like I said earlier, if you want to change the way the conversation is going, then try to change it. But, to call it a sham or a mockery is to degrade what a lot of people do. I happen to agree with you that the Academy Awards ultimately do not matter, but if you have a problem with all the talk swirling around about the awards, then do not take part in those discussions or just talk about the topics that interest you. As someone who works in the industry, though, to hate the Oscars seems kind of strange. The Oscars, whether you agree with the nominees or not, are an annual celebration of film and if the talk is that bad for you that you’re miserable for a third of the year, then maybe you’re in the wrong business. The Oscars are a part of the industry, like it or not, and you can either engage in the conversations about or you can try to keep yourself as blind to it as possible and try to enjoy the show in February. But, we can all talk about what we want to talk about. There is room for everyone, including people that don’t like the Academy.
    Seenmy: I was just saying that the Oscars are an important source of both revenue and awareness for a variety of films. Unfortunately, it is usually the wrong films and that’s where I agree with you. The Academy Awards and box office are the only quantifiable ways to measure a film’s success because opinions will never be statistical facts (although Rotten Tomatoes is trying to change that). The bottom line is that we can argue all day about whether or not Zodiac is a good movie, but we can both agree that Crash won Best Picture because that’s a fact. It doesn’t mean it deserves it, it just means it happened.

  77. Crow T Robot says:

    I’ve been reading DP for years. It’s addictive. But I generally have had a hard time finding his point of view amid all of his random disconnected opinions. Deep down, I thought, what is Dave Poland trying to tell us? What master idea ties all of his words together?
    And you know, after thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s competitive. That’s his point of view. He sees the industry as a war between a hundred different things looking to be recognized. It’s how he makes sense of the industry. There’s no doubt he loves film, but he adores FIGHTS. The quickening turns him on.
    And everything he writes, and his prompt defensive replies to our posts, come from this Darwinian point of view. (He vowed never to mention Jeff Wells, until at one point Wells had found himself on the floor and Dave quickly jumped in to kick the guy. That was based completely on competition.)
    And so when you look at Dave and his charts, his reviews of movies he saw two months before their release (see The Kingdom), his addiction to knocking other journalists, it comes from his deep competitive streak. Dave’s a brawler. And his Oscar coverage is an extension of that.
    And the internet, with its “make war not peace” ethos, is a perfect place for him. To love Dave, as I do, is to make peace with his war.

  78. anghus says:

    “I don’t have any problem with anyone being into the awards season, anghus.
    I do have a problem when people want to hijack any and all conversations about film between September and February and make them about one particular awards show, as if that actually means something about the industry as a whole.”
    that’s an unfortunate side effect I suppose. It’s hard to have a conversation about a movie during the award season without that creeping in.

  79. Drew says:

    Noah…
    Of course there’s room for all those converstations. I’ve never argued otherwise.
    But the Oscars are only as important as you personally want to make them as a film fan. Sure, they’re unavoidable when you’re dealing with people at the studio level, because that’s part of their marketing strategy. But as a film fan, it’s a simple choice to make: do they matter to me as I digest all the films released this fall, or don’t they?
    I think what Sasha does is an act of pure passion. She loves the race. She loves talking about it, and analyzing it. I know many shameless Oscar junkies, and I can certainly respect their passion for their particular topic.
    I don’t like the idea that a film is worthless this time of year, though, if it’s not a contender for one of the five spots in a particular category, and already that mindset is starting to take root (as it does every year around this time) in everything some people are writing. My problem is when people who are ostensibly critics start talking incessantly about the Oscars, too. That seems fucked up to me. Let the Gurus of Gold do that. Keep the prognostication out of film criticism, since after the Oscars are done, the film will still exist. A good critic should simply take the film itself on its merits and discuss that… not handicap a horse race.

  80. anghus says:

    “Keep the prognostication out of film criticism, since after the Oscars are done, the film will still exist. A good critic should simply take the film itself on its merits and discuss that… not handicap a horse race.”
    I agree with that 100%.
    Last year with Letters From Iwo Jima, which i thought was a magnificent film. Once the award season was over and the film was still rolling out, no one was talking about it anymore.
    It’s a shame when a good film stops getting press because people are burnt out on it from all the oscar coverage, as if to say none of those films matter once the awards are over.
    At the same time, how many people say of a film: “this could have been an award contender if it had been released later in the year”
    But i don’t know how we get rid of that thinking.

  81. Noah says:

    Well, I agree with you Drew and I think that that is an important distinction for any film writer to consider; do I want to write about the quality of the film or do I want to write about its award chances or do I want to both? I think both can be done, to say “I love Zodiac but it has no chance at an Oscar.” I think that is an important thing, becuase I think the critics should not be predicting Oscars, they should be raving about the best films of the year. And I think Dave does a good job of putting his critic hat on and praising films like Little Children while also talking about the Oscar hopes for Little Miss Sunshine. But that line is very easy to step over.
    But I agree with what you’re saying, Drew. I got into this game because I love movies and I love to write about them and talk about them, especially the ones I love. But, we have to understand that there is a niche market out there, people who only want to read about the Oscars around this time of year. It’s like this: I watch baseball and basketball all season and follow my teams, but there are always folks that don’t start watching until the playoffs start. Well, for a lot of people, this is the playoffs and they want a guide to help them figure out what’s going to happen in the finals (Oscar night). While I might love following film all year, there are folks who just want to follow it now and a lot the material will be for them because it’s not like the rest of us cinephiles are going anywhere. :)

  82. anghus says:

    So basically the goal would be to keep the critical peanut butter out of the award season chocolate.
    i’m almost curious enough to go back to some major critics last year and see how many reviews of film contain oscar/award season chatter.
    almost.

  83. David Poland says:

    I just wrote 1400 words back at Drew and making excuses.
    I am going to send Drew the push back in private and shut up about the rest. I will simply leave it to… yes, I wish I was spending more time writing lately. I am trying. And I agree with Transmo on some level. But it is, indeed, hard out here for a pimp. I hope it gets better soon.

  84. David Poland says:

    And Crow… you are not 100% wrong.
    I do like a good fight. And debating 20 people at the same time can be quite a rush.
    That said, I am a weak competitor because competition is not a driver for me. I have a very clear, very simple moral code and I do bring that to how I see the industry, including entertainment journalism. There are very few people with whom I would not break bread… and only one who has so abused my friendship that out of self-preservation I can no longer allow myself to break bread with him in any form.
    I am proud of the people MCN has worked with and how their careers have unfolded in time. The very concept of MCN is, unlike most other media, to support other journalists. There may be snarky headlines, but we do not steal the work of others… we link and we link without analyzing who is linking back to us.
    I write about movies when I choose to, within the rules that the owners of the films put out for me. 20 other people wrote about The Kingdom when I did. The room was filled with journalists. And I love the film. Went back again this week and loved it again. A tremendous action film. Meanwhile, I saw Into The Wild with Wells and Drew and a bunch of others in August (or July?) and didn

  85. jeffmcm says:

    I agree about the ‘competition’ idea, Crow T., I think, however, that it takes a different form than website vs website. DP prides himself on different criteria. And DP, we all want to be understood. I would love to understand you more than currently happens.

  86. Krazy Eyes says:

    All this discussion has gotten me wondering . . .
    Did DP ever post the 2nd half of his TIFF wrap-up? The part where he was going to discuss the actual movies? If he did, I missed it and I was looking forward to reading it.

  87. anghus says:

    I pull up Aint it Cool News, and this is the first headline i see:
    “Harry says Paul Thomas Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a brilliant, masterful film! Daniel Day Lewis owns this year’s Oscar!”

  88. Fucking Knowles…just ruined Lewis’s chances. What a prick. Where were you BiPed and DP!?!?!? You coulda got DDL the GOLD he so desperately cares about!!!! Now he’s going to be forced back into shoemaking.
    Since Oscar sites have so much pull, keep pusing ONCE (BiPed) and you guys really should test your waters by pushing Leslie Mann as Supporting Actress for KNOCKED UP. I know she’s a long shot, but I just rewatched 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and I dare she she’s a comic genius.

  89. James Leer says:

    Petaluma’s got the right ideas.

  90. anghus says:

    the only reason i posted the knowles headline was because of the discussion we were having where Drew said ‘you can’t bring up a film from Sept. to Feb. without award stuff creeping in’ (i’m paraphrasing).
    And the first headline on the site is about the screening at fantastic fest and the headline has a comment about the oscars.
    everyone does it now. i can see why some might find it maddening. it took a headline on drew’s site to make it kind of click. I guess if you’re not someone who follows the oscars or cares about the race, to see every good film tagged with an oscar asterisk might get old, quick.
    I remember another conversation we had here about the Painted Veil, when Regis Philbin said “why wasn’t this nominated for an Oscar?”. The conventional wisdom seem to be “not nominated for an oscar = not truly great”. That has gone from niche sites to the mainstream, just like box office prognostication. It went from an industry thing, to the magazines, to the Today show. Now it’s everywhere. Are the Oscars just getting this way. i.e. full media penetration, or is the cycle just getting bigger, like the “Summer” movie season that starts in April.
    I guess the question is: is any of this good for the industry, or is this just the gripe of some who still don’t understand that it is an industry first and foremost, an industry?

  91. anghus says:

    that last sentence made no sense. i should never type before coffee.

  92. bipedalist says:

    Once probably has no shot, though. Harry isn’t the first to prematurely ejaculate on There Will Be Blood and/or Daniel Day Lewis for Best Actor.
    “Ooof! You had me, then you lost me. Do you really believe that in 2002, the thing that put Halle Berry over the top was Oscar blogs? Did Oscar blogs even exist in 2002, and do you really think that the older, voting members of the Academy were checking them out? It may have been just over five years ago, but it was still a very different time, internet-wise.”
    I don’t believe that Oscar blogs did it but you should know your history before you start randomly making bizarre accusations. I started Oscarwatch in 1998 — it was already very popular by 2000 (that’s as far as I can get it to pull up on the wayback machine – http://web.archive.org/web/20000511215157/http://www.oscarwatch.com/)
    The biggest topic the year of Monsters Ball was racism at the Academy. Yes, it was being talked about in what was then a very small circle of media who and that was getting out. And yes, the Academy obviously were so ashamed that they gave both Denzel and Halle Oscars that year. Now, it is common for black people to get Oscars — back then it wasn’t.
    You may think it has nothing to do with anything and that’s okay with me. I lived through it and I saw how just bringing something out in the open and discussing it drew awareness. Sidney Poitier got the honorary Oscar and Whoopie Goldberg was the host – maybe it had something to do with what we were all talking about, maybe not. But what we all know, Poland included, is that what we were digging up and writing about trickled down to mainstream media outlets, just as it does with political blogs now.
    If you don’t believe me, read Christine Vachon’s book on producing where she says that everyone during Oscar season was getting their news from Oscarwatch.com. You may never have heard of it but the site was quite prominent that year. But that was then. Since then others bloomed — mainstream media got into the act, USA Today, NY Times and the LA Times launched the Envelope. There is a history there.
    I’m not exactly proud of being part of what it has all become — it seems shallow now from your perspective, I get it. But it wasn’t for me and my readers back then and it isn’t now. We take the awards business very seriously. It is about power and politics in Hollywood and thus, how it influences the rest of the world.
    I got sued by the Academy and had to change the name so now it’s awardsdaily — and that has made it seem a lot cheaper than it used to be.
    I get that you all would rather be talking about movies and not awards – I get it. I spent five years prior to running an awards site on a listserv (before there even message boards) talking about ONLY movies. I am as passionate a lover of films as anything else. But that’s what drove me to the awards race ultimately. And why I could walk away tomorrow because Martin Scorsese finally won his Oscar. LOL.
    Anyway, go back to talking about movies. I will skulk back to my sleazy den of shallow idiots and polluters of the otherwise pure and lovely world of film fandom and criticism.
    Just don’t get down on DP for focusing only on awards – he is doing what he has to do. Full stop.

  93. anghus says:

    you know bipedalist, i remember that year and that race, and the Denzel/Halle Berry oscars felt like foregone conclusions.
    Though, to be fair, Russell Crowe really did a good job of undermining his chances with a whole lot of crap and drama of his own creation during that race.
    The more we discuss this topic, the more this singular thought seems to run through my mind:
    There’s so much time and resources spent on the oscar race, and then once they’re over, most people end up ganging up and agreeing that the choices were questionable. The inevitable backlash over the choices made, and people throw their hands up and go ‘How did they pick Crash?’ or ‘Marisa Tomei? You gotta be kidding me’.
    So we put this emphasis on an award that many times people see as being given to people as a gift for years of quality work rather than tryly an award for the best work of that year.
    It’s interesting, to me, that so much stock is put in the Oscars, yet when the awards are finally given out, the choices are almost immediately questioned.

  94. RocketScientist says:

    I fully expect the full-length glory of THERE WILL BE BLOOD to be magnificent, but leave it to the folks at Paramount Vantage to stupidly market it and end up grossing no more than $15 million at absolute best. They’ve dropped the ball in one way or another with all of their previous films – YEAR OF THE DOG, BLACK SNAKE MOAN, ARCTIC TALE – and don’t seem to know how to market specialty/indie product, despite it is almost exclusively what they handle.
    This fall seems like it’ll be make-or-break with PV simply because they have films that have the potential to do really well … if they play their cards right. Aside from BABEL, they’ve been pretty much failing left and right – and I don’t think they’ll be able to accomplish any mainstream success with INTO THE WILD. I just don’t get the company at all; they have specialized/limited appeal product like Fox Searchlight, but they just treat everything like it’s a major mainstream release (albeit platformed) yet simultaneously fail/make no effort to build awareness. Thus, they get a movie that can spend over eight weeks in theatres with a huge promotional push (translate: huge – but mismanaged – marketing spending) and not break one million dollars domestic. You’d think their brass – former Fox Searchlight, Miramax, Focus, and LGF execs – would be a little more apt to smartly market their product. Oy.
    THERE WILL BE BLOOD deserves to do well, and I want it to; I just don’t think Paramount Vantage is up to getting this almost three hour long period piece into the mainstream, which is a huge, huge shame, simply because it suggests there might not be more movies like it down the road.

  95. bipedalist says:

    Actually, that isn’t true. I have predictions charts still from that year and it was Sissy and Russell, some were saying Halle and Russell – but very few of us (I got lucky, Ebert too) predicted both. I think their choices should be questioned. But I also think they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

  96. James Leer says:

    “the Academy obviously were so ashamed that they gave both Denzel and Halle Oscars that year”
    Wow! Sasha, are you seriously going on the record as saying that Denzel and Halle won their Oscars out of racial shame? And you literally think that people got together and said things like, “Hey, Whoopi’s hosting this year — let’s give the awards to black people too!”
    I’m boggled. I used to think you had the smartest analysis, so I’m shocked to hear you say that.

  97. seenmyverite? says:

    noah – i wouldn’t say the academy picks the “wrong” films – it’s more the slippery slope when people start thinking the ones they pick are “right.” Certainly the Academy nominates many fine achievements, but if that spotlight of perceived worthiness becomes so bright that all those not considered are left in the darkness of a perceived “unworthiness” when they aren’t nominated or don’t open in the right month or venue or whatever, then it becomes more obvious that the buzz is about the spotlight and not the movie. It creates a false elitism that doesn’t serve the film community.
    But Hollywood knows this – is probably ground zero for learning about false and true success/worthiness, and it’s hard to think of a movie that doesn’t consider it. This year, amongst others, Christopher McCandless will touch on it – and will probably get an Oscar for it… (and there’s no false note there – Sean Penn has walked his talk on this topic for years).

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