20 Weeks to Oscar
Now is the spring of our discontent
Made hideous summer by this board of Review;
And all the artistic ambitions that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the award season buried.
Now are our favorite films bound with victorious wreaths;
Filmmakers’ bruised souls hung up for monuments;
Their stern pretensions changed to merry overlong meetings…
There is a difference between what the why and the why is here. There is why there hasn’t been a greater embrace… and that’s because Spike won’t give his voice in support of his films, except in the most Spike-ian ways. I don’t think this is a “f— you” to Oscar, award season, or the industry. But it might be. I can’t answer the question because of the other “why.” That is Spike’s true why… and he’s not really sharing.Read the full article »
At the center of the film are two performances that are, simply, undeniable. Idris Elba grabs hold of all the things that have drawn audiences to him over the last 20 years and puts it all into this telling of a life – a great man who remains a man – showing a range heretofore unasked of him. 50 years… and it never once feels like a stunt. You feel the power this man must have to lead so many so effectively for so many years.Read the full article »
If you read the award season coverage, you might think the season ended 2 months ago. But you’d be wrong.
It’s been a very odd season already. Toronto was loaded to the degree that when the media got as consumed as we were with 12 Years A Slave and Gravity, some strong films got overlooked and underestimated. And now, as AFI rolls out 3 or 4 more contenders – and renewing interest in some of the earlier festivals’ films – things are bubbling up.Read the full article »
In the last week, there have been a series of attacks on the box office potential of 12 Years A Slave, which is “dirty tricks”-speak for “there is something less than great about this movie about the black people you have no responsibility for to which They are trying to force you to give a Best Picture Oscar.” These two stories ran, by the way, on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, the day before the film’s first expansion to 123 screens, and then in the New York Times, two days after the film’s first expansion.Read the full article »
This story is a textbook example of how to give a hard backhand slap to a movie that someone sees as having vulnerabilities. None of the Oscar Whisperers out there could have asked for anything better, short of a series of stories that people had actually gotten ill or had to run out of the theater to avoid the horrors of this film. It’s a marketing story! Why would that be bad?Read the full article »
Truth is, We have usually set the field pretty effectively by mid-November. 80%-plus of nominees are pretty well guessed at by then. So then it gets even weirder, as We fight over the last 20% and attempt to “win” by guessing the winners before anyone else. Every minor shift gets overemphasized because it – how dare it! – surprises Us. What started as somewhat rational prognostication turns personal… and sometimes ugly. And the people who have jobs trying to convince Us of this or that get sharper edged, which is often misconstrued as “dirty tricks,” but outside of the bubble is just called “publicity.”Read the full article »
There are pieces to the puzzle we have pieces that have yet to appear, and mostly, pieces that we have in our hands, but whose fit it is really impossible to know at this time. What will Gravity and Captain Phillips gross? Will The Fifth Estate stir debate or will everyone be too distracted by the government shutdown? Will Ridley Scott’s The Counselor present as an awards movie to everyone’s shock?Read the full article »
So… Ellen DeGeneres is back hosting the Oscars. And let the yawning begin. I liked DeGeneres as an Oscar host. She didn’t absolutely kill, but she didn’t die. She is a little tiny bit edgy, but knows her role in the evening. There won’t be a 15 minute musical number about Ellen opening the show,…Read the full article »
Today was the first Galas announcement from the Toronto International Film Festival. There are some very interesting titles on the list, but not a lot that looks like it could leap—especially within a few months—into moving into the Oscars race in a serious way. But you never know. Some of the familiar and/or interesting names…Read the full article »
In this whole group of films that are generally considered legit contenders, there is nothing with that sense of inevitability that, for instance, last season had with Lincoln or Les Miserables or Life of Pi or Zero Dark Thirty. Everything seems to have question marks around it.Read the full article »
Does it make you feel good about the industry? Is it likely to embarrass you in any way? These are the two key mainstreaming questions. The Academy just wasn’t ready for Brokeback Mountain for all the reasons that Brokeback was so important to many people. And honestly, it would be worse off if it came out today, as all the homophobia is still ingrained in people’s hearts, and the issue no longer rallies people (at least in the big cities) as something on the cutting edge.Read the full article »
So what is The Academy Awards show? It is a celebration of film and everything that film means to people. People tune in because it presents itself as the definer of quality (however ridiculous that may seem at times). People are interested in the story behind the story… the glamor… what actors are really like behind the mask of performance. People tune in for the race of it all. And people tune in because they are hoping to be surprised in some exciting way in real time.Read the full article »
The movie about slavery has no Black nominees. The movie about the abolition of slavery has no Black nominees. The movie about Gulf coasters devastated by Katrina has a little girl as its only nominee. And the movie about a young Indian man has 1 Indian nominee, who happened to write lyrics for a song.
I have never felt like racial politics and The Academy Awards go together well. But I also don’t see any step forward in this year’s nominations from any other year.Read the full article »
I would argue – and have forever – that these groups are following the same bouncing ball as everyone else during the award season. There are years when consensus winners are quite close to undeniable. But there are usually 2 to 3 contenders who would not really be shocking winners of awards. Except for the issue of every award as a stepping stone to the next.Read the full article »
While there are people/films out ahead in many categories, they are all still open. And there is now a super-idiot-sized Phase 2 in which the fight can be fought. And fought it will be. The public dissection of Lincoln‘s historic veracity – fair or not – has commenced while you were getting your 7am coffee.Read the full article »
The entire list of nominations is a checkerboard, which speaks to the mess The Academy created with the January 3 date (which subsequently changed to January 4 when The Academy bothered to look at the calendar sometime in December.)
An argument could be made that this is exciting… that the nominations being all over the place, with the exception of Lincoln, makes for a more interesting night. Perhaps.Read the full article »
As of today… as of the parade of opinions once nominations are announced on Thursday… It’s William Goldman Time, baby. No one KNOWS anything. Not yet. (But that won’t keep us all, me included, from spouting off.)Read the full article »
Given where this season is… these nominations are pretty much a non-event. Really, the one thing that turned up here that could move the meter a touch when Oscar voting starts on Monday (and ends in 3 weeks and a day) is Rachel Weisz, who has now been honored here and by NYFCC. But the rest… not really anything outside of the curve as has been laid out for weeks and months.Read the full article »
You hear a lot about “Them” this time of year.
They don’t think this. They don’t think that. They don’t respond well to this, but they love that.
What continues to keep The Academy Awards the dominant award in film is that with nearly 6000 potential voters, there can be no They.Read the full article »