MCN Commentary & Analysis

The State of Oscar. 012020. The Sadness of the Long Distance (Oscar) Runner.

It struck about halfway through the SAG Awards on Sunday night… which followed the PGAs on Saturday… which followed the ACE Awards on Friday… which followed Oscar nominations last Monday… which followed BFCA/CCAs on Sunday… which followed LAFCA on Saturday… which followed NBR on Wednesday… which followed NYFCC on Tuesday… which followed The Globes on Sunday.

People in the business of getting the talent from event to event, of covering the same, and of fighting to get to the gold ring of Oscar are whining relentlessly about the short season, which is one reason why the award show pile-up feels so extreme this season. (I spoke to the short season last week.)

Aside from the argument that a shorter season is, in my view, absolutely necessary for the ongoing power of The Academy Awards, what struck me last night during SAG was this… we have 3 more f-ing weeks to go until they actually hand out the damned Oscars.

THREE WEEKS!!!!

And what will happen in those three agonizing weeks? Lots of lovely guild events. One DGA award handed out next Saturday (1/25). And The Grammys. And The Super Bowl.

The system is a mess. There is no arguing against that. But does anyone have the will or the energy to reorganize the whole thing, showing respect and acknowledgement of all the organizations that survive in part by living off of the season?

(But that’s another column.)

What struck me while watching the SAG Awards was that the room was filled with people, still hoping against hope that they would be rewarded for their invariably great work and by the time Brad Pitt was giving yet another low-key charming speech that caused involuntary pleasure in adult women and sent men scrambling to renew their Nutrisystem memberships, 90% of the people in the room knew that it was all over for them and theirs.

Maybe the tipping point for the season wasn’t the SAG Awards, but Scarlett Johansson vomiting her way out of participating in her Santa Barbara “We Created This Award So We Could Look Closely At You” Award event. Maybe it was Adam Driver not being able to make it through — or even — a Terry Gross interview. Or maybe it is watching parents of a baby, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, showing up at every event as media deconstructs which one of them was “snubbed” of that particular award, week after week after week.

Maybe I am just enraged that The Morning Show, the first season of which is an absolute mess in so many way, keeps pushing out its already-stars while I haven’t heard the name Gugu Mbatha-Raw once on these shows (or seen her at the shows) when she gave the great performance of the first season. Jennifer Aniston was terrific in her meltdown all season, even if the story parts often made no sense. Absolutely. But if we are going to discuss the #MeToo of that series, the heroes/survivors are not the characters who freak out from their $20 million apartments on the East River.

I kept looking at the camera sweeping through the audience at SAG and I saw all the actors and directors and even some writers who have been dog-and-ponied for the last few months and I could feel their hope draining away as the sense of this being an open season slipped away. Renee, Joaquin, Brad,and Laura Dern have it on lockdown. Best Picture is, at best, down to 1917, Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood and Parasite, two of which have no Oscar acting nominations.

(Even though our good friends at SAG did give Parasite their Best Ensemble Award – which has a bad history of predicting Oscar Best Picture – they didn’t give any of the actors in the film a SAG nomination. What is that all about?)

I am not a subscriber to the “Netflix must win to make the awards effort valuable” theory of the world. The value of Oscar to the network, aside from the joy of ego, is marketing. And they have done very well with their marketing effort this season, as they did last season. However, what must it feel like after getting all those nominations and slotting in your folks into virtually every publicist-driven award or honor this season, and realizing after sitting through BFCA and only getting Dern and Ruth Carter (costumes, Dolemite Is My Name) in Oscar-relevant categories, through The Globes and getting only Dern, through SAG and only getting Dern (on the movie side) and a lifetime award for De Niro that he could have gotten any year, through PGA and only getting Sarandos a deserved honor, through LAFCA for Noah Baumbach’s screenplay and doc (American Factory, which may well win the Oscar as well) and animation?

THREE MORE WEEKS… pretending something else is going to happen.

It truly is an honor to be nominated. When you take away the pressure of thinking you might win something, these are wonderful parties filled with people who share your passions, though unless there are drugs and orgies, sharing your passions this often is a lot of ask of anyone, much less anyone who hasn’t had a proper meal in a month and is feeling those Spanx (male and female) cutting into your hips for the fourth time this week. Having a glam squad is fun when you are doing it for fun… less and less so when you have no choice, are hyper-aware of that zit on your left cheek, and just want to curl up in bed in your jammies to watch some other skilled professional suffer their success.

It’s enough to make you projectile vomit getting out of the elevator at the Miramar.

I was smiling as I wrote that last sentence… but honestly, that is not the emotion that I was considering when I sat down to write this. I am sad for Taika Waititi, who is sitting on top of the world, but whose movie has been hobbled by a bunch of uptight critics, many of whom worked hard against it because they are so focused on Hitler that they can’t see what the movie really is. Searchlight tried to spell it out at SAG last night, but probably too late. They will just have to live with it being a classic film that is discussed in depth in screenwriting classes for decades to come. I guess that is like the moment when you realize that your torrid sexual passions for your partner have been reduced to really good sex by the nature of human beings and you will just have to settle for that. Boo-hoo.

But yeah… boo-hoo. It’s a loss. Not one you will spend your life lingering on (well, not most of us), but a loss nonetheless.

I feel terrible for Todd Phillips, who took a big step in his directing with Joker, but has been under attack for “stealing” Greta Gerwig’s Oscar directing slot. Unfair to him. And I am 100% on the idea that Greta deserved a nomination for this film, even more so than Lady Bird. But Todd didn’t steal anything. And while the Director’s Branch of The Academy may be the most gender-problematic of all the branches, it isn’t Todd’s fault.

On the other hand, he has an Oscar nomination for Directing. Todd Phillips. A huge achievement for a guy who is not an auteur or a hugely talented stylist. There is a block of people who LOVE that movie and his work absolutely created the universe that made Joaquin Phoenix’s work fly. I don’t know anyone who is upset about the below-the-line nominations for the film and that is a reflection of the excellence of Todd’s work.

But he knows he isn’t winning and there has to be some sadness in that as you pull on your tuxedo for the twelfth time in a month.

Essentially, the big game season is over for many of the distributors. Universal, Sony and Neon still have the torch burning at full flame. Netflix has a number of categories — and The Laura Lock — to push home. Warners and Disney/Fox and Searchlight, not so much.

Can I tell you who is going to win the Shorts awards or even Doc? No. Are there still legitimate open races in many categories? Yes. Are those categories ones that will make it onto the pages of USA Today? No.

Academy voters, with nine days until voting begins and 15 days until it ends, are split into a few groups. A few are still trying to see some of the nine nominated Best Pictures. There are those who are already working hard to see everything they can that has been nominated in the doc, international, and shorts groups. They want to vote while fully informed.

The majority of Academy voters, in my opinion, could vote today, same as they will in a couple weeks.

Three More Weeks.

There is still something undeniably exciting about The Oscars. They could be held in mid-April and still have a huge audience and true excitement of winners being embraced by 8,500-ish of their industry peers.

And maybe that is the best argument for sitting around for three weeks with most of the people who should be very happy just to be nominated. This is a chance to forget. Mostly.

The Academy nominees luncheon is often seen as the most pleasant experience, aside from winning, of the season. Next Monday. Will most of the room be postpartum by then… or stuck in the middle, still harboring hope against hope?

It’s enough to make you cry.

Just a little.

62 Responses to “The State of Oscar. 012020. The Sadness of the Long Distance (Oscar) Runner.”

  1. Simone says:

    Great article. I refused to watch the SAGs last night because of the Little Women snub (it could have won Ensemble!). And I’m glad you defended Todd Phillips for his rightful Director’s Oscar nomination. He didn’t steal anything from anyone, and I totally wanted Greta to make the cut. You mentioned that the awards season is over to Warner Brothers. No it isn’t. Joaquin is cleaning up Best Actor for Joker, and Original Score is doing well.

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    Ugh Joker is a massive bore and a narrative debacle and in no way, shape, or form does Todd Phillips deserve an Oscar nomination.

  3. Warren says:

    If the Oscars have lost some of its luster as they try to keep it relevant by moving up the date, the industry itself needs to recognize its own role in this current situation. Ever since the addition of these other guild awards in the 1990s, the excitement and surprise of the Oscars has diminished because there is a little surprise after we’ve been through all the pre-Oscar awards shows as noted in this article. It would be great if the industry decided to do itself a service and go on a diet from award shows and I bet you would see a resurgence in Oscar’s strength and vitality.

  4. PJ says:

    I was thinking the same thing….until Parasite won Ensemble. That reinvigorated the race. If Once had won, like most had predicted, then I believe 1917 would have won BP in relative ease. Then the next 3 weeks would have been torture.

    Now we got Parasite coming up as the underdog little train that could. Most all categories are boring but BP race is shining light in that it can show us something that hasnt happened before:: a foreign language film winning. Or we could have 1917 that could win with no acting or editing nominations and be first since Grand Hotel.

  5. Bob Burns says:

    Building guild noms and wins into fairly reliable prediction formulas diminishes everyone and their work. I remember when editorial writers would write about the Oscars and which films would win, based on the merits of the films. Now, a 13 year old can get that answer in seconds on their phone weeks ahead of the events. The awards season is tedious.
    Its worse than tedious once the pubicists start slimiing each others films through their pet bloggers.

  6. Hcat says:

    The director of Shallow Hal has an Oscar on his mantel at home. Todd Phillips being nominated is a hardly an outrage in comparison.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    Agree to disagree Hcat. Shallow Hal > Joker.

  8. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Agree to disagree, Stella’s Boy. I hate toxic masculinity and comic book films (and most of their fans) but Lucrecia Martel and Michael Moore are right: JOKER is very impressive.

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    Ugh Michael Moore is a doofus. I feel good not being on his team here.

  10. palmtree says:

    You should be nominated for the work, not your pedigree. Adam Sandler deserved a nod for Uncut Gems.

    But yeah, Todd Phillips shouldn’t be getting a nomination for cribbing Scorsese. But it’s all part of the Academy’s nostalgia narcissism…that combined with the fact that it was WB’s only real horse in the race so they went all in to make sure it landed.

  11. sam says:

    What I wonder about is how anyone who is campaigning is able to work on new projects when as David points out, there are all these award shows and festivals. As David points out, whatever their mission statement may be, give out trophies so that they can starfuck.
    And if your project isn’t debuting during awards season, that means that you’ve already had to take time away for a junket and press tour when it opened.

  12. Hcat says:

    “What I wonder about is how anyone who is campaigning is able to work on new projects ”

    That is probably an advantage of the short season, but otherwise I am sure all this is baked into the contract when they sign for the movie. Most of them know the awards push is going to come and black out the schedules. This is certainly taken into account for their compensation as well. I am sure besides the actually filming there is a rider stating just how many interviews, television shows, down to a possible number of tweets about the project they have to show up for.

    Stella, I am not seeing Joker so I do not have an actual comparison but will certainly take your word for it. Just trying to point out that bad decisions have always been made, some very recently.

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    No argument there Hcat. Even though that’s very true I find that my interest in the Oscars diminishes annually (though that’s not the only reason). For years I watched every minute of the broadcast. It was an event. But I haven’t tuned in even for a minute in probably five or more years now. I’ll read about the winners the next day and then move on to better things like what’s on TV that night.

  14. Glamourboy says:

    Yet, Stella’s Boy, you are one of the most constant commentators on these Oscar posts….I’m not sure how many more, or different ways you can keep telling us that you don’t care. Ok, we get it. You don’t like Joker. You don’t like Oscars. Honestly, after the tenth post telling us that, I think you’re message has come across.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    Joker sucks. It’s a terrible movie.

  16. Stella's Boy says:

    Not sure why this is so hard for you to grasp. This is a movie blog. All the recent posts are about the Oscars (only one BYOB this year I think). You don’t have to love the Oscars in order to talk about them on a movie blog. If you don’t like it there are plenty of other places to discuss movies. Not to mention you’ve been a jerk here and I really don’t care what you think.

  17. leahnz says:

    lol michael moore (he also thinks j assange is very impressive. so there you go. all a perfect symmetry of smelly aggrieved losers, so 2016-2019)
    keep it up stellas, i don’t a single person in actual life that doesn’t think joker is an embarrassing copy-cat bore hyped by a culture of equalling embarrassing stupidity masquerading as intellect, so at least you have a modicum of taste. the fact people think ‘joker’ is impressive is about the saddest thing of all. we’re so fucked.

  18. leahnz says:

    haven’t been on metacritic for yonks so interesting to see the ‘critics’ amalgum re this shitshow:
    joker 59
    little women 91
    hmm, what could it be

  19. Chris says:

    Respectfully, it is quite possible to think “Jojo” is a not-very-good movie, albeit with a fantastic ScarJo performance, without having any sort of agenda against it. Tastes differ, obviously, but it is also possible to find the tone problematic (even amidst the intended tonal shifts) and a couple of key performances a complete mess.

  20. Glamourboy says:

    Stella’s Boy…you write endless about how you don’t watch the Oscars, don’t agree with the Oscars and don’t care about the Oscars….but yet you post endlessly about this. Your negativity makes you the one being the real jerk here, and I understand that you don’t get that. So keep posting about how much you hate this popular film and how much you don’t care about the Oscars….because maybe there is one person in Detroit who hasn’t heard this from you yet. Personally, I admire all of the Best Picture nominees for different reasons..I think they all belong there (except Little Women, which bored to me tears, but I”m not going to post that a dozen times.) . And I’ve enjoyed watching the Oscars since I was a little kid with my parents and still have parties and get togethers to watch it with people who also enjoy it. Sure, you seem to enjoy peeing on people’s parade here….cause I’m the jerk.

  21. Stella's Boy says:

    Thanks leah. Right on.

  22. David Poland says:

    It is possible, Chris. But that is not the case.

    It is possible to hate the film, as it is possible to hate any film. Individual taste is not something I argue.

    But the constant kicking of Jojo Rabbit, not unlike Green Book or La La Land, is purposeful. And with due respect for some very smart people, hating on Jojo Rabbit, unlike Green Book or even La La Land, has consistently shown itself to be a misunderstanding of the basic structure of the film, as people can’t get over Hitler being silly instead of EVIL EVIL EVIL. This is the same mindset that hated A Clockwork Orange and Lolita on “principle.”

  23. leahnz says:

    critical topic of analysis i’ve yet to hear anywhere:

    will TODD be directector-nominated for the lowest critically-rated flick ever nominated for an oscar? dissect

    (stella’s haha, you’re the REAL jerk for disliking a popular film waahhh wahhh WBT let me suck my joker binky)

  24. leahnz says:

    “But the constant kicking of Jojo Rabbit, not unlike Green Book or La La Land, is purposeful. And with due respect for some very smart people, hating on Jojo Rabbit, unlike Green Book or even La La Land, has consistently shown itself to be a misunderstanding of the basic structure of the film, as people can’t get over Hitler being silly instead of EVIL EVIL EVIL. This is the same mindset that hated A Clockwork Orange and Lolita on “principle.” ”

    yikes this comment is a hot mess of false equivalence

  25. palmtree says:

    I think people are hating on Green Book and La La Land do understand those movies and are hating it for the correct reasons.

    Jojo Rabbit is different than those examples, because I can see someone’s desire never to see a likeable Hitler ever portrayed in popular culture. But of course, the film isn’t about Hitler being likeable…just about a boy imagining him to be likeable. Nothing Green Book or La La Land does is ever that subversive.

  26. sam says:

    @glamourboy: You’re not alone. I was pretty much bored by Little Women and felt that the flashbacks didn’t help.

  27. Hcat says:

    Just want to pipe in and say I quite enjoyed Little Women even though I think the 94 version will remain my go to. I thought the flashbacks were an inventive way to tell a familiar story fresh. When it is remade again in twenty years I will be there for that one as well. Every generation should get a Little Women just as every generation gets a Romeo and Juliet and a Kong.

    My Oscar enjoyment has tapered off, but that’s more of the show itself with the parachuting candy and tour bus and didn’t one have a secret box of some sort? I swear I’m the only person who wants more montages and less patter. Hell I could do without them introducing each best picture winner or performing each song, but give me a full five minutes if In Memorial.

  28. palmtree says:

    I was at an awards show recently (not film but a big one in the theatre community), and they didn’t introduce the nominees for best play the way you would best picture. And to me, this felt really lacking, especially since they are being given the top award and yet many of us have no idea what that movie is or what would make it awards-worthy. I feel like those intros do an excellent service of promoting quality (even if some of those movies are not my idea of quality).

  29. David Poland says:

    Leah… I agree with Palmy about the fact of the films. But I still feel there is an equivalence. There is nothing in the subtext of Jojo Rabbit that is offending these people. It is the surface. Hitler happens to be on that surface here.

  30. leahnz says:

    DP if you have a point maybe you’re not making it clearly, guess i don’t get what you’re on about here. seems petty, since you wrote about this previously and it appears you’ve personally taken umbrage since you dig jojo and some guy said something you don’t like and you’re extrapolating that onto some larger scale. critics/’entertainment journalists’ in your little bubble of sniping and petty grievances remind me very much of academia — what’s the old saying, vicious because the stakes are so low.

    given the enormity of history, there will be some people for whom hitler portrayed in this satirical manner is simply a stumbling block there’s no getting past, a deal-breaker, and i get that. i don’t even know how i feel about it myself exactly in the context of jojo, but it’s undeniably audacious and unique – and if anyone was going to pull it off thematically it might be the weird maori boy with jewish heritage from the bottom of the world with his very individual sensibility and style.
    i do not get dragging lala land and greenbook into it (and now ‘clockwork’ and ‘lolita’?), this lumping together seems naff but again i don’t really understand the point at this moment in time

  31. Amblinman says:

    No argument there Hcat. Even though that’s very true I find that my interest in the Oscars diminishes annually (though that’s not the only reason). For years I watched every minute of the broadcast. It was an event. But I haven’t tuned in even for a minute in probably five or more years now. I’ll read about the winners the next day and then move on to better things like what’s on TV that night.”

    Everything you need to know about the Oscars is contained in the fact that dreck like joker is elevated for poorly ripping off movies the academy previously snubbed but now honor.

  32. Stella's Boy says:

    Someone, I think leah, noted that Joker has only a 59 on Metacritic. Even Green Book has a 69! Very telling.

  33. palmtree says:

    If you missed the Oscars in recent years, then you missed the amazing La La Land and Moonlight kerfuffle, and that’s too bad. I think the Oscars are still great for film fans, because for one night you get to see the artform you love treated as if it’s a big sports event. I’ve had an Oscar pool almost every year, and even if I don’t care about a lot of categories most of the time, for a short time I do care. Sure, the winners are not all that great sometimes, but it’s the platform that will never die.

  34. leahnz says:

    imagine a woman director getting nominated in that category for a movie with a 59 metacritic/a not critically well-reviewed flick, pfft (women can hardly get a nod when their movie has several noms across other major categories. the directing branch of the academy is really peice of work)

    thinking about the oscars – and so many of us grew up watching all around the world – i’m trying to pinpoint when the lustre really began to fade and the sour taste in the mouth began to build in earnest. i think it may have been ‘crash’ beating out ‘brokeback’ — and it wasn’t just a superior movie losing out to trite dreck, but the lead up to it when voters were quoted in the media, on record with comments like, “i can’t vote that, john wayne would roll over in his grave!”
    this just really drives home that a fair chunk of voting members aren’t attempting in the slightest to see past their idiotic bigotry and biases to vote for quality in film, but rather shines a light on their attitudes and how the anonymous voting enables these old dinosaurs to indulge their worst impulses and elevate crap in the process.
    and this insistence in the punditry that this isn’t what is happening is so irritating. stella’s link upthread about aggrieved white boy backlash in the voting process is entirely believable and likely. hegemony dies hard, if at all.

  35. leahnz says:

    for the love of fucking kitten get an edit function, even like a 30 seond window for typo/grammos

  36. YancySkancy says:

    The Post wants a subscription to read the King article, so I can’t see it. Is it part of his ‘redemption’ for admitting he votes his opinion on his Oscar ballot?

  37. YancySkancy says:

    For some reason, my phone didn’t require a Post subscription to read the King article. Seems like he made fair points to me, but I await further outrage since he didn’t manage to solve the Academy’s diversity problem.

  38. Hcat says:

    Parasite passed the 30 million mark this weekend. I remember someone arguing when it hit five that it would never hit that audiences would not give a foreign language film the same chance as they did The Favourite. So if you are imagining that person might feel like a schmuck today…….well I certainly do.

    Never been happier to be wrong.

  39. Stella's Boy says:

    Highest grossing Neon release ever too right Hcat? I thought I read that. It is pretty impressive.

  40. Hcat says:

    Stella, if not now than in a day or two. Neon must have spent the last few months walking on air. Based on the trailer I can see the Lodge taking the spot in just a few weeks.

  41. leahnz says:

    “white PEOPLE”
    nope

    (fwiw my son has seen ‘parasite’ three times already, which is fairly unusual for him, so i’m not sure if this means anything re the appeal of the movie but interesting anecdotally)

  42. Stella's Boy says:

    You love to see it. A24, Neon. Good stuff. Hope they both continue to kick ass. The Lodge looks pretty good.

  43. palmtree says:

    Hcat, that’s mighty big of you. I think Parasite is poised to overtake Favourite in the next week or so. So happy for Neon.

    King’s piece was good, a mea culpa but also a clarification with some nuance. No one expects him to solve anything single-handedly, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be upset when he says something that makes things worse. Today though he made things a little better.

  44. leahnz says:

    the oscars are not rigged for white PEOPLE, though.
    for example, in oscar history more black men have been nomd for directing than all women ever (all of them white). there’s a pervasive sexism re rewarding women in charge/in power for telling their stories at play, which clearly also intersects with race, opportunity, and tastemakers. the regular erasure of sexism re white patriarchy is insidious

  45. palmtree says:

    leah, there’s a similar issue with the erasure of Asian actors. Each time a Best Picture caliber film is populated with Asians, somehow none of the actors in it are good enough for a nomination. Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi, Memoirs of a Geisha, Crouching Tiger, The Last Emperor, and of course now Parasite. Add to that the great performances in The Farewell too. Strangely enough, Ang Lee still managed to win twice, the first non-white person to do so for Brokeback Mountain. But it’s odd how some of the Academy’s blind spots are highly specific.

  46. Hcat says:

    As a big fan of Irrfan Khan I agree. Perhaps the movie on a whole wouldn’t make the cut for an Oscar nom in a tight year but Khan’s performance in The Namesake really touched me. Just an wonderfully full and heartfelt movie about family and identity, and Khan being overlooked in supporting struck me as an overlook. The same year Tannishtha Chatterjee was hardly in the conversation for Brick Lane.

  47. palmtree says:

    The Namesake is a great film.

    Also, the Academy had Dev Patel nominated in Lion, so that was nice, but in a weird way, it makes sense by Academy standards because it featured Nicole Kidman who was also nominated. It’s only the all (or mostly all) Asian casts that they can’t abide.

  48. leahnz says:

    palmtree re your first comment, the saddest dejavu
    (i seem to recall everyone having that exact conversation here a few oscars back – maybe the year of the rule changes? – and still nothing’s changed, SSDD. nothing will change significantly unless there’s a paradigm shift and the entire corrupted campaign-oriented system is overhauled for a start. just like the industry the academy reflects, they could do a lot of concrete things to change the system, THEY DON’T WANT TO)

  49. David Poland says:

    Leah… not sure you are following the people I do on Facebook.

    It’s not just the Hitler thing. But now it’s turning to 1917, somehow trying to discount it’s value.

    These trends happen.

  50. David Poland says:

    Leah… the problem with these “honest voter” things is that you are getting a handful of voices out of 8500+… and they are people who want attention. The idea that this is how a large percentage of The Academy membership thinks is just not reality.

    That said, there was definitely a pushback against Brokeback because of homophobia. But “they” also genuinely liked Crash, a movie loaded with actors and a director “they” had known and liked for years. The expansion of the BP noms from 5 to 7-9 has changed a whole lot. Many of what really felt like “rules” have disappeared or at least faded.

  51. David Poland says:

    There have not been enough films in the system that leads to Oscar directed by women or people of color and god knows, Asians.

    There is absolutely a business for black filmmakers in Hollywood. But the movies that are made in that group are, generally, not Oscar movies. It has (mostly) taken fine artists, like McQueen or Jenkins, to leap the fence.

    This season, the only film that was really an Oscar movie that was directed by a woman was Little Women. There are other wonderful films, but they take the focus and energy that leads to noms. Even Parasite came up short on actors because Neon, understandably, saw a mountain to climb just chasing Best Picture. Only in retrospect does it seem they could have pushed their actors into nods.

  52. David Poland says:

    Earnest question, Leah… what concrete things do you think they could do to change things?

  53. palmtree says:

    You didn’t ask me, but sounds an awful lot like the same problem with political campaigns…it’s too much about money. Unless you’re telling me Neon couldn’t push the actors at least partially because they didn’t have the money? So much of it comes down to courting Academy voters that it is no longer about the films themselves. I mean I’ve been to those fancy screenings where all the stars are there and it’s so buzzy and you can tell yourself you really like the movie when in fact it’s just okay. The Academy needs to set limits on how much money studios can spend.

  54. Stella's Boy says:

    In 2004 Paul Haggis had already been known and liked by Academy members for many years? Until Crash wasn’t he pretty much exclusively a writer for television?

  55. leahnz says:

    this essay section of the exam is freaking me out, can we do multiple choice

    to begin: anyone who’s still on FACEBOOK needs to have their head read, seriously. this is not a drill. (use it only to DM people if you must, zoomers are big on this in my experience, they know it’s toxic in this era)

    to end: DP, it’s not worth the time trying to discuss this with you because – to put this delicately – you are so inside the box and entrenched/invested in the campaign system and looking at things from a very particular viewpoint that all you can offer is a mass of rationalisations for every step of the status quo (mostly in hindsight). you’re not listening.
    we know the rationalisations. everyone does who’s interested in this stuff. you’re just a parrot at this point. you need to get out of the box, away from the people nattering in your ear because the box is suffocating and you’re drowning in bullshit. i’m fairly certain you don’t want to be part of the problem but rationalising everything is part of the problem. you’re just propping shit up.

  56. David Poland says:

    Well, Leah, accusing me of being in a box and unable to hear isn’t really doing anything to help me hear anything but complaining.

    I have no interest in maintaining the status quo. But I also have no interest in raging against the light without any realistic hope for success.

    I think you are incredibly smart… but “you can’t hear it” is a lazy rhetorical canard. I believe in “put up or shut up,” not “shut up because I am tired of listening to stuff I have heard before.”

    But up to you…

  57. David Poland says:

    I don’t disagree, Palmy, but that is not a realistic option. Who is going to count the spend?

    That said, there are rules that can limit the success of bigger spends. But The Academy leadership has not been willing under Dawn Hudson to really clamp down on anything. It’s all a lot more out of control now than it was before she arrived and it was like a Russian politburo. That was irritating too… but Academy members were better protected from all of this… especially media fronting spends by distributors (which used to be strictly forbidden) and allowing them to break the rules without fingerprints.

    And yes, Neon didn’t have the kind of money to be as ambitious with Parasite as Netflix was with Roma. It was a big leap for Netflix to go after nominations for both actresses. And it paid off in the end… with everything but the BP win.

  58. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree: Your point re Asian actors in Oscar bait films is well taken, but a small correction: Ken Watanabe was nominated for The Last Emperor.

    David: “That said, there was definitely a pushback against Brokeback because of homophobia.”

    This was undoubtedly true for a segment of the membership, and it may have been enough to swing Best Picture, but as I always mention when this subject comes up, the film received 8 nominations, winning 3 (Director, Screenplay, Score), so clearly it also had strong support within the Academy. I guess the Academy can’t even do “snubs” right.

    David: “Earnest question, Leah… what concrete things do you think they could do to change things?”

    I posed a version of this question in a previous thread, and leah actually responded with a couple of suggestions. But in general, this is what I find most frustrating about discussing this topic. Everyone can rage all day about the problem, but attempts to explain (not condone) its causes are often dismissed as “rationalizations” or “your privilege is showing.” And attempts to brainstorm about possible solutions are mostly ignored. Most realize that the primary problem seems rooted in the subconscious bias of the voters (this is usually only laid at the feet of white male voters, since they’re in the majority, but surely if such biases exist, they exist for everyone?). Therefore, it seems to me the only viable solution is further diversification of the membership, which the Academy has been actively working toward. It can never be perfect, because it’s not likely that the numbers will ever represent parity between all races, genders, nationalities, etc. But it should at least level the playing field by a few degrees. I can see how this “solution” is insufficient, but if anyone has others to “put up,” they seem to have chosen instead to “shut up.”

  59. palmtree says:

    “palmtree: Your point re Asian actors in Oscar bait films is well taken, but a small correction: Ken Watanabe was nominated for The Last Emperor.”

    LOL…wow…he was nominated for The Last “Samurai.” And again, yes it had a majority Asian cast, but it was fronted by Tom Cruise, making it relatable to the Academy, which was my argument. If you just have Asian nominees for movies fronted by white people, then yeah, there’s tons. I’m talking about films where the leads are entirely Asian. Whatever, it’s a sliver of a distinction, but one that holds up remarkable well over the years.

    DP, I do think it’s a matter of will versus ability. It only takes one Harvey to force everyone to spend like there’s no tomorrow. There has to be some reckoning…but I can’t think of who or what will initiate that.

  60. palmtree says:

    Well, not tons…just more. Anyway, there’s a reason Rinko Kikuchi got nominated for Babel, but Ken Watanabe didn’t the same year for Letters From Iwo Jima (even though it was fronted by Clint Eastwood). Just remarkable.

  61. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree: My bad, I read “Last Emperor” as “Last Samurai.” D’oh! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have brought up the Watanabe nomination.

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