MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar: Spikin’ It

In my book, Spike Jonze is one of the Top 10 working directors. He is a national treasure… an artist of no compromise, but great collaboration. He has made 4 feature films, each one a masterwork.

So why does he have just one Oscar nomination, for directing the first of his features, Being John Malkovich? Why do his first 3 films have just 7 Oscar nominations (and 1 win) between them?

Well, you’d have to ask him.

There is a difference between what the why and the why is here. There is why there hasn’t been a greater embrace… and that’s because Spike won’t give his voice in support of his films, except in the most Spike-ian ways. I don’t think this is a “fuck you” to Oscar, award season, or the industry. But it might be. I can’t answer the question because of the other “why.” That is Spike’s true why… and he’s not really sharing.

Part of me wants to scream with rage over Spike’s willful disconnection from it all. As a member of a fairly small group of individuals who help shape this early part of the season (almost over, as awards and nominations start to flow with NYFCC today), I would love to be as full-throated and passionate about Spike’s work during award season as the work is itself. But I need something to work with, man. So do many of my colleagues who similarly love Her and Spike’s work in general.

It’s one thing for David Fincher or Steven Spielberg to play hide-and-seek while they have 10s of millions being poured into their awards campaigns. Does Soderbergh, who is also in my Top 10 of working directors, ever think that he is the star of his films and that his reticence to self-exploit is one very real reason why he’s had funding problems, leading to his pseudo-retirement?

I want Her to be nominated for the 8 or 9 Oscars it deserves… including Scarlett Johansson getting The 1st Andy Serkis nomination. Joaquin should be a mortal lock… isn’t. Movie should be a lock… isn’t. Spike should be a lock… isn’t. The closest Her comes to a lock is in screenplay, where there are 10 slots.

And it kills me.

Do I want it more than Spike? Probably.

I want at least $100m worldwide for all of his films—not just Jackass films he produces—and his absolute freedom to make whatever he wants whenever he wants. He is Coppola… Scorsese… Soderbergh… one of our most important filmmakers. His soul is showing in all of his films. He doesn’t have to answer inane questions (even if they are mine).

But to paraphrase Jerry Maguire, “Help us… help you.” Take off the glasses, most beautiful girl at the prom.

Or maybe you are already living happily ever after.

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6 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar: Spikin’ It”

  1. Monco says:

    Totally cool with him not campaigning. The campaigning for these awards is what has made the season and telecast unbearable.

  2. michaelstublebubletubledubler says:

    “Does Soderbergh, who is also in my Top 10 of working directors, ever think that he is the star of his films and that his reticence to self-exploit is one very real reason why he’s had funding problems, leading to his pseudo-retirement?”

    It’s funny, because all he’s done since his pseudo-retirement seems to be self-promotion.

  3. movielocke says:

    From the main page, which only mentions spike, I thought this was going to be an awesome oscar plea for Oldboy.

    I feel a bit sorry for Phoenix, the actor category is so crowded this year, and also for Christian Bale, some of his best work ever in American Hustle, channeling a young DeNiro, and he probably won’t manage to disrupt the race or change the punditry’s ‘lock-in’ on the current crop of candidates. Not to mention Oscar Isaac.

    maybe that could be this week’s gurus? Top eight categories, but all predictions as though they were filling out their nomination ballots for the oscars. No predictions of academy behavior allowed, no hedging, just the top five in each category (10 in picture).

  4. Breedlove says:

    Top Ten: PTA, Mann, Malick, Cameron, Nolan, Fincher, Soderbergh, Spielberg, Scorcese, and someone. Fuck I have boring mainstream taste. Should be into Haneke and the other Paul Anderson. Spike rules, it’s funny how he doesn’t really instantly come to mind when I think of my favorite directors…maybe a compliment in a way? Certainly a hell of a batting average.

  5. pj says:

    You have to stand up for what you believe in. I mean just because Jonze isn’t campaigning doesnt mean that you shouldnt campaign for him. In fact, if he isnt campaigning it should make you want to be even MORE vocal to stand up for the film because its chances are lesser.

  6. JOSHUA says:

    maybe the NBR was listening

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