Awards Archive for December, 2007

Oscar Competitor Perspective

It’s a funny thing… we all want to believe that awards season has a basic legitimacy of “you vote for what you like,” but it just isn’t that way. It’s like finding someone you’re attracted to… it doesn’t always make so much sense on paper, but it is what it is.
The two $100 million movies in the race, American Gangster and Hairspray, are well liked by many, but as the critics’ top tens are showing – placing them, so far, at 28 and 39 – respect is a different achievement. Instinctively, it sometimes seems to me like both are still right in the middle of the race, but objectively, nope.
There is nothing wrong with Sweeney Todd‘s opening weekend or Atonement‘s limited release. But suddenly, Atonement is being passed by Juno (albeit on more screens) and one wonders whether they have been a little too precious with their high-toned movie. Sweeney is well off the Dreamgirls opening pace and with two holiday weekends, $40 million is about the top the film can hope for by the start of the new year. Will that be read as a solid start or a dangerous middle road, with any hopes for a $100 million gross completely dependent on Oscar?
The big advantage that Atonement still holds is that it is getting the critical support (#7 on the current Top Ten chart). Sweeney isn’t doing bad there either (#13).
But we are still swimming in the same big pool. There Will Be Blood continues to have an odd advantage by not being seen. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, Into The Wild, and Juno remain in the “right” position to grab somewhat unexpected BP slots, as No Country For Old Men and Michael Clayton go into Christmas as the two most locked-in films… with Atonement and Sweeney Todd a little bit weaker than before.
The thing about Now is that there is almost nothing that really can be done about any of it. The movies are in charge now. Perception of things like box office wil be noticed, but primarily as a confirmation of viability.
There are two objctive standards that seem to hold at this time of the year. The first is that the film needs to be over $15 million gross if it was released before December and needs to appear on its way to success if released slowly in December. The second is that all five films are likely to be in the Top Ten chart’s top 21. We have seen films from outside that group move in as more lists are compiled. But we have never gone outside of the Top 21 for a nominee since we’ve been doing the charts. And the range has become smaller in the last couple of years. American Gangster and 3:10 To Yuma both have the potential to still crack the Top 20. We’ll see.
In the meanwhile, Gurus o’ Gold’s Top 5 are in the Top Tens’ top 13… a few in that group are likely to be fiscally blocked – Diving Bell is a problem that way – and things will change as the next 100+ charts come in… and as the grosses roll in over the next week.
In other words, the season remains the same…



I’m not sure that I have made this point clearly…
The WGA will not shut down the Oscars.
There is a world of difference between fucking with a 100


Not Sure How Well Reported This AMPAS Response Was

Message regarding the Academy and the WGA
(posted 12/18/07, 11 a.m. PT):
To the members of the Academy:
Some reports in the press have stated that the Academy had been denied a waiver by the WGA that would have allowed Guild writers to work on the telecast of the 80th Annual Academy Awards. In fact, the Academy has not requested such a waiver, nor has the Guild told the Academy whether such a request would or wouldn’t be viewed favorably.
As it does each year, the Academy recently requested from the WGA a waiver in connection with any film clips and excerpts from past Oscar telecasts that might be shown on the upcoming Academy Awards telecast. The Academy was informed last night that the Guild would not grant that waiver, stating that to do so would not advance the Guild’s goals in its current efforts to achieve a collective bargaining agreement. This decision affects only the conditions under which we may use such material, not our ability to do so.
The Academy remains committed to presenting its Awards on February 24, and will continue to work with all parties to achieve that goal.

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Oops, They Did It Again

WGA West Statement on Film Independent Spirit Awards
LOS ANGELES — The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has issued the following statement regarding the Independent Spirit Awards:


A rather brilliant move, I think, by Miramax today, sending out hardback copies of No Country For Old Men. It’s not a movie-themed cover. It’s not the cheaper quality paperback that would have cost them at least a few bucks less per unit to send out. It is a move that says, this is a serious book… a film of literary weight… and not just some movie with a lot of killing.
It is also a tacit call for us to read. Dear God! Read!!!
Then there was the odd delivery of the day. Shipped by Techincolor, Warners delivered the 2-disc “Special Edition” of Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix. There were Warning letters from both WB and WIP about the responsibility of getting screeners… but what we got was the same DVD that is every story in America… even the grocery stores!
Even wilder, this disc has a digital copy included. It’s actually quite smart, though the download doesn’t work on Apple or, naturally, on iPods. I think this is a part of the future of DVD sales… including a digital version of the film, but specifically for your iPod or iPhone or whatever portable device you own.
But the screener warning letter tickled me as I got, very pleasantly, a shipment that could just as easily come from
Also landing today… The Golden Compass. Still pending… There WIll Be Blood, Sweeney Todd, and I Am Legend



What to make of the SAG nominations?
Airplanes? Origami? Another Yuletide log on the fire?


20 Weeks – Damaged Frontal Globe



The Quick Version

The Globes, as usual, found a way to discount their significance.
Not only did they choose 7 dramas to reward with nominations, they didn


There Will Be Fighting

I guess I will throw my twenty cents into the tempest in this week


BFCA Piles On

I don


Sweeney Sampling

If you want to have a sampling of the entire Sweeney Todd soundtrack, 30 seconds per song, you can find it on the page, where the pre-order for the Dec 18 release of the album is up and running.

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Landing In NY

More no-surprises.
The closest thing to interesting was the choice of Julie Christie and the choice to honor last year


Critic Time

The big parade of critics groups


National Bored of Reviewing Dinner Plans

Yes… it’s that time again… and NBR still loves having dinner with celebrities they pretty much know will be in the awards race…
That said, I have to admit, it’s a lot more like HFPA whoring this time… no really extreme missteps just to get celebs to show.
Notably left out were Before The Devil Knows You


I Hate To Be A Dick About It…

I like much of Atonement… enough to recommend the movie to anyone without a penis and to some with one. But to compare it to Dr Zhivago or Reds or even the more-heady-than-meaty The English Patient is capital-I INSANE.
I do think that the nature of the Oscar season will see the film nominated for Best Picture and for another half dozen awards. It is a step up from Pride & Prejudice for all involved. And the first 30 minutes threatens to offer a classic of the form. But the film doesn’t even attempt to match the ambitions of any of the trio of films Anne Thompson is comparing it to… and while at times it matches the fine detail of some of the great Merchant-Ivory films, it doesn’t seem to aspire to the inner monologues of those works when push comes to shove either. 20 minutes less might have rebalanced the film that way… but movies are not horseshoes.
Thank you for your time.


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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