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David Poland

By David Poland

Gurus Preview

Gurus o’ Gold is back.

The statistic of real note here is that every Oscar winner in the last seasons, the pre-TIFF chart has had the eventual winner of Best Picture selected as part of the field by all or all but one Guru. It’s not such a high bar to reach, but it does reduce what seems to be the field to a handful before most of the movies have even been seen.

On the other hand, there have been a few movies every year that end up nominated that aren’t well represented on the chart, as no doubt there will be this year.

And of course, statistics only exist to be proven wrong. It’s just knowing when they will be wrong that’s complicated.

Anyway… the seven films with each Guru mentioning them or all but 1 are:

Gone Girl

Let the games begin!

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26 Responses to “Gurus Preview”

  1. Stella's Boy says:

    Will you be at TIFF DP?

  2. Pj says:

    Can’t disagree there.

  3. Stella's Boy says:

    Cool. Maybe I’ll see you around. Wife and I are making the trip.

  4. Bulldog68 says:

    Sight unseen, doesn’t Fury already have a bit of buzz as well?

  5. The Pope says:

    The great thing about trends is that just when we think they are set in stone, the tide comes in and we realise they’re only written in sand.

    Like when it was assumed that the Best Picture was always released in the fall. But then The Silence of the Lambs opened in February. And that ever since the Academy stopped giving out two awards for cinematography and production desgn for black and white and color, no black and while film had won Best Picture. And that the lowest grossing nominee never picked up the Big One. That since 1929, only sound pictures win. That the Best Picture couldn’t win unless it also secured a screenplay nomination.

    As David said… Let the games begin!

  6. leahnz says:

    i don’t get the ‘assumption’ about a best pic nom for Gone Girl at all, Fincher isn’t exactly an academy darling – especially when it comes to his crime flicks – and GG looks like pretty standard if well-made crime thriller stuff, since when is this a forgone Oscar magnet? (same for nolan really, not exactly an academy darling either, but maybe largely unloved sci-fi mixed with a lot of boo-hoo means people think the academy’s heart lights will glow for it)

  7. cadavra says:

    Leah, I think the GONE GIRL heat may be because of Affleck, who’s now a member of The Club.

  8. leahnz says:

    oh ok, even just affleck the actor? (in the gone girl trailer he kind of reminds me of an older version of his massive douchelord ‘fashionable male’ manager from ‘mallrats’ haha, yikes) i think affleck has some natural directorial affinity and flair for portraying particularly working-class characters in turmoil, but as an actor he’s workmanlike at best. probably his most impressive work so far has been his obviously meticulous, loving, lingering direction of his brother in ‘gone baby gone’, those two have a thing, they should do more casey in front/ben behind synergy (funnily the most enduring affeckism in our house comes from role models, “your white, then you ben affleck!”)

  9. YancySkancy says:

    GONE GIRL’s pedigree automatically makes it an Oscar possibility. The book sold over two million copies, got overwhelmingly positive reviews, and seems to be more respected by the literary community than the average thriller. It has unusual twists, and the way it handles media interest in missing wife cases feels current. Fincher may not be an Academy darling, but he’s been to the big show a couple of times, and if reviews for this are solid and business strong, he’ll have a good shot.

    As for Affleck, I can’t say I’ve ever been over the moon about him as an actor, but he is unbelievably good casting for this part. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, like people felt about Clark Gable being the only choice for Rhett Butler. All the things you dislike about him make him perfect for the part.

    The genre may not be an Academy favorite, but that’s what they said about SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT…you get the idea. Regardless of awards, I’m very interested to see how Fincher (with a script from the novel’s author, Gillian Flynn) handles the adaptation. I’m hopeful.

  10. leahnz says:

    you talk a good game yancysk but still not feeling it as an academy-type shoe-in (i’ve read the book and i’m also keen to see how Flynn has adapted it, without giving anything away some of the narrative/structure would seem difficult to translate effectively from page to screen so i’m interested in how it’s handled, not so much thematically but structurally). i don’t know about comparisons to outlier crime winners SOTL and ‘no country’ — SOTL really came out of nowhere, released early in the year with an incredibly strong screenplay and production with iconic lead characters and grade-A superb cast, a rare bird of virtually arthouse calibre character study/horror/police procedural that made a huge, unexpected cultural splash; and ‘no country’, though obviously a very different beast from the beloved renegade coens, is similar in some respects – not a traditional crime thriller but an artful character study of casual evil and violence, with a texas drawl. ‘gone girl’ looks far more of a traditional ‘who-done-it’ suspense thriller to me, not doubting it might be good but just going by what’s in the trailers nothing so far appears to set it apart as an ‘oscar-type’ movie, so i just don’t get the preordained assumption about it. but i could be way off the mark, i don’t really give much of a shit, just the degree of ‘certainty’ sight unseen that baffles me

  11. Hallick says:

    Gone Girl could also be this year’s “Memoirs of a Geisha”, “The Shipping News”, “The Bonfire of the Vanities”, etc. I never get my hopes up for any adaptation of a GREAT BESTSELLER. As often as not with these sure things either something misfires or the movie gets received soft.

    Look at how hot hot HOT “Jackie Brown” was before it opened. It still got some nominations, and it’s looked back on now as a successful piece of work, but mannnnnnn the air went out of that party in a jiffy.

  12. YancySkancy says:

    Well, I qualified it as much as possible. I used the words “possibility,” and “if reviews are solid…(Fincher)’ll have a good shot.”

    I do agree that the trick will be in successfully translating a tricky structure to the screen in a way that works for film without alienating fans of the book or underwhelming anyone who hasn’t read it.

    I think the “pre-ordained” assumptions are due mostly to Fincher. His previous suspense films may have been mostly snubbed, but he’s gotten two Best Director nods in the last six years. Also, I don’t think anyone will be surprised if he brings more to the party than just the usual “who done it” suspense tropes. Maybe he won’t, but of course we’re just talking about possibilities, not certainties.

    Jackie Brown was robbed! Especially Robert Forster, who got the film’s only Oscar nod.

  13. Ryan says:

    ‘Gone Girl’ looks like it could go either way. It’s going to make a ton of money from people who have both read the book, and those that will want to be in on the conversation. From everything Flynn has said about her adaptation, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be all that complicated to handle a misleading narrative structure. And with Fincher, it’s always all about the mood, which as far as my reading of the book is perfect for his style. Don’t know about acting nods though-seems kind of a stretch to think Affleck is going to bring any kind of special excellence to the role of Nick Dunne. I would think if anyone has a chance in standing out as far as creepiness of character and bringing something really interesting to a role in that movie, it’s going to be Neil Patrick Harris.

  14. leahnz says:

    NPH looks intriguing as collings, and of course Pike is crucial as amy; i’ve always liked her and after seeing her turn in ‘the world’s end’ (yes, we’ll always have the disableds Gary) something clicked in me and i think i’m a bona fide Piker now, most interested in ‘gone girl’ to see where she goes with the role, i suspect she could be ‘the one’ if there’s a standout.

    fincher’s certainly shown a flair for crime drama and the underbelly of human nature so i’m not doubting the possibility of a good/great movie (though his recent redundant crime remake/adaptation was fairly utilitarian without a clear point of difference or signature voice or reason to exist really, whether a glitch or trend we’ll see i guess), just the presumed oscar-y-ness of it. christ if his gloriously detailed and rather magnificent period crime epic ‘zodiac’ couldn’t get a single nom out the same academy (isn’t that right, not a single one? travesty) not so sure why ‘gone girl’ is being considered amongst the frontrunners at this point

  15. YancySkancy says:

    leah: But ZODIAC (2007) pre-dated Oscar’s “discovery” of Fincher. The following year they gave BENJAMIN BUTTON 13 nods and 3 wins, then in 2010 THE SOCIAL NETWORK earned 8 nods and 3 wins. Even THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO managed 5 nods and a Best Editing win in 2011. I’m guessing that ZODIAC would’ve gotten multiple nods if it had come out after BUTTON or SOCIAL NETWORK, but who knows? A three-hour, rather open-ended crime film without the audience appeal of previous Oscar darlings in the genre may never have had a chance.

  16. movieman says:

    I’m a little stunned that so many people automatically assume Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” is an Oscar slam dunk.
    Unless I’m forgetting something, she’s directed only one previous film (which was decent, nothing more) and it barely made a ripple.
    Yeah, the “Unbroken” trailer is decent, and the subject matter seems uber-Oscar-y, but still.
    It’s like 2011 Oscar pundits automatically giving Madonna’s “W.E.” frontrunner status because of its Weinstein imprimatur and British royalty milieu.
    And I liked “WE,” lol!

  17. Ryan says:

    The book is solid. Hildebrand obviously has a rep with Seabiscuit, which is a great book/mediocre movie. So I think people are going based on that.

  18. Ryan says:

    I just have a general question based on Gone Girl the book (for anyone who has read it, which I’m assuming is a lot of people on here) and what I’m assuming is going to be in Pike’s statements in the movie:

    Gillian Flynn is not a genius describing the great girl”Cool Girl” thing, is she?

    here is how I think it really is, and this will probably set off a firestorm of female hatred, but I don’t care, as she obviously doesn’t-this is what I would say to her:

    “It is a myth to think that every guy wants a girl who works out every day, drinks beer, eats a million hot dogs, has a million friends, and wants to spend her time catering to the needs of her “man” 24/7/.

    Really, it’s interesting to think that women (like Flynn) think that men want women like this-where are they finding these men who think about nothing but ‘female servitude’?

    I would say that those men are somewhere in the Duke Rape Case scenario (not necessarily those guys, because they were exonerated, etc., but the same type apparently?-do all women assume that men are potential rapists-they only want submissive women and women who change themselves to be the ‘right girl’? That in itself is really scary to me (it’s like thinking that all men are potential Dexter’s-wtf)? I don’t assume all women are potential Lizzie Borden’s, so I’m confused.

    In my experience, and I’m an introvert, so maybe I’m different than 99% of the male population, but I doubt it. At the base level, what I think that men want from women is to be ‘left alone’. We have our things that we like, and as long as they aren’t cheating, interfering with childhood development, offending you directly, being complete assholes and not helping with daily living/housework, just leave us alone. We’re happy on our own. I feel like women think the same way-am I wrong here?

    It’s funny to think about marrying the Cameron Diaz woman from “There’s Something About Mary”, because that isn’t really attractive to me, or anybody I know. Not to say that Cameron Diaz is not attractive physically, but it seems like she embodies everything that Flynn is talking about with Amy Dunne, and pretty much every guy I know would have a “WTF” reaction to meeting any girl like that-they would know that she is obviously fake and that the attitude that was faked would not last-is this the reason 50% of the country gets divorced? Because women like Flynn are correct in describing how they think other people operate, and expectations never meet reality?

    I personally don’t want a woman who has no ideas of her own, and who does everything to please everyone else. That is completely unattractive! I suspect that I everyone I know (males) would prefer a woman with an open mind-I really think at the base psychology level, that is all we are asking. If you really want to get technical, lets go to REBT, and that alone would say that nobody would be attracted to someone whose motives they had to constantly question!

    I don’t want a woman to sit around drinking beer that she doesn’t want to drink, eating food that she doesn’t want to eat, rooting for teams that she doesn’t care about, etc. That is unattractive to me, and I really think it’s stretching to say that almost all males are attracted to submissiveness!

    Learn your own thoughts, drink what you want, think what you want. Gillian Flynn-you are wrong about the male psyche. Maybe some males are attracted to ‘blankness’, but I think you’re wrong, and I would like to find out if any other guys think the same way. And Leahnz, I’m sure you will have something to say about this, which I welcome.

    As far as Gillian-love the book-did not see it coming and can’t wait for the movie.

  19. movieman says:

    I loved “Gone Girl” (The Book) until the ending, at which point I wanted to throw the book out the window.
    Very curious to see the rumored tweaks that were made by Fincher and screenwriter Flynn (to her novel).
    The casting seems pretty spot-on to me, including the wonderful Carrie Coon from HBO’s “Leftovers” as Nick’s sister.
    Coons impresses as a young Catherine Keener.

  20. YancySkancy says:

    Ryan: The only problem is that the “Cool Girl” as characterized in the book reflects the opinion of the fictional character Amy, not author Gillian Flynn. Without getting into spoilers, it’s not like Flynn presents Amy’s opinion as some kind of sustainable ideal or the product of sound reasoning.

  21. Ryan says:

    I guess I am not saying that Flynn one hundred percent believes the sentiment, but the writing comes from somewhere. I think that the sentiment expressed is truly an idea that a lot of women have. Listen to the Bill Simmons podcast with Pulitzer critic Wesley Morris about the history of rom-coms and the idea that a lot of Hollywood writing of women centers on the idea that the Amy Dunne idea is common-women are at least portrayed as thinking the conformist idea is correct. And that passage from the book is also the most famous and widely cited. Flynn has said in interviews that she thought about writing that for a long time, so it has to be something she has at least considered as partially rooted in fact.

  22. YancySkancy says:

    Well, I’d say it IS partially rooted in fact. There are many guys who think that way. And you say yourself that you think a lot of women have bought into that. For the purposes of the book, it only has to be believable that Amy believes it. So this really strikes me as a problem only if one thinks Flynn is saying that the “cool girl” is something that all men want and that all women should strive to be, which of course she isn’t. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but there is also the issue of what truth the reader is supposed to believe at certain points, which I think kind of muddies the waters on this issue (or not: I’d have to look at it again to see exactly where the issue is raised).

  23. doug r says:

    Leah, re Interstellar. A lot of times the Academy doesn’t like to reward good pictures with lots of effects, especially when they are against bio-pics, but they will reward the director later for a decent more grounded picture.
    DeMille with Ben-Hur and Ten Commandments-didn’t win til Greatest Show on Earth.
    Spielberg with Raiders and ET-didn’t win til Schindler’s List.
    And maybe a bit of a stretch-Cameron with T2 and Abyss-didn’t win til Titanic.

    The Academy may be in a mood to reward Nolan after Dark Knight and Inception-especially if Interstellar manages to hit the right emotional notes-could be why Mcconaughey was cast and perhaps Hathaway.

  24. Ryan says:

    You’re right-it’s more of a problem of me projecting everything that Amy Dunne thinks onto Gillian Flynn. Although, spoilers aside, one of the most important characteristics that I would ascribe to Amy Dunne is ‘hyper-intelligence’ (is there any dispute about that based on everything that happens?), so maybe I just figure if she is saying something, it’s coming from Flynn’s mouth/pen.

    I need to join a book club or something that is reading that book now and get some things out of my system. I read at least 100 books a year, and for whatever reason, that book got to me. I don’t know know why-I know from reading all kinds of thrillers and all kinds of genres that Flynn has a subtly/nuance that is pretty rare, and took me by surprise.

    It continues to get better, even though I think Dark Places is her best book, and probably something that could/will be a better film, depending on who gets involved with that (I’m assuming it gets made after Gone Girl is a hit).

    I thought movieman’s comment was interesting, because I also was kind of baffled by the way the ending works in GG, and almost wanted to put down the book after enjoying it so much. Again-not to get into spoilers, but it seems like Affleck is not going to be the actor to pull off the Nick Dunne transition that happens at the end of the book-seems like his ego will get in the way. Again, can’t wait, and I’ll shut up now.

  25. YancySkancy says:

    doug r: Just a correction and a couple of clarifications: De Mille didn’t direct Ben-Hur (either version). And I assume your reference to The Ten Commandments is the silent version, because the sound version came out four years AFTER The Greatest Show on Earth. Also, while The Greatest Show on Earth did win Best Picture, De Mille himself lost to John Ford for The Quiet Man.

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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