MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

DGA 2012

Not much to say.

Spielberg, Bigelow, and Affleck were mortal locks. Hooper has a more Best Picture nom-likely film than Haneke, Anderson or Russell. Ang Lee has a “bigger” visual film than Haneke or Russell.

As for Tarantino, no screener
= no nod.

94 Responses to “DGA 2012”

  1. Don R. Lewis says:

    I received screeners for all the DGA nods except ZERO DARK THIRTY…and I also didn’t get a DJANGO.

    And remember a few weeks back on twitter, DP….when I said LES MIS would win best picture…? It’s starting…

  2. Don R. Lewis says:

    Wait, I take it back…I never got a LIFE OF PI screener either.

  3. Lex says:

    Anyone who watches a movie via screener instead of going to the theater should be drummed out of the business, be it filmmaking or film criticism.

    Go to the damn theater or don’t watch a movie, ever.

  4. chris says:

    Maybe Tarantino’s delay in joining the guild also factors in, given that there were so many good options this year? On the other hand, I would hope the DGA, of all organizations, would recognize that, whatever its virtues, “Les Miserables” is not a well-directed film.

  5. David Poland says:

    Les Mis has no chance, Don.

  6. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Django screener available on Pirate Bay so obviously someone got one.

  7. Don R. Lewis says:

    I totally prefer to see films in the theater but my nearest “big city” is San Francisco and it’s at least an hour away and a $50 tag atop the ticket price. DJANGO started way late in the season and ZD30 is barely available near me. Obviously, most voters are L.A./NY but that’s my excuse :)

  8. Lex says:

    I wish I had a Ginger and Rosa screener.

  9. Why people don’t see a real chance in “Lincoln”? It’s the type of movie that historically have won the Oscars.

  10. jepressman says:

    Lincoln will win for best picture and Spielberg for best director.

  11. Js Partisan says:

    Don, of course it’s going to win best picture. Only David lives in a world, where liberals are going to give BP Oscar to a torture flick procedural. You are as bad as Wells with SLP David, when it comes to ZDT.

    If it’s not Les Mis, either “Lincoln” or “Argo” would be quality BP winners. Les Mis just screams “OSCAR,” unlike any other picture out there.

  12. Yancy says:

    I concede that my beloved LES MIZ is not looking like it’s going to take the BP award. But it’s got a better chance than ZERO DARK THIRTY. Any voting body that would award ZD30 would award LINCOLN first. (My guess is LINCOLN, my vote would be LES MIZ, my secret hope would be LIFE OF PI)

  13. The Pope says:

    Well done to Ben Affleck. Really surprised there, but hey why not? Clint, Redford, Costner… they’ve all done well in stepping up.

    Saw The Life of Pi… or as I felt while watching it… The Life of Forrest Pi as a Castaway. It was great in parts, but the narration cheated me of quite a lot of strong emotions which I could have generated on my own without being told something every couple of minutes.

    I think Lincoln will win Best Picture. Spielberg may not get director (Jesus, that would be his third… one away from John Ford). ZDT is proving to be much too problematic with its torture issue. As for Les Mis… I agree with Chris. It is not well directed. Too small in parts, too quick in others. It’s about pace and balance… and what the hell was Hooper thinking of casting a little boy whose only accent was “Core-blimey” Cockney. It was like fucking Mary Poppins all ovah-agayn. Same with Sasha and Helena… suddenly we’re in Dickensian London? Because they are working class, is that it? Christ, I almost vomited.

    Content, tone and direction (and the times that are in it) it’s got to be Lincoln. I wouldn’t mind ZDT winning… anything but The Miserable Londoners Who Wound Up in Paris… On a Barricade Bigger than a Fucking Four Story Building.

  14. movieman says:

    Could 2012 be a repeat of Oscar 1981?
    The favorites that year were New Hollywood “Reds” (substitute “ZDT”) and Old Hollywood “On Golden Pond” (think “Lincoln”).
    Beatty deservedly won director for “Reds,” but a little British underdog named “Chariots of Fire” somehow managed to win the big kahuna.
    (Trust me, that was a result that literally NOBODY saw coming.)
    Could there be another come-from-behind “Chariots” winner in this year’s race?
    “SLP” even?

  15. movieman says:

    Or, a movie that appeals to both old timers and not-quite-so-old-timers: “Argo.”

  16. The Pope says:

    why not? History has repeated itself before. However, I would not call Les Mis a little British underdog. Chariots were certainly the little engine that could… only looking back it, the Academy shouldn’t have.

    Les Mis is a monstrous behemoth. A thundering blunderbuss with every trumpet blaring from the parapets. And it behoves the Academy to politely decline its bullying cries of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality. If anything, the film is a scam.

  17. Js Partisan says:

    The film is tremendous, that’s what it is. If you find it to be a scam, good for you, but that movie screams, “OSCAR.” It’s been screaming that for months now.

  18. The Pope says:

    Js Partisan,
    Oh well. Come Oscar time, I will humbly eat my hat. Hold me to it!

  19. movieman says:

    Pope- True ’nuff.
    But in a year where it really does seem to be a two movie race, isn’t everything a little underdog next to “Lincoln” and “ZDT”?
    P.S.= “Mary Poppins”? I thought the Cockney street urchin had wandered in from a road company of “Oliver!” where he was (over)playing Dodger.

  20. JAB says:

    Nolan gets snubbed again. TDKR is going down as the most criminally underawarded (sic) movie since “Heat”.
    Haven’t seen ZDT yet but emphatically agree with Affleck & Spielberg being nommed.

  21. Pat says:

    Directors obviously see things critics and audiences don’t. I see Speilberg falling out in favor of Haneke on Oscar’s best director list.

  22. The Pope says:

    You’re right. There were no urchins in Mary Poppins. Oliver was full of ’em.

    Genius and august as Haneke is, if he does get nommed it won’t be an Spielberg’s expense. Those days went with The Color Purple. Still, I’d love to see Haneke get a nod… at Hoopers or Quentin’s expense. Preferably both!

  23. Mike says:

    It’s funny how there isn’t a lot of talk about Argo, but it’s still right there in the pack. While I think Lincoln will win best picture and director, I wouldn’t be surprised if Argo sneaks in a win. It’s a crowd-pleasing, historical story about Hollywood and the CIA teaming up to save innocent Americans from evil Islamic extremists. It’s popular, timely, self-congratulatory to Hollywood, and directed by an actor who has been redeemed and has already done two well-respected movies. It’s a winning Oscar bingo card.

  24. anghus says:

    Im fine with those nominations, but i still contend that Zero Dark Thirty is a morbidly under-directed movie.

    Argo and ZD30 to me are the defining films of the directing argument.

    You can see Affleck working scenes, pumping up the third act. Argo is a movie with an imprint.

    Zero Dark Thirty is a procedural with almost an absence of an imprint. It feels just like Hurt Locker but without a Renner at the center to draw the audience in. Chastain is practically a silent protagonist to me. I want to re-watch the movie or read the script and actually get a complete breakdown of her dialogue. She has like four punchy lines and the rest could have been cribbed from any military film.

    Im at a loss for the love of ZD30. I get the like, but when someone says THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, i start to wonder how much glue they were sniffing while watching this very effective but extremely disconnected film. There’s no passion in ZD30. There is no wow moment. That’s the problem with a procedural. They tend to lack a strong emotional core.


    In hindsight, the scene that completely damns ZD30 is the two minute 9/11 audio opening. There’s more emotion in that first two minutes than in the entirety of the remaining film.

    Again, i liked the movie. But what crack are people on declaring this movie some kind of emotional tour de force. Technically, well crafted and deserving on consideration in awards that recognize craft. But a Best Picture? Methinks in a year without a standout Best Pic, people are grading on a curve.

  25. chris says:

    Wow, I’m surprised about that line of reasoning, anghus. I found Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” MUCH more compelling than Renner in “Hurt Locker.” Like everyone else in the movie, she has no backstory but that whole scene where she tells off Kyle Chandler is fantastic (I’m betting it’s her Oscar best actress reel clip), as is the one in the boardroom where she says she’s 100 percent sure bin Laden is in the compound. For me, there’s passion and wow in both of those scenes, and several more. (And, as you note, she’s great in silent bits, like her grudging participation in the torture at the beginning).

  26. sanj says:

    Kathryn Bigelow was supposed to be on the Colbert report but she cancelled and then Colbert went on about a rant
    about torture and if it works or not .
    Colbert seemed to do a decent job at explaining what the movie was about in 5 minutes or less.

    DP really missed out on her dp/30 . lucky he got Chastain and that other guy in the movie . DP should really promote those dp/30’s .

  27. arisp says:

    Lex – get over it. Please.

    PGA members got no Django screener, not Pi. It’s ridiculous.

    Not sure if that’s the reason why Django didn’t get a nom, but come on. Why not send the screener.

    short sighted.

  28. cadavra says:

    I don’t often agree with Lex, but he’s absolutely right about seeing pictures on a theatre screen. Academy members somehow managed to give out Oscars for 60+ years before screeners began–and there were damn fewer theatres then compared to now. Plus there are industry screenings all over the place. So get in your damn Porsche and go to one.

    For my two cents, right now I’d bet on LINCOLN for BP and Ang Lee for BD. Affleck will have his day soon enough.

  29. Foamy Squirrel says:


    Mary Poppins does have Dick van Dyke with the worst Mockney accent ever though.

  30. scooterzz says:

    “…that movie screams, “OSCAR.” It’s been screaming that for months now”

    it does, indeed, scream…not sure that’s a good thing, however….

  31. anghus says:

    Chris, my argument is she isn’t a character, she’s a character type. She’s the “type a personality” who gets shit done. And its supposed to be novel because its a woman in the role saying things like “im the motherfucker…”.

    But she’s not a person. She’s a protagonist.

    My other major knock comes from the films ending, both as a condemnation of the role and the direction.


    Why does she cry at the end?

    That long, drawn out moment in the back of the plane where she finally let’s go. I think it betrays the entire character. The whole movie she’s this emotionless machine. Then, at the end Bohemia does one of those pull back the curtain moments and cuts back and forth between a wide profile and an extreme close up that look like they were shot at different locations.

    Had she gotten on the plane, taken a breath, and started digging into another file I would have respected the film more. Had the character been a tireless workhorse who is never satisfied even after getting the job done, it would have been a more satisfying ending. Instead we get a weepy attempt at humanizing a character who we never got to know. She’s a personality type, not a person.

  32. Lex says:

    strokeoff emoticon

  33. anghus says:

    So my phone spellchecks Bigelow as Bohemia. That’s funny

  34. anghus says:

    It’s 5 in the morning. Shouldn’t you be drunk and/or bemoaning life choices?

  35. Lex says:


    Loan me some money asshole.

  36. christian says:

    Mark my word for Best Director: Affleck (to be said like the bird in those commercials).

    Whats amazing about ARGO is it puts truth to Republican’s biggest lie about Hollywood.

  37. Don R. Lewis says:

    I really loved LINCOLN when I saw it but frankly, it didn’t stick with me at all. I don’t remember any really big moments or scenes at all. In fact the only thing that sticks out is the opening scene with the black soldiers and then that lame Spielbergian candle shot.

    Is that just me? Not trying to start a fight with LINCOLN lovers, I just found the film well done yet ultimately forgettable. And I’m a huuuuge Spielberg fan.

  38. anghus says:

    Lincoln was ok. I preferred the scenes without him. Every supporting character was infinitely more interesting. Lincoln came across like your crazy grandpa who answers every question with a weird story. Everyone’s talking about serious political issues and Lincoln wants to tell you about two hound dogs fighting over a chicken bone.

    And the Joseph Gordon Levitt subplot was so useless and unresolved.

    Oh, and I can’t forget the terrible theater/death revelation. Painful.

    Good movie, but it felt all over the map.

  39. Don R. Lewis says:

    Yup, totally agree. Minor Spielberg ala AMISTAD. How come weird ass James Spader isn’t getting any buzz for Supporting Actor? He was outstanding!

  40. Lex says:

    I… Vooooote… YEA!!!

    That part with Michael Stuhlbarg was so embarrassing, I wanted to raze the theater floor paint to hide under it.

  41. Rashad says:

    Lincoln is fantastic, and the best part about it is it has that Linklater “hangout” quality. It’s top tier Spielberg, then again so is War Horse but people want to act like that movie killed their mother.

  42. christian says:

    I thought LINCOLN was pretty damn good minus the extended ending. I could watch and listen to Daniel Day Lewis all day. And if Spader had one more li’l scene, he’d be a lock for Supporting Actor.

  43. palmtree says:

    Lincoln is not so much top-shelf Spielberg, as much as it is a Spielberg wise enough to be sharpened and honed by the hand of Tony Kushner. Munich had the same sort of feel, pulling back the usual Spielbergian excesses to reveal a much more serious aethestic.

    War Horse, however, was the very definition of Spielbergian excess. Blech.

  44. Lex says:

    War Horse and especially Munich (top three Spielberg) are more visceral and exhilarating than Lincoln, which is kind of “Boy Scout good.”

    Can’t imagine actually finding it more riveting or mind-blowing than Life of Pi or ZDT or Silver Linings or Argo, or, hell, Flight, which is at least a SPOT-ON depiction of how BEING A DRUNK absolutely RULES.

    Lincoln is completely asexual and the only woman is SALLY FIELD. It violates all Lexian laws of cinema, which is that anyone who’s AWESOME only goes to movies to 1) viscerally experience violence and B) to fantasize about insanely hot women or 3) to bask in THE COLOR BLUE or OCEANS AND WATER OR SNOW.

    Lincoln has no sex or hotness (SLP, Flight, Les Mis), no violence (Django) or SURVEILLANCE ACTION (ZDT, Argo), no OCEANS OR WEATHER (Life of Pi, Beasts, Flight), and no BLUE (Pi, Battleship.)

    So I don’t know what anybody’s responding to in LINCOLN. It’s good but it’s sexless. Not intense. Not violent. Not kinetic. It doesn’t have anything I go to movies to experience.

  45. Don R. Lewis says:

    I thought WAR HORSE was horribly schlocky. Maybe I’m not as big a Spielberg fan as I thought I was :-/

  46. anghus says:

    i actually liked War Horse a lot. And i have no problem admitting it was schlocky. I thought Hugo and War Hourse were fantastic schlock, but highly enjoyable.

    Lincoln is just odd and scattershot and tonally schizophrenic, and a lot of it is surprisingly poorly staged. The reveal at the end with Tommy Lee Jones looks like it was shot for a one hour TV drama.

  47. lazarus says:

    Anghus, I take issue with your interpretation of ZDT’s final scene. SPOILERS to follow:

    Maya was not obsessed with work in general. She was obsessed with THIS assignment. Her one goal: find Bin Laden. Showing her breakdown isn’t a cheap shortcut to humanization, it’s realistic for the character we’ve been watching. What the hell does she do now? Note her lack of response when the pilot asks her where she wants to go. It’s a release. It could also be interpreted as her feeling empty–even dirty–despite her achievement, knowing how many people suffered under torture, in terrorist attacks, even the bystanders in the final raid.

  48. palmtree says:

    I agree that Lincoln has a lack of polish. But coming from Spielberg, that in and of itself is an achievement of sorts.

  49. spassky says:

    “That part with Michael Stuhlbarg was so embarrassing, I wanted to raze the theater floor paint to hide under it.”

    Agreed big time, Lex. I usually love Stuhlbarg, but that was such forced pseudo-inspirational crap.

    Agreed on the sentiments about Spader. Him kicking the dirt on the guy reloading the gun may be the most memorable scene in the movie.

  50. cadavra says:

    In a cast full of blue chip scene-stealers, attention should be paid to Straithairn, who had the least showy role in the film yet was the glue that held it all together. But like Olivia Williams in HYDE PARK ON HUDSON or Toni Collette in HITCHCOCK, it’s the very appearance of “not acting” that guarantees it gets overlooked (not just by the awards shows but in general).

  51. anghus says:

    no academy award directing nods for Bigelow or Hooper.

    I have zero problem with that.

  52. Js Partisan says:

    Here’s hoping “Beasts of the Southern Wild” wins every category in which is has received a nom, because that would at least be different. The love of “Life of Pi” is very confusing though. It also does seem like a year where BP and Director are split, which is another reason why this show should be interesting.

  53. anghus says:

    i dug Life of Pi. Excellent movie. Better than half the films on the best picture list. More emotionally engaging than Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty. It’s a great movie, and quite different from a lot of the films out there this year. For that alone im fine with the love.

    I think the voters are so dead on with Les Miserables.

    The love goes to Jackman and Hathaway, and it gets a best picture nom but no Directing or Cinematography nods.

    It blows my mind how you can make a sweeping epic like Les Mis and end up with something so messy and visually unappealing.

  54. Krillian says:

    Saw Beasts of the Southern Wild just the other day. My wife and daughter hated it. I’m still trying to decide what I think about it. It wouldn’t make my top ten list.

  55. anghus says:

    There’s a lot of people i know who saw Beasts of the Southern Wild and wrote it off as overrated indie crap.

  56. Js Partisan says:

    I am an unabashed fan of Hooper but he’s won recently, so that could have as much to do with his snub as anything else. Let me just point out the awesomeness of THREE stop motion films being up for Best Animated Feature. It’s an amazing art form and anytime it can get some awards love, that’s a very positive thing for the art form going forward.

    I adore “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Henry not getting a nom is a serious snub, but his category was stacked this year. Still, his screaming, “I’m your daddy. It’s my job to make sure you don’t die,” may be one of my fave lines from any film last year.

  57. etguild2 says:

    BEASTS is in my top 5, but regardless of how people feel about it, I think it’s good for the academy. Ditto the noms for AMOUR.

    Of the snubs, the only two that really disappointed me were Ben Affleck for either actor or director, and Marion Cotillard.

    Interesting that 2 of the last 3 winners in the Directing category were snubbed.

    Congrats to Spielberg and De Niro on their seventh nominations, even if the latter isn’t deserved.

  58. anghus says:

    i liked SLP, but man Deniro has been coasting for years and people still do backflips over every phoned in performance.

    The moment he cried in SLP, the nomination almost felt like a guarantee.

  59. etguild2 says:

    Yes, of the 20 acting nominations, the least deserved, to me, were De Niro, Arkin (sadly) and Jackman (personal taste I suppose), with Jacki Weaver taking the cake. What was the nomination for…adorably saying “crabby things and homemades” three times? SILVER LININGS is the first movie since REDS with acting noms in all four categories, and two are undeserved.

    Also, tip of the hat to Kathleen Kennedy on her 8th nomination. Only three women in history have more.

    And here’s hoping Roger Deakins finally wins on his 10th try…though I wouldn’t count on it.

  60. anghus says:

    im at all these websites and people are posting “How did Silver Linings Playbook get so many nominations?”

    I forget that 99% of people in the world don’t know who Harvey Weinstein is.

  61. etguild2 says:

    I’m most surprised about PI scooping up 11 noms…though remembering BENJAMIN BUTTON got 13, I shouldn’t be. Perceived prestige+technical oohs and aahs=big nomination totals.

  62. bulldog68 says:

    No Sam Jackson. Those motherfuckers.

  63. Smith says:

    Etguild2 – totally. Life of Pi got the Avatar/Benjamin Buttons/Inception/Hugo slot.

  64. sanj says:

    i dunno why so many people freaking out about the oscar list – a huge percentage of actors have won / nominated
    for movie awards before – more interesting – new people who
    havne’t done much like Quvenzhané Wallis and Suraj Sharma
    getting some awards ../

    i predicted awhile ago that the big superhero / comic book movies wouldn’t get best picture like avengers / dark knight rises ..and i was right.

    most of the best picture noms deal with history…

    probably a dozen important direcotrs with their important films that didn’t make the list.

    K-Stew got nothing – on the road was the best road trip movie ever and got nothing. she was so serious about it .
    LexG probably not happy.

    Spike Lee – red hook summer – look at this film i made with my own money …didn’t get nominated.

    Tyler Perry – look at me . didn’t get nominated

    Adam Sandler – look at me . didn’t get nominated

    Joaquin Phoenix – look at my huge face – did get nominated..

    Tommy Lee Jones – look at my super old face – did get

    Robert De Niro – thanks for forgetting about the meet the fockers. i can really act you guys. for reals.

    Jennifer Lawrence – i hope she doesn’t change overall. she
    keeps it real

    Cloud Atlas – biggest cast ever didn’t get much.

    Kristen Connolly, – cabin in the woods – playing around with scary ghosts is harder than playing around in water with Watts in the impossible ?

    overall – comedy – superhero movies – horror got screwed and so it’s not balanced.

  65. Bulldog68 says:

    Since when have the Oscars been about “balance”?

  66. sanj says:

    ocars are like the biggest movie thing ever so they should be more balanced. Roger Ebert should talk to those guys and set up meetings to fix this .

    meanwhile i’m looking forward to the indie spirit awards which seem to be more fun and i really enjoyed them last year.

    also i’m still upset at DP that he didn’t rush out and get a dp/30 for Prometheus – Savages – did DP downgrade Scott and Stone to talentless hacks who can’t direct ?

    Jackman and Hataway are too famous for a dp/30 – now they are even more famous and we won’t see them doing interview for another 3 years .

    Judd Apatow is wondering why his super awesome family picture didn’t get nominated.

    Matthew McConaughey – he was in everything and was kinda good – nothing.

    i’m still waiting for a – Doona Bae dp/30 – even though
    Cloud Atlas got nothing.

    once Leonardo DiCaprio gets on his private jet and does a dp/30 – he will get an oscar. its probably that simple.

    my super old buddy with tons of super old movie stories – William Friedkin didn’t get nominated.

  67. etguild2 says:

    Yes, too bad about Friedkin…Academy voters were not on board with woman-on-chicken leg oral sex for some reason…

    Most surprising nomination: The fantastic 5 BROKEN CAMERAS for best doc, which is proudly, and rightfully, anti-Israeli.

  68. palmtree says:

    “Perceived prestige” – what else is prestige but perception?

  69. christian says:

    Great see Phoenix in there for giving one of the most unique performances in film history. How did THE MASTER not get a cinematography nod?

  70. sanj says:

    i really like to see Joss Whedon and Chris Nolan take over
    the oscars for like 2 minutes and just tell everybody that
    they made films that people mostly liked and made a lot of money and got nothing major for nominations.

    also Jennifer Lawrence should stay away from K-Stew at the oscars …K-Stew will make her sad face for hours and that might change Jennifer…

    also there were at least 10 really good documentaries this year that should have gotten nominated.

  71. Geoff says:

    You know Lex and others, I get how some would be put off by the Stuhlberg outburst in Lincoln…it’s really one of the Spielberg-like moments in that film and even caught me off guard. But honestly….is any one alleging true dramatic license here? I mean has any one SEEN Congress recently???

    Not trying to to get too political here, but it seems that just John Boehner alone has crying outbursts to rival that scene every week. Seriously the histrionics on display in the Congress of that movie almost seem quaint next to modern day C-SPAN. Hell…even Spader’s character with his goofy mustache really doesn’t seem any less gonzo that just watching Karl Rove do his shtick on Fox News.

    I dug Lincoln and probably have to see it again….I am still confounded how so many people love it, and not in a bad way. It is a truly wonky movie mostly featuring older dudes talking.

    Some of the nomination snubs are just bizarre but none more so than Ben Affleck…I mean really?? Every one loves the guy and every one loves that movie….when is the last time that the Academy did NOT go apeshit for a movie star making good as a big-time director? I can’t quite make sense of it…I mean this isn’t like Streisand back in ’91 bringing out a backlash against Prince of Tides just because….she’s Streisand. There’s no explanation for it other than simple math.

    And with 9 films nominated, they couldn’t just have the tenth slot for a BIG movie from last year? Granted The Avengers was a reach and yeah, The Dark Knight Rises just seemed to get so overshadowed by other stuff. But why not Skyfall? It had more prestige attached it to than the last 20 Bond films combined…would have been super-cool to see a Bond film get nominated.

  72. christian says:

    Well Sanj, you’ve really developed yourself a little style.

  73. Don R. Lewis says:

    I’m with you on the Affleck snub, Geoff. But to be honest, I really don’t see anyone in that field who doesn’t deserve it or is a total joke. I simply LOVE that Zietlin got in, that was such a wonderful surprise. And although I haven’t seen LIFE OF PI, I guess Ang Lee might be a bit of a shock too.

    Although I was digging LES MIS before my screener crapped out (which is cool, I should see it in a theater anyway) I’ve noticed bunches of knowledgable people saying how badly directed it was. I liked the choices Hooper made but I now think that technically, they may have been off. I still like the bold choice of long takes and close-ups. Had he done it “properly,” all the bitching would be about how “stagey” the film was. Dude can’t win.

    I’m seeing ZERO DARK THIRTY this weekend (finally!) and am just assuming Bigelow’s snub is going to be egregious. But her snub also makes me wonder how deeply the “controversy” is cutting. Which I’m assuming is why it was drummed up to begin with. I expect similar political attacks on LINCOLN as soon as this weekend.

  74. Geoff says:

    All of this torture bullshit has been completely overblown about Zero Dark Thirty – it’s one small part of the narrative and also illustrates the evolution of their tactics over 10 years. I would not really remember it, but was there a similar uproar about 27 years ago when All the Presidents Men came out about questionable tactics shown in some scenes from Wood-stein??

    The movie is fantastic and I have not been that affected by a film in several years – Bigelow did an amazing job, even much better than she did with The Hurt Locker. This is a much tighter movie if nothing else. And Jason Clarke deserved a nomination too.

  75. movieman says:

    What Geoff said.
    And I wouldn’t discount sexism as playing a role in the cold shoulder Bigelow received yesterday morning.
    I’m sure certain segments of the Academy are still patting themselves on the back for being so progressive in awarding a woman their top prize three years ago.
    But a repeat?
    Not bloody likely.

  76. Don R. Lewis says:

    So progress is reserved strictly for black or female nominees? An Austrian and Chinese male don’t count for best director? Or a guy who made a movie for under $2 million isn’t progress or at least forward thinking? Just sayin’…

  77. hcat says:

    “And with 9 films nominated, they couldn’t just have the tenth slot for a BIG movie from last year? ”

    Who is they? this isn’t some cabal (or at least an organized one), the number of nominees is determined mathmatically by the number of votes. I was also suprised that a Dark Knight or Skyfall did not get in, but they simply did not make the case with the academy voters.

    And speaking about not making the case if anyone should be peeved about a vacant slot it should be Moonrise Kingdom. I can’t help be think there have got to be people over at Focus worried about heads rolling since this is the second year in a row they have failed to get one of their films in the running with slots still left. Christ, back when there were only five slots they consistantly were able to promote their films onto the short list (sure they were better films on the whole, but you would think the ten slots would make this easier, SPC is sure taking advantage of it).

  78. etguild2 says:

    Sexism? Please. The non-critical reaction to ZERO DARK THIRTY has been underwhelming, plain and simple.

  79. YancySkancy says:

    What hcat said. Obviously, in a category with only five slots, four directors of the nine Best Picture nominees were destined to be S.O.L. The specific omissions are surprising, for sure, but it’s just how the numbers fell. If these were literal snubs of Bigelow, Affleck and Hooper, their films wouldn’t have scored so many other nods, including for the top prize.

  80. anghus says:

    i never really have strong feeling about award season. They are fun and i enjoy armchair prognostication, but i never really get invested in it.

    and yet, everytime someone says the words “Bigelow” and “Snub” i just feel like raising my hand and adding “Not a snub, actually a good call.”

    Bigelow’s direction of ZD30 reminds me of a line from the Simpsons. Lisa is listening to some jazz and someone says “i don’t like this.” Lisa responds that the genius of the particular piece isn’t the notes the artist is playing, but the notes they arent playing.

    Zd30 is the film version of that. It’s what Bigelow doesn’t do. She doesn’t engage. She doesn’t have a strong emotional hook. She doesn’t give the audience an easy way into the material. It’s stark, and blunt, and emotionless. It’s a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of production. And while it’s an interesting exercise of a film, i contend that what Bigelow did was take the most passive approach to storytelling. It’s her choice, and i do respect it, but she’s not directing so much as guiding. the movie.

    I don’t think directors should get awards for movies like ZD30.

    On the opposite side you get something like Les Mis or Lincoln. Films that feel genuinely manipulated by the director’s behind them. Christ almighty did Hooper do everything he could to malign Les Mis.

    He did his actors a great service by holding on shots and cramming the camera so close you could see their pores. Hathaway is going to win an oscar because Hooper picked the one shot close up. But he also burned out a lot of people with so many IN YOUR FACE… YOU MUST FEEL! moments.

    Bigelow pulled back too much. Hooper practically shoved the camera up his character’s rectum.

    And like Lex said, Spielberg inserted his silly little Michael Stuhlberg moments where characters act like goofy caricatures.

    I’m not arrogant enough to declare i know anything more than oscar winners like Bigelow or Hooper, but when i watched ZD30 i felt like i was watching a film with an absence of direction. And when i saw Les Mis i felt like i was watching a film where the director was practically strangling the film with his choices.

    So i contend that Bigelow is not a snub. She made an interesting directorial choice that left a lot of people emotionally unconnected to the movie.

  81. etguild2 says:

    Well said.

  82. David Poland says:

    “Non-critical reaction?” Based on what?

  83. anghus says:

    i can’t talk for etguild, but if he’s implying that audience reaction to ZD30 hasnt lined up with the critical praise, i’d have to agree with him.

    Mind you, it just opened wide, so there’s a lot of mileage still left and a lot of people left to see it.

    With that said, i havent found one non-critic that has has said the film is great. Lots of goods. A few ‘mehs’. Most of the ‘mehs’ i’ve heard have come from industry people with screener access. I know at least a dozen members of voting guilds who all said “don’t understand the fuss”.

    The passion for this film seems strong from the critical community and not mirrored from people who have seen the film.

    Lots of ‘goods’. Not a lot of ‘greats’.

    Let’s see if that changes now that it’s opened wide.

  84. JKill says:

    I’m not a critic.

    ZERO DARK THIRTY is a masterpiece, a stunning example of control and restraint. It’s a subtle but engaging and suspenseful work, containing an amazing (and vast) ensamble but also one of the most fascinating lead characters in some time. It’s got the obsessive procedural vibe of classics like HIGH AND LOW, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, and ZODIAC, a refusal to bow down to traditional narrative landmarks and easy answers, and an insistence on treating its audience as intelligent without sacrificing clarity or impact.

    It’s an all-timer. To paraphrase a character in the film, it’s a real motherf***er of a movie.

  85. leahnz says:

    I’m not a critic and i also think zed-dee30 is great.

  86. anghus says:

    Your post is interesting. It starts out good.

    “ZERO DARK THIRTY is a masterpiece, a stunning example of control and restraint. It’s a subtle but engaging and suspenseful work, containing an amazing (and vast) ensamble but also one of the most fascinating lead characters in some time. It’s got the obsessive procedural vibe of classics like HIGH AND LOW, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, and ZODIAC”

    I like this part. This says a lot about your thoughts and is real specific. Good reference points and well thought out.

    I disagree respectfully with your thoughts on Maya. She’s nothing. A protagonist with an attitude. Who is she? What drives her? What separates Maya from Benjamin Bratt, Jerry Orbach, or Jesse Martin on Law & Order? These are protagonists stripped down to their most basic components to drive the story forward. Maya is watchable, she is played by a great actress who does a good job with zero material, but to call her ‘the most fascinating lead character in some time’ is mind boggling.

    Maybe Bigelow’s greatest trick is requiring the audience to fill in so many gaps that everyone ends up imprinting their own feelings on Maya. She is whatever the audience wants her to be, because no one ever knows. She’s nothing more than a very cocky person who serves as glue connecting scenes that jump wildly.

    However, on that we can agree to disagree.

    The next part, you lose me.

    ” a refusal to bow down to traditional narrative landmarks and easy answers, and an insistence on treating its audience as intelligent without sacrificing clarity or impact”

    This could easily be ‘stock pretentious movie analysis’ of any film.

    Nothing about this sentence says anything specific about Zero Dark Thirty. This is pablum.

    Saying that Bigelow doesn’t go for easy answers feels disingenous because she provides no answers, nor does she really raise any questions. By abstaining from addressing ancillary issues associated with torture, jingoism, and collateral damage, she has basically opted herself and the audience out of the discussion.

    In fact, the whole ‘easy answers’ thing almost feels insulting when you think about the gravity of the subject matter. You just watched a movie that deals with death, terrorism, murder, torture… a movie where us military soldiers kill women in cold blood, and not one character has any kind of emotional turn. You get Maya crying in the final minute of the film. Bigelow doesn’t provide easy answers… She also doesn’t ask a single complicated question.

    Making no choice might constitute a choice, but it’s a weak one.

    It kind of reminds me of the discussions going on right now with Django Unchained and the people upset over the portrayal of slavery and acts of inhumanity.

    Tarantino lets the acts of brutality speak for themselves, as im sure you could argue Bigelow did. But he also gave us Schultz. He gave the audience a conscience. Someone whom these terrible acts spoke to. It wasn’t Django that gunned down Candie, it was Schultz. Even though the violence had been perpetrated against Django, it was the objective outsider who finally had enough of the terror and acted on it. And god damn if that wasnt a great cathartic moment. He didn’t just pepper scenes of abject violence all over the place and then have everyone just stand there.

    It’s funny that a Spaghetti Western does a better job if handling violence, torture, and cruelty than a movie about the war on terror.

  87. JKill says:

    I’ll be more specific.


    By no easy answers, I mean that it is not a message film, where the audience is supposed to walk out of the movie with a single, specific feeling or idea. I think she presents a complex situation, bathed in grays, regardless of one’s political stripes. But I wouldn’t say that the film is totally without comment or ideas.

    From the title cards (which I loved and gave the film a wry, ironic quality) to the lengthy interrogation opener to the way the camera seems to be studying our characters like bugs under a microscope to defining our characters almost entirely by their work, the choices are bold.

    The climatic raid is fascinating, worthy of an entire essay onto itself, for how she denies traditional release or catharsis, instead focusing on the minuta of the hunt. We have spent the past two hours building up to this moment. The audience knows it will arrive. We are not given a triumphant action sequence equipped with bombastic score and one-liners. It is quiet and it is dark and it is dangerous and there will be death. We get UBL but we also kill women, the unarmed. By presenting things as they are (or, at least, her and Boal’s version of how things are), we are forced to look ourselves in the mirror, as Maya does in the final moment.

    Her direction, which you see as invisible, is all about making us complicit. It is a movie about us, what was done to us, and what we have done in return. Consider the opening scene of the movie, how a man is tied up in a dark room, the doors slam open accompanied by harsh light, and masked “men” enter. This traditionally signifies danger, and the audience naturally sides with the captive. However, we learn that the man tied up is our enemy and that we are the ones doing the torturing. Our identification is confused, unable to easily grasp onto anything. (The idea that anyone would think the movie glorifies or promotes torture is baffling to me, since it’s so unpleasantly presented and ineffective. But that’s a different subject…) She stretches the scene out to the point where the audience is exhausted, tortured in a sense. Chastain, the audience surrogate (it’s her first time), does not oppose what’s happening. She’s part of the program, so we are as well. This is all further complicated by the opening audio from 9/11. There is no mistaking how horrible those events were, how they devastated lives, shattered the national psyche. The juxtaposition of of the audio (over black, forcing us to bring our own images) with the opening scene presents a question echoed in the final scene: Who are we?

    I think you can take it as a political question or a personal one. The final moment with Maya is powerful precisely because there are multiple reasons for her to emote. She has just spent ten years on her work. It is finished. What does it mean? We all have jobs that we devote our energy to and become invested in. Who are we outside that? Is that all we are? Is it worth it? It’s a moment of triumph, in a sense, wrapped up in and perverted by the great weight of time and consequence. She has prevailed. She was doubted but she survived and was proven right. Now what? Think of the 9/11 audio and then the image of Maya on the plane. She is allowed a moment of reflection, despair, mourning, potential, introspection, even hope. It is a beautiful image, unlike the horrors we conjured in our minds over the audio. The next ten years of her life are not set in stone like the last. She has a choice, a future, as do we.


  88. etguild2 says:

    Perhaps I am putting too much faith in personal opinions of friends, the theatrical audiences I was in (both in downtown DC and Richmond, VA) and the Metacritic reaction, where users are typically above what you find on IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, etc…but generally the consensus is either relative indifference, bafflement or grudging acknowledgement with a few plaudits throw in.

    The user rating on Meta is 6.3, versus 7.7 for LINCOLN, 8.0 for AMOUR, 8.1 for SILVER, 8.3 for DJANGO, 8.1 for LIFE OF PI, 8.5 for ARGO, 7.5 for LES MIS, and 7.4 for BEASTS. ZERO DARK has the most written negative user reviews of any Best Pic nominee this year, and the least positive aside from AMOUR. Obviously, Metacritic is not a catch-all, but it’s an indication that the film’s reception isn’t as strong among at least semi-intelligent movie goers than it is the critical community.

    Even the A- CinemaScore doesn’t mean much (if you put any stock in that rating) given that none of the Best Picture Nominees scored lower than that. (Beasts and Amour weren’t polled obviously).

  89. bulldog68 says:

    Zero Dark 30 put a bullet proof vest over it’s emotions. Homeland wears it’s emotions on it’s sleeves.

  90. movieman says:

    “Django” and “Argo” were better liked by the hoi polloi than “SLP”?
    That’s shocking to me, and not just because Russell’s film is arguably the best of the bunch.

  91. etguild2 says:

    Yes, I was surprised too, but the vox populi seems to have pushed Quentin into the mainstream as well as the zeitgeist with this film.

    ARGO was the only the 7th film ever to get an A+ CinemaScore, and by November I began to believe that it was the only good film people over 50 that I know had ever seen in a theater.

  92. movieman says:

    “Argo” is an immensely satisfying meat-and-potatoes kind of movie. “Django” (as entertaining a cult-fest as it is) seems pretty damn outre for multiplex sensibilities.
    But “SLP” is just one of those “feel-great” movies that leaves you–at least me–feeling elated and genuinely happy to be alive.
    I’m not surprised that it won the Audience Award in Toronto last fall; it’s one of the few TIFF audience winners in recent years that made sense to me.
    I guess you’re right, though, about Tarantino.
    He’s become sort of the Hitchcock of his generation: someone whose name above the title is pretty much a guarantee of what you’re gonna get when you buy a ticket.
    Of course, he’s also a lot less prolific than Hitch was back in his heyday, which just amps up the anticipation whenever Tarantino directs a new film.

  93. etguild2 says:

    Yeah, I think that’s dead on re: the way people feel about Tarantino. He’s cultivated such a reputation with the general public, that people feel that it is okay to cheer whatever he puts out. The word “Tarantino” makes it okay to applaud extreme violence and not feel guilty about it.

    On SLP, I agree that the vast majority of audiences should love it. I had a strange experience with the movie as a person that has two family members with mental illness. I didn’t have a problem with it, and don’t, as some people have said, think it intentionally whitewashes a serious issue. I actually think it was eerily spot on, and I just felt really nervous the entire time, and while I appreciated the film, I think it may make for an uncomfortable experience for certain viewers that have family with bipolar, etc. Of course, I should have realized this going in.

  94. movieman says:

    Re: “SLP.”
    I started bawling the moment Johnny Mathis began singing “Misty” (genius song choice; and major props to Russell for letting the song play as long as he did when most directors would have phased out after a few bars.)
    And the tears were still streaming down my cheeks as I exited the theater.
    But I had a huge smile on my face the whole time.
    Truth be told, a movie hasn’t made me feel that indecently happy in a long, long time.
    Yet I can certainly understand why your personal experience w/ the mental health issues portrayed in the film might color your reaction to it, Et.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
~ Julian Tepper

“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
~ Steven Soderbergh