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By Ray Pride

The Gurus Weigh In, Post-Oscar

PETER HOWELL: My biggest Oscars surprise, other than Olivia Colman beating Glenn Close, has to be Green Book winning for Best Original Screenplay. Definitely did not see that one coming. I’d ranked Green Book last on my Gurus predictions for that category. And regarding Colman/ Close, I can’t remember a year when I wanted a tie more dearly so that two deserving actresses could both win. Would have been great if the Academy could have pulled off a tie win like Streisand/Hepburn in 1969. Here’s the link to my Oscars post-mortem column.

THELMA ADAMS: I’m not writing a wrap-up but I will say that “I have yet to understand the ramifications of the Preferential Ballot!”

Oscars’ biggest loser: Netflix (Roma)
Oscars’ biggest winner: Netflix (Olivia Colman).
Seriously, though, “Driving Mr. Daisy”—I mean, Green Book—winning is the kind of movie that made me wish Dumb and Dumber got Best Picture this year. At least that was authentic. I won’t sulk too long on the win so I can bask in the joy of Olivia Colman’s reign. My tears when her name was called are dedicated to all the nerdy girls who love British comedy and knew one day Olivia Colman would win an Oscar. And who knew it would be for a love triangle between three lesbian tops? Outstanding work, Olivia. You made my night.

JEFF SNEIDER: The biggest surprise on Sunday night was that everyone was surprised Green Book won. And it has nothing to do with Green Book, or its lackluster competition. It has to do with the media, which can’t even sort between apples and oranges these days without launching into some discussions of -ists and -isms. The movies seem to have been forgotten about altogether in favor of the politics. The people tasked with writing about this race are, for the most part, poorly sourced and ill-informed. They don’t realize that they’re just hearing what they want to hear. Green Book won because the Academy wasn’t ready to give Best Picture to Netflix, they cry! Do people not realize that Netflix literally employs half the industry? All these voters are in business with Netflix, and if you ask them if they think they’re making movies, they will all say YES. Green Book won because it’s simply a better movie. Not as artful as Roma, perhaps, but it made ME feel. And I’m glad if Roma moved you, or Black Panther moved you, but I’d put my awards gut up against, literally, anyone else’s on the planet. Things are so depressing in reality, the Academy wanted to celebrate a movie that made them feel good, for a change. Glenn Close snubbed? In what world? People drone on and on about precursors, but guess what? They DO NOT MATTER. They can be a helpful guide, but a+b doesn’t always equal c. The New Academy is done handing out statues for past work, or a body of work. The win must be justified. People say, well with that logic, what about Spike Lee? I’d argue that BlacKkKlansman deserved its win. Glenn Close, on the other hand, did not, and quite frankly, gave the worst of the five performances in a mediocre Lifetime movie. You don’t get an Oscar for dominating scenes with Christian Slater. Why should those other four women have lost because Glenn was really good back in the late eighties? Why did people think that the Academy was going to hand her an Oscar after denying her the past six or seven times? Why was THIS time going to be different?

Jeff Wells talks a lot about his insect antennae when it comes to awards. This is a real thing, and you either have it or you don’t. It’s not a skill you develop over time. In that sense, Best Picture is like porn. You know it when you see it. I’m not saying my gut is always right, but I have now nailed Crash over Brokeback, Hurt Locker over Avatar and 12 Years over Gravity. There are actual employed Oscar pundits who called those races in favor of the losing films.

And we have to mention that all these nominees spend six months kissing the asses of the same twelve journalists (or a hundred, if we count the HFPA) and those twelve pundits call the race based on how those interactions go. I love that the press thinks it’s so important that they largely believe that Bradley Cooper’s New York Times interview helped bring him down. Voters don’t give a fuck about that stuff and anyone who thinks they do must not know many voters. They don’t care about racist tweets or directors exposing themselves 20 years ago, because none of that noise has anything to do with the movies themselves. The press has little faith that people and movies win based on merit. And the press is all too willing to play along with and facilitate these take-down campaigns. You’ve got Manohla Dargis tweeting “fuck this shit” after Green Book won. She, too, has bought into the bullshit surrounding awards. I can’t wait to read her next, biased, review of Peter Farrelly’s next film.

Mark Harris complains that Rami Malek isn’t gay enough in Bohemian Rhapsody. Like, what? The film was directed (well, most of it) by a gay man, and Malek’s Mercury was clearly gay. I don’t know what Mark Harris wanted to see in a Queen movie. And what’s frustrating is, these are people I respect! The L.A. Times blares, Green Book is the worst best picture winner of the decade an HOUR after it won. Gee, I’m sorry Burning wasn’t nominated, but calm down! No one has any perspective and they perspective they do have is all wrong. Green Book will age poorly, they say. Meanwhile, no one can even remember The Shape of Water. Voters aren’t voting on what will age well, they vote in the present, not the future. I see a fundamental misunderstanding of the Academy, the industry as a whole, and the people in it. For every Secret Oscar Voter who is eager to share their anonymous ballot and point out how Green Book is a white savior film (it’s not. At all.) there are dozens of people scared to say what they really think because the media will judge them. Imagine being the two white writers of BlacKkKlansman. They found that story and wrote a good script that got Spike Lee on board. Spike then rewrote it, but it all started with them. And they don’t get to talk when their script wins Best Screenplay (it didn’t win Best Director, Spike!) because everyone wants dear old Spike to have his moment. And hey, I’m happy for the guy, but share the rock. Did he even thank those guys? I know they might not have won if Spike’s name wasn’t on the ballot next to theirs, but I thought he relegated them to the sidelines all season, and then the nerve to storm out when Green Book won Best Picture? Like, hey, Spike, this is why you had never won before. They like you, but you’re kind of an asshole. And you gotta love this Dr. Shirley family. They had decades to write their relative’s story, so… Why didn’t they? You don’t get to say, this white man can’t tell a black man’s story, if they never tried to tell it themselves. Maybe they didn’t think it was much of a story, or didn’t know how to tell it. But Nick Vallelonga did. And now people will remember Dr. Shirley forever. He’s in the history books of cinema. If they don’t like how he’s depicted, they should go make their own movie.

This is why Oscar prognostication is falling apart these days. Everyone is afraid to feel and no one trusts their own judgment. Everyone is too worried what others will think. Well, I’m glad the Academy told the internet to go fuck itself tonight. No one tells them how to vote, least of all a bunch of bloggers trying to make a “moment” happen so they can capture it on Instagram.

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31 Responses to “The Gurus Weigh In, Post-Oscar”

  1. Bill Morton says:

    I’m now in love with Jeff Sneider.

  2. YancySkancy says:

    Tell us how you really feel, Jeff. 🙂 But I agree with most of that (haven’t seen The Wife though).

  3. leahnz says:

    the caucasity!

  4. palmtree says:

    Most of the time when groups of people win an Oscar, they have one person be the spokesperson. That’s especially true if that one person is higher profile. Having Spike do the honors and read what I think is one of the better speeches of the night was not him stealing the mic. He was an Oscar winner who earned his time on that mic.

    Oh yeah, and every writer will tell you writing is rewriting. What Spike did wasn’t a lesser thing. The award isn’t for best first draft of a screenplay.

    And while the other writers on Blackkklansman did a ton of work, they probably breathed a collective sigh of relief when Spike took mic duties off their shoulders.

  5. movieman says:

    I’m surprised that no one has commented on Hannah Beachler completely hogging the podium while giving her acceptance speech (and leaving co-winner, Greg Berry, in the dust).
    I can just imagine the (deserved) social media hullabaloo if it had been a middle-aged white dude who had given the bum rush to his female African-American co-winner, and wouldn’t let her get a word in edgewise.

    Maybe Beachler could have let Berry say “thanks to the Academy and Ryan Coogler!” while trying to find her acceptance speech on her iPhone.
    Just sayin’.

  6. palmtree says:

    You meant Jay Hart?

    And Jay seemed pretty happy to let Hannah give the speech and get emotional. I never once saw him lunge toward the mic as many try to do when they feel they’re being ignored.

  7. YancySkancy says:

    You could hear (but not see) Hart as the orchestra came up, shouting “I just want to thank my crew!”

  8. palmtree says:

    Well, I guess they cut his words off in the Youtube clip then.

    And to be clear, I think as the first African American person to win the award, she was expected to speak and say something meaningful, which she did. Which is probably why the guy deferred to her. Sucks that he didn’t get a word in tho, but it happens.

  9. movieman says:

    Was it Jay Hart?
    I could swear I read “Greg Berry” on,
    Point made irregardless.

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    White dudes have had their time hogging the podium. Time to let others have a chance. Can’t say I care. When I see a sentence start with if a white guy had done that typically it’s from Fox News.

  11. movieman says:

    I knew I risked sounding terminally “unwoke,” SB.
    But had to throw that out there.

    Rudeness is rudeness, no matter the gender or race of the offender.
    I guess the Trump era has permanently destroyed civility in the public sphere.

  12. Dan H. says:

    I really don’t understand people who think Glenn Close didn’t deserve to win on the merits of the performance. Hers was a masterful performance of largely non-verbal communication. Coleman had a juicy part in a juicy script and didn’t screw it up. Period. Lady Gaga might have honestly deserved to win over Close on the merits (it’s close, no pun intended), but not Coleman. I’m guessing she won because all the Brits voted in a block for her and a bunch of the character actors did as well. It’s the kind of performance that any seasoned, trained actor could have given.

  13. Js partisan says:

    And white folks have been the most rude, Movie. They get what they get, when it comes to reward speeches. Also, trump didn’t do shit, that white privileged hasn’t been doing for years, and this is why your generation is so frustrating. Why the fucking fuck should we be civil with those people? I want to live in the future, and not in the past like those backwards bastards, but apparently we all need to be friends with troglodytes.

    And Coleman won, because the Brit actors are the largest part of the acting branch. Hell. She’s probably acted with all of them, and they rewarded them own. It’s fucking bullshit, that Glenn Close doesn’t have one of those bastards statues, but the Oscars aren’t a meritocracy… to their detriment.

  14. Stephen Barrow says:

    I know it’s late in the day, but can anyone explain why Ethan Hawke dominated the critics awards but wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA or Oscar? I know the film didn’t take much money but has Wilem Dafoe’s?

    If the Brit actors are the largest part of the acting branch, why didn’t Olivia Colman win the SAG award? It’s just as well Colman won otherwise The Favourite would have been 0 for 10 – unthinkable!

  15. palmtree says:

    The actors in the Academy and SAG are not the same exact pool. SAG is much much much larger and less selective, and my guess is also that it’s much more American.

  16. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Ethan Hawke has a habit of saying things like: “Now we have the problem that they tell us ‘Logan’ is a great movie. Well, it’s a great superhero movie. It still involves people in tights with metal coming out of their hands… It’s not Bresson. It’s not Bergman. But they talk about it like it is.” I agree with him 100%, but I’d wager that rubs people the wrong way: “Who’s this pretentious snob who thinks only European films by auteur directors can be great?” Every time I heard him give an interview like that, I thought: “buddy, you’re hurting your Oscar chances.

  17. leahnz says:

    at the end of the day i don’t think hawke gives much of a shit

    the actors branch chooses the nominees in the acting categories (as does each individual branch choose their nominees, best pic noms voted on by all) so unless they’ve changed the voting rules – and maybe they have for all i know – the entire academy votes for the actual winners in all categories, so logically even if the acting branch is brit heavy (is this a known thing now? who knew) coleman winning couldn’t be due to the pommes in the acting branch because the entire voting academy would have to be brit heavy in that case and somehow i doubt that holds up
    (still overwhelmingly white and male though, even with the influx of new members it would take like half a century for it to balance out at this rate given a 91%/74% while/male ratio just two years ago — and the new inductees are still majorly in that ratio to boot so it’s a slow drip, certainly not some ‘new dawn’ or some shit, as evidenced by the usual mostly middling choices)

  18. Stephen Barrow says:

    I agree. If the entire voting academy was Brit-heavy (and therefore more likely to vote for a Brit Actor) Christian Bale, Richard E Grant and Rachel Weisz would have won as well. And Brits don’t only vote for other Brits you know – I would have bet my house on Richard E Grant winning the BAFTA this year – and he lost to Mahershala Ali!!

    Thanks for the lowdown on Ethan Hawke – makes more sense now.

  19. YancySkancy says:

    The Favourite had like 10 nominations, right? The Wife had one. Quite a difference in terms of overall Academy support. Probably a lot of people didn’t want The Favourite to go home empty-handed, enough to tip it Colman’s way. Probably a narrow margin of victory.

    As for the Jay Hart thing, I know Set Decoration is secondary to Production Design, and they have a very limited amount of time to give their speeches, but yeah, a little tighter preparation on Hannah’s part would’ve allowed the dude a quick shout-out to his family and crew, on camera. It would’ve been a nice thing to do.

    It’s tougher in Adapted Screenplay with four winners. I imagine the decision was made ahead of time to just let Spike bask in the moment while the others smiled behind him.

  20. palmtree says:

    I think Jay should’ve just spoken while she was looking up the speech on her phone. In other words, there was an opening when she was clearly vamping, but for whatever reason, he didn’t take it. Could she have shared the time better and been more fair? Sure, of course. But the dude didn’t NOT have the chance. And this is a designer and a decorator, so it’s not really surprising they don’t have strong public speaking or live performance skills.

    Can we just agree that even if what happened was unfair to Jay, it wasn’t beyond the pale of the normal unfairness of life and not because she was extra rude?

  21. Bulldog68 says:

    Any thoughts on Spielberg’s stance on Netflix at the Oscars, and his suggestion that movies need to have 4 weeks of theatrical release in order to qualify?

  22. movieman says:

    Why four weeks?
    Wouldn’t three suffice?
    Or shouldn’t it really be 8-12 weeks?
    This just screams of more self-generated Oscar melodrama.
    Wake me when it’s over.

  23. Hcat says:

    So I get what he it going for. But they do have to see what problems are going to arise for indie studios. IFC for years has done day and date and it has kept them solvent. Is Spielberg willing to let the tiny companies be collateral damage in trying to slay the streaming beast?

    The four weeks thing is also punitive to the smaller ones who put things out four screens at a time. The Orchard and other small outfits, who have miniscule marketing resources, might not be able to keep a movie in theaters for that many weeks, is that film immediately blackballed from contention? Now rarely do the films from Zeitgeist or other micros end up in the conversation but that doesn’t mean the academy should make it even harder for them.

    Netflix believed in Roma, and released it in accordance to the rules, change the rules and Netflix will follow them for the one or two releases a year they think have a shot.

    Honestly if you don’t want the Coens or Jenkins to land on Netflix, write the damn check and release the movies theatrically. I don’t remember DreamWorks being a big supporter of indie film when they were cutting out their swath of the theatrical market. How many great filmmaker projects could he have funded with the budget of Welcome to Marween?

  24. JS Partisan says:

    I get the Beard’s point, but guess what? He’s wrong, and he’s wrong because he’s out of touch. He doesn’t live in the world, that most movie fans live in. He lives a world, that probably features amazing screen rooms, and amazing access to those screening rooms. The rest of us? We’re happy with a really good TV, so a lot of the movie going experience is through that TV. It’s also through Netflix.

    Let it also be stated, that what Netflix is now, would not have become a thing. If the studios decided, to not increase the price of their content. Once that happen, Netflix had to become what it is now, and what it is now? Is a huge part of entertainment to millions of people on this planet, and that’s only going to grow. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, and all the Beard will do with this proposal is one thing: guarantee Netflix get into the film distribution business, because it would behoove them to own a theatre chain.

    And he isn’t here anymore, but put his views on Netflix in David’s, “WRONG ABOUT THIS!”, column.

  25. Bulldog68 says:

    I actually agree with most of what JS has said, but let me ask an opposing question, what does Netflix have to lose with Spielberg’s proposal? Wouldn’t a limited 4 week run be virtually an ad for when it debuts on Netflix anyway? The people who want to see it on the big screen will see it, and the people who prefer Netflix & Chill would be quite content to wait the 4 weeks anyway as that’s still way shorter than how long they wait now for theatrical releases to debut on streaming services.

  26. palmtree says:

    What does Netflix lose? If Netflix gives up its model, then they don’t get to drive the industry anymore. Right now they are pushing for everyone to play their game, and so big picture they want to have the industry change on their terms. Pretty bold, but the alternative is that Netflix loses its edge and relevance when all the other studios come out with their streaming services.

  27. Hcat says:

    Netflix will not be giving up its model with any rule changes, they will follow the rules when it suits them. I believe they have done a total of four theatrical releases to qualify for Oscar contention. If they have to put it out for four weeks they will put it out for four weeks, they spent 10s of millions on an Oscar campaign for a movie with a 15 million budget, they will spend the money to release their one or two prestige pictures a year, but the Birdboxes and Kiss me boys will still drop entirely the same. Oscars be damned the worry should be that once Warner’s and Disney get into streaming how many of their resources will be diverted away from theatrical and into online originals.

    I do want to ask though, wouldn’t everyone have preferred Netflix’s Roma winning over Speilberg’s Greenbook?

    And finally the answer to all this is just to make a new award that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Warnerdirect and Disneyplus compete for and leave the Oscars and Emmys out of it. Its not like they don’t have enough content.

  28. Bulldog68 says:

    I’m not talking about giving up their model. Just like every other studio selects a few films they will mount an Oscar campaign for, Netflix would select a handful of films, and at this rate you’re talking two or three at most, to release for a limited 4 week engagement and even promote them as special events, and then two weeks before Oscar, the rest of the public will be primed to see the nominated movies at home. I’d think you’re getting the best of both worlds. If the movies don’t light the box office afire, no biggie, many nominated movies don’t anyway, and if it does, that’s extra money in the bank and bragging rights.

  29. YancySkancy says:

    Wait, I somehow missed the 4-week thing. I thought Spielberg wanted a 90-day window between theatrical debut and streaming debut. I assumed the length of the theatrical run would still be the current eligibility minimum. So yeah, 4 weeks hurts small indies and doesn’t effect Netflix much at all, so I don’t get that. A 90-day window doesn’t really hurt Netflix either, but it at least gives the appearance that it’s not all just about meeting the eligibility minimum while promoting the eventual streaming debut. I think Spielberg feels they’re gaming the system somewhat in the guise of caring about cinema. No, like most businesses, they care about profit, and Oscar attention can help draw subscribers. I think Spielberg is tilting at a windmill, but Netflix’s tweet in response to the issue was very disingenuous.

  30. palmtree says:

    I don’t think a 4-week run would hurt Netflix. I don’t think a 90-day window hurts Netflix.

    I think what hurts Netflix is not being able to do things their way. Call it pride or some form of paranoia…but if they don’t get to have their day and date releases, they seem afraid of seeming weak and kowtowing to industry standards. At least, that’s what I sense from their approach.

    Honestly, I’d prefer if Netflix did theatrical runs, but then the fear is that they are just like everyone else, and that terrifies Netflix more than losing money.

  31. YancySkancy says:

    I think Netflix also realizes that any extended theatrical run they do is an even bigger risk for them than for a studio. It’s no big deal if you’re just four-walling a few screens for a couple weeks to qualify for Oscars, but a wider, longer release costs more, and most of their subscribers would just wait till it came to streaming anyway.

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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?”

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“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.

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