20 Weeks to Oscar

20 Weeks To Oscar: A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

When people start answering questions under the protection of anonymity (“isn’t identified for lack of wanting to be seen taking a position on this in the New York Times because there is only downside from being quoted in a story like this”)… well, professional spinners is gonna spin. And professional reporters are, it seems, going to take a side when they don’t have truly firm facts.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Sell Short

In the real world, where studios are just selling movies with massive marketing campaigns, the marketing windows have shrunk in recent years. Big TV buys can wait for 3 weeks out if the awareness has been pumped up via publicity for the months and months before. Have Oscar campaigners taken this lesson to heart? Are the early September festivals just an awareness play, followed by a 6-to-8 week window of lingering, and then the real campaign in the course of just a few weeks?

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Surveying The Board

Interstellar lands this week.

That leaves Unbroken, The Gambler, Selma, American Sniper, A Most Violent Year, Into The Woods, Big Eyes, and Exodus: Gods & Men

That’s a lot of movies, given an already pretty narrow field.

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21 Weeks To Oscar – Carlos & Joey & Cash, Oh My! (Part 2 of 2)

Should anyone really care that Joey Berlin has built a “critics” group that now affords him a rather significant annual payday? Does it matter than Carlos de Abreu made up awards out of nothing but the contents of his giant scrotal sack and now has gotten rich on the money that returns virtually nothing of value to the studios? Eighty-something foreign-language speakers have made themselves seem worth much, much more than the time of day because they have a TV show that has been successfully and inaccurately positioned as an Oscar precursor… should we care? The Academy has made The Oscars less and less about movies and more and more about being like the Jimmy Fallon show with statues (Oscar nominee beer pong, coming this spring!) because they are obsessed with being cutting edge, when the only real distinction of the organization is the many years it takes to get invited to join, thus given its awards real weight… does it matter?

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21 Weeks To Oscar – Carlos & Joey & Cash, Oh My! (Part 1 of 2)

How could I write about what a con the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was – and is – with its eight-something barely-employed writers puffing up with self-importance and raping studio coffers all year long while showing no semblance of journalistic integrity whatsoever, and be charmingly amused by Carlos who made up awards, chose winners by himself in negotiations with distributors, with no other purpose than to line his own pockets? I was being a hypocrite.

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22 Weeks To Oscar: Bring On The Narratives!

Even before we really know – and no one really knows jack excrement this early, especially in this season – we do know some of the strategies waiting to be unfurled in the next two months.

If you wanna to win an Oscar, you gotta have a narrative.

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31 Weeks To Oscar: Telluride, Toronto & New York

I feel like all the pieces are in the right place after announcements from New York (FIRST!) and Toronto, with the Telluride schedule showing itself more clearly than ever because of TIFF’s new rules about opening weekend and North American premieres. I hate the idea of this all being a competition between the festivals. All three are so distinct. They each have a purpose. And for me, the more above board everyone is, the better.

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32 Weeks To Oscar: Toronto, Telluride, and Collateral Damage

Whatever corner was turned by Telluride and by distributors, make no mistake… Telluride is now in the “me-first” Oscar race game. After 33 years of not having a single Oscar nominee for Best Picture, suddenly they were cranking out at least one a year. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen like the breeze shifting directions. But most of these films “officially” premiered at Toronto. So TIFF made claims to being the first stop for Oscar as well. And TIFF’s pedigree in this regard started 7 years earlier than Telluride… 1999… with American Beauty. And they’ve had 8 Oscar winners in 13 years. And 3 Audience Award winners won Best Picture in the last 6 years.

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Louis Zamperini, 97; War Hero.

Inspired upcoming Unbroken Louis Zamperini, War Hero. Only 97 Years Could Take Him Out.

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48 Weeks To Oscar: Reviewing The 2014 Oscar Show

The best thing I can say about this year’s Oscar show is that there isn’t a whole lot to say. Ellen was good. Someone on Twitter found exactly the right note… it was like a sleepover. The only real downside is that only about a dozen people in the room were really included. Meryl Streep and Brad Pitt were at the center of it all. Kevin Spacey was the camera hog who found a way into every picture. Lupita Nyong’o's brother was the kid from another school who found a way to fit in. Ellen didn’t dance. Smart.

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20W2O: Rebooting The Independent Spirit Awards

There was nothing really wrong with the show yesterday. But with due respect to some lovely moments with some lovely talent, to call the show “vanilla” would be an insult to vanilla. Really, the show jumped the shark over three years, 2008 – 2010…

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20 Weeks To Oscar: 3 Days To Go

There’s no real sport to making Oscar picks. The star athletes have, in most cases, completed their work over a year ago. The others, including the director, have been done with the work of creation for at least 4 months. Nothing will change between this last Tuesday and Sunday evening.

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20W2O: 12 Days To Go – Season of Pudding

I have to say, I am pretty agnostic at this point. I have my favorites, but I know that a very good film will win Best Picture, great performances will win the acting categories, and so on. I can foresee very few opportunities for me to really feel that anyone is going to win an Oscar this year leaving me feeling like the result was bad.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Media, Publicists, And Trying To Do Harm

My perspective on this season is that the movies have been well-liked and the fighting mostly affirmative. Inside Llewyn Davis asserted itself intensely and with some really beautiful efforts… and didn’t get the votes. Nebraska pushed hard with actors, but not much else, and did get the votes. Go figure.

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20W2O: What The Oscars Should Learn From This Super Bowl

The Oscars benefit from and have long benefited from what the Super Bowl does. It is an institution. Like all live events (and ironically, like opening a movie), no one knows what the content of the show is going to be. All they know is that they want to participate in that event. They want to have fun. They want to go, “ooooo.” They want to get ticked off. They want Jen Lawrence to trip going up the stairs but to be the world’s biggest movie star once she gets to the podium.

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20W2O: 10 Best Picture Nominees – Part 2, Call & Response

This column was inspired by some smart people arguing that, somehow, the expansion to as many as 10 Best Picture nominees is a failure and worse, is dragging down the entire Oscar franchise. I disagree.

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20W2O: 10 Best Picture Nominees – Part 1, Why It’s Good

Was there something to complain about here? Did we all want to see Winter’s Bone kicked to the curb? Was Inception not worthy? The Kids Are All Right? If 500,000 more people see Philomena, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Her, or Nebraska because they were Best Picture nominees, viva la system! These are terrific films that are not easy to market. I just don’t see how it’s not a win for everyone.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Nominations Morning

The Oscar nominations are in and the big surprise is… no real surprise.

Yes, there are people with expectations and disappointments and preferences all over the place. But I think by the end of December, everyone kind of knew what this year looked like… lots of good candidates and not a whole lot of sure bets.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“The effect of the avalanche, and Tomas’ refusal to acknowledge his terror, seem to have devastating effects. But the interesting thing about Force Majeure is the sly suggestion that maybe this event could have a liberating effect on the family.”
~ Robert Horton 

 “Teaching how to make a film is like trying to teach someone how to fuck. You can’t. You have to fuck to learn how to fuck. It’s just how it is. The filmmaker has to protect the adventurous side of their self. I’m an explorer, I’m an inventor. Doc Brown is the character I relate to the most and he’s a madman. He’s a madman alone, locked up with his ideas but he does whatever he wants. He makes what he makes because he wants to make it. Yes, the DeLorean has to work in order for him to be a madman with a purpose—the DeLorean should work—but the point is I think everyone should try and find their own DeLorean. When Zemeckis was trying to get Back To The Future made, which he was for seven years, he was trying to get a film made where basically a teenager gets in a time machine, goes back to 1954 and almost —-s his mother. That pitch is extremely subversive and twisted in a way. My point is, he had a fascinating idea that no one had done before, but was clearly special to him and he stuck to it and made it what it was. When you do that you can create culture, but I think a lot of movies are just echoing culture and there’s a difference.”
~ A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night Filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour