Awards Archive for February, 2008

Is There Something Wrong With Oscar?

Bad ratings once again has brought a plethora of reactive, silly pieces about “what’s wrong?”
As you know, I am on a boat, but this morning, it was Old Man Goldstein busy, as he so often does, mistaking his home for a place of importance in the scheme of things. Wrong!
There’s nothing more pathetic than Traditional Media, unable to figure out the current marketplace, explaining to others how the current marketplace should work.
What happened to the ratings? It’s not complicated. The expected acting winners and the ones who won in upsets were all, pretty much, unknown outside of the arthouse world. Juno was the one major box office hit in the group… but as excellent as Ellen Page is, she was the only acting nominee from the film and has not proved to be a “we have to tune in to see what she says” kind of public personality. The f-ing songs nominated from Enchanted… a movie most loved by the already committed Oscar viewers.
But this is the micro view… not very meaningful.
Paradigm shifts in media are most often driven by micro choices, but those choices are based on the macro view.
James Bond has had three major successful transitions in its 40 year (or so) history. From the serious Connery to the charmingly quippy Roger Moore to the Bond-as-many-think-of-him Brosnan to the rough and tumble hard edge of Daniel Craig. Yes, the actor matters. But the bigger idea of what a Bond is defines the change.
But The Academy Awards is NOT a movie. It is television. Deal with it.
And television is, like most media, narrowing. For everyone, except the Super Bowl, which is a four-quadrant event like Christmas, regardless of who is playing the game. Up a little for NY teams… down a little for small market teams. But the machine is much bigger than the game. And if it stops being that, that event too will become marginalized.
So the question can not be, “How can The Oscars be returned to its glory?” That is a disaster in the making.
The questions can only be, “What is it that makes this idea appealing to people?” and “How do we best design a show to fit that appeal?”
The answer is NOT The Rock… with due respect to the delightful scent of what he is cooking. it’ also not loading up the show with every presented under 40 they could scrape up.
None of us know the answer for sure. But my sense is that there are two ways to go… toney or intimate. The Golden Globes was “the intimate choice,” but has gotten less so over time. The toney choice is Steve Martin or the like hosting, cool enough to be smart, dry enough to never let them see him sweat… a show of utter elegance and produced in near black & white.
I kinda would like to see them try that multi-headed host thing again… go cross-generational. I mean, would you like to see up there? Let’s not see a Judd Apatow Oscars. How about Amanda Bynes, Matt Damon, Sean Penn, and Meryl Streep? Or Amy Adams, Steve Carrell, George Clooney, and Kathy Bates? Or Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bruce Willis? Or Ian McKellen, Josh Brolin, Helena Bonham Carter, and Jennifer Garner?
Do the musical numbers as covers… serious covers… but serious names… that can seriously be sold after the show.
Add a category or two, like stunts.
And remember why people watch… to see emotion and glamor and the unexpected from people who they only know through their performances.
Or not.
All I am saying is that it might be more fun for Oscar to feel more like that ballroom at the Hollywood Roosevelt again.
Regardless, the ratings are likely to continue dropping until they reach the next natural plateau. It is the nature of the medium. You can make that plateau a little higher or lower, but you can’t make this show the massive hit it once was again. It is the nature of niche.
And picking apart silly details – which The Academy itself was nervously doing even before the show this year – is not going to change that.


52 Weeks To Oscar aka My Oscar Yammering



I've Got Indie Spirit, How About You?

The Spirit Awards are the best they have been in years, in great part because they are the most produced ISAs in years. Someone who is written for and is really a performer is just a better host of a looser show than a comic. And Rainn Wilson has been sublime.
More on the troubles of this being The Searchlight Awards later…
It’s not that I don’t think this movie, Juno, doesnt deserve the love. It just kinda sucks when one film that already has so much eats all indie films.
(The winners…)


The Deep New Blu

Both No Country For Old Men and Michael Clayton landed on my doorstep today in Blu-Ray… and all I can say is, “Wow.”
Neither is exactly a feast of extras. But the images…
We have seen many of these scene over and over and over again. But the image on Blu-ray is profoundly more beautiful, even on shots like The Coen’s simply doing a POV of a car zooming down a road.
Also racing into Blu are Ratatouille, 3:10 To Yuma, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, In The Valley Of Elah, Gone Baby Gone, and La Vie En Rose, but only in France. (Persepolis and Enchanted are soon due in the format from their studios and I’m wondering whether Sweeney Todd will delay for Blu-ray to be a Par/DW option.)
(Transformers, The Bourne Ultimatum, and I think, American Gangster are now available in HD only)
For the first time, The Academy membership could have the opportunity to see the films in contention is a format that is close to the quality of going to the movies. It is still not the same and will never replace it for me. But I think, even as HD died, Sony lost the oportunity this season of creating a block of “super delegates” who would spread the gospel of Blu-ray (the same was true of HD when the season started). The people who get screeners are a group in which a high percentage could afford to buy the hardware… but mostly have not, though I would get a significantly larger group than “overall American TV owners” have bought hi-def sets. With a few of the top titles in their mailbox in this remarkable format, not only could Sony have moved a bunch of Blu-ray players, but they had the chance to inspire bland loyalty and a lot of press around the format in the media… especially in a year with little Oscar news to report.
Would The Diving Bell & The Butterfly have gotten further with Blu-rays to watch? With all the problems I have with the third act of There WIll Be Blood, the Blu-ray will be an absolute must-buy, years beyond the 2-dvds it was sent out on by Paramount Vantage. Same with Michael Clayton‘s 2-disc send out, which was not very well done, even by straight DVD standards.
Me… I’m just thrilled to be looking at these terrific movies, as I once was just getting tapes and then getting DVDs, in such a wonderful way… while the season is still happening. And I am excited that hi-definition has created a greater interest in my life and work again for home entertainment. The ability to experience the work of our greatest filmmakers is this form, especially the catalog stuff – Kubrick is killin’ me – is like going back to the revival houses of my college years. Sensational.


Following Julian

I don’t quite know where the obsession with beating up on Julian Schnabel started. It kinda pisses me off. The guy has done some very beautiful work, gotten some truly spectacular performances, and is one of the great characters/drama queens of the film world. For me, someone who gets pissed off about a guy who wears pajamas everywhere just has their hat on too tight.
Anyway… it was amusing to me that Page Six was so busy smacking at JS and so uninterested in the story behind the story that they missed the money shot of their piece today. (To be fair, it appears that Schnabel found the book still in galleys, as there is no trace of the book itself on the web.)
Here’s the piece…
And here are some images of Rula Jebreal, an Italian immigrant from Palestine, now TV journalist, turned book writer is a thoughtful voice on immigration issues, clearly willing to fight with the men’s club in Italy, and simply, one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. (I had the pleasure of a quick “hello” at a TDB&TB event a few months back.)
I predict international superstardom for a world class beauty with a world class brain with a world class promoter (and talent) like Julian by her side in the fight.
Good for both of them. Of course it is irrelevant on some level that this woman makes mere mortals dumb in her presence… but let’s not be naive. If she is everything that has been suggested about her intellectually and she gets to look like a supermodel, she’s one in a billion.
Don’t be hatin’…


The Vanity Fair Curse?



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