I was in the land of show for about an hour before booking 3 Oscar nominees for DP/30 shoots and having conversations with 3 studio reps about their Oscar chances in picture and other top categories. So much for the indies!
I’ll be writing about the season again soon enough (tomorrow), but I will offer a simple, “Someone has to demand their Oscar” if anything is going to change from the status quo of the last month.
I don’t get the impression that I missed a g-d thing of note while I was gone. Did I?
The evolution of my festival experience is… odd. I’ve done more on Twitter than on the blog. Pushing out half hours feels premature (especially without a production person doing it while I am busy on other things), but finding 3 hours to edit a package of interview highlights has been impossible. Today is a slow day… with a radio appearance, 3 movies, and DP/30’s first-ever hot tub interview.
This is probably the least flexible Sundance for me in my long history of coming here… yet I do feel like I am underdelivering to the readers. I also feel like I am getting some perspective that I haven’t over recent years. Damn the treadmill!
My apologies – especially to Glen Kenny – for navel gazing. But the truth is, I’m not sure there is a ton to say about the festival this year that is profound. It hasn’t been groundbreaking, though there are a few trends in films I have mentioned. Was it worth leaving the “real world” for ten days? Well, frankly, covering Demi Moore’s 911 call, Academy nomination reactions, and the mostly meaningless crap in Hollywood this week is no great shakes either. Festivals are sustaining. Spending time with interesting talent is sustaining. Thinking about the show and not the business sometimes is sustaining.
Trying to find balance is hard… especially these days when the speed barrier for meaningless chatter gets broken daily.
Doing DP/30 was, initially, about letting you see what I see while I do my work. And this week, I have not really achieved that goal. I’m not writing enough, long or short (140 characters). I’m not bring you into my interviews within hours. I’m not trying to read your needs.
This too shall pass. And hopefully I will learn from the experience. After 15 years, I am often reminded… the beat goes on… even if you’ve hit a tree.
Today is Getaway Day for Sundance. It started in earnest on Tuesday, but by the end of today (Wed), the town of Park City will look a lot more like Park City and the city infrastructure that is created each year to manage 10,000+ visitors over a 5 day period will begin to seem excessive.
Every category of festival attendant falls in numbers, by half or more, today. Buyers, filmmakers, talent, journalists, publicists… everything but the great staff and volunteer staff of the fest.
The journey to today has been interesting. The noise around the festival was much reduced this year. There were still dinners and concerts and parties (oh my!). But even over the crazy first weekend, there seemed to be literally half the number of people on Main Street, clamoring for parties and celebrity sightings, than last year or any year in the last 6 or 7. The SWAG houses were here… but in much smaller numbers as well.
What there was, ironically, were more branded spaces by media than in the past. So while there used to be just an EW photo studio, there seemed to be 4 or 5 on Main Street. While there used to be 3 or 4 people from the New York Times in town, this year, there seemed to be a dozen. indieWIRE’s footprint in town was significantly greater than its output of content. And there was even more video going on than last year, which was really the year of the video boom up here. (This was our 5th year producing video during the festival.)
There was a ton of hype going on before the festival about how great a year this was going to be for sales. It hasn’t panned out that way. I have no doubt that in the end there will be a lot of these films rolling out to the same group of veteran and newcoming distributors as we saw here last year and in Toronto in September. And you can’t even say there won’t be some crazy buys, as no one saw Searchlight paying over $6 million to get a movie about a guy in a bed… even if it wins an Oscar for John Hawkes next year at this time. (No doubt they loved the film… but didn’t they look at the grosses for The Sea Inside and Whose Life Is It Anyway?)
There have been some buys – including Lionsgate/Roadside trying to re-create the magic of Margin Call with Arbitrage, which strikes me as comedic – but it’s not been a ferocious market… not even with a bunch of newcomers jumping in a’ la TIFF. (The most interesting newcomer is LD Distribution, aka Mickey Lidell and David Dinerstein, which picked up Black Rock, a challenging sell, but potential big-return thriller with three hot chicks fighting 3 disturbed Iraq veterans to the death.)
The big critical darling has been Beasts of the Southern Wild. The most commercial film so far is Bachelorette. The group “found footage” horror film, V/H/S is a born classic for its core audience. There are a load of great docs, many of which are exposing extreme stories of power inequity in very creative ways… though there is no clear rock star this year so far.
I, for one, am looking forward to the next few days of movies first and machinery second. And away we go…
1. Demian Bichir vanquished Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio to get a Best Actor nomination.
2. Albert Brooks got left out… trumped by Jonah Hill and Max von Sydow.
3. 9 nominations for Best Picture… a surprisingly wide spread.
4. Extremely Close & Incredibly Loud got nominated for Best Picture ahead of Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
There are some other quirks out there (like John Williams being nominated twice and Best Song having only 2 nominees), but things are pretty much within the expected norms.
Hugo got the most nominations, 11, though its numerical leap past The Artist‘s 10 is tempered by 3 of those nods being for Sound and Visual Effects, while Artist scored 2 acting nods to Hugo’s zero. (I am personally shocked that Ben Kingsley didn’t get a nomination.)
David Fincher got “finchered” again, missing out on a directing nomination after getting one from DGA, this time losing out while Terrence Malick got in. (Spielberg was also left hanging.)
You can neither make beautiful, great movies without risk as you can make babies without sex. Risk is part of the artistic process. That’s why I like performance, because performance is walking a high wire.
~ Francis Coppola
“Probably the most heralded movie I’ve ever been in was Forrest Gump. While I was sitting on the park bench, I asked Bob, ‘Is anyone going to care about this guy?’ He said, ‘I don’t know Tom. It’s a mine field. It’s a fucking mine field.’ So when it works, you just say, ‘We dodged all the mines.'”
~ Tom Hanks