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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar: In A Holding Pattern

Less than 36 hours from the close of Oscar nominations voting, and there really isn’t much left for anyone to do about it.

About a dozen films are legitimately vying for Best Picture nominations. One figures that Boyhood, Birdman, The Theory of Everything, and The Imitation Game are in. Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Whiplash seem to be in the next group.

Tea leaf readers are trying to do what they do. But it’s a tough year. PGA doesn’t include Selma. Is it the lack of PGA screeners? Or that Paramount sent them to Academy voters and not PGA and that pissed PGA voters off even more? Will BFCA, which also didn’t get screeners, place their votes elsewhere as well? Or is the movie just not going to win a lot of awards this year?

WGA… Selma wasn’t even eligible. Nor was Birdman. Nor was The Theory of Everything So none of the top Oscar Best Picture contenders that were eligible went without a nomination .

My biggest surprise was the failure to nominate four-time WGA nominee Paul Thomas Anderson in what is a fairly soft field for Adapted Screenplay. His only miss since Boogie Nights was Punch Drunk Love, until now. Instead, we get Guardians of the Galaxy, whose most memorable written contribution was, “I am Groot.” It’s Marvel’s first nomination for screenwriting, though there have been comic book/graphic novel adaptations nominated by the WGA before (A History of Violence, American Splendor, Ghost World).

ACE awards… The Theory of Everything… and Selma… and Foxcatcher.

Left out of the Costume Designers nominations were Whiplash, Foxcatcher, and Nightcrawler.

Five nominees from the cinematographers. Unbroken‘s Roger Deakins and Mr. Turner‘s Dick Pope may get Oscar nominated, but neither film is not expected to be nominated for Best Picture. So that leaves out Boyhood‘s Lee Daniel and Shane F. Kelly, Selma and A Most Violent Year‘s Bradford Young, The Theory of Everything‘s Benoît Delhomme, Gone Girl‘s Jeff Cronenweth (two-time ASC nominee), Foxcatcher‘s Greig Fraser, and Nightcrawler‘s Robert Elswit (two-time ASC nominee,  one-time winner).

But back to the repeatedly “snubbed” Selma… the film seems to be this season’s budding cause célèbre for film journalists who are looking for a fight. Now that the rightwing media—or small parts of it—are taking on the film for its portrayal of the details of the MLK/LBJ interactions, the gloves have come off. Of course, the enormous irony of this situation is that the complaints are coming from left-wingers who worked for LBJ, a quite progressive president. But instead of putting such detailed complaints in their place (art is art… get over the minutiae) and moving on, now any person, place or thing that dares to question the veracity of the film is a racist hater fearful of white male emasculation. Madness. So does this help the film get more nominations and win more awards… or the opposite? Historically, these kinds of complaints have often risen in Phase II… and as far as I recall, no film expected to win has ever lost because of such complaints, whether you think they are a conspiracy or not. Most recently, Argo had factual complaints from screening one… and went on to win, in some part, it would seem, because of backlash against received backlash. No one knows. But everyone will opine, award after award.

You want predictions? Here you go…

There will be no shocking events at this year’s nominations announcement. But there will a lot of talk about snubs and shocking inclusions.

For instance… Unbroken started sinking the minute they started showing it in the U.S. But if Angie doesn’t get nominated and the film gets nothing major, E! will tell you it was a terrible snub and do deep analysis of the cost of her sudden and shocking bout with chicken pox.

If Ava DuVernay doesn’t get a directing nomination, there will be a lot of talk about how there should have been two women nominated, but there are none… and The Academy still has a “black problem.”

If Nightcrawler grabs 6-8 nominations, people will be SHOCKED!

There will be controversy if American Sniper does “better” than Selma.

If Whiplash doesn’t get an Adapted Screenplay nomination, it will be considered controversial, even though Adapted is a far less loaded category this season than Original.

There are names that I would love to hear next week that will be, on some level, surprises. If John Goodman got nominated, I would be seriously shocked…. but he deserves it. Bradford Young, less shocked, but pleasantly surprised. Amy Adams. Marion Cotillard. Ralph Fiennes. Vanessa Redgrave. Carmen Ejogo. Tilda.

If any one of those actually happens, it will be a surprise in a good way… but not so surprising that I couldn’t make a list. Or it was Jenny Slate or The Book of Life (which I don’t think Fox has campaigned at all).

On the other side, if Meryl Streep didn’t make it, would it really be a shock? Duvall? Would Jennifer Aniston be a shock if she doesn’t make it or if she does make it?

There will be plenty to do for the next week, as we wait for the only nominations that the industry actually cares about. The Critics Choice Awards… Golden Globes… in some ways, these are really the start of the award season for real people. Neither group is particularly legit and neither will have more than a very, very minor influence on the ultimate Oscar winners. More, these televised awards tend to continue the process the settling.

Was Tommy Lee Jones really going to win for Lincoln before he was comically grumpy at the Globes? I mean, we’re all looking forward to Michael Keaton’s speech when he takes home the Globe on Sunday and the fight between him and Eddie Redmayne for Oscar will be a story on Monday… but we already know where this is going, don’t we? Keaton would have to get up there drop his pants and dry hump Amy Poehler to lose his Oscar. Do we really think everything will change if, against all odds, Patricia Arquette and JK Simmons don’t get trophies on Sunday night?

I’ll watch the shows, just as you all will. And it will be fun.

Next week, things get serious.

(Correction, 4:40p – Focus now tells me that Theory was not WGA eligible and I made a mistake in saying that Grand Budapest was not ACE nominated.)

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6 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar: In A Holding Pattern”

  1. John Rieber says:

    “Nightcrawler” continues to “surprise” with the awards attention it is getting…which is nice because it wasn’t really on the radar and having a surprise or two always keeps everyone on their toes…nothing worse than knowing all the nominees in advance…great analysis as always!

  2. DW says:

    Does everyone truly believe Michael Keaton is a lock to win? Yes, he will be nominated. And I love “Birdman.” But I have yet to see any real indication that he’s got a mortal lock on the trophy.

  3. Pj says:

    It’s pretty safe to say that Selma is no Argo considering the latter hit every single guild, while the former has only hit costumes thus far.

  4. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Keaton wouldn’t be so safe a bet if it wasn’t for Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne splitting the middle-brow vote. If only one of the two English actors’ films had come out in late 2014, he (whichever he it was) would be neck and neck for the Oscar with Keaton, and maybe even the favorite. I know people who say they’re getting the actual Brit bio films mixed up in their heads, as in, “when I bought a ticket for THE IMITATION GAME I was thinking I was going to the Stephen Hawking movie!” Not good.

  5. Bob Burns says:

    Sniper is Warner and Warner is better at Oscar than Harvey…. when they have a candidate. They’ve won more since Harv returned, all categories and in the big eight categories. A shame they are not handling Selma’s campaign.

    Not saying Sniper will win, but am not at all surprised it is over-performing, given its reviews.

  6. movielocke says:

    Sniper will get bp bd, actor, screenplay and editing in addition to the two sound categories.

    That will spark a lot of liberal rending of garments that they nominated a movie about a grunt white guy famous for killing the most brown people in the last war instead of a film about the most powerful black pacifist of all time who held onto power and influence in spite of powerful white allies attempting to control or discredit or stop him.

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