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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar – Tick Tock

It’s possible to make 20 different legitimate arguments along the lines of, “Letters From Iwo Jima, Babel, and The Queen split the serious vote, The Departed loses a little to both those and on the light side to Little Miss Sunshine, so LMS wins,” or “Letters From Iwo Jima is the only serious picture with prestige talent and people are finally looking at it,” or “The hardcore serious goes Letters/Babel and the hardcore movie joy people go Sunshine/Departed, splitting both and letting The Queen be the easiest choice for the undecided middle.”
But the truth is, no one really knows.
And did I mention, no one really cares?

The rest…

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42 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar – Tick Tock”

  1. Me says:

    It is sad that this is the first year in a really long while that the BP is completely up for grabs and we’re not force fed the story of ___ vs. ___, and yet no one cares. I for one am appreciating the media not dictating what the front runners are for once, even if I understand the apathy. It was such a ho-hum year at the movies, who really cares what was the “best?”

  2. movielocke says:

    I for one love that I can go to any different awards site/blog from MCN to oscarwatch and find a completely different lineup of winners. People are really just making educated guesses this year, and the lack of a ‘versus’ matchup is pleasant too.
    but really, Dave’s absolutely right, who cares about oscars, we now know when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is coming out! Right now some furious WB executives are trying to figure out what to do so they can earn some money before the biggest single book sales day of all time and biggest publishing event in history lands in the middle of their second weekend.

  3. Cadavra says:

    Personally, I love the idea that the wealth will be spread around. Why must it be a given that the Best Picture ALSO has the best cinematography, costumes, sound, etc., etc.? This bandwagon mentality may be good for egos and DVD sales, but it makes a mockery of the process (which is already pretty mockable).

  4. Cadavra says:

    Personally, I love the idea that the wealth will be spread around. Why must it be a given that the Best Picture ALSO has the best cinematography, costumes, sound, etc., etc.? This bandwagon mentality may be good for egos and DVD sales, but it makes a mockery of the process (which is already pretty mockable).

  5. Cadavra says:

    Apologies for the double post. Computer crap.

  6. Eric says:

    I agree with Cadavra. Frontrunners are boring. The race is much less interesting when it’s not actually a race.

  7. anghus says:

    i agree with the assertion that the 4 more serious films split votes and LMS gets enough to win.
    However, something about Letters from Iwo Jima is still sticking with me. My head tells me LMS, but my heart tells me Letters from Iwo Jima.

  8. Chicago48 says:

    I’m with Cadavra: Spread the wealth, not one picture should dominate. Of course I wouldn’t have said this pre – DG not getting a BP nom…I was sure it would get at least 10 noms..but 6 or 8 is enough…and I disagree it was a boring year…I thought it was a very innovative experimental year…although I didn’t like it, Waking Life, brought a new look to animation…but that’s water over the dam…

  9. jeffmcm says:

    Was that last bit a holdover from five years ago?

  10. Me says:

    A lot of the sci-fi/fantasy films were innovative, but for my money, weren’t all that exciting. A Scanner Darkly, Children of Men, V for Vendetta and Pan’s Labyrinth were all good in their ways, but I never felt that any of them achieved greatness. It’s unlikely I’ll watch them again with any hurry.
    The mainstream movies didn’t try for too much. Dreamgirls was an okay musical, but black. The Queen was a decent British import. The Departed was an entertaining, but shallow, cops and robbers movie. LMS was a fun quirky movie that didn’t have too much to say. I haven’t seen Letters, but Flags was such a waste (and don’t anyone forget the greater waste of All the King’s Men).
    Hell, only the debate of whether United 93 was art was worth getting your hackles raised up for.
    Frankly, unless The Wire was put up for an Oscar, I really don’t care too much. It was a ho-hum year.

  11. EveHarrington says:

    “But the truth is, no one really knows.
    And did I mention, no one really cares?”
    And therefore no one knows why this article is called “20 Weeks To Oscar.” Or why no one is reading it. In fact, I’m wondering who is writing these words.

  12. Direwolf says:

    Hey Anghus,
    I feel the same way about Letters and posted in another thread that it would get my vote if I had one. I have not seen Flags. I wonder if the disappointing response to Flags has kept people from Letters. I think if Letters stands on its own and people view it they will vote for it. Or maybe not.
    Anyhow, Letters hasn’t received a lot of love from commenters on these threads so I am glad to have some company.

  13. qwiggles says:

    “Forest Whitaker deserved an Oscar for Bird, but he, too, hasn’t been a key part of a hit movie’s cast in 20 years.”
    How do you define “key part”? I thought he was essential to Panic Room.

  14. iowabeef says:

    He was also in the Crying Game. A Best Pic nominee as I recall.

  15. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Forest was amazing in The Crying Game. Just unbelievable. One of the best acting jobs I’ve ever seen.
    The Crying Game was what, 1992/1993? Less than 20 years ago…
    Just a great, great actor, it’s nice to see him get his due. Seeing him unable to talk when he first got his Globe was a real treat. Forest’s stuttering silence was articulate as Jamie Foxx’s great speech the year he won.
    So many actors, what they do is so mysterious, it’s just a joy to watch them…
    Forest can direct too. See his Showtime film STRAPPED from years back. Great stuff.

  16. David Poland says:

    None of that was a question of Whitaker’s skill. I think he deserved a nom for Ghost Dog…

  17. jeffmcm says:

    “Forest Whitaker deserved an Oscar for Bird, but he, too, hasn’t been a key part of a hit movie’s cast in 20 years.”
    So what were you trying to say then? And what was the movie from pre-1987 that he was in that was a hit?

  18. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Ghost Dog was kick ass too…gotta love an actor like that…especially when working with The RZA…

  19. Aladdin Sane says:

    “Ghost Dog” has got to be one of my top five favourite performances of all time. It’s a magnificent job by Whitaker.
    And yeah, I’d say he was integral to “Panic Room” too. Maybe not an out of the park hit, but a solid double if I remember correctly.
    Was “Platoon” a hit?
    This ‘race’ is great because any one of the five films could win, and I honestly wouldn’t be too disappointed if any one of them wins – although I’m not sure if I’ll be able to restrain myself from throwing something at the TV if LMS wins – it’s good, but not better than the othe 4 – but this is Oscar, so yeah…I won’t be surprised.
    As for “Babel”, it’s stuck with me over the past few months. I’m not sure that I love it, but I’ve certainly grown to admire & respect it. So that’s something…
    I hope “The Departed” or “Letters From Iwo Jima” wins – and Marty best not be losing this year!

  20. Jonj says:

    Rambling thoughts … If Forest Whitaker could give acceptance speeches as well as he could act … his performance in “Last King” gets an A, his “performance” at the Globes an F, at the SAGs a D- … the lack of a frontrunner does make the Oscars more interesting … if only the four acting prizes didn’t seem to be locks.

  21. David Poland says:

    I said what I meant, J-Mc. He has not been a key character in a major hit in a looooong time. That doesn’t make him a less great actor. It does make him very poor TV rating bait.

  22. jeffmcm says:

    I ask again, what was the major hit 20 years ago that Whitaker was a ‘key character’ in? Good Morning Vietnam?
    He’s a character actor. Expecting him to be a leading man along the lines of DiCaprio or Will Smith is silly.

  23. Lota says:

    Whitaker doesn’t have to be a leading man along the lines of the most-popular-with-everyone Will Smith to be a leading man, c’mon. To ME he doesn;t have the charisma to be a heart-throb leading man (very few do), but there are other types of leading men too.
    I remember Forest in Bird, Platoon, and Bloodsport(not exactly my favorite movie) but he hasn’t been in alot on the last decade. I didn’t like Phone Booth except for Kiefer & I didn’t like Panic room at all, but I guess they were intended to be big memorable blockbusters.
    This might be the start of his second stage–older leading guy who doesn’t have to be WIll Smith or Brad Pitt or Benicio or anyone else but himself.

  24. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t disagree with you. I just think that DP was being hyperbolic when he said ‘never been a part of a hit movie in 20 years’ which is obviously untrue. FW was not the leading attraction of Panic Room or any of the other movies listed, but he was definitely important to them.
    And lest we forget, he was in Battlefield Earth.

  25. Lota says:

    poor Roger Christian, director of Battlefield Earth. I blame the Travolta horror of no mean proportion, he’s bloodly awful in it and Leads nothing…talk about actors who are Leads, Travolta squanders his opportunities most of the time.
    Roger Christian did the best short I have ever seen in my life and I’d give just about anything to get ahold of it.
    Black Angel
    released with The EMpire Strikes back in the UK, I saw it on my boyfriend’s hand-me-down copy then he loaned it to someone who didn;t return it 🙁

  26. Geoff says:

    Whitaker was absolutely genius in The Shield. To those who are unfamiliar….sucks to be you.

  27. Lota says:

    yes he was good in The Shield, he should do more of that stuff.

  28. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Does Vegas have odds on the Oscars? A bet on Ryan Gosling as a super-darkhorse might pay off big. The movie was little seen in the theatres, but in the screener era, most every Academy members gonna pop Half Nelson in, and Gosling is so good in that movie you gotta believe he’s got an Adrian Brody chance of taking the gold guy in what you’ve got to admit is a mediocre year.
    Will Smith is fabulous, but the movie wasn’t, and people practically take that dude for granite. Leo was better in The Departed & O’Toole is the walking dead. Forest seems like a lock, but despite the props about the guy finally getting his dap, it’s not like it’s real love & excitement.
    Gosling’s gonna have his day, but he’s so universally respected I wouldn’t be in total shock if it came earlier than we think…

  29. lazarus says:

    Unfortunately, the difference is that Brody rode the late Pianist surge to his win, and Half-Nelson isn’t nominated for anything else. The Pianist also won a surprise directing Oscar and a totally undeserved one for screenplay. It probably came very, very close to winning Best Picture. That combined with the fact that Brody’s 4 fellow nominees were all previous winners probably helped.
    Brody’s win was such a great cinderella story but the bottom line is that Daniel Day-Lewis gave a performance for the ages, and was totally robbed. It may have been over-the-top, but it’s not like Nicholson “playing himself” or some such caricature; it was a larger than life yet fully inhabited character from one of the best (if unprolific) actors of this era, or any other.

  30. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Totally co-sign Daniel Day-Lewis getting robbed. Bill the Butcher was one of the great performances of the past 10 years…and DDL is in my estimation the greatest actor alive.

  31. O’Toole needs to make a really good supporting role in an important film. He’d be nominated and win for sure.

  32. Lota says:

    sure there’s bets. i am forced to bet in a pool every year even though who I want to be nominated often doesn;t get in.
    Don’t be so hard on O’Toole–a lot of poeple are put off by the still photos/poster art since he looks so dessicated and a little creepy in it, but his actual performance is pretty good and certainly more nuanced than the usual “old” guy perfs.
    Having said that I’m not sure who I want to win since I really dislike biopics and the wrong guy was nom-ed for Departed etc
    and Will Smith is “granite” in his almost guaranteed BO and so likeable always, but I don;t know if he can take the statue for granted.
    I’m not excited about it, but then I got unexcited either when Jeff Bridges didn’t get a nom for Door in the Floor.

  33. Josh Massey says:

    “And what was the movie from pre-1987 that he was in that was a hit?”
    Fast Times at Ridgemont High, man!
    “Does Vegas have odds on the Oscars?”
    Oh hell yes. Actually The Departed is the favorite for BP, with Little Miss Sunshine and Babel second and third. Babel is actually posted at +300, which means you’d win three times your bet.
    For actor, Will Smith is actually longer odds than Gosling right now.

  34. waterbucket says:

    Hey, in that Gurus Gold thing, what happened to the guy who always predicted that Volver would win Best Picture? He was my favorite because while he’s unique, he’s also insane.

  35. jeffmcm says:

    Brody was good enough that I didn’t think that Day-Lewis was ‘robbed’ but I understand the feeling. If he had been in Supporting he would have walked away with it.
    On the other hand, I don’t want to see Peter O’Toole consigned to winning Best Supporting Actor. Talk about a consolation prize! But I thought that poster for Venus looked off-putting from the beginning, and hardly representative of his performance or the movie as a whole. What a bad idea for an ad campaign.

  36. Lota says:

    well the granite thing I am just teasing carpetmucher, Jeff, even though my grammar in retrospect is appalling at times, and certainly was in my last post.
    Yeah the ad campaign for OToole’s perf wasn’t taking into consideration how most people can;t handle reminders of mortality.

  37. James Leer says:

    How was the poster not representative of O’Toole’s performance or the movie? Did you see Venus? It’s about age, and so is that poster. I kind of liked that they didn’t Photoshop him into oblivion.

  38. jeffmcm says:

    The poster is creepy and confrontational; the movie is funny, and wistful. It’s like they hired David Cronenberg to design the one-sheet.

  39. Lota says:

    Yeah I saw it. I wouldn’t want him to be photoshopped into oblivion, even though Everyone is regardless of their age.
    I just thought the poster distracted from the movie (Even 22 yr old Supermodels are embedded and airbrushed) the stark way it was done, even a profile or contemplative scene pic would have been better than a full frontal, warts and all photo.
    I thought it was a good movie, didn;t deter me, I’m just saying the excuses for people telling me they were scared off from their own discomfort with age…maybe a US-specific problem.

  40. Sam says:

    I don’t think anybody was slamming Forest Whitaker just because he doesn’t have the box office draw. The comment DP was made in the context of television ratings for the Oscar telecast — obviously — and is a perfectly reasonable observation to make there.
    I do quibble with the “20+ years” comment at the face value of the claim, however. Good Morning Vietnam and Platoon were huge hits, but I don’t know that Forest Whitaker was the primary draw for either. Panic Room was less of a hit than those, but still a hit, and more of its success was on his shoulders than his 80s films. So what. The reason for the statement is to establish that Forest Whitaker is not a guy who is going to jack up the television ratings, and that’s true.
    waterbucket: That guy was Stephen Holt, who seems to have become slightly more sane now that the nominations are in. Unfortunately.

  41. Cadavra says:

    The funny thing is, O’Toole was probably right when he initially refused the honorary Oscar, feeling he still was in the game. Had he not been given it, I suspect he’d be the front-runner now; it’s probably a feeling among many voters that having gotten a special Oscar, he no longer needs a “real” one.

  42. Oh man, Holt’s nominations were always a hoot. Wasn’t History Boys his #2 shot for Best Picture.

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