Obama is heavily ahead among African-Americans, under-30 voters; strongly ahead with men. He’s beaten Clinton in Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, Delaware…and he may win in Connecticut. But Hillary has the over-40 women, the over-40 Hispanics, rural whites (we all know what that means), the elderly, etc. And let’s face it — Hillary’s wins so far (Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee) haven’t exactly been whisker-thin.
What’s up with Hillary’s lopsided Massachusetts victory? Is anyone going to interpret the results in racist-voter terms, or is that absolutely not allowed? (Even if it’s, like, as real as the nose on your face?) And why is Obama slightly ahead in Connecticut? (“Urban” voters?) Why has Obama lopsidedly won North Dakota? Why has he won Utah? Some of it adds up, and some of it doesn’t.
Has Obama’s young-voter base come out in exceptional strength, or has a significant percentage of the under-30 and the college crowd stayed put in front of their TVs and computers today and tonight? (I’d really like to see some figures on this.) Either way, a large percentage of over-40 women seem determined to side with their mothers and not their children, and to go down to the sea in ships with Hillary, win or lose. Dispiriting. No champagne tonight.
If I had taken this embarassing Milk-shoot photo of Sean Penn (as Harvey Milk) and James Franco (as Milk’s lover Scott Smith), I wouldn’t have posted it. But there’s enough general interest in this Gus Van Sant film to trump the appearance of a photo taken by a falling- down drunk just before he hits the pavement. (Source: towleroad.com.)
To hear it from Vanity Fair Oscar blogger Stu Van Airsdale, the Best Original Screenplay contest is a toe-to-toe between Juno‘s Diablo Cody and Michael Clayton‘s Tony Gilroy, and — interestingly — he thinks Gilroy has the edge.
“So. Cody and Gilroy. One statuette, two phenomena. Even cynics like Eric Henderson, blogging at Slant magazine, anticipate a closer race than most Oscar media are letting on: As Henderson writes, ‘Gilroy’s double-dip on Michael Clayton and status as a lost cause over in Best Director ensure a few votes from those who feel pity, and from those who have apparently seen none of the myriad law-and-order TV dramas from which the film’s ruinously clich√É∆í√Ç¬©d plot resolution was lifted.’
“Less ironically, Gilroy’s status as a dues-paying hack from way back (the guy wrote a figure-skating opus 16 years ago, for Christ’s sake) is as compelling a nominee back story to Oscar voters — industry wonks all — as Cody’s stripping career or her singular young voice.
“But the gamebreaker is that one represents a movie, the other a movement — a myth, really, cultivated via an overexposure borrowed in part from its beneficiary. And even if movies aren’t really what the Oscars are all about, Best Original Screenplay is the category where the Academy begs you to believe otherwise. It’s why I foresee Tony Gilroy taking home Michael Clayton‘s lone trophy, leaving an upset Juno counting its money as the little movie that could — and didn’t.”
Question: will Cody’s industry rep as a newly empowered Attitude Queen, vaguely indicated by her no-shows at the Critics Choice awards and at the Santa Barbara Film Festival screenwriters’ panel, result in a couple of extra Gilroy votes, or is this just me talking out of my ass? Just asking. I have no dog in this race.
With everyone believing that the WGA strike will probably be settled by sometime next week, Vanity Fair has announced that they’re cancelling their annual Oscar Party “in support of the writers and everyone else affected by this strike.” Does anyone buy this? They’re nervous about shrinking revenues and just tightening their belt….right?
“Douglas Sirk‘s 1959 Imitation of Life is among the most closely analyzed films in the Hollywood canon, a Lana Turner soap opera turned into an exercise in metaphysical formalism by Sirk’s finely textured and densely layered images.” — from Dave Kehr‘s review of John Stahl‘s Imitation of Life (1934) in his N.Y. Times DVD column, published today.
Gee, I never knew that. I know that if someone had come up to me on the street yesterday, stuck their finger in my face and ordered me to name “the most closely analyzed films in the Hollywood canon,” I almost certainly wouldn’t have said “Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life.” But I will henceforth!
I realize that the Sirkians are a very passionate group and that SIrk was a fine composer of a very particular type of dramatic “music” (as well as a super-exacting craftsman), but I’ve never felt especially excited about his ’50s films. They deserve respect, but deep down I’ve always regarded them, despite their emotional intensity and immaculate compositions, as middle-aged chick flicks.
No way would Imitation of Life be among my top 100 DVDs-in-a-trunk if I was stuck on a South Seas desert island with a battery-powered DVD player and an endless supply of batteries. I would rather watch 100 Three Stooges shorts than a single Douglas Sirk melodrama. Lana Turner was great when she young and hot in the late ’30s and ;’40s, but for my money she was stifling when she got older. She always looked like she had an upset stomach.
Today’s Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby poll reported a 13% Obama lead over Clinton in California. It’s too much of a leap to take seriously, but it’s in keeping with the general surge. The concern is that the absentee voter tally, which will amount to a fairly significant percentage of the overall, will reflect the sentiments of two or three weeks ago when Clinton was up by 20% or more. A friend says this may not be a problem for Obama because most absentee voters are from the ranks of the educated-business traveler class, which are not Hillary’s constituency.
There was a party at the Chateau Marmont last night on behalf of La Vie en Rose star Marion Cotillard, who’s generally considered to be in a neck-and-neck race for the Best Actress Oscar against Away From Her‘s Julie Christie. Held in the two-storied Bungalow #1 and agreeably un-crowded, it was a kind of mixed-bag affair — some press, some publicists, some talent (Star Trek costar Clifton Collins, director Larry Kasdan), producer Mark Johnson, former Paramount Classics chief Ruth Vitale, etc.
Atonement screenwriter Christopher Hampton — Monday, 2.4.08, 8:40 pm
I had a chance to speak briefly with Christopher Hampton, the legendary London-based writer whose Atonement script has been nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. I mentioned my admiration for the final scene in which Vanessa Redgrave, playing the final, septugenarian, cancer-ridden incarnation of Briony Tallis, confesses her feelings of life-long guilt for having fatally screwed up the lives of her big sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and her sister’s boyfriend Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) to a TV interviewer.
Hampton said that he based this scene largely upon screenwriter and playwright Dennis Potter‘s final interview, taped in 1994, in which he spoke about his oncoming death from cancer and his struggle to finish his work. His interviewer was Melvyn Bragg. The chat was released on VHS in April 2002.
During last weekend’s junket for The Spiderwick Chronicles, executive producer Kathleen Kennedy said that there will be no press junket for Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Director Steven Spielberg won’t be doing “much” press, she added, because the shooting of his Trial of the Chicago Seven movie will be underway at the time. Okay, but how is that shoot going to keep Harrison Ford, Shia LeBouf and Cate Blanchett from doing junket interviews? Obviously the two are unrelated. The bottom line is that the more blockbuster-inevitable a movie seems to be, the less partial publicists are to a conventional junket hoe-down.
For the last few weeks the conventional wisdom has been that the top two contenders for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar are probably Charles Ferguson‘s brilliantly analytical No End in Sight and Sean Fine and Andrea Nix‘s feel-good War/Dance. Last night, however, a friend told me about a fairly stupid-sounding statement from a person who belongs to the Academy’s documentary branch. Or a statement, at least, that indicates a fairly unthoughtful Iraq War subject-matter bias.
This Academy person believes, I was told, that the three Iraq War-themed docs that are nominated — No End in Sight, Richard Robbins‘ Operation Homecoming and Alex Gibney‘s Taxi to the Dark Side — “basically cancel each other out.”
The guy seems to be saying that they’re all part of the same bowl of soup not just in terms of subject matter, but in terms of tone and viewpoint. He seems to be implying that all three are belly-aching about what a disaster the war has been and still is, and it’s all the same blah-dee-blah and who needs it?
This attitude was recently echoed by Sundance programmer John Cooper in a 1.16 AFP story when he said that “cinema audiences are fatigued by the conflict…filmmakers haven’t said all there is to say about the war in Iraq, but I think audiences are saturated.”
Michael Tucker, co-director of Bullet-Proof Salesman, a doc about an Iraq War profiteer that will show at next month’s South by Southwest, is understandably dismayed by such talk. “Alex Gibney’s film is completely different from Charles Ferguson’s movie, and yet to hear it from the Academy crowd it all comes down to subject,” he says. “It’s no secret that a lot of Iraq War films have sold very few tickets. Grace is Gone made 35 thousand dollars so the word has spread that Iraq movies are commercially unfashionable. But how can a war be out of fashion?”
Colin Farrell, Ed Norton in Gavin O’Connor’s Pride and Glory.
You can tell from the trailer that Pride and Glory is a little boiler-platey, perhaps a little too emphatic and histrionic. My general motto is that any New Line film that costars Noah Emmerich (brother of production chief Tobey Emmerich) is a potential problem. But there doesn’t seem to be anything to fear from director Gavin O’Connor, who did a first-rate job with ’04’s Miracle.
How bad does a film have to be to bump it all the way into ’09? The postponement feels extreme and bizarre. Yesterday Farrell cleared up the mystery with journalists at an In Bruges junket. The problem with Pride and Glory isn’t Pride and Glory, he said, as much as Nicole Kidman and The Golden Compass.
“There’s this rumor going around that [Pride and Glory has been bumped] because it’s a mess or it’s a really bad film,” he began. “I feel the need to kind of speak up, not from my own end but genuinely for Gavin O’Connor because he wrote and directed it. It’s just a really really strong piece, but I think New Line lost the bollocks on The Golden Compass…and they literally don’t have enough money to market things.
“Pride is a tricky one to market anyways. It’s pretty dark…I’ve seen it. Gavin did a great job and you know, Jon Voight is brilliant in it, and Ed [Norton] is great in it and a really strong cast of supporting characters…it’s a really strong piece.”
The main thing is that it’s got Farrell playing another downward-spiral character beset by demons. In my book Farrell is an actor reborn, having found his kwan over the last ear or so by getting under the skin of a pair of anxious, emotionally disshevelled losers in Cassandra’s Dream and In Bruges.