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David Poland

By David Poland

13 Weeks to Oscar – The Year of Ambiguity

We’ve seen The Year of the Bio-Pic, The Year of the Big Director, The Year of The Indie … but this year, it’s The Year of Ambiguity.
But like years past, it is looking like the thing that it is the “year of” may turn out to be the thing that becomes the least Oscar celebrated thing of all.
Australia, Che, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, Doubt, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, The Wrestler … all ambiguous in different ways … some ambiguous emotionally, some intellectually, some morally, some in style … but hard to nail down.
Great for critics. Crappy for marketing.

The rest…
And the charts…

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18 Responses to “13 Weeks to Oscar – The Year of Ambiguity”

  1. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “The Oscar Season is a season of marketing”? It’s being done 52 weeks a year. Look at all the references to Academy Award Winner this and Academy Award Nominee that.
    “Che” will be one casualty of this elitist bullshit. 4-hour running length confines this pic to the arthouse ghetto. Add a touch of Oscar-Whoring in the trailer and the pic comes crashing down faster than the Berlin Wall.
    May I suggest that “Che” be cut to 2 hours and then promoted with a trailer set to this jingle …
    Who’s first to conquer living space
    It’s in-con-trovertible
    That the first to conquer living space
    Is the Cas-tro Convertible

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Chucky, what reaction(s) are you expecting people to have to what you just wrote?
    I would explain it as neither informational nor amusing, just bizarre.

  3. Aladdin Sane says:

    I see that Seven Pounds is slowly moving up the charts…anyone seen it yet, and without spoilers, is it better than the good, but not great, Pursuit of Happyness?

  4. “Burn After Reading” was in the top 10 of the year for the NBR? Huh?

  5. Aladdin Sane says:

    It’s the hangover effect of all that Coen love at the beginning of the year. Even though I haven’t seen most of the late year entries on their list, it seems to be pretty solid.
    Their Slumdog pick definitely seems to be a let’s predict the Oscars shot.

  6. Aladdin Sane says:

    Wait, CHANGELING?! That’s a bigger “Huh?” for me.

  7. Rob says:

    That top 10 list has to be their funniest ever.

  8. mrmystery says:

    why so serious? you sound like a hall monitor with a baton up his ass. Chucky made perfect sense. You just didn’t like the opinion.

  9. R Scott R says:

    “Milk portrays its protagonist as someone who did nothing but help people, with barely a nod to how abrasive and self-serving he could be. Every time Milk the man gets in the way of Milk the political message, moral ambiguities and inconvenient facts get steamrolled.”
    National Review article
    This is the chief way that liberals lie; they leave out inconvenient information. Will we see a movie about H. Milk being abrasive and self-serving? Probably not.
    Will we even see a movie about a killer like Che Guevarra being abrasive? Probably not.

  10. David Poland says:

    It’s funny… the piece you cite, R Scott R, does everything that it accused the film Milk of doing.
    (Don’t even get me started on your absurd assertion that myopia is exclusively a left wing phenomenon.)
    It’s true… they don’t get into one specific outing incident. But the movie very clearly shows that Milk is ruthless about outing people and even suggests that violence would be the righteous response to Prop 6 being passed.
    His relationship with the boyfriend who commits suicide notably admits that he is in the relationship specifically because it is not equal or challenging in any way.
    If you agree with his goals, you may think he is

  11. lazarus says:

    DP, I don’t know if someone who quotes the National Review is worthy of that lengthy a response.
    Let me guess, the R’s stand for “Right-wing” and “Republican”?
    Why don’t you get William F. Buckley to come over and kill the movie?

  12. yancyskancy says:

    lazurus, just because YOU can rise from the dead doesn’t mean Buckley can. 🙂

  13. yancyskancy says:

    lazarus, not lazurus. I finally get TypePad to work, and there’s a typo. Kill me now, or better yet TypePad.

  14. movielocke says:

    If I were Disney I would be flooding the awards market right now and for the next three-four weeks with WallE bluray and DVD screeners (ala Crash), make sure everyone in town has a copy, make it the most watched DVD of Winter Hiatus so it’s fresh in people’s minds.
    the same strategy could work to great effect for Dark Knight, but perhaps WB is scaling back Dark Knight so they don’t interfere with the annual push for her majesty, da Clint?
    WallE and Dark Knight are going to be banner BluRay titles, and would both stand to benefit more than any other film in competition this season from being seen in hidef.
    Dave, have you ever considered revisiting whether or not the screener ban contributed to Return of the King’s sweep? It always seemed to me, that year, that forcing everyone to see all the films on film made Lord of the Rings inevitable in all categories in a way it possibly wouldn’t have been without the benefit of no small screen screeners subtracting from the moviegoing experience.
    (note the second paragraph had both sarcasm and snark, neither of which has a good emoticon to indicate that tone).

  15. mutinyco says:

    Criticizing Milk for not showing Milk’s all of his negatives is like complaining about Frost/Nixon for casting an actor more handsome than Nixon as Nixon.

  16. mutinyco says:

    Corrected for bad late night writing:
    Criticizing Milk for not showing all of Milk’s negatives is like complaining about Frost/Nixon for casting an actor more handsome than Nixon as Nixon.

  17. jeffmcm says:

    “Mr. Mystery”, there’s a wealth of context that you’re missing. Chucky routinely rants against “Oscar-whoring” in a seemingly-baseless manner, and refuses to explain what he means or why he holds his views, which are, frankly, bizarre above and beyond what he posted here today.
    Also, his jingle in the above post is stupid and nonsensical, but I bet he enjoyed writing it regardless of whether anyone else on Earth understood what he meant.
    Meanwhile, R Scott R is a troll and should be treated as such.

  18. hcat says:

    The Berlin Wall stood for decades. And a Che biopic was going to be confined to the arthouse regardless of length.

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