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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar 11

With Brokeback as pretty much the only lock for a Best Picture nomination right now, the mountain that I’m thinking most about is Cold Mountain. As in, will Munich be this year’s Cold Mountain?
I still believe in my gut that if Munich gets nominated, the month following nominations will see enough people lining up behind the film in this good-not-Oscar-great season for it to win the Oscar. However, I am now appropriately unsure about whether the film will have the opportunity to fight that fight.
Besides those two, I still count another seven films that are legitimate Best Picture contenders. In alphabetical order: Capote, The Constant Gardener, Crash, Good Night, And Good Luck, A History Of Violence, Match Point, and Walk The Line. You can make good arguments for all or any of them

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46 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar 11”

  1. Angelus21 says:

    For Munich’s sake I hope it doesn’t go down the same path as Cold Mountain. Would be a shame.

  2. Angelus21 says:

    I also think that “The Constant Gardener” is going to slide into that 5th slot.

  3. Bruce says:

    Good race among those 9 movies.

  4. David V says:

    I think the only film that has a chance in beating Brokeback Mountain for best picture, at this point is Phantom of the Opera.

  5. Rob says:

    I don’t think Brokeback feels like a slam dunk, either, but I still haven’t heard a decent answer to the question “If not it, then what?”

  6. joefitz84 says:

    I think by the time the voting comes around, voters will look for another film to reward with a best picture award. The BBM movement won’t be strong enough to hold on because the film is just not a great film.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    You may feel that way about BBM joe, but you have to realize that a hell of a lot of people do think it is a great film.

  8. joefitz84 says:

    I’m sure there are. Every film has its backers and defenders and from reading here the past month, Brokeback has them coming out of the closet. Pun intended.
    I just don’t think in the end it wins. Just my opinion.

  9. Crow T Robot says:

    The pickens are slim this year (so I’ve made peace with the (ugh) inevitable Crash best picture nomination). But I’m hoping the most “user friendly” one in the bunch, Walk The Line, pulls ahead in the next couple of weeks. Though maybe not as dangerous and challenging as Munich and Brokeback, it’s got the biggest beating heart in the bunch. Every now and then nice guys do finish first in this town.

  10. James Leer says:

    I actually think Walk the Line is in the most danger of not making the Final 5 for Best Pic. Despite the fact that Reese is a mortal lock, the film itself does not have enough passionate advocates and I haven’t seen Fox do enough to stoke that sort of reaction. Plus, Mangold is thought of as too much of a journeyman director to make it in during a year with such tough veteran competition.
    My guesstimates at this point are:
    Brokeback Mountain
    Capote (wouldn’t have guessed this before the guild awards, but it seems to be on a roll)
    Good Night and Good Luck
    And I’d actually slot in “A History of Violence” and “The Constant Gardener” before “Walk the Line”…and definitely slot Cronenberg and Meirelles for Director over Mangold.

  11. Crow T Robot says:

    Leer, you guesstimates are respectable, but all five picks are (more or less) dark, angry and political. I’m hoping there’s a spot saved for Walk’s down home joie de vivre. Else we’ll have a race of flicks that Big America has all but ignored this year.
    But no argument here about Mangold. Nobody owes him shit.

  12. PandaBear says:

    “History of Violence” and “Constant Gardener” should crack any final 5 films this year.

  13. Chucky in Jersey says:

    The one way “Munich” will get major nominations is if Ariel Sharon, prime minister of Israel, dies in the next 2-3 weeks. That will tap the “Israel Right or Wrong” sympathy vote.
    [In case you don’t follow news, Sharon suffered a stroke yesterday.]
    The pickings are indeed slim: There are very few movies whose ads are not name-checking, pandering, or whoring. Name-checking (“From the director of ‘Chocolat’,” etc.) spells disaster. Pandering (play a drunk/druggie/prostie/gay man) means depressed box office. Whoring (newspaper/magazine/TV show logo next to pull-quote) smells of Jack Abramoff.

  14. David V says:

    At this point, unless the winds really turn, all signs lead to a Brokeback win. None of the other contenders have the right Best Picture stuff. If you take in all the new info given to us in the past days from the guild nominations, that much is clear, Brokeback is the only film with unilateral support. Ok, not entirely true…the other supported movie seems to be Capote, with love from acting (Keener getting the SAG bid was telling), writing and DGA. But still, Capote doesn’t seem like a Best Picture film. People loooove Hoffman in it-and it is a very well respected film…but I don’t see it as anyone’s cause.
    Ditto to Goodnight and Goodluck…well respected…people appreciate the effort and nominations for Clooney will be his reward. But is it really anyone’s favorite movie?
    Walk the Line lost steam by missing the DGA nom. Still, the film is mostly viewed as a decent biopic that falls into all the typical biopic trappings…but with 2 good leads. I didn’t see it at too many #1 spots on critic’s top tens (but I didn’t go back and check).
    Crash seems like it will get the nomination…but hard to imagine this sincere but slightly clunky riff on Altman (a la Short Cuts) to win the award (even Altman at his best doesn’t take home the statue).
    Munich is over. I don’t think this has to do with who got a dvd and who didn’t…there’s just a lack of love for this movie…no love for the actors…missed out on writing nom for Kushner (should have been a shoo in). I can’t DRAG any of my friends to see it. This film hasn’t ignited. Even the political arguements have died down. It MIGHT get a nomination, but not the award. The Million Dollar Baby scenario just doesn’t cut it here. MDB opened late, but then had critics falling all over themselves with superalitives. Not here.
    Constant Gardner…also no heat here. Can you honestly see this announced as Best Picture?
    Matchpoint, dead. History of Violence, also dead. The one film that I thought could have a shot at Best Picture, also died today, and that is Cinderella Man. It’s an old fashion Oscar film. Acting noms for Crowe (even with all this bad press), and for Giamatti (who couldn’t even get one for Sideways)pointed that people were watching their tapes and liking it. But the lack of Ron Howard DGA beats down that theory.

  15. Martin S says:

    Brokeback and Jon Stewart…
    To paraphrase Comic Book Guy –
    Lowest. Ratings. Ever.

  16. Aladdin Sane says:

    So why is Walk the Line so great? It meanders for the last 20 minutes and doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t know. As it stands it’s a 3/4 very good movie. Just sorta pointless. I do think the performances are very good, but it’s not as good as Ray.
    I enjoyed Munich a lot. I repsect that Spielberg was doing something different than we’re used to seeing him do. It still has a shot at Best Picture. There are probably more than just a few Academy members who have been colleagues with him in the past and will vote his stuff as their first choice.
    I haven’t seen BBM yet, but am planning to later this weekend. I hope it’s as good as I’m hearing, but then again I’ve heard from both camps, so we’ll see.
    And George Clooney will win something on Oscar night. The question now is, what?

  17. Richard Nash says:

    Good call, Martin S. Maybe Chris Rock was right.

  18. Mongoose says:

    Crow – I’m with you on WALK THE LINE. After everyone tires of the message films, maybe they’ll reflect on the picture that was simply a fun, toe-tapping, good time at the movies. Can’t imagine the one happy ending this year will be shut out in favor of ….loss, loss and more loss. How much more depressing can this season get?

  19. ArchiveGuy says:

    The whiff of desperation in the “Munich” supporters is palpable. Regardless of whether the film is good/worthy or not, the simple fact is that it has had shown to have none of the support that it needs for a Pic nod. No WGA, PGA, or SAG attention at all. Zero. And Spielberg’s DGA nod means nothing given that he got nods for “Empire of the Sun” and “Amistad” as well. And certainly there are plenty of marginal films (“Squid”, “History”) that have more unanimous critical support, if that even means anything.
    What was the last film to get DGA, PGA, WGA and SAG Ensemble nods and not get a Pic nod? Anyone? Bueller? “Capote”, “GN&GL”, “Crash”, are almost certain locks to join “Brokeback”. “Walk the Line” seems likely to follow given its almost certain Globe win, the PGA, its financial success (relative to the other 4) and its popularity amongst the actors.
    But here comes deluded Dave. Bana in the top 5? Lonsdale, too? Based on what? Besides wishful thinking, that is. And of course, the argument that “Munich might’ve won Best Picture but if it doesn’t get a nod it’ll never get a chance to prove it” is beyond pathetic.
    Personally, I think Cronenberg will bump Miller and Haggis may get dropped as well by the Director’s branch, but the best “Munich” can hope for is what “3 Days of the Condor” and “Day of the Jackal” (which are stylistically similar) got: an Editing nod. *Maybe* Kushner for his name recognition (but that category’s clogged as it is).
    Not all Spielberg films, even the “serious” ones, are automatically golden–the Academy’s been more than happy to demonstrate that in the past. And when the nods come out and “Munich”‘s an also-ran, the defenders will have any number of justifications, rationalizations, and conspiracy theories when the simple fact is: There were other movies that the People Who Matter liked better. Yeesh.

  20. Richard Nash says:

    “Walk the Line” had some fabulous star power. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them both win.

  21. Melquiades says:

    I wouldn’t expect Brokeback to lose because it’s a downer… the Academy LOVES downers, especially in recent years.
    Titanic, Braveheart, Million Dollar Baby, The English Patient, Schindler’s List, even Forrest Gump.
    The only recent exceptions are Shakespeare in Love and Chicago.

  22. Melquiades says:

    And I agree that the Lonsdale talk is absurd. He was quite good in the movie, but honestly, has his name come up anywhere other than Dave’s column? And he has him in the top five?

  23. Geoff says:
    Wow, I think I just watched the makings of what could be a pretty incredible film. If you guys saw Bloody Sunday and you know this story well enough, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

  24. waterbucket says:

    What??? Phantom of the Opera will beat out Brokeback? That cannot be right.
    Anyway, to be safe, we gay people need to start another MOVEMENT, this one against Phantom of the Opera. Calling all gay people to the movement headquarter…now!

  25. David Poland says:

    Cheap. And utterly irrelevant. What a surprise.

  26. Angelus21 says:

    I don’t think some people get that making a prediction and making projections means sometimes you go out on a limb and you’re wrong. I guess they expect weathermen to be right 100% too.

  27. waterbucket says:

    Yes, David Poland called me cheap and irrelevant. I love it!!!

  28. DanYuma says:

    Talk of a Lonsdale nomination reminds me of when Roger Friedman was pushing Bernard Hill for RETURN OF THE KING (really, he actually was. Nothing against Hill, but whatever Friedman was smoking, I’d care for a sample, although I might never get back to Earth; no sign Friedman has in recent months).
    I don’t see WALK THE LINE getting anything other than acting, sound (both categories) and possibly writing nominations.
    As far as Oscar ratings, I sincerely doubt that a raft of those inevitable BROKEBACK nominations are going to hurt at all. The movie’s audience is women and teenage girls, and they were the reasons TITANIC was both a huge it, and was also such a top-rated Oscarcast.
    I think the stealth nominee here will be GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. Clooney’s DGA nod firms its chances. But I’m not so sure anything’s going to beat BROKEBACK. It has sort of the status that MILLION DOLLAR BABY did this time last year, whereas MUNICH is sort of this year’s THE AVIATOR, in terms of how I see the perception. But it’s wayyyyy too early to handicap effectively. How fortunate that I am not a gambling man.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    I really hate to ask, but: Chucky in Jersey: is it your position that Munich is a pro-Mossad right-wing screed? As per your 3:25 post, with your usual…obsessions?

  30. James Leer says:

    If there is a longshot “Munich” supporting nod, I would think it’d go to Mathieu Amalric, who had a lot more screen time and a lot more to do than Lonsdale. But I don’t really see either happening.

  31. Bruce says:

    Chucky, you really got to get out of the house more.
    Munich is written by Tony Kushner. Probably the most far left Jew out there.
    Did you even see the movie?

  32. jesse says:

    I’m shocked that Capote is making it this far with the guilds. I really had it pegged as an “acting only” type of movie (with maybe screenplay thrown in). I thought a MCN columnist nailed it a week or two ago when she (I think it was a she) said something to the effect of: Capote is a classic acting-noms-only movie, and the fact that critics love it doesn’t really mean that much.
    I’m often surprised, though, about what busts through from “just acting and/or writing” to best picture candidacy. If you remember a few years ago, About Schmidt only scored nominations for actor and supporting actress. Yet something like Ray, a far less nuanced film (and far heavier on the “acting was the best part” factor), gets 7 noms. Even Capote, which I like more than Ray, seems to be primarily an actor’s piece, and a little too dry for me to get excited about the directing and writing, solid as they may be.
    In a year of many “small”-ish movies (even the designated “hit movie” seems to be Crash, a semi-indie!), Capote still seems likely to be edged out… but that’s just my gut, and looking less likely all the time. So my prediction for the final five:
    Brokeback Mountain
    Good Night, and Good Luck
    Walk the Line
    And Munich could still edge out either Capote or Walk the Line (which also lacks the guild support that everyone says is vital for Munich).
    And I think the directors will go something like this:
    Ang Lee, Brokeback
    George Clooney, GN&GL
    David Cronenberg, A History of Violence
    Steven Spielberg, Munich
    Fernando Meirielles, Gardener
    I realize that’s only 2 out of 5 picture/director noms matching up, but they’ve gone 3/5 before, so I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch. And Paul Haggis or Bennett Miller could sneak in ahead of Spielberg or Cronenberg. Haggis and Miller (and of course Mangold) seem like perfect candidates for the “director snub,” yet sometimes at least one completely snubbable director (like, say, Taylor Hackford) gets in without any problems.

  33. Terence D says:

    This is the year where the past and predictors and form go right out the window.

  34. Rufus Masters says:

    How are Braveheart and Forrest Gump downers?
    Why would sport teams play the Braveheart scenes before games if it was a downer?
    Million Dollar Baby was an extreme downer though.

  35. Melquiades says:

    Well, they don’t play the torture scene…
    And the love of Gump’s life dies of AIDS at the end of the movie. It’s certainly bittersweet.

  36. PandaBear says:

    What movie doesn’t have downbeat parts even the uplifting ones? Don’t you have to uplift from being down? Braveheart is about freedom and rising above and overcoming the odds. Sometimes it takes a death or a torture scene to propel the story.

  37. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t think a movie that ends with the main character being tortured to death, even though he puts a bright spin on it, can be considered COMPLETELY upbeat. Plus the ‘freedom’ that the movie’s so big on was still just feudalism under a different set of medieval lords.

  38. Mark Ziegler says:

    The only completely upbeat movies are made for 4 yr olds. They wouldn’t be movies if main characters didn’t overcome something. No one would waste their time watching it.

  39. jeffmcm says:

    Melquiades point was, the Academy likes ‘downer’ movies. Do you disagree? This year, the only Oscar-contending movie that you leave the theater really smiling about was Walk the Line.

  40. Rufus Masters says:

    And who likes paying 12 bucks to leave a theatre feeling unhappy???
    Name me a person?

  41. jeffmcm says:

    Good lord there are some dumb things on this blog.

  42. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry, let me backtrack: either you don’t understand what a ‘downer’ movie is and I can’t help you, or there’s arguing going on for the sake of arguing.

  43. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    God, that’s two comedy gold comments in two threads. Way to go Rufus.
    I’ve never seen Capote as a BP nominee. For some reason though three of the main 7 contenders don’t seem like they will be big nomination tally holders. Capote I can’t see getting higher than 4. Same with Munich. Crash could get 5. That’s why I’m thinking Constant Gardener could rise up. It could easily get 7. BP + Director + Supp Actress + A. Screenplay + Cinematography + Editing + Song. I think the final 5 will be Brokeback, Constant Gardener, Crash, GN&GL and Walk the Line with a 3/5 director split. I think Haggis and Mangold will miss to either Spielberg, Allen, Cronenberg or Miller.
    As much as this year’s field seems “weak” has there been a recent oscar race this unpredictable at this stage. There’s still so many contenders in many categories.

  44. Cadavra says:

    Gee, I kinda thought GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK had a happy ending…

  45. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, I always thought that “Leaving Las Vegas” had an upbeat ending. I mean, the hero accomplishes exactly what he sets out to do. (That is, he drinks himself to death.) And while he’s doing it, he gets to boff a great-looking babe. What’s so bad about that?

  46. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Watching that movie nowadays is sad.
    Sad, because it reminds me of what Elisabeth Shue is capable of.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon