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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

The Silly Season: Crap Excuses For Not Winning Best Picture

I am always thrilled when the excuses for not winning start coming just after the ballots go out, before most of them come in, and long before nominations are announced. Here is the short-list…

The Kids Are All Right: Sexism, Homophobia
The Social Network: Qualityphobia
The King’s Speech: Anti-Faux-Anti-Semitism
The Fighter: Classism
Black Swan: Sexism, Genrephobia
Inception: Blockbusterphobia
Toy Story 3: Animation Category Syndrome
True Grit: Westernaphobia
Winter’s Bone: Indiephobia, Poor White People phobia
127 Hours: “Dey took my t’umb, Cha-leeeeee!”
The Town: Septemberphobia
Another Year: Mirrorphobia
Inside Job: Docophobia
Biutiful: Francophobia (Generalissimo Franco, that is)

and…

Burlesque: Cheraphobia, Botoxaphobia, Gauzeaphobia
How to Train Your Dragon: Katzenbergaphobia
The Karate Kid: Willaphobia
Salt: High Blood Pressure phobia
Please Give: Nextdoorneightboraphobia

I don’t think it’s crazy to say that gay or black are not the favorite things at The Academy. But if you build it, they will vote. Small, quality movies like The Kids Are All Right are fortunate to be in the game, regardless of these issues. Great movies sneak in every year. Good movies sneak in with a group of ten. But winning is about connecting in a very certain way… and yeah, it’s highly unlikely that Kids will win… but it’s also highly unlikely that at least half of the nominees might win. Enjoy getting there and don’t pander for votes. It’s beneath all of you.

69 Responses to “The Silly Season: Crap Excuses For Not Winning Best Picture”

  1. Sam says:

    Casino Royale isn’t going to win the 2010 Best Picture Oscar either, thanks to the Academy’s rampant ineligibilityphobia.

  2. cadavra says:

    You forgot THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN: Bonerphobia.

    As Lex would say, GOOD JOKE.

  3. IOv3 says:

    I think it’s time for… OUR OWN OSCAR TOP TEN LIST! Not our top ten fave movies but the movies we believe will be in the top 10! Come on! Play along at home!

    1) The Social Network
    2) True Grit
    3) The King’s Speech
    4) Inception
    5) Toy Story 3
    6) Black Swan
    7) The Kids Are Alright
    8) Winter’s Bone
    9) The Town
    10) 127 Hours or The Fighter. It’s a toss-up.

  4. LYT says:

    IO, I’d bump The Town, leave in The Fighter and 127 Hours. I think there’s only room for one working-class Massachusetts drama.

  5. LexG says:

    How many more years till they give up on this “10 nominees” bullshit? It’s so absurd and so completely obvious which five will have squeaked in to pad it out.

    And even though I think this WAS a good year for movies, 127 Hours kinda never really happened with audiences or voters, and The Fighter seems to be in SERIOUS danger of coming and going without picking up the Rocky/Gran Torino populist push I’d have expected.

  6. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Lex, that’s the argument I often have regarding various competition reality shows – there’s usually several that clearly aren’t going to win, and really it’s going through the motions until it’s their turn to be booted off.

    By the time the nominees are announced, it’ll probably be reasonably obvious which of the 10 are the “We like you, but you aren’t going to win” flicks and which still have a shot.

  7. Krillian says:

    I’d bump Kids so 127 and Fighter could be in there. Of IO’s list, Kids is the one I liked the least (I liked it, but… best picture? Really? With that ending?)

  8. Rob says:

    The question, though, is whether you think it’ll be nominated. The SAG showing makes me think Kids’ position as a nominee is solid. I’d say:

    1.) Social Network
    2.) King’s Speech
    3.) True Grit
    4.) Black Swan
    5.) Inception
    6.) The Fighter
    7.) Kids
    8.) Toy Story
    9.) Winter’s Bone
    10.) The Town

  9. Sam says:

    “It’s…so completely obvious which five will have squeaked in to pad it out.”

    Yes, but wasn’t the same principle true back when there were five nominees? The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, The Reader, In the Bedroom, Babe, The Full Monty, Ray, The Sixth Sense, Frost/Nixon, Capote…. Nobody thought these movies had even a slim chance of winning, right?

    I’m not arguing against your overall point, but there will be also-rans in the mix no matter how many you nominate.

  10. yancyskancy says:

    I’ve got no problem with the 10 nominees thing. It potentially gets a few films that would have otherwise been overlooked into the record books. Sure, it will lead to some absurdities (Oscar always has absurdities, no matter how many nominees per category), but I like the idea that something like A SERIOUS MAN will always be known as a Best Picture nominee. Who cares if half (or more) of the nominees have no shot? By that logic, just send out a list of all eligible films and give the thing to the top vote-getter, or nominate only those films that get a similar number of mentions on the initial ballots.

  11. Geoff says:

    I also like the 10 nominees deal; contrary to what many others think, I actually do believe that there are at least six to eight films in most years worthy of such consideration.

    One thing I’m wondering is: will it ever get to the point where a documentary can make the cut? The past few years, there are films like Man on Wire and Exit Through the Giftshop that I would definitely put up there – no chance of them ever getting out of the doc ghetto?

    Here would be my picks for what will get nominated:

    True Grit
    The Kings Speech
    The Social Network
    Black Swan
    Toy Story 3
    Inception
    The Fighter
    The Kids Are Alright
    127 Hours
    How to Train Your Dragon (just a hunch)

    Something tells me that The Town is not going to make it, Winters Bone has a very good chance, and maybe Biutful sneaking in?

  12. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    If THE TOWN is nominated then so should UNSTOPPABLE and every other solid action film. The implausibilities in THE TOWN easily match the ones in UNSTOPPABLE.

    HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON? What the fuck is this? DR DOOLITTLE all over again? I mean I like the film fine but Best Picture. What is everyone smoking around here.

    Its not the Oscars unless there’s an overblown epic in the running. What are all these teensy tiny movies doing clogging my Oscars? SOCIAL is just an HBO flick with auburn filters and that’s the favourite. BONE got thrown a bone with the ten. INCEPTION? In your dreams.

    You’d have to be half blind not to want to see TRUE taking it out.

  13. DivaNation says:

    The Diva Nation names “Black Swan” as its top movie of the year and believes that it will also win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

    We also wish “Let Me In” wasn’t being so overlooked.

  14. Geoff says:

    JBD, I’m not saying that ‘Dragon DESERVES a Best Picture nod, but it’s very possible – take a deep breath.

    And hellz yeah, I would put Unstoppable among my Top 15 for the year – that movie kicks genuine ass and was, next to Inception, the best pure action movie of the year.

    Is The Town a bit overrated? Sure – I think a lot of the continuing hype comes from that cast, which is pretty top-flite. But getting crazy about implausibilities?

    I LOVE The Departed and Heat, but have you watched them, lately? Both films are filled with leaps of logic – ALL crime films that are not “inspired” by true events always are. There always too many coincidences – characters in large cities that happen to run into each other at just the right time, way too much self-awareness about what everybody is doing at any given time, etc….come on, that amazing scene with Pacino and DeNiro in the diner, completely implausible! Does that make it a lesser scene? Not at all.

  15. Samuel Deter says:

    OBVIOUSLY:

    The Social Network
    Inception
    Black Swan
    The King’s Speech
    True Grit

    AND THEN:

    Toy Story 3
    The Kids are All Right
    The fighter
    Winter’s Bone
    127 Hours

    MY TOP 5:

    Another Year
    Uncle Boonme who can recall his past lives
    Biutiful
    Meek’s Cutoff
    The Ghost Writer

    and I have yet to see Black Swan, True Grit, The fighter and King’s Speech.

    Won’t come to Mexico or London until February, which sucks.

  16. IOv3 says:

    Jbd… inception is the big epic film this year. Even if it led to you using a ridicous pun in your post.

  17. Telemachos says:

    HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON will not be nominated for Best Picture. Full stop. Take it to the bank. Bet the house. Whatever other cliche you want. (It will, of course, be nominated for Best Animated Film).

  18. berg says:

    HTTYD will be nomm’d for best animated and best soundtrack

  19. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Actually the most overrated film of the year? Uncle Boonme who can recall his past lives.. foreign snobbery at its worst. Terrible film that would have been direct to radio in any other country.

    Geoff I’ll forgive a decent crime film if they even bring a main character back from the grave. THE TOWN as much as I enjoyed it is not in the same class as HEAT.. I’d give you THE DEPARTED which is knocking knees with THE TOWN except for star power. HEAT I watch regularly and while its no LA TAKEDOWN its exceptional work.

    My issue with TOWN is that the implausibilty is not a minor scene like the diner one in HEAT, its the idiotic conceit that sets up the entire film with Affleck going gaga and putting everything at jeopardy over some improbable poon. Didn’t buy their relationship or heat for a second and that really hurt the film for me. It was dumb dumb dumb.

  20. Jason S says:

    Obviously the “real” Best Picture noms will be the ones also nominated for Best Director. I also wish they’d drop the whole 10 nominees thing.

  21. LexG says:

    As someone who’s seen HEAT probably well over 30 times and considers it a rewatch masterpiece, etc etc etc… Once in a while it hits me that McCauley and crew JUST HAPPENING to be eating at the diner where Haysbert is working is the most coincidental shit in any movie this side of Paul Haggis… Funny, ’cause Haysbert’s big moment of truth there is maybe my favorite moment in the entire movie, but when you think about it objectively, the contrivance there would’ve been right at home in CRASH.

    ON TOPIC:

    Anyone else a little mystified by all this WINTER’S BONE FOR PICTURE momentum? It has a mood and location detail that I think are catching everyone as being properly unique and distinctive… But could anyone make heads or tails of the plot? The stuff with Garrett Dillahunt? Movie seems to be totally missing its last act…

    Basically it’s “Have you seen my daddy?” x 30.

    Finally FOR NO REASON the crazy chick forks over the hands, Dillahunt mutters about something we don’t understand, and then Lawrence is hanging out on a porch and the credits roll.

    I get that the strict PLOT POINTS! are beside the point, secondary to the characters and atmosphere, and I liked the movie overall, but the whys and hows are frustratingly steamrolled over in that last act.

  22. Geoff says:

    Great point, Lex – the movie is FILLED with coincidences. Though to be fair, the burger joint he is working at is obviously ex-con friendly, so it would make sense that DeNiro and his crew could have meets, there.

    And JBD, I get your point about the relationship in The Town – it IS a stretch. But still within the context of the genre, not that much of a stretch.

    I’ll go back to the same two comparable movies.

    Heat: DeNiro’s romance with Amy Brenneman’s character – she’s still with him AFTER she knows he’s wanted, she’s maybe been out with him twice? At least, Rebecca Hall’s character blows off Affleck (sort of) after she finds out the truth about him.

    The Departed: The performances kind of make it work, but the love triangle between Farminga, DiCaprio, and Damen….wow, I have to give Scorcese and Monaghan a lot of credit, because with lesser filmmakers behind it, NOBODY is buying that at all.

    Come on, let’s get serious, here – The Godfather has logic gaps, White Heat has logic gaps, Reservoir Dogs has logic gaps. A lot of these movies are meant to be operatic, not hyper-realistic.

    It seems to me that is what Affleck was aiming for with The Town – am I saying it’s on the level of those other films? Not at all, but I think he’s fairly playing within the rules of the genre, for sure.

  23. LexG says:

    Don’t forget De Niro’s SLY PICKUP MOVES in HEAT. What hot, 30ish Sunset Plaza-living art school chick WOULDN’T be won over by a humorless, sour 55-year-old mook in a pompadour, Reynolds Wrap-colored suit and greasy goatee issuing hot pickup lines like “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKIN’ AT LADY, WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF YOURS WHAT I’M READING?”

    Plus, you know, Neil McCauley’s INCREDIBLY winning follow-up banter and pleasant demeanor.

  24. Mark F. says:

    Predicted nominees

    The Social Network
    True Grit
    The King’s Speech
    Inception
    Toy Story 3
    Black Swan
    The Ghost Writer
    Winter’s Bone
    The Fighter
    127 Hours

  25. Peter says:

    Can’t compare The Town to Heat, it’s just not fair.

    Besides, you don’t have Pacino screaming “Cause she got a great Ass!!” line in the Town.

    Or “Ralph, SIT DOWN!!!”

  26. cadavra says:

    My guess, FWIW:

    The Social Network
    True Grit
    The King’s Speech
    Inception
    Toy Story 3
    Black Swan
    The Kids Are All Right
    The Ghost Writer
    The Fighter
    Another Year

  27. Monco says:

    In my opinion both Winter’s Bone and The Town are both extremely overrated. Winter’s Bone I thought was good not great, though Lawrence is outstanding. The Town just sucked. I can’t believe all the praise it is getting. Comparing Heat to The Town is just absurd. Affleck is a hack director.

  28. LexG says:

    AFFLECK IS GOD COME TO EARTH.

    YOU WILL BOW TO HIM.

  29. Triple Option says:

    I thought Heat was merely so-so and if there was one scene that was singularly responsible for ruining that move for me it was the Pacino/De Niro pull off the highway to go have coffee at the diner and discuss “I’ma mouse-youra cat” scene. Wow, I left the Bookmobile for what..?

    And as far as The Emperor’s New Clothes goes, I mean, The Departed. I don’t think you could have had a film more paled by its original if you developed the negative in bleach. But I guess if that can win Best Picture, then The Kids Are Alright can entertain talk of being nominated in a bar-lowering world of 10 BP slots. I think we’re starting to see the first unforeseen consequences of living in a world where dodgeball is outlawed from children’s activities. It’s not that I think Kids are Alright is a bad film but I kinda wonder the development execs over at Lifetime bought a buncha cross-cut shredders to make sure not one goes dumpster diving for movie ideas on their grounds anymore.

    I’m w/Lex on Winter’s Bone. I mean it wasn’t as barely watchable as Boys Don’t Cry but it was just a couple of really decent performances w/not much else going on.

    I realize there are still some heavy buzz films I’ve yet to see, which, yes, in some cases would discount my ability to credibly say what films should be excluded, since I wouldn’t presumably know what all they’re up against. But anyone can watch game tape from the NFC West and know none of those teams deserve a shot a post season glory.

    I think the Academy has a tendency to unfairly reward films that merely include wide scape panning shots, two people crying in the same frame or people dancing in a period setting, (when not a designated musical). I think I’d have Toy Story 3 and True Grit in my top five, well, ten. Hopefully I get caught up by the time the noms come out. I just hope some of ones I haven’t seen have more of a wow factor than ones that have had pretty big hype.

  30. I don’t want to do a blow-by-blow of the third act of Winter’s Bone, but it does make sense in the end.

    Basically…

    SPOILERS
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Ree’s dad got arrested and offered to squeal as he was looking at a long prison sentence. Garrett Dillahunt’s Sheriff, for reasons never made entirely clear, rats out Ree’s father to the rest of the family, which results in his death. As for why they eventually give Ree the proof she needs to save the house, it’s the realization that A) she will not quit so they can either help her or kill her and B) Teardrop (who they are all a little scared of) is now on her side and far less likely to play nice. Sure, they could have just killed Ree and Teardrop (which also would have attracted lots of attention due to the whole orphans and invalid mother problem), but that’s not the choice they made. Better to let Ree save the house, hoping that would be the end of it. Garrett Dillahunt’s last exchange is basically telling Ree not to talk about the conversation he had with Teardrop when they were pulled over (where Dillahunt basically confesses to getting the dad killed).

    I guess that was kind of a blow by blow. Oh well. For what it’s worth, I really liked the film the first time around, but started to love it on a second viewing (also helped fill in the above plot notes, as quite a few characters whisper important plot info).

  31. Triple Option says:

    Re: Scott Mendelson says:
    December 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm
    **POSSIBLE SPOILERS**

    I kinda got the same conclusions but I think my problem wasn’t so much the what but the why. Some of the shortcomings of the film are even evident in your explanation, “Garrett Dillahunt’s Sheriff, for reasons never made entirely clear…” and “it’s the realization…” All may be true and it’s not that I’d argue against what you’re saying, my thing is that the film SHOULD HAVE illustrated the reason(s) why. That’s the lead’s main battle, isn’t it? Battle the bad guys to get the info she needs? It just sorta shows up at her door. There’s nothing close to resembling Richard Gere doing pushups in the mud after practice and crying out “I’ve got nowhere else to go” that lets us know Mr Clean can’t break him. There’s nothing like the knockdown, drag out, enter the octagon fight that gives the colony of Predators their props to Danny Glover and don’t shred him in Pred 2. Absolutely no “you win this time, grasshopper” moment in Winter’s Bone, just one day wake up and decide to show the girl where the body is. That, I might add, for whatever noggin scratching reason they’ve left reasonably accessible even though it serves no purpose to otherwise have capital indicting evidence literally floating around nearby.

    Story wise, even if we forgive the sorta generic “save the farm” premise, I didn’t see things building in stakes or consequences. While resilient the whole way through, the lead didn’t get stronger, smarter, or really continue to defeat obstacles before her to get what she was after or unravel the truth hidden before her. I saw some decent shots of people tying to struggle through their lives, some hillbilly wisdom and spectacular look and feel of the environment. It wasn’t like moments of recognition of why certain characters acted certain ways, no great reveals, no real mystery solved. I mean, maybe it’s up in the air if this guy really is dead or just flown the coup, but we all know he’s not pulling up in a cab at the end with a puppy in his arms and a smile on a soot covered face to hug his li’l princess. I just watched the thing and thought, “Mmm, OK, and…?” I had briefly wondered if I fell asleep at some point but matched the running time to my clock on the TV and saw that wasn’t the case.

    Some commendable elements, for certain, but I didn’t see it being a worthy BP nom.

    **END VAGUE COMMENTS THAT COULD POSSIBLY LEAD TO SPOILERS**

  32. jesse says:

    Yeah, given all of the “little movie” choices this year, and the range afforded by ten nominees (pros: gives attention to more offbeat movies; mimics the ten-best list that everyone else makes … cons: mostly pointless as you can see the “real” contenders on the Best Director list), I don’t see why voters would go for Winter’s Bone, a movie I also liked but didn’t love. It just doesn’t have that huge of an emotional kick to it, nor is the filmmaking so mindblowing that I wasn’t a little bit restless with it at times. It’s a solid slice of atmosphere/character, but I don’t really get the critical love and I don’t think that critical love will translate to a nomination. That movie screams acting or screenplay nominations.

    My guesses for the ten that’ll make it in:

    The Social Network
    The King’s Speech
    Black Swan
    Inception
    True Grit
    +
    The Fighter
    The Kids Are All Right
    Toy Story 3
    127 Hours
    The Town

    The first five are the ones that would probably be nominated in a regular five-movie field (maybe swap Fighter for Inception there).

    Toy Story gets the only-one-year-old-but-feels-totally-right Pixar slot.

    The Kids Are All Right gets the lefty indie spot (and I say that with affection).

    127 Hours should be well-liked enough by those who saw it plus Boyle having done Slumdog so recently… it’s sort of like A Serious Man, a wonderfully strange and sometimes blackhearted movie, pretty much getting in on residual Coens love.

    The Town could easily turn to Another Year. I just can’t think of another “definitely won’t win but we really respect it” movie. It’s not happening for Rabbit Hole for whatever reason. But if we’re talking Winter’s Bone versus The Town or 127 Hours or Another Year for one of the last few spots, yeah, I’m guessing voters will be more supportive of any of those over Bone.

  33. LexG says:

    It’s too bad that three of the year’s very best:

    Never Let Me Go
    Let Me In
    Somewhere

    …are considered to have zero shot.

    Also, props to Triple Option on the above save; Dissing Heat is all but unforgivable, but nothing beats a Predator 2 reference.

  34. Proman says:

    Interesting commentary especially considering that Poland has some of the worst Oscar predictions on the web. And had for a while.

    Was it only two years back when people very discussing the curse of Poland’s “annoited forerunnner”.

  35. Proman says:

    Also, most Academy Award nominees FUCKING WISH they could come up with something as smart compelling as the ending to How Do You Know.

  36. Joe Straatmann says:

    I’m sure they’re crying themselves to sleep at night, Proman.

  37. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Lex I’ll spot you Never Let Me Go & Let Me In but for the love of Dorff, please explain to me why Somewhere is great filmmaking. Pole dancing twins aside which yes, I do acknowledge should be enough for a BP nom in a world where Joe Bob would be the Acad Prez. I rate Dorff alot and regard his performance in Blood and Wine outstanding but he’s woefully miscast in Somewhere, a film so lethargic that it makes Michael Snow’s Wavelength seem positivley zippy.

    Biggest robbery of the year will be no BP nom for ANIMAL KINGDOM, which I think trounces all over WINTERS BONE in script and direction.

  38. anghus says:

    The Social Network
    The King’s Speech
    Black Swan
    Inception
    True Grit
    +
    The Fighter
    The Kids Are All Right
    Toy Story 3
    127 Hours
    The Town

    That’s about as dead on a list as i’ve seen. I’d put cash money down that you’re 10 for 10.

  39. shalini21 says:

    My predicted nominees :

    True Grit
    The King’s Speech
    Inception
    Black Swan
    The Fighter
    127 Hours
    The Social Network
    Winter’s Bone
    Toy Story 3
    The Town

  40. leahnz says:

    that rachel weisz isn’t front and centre in every oscar piece/discussion for ‘best actress’ for her most sublime turn in ‘agora’ shows how truely inane, homogeneous and predictable the oscar dog-and-pony-show has become. very little to do with actual excellence honoured from a year in film and everything to do with year-end selective group-think, campaigning and cringe-worthy ass-kissing

  41. David Poland says:

    Leah… no one here saw Agora.

    I have been relatively close to the situation on that movie since the summer of 2009, which is part of the problem. The film got kicked in the gonads at Cannes, I believe, in 2009, and never recovered. Multiple versions, small distributor, etc.

    There are plenty of reasons to be angry at the Oscar system, but Agora never really got moving in a positive direction at any point in its life.

    And you GO, Proman/Maxim, with that big love of How Do You Know. You may be an ass with some weird grudge against me, but you are showing the courage of your very unpopular convictions and I have to give you props for that.

  42. Rob says:

    Yeah, I changed my mind…127 Hours over Winter’s Bone. WB is an “acting and writing only” movie if ever I’ve seen one.

  43. leahnz says:

    re: agora: oh. for some reason i was under the impression it had a limited release there in the US (just had a look, up to 17 theatres for 21 weeks ending october. what a bummer, it did much better in the rest of the world); it was on noah F’s top 10 list for 2010 so that might have contributed to me thinking it was more visible there

  44. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Bigfoot was seen more than Agora Leah. It was a quieter than a silent fart in NZ and OZ as well. It practically died everywhere except Spain. So to say it did much better in the rest of the world is a real stretch. I have loved Amenábar since Tesis but Agora is the film no one saw outside of his hometown. It did over 80% of its biz there. Best actress will be Jacki Weaver. Big upset. Watch for it.

  45. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    DP two articles I thought should be on this blog.. the LA Times thing on windows and Patton Oswalt’s death of geek culture Wired piece which is rambling but nails why I jonesing for nostalgia vibes and am incredibly elitist about most things these days.

  46. Joe Leydon says:

    I just wish Solitary Man had gotten the high-profile release it deserved. Just as I wish The Company Men would get seen by the right people.

  47. Joe Leydon says:

    I’m sorry Agora never opened in Houston — especially since, back in the day, I reviewed Amenábar’s Tesis for Variety at the Berlin Film Festival.

  48. leahnz says:

    JBD: yes, i can read the box office sites just like you can, i know you have some desperate need to correct me and pretend you’re an expert on movies here in my country, but i never said agora was some big hit here nor did i feel it particularly necessary to do a detailed box office search and subsequent know-it-all commentary, as if you know this stuff about agora off the top of your head and haven’t just read it somewhere, just like i did.

    my point was that agora made about $620,000 in the US and more than $38 mil in the rest of the world (spain is actually part of the world), in fact earning about $10mil all over the world outside spain, which while is not terribly swift is still $9+ mil more than it did IN the US, and considering its limited release in most places is nothing to sneeze at)

    and i’d say jackie weaver’s chances of winning the best actress oscar are between nil and zip. why should she win and NOT rachel for ‘agora’, considering ‘animal kingdom’ was also a very limited theatrical release in the US and made only slightly more $, and rachel carries the entire movie while jackie is a supporting actress in her film?

  49. Samuel Deter says:

    I LOVE uncle boonme! I hope it a gets a foreign film nom oscar time.

    But yeah, it’s not for everyone… certainly not anyone I saw it with in London. The ones who didn’t walk out, fell asleep. But I love Weerazetathatguy’s films.

  50. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    “it did much better in the rest of the world” ..

    Leah you were wrong. Move on. Spain does not mean rest of the world. It just means Spain. All I did was point out that you were stating rubbish. And once again you’ll argue to the ends of time about it. Yawn.

    Weaver’s performance (unlike Weisz) is actually on many folks radar and the films boxoffice doesn’t reflect her visibility to be in the running for an oscar.

  51. Agora was rather terrific (put it on my ‘good movies you missed’ list), but I only saw it under rather random circumstances. Put Weisz’s performance in the same category as (random example) Chris Cooper’s star turn in Breach: a surefire nomination if it had come out in the last two months of the year.

  52. LexG says:

    Rachel Weisz’s TOUR DE FORCE was in Lord Neil LaBute’s immortal masterpiece “Shape of Things.”

    I like her in most everything, but I’ve always thought it pretty weird she got all the acclaim and awards for “Constant Gardener,” which I think of more as Ralph Fiennes in a Scott-brothers-type global thriller where Weisz gets like two speechy scenes and eight minutes of screen time, during most of which she’s upstaged by Danny Huston.

  53. IOv3 says:

    Mendelson, seriously, I am glad you are working for Huff Post but you are the oldest 29 year old man on the planet. Seriously, your slamming of SP and Inception make me wonder who did the old heart pull on your inner child. Tearing me apart, man. TEARING ME APART!

    That aside, the whole reason for the TOP 10 is this: TOO MANY MEMBERS OF THE ACADEMY VOTE AGAINST THE ACADEMY’S BEST INTEREST! These monkeys as a group chose THE READER OVER THE DARK KNIGHT! I am typing it again because The Reader is a bunch of shit with a good looking lady nude in it i but it’s not The Dark Knight and IT GOT A FUCKING BEST PICTURE NOMINATION! Seriously, the freaking Reader, and this is why you need a top 10. You need a top 10 to get nominees people give a fuck about and may want to see win awards.

    So, yeah, the Oscars are once again at a crossroads with this crop of solid films that about 15 people have seen XD, but they are going to keep on being at a crossroads until a real populace film wins. Seeing as that has rarely happened outside of freaking Titanic and ROTK in the last fucking 13 years, I am not holding my breathe for anything other than some lame shit happening this year but with 10 slots, there is always a chance something crazy happens, and that’s why you need 10 nominees.

  54. leahnz says:

    yawn at yourself, ladyman

    i was wrong and should move on because the great ladyman, self-appointed bastion of box office knowledge supremacy that one simply reads off the internet, deems it so? yeah right

    agora makes $620,000 in the US vs. 10 mil around the rest of the world in limited release (completely disregarding very good business in spain, the ‘home’ country), more than 10 TIMES the gross world wide than in the US, and you assert that my describing this as “it did much better in the rest of the world” as being “rubbish”? so doing more than ten times the box office, 10mil vs 620 grand, can not be deemed as “much better”? yeah, you’re a nitwit.

    and thanks for making my point about the putrid state of the oscars and ‘visibility':

    weaver is on the ‘radar’ because she’s being publicised and pimped into the embarrassing dog-and-pony show because her perf came out closer to the golden nov-dec blessed end-of-year time slot and the marketing machine has decided to anoint weaver – but not weisz – not because weaver’s movie has been far more widely seen in the cinema or her perf is any more deserving, far from. has bardem’s movie been seen so much more widely in the US than ‘agora’, and yet his perf is being praised and pushed, etc. etc. etc, but rachel is a NO GO ZONE? a load of manure, just short of a bad farce at this point.

    edited to say scott sorta makes the same point, exactly. this ‘every-single-movie/perf-must-come-from-between-1 nov-and-31 dec-or-it-doesn’t-count-because-we’re-apparently-a-bunch-of-senile-fuckers’ mentality has got to stop, it’s beyond a joke.

    note to the ‘oscar $ machine':

    all the best perfs don’t come from all the exact same movies. all the best photography doesn’t come from the same batch of 10 movies. all the best writing doesn’t come from the exact same batch of movies, yada yada yada. blech

  55. leahnz says:

    so someone please riddle me this:

    i had a quick look and ‘biutiful’ has made pretty much NIL at the US box office – which means pretty much NOBODY has seen it – and about 10 mil in the rest of the world (did not bother looking up where) and yet HE can comfortably be pimped hard for an oscar nom, and yet rachel’s movie made a wee bit of $ in a very limited release in the US and about 30mil in the rest of the world, and yet her incredible perf just CAN’T be considered for an oscar nom because…. why exactly? wtf

  56. LexG says:

    Leah, put down the Fosters and go cuddle with your Rachel Weisz pillow. Jesus, what are you ON about? I thought Casey Affleck was brilliant in Killer Inside Me, but I’m not petitioning the fucking UN over the INJUSTICE of his not being up for any meaningless awards…

    But for the record, Biutiful came out today in like one, maybe two theaters in the US. It probably won’t crack one mil domestic U.S. box office in its entire run.

    I have nothing against AGORA but your selecting it, OF ALL RANDOM THINGS that NO ONE IN THE U.S. HAD A CHANCE TO SEE as some travesty-of-justice crusade against the Academy is pretty much– no, exactly– like if I was posting 400 times railing drunkenly about THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF not getting its due.

  57. IOv3 says:

    Lex, your wrapping up of that post is rather spectacular.

  58. leahnz says:

    “Leah, put down the Fosters and go cuddle with your Rachel Weisz pillow. Jesus, what are you ON about? I thought Casey Affleck was brilliant in Killer Inside Me, but I’m not petitioning the fucking UN over the INJUSTICE of his not being up for any meaningless awards…”

    well i think you’re exaggerating. the reason i’m having a rant now and will have forgotten by tomorrow is that i don’t really give a shit at the end of the day, but it’s annoying when i think about it. and don’t you know of any other kind of beer than fosters? i pity the fool who drinks that drek.

    anyway if you honestly can’t figure out what i’m on about after i’ve written multi paragraphs i won’t bother trying to explain it to you past this:

    A. have you even seen agora? casey’s psychokiller (and i’m a fan of casey) doesn’t hold a candle to rachel’s hypnotic philosopher, hers is truely a magnificent portrayal in an epic movie, even if one doesn’t think the movie is great (i liked it myself):

    B. i just got off on a tangent with rachel as a bit of an example/litmus test for the illogical, inexplicable bias; it’s not just rach in ‘agora’ it’s the same thing year in, year out, it’s the whole broke-ass system, someone (often more than one) gives a truly stand-out perf in a movie/or in this case a limited release movie that is ignored, even when other similarly limited-release perfs are pushed hard for nominations (expl this year bardem, weaver) BECAUSE THE MOVIE PLAYED BETWEEN 1 NOV and 31 DECEMBER, and certain people got a bug up their ass to get it SEEN, because that’s what it is. it’s fucking mental.

    how is bardem being pushed for a nom for a movie having had virtually NO release and made no money somehow ok and yet i’m a whackadoo for asking how bardem’s push for a nom is more logical than rachel being similarly observed? nobody has seen ‘biutiful’ by the same rationale being used to judge ‘agora’ and arguably more people would have seen agora because it was out for 20-odd qualifying weeks at 17 cinemas and is out on dvd, but biutiful was seen JUST RECENTLY so it makes perfect sense (for catering to the memory challenged that is)…

  59. Triple Option says:

    Yeah, I saw Agora. And I would say y’all ain’t missing a thaing! Buncha different groups runnin’ around like street gangs. It was like The Warriors in colonial English. Minus the action. And intriguing characters. Oh, and the emotional engagement. And compelling plot. But, uh, well, I guess it looked alright. This may be a thread about crap excuses for films not winning, but I gotta give critics and powers that be props for not taking the bait that just because a film is period piece doesn’t automatically make it award worthy. Definitely not saying I thought it was a train wreck, and in fact, I have to commend the nominating populus for recognizing it wasn’t even a car fire on the other side of the 405. Just merely a driver w/a flat on the other side of the road, leaving little reason to slow down and rubberneck on the way by.

    Rachel reminded me more of one of those nightgown models I’d flipped past in the Sears or JC Penny’s Christmas catalog on my way to look for the newest Tyco racing set and any of the other various latest toys I could write Santa about. Not that I’m blaming her or criticizing her work, I’m sure any one of 1,000 other actual working actresses would’ve had the same results. Which, yes, should be interpreted frontwards and back.

    I thought the film sorta fell into the same trap as the latest Robin Hood film that came out in projecting 2010 (ish) world views on those living centuries in the past, without filter or qualification. Though that’s a comparatively minor complaint I had against Agora. Like Robin Hood, my main problem with the film was that is was long and boring. I realize neither was a 3-hour movie but both sure as shoot felt like it.

  60. cadavra says:

    As long as we’re bemoaning them what ain’t gettin’ their due, what about Sally Freakin’ Hawkins in MADE IN DAGENHAM? Here’s a movie just made for the Academy: British, based on a true story, not just lefty but pro-union, astounding central female star turn, wonderful change-of-pace support from beloved character star (Bob Hoskins), ultimately uplifting (i.e., the good guys win), and most importantly, distribbed by Sony Classics, which certainly knows how to play the Oscar game. But nope, nothing, nada, nil, zip, zilch, zero. I can understand the snub of McAdams in MORNING GLORY (it’s “just” a comedy), but Christ, Hawkins deserves it in spades, especially since they didn’t even nominate her two years ago after she won the Globe and a raft of critics’ awards for HAPPY-GO-LUCKY.

  61. leahnz says:

    wow triple option, a note: CRITICS DO NOT MAKE UP THE ACADEMY, NOR DO THEY VOTE FOR THE AWARDS. thank christ.

    that you even care what critics think, or believe their opinions hold ANY sway in the industry, speaks volumes (the publicists leave the critics for dead). further, even in many of the limited number of reviews ‘agora’ received that clearly do not appreciate the movie, most have given weisz’s perf high praise as its own achievement; so you didn’t like it, fine, but the dripping condescension is a bit much, really, there’s no need to be a snarky dick about it. your opinion is certainly not the consensus, and fwiw you are the FIRST person i’ve come across who’s seen the movie that didn’t think rachel gives a stand-out perf even if they didn’t care for the overall film.

    and your insulting description of weisz’s perf as that of a JC penny nightgown model 1000 other actresses could have pulled off just as easily is really just utter NONSENSE and quite ass-wipey for the sake of it, isn’t it? are you trying to sound like lex? how sad

    (i’ll second that for hawkins in ‘dagenham’, she’s terrific in that, far more compelling than most of the actresses being forced down the throat at the mo becuase the machine has decided ‘these are THE ONES and by god we’re going to spend a lot of $ to make sure our choices get nomiated!’)

  62. Triple Option says:

    Gee, Leah, I almost feel bad re-posting part of my original post cuz that would mean 80% of what you just wrote was a complete waste of time. Almost… So here it goes “critics and powers that be”

    Now, re-post #2: ” Not that I’m blaming her or criticizing her work.” You said it was “fine” for me to have my own opinion of the film but by your name calling it shows else wise. Please review what I wrote, “actual working actresses.” I don’t think Jodie Foster would’ve made a difference in that role, nor Naomi Watts, Jennifer Connolly, Rachel Griffins or the lady who played “Laura” and really killed it in the series of one-act plays I saw last month at a nearby theater. As I said before, read the statement frontwards and back. At no time did anything I write have anything to do w/how I feel about Rachel Weisz as a person nor my overall perception of her as an actress. Nothing wrong w/being a model for one of the country’s largest departments stores, it is however an anonymous position.

    Instead of just criticizing me for my position, which one could argue you used a more demeaning tone than the snarky and condescension one you accused me of using in my initial post, I think it would’ve been more effective for you to cite actual work Rachel did in the movie or state what you saw that was so compelling in making your argument in the contrary. Also, you may not see it this way but per your initial statement that my invoking “critics” in my post somehow displays my total ignorance, but when you write this: even in many of the limited number of reviews ‘agora’ received that clearly do not appreciate the movie, most have given weisz’s perf high praise,” it totally contradicts your position that critics are unimportant. (Either that or you are discounting your own opinion.)

    Maybe of the $620,000 worth of paid US attendees, I was the only one didn’t care for the film. Oh wait, I actually saw it on video. Anyway, the point still stands that the film seems to have gotten some love here on the boards from others besides yourself, which was a primary reason I wanted to give a dissenting opinion. Not as an attack on any person or people here but to throw out that MAYBE the reason Agora didn’t make more or why Rachel wasn’t being called out was because MAYBE it just wasn’t at all memorable of a movie. Call me a hater or hate on me all you want but as Mills Lane would say, “Keep your gloves up.”

  63. leahnz says:

    uh, so to clarify before i’m off to celebrate new years, triple o, you don’t think the tone and content of your previous post about ‘agora’ sounded condescending and dickish? you didn’t think your attitude might in turn generate some ‘tude in response? are you under the impression that your tone and content in your original agora post was neutral and in no way way provocative of response? well i’m afraid you are mistaken. i won’t bother with a blow-by-blow of your snarkery, you can re-read your comment yourself.

    as for the rest, i’m not sure what makes you think i didn’t understand you just fine the first time; at no time did i think you were attacking rachel personally and i see nowhere that i claim you did, tho you clearly lack an appreciation for her perf as hypatia and i don’t see how you could claim otherwise after what you wrote.

    the reason i included the part about critics in my reaction (which in no way contradicts my comment about how immaterial they are to the industry awards), which i would have thought is quite obvious, is that you said this:

    “This may be a thread about crap excuses for films not winning, but I gotta give critics and powers that be props for not taking the bait that just because a film is period piece doesn’t automatically make it award worthy.”

    really, you gotta give them props? (and you don’t think that sounds snarky/condescending? how odd) props for what now? your statement implies misguided assumptions, not the least of which is that critics in some consensus decided the movie ‘agora’ is poor and thus unworthy of awards, which is far from accurate. this is why i included in my response that many critics — and according to every compilation source i’ve looked at agora got more positive reviews than negative in a mixed reaction — who didn’t even necessarily care for the movie STILL sang rachel’s praises, which has been my point all along.

    and really, a bit of a cop-out rephrasing your sentiment that 1000 actresses could have done the same job as jc penny-esque rachel and then name four weirdly inappropriate actresses for the role (don’t quit your day job to become a casting agent)…but for that matter, just in general any one of a dozen good actress are interchangeable in ANY role when it comes down to it, likely able to do justice to the role in their own way, just as any number of good actors could interchange in a role and it really wouldn’t’ make a huge difference apart from a different interpretation and in habitation of the role. so what exactly is your point here? because it sounds a little inane. any one of several good actresses could have likely done justice to all the roles being discussed this year for the ‘lead actress’ category, but they didn’t, and we’ll never know.

    i don’t believe any of the actresses you mentioned could have done with the role of hypatia what rachel managed so luminously, with her perfect looks/physicality for the ancient setting, convincing air of rationality and intelligence and inner strength and pathos and vulnerability; she put her stamp on the role and no other actress could have replicated what she did because no other actress is rachel, she is unique in what she brings just like every actress is unique in what they bring, so your point seems bizarre to say the least.

    (and “read the statement forwards and back? what, is there a satanic message in there? i don’t know what you’re on about, but being cryptic for the sake of trying to sound clever or something is unfortunate)

    and ftr re: your false claim of ‘name-calling’, at NO point did i engage in name-calling. by saying “there’s no need to be a snarky dick”, or describing your demeaning comment about rachel as “nonsense and ass-wipey for the sake of it” is merely using strong (admittedly crude as is my bent) adjectives to describe the condescending tone and content of your comment.

    had i said instead, “there’s no need to be a sarcastic contrarian”, is this name-calling? no, and the meaning is exactly the same.

    if i said, “your insulting description of weisz’s perf….is really just utter NONSENSE and quite deliberately mean for the sake of it”, is that name-calling? no, and the meaning is exactly the same.

    this is name-calling: you’re a snarky dick. you’re an ass-wipe. i engaged in no such thing (not that i’ve NEVER done so, because clearly i have, but not often and not without provocation and not in this exchange). if people are going to cry foul about name-calling, it would be prudent to actually be on the wrong end of actual name-calling before complaining.

  64. yancyskancy says:

    Seems to me that the reason BIUTIFUL and THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, or at least Bardem and Weaver, are getting Oscar pushes is because the films’ distribs/prodcos/whatever feel there’s a commercial upside. Wouldn’t nominations lead to wider theatrical releases and therefore mo’ money, at least stateside? The ship has sailed on AGORA, in that regard, so no one’s going to throw money after a nod for Weisz (in fact, isn’t this a key factor in why very few pre-Fall releases get the big push?).

  65. Geoff says:

    You know, the Weinsteins get all of this hype and they certainly get the nominations, every year…..The Reader, Inglorious Basterds, wow….these guys know how to use WWII to get nods.

    But, how long has it been since they actually won the big prize??? You would know better than me, Dave, but do you think the Academy folks might be wise to the Weinsteins’ annual parade and maybe pre-disposed to NOT vote for their film for the big prize? I know, I know – the Academy is not monolithic, but they ALL know the Weinsteins, right?

    Maybe, it’s just wishful thinking, but I have a feeling that Inception still has a shot. All this stuff about the loudness – Gladiator was a REALLY loud movie, from what I remember and so was LOTR:ROTR.

    It’s a really well-liked movie, hugely successful, and the big backlash is months over at this point – the film reeks of respectability with that cast, Nolan, and it’s very easy to not look at it as sci fi or action. This is NOT The Dark Knight or even Avatar in that vein – it’s not based on a comic, doesn’t feature blue aliens, and is purely original. And HUGE point – it is not particularly violent and no sexual content.

    Nolan is pretty well-liked and respected – probably moreso than Fincher or Boyle was, just a couple of years back.

    Heck, you can even talk about the summer release date, but The Hurt Locker came out about the same time, last year.

    And you could say was the movie too successful? Well, it was big, but not ABSURDLY successful like The Dark Knight or Avatar.

    Really, I can see very few caveats for this movie – not based on true events, so it’s completely impervious to any of the “is it really true” stuff that is sure to come out against The Kings Speech and The Social Network when things get heated, next year.

    I think the big battle is Warners getting that nomination – with 10 pictures, they are looking good. But I thought they would get one for The Dark Knight a couple of years back.

    Not saying it’s going to win, but I don’t see many true stumbling blocks. Yes, True Grit is doing really well, is well liked, and playing well to the older crowd – a couple of years ago, you could have said the same about Gran Turino and that got ZERO nominations.

    Do not underestimate Inception – it’s daring and a safe choice at the same time!

  66. leahnz says:

    “Seems to me that the reason BIUTIFUL and THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, or at least Bardem and Weaver, are getting Oscar pushes is because the films’ distribs/prodcos/whatever feel there’s a commercial upside. Wouldn’t nominations lead to wider theatrical releases and therefore mo’ money, at least stateside? The ship has sailed on AGORA, in that regard, so no one’s going to throw money after a nod for Weisz (in fact, isn’t this a key factor in why very few pre-Fall releases get the big push?).”

    i’m mighty sick of this subject but just to say, yancysk you’ve illustrated my point perfectly with this comment.

    yes, sadly, this is exactly right, and why the once-prestigious academy awards are becoming a travesty. now it’s all about campaigning and sucking up around which an entire industry is built to campaign and suck up in pursuit of the mighty $ for a limited number of year-end movies, instead of the intended purpose of a traditional industry awards ceremony to honour excellence in all aspects of film-making over a given year from a variety of movies and fields, not just the same 10 movies with the same actors from those same movies and the same everything because they played in the last two months of the year. it’s actually really sad, at least i think so.

  67. IOv3 says:

    yeah the last two months of the year thing is complete and utter horse shit, and reveals the Academy to be a bunch of lazy individuals. If you cannot pay attention to films for a whole year then what’s the point of being in the Academy? Do you really need screeners that bad? Do you really need ACADEMY SCREENINGS that bad? Seriously, the Academy needs to weed out the shitty voters and replace them with people that might actually give a shit about film 365 days a year and not just because it was or is their job.

  68. LexG says:

    IO, it’s an element of movie people I’ve come to grudgingly accept the last few years on the blogs and to whatever degree I’ve worked in shitty post jobs in 15 years in LA:

    The people who actually make movies– and thus vote on the Oscars and such– as a rule don’t see as many movies, or even LIKE MOVIES, anywhere near as much not only as film critics but even the casual rabid film fan. Sure, there are the fanatical movie lovers like Tarantino or Scorsese or Schumacher who seem to really, really love “the movies!” and keep up on everything and just are obsessed with the artform. But for every guy like that, you hear of someone like Johnny Depp who sometimes in interviews comes off like he doesn’t even know who his peers and costars are because he doesn’t really watch new movies. And think of all the iconoclast auteurs like Gilliam or Lynch or Mann or Herzog– I could be wrong, but besides just being too busy in their own crazy corners of the world, none of those seem like guys who ever get the urge to bum-rush the local AMC to check out the newest blockbuster or critical fave.

    And that’s just sticking to A-list without even getting to the cynical day-to-day below-the-title guys to whom it’s all a paying gig that pays well, plain and simple. Again, I always wanted to believe that “movie people!” were all these Tarantino types having excited and enthusiastic discussions of everything film, but even from just OUR regulars here who work in the biz or on the fringes or low-budget stuff, from 90% of them you get this cynical, “eh it’s just a job” vibe, probably like how Derek Jeter probably doesn’t dress down, get in line, buy a giant Coke and peanuts and take in METS GAMES on his downtime.

    It’s kind of a bummer what are you gonna do.

    I always say, I never met SO MANY PEOPLE who don’t really like movies and live to complain about them and actively hate them until I moved to L.A.

  69. Krillian says:

    Agora was a good three-star movie that takes places right in that movieland era between when Christians are the good-guys/victims of sword-and-sandals flicks and the bad-guys/oppressors of medieval flicks.

Quote Unquotesee all »

This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin