Awards Archive for December, 2010

9 Weeks To Oscar: Let The Narratives Begin!

Here we are… ballots are out… Phase One will be over in a couple of weeks… and the battle for The Big Win has begun. The primary weapon is in the process of changing from the movies themselves (central to The Great Settling™… c/o Mr Condon) to The Narratives.

The Narratives are the big perspective ideas, almost always instigated by someone with an ax to grind or a bonus to earn. Narratives should not be confused with Dirty Pool, which is when some personal or oddball issue comes to the forefront for no other reason than to tear this film or that film down. The media, of course, can come up with stupid ideas on its own as well… like the notion that Natalie Portman’s pregnancy is somehow a strategic event in support of her potential Oscar nomination and win.

The Narrative for The King’s Speech goes something like… “It’s a movie about humanity and humility… one of the most powerful men in the world is really just a broken child and with the help of a commoner, he can be healed… it’s about a woman who is so strong and wise that she can change her husband’s life and never lose her dignity… it’s about a commoner whose principles are strong enough to withstand the pressures of the monarchy, back when the monarchy meant something… so do you really want to vote for a movie about a rich jerk or some crazy mixed up girl or a violent western that the filmmakers admit they dumbed down to make more money… or do you want to vote for an epic story of courage and overcoming obstacles?”

The rest…

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The Silly Season: Crap Excuses For Not Winning Best Picture

I am always thrilled when the excuses for not winning start coming just after the ballots go out, before most of them come in, and long before nominations are announced. Here is the short-list…

The Kids Are All Right: Sexism, Homophobia
The Social Network: Qualityphobia
The King’s Speech: Anti-Faux-Anti-Semitism
The Fighter: Classism
Black Swan: Sexism, Genrephobia
Inception: Blockbusterphobia
Toy Story 3: Animation Category Syndrome
True Grit: Westernaphobia
Winter’s Bone: Indiephobia, Poor White People phobia
127 Hours: “Dey took my t’umb, Cha-leeeeee!”
The Town: Septemberphobia
Another Year: Mirrorphobia
Inside Job: Docophobia
Biutiful: Francophobia (Generalissimo Franco, that is)


Burlesque: Cheraphobia, Botoxaphobia, Gauzeaphobia
How to Train Your Dragon: Katzenbergaphobia
The Karate Kid: Willaphobia
Salt: High Blood Pressure phobia
Please Give: Nextdoorneightboraphobia

I don’t think it’s crazy to say that gay or black are not the favorite things at The Academy. But if you build it, they will vote. Small, quality movies like The Kids Are All Right are fortunate to be in the game, regardless of these issues. Great movies sneak in every year. Good movies sneak in with a group of ten. But winning is about connecting in a very certain way… and yeah, it’s highly unlikely that Kids will win… but it’s also highly unlikely that at least half of the nominees might win. Enjoy getting there and don’t pander for votes. It’s beneath all of you.


Oscar Stuffing

A last Gurus look for 2010… back in 2011.

And 10 Weeks To Oscar wonders:

The thing about The 2010 Race is… there is no clear choice.

There is no dominant box office smash to be the Goliath. There is no extreme underdog to be the David. The only franchise that might demand to be honored for its history is animated.

But some film has to win!

With no obvious winner, everyone really does have a chance.


Notes On Award Season… Backseat Driver’s Edition

1. Michelle Robertson, whose awards campaign strategy has a long history of success, believes in the quiet sell. After bringing this style to Focus and almost upsetting Chicago with The Pianist – no director available for interviews & all the controversy you could ask for – and helping to guide the awards success of Lost In Translation and then Brokeback Mountain, she moved on to WB three seasons ago, where they ended up winning in her first year for The Departed. I’m not saying – nor would Michelle – that she deserves all the credit or that it is all about her strategy, but her influence of low-key campaigning has been very successful… including on The Blind Side, which no one thought would be nominated for Oscar, much less win. If you know anything about Eastwood, he and his closest allies does call all the shots, including screening plans, materials, etc. And WB does what he tells them to. As for Blind Side, it wasn’t WB’s movie, they weren’t going to run an Oscar campaign and eat their entire distribution fee. And when the film became such a commercial success, Alcon and WB made a deal on a campaign… got a BP nomination and Bullock won. There was nothing surprising about it.

2. If you’ve been nominated, it is not too late to win. Period. Just as Team Hurt Locker.

Is Rabbit Hole too late? Is True Grit too late?

3. Every studio but Sony Classics has been slow out of the gate this season. The only one that doesn’t appear to have done so was Sony and Social Network, but that’s only because of the October release. Their awards campaign is starting as late as anyone’s. The King’s Speech has been a frontrunner since September and just got its final creative materials out a couple of weeks ago.

By the way… the late season strategy that they are following is not only cheaper, but again, worked last year. Next year, they will emulate whoever wins this year. Welcome to the world of Oscar strategy.

4. Slumdog Millionaire was not made for Warner Bros, It was made for Warner Independent Pictures, which was unceremoniously shuttered months before they sold distribution rights to Fox Searchlight. The odds of the parent of a shuttered art house arm going ahead with distribution of a small film set in a foreign country with a lot of subtitles are virtually non-existent. WB could not have done with Slumdog what Searchlight did. They just aren’t built for it. Either was WIP, for that matter. I don’t think WB deserves a pat on the back for letting it go… but they do deserve credit for making it into a profit center that would have likely been a loss any other way. Compared to Paramount giving up Twilight, it was a great studio win.

5. Every film with Best Picture potential also has to deal with the full hand it is dealt. How do you push Inception hard without Leo and with only infrequent opportunity to exploit Chris Nolan? Answer: You don’t. You go the other way and hope it comes to you. Similar problem for Paramount with Shutter Island… they had an event a couple of weeks ago and both Scorsese and DiCaprio were satellited in… cool, but not the stuff of strong pushes. If Focus really wanted to push The American, how would they do it with virtually no Clooney availability? Christian Bale will not do Oscar interviews of any kind for The Fighter. Annette Bening is doing very little for The Kids Are All Right… so Focus is working everyone else’s ass off.

No one is casting aspersions on the talent. It’s just hard to push hard when your talent is not front and center, especially when you have 10 films and most of them are delivering talent left and right.

There is nothing wrong with being ignorant about these things… unless you are telling people that you know something… more than a studio chief even. Oy. It is to laugh.


Irrelevant Award Week Continues: National Bored Of Review

Every year, like sand through a bathing suit, these are the days of our “so what?”

The Social Network will be nominated by The Oscars in most, if not all, the categories it has won here. I’m not sure how honored Mr. Sorkin will be to be the opposite number to the screenwriter of Buried, but he will have many, many chances to hone his Oscar speech over the next few months, deservedly so.

Christian Bale’s inevitable no-show will be another non-story as the season progresses.

Sony Classics got their bone(s) with Lesley Manville and Jacki Weaver… but this is not enough to assure nominations, though Lesley is a pretty likely nominee.

The non-existence of Fox Searchlight in these nominations should tell you two things. 1. NBR nominators (a small group inside of the group) are dumb. And 2. Searchlight didn’t play the NBR game and this is the price.

Don’t even get me started on the lack of nods to Biutiful by Numbskull Boenheads & Rocketscientists. Forget the Best Picture or Top Ten… 5 foreign language films and 10 indies and no room for it. I wonder whether Javier’s unavailability in the last month had something to do with that. Hmmm… such an honorable group.

Done now, thanks. Don’t let the writers twisting themselves in knots trying to analyze this monkey show hit you on the ass.


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