MCN Columnists
David Poland

20 Weeks to Oscar By David Polandpoland@moviecitynews.com

20 Weeks To Oscar: A Week To Go

Every one of the five films that is considered to have a real chance of winning Best Picture has a position of strength and a soft underbelly.

Do you want to go through them all again?

I don’t either.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Big Quiet

Can you hear it?

Listen carefully.

Silence.

We are still a month from The Oscars.

We are still weeks from voting.

And in what has felt like a pretty open season is not accelerating into a passionate discussion of the top movies of 2017. The discussion is about the Solo trailer and Black Panther.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Nomination Morning

In meetings all over town this morning, the question of whether Phase II will be a war or a love letter is being determined. Me? I think the door is open just wide enough for people to come out fighting. But we shall see… about this time next week, just before every single person alive is honored in Santa Barbara, we will know.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Season of Assumption

There has never been less plain talk in an Oscar season.

The field lacks many frontrunners and has representation on many fronts, which is stirring passion amongst a wider-than-usual range of interested observers.

This is a good thing.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Year of the Reconstructed Rom-Com

Award seasons have a theme that emerges as the season progresses. With the arrival of Phantom Thread and The Post, this year is loaded with rom-coms that don’t want to be rom-coms.

The form has been torn down in recent years and barely exists now in Hollywood movies, indies, or even TV. But take the idea of a romantic comedy about, say, the black guy being brought home to meet the over-exuberant white suburban parents and give it a twist… and BAM!… Get Out.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Season of a Different Color

I don’t know if this will be an #OscarSoWhite year. But even if Denzel Washington and Octavia Spencer are nominated, it will be the same way as two seasons ago… and likely, two seasons into the future.

The problem is not how many nominations people of color get from The Academy. The problem is that we have such a small group of “movies of color” for Academy members to consider.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Known Unknown

I see no rhyme nor reason to hang onto trying to figure out which of this group will be The Ones. I think I can guess 6 with pretty high assurance. But others would intensely disagree. It gets more complicated because many people will get excited about more than 10 of these titles. And there aren’t enough slots.

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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

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch

To me, Hunter S. Thompson was a hero. His early books were great, but in many ways, his life and career post–Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is a cautionary tale for authors. People expected him to be high and drunk all the time and play that persona, and he stuck with that to the end, and I don’t think it was good for him. I always sort of feel mixed emotions when I hear that people went and hung out with Hunter and how great it was to get high with Hunter. The fact is the guy was having difficulty doing any sustained writing at all for years probably because so many quote, unquote, “friends” wanted to get high with him … There was a badly disappointed romantic there. I mean, that great line, “This is where the wave broke, the tide rolled back … ” This was a guy that was hurt and disappointed and very bitter about things, and it made his writing beautiful, and also with that came a lot of pain.
~ Anthony Bourdain