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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

20 Weeks To Oscar: The Most Shocking Event Of The Week!!!!

Shocked-Cat

The Answers…

Clint Eastwood.
Bradley Cooper.
Alexandre Desplat.
Foxcatcher.
The LEGO Movie.
Life Itself.

The Question…

What are six Oscar occurrences today that are legitimately more surprising than Selma “only” getting a Best Picture nod?

Clint Eastwood‘s been nominated for Best Director four times in 21 years and has won twice. His latest film, American Sniper, got nominated for six Oscars, including Picture, Actor, Screenplay, and Editing. And yet, the Director’s Branch, where he is clearly well respected, did not give him a directing Oscar nomination.

Bradley Cooper got his third acting nomination in three years, a very rare feat. I am hardly the first to note that actors often end up nominated because of the choices they make and not because they stand out so much from the crowd of other actors. In Cooper’s case, I think this is his best work on film. But he also made back-to-back films with David O. Russell before hooking up with Eastwood for Eastwood’s best film in at least 5 years. American Sniper is, in many ways, what Universal hoped they had with Lone Survivor last year… a box-office hit that would attract a lot of military people and conservatives who are not frequent moviegoers, mixed with award season viewers. Hilary Swank has two Oscars at home, each of which felt great at the time, but in perspective is a little shocking, given a lack of great roles across her career. Now Bradley Cooper is being doubted, though he has clearly committed to some great work as a character actor who is also handsome enough to be a lead, whether on screen or on Broadway, where he is now playing The Elephant Man.

Alexandre Desplat has only gone without an Oscar nomination for a Score in two of the last eight years. And this year, he got his seventh and eighth nominations. That is the freaky part. Two nominations in the same category in one year. And you know what’s really freaky? It’s not actually that odd. In the 30 years since the score award became a single award, there has been a double-nominee nine times. Eight of those times have been John Williams. He won the Oscar on none of those occasions. The only other person to do it, before today, was James Horner, and he, too, lost. He also becomes the third person in history to get 8 Oscar nominations for Score without a win. The other two are cousins Randy Newman and Thomas Newman. (Randy’s won twice for Song, but never for Score.)

Foxcatcher has five nominations, including Directing, Writing, and two Actors… but no Director. A director getting nominated and his/her picture not getting nominated was not that unusual before the expansion to as-many-as-10 nominees. But this is the first time it has occurred in the up-to-10 nominee era of six Oscar seasons. I counted eight occurrences in the nine years of five nominees starting in 2000 and in only two of the eight was an actor nominated for a film in which the director was nominated and the film was not. And neither of those films had two actors nominated. Interestingly, in most of these cases, these films were also nominated for editing… which Foxcatcher is not. I think that is a function of this flat season, but still, an anomaly.

The LEGO Movie seemed to be everything awesome. Three times in the previous thirteen years of the Animated Feature Oscar has the highest-grossing animated film been left without a nomination: Madagascar, Shrek The Third, and Cars 2. But none of these films were particularly well reviewed (55% on RT, 40%, 39%) or beloved. The LEGO Movie has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes… and though I am loathe to use this as a detailed measure, 96% vs 55% is a pretty clear indicator. What happened? Well, the theory is often that animation studios control a certain number of votes in the branch. But as Warner Bros has not been an active theatrical feature animation studio, they didn’t have enough leverage. But then you’d have to explain Song of the Sea. Truth is, no one except those voters really know. But this is a real surprise and not just emotionally, but in terms of Oscar logic.

Now… Selma.

I am not saying that the film didn’t deserve some of the nominations it didn’t get. Please remember… it got Best Picture, the biggest of them all. But people are obsessively focusing on the lack of a Best Actor or Best Director nomination.

Start with the fact that those two categories were the most competitive on the board this season. There were at least nine Best Actor candidates with constituencies and what seemed like an opportunity. There were others. But nine hardcore candidates. And for director, start with the eight nominated Best Picture,s half of which would not have Director nominations; Ava DuVernay, Clint Eastwood, and James Marsh. Pretty damned good company. And then, there was a parade of directors whose films were not nominated, led by Bennett Miller, who got the nod. But there were also Christopher Nolan and David Fincher and Jean-Marc Vallée (nominated last year) and Paul Thomas Anderson and Damian Chazelle and JC Chandor hanging out there, potentially swinging in to do exactly what Bennett Miller did.

Now add that the film received only one Guild nomination leading up to the Oscar nominations. Costumes. These precursors are not essential to getting nominated, but it’s very rare that a film doesn’t make a wave with one of these groups. No SAG nomination(s), either for Owelowo or for ensemble, didn’t bode well. Likewise DGA. Screenplay wasn’t WGA eligible, but the was pretty open talk about how Ava DuVernay rewrote the script without taking/getting credit. There were no surprises for the film that would hint that it was a timing issue.

So the media, as the media does, started obsessing on the screeners that didn’t go out to every guild. And for the record, even though BFCA has now gotten screeners, the group voted for Selma without pre-nomination screener DVDs. So it was not an impossible feat.

Finally, as I noted in my box office coverage, Selma has nice box-office numbers in exclusive runs. $30k per-screen on 19 on opening weekend and $29k per on 22 the next. But the films of the five DGA-nominated directors, while on fewer screens, all had openings of between $77k per screen and $158k per screen. And Foxcatcher opened to $45k per on six… not as good as the others, but 50% better than Selma.

Of course, all of this detail will be dismissed by angry people who want to believe that Selma was snubbed because of race or gender or both. I apologize, but I can’t help you any more than this… Selma had enough support to be one of eight, not one of five. I think that is still pretty impressive.

Life Itself not making the Best Documentary five was surprising, but Steve James going without again was shocking. The only Oscar nomination this master has ever gotten was for editing Hoop Dreams. No doc nod for Hoop Dreams… or Stevie… or At the Death House Door or The Interrupters… and now, a tribute to a film critic who was uniquely supportive of documentaries from his singular television bully pulpit.

But…

Boyhood! Birdman! The Grand Budapest Hotel! Whiplash! Selma!

I can’t be angry at the members of The Academy. I can’t kick and scream and call them racists and misogynists.

I spent the day letting the anger out there get in the way of celebrating a pretty daring, thoughtful, terrific list of movies.

Tonight, I put that aside and celebrate the films that made it as well as the great ones that did not.

41 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar: The Most Shocking Event Of The Week!!!!”

  1. LBB says:

    Nice sober piece, David.

    My two favorite films from last year got paltry noms (and one of them is tanking at the box). But I’m getting used to the films that speak to me the most getting the shaft.

    I thought SELMA was beautifully made but rather boilerplate mostly. It should have done better. Your reasoning on why it didn’t feels sound.

    But I agree with your closing statement wholeheartedly. And it’s where I try to be this time every year. If I get to see Keaton, Simmons, and Arquette (and either Anderson or Linklater) win one I’ll be happy.

  2. Daniel says:

    OK, your points are taken, David. Actor and director were indeed the most competitive categories. But the more relevant problem here is that all the acting nominees are white–not because white people are better actors, but because they get more opportunities. Of the films you are championing, why couldn’t parts have been played by people of color in Birdman, Boyhood, Grand Budapest Hotel, or Whiplash? Why are actors of color relegated to films “about” race? That’s the real problem, and if you can’t understand how these nominations underscore the assumption that roles are white unless written otherwise, than I can’t help you. Likewise with stories where the central character is female (Why not Girlhood instead of Boyhood, for example?) It’s the automatic presumption of white and male that have people questioning the relevance of the Academy Awards altogether. And it IS a real thing, not some figment of people’s imagination, even if it’s not explicit racism or sexism.

  3. leahnz says:

    good grief DP, what a bunch of rationalizing horse manure, so full of holes it would take all day to parse out. no one is asking for your ‘help’ explaining the problems with gender and race in the academy, the fact that you see none says it all really

    (ETA funny how everyone is ‘angry’ because they don’t think like you, there’s a name for that…)

  4. Vince says:

    I’m wondering if the Lego snub is also because it’s ultimately sponsored content. As The Guardian put it, ‘Brands have made films before, but rarely have they been made with such pride, love and attention. Who knew sponsored content could be this good? Who knows if we want it to be?’. It sounds ludicrous, but it’s not tough to believe that those that didn’t watch it dismissed it because… it’s Lego, after all. And those that did watch it dismissed it because… it’s Lego, after all.

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    “Transformers 3″ got 3 Oscar nominations.

  6. cadavra says:

    Animators have their own distinctive bent; that’s why less-well-known cel animation and stop-motion often snag nominations. Frankly, I was far more upset that the unique and dynamic BOOK OF LIFE didn’t make the cut rather than The Toy Commercial, which was a pretty crummy film anyway, 96% RT or not.

    As for FOXCATCHER, people love Bennett Miller, but Megan Ellison, not so much. That may be why Director but not Picture.

  7. PcChongor says:

    “Why not Girlhood instead of Boyhood”

    Why not Boys instead of Girls?

    Why not Caddyshack 3 instead of Avengers 2?

    Why not Black Cherry Vanilla Coke out of a cow’s tit instead of milk?

    #BecausePatriarchy

  8. Bitplayer says:

    Daniel I agree with you but for a Europe on the verge of WW2 the lack of diversity makes sense in Budapest, it is a period piece. The other movies I can’t say.

  9. EtGuild2 says:

    “Girlhood” is actually coming out in a couple weeks, and is awesome.

  10. Daniel says:

    PC The point about Girls is appropriate. Look how much shit Lena Dunham gets for daring to write from a female point of view. Online trolls attack her way out of proportion to actual critiques of the show. Similar to how the attacks on Selma seem to be motivated by a sense of outrage that the white characters are secondary to the black ones, who move their own story forward without LBJ as the white savior. We are so unaccustomed to a story where a black person has the moral authority that we cannot fathom it as true. But guess what? The Civil Rights Movement came to life through the self-determination of a group of people who worked for decades before white leaders got on board.

  11. PcChongor says:

    While cognitive bias might make it seem like the whole of Dunham’s brutal “attackers” do so solely out of arbitrary disdain for her extra X chromosome (and not, perhaps, because of her show’s absurdly entitled and privileged point of view that grossly misrepresents what it’s now like to be in your 20s and try to make it in NYC) and that “Selma” is being shackled in chains and held back from reaching its true cinematic potential by a nebulous group of evil Caucasians who can’t stand to see yet another fairly mediocre issues movie get (somewhat ironically) raised to the pantheon of greatness based solely on the color of its cast and the dire sincerity it proudly wears on its perfectly oppressed sleeves, the truth of the matter might be that this is just an outlier year for the annual token award at the Oscars, and that for the next blissfully diverse seventeen years the hallowed gods of clickbait will once again find the universe righted and be able to to tout Hollywood’s daring racial progressiveness via an outdated awards show that represents a group of films that account for less than a tenth of the industry’s overall revenues and creative attention. Huzzah!

  12. palmtree says:

    So how do you explain Morten Tyldum? Sure, if they were all visionaries, I’d be much less “angry,” but to put a guy’s average work like that in the noms says something.

  13. John E. says:

    After he endorsed Mitt, I figured Clint Eastwood will never get nominated for Best Director again.

    Bradley Cooper’s been nominated three times in three years? Dang. Is he our new Meryl? This is a year where I wish Actor had the same 5-10 rule as Picture. Not just Oyelowo, but Fiennes and Gyllenhaal. (Spall or Isaac too, from what I hear.) (Has anyone Hispanic ever won Best Actor?)

  14. YancySkancy says:

    I wish you had “all day,” leah, because I’d love to hear details about the “holes” in David’s arguments. I’m not sure David is denying gender and race problems in the Academy — such problems affect just about every organization, I imagine. But is it widespread enough in the Academy to have the kind of effect being ascribed to it? I’m sure the Academy has a few closet racist and sexist members (maybe even some who are blatant about it), and some unenlightened types who think racism/sexism are no longer problems, and some good liberals who don’t see how they’ve benefited from white and/or male privilege.

    But clearly many, many Academy members liked SELMA, unless there’s a by-law I don’t know about that allows poorly supported films to make the cut. Oyelewo and DuVernay undoubtedly got lots of votes, just not quite enough. Individual voters (at least the ones who care enough about the task to fill in their own ballot instead of passing it off to their spouse or housekeeper) probably vote a combination of opinion, conscience and loyalty to people they know and like.

    That’s my guess anyway. Probably David’s too. Obviously not yours. But they’re all guesses. Without seeing every ballot and hearing each voter’s thought process for their choices, guesswork is all we’ve got.

  15. YancySkancy says:

    cadavra: I watched THE LEGO MOVIE last night and didn’t care for it that much. I don’t know the demographic makeup of the Animation branch, but I’d have no trouble believing that older voters, at least, wouldn’t take to the film’s style, pace and look. And the “chosen one” narrative isn’t made THAT much fresher by being approached with tongue in cheek (which, when combined with the more earnest father/son stuff, made for some jarring tonal shifts). It may be a welcome alternative to the prevailing examples of the form in some ways, but I’m thinking even if it had gotten the nod, we may have seen an upset on Oscar night.

  16. John says:

    Not being privvy to how they solicited nominations, but did THE LEGO MOVIE attempt for a Best Picture nomination over Best Animated?

    My biggest issues with the noms was the lack of a nod for Ralph Fiennes in GBH. He was so damn good in that.

  17. Hallick says:

    “Has anyone Hispanic ever won Best Actor?”

    Jose Ferrer. In 1950.

  18. leahnz says:

    yancysk, i don’t give nearly enough of a shit about the Oscars/’awards season’ to parse out DP’s ‘position’, the whole thing has become a disgrace (and frankly, in the case of ‘selma’ for instance, that film may benefit more in the long run in terms of potential viewers from the controversy/ensuing publicity and discourse than any ‘Oscar heat’, if such a thing still exists), but the holes in DP’s ‘logic’ mostly derives from the fact that he (often) starts from a naysayers position after the fact and then works backwards cherry-picking selective info to support his argument while ignoring other things critical to the overall picture. for instance i’m not sure if hell would freeze over if DP simply admitted that an organisation that is 77% male and 95% white (or whatever the stat is, i forgot the exact numbers, something close to that) likely has a deeply systemic and institutionalised white male bias – the Academy is its poster child, the very definition – but i think hell might get a tad chilly.

    i think what fascinates me is, in this day and age, how little people seem to understand sexism/racism as largely a function of systemic and cultural bias. the academy, with about 6000 members, is about 4600 white men, overwhelmingly white and male. that’s a shitload of white dudes who are socially conditioned to identify with other white men and believe, through millennia of social position and privilege, that the white male is ‘universal’, and other ‘groups’ (such as half of the human race anywhere you go in all countries and races around this world) as ‘other’. this is at the core of sexism and racism, about which much can be written.
    re: your comment, “But is it widespread enough in the Academy to have the kind of effect being ascribed to it? I’m sure the Academy has a few closet racist and sexist members (maybe even some who are blatant about it), and some unenlightened types who think racism/sexism are no longer problems, and some good liberals who don’t see how they’ve benefited from white and/or male privilege.” would seem to highlight this fundamental misunderstanding of how systemic sexism and racism are perpetuated, not as a conscious ‘lynch mob’ decision but the deeply engrained subconscious bias towards thinking stories about people who look like you (the white male) and made by people who look like you, as ‘universal’ and ‘best’. this also describes the film industry in general, which is far more crucial than the academy.

    this all kind of brings to mind the issue with the symphony/orchestral audition process (i don’t have the link on my tablet, which would explain it in far better detail) because, while not exactly comparable to the film industry, is another example of the supposedly ‘objective’ assessment of subjective artistic merit, wherein the numbers of women musicians in orchestras was dismally low and claims that women were being discriminated against based on gender while inferior male musicians where chosen though the audition process were being denied and dismissed. Low and behold, when some orchestras began to hold ‘blind’ auditions, wherein the musicians were only heard and not seen thereby removing the possibility of gender bias, the number of women being chosen for the performing orchestras hugely increased – a pretty powerful lesson in double standards for deniers of deeply held sexist attitudes that women and their ‘stuff’ is very often judged more harshly and as inferior without any basis. not sure if race also factored into that particular example, but i feel confident that such a process would reveal similar attitudes about race in that context.

  19. cadavra says:

    1) People don’t give Dunham shit because she’s a woman. They give her shit because she’s a lousy writer.

    2) With regard to LEGO, my comments about animators is not about their age, but their integrity: they saw a blurry, poorly-written toy commercial and found it wanting, unlike less discriminating moviegoers. BIG HERO 6 also had the “chosen one” plot and a quick pace and style, but it had the script–and the heart–that LEGO lacked, not to mention humor that came out of the characters’ behavior, not tired pop-culture references. And that’s why they voted for it.

    If it ain’t on de page, it ain’t on de stage.

  20. leahnz says:

    1) People don’t give Dunham shit because she’s a woman.

    sorry cadavra but that’s nonsense, the attacks on dunham that i’ve seen are overwhelming gender-specific and misogynist (and not like any attacks on a male writer, in which his gender is used to degrade him, that I’ve ever seen)

    man typing on a tablet blows

  21. Daniel says:

    Also, it’s so easy to dismiss Dunham with the she’s-just-a-lousy-writer argument BECAUSE she’s a woman. If she were a man, people would say her lousy writing was on purpose and not everything needs to be art and people should lighten up, etc, etc.

  22. cadavra says:

    I doubt that. There are plenty of male writers who get hammered all the time, two of them directors (Cameron and Lucas). And when the Adam Sandlers of the world get shit, is it for their acting? No, it’s for their scripts. I’ll grant Leah her response, but guys don’t get off any easier if their work stinks.

  23. PcChongor says:

    ^^^
    And if Kurtzman and Orci were women, “Transformers” would suddenly be seen by the intelligentsia as a brilliantly subversive pro-feminist argument against the absurdity of American machismo. Building something up based entirely on one’s arbitrarily assigned genetic traits is just as dunderheaded as tearing it down.

    “Selma” controversy aside, Bradford Young is the truth. If he can figure out how to shoot comedies too, he’ll be unstoppable as the heir apparent for the “Prince of Darkness” moniker.

  24. leahnz says:

    “And if Kurtzman and Orci were women, “Transformers” would suddenly be seen by the intelligentsia as a brilliantly subversive pro-feminist argument against the absurdity of American machismo. Building something up based entirely on one’s arbitrarily assigned genetic traits is just as dunderheaded as tearing it down”

    this is fucking stupid, so sick of reading spurious straw man bullshit like this that has no foundation except to supposedly ‘refute’ an argument using made-up snark. let’s see you back that idiocy up PcChongor, how ’bout an example from the plethora of women screen writers who have written similarly inane big-budget material which is then judged as subversive feminist commentary based on the writer’s gender. good luck and god speed!

  25. PcChongor says:

    “Hurt Locker”
    “50 Shades of Grey”
    “Twilight”

    Listen, I’m not arguing that there isn’t heaps of systemic (and even inherent dumb-ape-brain-biological) horseshit at play in America (and practically every other major culture on the planet) that’s specifically designed to keep those outside the accepted norms at the bottom of the collective dog pile that is life; because there’s plenty of it.

    Alls I’m saying is that, as an individual, the only thing I’m capable of doing is taking each film that’s somehow found its own way of getting made and evaluate it based entirely on its own merits. I don’t give a shit what kind of melanin you have coursing through your skin cells or what shape and size your various dangly bits are, just tell me a well-told story in a uniquely cinematic way and we’ll be goddamn besties for life.

  26. Gustavo says:

    a nebulous group of evil Caucasians who can’t stand to see yet another fairly mediocre issues movie get (somewhat ironically) raised to the pantheon of greatness based solely on the color of its cast and the dire sincerity it proudly wears on its perfectly oppressed sleeves

    Dear contrarian troll,

    we’re discussing SELMA, not THE BUTLER.

  27. Bulldog68 says:

    “And if Kurtzman and Orci were women, “Transformers” would suddenly be seen by the intelligentsia as a brilliantly subversive pro-feminist argument against the absurdity of American machismo. Building something up based entirely on one’s arbitrarily assigned genetic traits is just as dunderheaded as tearing it down.”

    If Kurtzman and Orci were women, they most likely would not be on the writing staff, far more to reach the point to see how their work would be perceived. All four Transformers, 100% of the writing staff, as listed by IMDB, were white males. Not a single female or person of color in the bunch.

    The question that Selma raises is that if it were directed by a white male, would it have been perceived differently, say like Spielberg with The Color Purple or Amistad? Or Alan Parker with Mississipi Burning, which he was nominated for Director but did not win, but got Best Picture.

    Does the white guy need to be the savior behind the camera as well as on the screen as well?

    I haven’t seen Selma, so I have to reserve judgement on whether this was a serious omission, but as far as omissions go, I do know that I would take Jake Gylenhall and Rene Russo in Nightcrawler over Bradley Cooper and Meryl Streep any day. Did they not see Nightcrawler?

    One of the single best performances of the year hands down, in one of the few movies released in 2014 that has stayed with me. If that isn’t good enough to make it into the top 5 performances and top 8 films, I don’t know what is. I liked The Imitation Game, but what was so original about it, that you haven’t really seen before?

  28. Christian says:

    “I can’t kick and scream and call them racists and misogynists.”

    Not when you’ve fostered that from your favorite poster here for years.

  29. YancySkancy says:

    Bulldog: Mississippi Burning did not win Best Picture, praise Jesus. The nomination was bad enough.

    leah: Thanks for the response. The orchestra example was very interesting, and I don’t doubt for a second that such things happen. The Oscar situation just confuses me though, because it seems to be a fairly liberal organization overall. I think I can buy the ingrained white/male cultural bias as a (perhaps unconscious?) factor in DuVernay being overlooked, but I’m still stumped as to why it didn’t hobble “12 Years a Slave” just last year, or how “Selma” managed to get in the Best Picture race in spite of it.

    cadavra: It seems to me that Dunham has at least as many champions as naysayers. I like her show, I like her writing, I like her directing (she did a fine job on the season premiere, IMO). It’s hard to know how much of the animosity directed at her is because of her gender, but I tend to think most of it is related to the simple fact that the general audience prefers shows about characters who are “relatable” in the most obvious, unchallenging way. Dunham’s characters are rather unapologetically annoying much of the time. They’re young and self-centered, which annoys the mature, but don’t conform neatly to the experience of all young people (so you see a lot of crap like “Those girls aren’t exactly like me or people I know, so phooey”). Then there’s the whole contingent that gets bent out of shape because something categorized as a comedy doesn’t make them laugh like a hyena every 10 seconds (not to mention the whole humor is subjective thing). I don’t care if anyone else likes the show, but the venom directed toward it is kind of striking, especially considering it only has a few million viewers.

  30. Bulldog68 says:

    My bad. It won for Cinematography.

  31. Lynch VanSant says:

    No one has mentioned that the only other nomination that Selma received was for Original Song. That is just stunning and unprecedented for a Best Picture nominee to have only one other nomination and for such a lowly category too. So, my question is, was there a measure of white guilt in getting Selma into a top 8 category of Best Picture where it didn’t get enough love to make it into so many other categories where there are only 5 nominees? As seen in last year’s voting revelations, some people voted for 12 Years A Slave sight unseen because they felt it was their duty but didn’t want to sit through the violence. But that movie got many nominations across major categories. So, those who saw it obviously admired its artistry…unlike Selma, it seems.

  32. YancySkancy says:

    Lynch: Not unprecedented. GRAND HOTEL actually won Best Picture in 1932 without scoring a single additional nomination. And I’m sure there are other examples of Best Picture nominees scoring only one other nod, especially from 1931 to 1943, when the number of nominees in the category ranged from 8 to 12, but I don’t feel like doing the research.

    There’s a fallacy in your argument about SELMA’s lack of additional nominations though. Just because a voter doesn’t include a particular achievement on their ballot doesn’t mean they didn’t admire it. They can include only a finite number of nominees. I’m not in the Academy, but I guarantee you that every year I’d be leaving off a large number of films, performances and tech achievements that I admired greatly simply because the rules don’t allow you to include everything you love. You have to whittle it down. If David Oyelewo gave my sixth favorite leading male performance of the year, he’d be out of luck on my ballot.

  33. leahnz says:

    “Hurt Locker”
    “50 Shades of Grey”
    “Twilight”

    like a fish distracted by shiny things i’ve kind of lost interest in this, but i’m genuinely wondering if these examples are supposed to be a joke…’hurt locker’ was written by a dude (and claiming it was received as a subversive pro-feminist argument is…bizarre); 50 Shades (the movie, we are talking screen writing and film here) hasn’t come out yet so impossible to be deemed anything by the intelligentsia, and ‘twilight’ (the first movie i assume) was most definitely not heralded as a brilliant subversive pro-feminist commentary on American machismo because it was written by a women. kind of a bizarre 0 for 3 there, if it was serious (as for the old, ‘i don’t care if movies are made by/about women or people who aren’t white, i just want good movies’ chestnut’ – yeah stories made only about/by white guys is a disturbingly and sadly appropriate paradigm for some people)

    “The question that Selma raises is that if it were directed by a white male, would it have been perceived differently, say like Spielberg with The Color Purple or Amistad? Or Alan Parker with Mississipi Burning, which he was nominated for Director but did not win, but got Best Picture.

    Does the white guy need to be the savior behind the camera as well as on the screen?”

    interesting Bulldog, i was just talking about this type of thing with someone last night, who posited that it is likely threatening to ‘the establishment’ to have a black woman telling such a smart, effective story about a heroic black man without a significant focus on ‘helpful, enabling’ white characters, largely eliminating white heroics from the narrative both behind and in front of the camera. it’s impossible to say of course, but i’m fine speculating that on a subconscious level that’s a bit of a subversive little pill for the old white dudes of the academy to swallow. no matter, selma is selma, it’s a beautiful film and my guess is it and duvernay will be looked on very kindly in terms of cinema history.

    yancy, i’m not sure the old geezers of the academy are really that liberal, i’d say as a voting body it hovers somewhere in the middle. ’12 years’ had far more focus on white characters both repugnant and redeeming, was about slavery – a more ‘traditional’ narrative, had a far noisier ‘campaign trail’, and was made my a man. re: selma and the strange pattern of noms/lack thereof, i’m not really up to snuff on all the preferential balloting stuff but the person who i mentioned above that i spoke to, who’s a bit more into the minutiae of the voting, seemed to think that the pref. balloting screwed the pooch this year, can’t say if that’s on the money or not but maybe something to consider

  34. R.A. Bartlett says:

    “As for FOXCATCHER, people love Bennett Miller, but Megan Ellison, not so much. That may be why Director but not Picture. ”

    If Foxcatcher missed out to spite Ellison, that’s probably a case of sexism right there. Oh, darn you Megan Ellison, for digging into your own pockets to finance well-received, old-fashioned mainstream, star-driven “movies for adults” we say we always want. We just wish you would have the temperament of your Harvey Weinsteins and Scott Rudins. Also, you’re way too fiscally irresponsible. If you don’t stop making it rain, we might have start paying Chris Hemsworth 15 million to sink at the box office.”

  35. Hcat says:

    I will be the last one to argue that the academy/hollywood/major industries/ America on the whole is not institutionally or actively racist and sexist, but in the case is Selma’s nominations isn’t it just as likely that paramount simply dropped the ball on this? 12 years ran the table last year because fox knows how to play the game, Llewelyn Davis missed out on noms because CBS films didn’t. Here we have a film with principles that not only don’t have an Oscar pedigree, but are virtual unknowns. Why the film was shown so late when it could have built up steam and word of mouth is beyond me.
    If you want nominations and awards why take it to paramount in the first place? They have won a total of 1 statue in the big four catagories in the last decade. Does anyone want to speculate that hollywood racism might have kept Selma from a half dozen nominations if it had landed with the Weinsteins instead?

  36. Bulldog says:

    Jus watched Boyhood. Do not share the love that most people have for this movie. It seems like it’s being rewarded for not having any big emotional moments, it’s so life like.

    Then why go to the movies?

    Arquette’s performance was very good, and so was Hawke’s by the way, but people are talking about this kid like he delivered some kind of stellar acting. To me he was a boring teenager, very one note.

    This is your Oscar frontrunner? Really? If it didn’t have the gimmick of using the same actors over 12 years, would people still find it memorable?

    I liked this movie more when I saw it the first time and it had some humour in it and was called Parenthood. And it wasn’t 2 hours and 45 minutes.

  37. EtGuild2 says:

    “Boyhood” is an “achievement” in cinema that was pre-ordained to win if the quality was merely slightly above the average Linklater movie. Just remind yourself that some good will come out of this, since IFC will be the first TRUE indie studio to win Best Picture (you can make an argument with Summit if you want with Hurt Locker, but pre-Lionsgate Summit and Relativity are a different breed). The idea of a non major/mid-major/Weinstein movie ever sweeping seemed preposterous till this year.

  38. Bulldog says:

    Would have preferred that honor go to Nightcrawler.

  39. YancySkancy says:

    Since BOYHOOD moved to frontrunner status, I think I’ve seen as many people saying “[I] do not share the love that most people have for this movie” as ever said they loved it in the first place.

  40. movieman says:

    “Nightcrawler”?
    Surely you jest, Bulldog.
    Talk about egregiously overrated.
    The media satire was laughably old hat, and it only works as a grungy late ’70s-style exploitation movie (think “Rolling Thunder”) in the arguably superior second half.
    Gyllenhaal was effectively creepy, sure, but I wouldn’t trade, say, Bradley Cooper’s (richly deserved) nomination for Gyllenhaal’s. No way, no how.
    If any of the five Best Actor nominees deserved to be stricken from the roster it was Eddie Redmayne.

  41. Chris S. says:

    The LEGO Movie’s fate is not so surprising:

    1) It isn’t particularly good – mostly tired Family Guy-style pop culture cracks. I guess the animation is impressively LEGO-ish, but it isn’t anything breathtaking.

    2) It has to be one of if not the most nakedly commercial film to show up on the Academy’s radar. There have been many films that could be say to promote products, but I believe this is the first in which the product is actually front and center on screen for the entire film.

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima