David Poland vs. various Hot Blog commenters on the fluctuating condition of the Oscar chances of Dreamgirls — a truly fascinating debate with some shrewd analyses. A few commenters have tried to nail Poland for backpedaling on having said Dreamgirls “will win the Best Picture Oscar” with Poland responding he never quite said that but what he said was actually this and blah, blah.
Phantom of the Opera, Munich and now this. Poland is deflecting, sweating… swinging his flintlock like Fess Parker‘s Davy Crockett fighting off Santa Ana’s troops at the Alamo. And for all of it, Dreamgirls might stilll win the Best Picture Oscar.
Poland: “The only tangible problem Dreamgirls is actually having right now is with the same half-dozen press members and a couple of awards consultants who have been gunning for it — with various motives — since November 15th or earlier. The fact is, if I suddenly claimed that I didn’t think Dreamgirls was going to win, based on what’s happened in the last two weeks, I would be a hypocrite and a fool… because nothing but positive things have happened…except in the press and on some blogs.”
“Is there anyone else…with daily spin as unbelievably malicious and stupid as what we’ve seen on Dreamgirls in the last week? Do you think that is a coincidence?”
This is really good reading. I love it. High drama, sharply worded posts….read it all.
And it continues: David Carr (a.k.a. “the Bagger”) has been Poland-swatted for passing along a purported linkage between Gail Berman’s departure and the general Dreamgirls slowdown, and he responded to this early today: “Mr. Poland gets so riled that the Bagger worries he might open up the HotBlog and see nothing but red mist where the headshot used to be. As for all the zigs and zags he ascribes to the Bagger, that’s a bit of overthinking. The Bagger has been out doing events, lots of them, and the lack of sleep and reporting time makes him needy and gullible, not riven by agendas.
“Yes, the Bagger picked Dreamgirls as a favorite to win early on, but he has no real rooting interest other than the running story, which grows more interesting every day. The Golden Globes take place Monday and many smart people don’t know which way the dramatic category is going to go: Departed or Babel? And the comedy/musical award is a three-way jump ball: Little Miss Sunshine, Dreamgirls and yes, Virginia, Borat.”
“Peter O’Toole was utterly, sensationally hilarious on “Late Night with David Letterman” last night. He looks frail, but not at death’s door. I can’t imagine his fantastic story of his adventures getting sloshed with Peter Finch was a calculated reminder of a Peter who won a posthumous Oscar — the whole thing seemed far too spontaneous.
Roger Ebert, Peter O’Toole, Jason Patrick
“If he can keep up these jovial, witty appearances, which remind people he’s utterly one-of-a-kind, it can only do him good. Bear in mind that, 43 years ago, many people thought his American talk show appearances at the time of Lawrence of Arabia, especially when he allegedly turned up embarrassingly drunk on Jack Paar‘s Tonight Show (I didn’t see it), probably cost him the Oscar he deserved then.
“It would be worth checking, but I don’t believe he’s ever attended the ceremonies as a nominee, also something that doesn’t endear Academy members to you unless you’re Katharine Hepburn. It’s an uphill battle, but I really hope he wins.” — Variety critic Todd McCarthy.
Meryl Streep has always made cultured high- class movies with the right people, but now, it seems, she’s made a deal with the devil to star & sing in a big-screen version of the highly successful but thoroughly despised Abba musical Mamma Mia!, which has mainly been patronized in New York over the last seven years by shmuck tourists with little or no taste.
Universal and producing partners Playtone (i.e., Tom Hanks‘ company) and Littlestar are preparing to shoot this summer with Phyllida Lloyd, who directed the original “Mamma” in London as well as the Broadway version now playing at the Winter Garden theatre, making her feature directing debut.
We are in a culture war, dammit — the brutes and the barbarians are at the gates — and if you’re a cultivated blue-state actress like Streep you don’t go over to the other side and sell your soul just to make a buck. If you ask me (and a lot of others, I’m betting) Streep is a traitor to her fans for lending her considerable class and dignity to an adaptation of a very coarse musical that has been spat and shat upon by almost every self-respecting theatre critic. Except for the whores, I mean.
“While the musical may not be a favorite of theater snobs,” Variety‘s Michael Fleming writes, “it is a wildly profitable crowd-pleaser that has played in 130 cities around the world and had grossed $1.6 billion from its 1999 opening to the moment Playtone’s Gary Goetzman and Hanks made a rights deal.”
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently announced in Vegas that Rolling Stoner Keith Richards will appear in the upcoming sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World’s End, according to this Australian news story which got its information from a Variety story.
Study the marks of ruination on Keith Richards’ face and draw whatever lessons you will from them
The story says that Bruckheimer’s statement “ends years of rumors about [Richards’] potential involvement in the popular swashbuckling franchise.” And Movie City News linked to the Australian story earleir today.
Has everyone lost their mind? Roger Friedman reported last September 21st that “a not terribly sober Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has filmed his cameo as Johnny Depp‘s swashbuckling dad in Pirates of the Caribbean 3, which is shooting somewhere in Southern California in a place called Palmdale.”
Was Richards’ cameo filmed without final negotiations completed, and Richards’ reps were asking for more money than Bruckheimer and Disney wanted to pay, and they were ready to not use his footage if they couldn’t make a deal…something like that?
If and when Little Miss Sunshine‘s co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are Oscar-nominated and then win, or if Little Miss Sunshine itself wins the Best Picture Oscar, will Dayton be the first Oscar winner to come up on stage wearing a pork-pie hat?
Wearing a pork-pie hat is a GenX urban hipster thing….an advertisement for a certain disaffected, cool-cat mentality that one associates with generational attitudes embraced by X-factor types born between ’64 and ’80. (The fact that Dayton is technically a mid-boomer — he was born in ’57 — is immaterial.)
There are a lot of boomers in the Academy, and I’ve never seen one wearing a pork-pie hat. Most boomers think pork-pie hats are, well, dorky. The last famous guy to wear a pork-pie hat was Justin Timberlake, I think, and before that Elvis Costello…and before that Gene Hackman‘s “Popeye” Doyle in The French Connection.
I’m half-suggesting that a pork-pie hat is a culturally divisive thing to wear, and that it may cost Dayton and Faris some votes. I’m not suggesting that he abandon it — it’s a Dayton trademark thing, and I realize he probably wears it because his hair is thinning and he doesn’t feel right about doing an Elton John. But I am saying that wearing any kind of vaguely “different” fashion accessory tends to exact a slight social price.
And especially one that says, “Looking cool in a GenX sense is important to me…on top of which I haven’t come to terms with my thinning hair.”
Oscar strategist Tony Angelotti tells Variety pinch-hitter Sasha Stone that “being a front-runner can be a blessing and a curse. It’s nerve-rattling on one hand, because a front-runner can lose, an underdog can’t.” A prime example — certainly the most recent — is last year’s defeat of Brokeback Mountain in the Best Picture category by Crash, “proving once again that even the most formidable frontrunners are vulnerable.”
“And thus Crash joined the ranks of what are considered the biggest spoilers in recent Oscar history: An American in Paris, Chariots of Fire, Shakespeare in Love and Braveheart — all films that, for whatever reason, captured the hearts of Academy voters when everyone was convinced it would go the other way,” Stone writes.
An anonymous producer and Academy member says that “the Academy is a very middlebrow group, and they’re uncomfortable with homosexuality.” My own much-better quote follows: “The over-60, over-65, over-70 group in there just couldn’t roll with the idea of gay men in a Western setting. There are leaps that certain generations just can’t make. It’s not them. It’s not their history.”
Which ’06 film is the vulnerable frontrunner right now? Are qwe speaking of an obvious Best Picture contender startign with the letter “D” and, according to some, a Best Picture lock that’s starting to look — ask David Carr — like it has feet of clay? Or another D movie that’s looking stronger right now, but may lose out in the end of Little Miss Sunshine and/or Babel? You know the names, look up the numbers.
I’m not finding a YouTube clip of Peter O’Toole‘s encounter with David Letterman last night. (Has anyone located a clip anywhere else?) A producer friend just wrote and said O’Toole “was fantastic on Letterman last night…can’t we envision things moving his way now?” In the meantime, consider this brilliant O’Toole moment from Richard Rush’s The Stunt Man.
“With both the PGA and DGA nominations listing exactly the same films — The Departed, Dreamgirls, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen and Babel — many pundits have written off the chances of any other movie having a real Best Picture chance now,” Hollywood Wiretap‘s Pete Hammond says in his latest column.
“The fact that all but one of those films have been widely screened since early fall and the other one, the December-released Dreamgirls, started its extensive screening program on 11.15, should bury the idea once and for all that coming out in the last month of the year is an advantage.
“As with everything else in Hollywood, the importance of being seen is key. Lions Gate, which scored so heavily with it√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s May opening strategy of Crash in 2005, is starting its campaign for the Julie Christie Alzheimers drama, Away From Her, which opens May 5th. Look for others to follow suit.”
Which of the two leading Warner Bros. Oscar campaign screw-ups was the more egregious? One, deciding to release Letters From Iwo Jima in ’06 too late for any serious traction (they’d planned to bring it out in February ’07, changing their minds at the last minute because of the implosion of Flags of Our Fathers)? Or two, putting Leonardo DiCaprio up for Best Actor in the mostly mediocre Blood Diamond while lumping him in with Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg and the others in The Departed as an ensemble Best Supporting Actor candidate?
I mention the second possibility because of what Pete Hammond has written in his latest Hollywood Wiretap column, to wit:
“One actor [I’ve spoken to] who has yet to vote said there was concern among others she knows that Leonardo DiCaprio could cancel himself out with his two starring films, The Departed and Blood Diamond, and that the Warner Bros. campaign to put him ino the supporting ateogry for The Departed could backfire.
The DiCaprio confusion “is already all over the map in other awards shows, with SAG noms for Leo in Blood Diamond in lead and The Departed in supporting, while the Globes and BFCA have him competing against himself solely in lead.” Hammond’s actress friend’s solution “is to nominate him for Departed in BOTH categories, hoping one comes through with enough votes to guarantee him a nomination somewhere.
“There is a real danger he could get more votes than anyone else for the two films combined, but not enough for one alone.”
What Warner Bros. should have done in the first place was strongly push DiCaprio and Damon for Best Actor in The Departed as well as DiCaprio for Best Actor in Blood Diamond. If they were realists they would have known all along that the Diamond campaign would fall flat on its own accord because nobody likes the movie, which would get them off the hook without offending Ed Zwick.
I hope DiCaprio’s Best Supporting Departed nomination thing works out and he wins — it’s the best performance he’s given since Gilbert Grape plus it’s his first coming-out role as a rough-edged adult — but if it fails, you know who to blame.
The Writers Guild of America has nominated the screenplays for Babel (cheers and salutations for Guillermo Arriaga), Little Miss Sunshine, (go, Michael Arndt!), The Queen, Stranger Thank Fiction and United 93 for its original screenplay award.
Wait a minute…Zach Helm‘s Stranger Than Fiction screenplay made no sense! It didn’t attempt to figure out, much less explain, the metaphysical system of the movie, and this results in a WGA nomination? Gimme a break.
The Best Adapted Screenplay nominations were for Borat, The Departed, The Devil Wears Prada, Little Children and Thank You for Smoking.
Winners will be announced 2.11.07 in simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.
I went to a special “Dos Amigos” screening of Children of Men last night on the Universal lot, hosted by Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. (Men director Alfonso Cuaron is in Mexico, I was told.) Two screening rooms on the eighth-floor of a Universal office building (i.e., where publicity and marketing works from) were used.
Cuaron, del Toro, Inarritu
Del Toro and Innaritu spoke to the crowd before it started, with the former talking about the importance of “viral” word of mouth about Children of Men getting around as much as possible before Saturday’s Oscar nomination balloting deadline.
The projection and sound levels in the screening room I sat in were full, rich and needle sharp. (I took Jett and Dylan to see Men at the Lincoln Square just after Xmas, and the projection and sound levels sucked. Clearly, people who pay to see movies often see diminished versions — and it’s a real shame.) I especially loved that the entire frame of the film was shown — there was no masking at all. (You could see the slight rounded corners at the four points.)
There was a generously catered after-party at the Universal Grill following the screening. Director Michael Mann, producers Mark Johnson (Chronicles of Narnia, The Rookie) and Caldecott Chubb (Tonight at Noon), producer-screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson and Oscarwatch.com‘s Sasha Stone also attended.
I spoke this morning to Jesse Heistand, assistant director of communications at Directors Guild of America, and after some checking he confirmed that Babel helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is the first Mexican director ever to be nominated for a DGA Best Director award.