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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar… The Clock Starts

We have Little Sunshine Children and The Good German Shepherd.
There is Nic Cage, Michael Pena and Will Smith, all surviving Wall Street.
We’ve got George Clooney on the European Front, Clint Eastwood on the Asian Front, Derek Luke challenging apartheid, Christian Bale fighting to survive Vietnam, Samuel L. Jackson in Iraq, and Leo DiCaprio on the mean streets of Boston.

The rest
ADDED, 9p Thurs – MGM has decided not to release Rescue Dawn this year… it will be reflected in next week’s charts, but thought you’d all like to know sooner than later…

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60 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar… The Clock Starts”

  1. MASON says:

    I saw the Prestige and loved it. Bale is fantastic in it and I would love to see him get a nom. The picture may be a bit cold for the academy and audiences in general.
    I’m a little puzzled with how you keep pushing WTC as a serious oscar contender. You seem to be in the minority.
    Has anyone seen the Good German? I’m definitely intrigued.

  2. Cadavra says:

    Why is Michael Sheen being a “foreigner” considered a hindrance?

  3. White Label says:

    Does this mean that Running With Scissors is a campy mess? No one is talking about it.

  4. jeffmcm says:

    Poland was pushing WTC for months before it came out, and he’s not letting a little thing like its lukewarm performance stop him.
    Michael Sheen’s drawback isn’t that he’s a foreigner as much as that he’s a newcomer – nobody’s heard of him and he has no Hollywood connections, unlike Mirren.

  5. Telemachos says:

    I’ll post the stupid question: how is DREAMGIRLS the front-runner?
    Bill Condon movies always get great Oscar buzz and then fizzle later… why would this one be different? Has anyone actually seen the entire film, or is it just the Cannes showreel that’s got people in a tizzy?

  6. palmtree says:

    The leaked Hudson single was solid as well.

  7. David Poland says:

    Sheen being a “foreigner” is problematic because he is not part of the acting crowd here. This is still a popularity contest. But he is very deerving.
    I am “pushing” WTC because it is a big priority for Paramount and because it have the elements that can be used to backdoor a movie in a soft season.
    Why do people keep throwing out the majority/minority stuff? If I am just listening to other journalists, I am doing a shitty job reporting what is actually in the jetstream out there.
    Dreamgirls is not Kinsey. My one reservation, honestly, is that it is an all-black cast. But in the limited testing that’s been done, it has killed with every ethnic group and age group. Believe me… they don’t want to be the frontrunners. But with Flags in trouble (whether the “majority” is saying so or not), The Good German is the only major mystery left to unwrap… and the only real threat, in my opinion, to a Dreamgirls win.

  8. EDouglas says:

    “My one reservation, honestly, is that it is an all-black cast.”
    That’s what I was thinking, too, and I hate myself for even thinking it, especially when there’s a chance that African-American actors will be in the majority in the acting categories (Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, possibly Will Smith, possibly Derek Luke, possibly Eddie Murphy). If Dreamgirls is as strong as Chicago or even Ray, it will get in the BP race for sure, but who has seen more than 20 minutes of it?

  9. Josh Massey says:

    If “Crash” could win, “World Trade Center” could certainly get nominated. It’s not about quality with the Academy any more (if it ever was).

  10. LeoCharney says:

    What about the idea that Eastwood would push his “Japanese” movie into eligibility before the end of the year? That could change (in one direction or the other) his chances — maybe making Picture less likely and Director more likely, and thereby putting his interests and the studios’ at odds.

  11. EDouglas says:

    “Do you remember the last time the Best Picture frontrunner…. was expected to sport two Best Supporting Actor wins and was not expected to score noms for Best Actor or Actress?”
    Sure. Sideways… there were a few people who thought it could beat Million Dollar Baby/Aviator, especially since it had the Golden Globe and SAG ensemble.
    “And you want some irony? Crash, touted in retrospect as a Best Picture winner driven by actors, had only one acting nomination, for Supporting Actor – Matt Dillon. No win there.”
    You’re wrong, David. Crash WAS an actor-driven win… the SAG ensemble win was proof of that. Who knows why more of the actors weren’t nominated.. maybe because too many people were confused by the ensemble nature, not knowing whether to put people in lead/supporting…or just the slew of great performances and not being able to focus on one… or maybe Matt Dillon just had a stronger campaign/publicity people…. or maybe they were just sick of Brokeback MOuntain being hyped so much by critics.
    But there’s no question in my mind that Crash’s win was driven by the fact that there were so many strong performances/known actors…heck, if just the cast of the movie voted for it, that’s like 2/3rds of the Academy right there. (joke)

  12. Me says:

    Yeah, I’m a little surprised by claiming Dreamgirls is the frontrunner, but as everything else that was going for it seems to have fallen off the tracks, I can’t really think of anything else. Maybe The Queen? Let’s just say that whoever the frontrunner is, it’s a pretty soft frontrunner.
    Anyway, with this being another weak year, maybe there’s a chance Little Miss Sunshine will sneak in. That’s my hope, anyway.

  13. jeffmcm says:

    Yeesh, the perception of a ‘slew of great performances’ in Crash makes my skin crawl. I would say that the performances that weren’t awful just looked better by contrast.

  14. David Poland says:

    I don’t disagree, ED… but it is interesting that for all the acting branch support, there was only one nod.

  15. Sam says:

    EDouglas, the thing about Sideways is that it was *expected* to score a Best Actor nom, which is the word DP used.
    But I totally agree with you about Crash. That was a very acting-driven Best Picture win, despite the lack of acting nominations. The hugeness of the ensemble split the attention across too many individual performances. Not only that, but nobody in that movie really fit into the leading categories, so acting recognition was split across two categories, not four. It’s much easier to spread the wealth when there are more servings: think Closer, where all four principles each got a distinct category to run in.

  16. EDouglas says:

    “I don’t disagree, ED… but it is interesting that for all the acting branch support, there was only one nod.”
    True… also with the SAG awards.
    I think it’s interesting that this year, there are a lot of strong ensemble movies… Departed, Dreamgirls, Babel, The Queen, The HIstory Boys (presumably), Bobby, Children of Men… only one of those has a definitive lead nomination.

  17. EDouglas says:

    “think Closer, where all four principles each got a distinct category to run in.”
    And it’s funny how that worked out since all four principles really were 25% of the movie… and yet both supports got nominations whereas the leads didn’t.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    A big part of that had to be fatigue – Julia Roberts already had her Oscar (and probably gave the weakest performance of the four) and Jude Law was in forty movies that year.

  19. James Leer says:

    I think “Little Miss Sunshine” will absolutely sneak into the Best Picture nominees, though I’m personally not happy about it.
    Richard Griffiths really isn’t the lead in “The History Boys.” I guess he would be the most known, but it’s the very definition of a supporting performance (though in a year where supporting perfs are getting pushed as Leads, I guess I see your point).
    Rinko Kikuchi is getting pushed pretty fucking hard, to my surprise (above-the-title billing on the billboard!). She also has the centerpiece role in “Babel” and if it connects, I think she will get in. Can’t see Maggie G. getting in there at all.
    I think Stephen Frears’ work may be too unshowy to rate unless some of the other contenders (Soderbergh, Condon) bomb. I can’t imagine, despite how good or not good Flags might be, that Academy darling Clint Eastwood would not be nominated for directing an Oscar bait WWII movie.

  20. Rob says:

    Crash was full of known actors, but they’re lousy known actors…
    The Good German could be really stylish, but I’ve lost faith in Soderbergh’s ability to make a movie that connects on a gut level.

  21. EDouglas says:

    “Rinko Kikuchi is getting pushed pretty fucking hard, to my surprise (above-the-title billing on the billboard!).”
    That’s weird… the posters I’ve seen don’t have her name at all. They have Koji Yakusho’s name, though:
    Kikuchi is absolutely the best part of the movie though, a breakout in every sense of the word, and I’m sure she’ll get into the supporting category despite being a new name/face.

  22. EDouglas says:

    but what’s weird is that it is her picture on the poster… hm… wonder if that was a mistake.

  23. David Poland says:

    The outdoor has changed in the way Leer suggests and the one-sheet eventually will too. She has become one of their best possibilities.

  24. MattM says:

    The big question with History Boys is just how much of the monologuing is cut from the play. My understanding is that, with the exception of Hector’s final “Pass It On!” speech, it’s all gone. Frances De La Tour won her Tony due largely (if not entirely) to her “I Have Hitherto Not Been Allowed An Inner Voice” monologue, which is apparently gone, taking her off the board. Samuel Barnett and Dominic Cooper also may have outside shots at supporting actor nods as well.

  25. Hopscotch says:

    -To leave out “United 93” and “Children of Men” would be a big mistake, I wouldn’t be surprised if both makes it up there. U93 has a much better shot than WTC, and Universal is going to push that one too.
    -Little Miss Sunshine for Best Original Screenplay is the only lock in my mind (and Mirren for Best Actress it seems)
    -Steve Carrell will probably be the only cast member from LMS to get recognized. Not saying it’s fair, I’m just making a prediction based on previous nods
    -The Good German is indeed a wild card because I know no one who’s seen even parts of it, and there’s no trailer yet
    – I bet The Departed gets one nod for Best Directing, but that’s it. I really liked the movie, but awards-worthy…wasn’t feeling it.

  26. EDouglas says:

    “- I bet The Departed gets one nod for Best Directing, but that’s it. I really liked the movie, but awards-worthy…wasn’t feeling it.”
    I think so, too, but honestly, if they’re going to nominate Marty again, they should just give it to him…. before he bumps off the other four candidates 🙂

  27. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Has anyone noticed how well The Departed has been doing mid-week? Almost $4 mil on Monday? About $2.5 mil Tues and Wed? World of mouth is amazing on this picture, really it couldn’t be better…it’s gonna have really long legs. With critical acclaim, and box office success, and a director everyone wants to honor, The Departed seems like a total lock for nominations, Picture, Director, Jack… And since we’ve actually SEEN this one (unlike Dreamgirls), I would say that it’s got to be the frontrunner, along with Babel…the two best pictures out so far this year.
    I agree with DP that World Trade Center has a great shot at nominations for Picture, Director, and maybe a supporting actress nomination. It’s still hard to fathom all the hate, it’s a really slept on picture, and an important one, and deserving of any accolades it gets.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    Here’s where I agree with DP, if either 9/11 movie has a chance it’s World Trade Center. United 93 came out too long ago, didn’t have stars, didn’t have a director with an Oscar pedigree, didn’t have the same degree of sentimental uplift, and didn’t gross as much, each of which are important to the voters.
    How ironic that Little Miss Sunshine could get a screenplay nomination when that was the clunkiest aspect of the whole movie.

  29. The Carpetmuncher says:

    The problem with United 93 is that it wasn’t very good…
    Whatever people think about Little Miss Sunshine’s screenplay, it really is a lock for a nomination for original…
    And the film really is the big sleeper/dark horse for a best picture nom…especially if Clint really does flop, and some of the other “favorites” that haven’t been seen underperform…
    Can we take Black Dahlia off the possibles list? That piece of garbage might be the worst movie ever made…ugh…what a waste of time…

  30. Hopscotch says:

    You can say “United 93” wasn’t very good Carpetmuncher, but you’d be in a small group with that. Every person I know who’s seen it has said it’s the best movie of the year.
    But I point out every one who’s seen it, which is not a helluva a lot of people, and that will probably be the film’s main hurdle.

  31. Rob says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t much care for either 9/11 movie? WTC felt too tame, and as for United 93, if ever a movie needed Karen Black…

  32. James Leer says:

    MattM, the 2nd half of “History Boys” is monologue central. If you’re referring to the part where Frances de la Tour opines about history from a woman’s perspective, it’s still in there.
    Neither of the boys is gonna get nominated, trust me…if it’s anyone, it’s Griffiths. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Dominic Cooper get some U.S. work off of this, though — he’s really the only pupil who breaks through with actual star quality.

  33. The Carpetmuncher says:

    United 93 isn’t even a real movie – it’s a History Channel recreation. Nothing more than an exercise, and could have been perfeormed by any number of people with access to a newspaper. It was neither thought-provoking, uplifting, suspenseful or compelling, and really, wasn’t even worthy of being propaganda. In the end I found it pointless, and huge waste of time.
    World Trade Center on the other hand was a moving story of human endurance and optimism amidst the most terrible of circumstances, and did a tremendous job of dramatizing that day without sinking into political debate about Iraq or Islamism or any of that stuff that would have muddled and sunk the human element. The filmmaking was at time astonishing, especially the surgeon-like work under the wreckage, and Cage and Pena’s performances were painful and true. And both Gyllenhal and Bello deserve supporting actress consideration.
    I do agree that it was “tame,” but that was part of it’s beauty – it was a movie for everyone, an inclusive film, which was a wonderful thing, and a necessary thing.
    I liked Little Miss Sunshine a lot too, but if that gets nominated, and WTC doesn’t, it would be a great tragedy…
    For me, WTC is this year’s The New World, a film which if more people saw, they would truly appreciate….

  34. The last reel of The Prestige is enough to chalk it up as kind of an awful experience…

  35. jeffmcm says:

    Carpetmuncher, if you swapped the titles of WTC and U93 in your above comments, you would have almost my exact opinion of the two movies.

  36. Aladdin Sane says:

    I still haven’t seen WTC, but I can see it getting a best pic nom based on the fact that it’s a somewhat major anniversary of the tragedy, and the Academy will probably want to honour that fact, even if the film ends up with no awards.
    I think that The Departed will get noms for Pic, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Editing (okay, and maybe Jack).
    Leo for Blood Diamond because he’s got a funky accent, unless the movie stinks. And while we’re here, how about Djimon Hounsou? I think if Leo gets in, then Hounsou will also have a good shot too.

  37. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Blood Diamond trailer played before The Departed, it looked like a stinker (think that Angelina Jolie/Clive Owen bomb) and Leo looked particularly unconvincing with the accent. From that, I can’t imagine he’s got a chance…but who knows, the film might actually be good.

  38. Paul8148 says:

    Word is that Foxsearch is already sending out Little Miss Sunshine Screeners? Is this earlier that want Sony Classic did last year with Capote and Junebug?

  39. austin111 says:

    As for Leo’s accent in Blood Diamond, he gets props from me. It’s pretty spot on, actually. South African accents aren’t the easiest to pull off and do sound funky. Besides, he’s actually supposed to be from Rhodesia in the film so who the hell knows what that sounds like anyway…anyone from Rhodesia on the boards??? What’s against him is that people aren’t used to seeing him with that kind of extreme accent, but he’s actually quite a good mimic. However, I hear Hounsou, as usual, has about the best role in the film and will be formidable. More worrisome is Ed Zwick, who can be really good (primarily Glory) or really awful (Legends of the Fall — sticking my finger down my throat)!!!

  40. EDouglas says:

    Just came back from Flags of our Fathers… boy did it suck. It’s just a mess and obvious that Eastwood overreached himself with it.

  41. austin111 says:

    Really, EDouglas….that bad???? But I have to say I’m not much in agreement with you on The Departed. Could Eastwood really have done such a poor job? Sounds like the oscar race may have gotten a lot more interesting as you’re the 4th or 5th person on the internet review squad who has come away less than impressed. Bring on Dreamgirls!!!

  42. EDouglas says:

    I haven’t read David or Kris’ reviews (or any other for that matter) but I went from not liking it… to really hating it. THere was applause afterwards but maybe because the Ziegfeld brought in a bunch of Marines to fill seats.

  43. austin111 says:

    Sheesh, they really brought in marines. Well, ya gotta do something. I have counted Poland (pretty negative), Kris (not altogether negative, not altogether positive), a reviewer over at AICN (pretty negative, disappointed), Jeff Wells (not altogether negative but sounded fairly disappointed), and now you (sounding genuinely negative). But the trades are raving about it. Who to believe? who to believe? I’m not really wanting to see it now though.

  44. EDouglas says:

    “Who to believe? who to believe?”
    Me, of course. 🙂

  45. Stella's Boy says:

    I wasn’t crazy about The Prestige. It’s OK but not as good as I expected it to be.

  46. austin111 says:

    I have to admit, Ed, may I call you that — I’m not a huge lover of Eastwood films. I certainly wasn’t overly impressed with M$B — a somewhat superior Hallmark Hall of Fame production, marred by an especially simplistic portrayal of heartless hillbillies addicted to welfare. Therefore, it takes very little to convince me to skip a film which seems to be taking on a fair number of “tepid” endorsements. Still, I can easily see why it isn’t to be dismissed, either. Plenty of folks will gladly kiss the feet or other nether regions of the grand old star/director even when his latest work isn’t quite up to snuff.

  47. Cadavra says:

    DP: Sheen being a “foreigner” is problematic because he is not part of the acting crowd here.
    Me: Didn’t seem to hurt Catalina Sandino Moreno or Sophie Okonedo or Keisha Castle-Hughes or Shohreh Aghdashloo or Javier Bardem or Janet McTeer or Fernanda Montenegro or Marianne Jean-Baptiste or Massimo Troisi or…

  48. David Poland says:

    Not saying it can’t happen. But it does make it challenging… and did you notice that all but one of the people you mentioned were female… and that Bardem’s (sensational) work was extreme when he got noticed?

  49. jeffmcm says:

    And none of them won, and most of them were in fairly specialized ‘ethnic’ movies, the kind where people could say “the little girl in this Maori movie is great” not a white guy from England playing a white guy from England.

  50. James Leer says:

    Because if there’s anything the Academy hates to recognize, it’s English actors.

  51. Cadavra says:

    DP: Actually, two men: Troisi was the guy from IL POSTINO. But I don’t see the relevance: you said “foreigner” and “not part of the acting crowd here.” Why would gender make a difference?
    Jeff: Yes, I know none of them won. That’s also irrelevant. The issue is whether Sheen could be nominated.
    I am Cadavra and I’m always grumpy on Friday the 13th!

  52. jeffmcm says:

    The Academy likes to recognize English actors _they’ve heard of before_. Peter O’Toole could get nominated/win this year because he’s a living legend. He didn’t win in 1962 for Lawrence of Arabia because he was a newcomer in his first major role.

  53. Joe Leydon says:

    Wasn’t “The Last Emperor” one of the very few Best Picture winners that had absolutely NO acting nominations?

  54. Hopscotch says:

    “Last Emperor” and “Return of the King” had no acting nods whatsoever…are there more? Probably. “Chariots of Fire” i think had some supporting nods. …

  55. Hopscotch says:

    “Flags of our Fathers” was never towards the top of my list, but I’d still like to see it. I heard from someone that “Let’s go to Prison” is actually pretty funny…the trailer sure isn’t.

  56. jeffmcm says:

    You’re right, Ian Holm was nominated for Chariots.

  57. EDouglas says:

    Not a winner, but Thin Red Line was nominated in seven categories including BP with no acting noms. A few people I’ve talked to have compared Flags to that.

  58. jeffmcm says:

    I have a hard time imagining Clint going so narrative-free, but if that’s what people saying, then my interest level gets higher.

  59. ployp says:

    I still have a hard time thinking of WTC as an Oscar contender. I’ll believe it when I see it. But really, I found the film so bad and cliche and boring.

  60. EDouglas says:

    I don’t see WTC as an Oscar contender at all. I know so many New Yorkers who wouldn’t go see a movie about 9/11 and I have to imagine that there are members of the Academy who feel the same way.

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