MCN Columnists
David Poland

20 Weeks to Oscar By David Polandpoland@moviecitynews.com

23 Weeks To Oscar: Actors!!!

This is a good year for movies. It may become the most boring Oscar race in living memory. Why? Because even though the answers are not 100% clear in any category yet… the reason that no one has taken “absolutely winning” position is not a lack of great performances, but a distinct lack of “must win” candidates.

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24 Weeks To Oscar: Where We Are After TIFF

Only two movies came out of North American premieres at TIFF (which is essentially over, even though it goes on for five more days) with legitimate Best Picture hopes, Molly’s Game and the Venice premiering Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

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25 Weeks To Oscar: What Happened In Telluride

Twenty-nine new films premiered (or close to it) at Telluride. About half figure in the award season. The two clear winners – at a festival without a competition – were Lady Bird (which gets first billing as the less-expected smash) and Darkest Hour, a movie highly anticipated for the performance of Gary Oldman… and then overdelivered. Expect Best Picture nominations for both. From there, it gets complicated.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: 4 Days Away…

It wasn’t complex. It wasn’t full of surprises. And nothing in its nature has suggested any real change at The Academy or inside The Industry.

The Academy is still old and white. Young people still tend to spark what is new about the industry. But the process of “becoming” for non-actors tends not to be an overnight event.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Cash & Carrying Gold

Here is a key stat about winning Best Picture: Since the expansion to 5+ Best Picture nominees, no film that has won Best Picture has been better than #3 on the list of domestic box office grossers amongst the nominees.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Simple Case For Moonlight

The phenomenon of Moonlight was on full display at the Telluride Film Festival. Audiences were not only screaming and standing on their feet when the movie ended, but many walked the intimate streets of Telliride in a kind of shock, rocked to their core. Men and women. Straight and gay. Some were black… but it is Telluride and well… most were not.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Simple Case FOR La La Land

How can anyone claim that a musical that opens with scores of people getting out of their cars to dance and sing on the freeway is “easy” “obvious” or “made for Oscar voters?” If audiences didn’t fall in love with that 5 minutes, the whole picture probably goes down. That is a massive risk.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Right Before The Noms

This has been, perhaps, the most boring Oscar season in modern history.

But the other truth is, this has been a great award season for movies. Everyone has their personal preferences, but man, what a high quality line-up of product for awards this year. High and low.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The 4 Kinds Of Best Picture Winners

I believe there are 4 kinds of Best Picture wins.

Big Love.
Big Obligation.
Big Avoidance.
Default.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The (Shock) Corridor

My problem with The Corridor is that the period has become desperate and grabby. The smartest and the most simplistic players are stuck playing the same game… using fake awards events (high and low) and all forms of screening/dining contraptions and terrible hackneyed advertorial that not even ad buyers expect to be read.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Golden Goose & Those Lovely Eggs

The illusion of free will that is foisted on Phase I becomes much more real in Phase II. Because the power of narrowing choices actually shifts to the Academy voters and away from the media and the consultants.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: #GlobesSoWhite

The other three “black” films? Fences was good enough for its two big stars of color to be nominated. Loving was good enough for its two likely Oscar nominees to be nominated. Hidden Figures was good enough for its Oscar-winning star to be nominated along with, uh, Best Score.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Host & The Show

Taking a little air out of the balloon is always a pleasure. But when you become self-mocking, the brand is being damaged… at least when the brand is the 800-pound gorilla in the category. And Oscar is that.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Beginning Is The End

You know it’s already over, right?

No, I’m not saying we know who is going to win Oscars this year. We don’t. But we know who is realistically in the running, and who is not.

To use a sports metaphor, we are in the playoffs. But teams still have to play the games.

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20W2O: Keep To Your Knitting

Oscar punditry reads a lot like the months and months and months of expertise voiced on cable TV and via print/online media for 18 months leading to the November 8 absurdity of a Trump election. And the voices after the results settled in last night reminded me so much of the post-Oscar (and often, pre-Oscar) whining.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Wars Before The War

I should have written a column last week… but this season is turning into a beautiful bore. And by that I mean that there is some truly wonderful, exceptional work out there and on the way out… and many categories are wide open in terms of exactly who will be nominated… but those excited fish are swimming in a very small barrel.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Settling Into The Starting Gates

By this time next week, the only unseen contenders in the race will be Allied, Collateral Beauty, Hidden Figures, Fences, Passengers, and Silence. And I expect, sight unseen, three of those six titles to be nominated for Best Picture. This is not an insignificant group.

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24 Weeks To Oscar: Lots of Festivals, Few Surprises

So… seven films got Best Picture nominations after festival launches last year… launched from seven different festivals.

In other words… there is no awards magic to any of these festivals (though they all have their own magic). What works is what works. Period. Exclamation point!

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27 Weeks To Oscar: The Shifting Award Show Cycle

The market will out. One of the little-discussed reactions to the new instant-information era is the downgrading of many of our favorite (for some, least favorite) parts of the movie year, festivals and award shows. Sundance is a true market festival in the United States and as such has become a consistent launchpad for awards…

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27 Weeks To Oscar: Ohhhhhhh

A lot of things are unfolding at once in the Nate Parker-The Birth Of A Nation story. Once emotions are stirred, it’s understandably hard to sort them out. Some would say that you shouldn’t have to sort them out. But for better or worse, that’s how my mind works.

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20 Weeks to Oscar

Quote Unquotesee all »

“BATTLE OF THE SEXES: Politics and queerness as spectacle/spectacle as politics and queerness. Pretty delightful, lovely, erotic. A-

“Not since EASY A and CABARET have I seen Emma Stone give a real sense of her range. Here, she has pathos and interiority and desire. I love the cinematography and the ways in which the images of the tennis icons are refracted and manipulated via various surfaces/mediators. Also, wild how a haircut is one of the most erotic scenes in cinema this year. Spine tinglingly tactile that feels refreshing. Proof that *cough* you don’t need to be ~graphic/explicit~ to be erotic *cough*. Also, it made me want to get into tennis. Watching it, at least.

“There are interesting touches and intimations as to the cinematic nature of sports, & unpacking the formal approach of broadcasting sports.Also, I was here for Sarah Silverman smoking. And also, hi Mickey Sumner!! It’s a really interesting film about the ways in which public spectacle is never apolitical, and how spectacle is prone to assignation.

“There’s this one other scene from BATTLE OF THE SEXES that I love, and it’s the one in the bar. You see Billie looking after Marilyn as she dances. Through a crowd. There’s a paradoxical closeness and distance between them. In the purple light, and the kitschy decor, everything is distorted. But Billie catches a glance and you can feel the nervous swell inside.”
~ Kyle Turner

“Our business is complicated because intimacy is part and parcel of our profession; as actors we are paid to do very intimate things in public. That’s why someone can have the audacity to invite you to their home or hotel and you show up. Precisely because of this we must stay vigilant and ensure that the professional intimacy is not abused. I hope we are in a pivotal moment where a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies — is being formed in our industry. I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice, and for fear of being labeled and characterized by our moment of powerlessness. Though we may have endured powerlessness at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, by speaking up, speaking out and speaking together, we regain that power. And we hopefully ensure that this kind of rampant predatory behavior as an accepted feature of our industry dies here and now. Now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing. I speak up to make certain that this is not the kind of misconduct that deserves a second chance. I speak up to contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence.”
Lupita Nyong’o