| March 6, 2022
In the six weeks since my last Oscar column, here is what has happened
Okay… I’m exaggerating a little. We have now had it confirmed that The Last Duel isn’t going anywhere. And Soggy Bottom turned into Licorice Pizza. And oh yes… The Tragedy of Macbeth landed at New York Film Festival and is still Macbeth, so…
Here is what has changed. It’s six weeks later, late October is here, and it’s time to start getting serious, even though Oscar is more than 5 months away.
The yahoos at HFPA are making a point of showing their tasteless arrogance by announcing nominations in January, directly up against Broadcast Film Critics Association, now known as The CCA… a group named after its uninterestingly named award. I don’t disgree with anything Joey Berlin said about the HFPA’s asshole move, but I wish he hadn’t said it. That is not the kind of power posture someone about to become the #2 award show of the year shows. It’s how a guy in a potential bar fight acts when they don’t ever intend to take a swing.
National Bored of Review will announce November 30. New York Film Critics Circle will announce December 3. CCA will announce nominations December 6. Presumably, LAFCA will meet and announce on December 10.
But we are still in a very small field.
From the festivals… likely in the 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees.
1. King Richard
3. The Power of the Dog
And chasing… Spencer, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Cyrano, and Dune.
And still to be shown… in the next 5 weeks…
Best Chances… West Side Story, House of Gucci, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza
And also could still surprise… Being The Ricardos, Nightmare Alley, Tick, Tick… Boom!
There is, of course, a long list of films with contenders in many categories other than Best Picture that are not likely BP nominees.
And there is a long list of excellent movies that are just not likely to be playing this game in a serious way.
Right now, there is an obsession with Kristen Stewart as Best Actress because there is no one else serious in the running. Francis McDormand will probably go Lead, but Lady Macbeth is traditionally a supporting role. Jennifer Hudson could be nominated, but can’t win for Respect.
If you look at what came out of the festivals, all the other leads are male. Five of the unseen, upcoming movies have female leads. So calm down, kids.
Likewise, big bets on Caitriona Balfe for Supporting Actress are wildly premature. She is lovely in the film. But again… a wave of films that have strong female supporting roles are coming.
In Best Actor, there still aren’t enough male leads of power to fill a list of 5, much less discard anyone. So, Will, Denzel, Peter, and Benedict… congratulations… and don’t get too comfy.
Finally, Best Supporting Actor… good luck with that! Guessers are really grasping at straws here.
The thing is, there is the very real chance that the overall field of contenders is very small indeed… in which case, truly, almost anything could happen. The second tier of contenders this season seems much bigger than the first tier. And if voters are dipping into that second pool for nominees, films and performances that people would laugh off suddenly become legit. No one’s obit ever starts, “Oscar nominee in a kinda crappy season…”
| March 6, 2022
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May 1, 2022
"Netflix, the great disrupter whose algorithms and direct-to-consumer platform have forced powerful media incumbents to rethink their economic models, now seems to need a big strategy change itself. It got me thinking about the simple idea that my film and TV production company Blumhouse is built on: If you give artists a lot of creative freedom and a little money upfront but a big stake in the movie’s or TV show’s commercial success, more often than not the result will be both commercial (the filmmakers are incentivized to make films that will resonate with audiences) and artistically interesting (creative freedom!). This approach has yielded movies as varied as Get Out (made for $4.5 million, with worldwide box office receipts of more than $250 million), Whiplash (made for $3.3 million, winner of three Academy Awards), The Invisible Man (made for $7 million, earned more than $140 million) and Paranormal Activity (made for $15,000, grossed more than $190 million).From the beginning, the most important strategy I used to persuade artists to work with me was to make radically transparent deals: We usually paid the artists (“participants” in Hollywood lingo) the absolute minimum allowable by union contracts upfront, with the promise of healthy bonuses based on actual box office results—instead of the opaque 'percentage points' that artists are usually offered. Anyone can see box office results immediately, so creators don’t quarrel with the payouts. In fact, when it comes time for an artist to collect a bonus based on box office receipts, I email a video clip of myself dropping the check off at FedEx to the recipient."
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