MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Best Picture Chart – 18 Weeks To Go – 10/29/10


The Ten, If I Had To Pick Today
Dec 25
True Grit

Late intensity. Could disappoint, but how often do the Coens dissapoint?
The King’s Speech
Absolutely solid. Could be the last one standing as other fads fade
Dec 1
Black Swan
The crazy, brilliant wild card
Oct 1

The Social Network
Epic of intimacy… but does the heart beat loudly enough?
Dec 10
The Fighter
O. Russell
Word is mixed between intensely passionate and respectful.
Nov 5
127 Hours
A special film, but is it too small to win.
June 18
Toy Story 3
The Pixar Slot
July 16

Yeah… zero chance to win, but it is almost a lock for a nod
July 9
The Kids Are All Right
Biggest threat to this film is memory and the women of Black Swan
Oct 22
Will Eastwood resonate for the senior circuit or just miss the boat
The Next Tiers Of Likely
Dec 17
Everything You’ve Got
Can Jim Brooks deliver an instant classic for the first time in more than a decade?
Dec 29
Another Year
Classic Mike Leigh
June 11 Winter’s Bone
True American Indie
Nov 24
Love & Other Drugs
Underrated by the trades… but mostly, it’s Hathaway
Feb 19
Shutter Island
A genre masterpiece… but will it be remembered?
July 30
Get Low
A great tiny movie with great performances and not much traction
Sept 15
Never Let Me Go
Romanek Muliigan
Perhaps the most significant film of 2010… but may not be fully appreciated until 2013
Sept 17
The Town


Solid. Is that enough?
Nov 19
Made In Dagenham
Unique piece… but fighting uphill.
Oct 8
Just not an Oscar movie
Dec 25



Actors need to get behind it.
Dec 29
In a year so tough that Bardem might not get nominated, a movie so tough it might not get nominated
Dec 31
Blue Valentine


About as long a shot as a distrib that has done it before can have
Dec 29
The Way Home
About as long a shot as a distrib thst hasn’t done it before can have
Be Sociable, Share!

4 Responses to “Best Picture Chart – 18 Weeks To Go – 10/29/10”

  1. Michael. says:

    Its called The Way BACK. And I think it is going to win it.

  2. djiggs says:

    I actually think that you have nailed 9 out of 10 eventual nominees with only Hereafter being the only maybe of the list. But, the one bone that I have to pick is this statement, “Inception ….Yeah… zero chance to win, but it is almost a lock for a nod.” What is your support for this view? Have you polled every Academy member? It is really weird how Inception has this grudging, belittling respect from a lot of “Oscar experts” for a movie that is one of the landmark films of the year. Now, I am not saying this film is one of the greatest films ever created (only time will tell that), but for what it set out to do and how well it accomplished its goals in connecting to a worldwide audience…Christopher Nolan and company pulled off one of the most daunting tasks of the year. I think that is well positioned to be the big winner on Oscar night. Let’s take a look at what I think are pros going for it to win many Oscars and Best Picture.

    1) Placing an original property that appeals to a more adult orientated and intellectual perspective in the middle of season where the industry appeals to the more baser instincts of its consumers…and winning the bet spectacularly!!!

    -To me, the decision to place Inception in the middle of July was the ballsiest move by a major studio in a long time. This was not a Dark Knight, where you had the comfort of a familiar trope or genre…or an Avatar with its new fangled 3D and special effects covering the Dances with Wolves storyline. It was more in the vein of Vertigo or Mulholland Drive or Femme Fatale (i.e. a more personal story from the director) that crossed over into becoming a mainstream hit. To put at least $200 million for an original property, it was as much of a risk for Warner Bros and Nolan to do this film as Danny Boyle to do 127 Hours or Aronofsky to do Black Swan in my opinion.

    2) The box office as of today: $815 million worldwide with $290 million in the USA alone.

    -It is funny that you said in the comments during a Weekend Box Office Hot Blog entry Inception would just break even or eke out a profit and it would not cross $700 million. In fact, you said that you would compliment Inception on the comment board if it went past $800 million worldwide. I still have not seen that compliment by the way. Out of all the potential nominees, Toy Story 3 will be the only one to have outgrossed Inception. For as much as I love the Hurt Locker, that picture was an anomaly in winning Best Picture if looking at box office only (there were other factors as well of course). But, there is a trend towards successful pictures at the box office when it comes to the Oscars.

    3)It will be nominated for the most Oscars in the tech categories and probably win the majority or all of them.

    -Editing, cinematography, visual effects, sound, sound effects editing, art direction, and score. That is 7 nominations that Inception will most likely get…with at least 4 wins possible (editing, visual effects, sound & sound effects editing). Cinematography could go to Roger Deakins this year for True Grit (finally!!) with the other 2 awards to smaller films. But, having Inception that many times on a ballot does help in the overall push to win Best Picture.

    4)Inception has a varied and well-liked & known cast & crew.

    -Dicaprio,Page,Cotillard,Caine,Watanabe,Murphy,Berenger,Postlethwhaite,Gordon-Levitt,Hardy,Rao,and Haas. Is there more varied cast among all of the other possible nominees except for The King’s Speech? Nolan, Zimmer, Smith, Pfister, Dyas, etc. is as respected and professional crew that the industry has. In that list, you have 11 Oscar nominees and winners. This picture does not have a lack of representation when it comes to SAG or the actors branch of the Academy that Avatar or a Pixar film has had. I think that is one of the major problems which The Social Network will face because its cast is relatively young and mostly unknown when compared to a cast like King’s Speech or Inception.

    5) The Oscar baggage that other nominees have.

    -Toy Story 3: a Pixar film which the Academy will relegate to the Animation Oscar

    127 Hours: too small of a cast and the Slumdog Millionaire crew have already been honored very recently

    True Grit: Jeff Bridges & Coen Brothers too recently honored; particularly for the Coens would put them in Coppola and Wilder territory – I just don’t see it

    The Social Network: too young of a cast and too cool emotionally as a movie or as you said “Epic of intimacy… but does the heart beat loudly enough?”

    The Fighter: David O. Russell; more an actors piece

    The Kids are All Right: more an actors piece

    The Black Swan: too individual of a voice; I hate to use this word but too “edgy”

    Another Year: Mike Leigh’s films do better at BAFTA than at Oscars though I am pulling for Manville to get the Oscar because she has the best shot since Bleythn in Secrets & Lies

    Hereafter: Eastwood been awarded so much in past 6-7 years

    The King’s Speech: Inception toughest competitor; only real drawbacks are Tobe Hooper’s newness compared to Nolan in feature films and being a British film.
    The Baftas will award The King’s Speech to highest heavens, but does love of The King’s Speech carryover the Atlantic (besides the buttkissing Golden Globes) to SAG/DGA/PGA & finally Oscars like Shakespeare in Love didd or does it get some major awards like The Queen or Howard’s End but not Best Picture.
    Yes, Hooper had done acclaimed work on HBO in the last 6 years, but Nolan has been doing acclaimed work in the cinema for the last 10 years without industry recognition.

    6) Warner Bros has played this game before and won twice before in the past 7 years.

    -Having played the long game before with both Million Dollar Baby and The Departed, WB have a good blueprint to work with Inception. They are also going to let the movie speak for itself and they have the goods: a engaging movie, an attractive & well-liked cast, and a director whose work has been consistently admired but not yet awarded. So, let The Social Network or 127 Hours or True Grit strike now and burn itself out to get the nomination. Just like The Departed, Inception is the elephant in the room not moving but always still there aiming for the Best Picture award. Voters will have to come back to it just to appreciate the detail put into the story and the characters again.

    7) Oscars are an industry award or like voting for student council president.

    -What movie will be the most popular and the most substantial possible nominee to the industry this year? I think you could make the case for Inception because as Nolan said himself, he subconsciously made a filmic metaphor of the collaborative process of filmmaking. Actors are not hidden behind CGI but visual effects are not thrown out of this movie’s toolbox either. Nolan uses CGI but also the practical visual effects to convey his world. But, actors are still in the forefront of conveying his vision of a dream world. The detail of the screenplay, the wonderful & varied cinematography, precise editing between dream levels, the towering score,etc. all are there to provide as possible as complete filmic experience as you will get in mainstream cinema this year.
    Inception will appeal to many members throughout the several branches of the Academy.

    8)Christopher Nolan is due and this film may be his most ambitious to date!!!

    -Now, this reason may seem to be the weakest one of them all…but I think that there are significant points to be made from this statement. One, a case could be made that Nolan should have an Oscar already for writing Memento. Two, he is probably one of the most successful filmmakers to have made the transition from independent/low-budget filmmaking to industry/high-budget filmmaking without having dumbed down his work to please audiences. Three, has anyone ever heard anything remotely negative about Nolan’s professional behavior? I believe that the worst ever heard about Nolan was when he was a victim of David O. Russell’s headlock at a party. Almost every interview Michael Caine has done it seems that Caine is praising Nolan to high heaven (i.e. on Friday’s Morning Joe Caine compared him to freaking David Lean particularly on the opening of The Dark Knight). Nolan is the pro’s pro and the consummate professional. Four, the exclusion of the 3 top Oscar nods for The Dark Knight (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay) was embarassing to the Academy; hence, the expanded Best Picture nominee list. In fact, Tom Hanks or the Academy president at the time said the expansion of the list was due to “The Dark Knight” and Wall-E. So, it is make up time for the Academy for another challenging picture made by the same filmmaker that happens to have been the biggest live action hit of the year.

    Now, could I be wrong in these statements? Absolutely. But, are there truths in these statements that are strengths for Inception’s campaign to Oscar? Yes. What I expect & hope to happen is to see Inception get 10 nods-the 7 tech nods previously mentioned along with Original Screenplay, Director, and Picture. Hopefully, the picture will win 5 to 8 Oscars that night with Christopher Nolan getting Best Director and he and his wife getting Best Picture. (I don’t think Screenplay because I think that will go to a smaller film and I will acknowledge that the film is better directed than written-though the Screenplay deserves to be nominated as one of the 5 best). The best case scenario for nominations/possible wins would be 12 nominations for Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Supp. Actress (Cotillard), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Score, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound & Sound Effects Editing. If it gets the acting nods and screenplay nods, Inception wins Best Picture hands down. Hell, the Globes might take their heads out of their asses and toss Nolan a nod his way but I doubt it.

    I could be wrong and have egg on my face as Inception be totally shut out. And, it is presumptuous of me to predict the film’s Oscar chances. I will be right here if Inception loses best picture or does not get nominated and say I was wrong. What ticks me off as a reader is when the so called experts don’t admit when they are wrong. One of things that I always about Roger Ebert is that time he went back and stated he was wrong about the quality of Unforgiven. He admitted his error in judgement on the 1992 year end Siskel & Ebert special and placed Unforgiven on his Best of 1992 list. He got some shit from Gene about it, but that action to self-reflect and correct endeared me as a reader to Mr. Ebert.

    As a reader of your site and blog, I sometimes get the impression that Dave you are coming from Mount Sinai with Ten Commandments with the only truth about movie industry land. All others (Finke, Wells, Goldstein, etc.) are heretics and you are the one true believer. Or as the article about Hollywood bloggers that came out a few years ago said that your nickname was the “Rabbi”. Or as Jeff Wells has said about you that you have seen at all, know it all, and not surprised about anything. I guess that I wish that not only you but everyone who offers up their opinion professionally keep in my mind William Goldman’s quote “Nobody knows anything” (including William Goldman).

    I guess I am tired of innuedo/hope/belief/guesses passed off as informed opinion without any sense of evidence. You could say that I am doing the same thing with this screed but I tried to lay out the foundations behind my reasoning. As Reagan said to Gorbachev, “Trust but verify.” I just felt prompted to write about a film that has accomplished a lot in what all of us filmgoers hope to see when we plunk down our money. Just because it is a mainstream, commercial film should not be reason enough to demerit it. Or to offhandedly put down its chances by saying “Yeah… zero chance to win, but it is almost a lock for a nod”. Inception deserves better analysis than that pithy statement.

  3. Michael says:

    You don’t mention the biggest thing in Inception’s favor which is that Hereafter was deemed merely mediocre by critics meaning that it looks to lose its slot to an up-and-comer, meaning WB can push Inception big-time. Unfortunately, Inception still has zero chance at a best picture win. There are enough detractors of the film that it won’t gain the needed push from the critics circles come December. Younger members are more prone to support The Social Network (and given that he has been nominated and Nolan has not, the Academy is more likely to feel Fincher is due more so than Nolan). Also, December releases will be gaining more momentum (so much so that if there were only 5 releases, I doubt that Inception would make the cut).

  4. movielocke says:

    Inception will not play as well on dvd/bluray screeners as it did in the theatre, it’s going to run slow for the duration. If there were a screener ban in effect this year, Inception would have a fighting chance, but academy members aren’t going to cotton to the intellectual complexities when watching it at home.

    What Inception should angle for is the metric by which Hurt Locker got elected last year, the highest average ballot placement. Avatar would have probably won in a traditional five nominee system, because it probably had the plurality of votes, but Avatar also probably had the plurality of last place and ninth place votes in the ranked ballot system. Hurt Locker won by being second or third or fourth on everyone’s ballot who didn’t have it number one, but Hurt Locker was very rarely lower than that.

    The way to win is to have enough first place votes to survive and then to be everyone’s second or third favorite film, if you do that, you’re declared best picture, if you’re a polarizing film, like Inception, you can count on being last in a ton of people’s ballots (especially the sort of people that don’t like films like Lord of the Rings or Avatar or Inception winning Best Picture oscars). That’s why King’s Speech is so well positioned, they really just need to make sure they’re not eliminated in the early voting, because the movie will easily have plenty of second third and fourth place votes to let it sail through to an effortless victory.

    It will be interesting to see if studios and consultants get a nasty whisper campaign going on about the necessity of putting the favored films LAST if you don’t want it to win, even if you like it a little. I’m sure there are plenty of academy members that don’t want to see a King’s speech win, but will nevertheless put it fourth on their ballots because it was a good movie they liked. Persuading them to vote more strategically against films with positive buzz and momentum is a delicate task that will require a lot of finesse.

    And since all of this is made up by me anyway, none of it matters, but I expect strategic voting to change a lot this year, because I can’t imagine publicists won’t try to deliver those third and fourth place ballots as hard if not harder as they once worked to deliver the first place ballot.

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