MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

20W2O: 51 Days To Go

Guilding The Lily

Okay… so that was (snort) exciting.

DGA announces Monday. They are likely to match 4 of the 5 eventual Oscar nominees. Voting for those Oscar nominees closes next Friday… and the general consensus is that most of the ballots have already been sent… prior to WGA’s announcements yesterday or DGA’s on Monday.

But the machinery of the awards season has turned these fine guilds/unions into the same pinball machine that everyone else seems to be playing. As the great editor Michael Kahn recently said of getting the job done, “If you’re afraid to be wrong, you can’t do anything innovative.”

And indeed, every group has pretty much picked from the same pot of candidates that were vetted by people like me and MCN’s Gurus months ago.

Did WGA seem like a surprise to you? You may not have realized that The Artist, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Drive were not eligible. The three of the ten nominees in the two categories who may be in play – or not – for Oscar consideration are 50/50, Win Win, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (aka, The 2nd Steven Zaillian Script). One of the first two, the Originals, will surely be replaced by The Artist by Oscar nominators. The other one may well be in. The Tree of Life is a threat to the other slot. And in Adapted, there is a good chance that Tinker Tailor or War Horse will push out Dragon.

But none of the three WGA nominees who may be in danger are leaps. Realy surprises would have been or Margin Call or Martha Marcy May Marlene or Rampart or Tintin or even A Dangerous Method. None of that happened. Even Contagion, which would have been a good choice and not that surprising… no go.

PGA? Discussed this on The Hot Blog. The “surprises” were at the “bottom” of the list. What Gurus had as the 8-10 movies were replaced by the 11-12 movies. Not exactly seismic.

Screen Actors Guild? A total of TWO surprises. Demian Bechir got in for A Better Life… and has a .01% chance of being nominated for Oscar for the role. And Albert Brooks was left off the list by SAG.

If you were looking for relief from The Critics, good luck. LAFCA pulled Yun Jung-hee into the discussion… at LACMA. But aside from that, it’s been by the book.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that we are locked into 60% or so of the nominations for all groups by Thanksgiving and that the rest of the slots will be filled by a pool of films and talent that pretty much represents fewer than 15 films legitimately vying for Best Picture slots and 8 or fewer actors/directors/writers and other top talent competing for each of the other nomination slots?

I have to say, I’ve already had a lot of fun this season. I like a lot of the people who are in play… even some of the ones who have barely given me the time of day. Being nominated is an honor… but being in the conversation shouldn’t be discounted either.

Of course, I have my personal preferences, both amongst people, performances, and films. But that’s so beside the point. At this time, there are just a lot of people who I’d like to see be happy… that their hard work paid off… and that they don’t feel rejected after extending themselves/asked for awards.

And creating that feeling for voters… that they have a personal stake in the happiness and welfare of a member of a film’s family… is the job of those chasing Oscar.

But there are moments of truth in the fake love milkshake. Sometimes they are happy. Sometimes they are angry. But that’s when, from this perspective, it gets real and is – for better or worse – a real pleasure.

In an odd way, the more predictable, the less fun… the more pressure… the less pure, childish pleasure.

And so it goes…

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3 Responses to “20W2O: 51 Days To Go”

  1. Margin and Martha weren’t eligible.

    I think that’s also a bit unfair to Bichir.

  2. movielocke says:

    As you mentioned something like the gurus only prmotes critical lockin and groupthink. There are two problems here and you can both tweak your system and/or create a new secondary system.

    The first problem is the gurus choose too few guesses. They need to be picking 7 or 8 every week not 6. 10 might be ideal. Another tweak that should help is that in order to particpate every guru has to include someone who think deserves consideration not just those they think will get it. Gurus should be instructed not to indicate what their passion vote (or votes cause if they pick ten they should inlude two pssion votes at least) is nor should they put it at the botttom but should mix it in as though that film or perforance were in the thick of the race.

    Alternatively, you could create a second system called in contention or some such. Its a gurus like poll every two weeks, starting two weeks after the oscar ceremony. The rule is that the gurus are only allowed to select films and performances that have opened that year or will open befre the next guru poll and they have seen. Absolutely no prognostication! Only what has been seen. That way wedonthave merly streep locking up a spot from march to march and instead we’re talkinf from march to november about how great saorise ronan was in hanna. In other words it forces you to consider only what you’ve seen and liked/loved rather than locking in to a handful of educated guesses of what you and/or the academy will/might like in the fut

  3. movielocke says:

    Apologies for any typos, typed on my phone. Instead of bemoaning the system work to make your participation in the system effecting change to make the system better.


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