Awards Archive for December, 2009

Spoke Too Soon… 2009's First Awards Smear Campaign

Leave it to the film critics… you know, the ones who don’t really care about celebrity or the ego around it… to be the ones to launch the first serous smear campaign of the season.
Or maybe we should just put this one at the feet of Oscar-ass-hologist, Tom O’Neill and whatever member of NYFCC started taking swipes, under a cowardly veil of anonymity, at Mo’Nique for not choosing to attend the NYFCC dinner next month.
Why did NYFCC decide to do a dinner in NY, four days before BFCA, LAFCA, and HFPA in consecutive nights in LA? I don’t know. Why did they move the dinner from Sunday nights to work week Monday nights last year? I don’t know.
And I don’t know whether Mo’Nique’s (boy, am I about done indulging that spelling flourish!) excuses are true or lies. What do I know about why she makes the decision she makes? But the answer to this question is utterly irrelevant.
You don’t give a present with the expectation of getting something back… not if you are a sincere gift giver.
Truth is, if Monique skipped out on The Golden Globes, it would cause real talk amongst the Oscar voters, who would then be considering their final vote. But NYFCC is a private event and the only way it could hurt Monique’s Oscar chances would be if some smug jerk made a big deal of it and it got picked up by others as a serious issue.
One more thing. NYFCC and NBR give their awards on consecutive nights. Amazingly, this year, there is just one crossover winner between the two… George Clooney… who is the co-winner at NBR with Morgan Freeman. So the trips to NY will be less a matter of efficiency than they often are.
The 30 or so people being awarded by one of the two groups will all have to be on the west coast three days after these two awards dinner in order to get more awards. So they are either being highly inconvenienced by Monday and Tuesday events preceding and Friday event… or they are simply clearing their calendars for more than a full week to run the awards gamut. (This is why BFCA is always close to The Golden Globes and LAFCA somewhere close to those events.)
If Monique is actually taping her show that week, I don’t find it in any way offensive that she isn’t going out of her way to change her shooting dates… especially if she is on a short week, having to leave Atlanta by noon or so in order to get to LA for BFCA.
She is not “one of us.” She is Black. She lives in Atlanta. She is a comic. What kind of arrogance demands that she acts like “us” and makes coming to graciously bow at the feet of NYFCC (or any group awarding her performance) her top priority?
Heck, she could skip BFCA and LAFCA too and not really have a problem. But skipping The Globea would have impact. And skipping more than one “major” event would become a trend story (what O’Neill is trying to do, prematurely… trend of one) and only then would it become a real problem for her Oscar chances.


It's The SAGgies!

What is there to say?
If you think you can determine anything about The Oscars by looking at the SAG nominations, you are on crack.
The idea of Best Ensemble as an important reflection of where The Academy will go with Best Picture is mythology made even less real by 10 BP nominees.
And let’s not forget 2007… No Country for Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster, Hairspray, Into the Wild. Well… that didn’t work out so well.
The acting nods could go a lot like this. Diane Kruger isn’t happening. I would bet that at least one actor in each of the male acting categories here will be disappointed on Oscar nomination morning.
Bring on the “shouldn’t this award stand on its own” chatter if you must. But SAG is another group that desperately wants to be seen as a precursor. Yes, every honor is a good thing. Yes, I am pleased that a few of the dumb choices not to nom at HFPA are showing up here, if only because hyperactive Oscar analysts would make too much hay of the names being in or out.
So now we can enjoy the holidays before announcements from WGA (Jan 11), DGA (Jan 7) and PGA (Jan 5), which will make everyone’s life harder by going to 10 nominees to mirror The Academy.



As usual, our happy band of freeloading friends go along to get along, doing what they must to try to mimic Oscar and to get some extra special stars on that red carpet.
Really few surprises… except for Julia Roberts, Robert Downey, Jr, a double-dip for Meryl while leaving out Zooey Deschanel, and a script nod for District 9 over six film nominated for their picture awards.
I am pleased, while still eye-rolling in general, for Tobey Maguire, Matt Damon in The Informant!, and Woody Harrelson. They all deserve to be taken very seriously when the big show rolls into town.
But really… not a bold, brave, or breathtaking stroke in the lot. The log rolls on…



It’s deja vu’ all over again.
The Hurt Locker is the critics’ choice (lower case, so as not to impinge on BFCA’s awards tag) with the film and director Bigelow taking the awards on both coasts.
In The Loop wins Screenplay in NY and is runner-up in LA.
LAFCA went for the unexpected with Yolande Moreau as Best Actress for Seraphine. NY stuck with Mamma Meryl!
Waltz, Mo’Nique, DP Christian Berger, foreign language candidate Summer Hours went both ways, as did The Fantastic Mr Fox – a title critics are hoping won’t get lost by the inevitable Up win and likely BP slot.
And BFCA embarrassed itself by going to six nominees in 6 of the top 7 categories (top category #8, Best Picture, is a firm 10). Also the norm.


Who Is AFI?

“AFI” announced the organization’s Top Ten today and like so many other fake awards – this one is all about having Oscar nominees come to lunch and offer their authority to AFI for the price of a red carpet perp walk – it comes down to some nice, smart people deciding what seems to be an ORGANIZATION’S voice, over lunch.
“The selections were made through a 13-person jury process involving scholars, film artists, critics and AFI trustees. Two juries


Left, Right & Center Awards

LAFCA sports about 11 full-time employed critics… NYFCC about double that. Meanwhile BFCA’s membership has grown about 25% this year.
Bad times for critics.
MCN’s Ray Pride is keeping up with all the tweeting… see, critics are still relevant… they have Twitter accounts…
I don’t have the stomach.
The whole thing is now so inside baseball that I am a little queasy pretending to be a piece of twine or rubber or whatever the balls are made out of nowadays.
It took all of one profoundly stupid – and yes, I know the author will be insulted, but he deserves it on this one and should take comfort in the fact that less than 10% of hot blog readers will know that he wrote this unless he outs himself – responses to an award – “black and white doesn’t equal award-worthy cinematography. Come on guys.” Which is true. B+W does not deserve awards for being B+W. But this is utterly irrelevant when it comes to the masterful work in The White Ribbon.
But that is where we live now. Everyone is a fucking expert in cinematography when very few people I know understand what makes quality cinematography… and sometimes, that even includes me…. but not always. Okay for the author to prefer another choice… but to suggest this work is unworthy is not only ignorant, but… well, mostly it’s ignorant… but also petulant. If you had the skills that Christian Berger has, you wouldn’t be spending your Sunday twittering over his award.
Nor should I.
The only thing close to a surprise so far is picking District 9 for Production Design over Avatar, meaning that they are happy to award a heavily CGed design… but are out of their minds picking a beautifully done version of the form over one that creates an entire world from scratch just as beautifully, if not more so. Crazy and political. Would have been fine with them picking a “real world” designed movie, but if Avatar is on your table and you are taking it seriously for design, you really kinda have to go there.
See. I got sucked in.
I am picking things to be irritated by… which makes me a bore… but there really isn’t anything else to do when nothing interesting is happening. Obviously, they have the right to like what everyone else likes and to give out awards accordingly. In fact, that’s 100% fine. But it’s still boring.
i will check in again later this afternoon and be, most likely, equally non-plussed. Some angry guy in NY will accuse me of being too angry because I’m not jumping up and down and shouting from the rooftops.
I am really enjoying this season. Lots of new people. Lots of very talented people. And many of them will not win much, even though they did great work. I guess that as I roll along, I am more about honoring the work of the horses than worrying about who will win the races. Parts of the handicapping game are still fun, but I guess I just care less and less about the race that was run 2 months earlier in Saratoga… and I know too much about how that race was fixed. Ignorance was bliss.
And for the record, BFCA, with a wider group of less experienced and involved members, is becoming less and less relevant as well. But more on that some other time.


Press Release (edited): N-Bored-R

The Idiot Awards continue to roll out this week, as the least important players try to position themselves (with the exception of ISAs, which should know better already.)
Today, it’s the Nobody But Resthomers group.
They guessed right when the frontrunners were clear last two years. In the decade before that, their Best Picture winner was nominated but didn’t win 7 of 10 times and 2 more times, the film wasn’t nominated. This year’s winner will definitely be nominated. Big grain of salt, folks, even though the millions of Oscar experts flooding the internet these days will drone on about it for days until the next inconsequential event happens.
As suual, they spread the wealth. No mention of the unseen (until HFPA sees it tomorrow… no guests allowed… unlikely to be kept promises of silence) Avatar, Nine, A Single Man, The Road, The Lovely Bones, Crazy Heart. But they love the TV movie.
Okay… enough energy wasted on these needy children. They should be embarrassed, but they have no shame. Maybe they can join HFPA.
2010 Gala to be held on Tuesday, January 12th with
Meredith Vieira as Mistress of Ceremonies
New York, NY


Indie Spirits Awards Winners

This year will be heavy on “Win on Saturday Friday, Lose On Sunday” with one major exception…
I’ll start by offering the film that will win the most ISAs.
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE (aka, the very possible exception)
(500) Days Of Summer
The Messenger
Jeff Bridges
Christopher Plummer
Roger Deakins
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
An Education
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
A Serious Man
(This one is announced, not enveloped… because somehow, the film is eligible for everything BUT Best Picture… and they know Precious is winning… so…)
There is a good chance that all but two of these winners will be an Oscar nominee at the time as well.
Anyone wondering about The Hurt Locker should note that they ran it last year, even though it had not yet been released. That should not have been allowed last year. But ironically, it clears the path for Precious and some other categories this year.
1. All submitted films must be at least 70 minutes long.
2. Cost of completed film, including post, must be less than $20 million. Any variations are at the sole discretion of the nominating committee. (For verification purposes, all films with total budgets exceeding $15 million or films with budgets under $500,000 applying for the Cassavetes Award are required to submit the top sheets from the film’s Final Cost Report.)
3. Eligible films must have either:
– Been shown a minimum of once a day for one week (7 days) in a commercial theater between January 1 and December 31, 2009; or
– Been shown in 2009 at one of the following six film festivals: The Los Angeles Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, New York, Sundance, Telluride, or Toronto. Films that have or will have domestic theatrical distribution should be submitted the year of their theatrical run.

You know, the thing is, I think that the folks at FIND are sincere about doing this the right way, especially that people who serve on nominating committees. But with the exception of little Oscilloscope, it’s another year of The Dependents & Lionsgate being given another promotional opportunity.
Isn’t there a way to give a shout out to the big “indie” movies of the year each year, while still celebrating the true indies in some real way other than with a few non-started nominations and a couple of “it’s soooo small’ categories? I mean, even the “Best First…” categories are invaded by the bigger movies, which are pretty much assured of winning by what is a popular vote for the wins, as anyone is $95 ($60 for students) away from casting an ISA vote, which is a great bargain on screenings alone.
I imagine I will be in the room, as usual, in March, enjoying the camaraderie and gift bag. I invest a lot of time each year with the people in that room. I support the idea of the Indie Spirits and FIND in a real way. It’s just so frustrating that it is so hard to get right. Part of it is the nature of putting on a TV show that funds a significant percentage of your not-for-profit. Part of it is that the FIND board is made up primarily by studio Dependent execs. If you look at the various committees listed in the Indie Spirit press release, it’s the same group of people deciding these things every year.
This was not a great year for true indies. I was asked to nominate for a couple of the industry awards and I didn’t find it easy to find candidates that stood out this year. It’s not that there wasn’t good work being done, but as the resulting nominations show, there are only so many ones to watch in most years.
And I am sick of slapping at these nominations every year… which is why I didn’t wake up early and go down to see the nominations live. I would have spent 20 minutes afterward chasing my tail, trying to get a direct answer about how A Serious Man qualified for everything but Best Picture. (The answer probably is that it did qualify for Best Picture, but that committee had different priorities than other committees… and a Single Man nod would have made two for Focus, which would piss off Searchlight, Lionsgate, and Sony Classics… and they could never give up the “kinda unreleased” slot that Amreeka gets this year after a 40 screen self-distribution by National Geographic, making it the Great Lost Indie of 2009… and what if A Serious Man upset the ISA apple cart for Precious, which they would like to think could be a Sunday winner this year. But perhaps I am being too cynical and the symmetry, this year as most years, is just a coincidence.)
Congrats to all the nominees. None of you deserve my institutional disdain diminishing your achievements. I just wish I could get through one of these nominations announcements thinking, “Yeah… they pretty much got it right… it feels indie… they haven’t left people out… there aren’t Oscar nominated English-language films set to steal the foreign film category thunder (even if the film is deserving)… all the players are there… it doesn’t feel like the nods were dealt out so much as considered…”
Maybe next year.
(EDIT: I made The Single/Serious Man Error in the next to last graph… now corrected)
(EDIT 2: Much as I love the idea of “reculting,” it was a typo.)


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