“Who needs the Oscars, anyway, other than the chosen few nominees and the hangers-on who love them?,” writes Newsweek‘s Marc Peyser in a 1.31 posting. Not to mention the Hollywood websites who depend on Oscar-season advertising…right, Marc?
“The fact is, the Oscar telecast (scheduled for 2.24, assuming some sort of miracle) is the worst three hours and 27 minutes on television, and it has held that distinction for years and years and years,” Peyser writes.
Not fully true. There have been exceptions. and more than a few. The moment, for instance, when The Pianist teammates Ronald Harwood and Roman Polanski won the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director Oscar delivered as much emotional voltage as any legendary sports moment. And what about when Dreamgirls‘ Eddie Murphy lost out to Little Miss Sunshine‘s Alan Arkin last year for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar? There were cries and shrieks coast-to-coast when that happened. I could mention other highlights. You just need the right perverse attitude to enjoy them.
“Go ahead, try to think of something, anything, memorable from a telecast in the last, say, five years.” (Read the last paragraph, Marc!) “The witty host’s monologue? The moving acceptance speeches? The outfits? Sure, you can remember that such staples existed, along with a cute joke or moving moment or two. But considering the length of the show, those tidbits don’t convert to a very high on-base percentage. And considering the anticipation and hype that precede the show every year, this is one pretty awful excuse for A-list entertainment.”
A trusted source has told Collider‘s Matt Goldberg that John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock, Mr. Warmth) had a meeting or two at Universal today to talk about directing The Wolf Man, in the wake of helmer Mark Romanek bailing last week because he couldn’t work within a confining $100 million budget. (And also possibly because the script hasn’t been full developed to is maximum potential.)
John Landis, Benicio del Toro
The Hollywood Reporter has run a list of some other candidates — Brett Ratner, Bill Condon, Frank Darabont, James Mangold, Joe Johnston, etc.
Josh Friedman‘s 2.1.09 L.A. Times piece about the Hannah Montana concert pic opening this weekend explains something I’d missed until today. In accord with the film being marketed as a “special event,” tickets for the 3-D film will “run as high as $24 at the El Capitan in Hollywood and $20 at the Bridge Cinema de Lux in Los Angeles, and many theaters have scrapped their kiddie and matinee discounts.”
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour is opening today for a one-week run at 683 specially equipped theaters,” Friedman writes, although it might extend for a second week. Why just one week? A marketing guy suggest that the Disney distributors “didn’t know what they had…this could all turn on a dime if this weekend’s grosses are big.” The concert film is only 80 minutes long, which will obviously allow for more showings per day.
A beautifully written L.A. Times endorsement of Barack Obama ends with the following: “An Obama presidency would present, as a distinctly American face, a man of African descent, born in the nation’s youngest state, with a childhood spent partly in Asia, among Muslims. No public relations campaign could do more than Obama’s mere presence in the White House to defuse anti-American passion around the world, nor could any political experience surpass Obama’s life story in preparing a president to understand the American character.
“His candidacy offers Democrats the best hope of leading America into the future, and gives Californians the opportunity to cast their most exciting and consequential ballot in a generation.
“In the language of metaphor, Clinton is an essay, solid and reasoned; Obama is a poem, lyric and filled with possibility. Clinton would be a valuable and competent executive, but Obama matches her in substance and adds something that the nation has been missing far too long — a sense of aspiration.”
Screenwriter Larry Karaszewski, a Clinton supporter, put it another way last night at last night’s post-debate party. Obama’s rhetoric is “the kind of material — and it’s very good — that we all try to write for third acts. You’ve been to test screenings and you know that the dialogue that makes them cry always scores well. And Obama’s stuff is always uplifting…it touches the heart.”
On one hand, there’s Paul Brownfield‘s profile of Matthew McConaughey in yesterday’s L.A. Times. It’s the usual thoughtful but essentially softball stuff with a subhead — “It’s Not Easy Being the World’s Sexiest Man” — that’s not meant ironically. And on the other is a 7.16.06 HE slam piece called “King of the Empties.”
I’ve linked to this rant at least two or three times since it first appeared on 7.16.06 because I’m proud of the writing. I felt it when I wrote it, it came from the heart and a major director whom I respect like God wrote to say he enjoyed it tremendously.
I’m not saying that McConaughey is the shallowest big-name performer around today. How do you measure such a thing? But he sure as hell radiates this. Everything about him says “smug Texas party animal who’s good at raising a stein of beer and going ‘hey-haaaay!’ when ESPN is on at the local bar and who basically lives for the poon and the waves and the good times.”
There’s possible redemption for the Fool’s Gold star in a forthcoming indie-type film called Surfer Dude, which Tom Hanks’ Playtone is producing. Brownfield calls it McConaughey’s “labor of love — shot over a [single] month last summer in Malibu on a budget of $6 million. In it, writes Brownfieid, McConaughey “plays a surfer whose sponsorship gets bought out by a guy who wants to put his surfers in reality shows and digitize their images. McConaughey’s character, Steve Addington, just wants the waves — to be out there naturale. So he quits and finds himself in Malibu waiting out a bummer summer.”
“Add Picturehouse to the folks who blew off SAG DVD mailings, to their detriment,” a journalist friend writes. “A friend and SAG member is banking on Julie Christie winning over Marion Cotillard due to the fact that folks got discs of Away From Her but not La Vie en Rose.”
Today’s (2.1.08) Gallup Poll report notes that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama “are as close as they have been since the polling program started at the beginning of 2008. 44% of Democratic voters nationwide support Clinton, while 41% support Obama, which is within the poll’s three-point margin of error. The data suggest that Obama has gained slightly more — at least initially — from John Edwards‘ departure from the race. In the final tracking data including Edwards in all three days’ interviewing (Jan. 27-29 data), Clinton had 42%, Obama 36%, and Edwards 12%. Since then, Clinton’s support has increased two points vs. Obama’s five. Tomorrow’s release will be the first pure post-Edwards three-day rolling average.”
Hell on Frisco Bay‘s Brian Darr, who’s seen three of the four Best Documentary Short nominees, believes on a basis of the synopsis that Freeheld, about “a dying cop trying to fight for benefits for her lesbian partner…sounds like it could be the most seductive to Oscar.” The other three nominees are Salim Baba, La Corona and Sari’s Mother.
L.A. Times writer Steve Pond has seen all four. He passed along mini-takes earlier this afternoon:
“Freeheld: New Jersey cop dying of cancer, local bigwigs deny her pension benefits to her lesbian
partner. Straightforward style, doesn’t stand out, but it has an uplifting ending and is the one nominee
set in the U.S., which could help.
“La Corona: A beauty pageant set inside a Columbian women’s prison. It’s a story you haven’t seen before, but it feels too light compared to the others. This is the only one I’d say doesn’t have much shot.
“Salim Baba: Delightful, fresh story about an old guy who pushes a ‘cinema cart’ through the streets of
India, showing ‘movies’ he’s assembled from scraps of discarded film. Shows the power of movies in the
unlikeliest of settings; after seeing them all, I picked it to win. Then I got home and read a wire story about how the guy says he was ripped off by the filmmakers…that could hurt if the story gets around.
“Sari’s Mother: Don’t mean to be dismissive of a horrible situation, but it hits a trifecta of Oscar-bait miseries: a mother in Iraq tries struggles get health care for her son with AIDS , and it’s well-made and very, very depressing, which sometimes is just what voters are looking for.”
Final HE comment: It’s hard to see these films. Why aren’t they just being put up for common viewing online? Wouldn’t that be the simplest solution?
So where did that Ruby Dee SAG award for Best Supporting Actress come from? Four words: “sentiment” and “no DVD mailings.”
Apart from mass SAG mailings of Into The Wild DVDs, which benefitted the barely-in-the-race Catherine Keener, DVD screeners of the films starring the major nominees in this category — American Gangster‘s Dee, Gone Baby Gone‘s Amy Ryan, I’m Not There‘s Cate Blanchett and Michael Clayton‘s Tilda Swinton — were not, I’m told, sent to the SAG membership. In Pete Hammond‘s view, that levelled the playing field “and opened the door to the sentimental favorite.”
Yeah, but why? Dee’s performance, after all, is basically a one-scene, telling-off-her-gangster-son thing. It’s good but not superb. It’s certainly not in the realm of Beatrice Straight‘s Oscar-winning turn for her one big scene in Network. Dee gave a very strong performance for what it was, but she’s more or less ice-skated into the Oscar competition. She’s no match for Blanchett’s Jude or Ryan’s coked-out Dorchester mom. People realize that, I think.
Futuristically-speaking, No Country‘s Josh Brolin has told L.A. Times Magazine‘s Ginny Chien that he’ll always “be happy whether I’m doing dinner theater in Phoenix or some great movie with Michael Mann. I’ve always been, and I always will be. As much as I appreciate the moment, I know the moment will change.” And then change back again. There’s no “good” or “bad” side of the coin — there is only the momentous import of the coin’s particular constitution. Happy and sad, flush and poor, up and down are fool’s illusions.
With the increasingly pessimistic strike mood, the WGA still determined to picket the Oscar show if the strike is unresolved on 2.24 and SAG members just as unwilling to cross picket lines as they were for the Golden Globes, the odds of a traditional bells-and-whistles Oscar telecast going forward are looking less and less favorable. It’s going to come down to some kind of half-baked fizzle show on 2.24 or Sid Ganis and Gil Cates delaying the broadcast until mid-April in hopes of the strike being over by then. But how likely is that?
Yesterday Variety‘s Dave McNary observed that “as the strike enters its 89th day today, there’s been no date set for the start of formal bargaining. That, combined with strike fatigue and SAG’s recent militancy, has darkened the town’s already gloomy mood. Some worry that after the June 30 expiration of its contract, SAG will join the writers in striking and that both guilds will stay out at least into the fall.
“Sources have said that recent informal meetings between guild leaders and the moguls have remained largely unproductive on the biggest compensation issues, trying the patience of the strike-weary town.” Face it, deal with it — things don’t look good.