By MCN Editor

The Oscar Sidebar

Best Picture Release Dates:
Midnight in Paris – May 20, 2011
The Tree of Life – May 27, 2011
The Help – August 10, 2011
Moneyball – September 23, 2011
The Descendants – November 16, 2011
Hugo – November 23, 2011
The Artist – November 25, 2011
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – December 25, 2011
War Horse – December 25, 2011

• This year’s balloting rules allowed for the possibility of between five and ten Best Picture nominees, and for the first time in Academy history, nine films have been nominated in that category.

• With his two nominations for Original Score this year, John Williams now has a total of 47 nominations. He ranks second to Walt Disney as the most-nominated individual in Oscar® history. Among living persons, Woody Allen, who is also nominated twice this year for a total of 23 nominations, is second only to Williams.

• Meryl Streep extends her lead as the most-nominated performer in Oscar history with her 17th nomination this year.

• In the acting categories, nine individuals are first-time nominees. Two of the nominees (George Clooney, Meryl Streep) are previous acting winners. Only Michelle Williams was also nominated last year, for her leading role in Blue Valentine.

• Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg, with their nominations for War Horse, now share the record for most Best Picture nominations for individual producers with seven each. Kennedy’s previous nominations were for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The Color Purple (1985), The Sixth Sense (1999), Seabiscuit (2003), Munich (2005) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Spielberg’s other Best Picture nominations were for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Color Purple, Schindler’s List (1993), for which he won the award, Saving Private Ryan (1998), Munich and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006).

• With his nominations for directing and writing Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen passes Billy Wilder in becoming a seven-time double nominee for Directing and Writing on the same film.

• A Separation is the first screenplay written in Farsi to receive a Writing nomination.

• For the second time, George Clooney has received nominations in two different categories for two different feature films in the same year. He is nominated for his leading role in The Descendants and in the Adapted Screenplay category for The Ides of March. In 2005, he was named Best Supporting Actor for Syriana and was nominated in the Original Screenplay category for Good Night, and Good Luck.

• Pina is the first 3D film nominated in the Documentary Feature category.

• The Artist is the tenth predominantly black-and-white film to be nominated for Cinematography since 1967, when the separate category for black-and-white cinematography was eliminated. Previously nominated films were In Cold Blood (1967), The Last Picture Show (1971), Lenny (1974), Raging Bull (1981), Zelig (1983), Schindler’s List (1993), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) and The White Ribbon (2009).

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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