Saturday, December 09, 2006

Clint Eastwood's Secret Plan Unveiled: Oscar to Become Emmy by 2008

Apparently it ain't just Warner Bros's bitch (also known as the NBR). People are lovin' Letters From Iwo Jima.

If you've been reading the film experience for any length of time you'll know that the award show I most hate is the Emmys. I hate them because they're almost the same every year no matter what new developments take place in quality on any given series. I have always loved the Oscars most because a) it's the cinema and b) each year there's a different crop of nominees.

But lately it seems as if Clint Eastwood and the nation's top print critics are colluding to make the Oscars as boring as the Emmys.

READ THE REST for new thoughts on the Best Picture race. Plus updates to Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

69 comments:

Aaron said...

It can't last for too much longer, Nathaniel. Clint must be about a hundred and fifty years old. He can't keep cranking them out at the pace he has been.

JavierAG said...

Is it wrong that I'm actually really looking forward to "Letters from Iwo Jima"? It looks like his first actually interesting movie since "Mystic River" (though that didn't stop it from being an overwrought mess).

Your Best Pic lineup makes a whole lot of sense right now, but I doubt Iñárritu in Director (they might want to take a risk this year), and as for Winslet... I dunno. They already made an effort just two years ago to nominate her in something as weird and esoteric as "Eternal Sunshine"... will they do same this year for a small obscure film that's not even beloved like "ESOTSM" was? I have my doubts. I think it's Mol or Gyllenhaal for that 5th slot, or Dern or Hüller if they go all crazy kabuza on us (the result: finest Best Actress lineup since 1974).

NATHANIEL R said...

I'm seeing INLAND EMPIRE tonight. can't wait.

wheee...

JavierAG said...

I demand a grade ASAP =)

Anonymous said...

Ouch! A Blanchett snub??? I'm hoping for a Winslet/Benning snub right now. Let's suffer together.

Russ said...

Thanks for that, Nathaniel, your continuing frustration over the Clint tidal wave of love is mutual. That said, I too hope Letters From Iwo Jima is really, really great. Otherwise, I've just about had it.

Filmfan said...

The Oscars became the Emmys when they awarded 11 Oscars to Return of the King. The worst in the trilogy. But hey. Season 3 of Lord of the Rings had to win because season 1 and 2 didn't....

Beau said...

I love it.
So delightfully bitchy.

Arkaan said...

Leading actress: Doesn't it seem like the top four (Mirren, Streep, Dench and Cruz) are set in stone? It's only that fifth slot that's contentious. I've gotta ask, though - if Mol couldn't even get an Independent Spirit nod, what makes her more likely than Blanchett, Miller or even Gong Li? I think you're overestimating Benning too, but who knows? She'll likely get some recognition from the Globes, right? We're primed for a major surprise in this category (I think Li is in a surprisingly good position to capitalize on it, but even Shareeka Epps seems to have major, unexpected support).

re: Supporting Actress - I do think if two unknowns can get in for Babel in this category, Pitt should be able to get in as well. But this category is so amorphous at this point that outside your top three, I have no idea who'll make it. I'm just not feeling World Trade Centre anywhere, but Gyllenhaal seems to be in a prime position to get a starlet nod, then again, so has Scarlett Johansson for some time.

re: Best Picture

First off, Eastwood. I'll be honest - it's hard not to picture your comments in the bigger context as "knee-jerk Eastwood hatred" ever since your comment about how Eastwood's two wins are a reason not to take the academy seriously (I know a lot of people think otherwise - that Eastwood's victories are among the best decisions that the academy's ever made). I'm not so cynical about what you term his "sneak attack" for a number of reasons...

1. It's hard to call Mystic River a sneak attack since it debuted at Cannes to solid reviews.

2. Million Dollar Baby's last second release, to me, seems more like a function of studios not understanding how to market and release serious dramas. Universal is probably the most notorious, but even mini-majors like New Line seem to have major problems (their aborted releases of Little Children and The New World, for example). When Eastwood brough Mystic River to Warners, their first response: "We don't do drama." And wasn't their initial goal with Million Dollar Baby a spring release?

3. The two you mentioned: Scorsese and Bening. I'll be honest, I don't particularly care for Bening (shocking news), but when you can term her films as "star vehicles" (aka, showcases for a great performance, not a great story), you're gonna lose me. A great performance should be in service to a film, not the other way around. So yeah, it's easy to dismiss her performances as too baity (see Being Julia). I didn't notice it as much this year, but truthfully, I never considered Running With Scissors to be in the running. If it's done well, it would be too wierd for the academy. And if it's done poorly (as it seemingly was), it wouldn't be able to get any traction.

As for Scorsese... well, that's more difficult. I preface this by saying that in 2004, The Aviator and he were my favourite nominees in the best picture/best director categories (Vera Drake, Sideways and Million Dollar Baby were interesting if flawed creations, and I didn't really consider the other two for anything). I think the main reason people are cynical about his awards dreams is that he's due for one.

Seriously. A look at his career suggests an oeuvre intriguing, varied and certainly good enough to have been laureled with an oscar. That said, take a glance at his last five or six films: The Departed, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Bringing out the Dead, Kundun, Casino. Let's be blunt, if he won an oscar for any of those films, it would be associated in people's minds like Al Pacino's oscar win was - "When bad oscars happen to deserving people." As annoying as you feel the Eastwood genuflection is, it's equalled by the "This is the year that Scorsese's gonna get his" clamour that happens when he has a new film coming out.

But he wants an oscar win... it seems. Whatever you feel about The Departed and The Aviator, they don't feel like Scorsese sweat blood over them as much as they feel like director for hire films. The Aviator in particular feels like it was designed to get Scorsese an oscar. Whatever you say about Eastwood, he's clearly not due for an oscar (two directing wins, four in total), so you can evaluate the film more easily on it's own basis.

4. So now we come to Flags and Iwo Jima. And here's where I stumble a bit. I believe that Eastwood's intentions (examining the permutations of heroism) would've been better served if he made one truly epic film, not two. My initial assumptions about the project were that both films would be released this year. Then that didn't happen - Iwo Jima would've been released in Febuary originally. Which didn't make sense to me (and here's where you can accuse Eastwood/Warners of gold fever... releasing it in February would've been a great way to keep Eastwood buzz high). When Flags faltered, they put Iwo Jima where it should've been in the first place.

That said, it seems you want it both ways, truth be told. You deride the awards given to Swank and Eastwood because they aren't the best ever, but you want to get Bening and Scorsese into the oscar race for relatively minor works.

Just my overlong two cents.

NATHANIEL R said...

aaron -Clint will live to be 200 years old. His goal is to beat Walt Disney's Oscar tally. of this I am certain.

javier -finest best actress lineup since 74? wouldn't that be something. not sure i'd agree though. I'd have to look a little closer.

russ cross your fingers it's hard to tell with buzz. Because if you just trusted that you'd also have to assume that Flags was a "masterpiece" *sigh

filmfan omg! funny.

arkaan ok. tell us how you really feel. ;) i stand critiqued. It's true to a certain degree what you say. I do want it both ways. The difference is in the quantity. I figure since nobody ever wins for their best work what is the harm in throwing someone like Bening or Scorsese a bone? Isn't that preferrable to overrewarding other people who aren't doing their best work either? ARGH.

And I guess I'll never get the Aviator hate. I thought it was the best biopic within 'the year of the biopic' but all this hoopla over "give Scorsese the Oscar NOW -he's doing crime again!" is just as cynical. Very much a 'get inside your box!' mentality --we can't handle range.

so anyway... you bring up good points but I should remind that I don't think Bening's "Julia" performance is a 'minor' work at all. The film sure. The performance? Stellar --certainly firing on more cylinders than the winning performance that year.

Bruno Packer said...

I've never understand the Eastwood hate here in The Film Experience. I mean, wait for the film to come out! Geez!

Just as everyone has their own sacred cows (Nathe has Scorsese and Almodovar for that matter), some other folks have completely differente cows (like Eastwood and Haggis).

As for myself I am not biased by the director's name alone. I see the movie and if it's good, it's good. No matter if Eastwood, Marty, Spielbergo, or even Uwe Boll directed it.

NATHANIEL R said...

Scorsese is not a sacred cow to me at all. I'm not big on the crime genre overall (where his reputation's bread is buttered) I thought Casino was a disaster.

but I just think it's ridiculous that people pretend that Eastwood is a greater director. I mean, yes, he's had a nice little run for the past few years but it's like everyone pretends 3/4th of his filmography doesn't exist...and that only the last 1/4th of Scorsese's filmography exists.

it's so weird to me but I guess you can chalk it up to two things:
1) short term memory about movies
2) Clint is a movie star.

I HIGHLY doubt that Eastwood would have this level of automatic respect if it were just from his directorial efforts and that should really give one pause.

OBVIOUSLY the mythology of Eastwood is throwing critical discernment all askew.

but AGAIN Letters might be great. I'm not saying it's not. But think of how many people were ready to declare Flags a masterpiece?! With any other name attached it would have been dismissed as a noble effort but mediocre film.

NATHANIEL R said...

didn't mean to go all caps. I get too excited/aggravated when people make the Oscars boring ;)

Bruno Packer said...

I've understand your point. But yet, one of the most boring Oscar nights in all Oscar history gotta be LOTR swept back in 2004. Good bore!

The 2005 award show was exciting fun. It was Marty vs Eastwood down and dirty. When Eastwood took home the Director award I thought The Aviator would end up taking the Best Picture. Didn't happen and la Streep did shock me when Million Dollar Baby was named Best Picture of the Year.

This year's ceremony shocked me too and was great for entertainmente value alone. Hell, even Jack looked shocked when he announced Crash was the Best Picture of the Year. He was like wtf!? I voted Brokeback!!!

Bruno Packer said...

Did I write Crash? - Excuse me, Trash

Barry said...

Why a Blanchett snub for Notes on a Scandal? Isn't she good in it? and wasn't the review supposed to come out on Friday?

Anonymous said...

I am all with arkaan on this subject, including the part about the scream-acting from Bening being a minor work.

"I mean, yes, he's had a nice little run for the past few years but it's like everyone pretends 3/4th of his filmography doesn't exist...and that only the last 1/4th of Scorsese's filmography exists."

Eastwood isn't greater than Scorsese, but his great movies aren't just a "little run for the past few years".

He's been wonderful since undervalued The Outlaw Josey Wales, back in the 70's. Then we had astonishing movies like Bird, A Perfect World, The Bridges of Madison County, and yes, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. And I don't want to mention Unforgiven, not only because it is the best BP since The Godfather Part II, but also because has no movie to beat it - consider Raging Bull a tie.

- cal roth

Anonymous said...

* Scorsese has no movie...

You got it.

- cal roth

NATHANIEL R said...

I should see more older Eastwood films, it's true. I haven't seen Bird (before the days when I saw everything) or A Perfect World (Costner aversion)

but my point still stands.

It's blatant Oscar pandering and why is he not called on it/punished for it when many others with impressive bodies of work are?

answer me that.

Bruno Packer said...

Could it be that the Oscars come to him like a plus? Maybe?

Most of the stuff Eastwood has directed in the last years it's not your typical Oscar baity film.

I mean, Mystic River?! Space Cowboys?! Blood work?!Even Million Dollar Baby doesn't fit your typical Give-me-an-Oscar film. Except for la Swank.

As to Oscar pandering, there are bunch of guys that EVERY single season begs for Oscars. Ed Zwick, Lasse Halström, Irwin Winkler, Rob Marshall last year. But bommer! they don't have Eastwood's talent.

Michael C. said...

Let's just calm down Nathaniel. I too felt a nagging disappointment when Clint popped back into this race, but lets be fair.

As someone pointed out, Mystic River was hardly a "sneak attack" and neither was Flags for that matter. Plus, it hardly seems right to nail Clint for late in the year release dates when it's such a widespread practice.(The Aviator was released on Christmas) It hardly seems "cynical" to me.

I also think you're exaggerating Clint's run. All great directors hit a stride, and I hardly think Clint's 4th nom in 15 years is going to threaten any records.

But mostly, the idea that there is this automatic Clint nomination is based on some pretty shakey reasoning, and sounds like the results of too many late nights spent drinking heavily while watching The Grifters, and throwing darts at your The Affair of the Necklace poster.

For one thing, where was Clint's knee-jerk voting block when he couldn't get arrested for the decade following Unforgiven, still his crowning achievement if you ask me? Why did this Clint Cult suddenly materialize three years ago, instead of after their God was riding high in '92? It would seem more likely then when the academy was older? So where then are all the noms for Space Cowboys?

As for your contention that people would go nuts for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil were it realesed today, well that's just crazy talk.

Yes, some critics overpraised Flags. But select critical praise does not translate into the kind of audience love that gets noms. The people that loved Mysitc River or Million Dollar Baby LOVED them. No one was that passionate about Flags, hence the prevailing wisdom that Flags was going to come up empty on nomination day, and the pushed up release of Iwo Jima.

The fact is that Clint's been making very strong Academy friendly films lately is being recognized as such. If he came out with Blood Work today instead of four years ago he wouldn't get any closer to Oscar then he did then.

As for Scorsese, I think he's taken more grief because Clint has never suffered the indignity of the Oscar Guilt-Trip tour that Harvey Wienstien sent him through. No one begrudges him anything this year when it's clearly about enthusiasm for the work and not about milking left over Costner Shame. Scorsese also benefitted from the same big name handicap your ragging on Eastwood for when Gangs of New York's myriad of flaws were overlooked enough for it to get a nomination.

And please, as a devoted reader of this site I beg you, stop weeping all over my laptop about Anette Bening. You said yourself Swank deserved it in '99. (Bening would have won in supporting)In '04 her loss had a lot less to do with a sinister cabal of Swank supporters sneaking around under cover of night and replacing previously rational voters with soulless Swank-pods, and a lot more to do with nobody giving a fig about Being Julia. To say nothing of the fact that both Bening and Swank should have lost to Winslet that year by about three thousand votes.

I understand Nathaniel, I really do. I share your feelings about the Emmy's (Monk again over Steve Carell? WTF!?) And while I haven't seen Iwo Jima, I have the feeling if he beats Scorsese this year I'll take it all back. But until then lets cut Clint some slack.

Anonymous said...

"answer me that"

Let's start complaining about Jack Nicholson's next nod because Peter O'Toole has no Oscar?
Oscar likes some people. Oscar doesn't like some people.

- cal roth

eric said...

Yeah! You better have Winslet in your top 5.

I thought you were crazy for dropping her earlier.
Her performance is amazing and New Line is pushing for her big time. see those LC ads recently?

Joe R. said...

I wonder if this is how Clint ends up with his Oscar nods. All dissenting voices are berated and worn down until they throw up the white flag and vote for the boxing movie already.

Kris said...

"How is it that when people like Scorsese or Bening want an Oscar people call them "desperate" and mock their awards hopes and yet Clint Eastwood does this every other year --and usually, cynically, in last minute December post-production rush -- perhaps in the hopes of wallpapering his house with Oscars -- and no one sees the same naked gold lust in him?"


That's such bullshit, Nat. Eastwood is a 76 year old man who makes a movie, seemingly, every year. He just does what he wants, films what interests him. There is no logic to thinking he is Oscar baiting.

And you clearly don't understand the real purpose of pulling "Letters" to 2006, which had NOTHING to do with awards. The reason the film was pulled to this season is because with the box office and likely awards failure of "Flags," no one would have bothered seeing "Letters" in February. The only way to assure some audience traction was to bring the film closer.

So come on. Whether you like his films or not (I'm four-square against M$B), it is unfair to generalize like this, especially when the notion is patently false.

adam k. said...

Well I agree with Arkaan to some extent, but I do sympathize with Nat's point of view. I also kind of hate Swank even though she did deserve it in 99. I loved Bening in Julia and disagree with the person who says great performances can't be great unless they're in the service of great films (as long as they're in service of GOOD films that are worth watching, and I think Julia was), but I was really just in "anyone but Swank" mode in 04. Bening, fine. Winslet, fine. Staunton, fine. All deserved it. But Swank...? grrrrr... It was Ron Howard all over again.

One point where I disgree is in respect to Iwo Jima this year making the oscar race boring. On the contrary, it's SO exciting now! Not only might there be a great film in the mix, but it's now a genuine 3-way race. It was looking very much like a simple Dreamgirls/Marty split, which would've been boring as all hell. Now, who the hell knows??? Unless Iwo Jima starts sweeping every category (HIGHLY unlikely because Clint's already won a million times AND because it's in Japanese and not many of the greater public will want to see it I don't think), then the season will not be boring. But if a foreign-language film ever even to win best picture, this would seem to be the time.

And frankly, I thought The Departed was mildly overpraised (though it's very good), and I don't love it (or Scorcese) enough to be too upset if it loses Director.

adam k. said...

Eastwood may not be "oscar-baiting" in the sense that he'll die if he doesn't win, and yes, basically he just does what he wants. Good for him.

But so do Bening and Scorcese. I'm sure Bening did Julia and Scissors cause she was attracted to those parts and found them creatively fulfilling. Same with Scorcese with Aviator and Departed. Sure NONE of them would mind winning oscars for them, but I think Nat's point was just that Clint never gets charged of oscar-baiting and everyone else does (oh wait, except SWANK), even though most great actors/directors do what they want and then think about the oscars later.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to be blown away by a Clint Eastwood film. Mystic River? Felt like an extended episode of Law and Order to me. And I absolutely loathed Million Dollar Baby.> That said, I thought Jessica Walter was great in Play Misty for Me, but that doesn't warrant his winning multiple Oscars for directing.

I wish I could be more of a cheerleader for Scorsese, but the crime thing is lost on me, and I tend to loathe his know-it-all persona as seen in countless documentaries. Still, The King of Comedy is one of my all-time favorite films, and I do find it hard to believe that he hasn't won yet, considering what a major figure he has been in the American cinema of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

I'm just relieved that they managed to give Altman award before he passed away.

Stephen G said...

I was annoyed in 2004 at the hypocrisy of the M$B fans who carried on that Swank and Eastwood had to win because the Oscars were about rewarding the best of the year and giving it to Bening and Scorsese would have been about rewarding their careers. Yet, they were silent when it came to Morgan Freeman, who was hardly straying from his usual, and about whom no one said it was his best performance.

And why does no one assume Clint Eastwood is ruthlessly competitive and above desperately wanting more Oscars? Do people think he doesn't campaign (he does) or that M$B and Letters found their way into late December awards consideration by accident? He strikes me as a very shrewd operator.

I liked Mystic River a lot, thought M$B terribly overrated, but admired some of Flags, even though it was overall a mess. But I've never been comfortable with Eastwood, because of his right-wing anti-liberal mincing-faggot-baiting Dirty Harry. Hopefully he has mellowed with age and become more tolerant (certainly Letters sounds a step in that direction). But he strikes me as someone with potentially as unpalatable views as Mel Gibson, but who's smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

Anonymous said...

Stephen's statement is onde of the most absurd things I've ever heard. You can be fool as much as you want by believing Clint (or Scorsese or whoever) wants so much that bloody Oscar - but I just can't think there is any compability between this artist' sensibility and this pointless Oscar greed you try to put on him. Come on. Of course people want to be recognized, but do you really think they make their lives (and the movies) only based on this nonstop Oscar quest?

Clint and Gibson! If you tried to look a little further into Clint's movies, you'd see how "tolerant" he's ever been and the central point of his directorial career is to point out the poisoning effect of violence. Most of his movies - from Blood Work to Unforgiven to Mystic River to True Crime to A Perfect World, not Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - deal with this subject. I understand how Dirty Harry can be seen as a symbol of fascism, but think twice. Dirty Harry movies follows that Bullit trend: these tough guys are shaped by the sight of very very bad things. Of course Bullit is a masterpiece and no DH movie is, but they all work as a strong social commentary - and they escape fascism by not believing in heroism against external violence. By fighting back violence with violence, they're no good anymore. Now, try to think about William Munny or Jimmy Markun - you may identify with them, but you can never endorse them, and they can't do it with themselves either. (It's strange to think how Frankie Dunn is such a typical Eastwood protagonist - I can see this history of violence in every line of his face, and I understand why his relationship with Maggie is so touching. The better way to see MDB magnitude is to think of it by Frankie's point of view, through that wet glasses).

- cal roth

NATHANIEL R said...

kris --with all due respect I don't understand why Eastwood would be above this human condition (wanting recognition) while other wouldn't --and the fact that you or anyone else tries to sell me on this notion just reinforces my belief that a good portion of his praise is hero worship driven.

I absolutely 100% refuse to believe he doesn't want Oscars for his troubles. His actions indicate otherwise.

but good for you for drinking that koolaid that the move to 2006 had nothing to do with awards.

all that said... I am loving this conversation and finding it fascinating to hear the reasons some are so fond of his work.

and, again, I want Letters to be as good as you and others say. I think the concept of the two films is interesting. I'm just not prepared to love it simply because it's Eastwood.

the boyfriend said...

Michael C.: "But mostly, the idea that there is this automatic Clint nomination is based on some pretty shakey reasoning, and sounds like the results of too many late nights spent drinking heavily while watching The Grifters, and throwing darts at your The Affair of the Necklace poster."

This would be really funny if it weren't eerily true, which just makes it frightening...

douglas said...

interesting conversation you guys are having here i like it. but that said i think you all have you opinions on scorsee eastwood bening and whoever i think we need to respect each others opinion (not that i dont enjoy the bickeing but i do). i am personally backing nathaniel in his claim here though some of his views are tad personal.

personally i think million dollar baby and mystic river are good films, good being the operative word. worthy of recognition yes but personally i think someone deserved the award more than them adn thankfully in 2004 the rightful winner won and in 2005 unfortunately...

as for this year with flags of our fathers (which i keep on saying craps of our fathers) and letters from iwo jima i do hope flags is shut off because it is not good at all (except for technicals) and i hope iwo jima is good as they claim it is. people sometimes surprise us with their works. see gondry for human nature then eternal sunshine.

Kamikaze Camel said...

In defence of Eastwood - When he and Scorsese get nominated this year (and it is more "when" than "if" isn't it?) then they will both have the same amount of nominations in the last 5 years. Emmy. It's like how when the Emmys finally cotton on to a series and that series then beats the series that has been popular since the get go (the Law & Order if you will).

In, er, undefence of Eastwood - If, as Kris says, they moved the movie to December because they didn't want people to forget about it then that doesn't really make sense. Because a) the stench of Flags is still here, and b) shoving a movie into the prime of December if a risky move with such little time to prepare advertising and all that stuff. If the studio didn't say "Oh, Flags has flopped. lets move OUR film to December and take all the rewards" then I suppose munshkins run a toy factory on Mars.

Remember, the two films are distributed by two different companies.

jbnyc said...

If Beyonce Knowles is nominated for best actress, I may have to leave this earth.

If Annette Benning doesn't get this award this year, I will pull all my hair out on Oscar night. I bet she didn't pop some valiums to achieve that performance (unlike Mr. Cage who was actually performing DRUNK on camera for his Oscar win. Yes, that is true for those of you who didn't know). But I wouldn't mind seeing Annette tie with Helen, either. She was wonderful as The Queen.

Kris said...

Nat, you're speaking without knowing. And there's no convincing the willful. You'd hear it from anyone NOT involved with the campaign for that film, let alone those involved who as I type don't have awards faith in it. Moving Letters to 2006 was about money and saving the film, and not about awards.

You're only in NY, but you've never seemed so far away from LA as you do right now.

Kris said...

FYI, I'm no "hero worshiper" when it comes to Eastwood. The man has made two films that have captured my interest since his masterwork won Best Picture: A Perfect World, and now, Letters from Iwo Jima. I've been pretty vocal about my distaste for his work in general, and especially his uneven nature.

Nice try.

NATHANIEL R said...

you can't fault me for trying ;)
but i still find it jaw dropping that someone as in tune with the annual awards race could look at December positioning from a four time Oscar winner and not see Oscar in the decision somewhere. Because apart from mainstream holiday cash grabbing for films without awards season dreams (Deck the Halls, The Holiday, Black Christmas etc...) --that's what December releasing is historically about for studios.

To my recollection, I can't think of one movie that's ever done that move from the following year into a December opening without awards positioning on its mind. This would be a first. And I'm sure, absolutely sure, that what you say is the way it's being talked about. I get that. You talk to people in LA. And your comments remind us of that which is great and fine...

but maybe you've heard of the concept of P.R.? Not everything that's ever said is true --or wholly the truth, rather. It's their job (publicity depts, filmmakers, studios, etc...) to present their releases in the most flattering light possible.

but anyway... I hope the movie is great.

NATHANIEL R said...

One more thing... and I apologize that I'm being such a hardass. woke up on wrong side of bed.

"Moving Letters to 2006 was about money and saving the film, and not about awards."

"money and saving a film" of this sort involve "awards" --I mean, that's what would save it, honestly. Kudos and Oscar touting ads, and the like.

So perhaps we're arguing the same thing without knowing it.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Nat,

No studio/PR group is going to directly say a movie was moved to benefit its award possibilities. They're especially not going to tell that to members of the press, online or not. Then everyone would just dismiss the movie in the way that Bening/Scorcese have been dismissed, and quite unfairly, too.

To say that Letters from Iwo Jima is more deserving than any of the overdue candidates this year just because it is "best of 2006" (even if that is absolutely true) would imply that the Academy Awards have always been about honoring the best of the year. Film criticism and critical history confirms that this has never been so. With this in mind, the reason why the Oscar-following community exists is because of the members' pure love of cinema: Nat's love of movies wants the industry's premier awards body to give "best of year" honors, but that just can't be when there a certain favorites that are in consideration no matter what they do when there are indisputable greats that don't even have one trophy. Nat should be commended for his fervor, not reprimanded.

The fact is - and this is, I think, the crux of Nat's arguement - that even if Letters of Iwo Jima is truly the best movie of the year and ends up getting Eastwood two more Oscars, the man has already been rewarded for underserving work. You can't go back and say, "Oh, this is the ONE that Eastwood should have won for. Let's take back his 2004 statue and give it to Scorsese." The person who loses in this scenario is Scorsese (AGAIN). There's no credibility, not to mention justice, in mess like that.

- Adam

Anonymous said...

"the man has already been rewarded for underserving work. You can't go back and say, "Oh, this is the ONE that Eastwood should have won for."

I really really disagree? And not only me, but I could use what you call "Film criticism and critical history" to confirm my point? I can say that, in both cases, according to film criticism and film history, Eastwood was rewarded with justice. Can't I?

I am getting tired.

- cal roth

NATHANIEL R said...

cal --when it comes to 1992 Unforgiven does seem to be the consensus. But the 2004 situation is another story altogether. There are plenty of dissenting voices that year though, to be fair, a good portion of them are in favor of the unnominated Eternal Sunshine as the future classic of that year, if they're not pro Sideways

but I'm tired too. Perhaps we should move on to another subject. Can Little Miss Sunshine really do it or will Babel pull through in the end? or am I wrong about who the top six are?

Anonymous said...

I do think LMS is the most likely to garner this nod. Too fit - the light comedy, great cast (SAG ensemble win, I say), kind of indie, critics like it. It gives the BP line up some balance.
I say it can be beaten if critics rally after another #6 to #15 movie, just like a Brokeback juggernaut - or a Capote, assuming some #1 to #4 is the critic's choice. It sounds unreal, but I say United 93 really can get critic's traction and reach BP nom. Babel or Little Children are too divisive. Volver is too foreign, and Flags is shut out now that we have Letters. Maybe Notes on a Scandal?

- cal roth

Craig Hickman said...

The best Best Actress race since 1974? Huh?

I'd take 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1996 over 1974 anyday of the week.

Craig Hickman said...

I don't like Eastwood films, generally--they seem to lumber along at a snail's pace and I can't stay awake.

Not the shocking kind, I was, however, shocked by just how much my gut hurt after M$B. I had no problem, no problem at all, with that film, or Swank OR Freeman, winning.

NATHANIEL R said...

craig a lot of those were great lists yes but they usually had one ewww in them. i think 1974 is well regarded because all five performances are fine and a few of them would seem like a winner quality.

Craig Hickman said...

And one last note on Swank. She does trailer park better than anybody out there. Helps, I'm sure that she came from one. So she's just being herself, one might yelp. But, hey, Jack Nicholson has won multiple awards for being himself, so why not Hilary?

I've said it before: Kate Winslet, like Michelle Pfeiffer, is penalized for being too pretty. Unless she plays ugly or de-glams (see Theron, Kidman (grrr), or even Berry), she'll always be a bridesmaid. I haven't liked Bening since Grifters. Sandino Mareno and Staunton had to just be happy to be there. So Swank, to me anyway, was a lock to win.

Craig Hickman said...

Nat, one cinephile's "ewww" is another's "wow."

But I feel you.

Just adding another perspective.

Babloo328 said...

Just thought I would note:

The Departed swept the Boston Film Critics (but that was pretty obvious). However, it was snubbed on the AFI Top Ten list in favor of The Devil Wears Prada, Borat, Happy Feet, and Inside Man.

The AFI Top Ten is particularly troubling for me, simply because, since 2000, the winner of the Oscar has been on the list. Guess what movie WAS on the list: Letters from Iwo Jima.

I'm just really, really tired of Clint Eastwood. Shouldn't he be eating applesauce and waiting for his grandchildren to call instead of consistently stealing Oscars from Marty? (The majority of this was a joke, FYI).

Kris said...

If awards is in the equation for Letters, it is soley for the film's box office sake and for the sake of getting it some traction with audiences. Eastwood isn't an Oscar whore, which seems to be your point.

That is MY point.

adam k. said...

On the topic of actress lineups, why has no one mentioned 1987???

Close, Kirkland, Hunter, Streep, and Cher? I thought this was regarded as one of the greatest ever. Unless Kirkland is an "ew"... I haven't seen Anna.

Or is this the one referred to as 1988 (the year of the ceremony)?

Anonymous said...

My apologies to Nat: Letters practically swept LA Film Critics not to mention The Departed snubs from NYFCO and AFI.

Oh well - what can you do? It's over for Marty...

Kamikaze Camel said...

But Kris - If you were to give most American filmgoers the option of a film starring a bunch of American actors in a war movie about one of the US' most triumphant victories... or a subtitled movie starring nobody that most have heard of, that (from appearances) shows the US as villains - which would make more sense to be a success? Flags. And so if Iwo Jima is a success then it'll be because of the awards it will receive. The awards will lead the box office. I mean, was 2 months that long to wait until it's original February release? I doubt it. The studio saw an awards opportunity and they took it.

Craig Hickman said...

adam, I thought every single nominee from 1987 was overrated.

Every single one.

Craig Hickman said...

And Cher won only because she was snubbed for Mask

For me 1988 was the best year across the board.

Kris said...

Camel - You just don't know what you're talking about. There's no other way to day it.

Yes, in two months, it would be too late to release Letters. Flags would have received NO Oscar attention, which was what Letters was banking on for an audience in the first place. I'll just say it one more time, it was pushed to 2006 to be closer to Flags, which would at least still be apparent.

WB didn't even believe in this thing, folks. They're only now awakening to it's awards potential.

Believe it or don't. Doesn't matter to me.

NATHANIEL R said...

adam --as far as I remember Sally Kirkland in Anna is no ewww. I mean I only saw it once that year but I was thrilled at the time when she made it to a nomination.

craig--88 really? I can take or leave Sigourney Weaver. Think it's Jodie's worst acclaimed performance. etc...

anyway. you're right about the one person's ewww is another's wow.

babloo --dreamgirls is also on AFI's top ten list and it's still the preemptive frontrunner, letters surge or not. I mean it is in a foreign language and they've still never awarded their top prize to a foreign language film.

Anonymous said...

- best actress lineups? I don't have many of them memorized, but that year with Sarandon, Shue, Stone, Thompson and Streep is the best I can remember. 5/5 in excellence, and two of them are among the performances of the 90's: Streep and Shue. Best actor was also great, with marvelous Nicolas Cage getting the Oscar with one of the most heartbreaking performances I've ever seen. No fan of him, but I can't deny this, or Wild At Heart. Why isn't he good all the time?

- cal roth

Kamikaze Camel said...

Gosh Kris. You're so kind. Way to have a conversation!

Kris said...

It's not a conversation anymore, though, Camel. I've told you what is known, and you keep coming back with Eastwood-hating conjecture. Nothing much to be done at that point.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Okay. I get it now. We're wrong. You're right.

Nice to know that's settled.

Now we're just left to wonder what would have happened in Iwo Jima had stayed in it's February release. Would it's critical favour have propelled it into the awards season at the end of the year or would all these groups think it was old hat by December and not bother. ???

adam k. said...

I don't get why there's an argument about this. It's fairly obvious why they moved Letters to December. Awards, box office, and "saving the film" are all the same thing. No, Clint is not a needy oscar whore. Yes, Clint knows that his film needs awards attention for people to see it. No, Letters wouldn't have done as well in February. Yes, the studio obviously moved it to put both films in a stronger position for awards. The idea that the studio didn't know they could win more awards with a december release is BS. Anyone who's ever paid attention to the oscars knows that december releases fare better than february releases, and that a one-two punch works better than a flop.

The studio might not have realized that Letters could end up being THE ONE for this year if pushed up (though it's their own fault if they didn't), but they obviously knew that putting both films in this awards season would give them more attention. What exactly is Kris arguing? What exactly is Nathaniel arguing?

I think the problems here are that

A) people seem to prefer to argue, rather than find common ground, and

B) Kris doesn't get that part of Nat's Eastwood hating is in jest.

I mean PLEASE, no one thinks Clint is out there checking Letters' oscar odds every hour, but of course he'd like it to win some awards. Awards are how you get films like this to be noticed. December is where you put a film to help it win awards. Period. It's really quite simple.

Also, how is it "over" for Marty??? He has won 3 awards now for Best Director. Clint has won 0. And Letters didn't "sweep" the LAFCA, it won best picture and nothing else. Get a grip, people.

I say it goes down like this:

Best Picture: Dreamgirls
Best Director: Marty
Best adapted screenplay: Letters

But it is still very much up in the air. I personally like it that way.

But just, everyone... get. a. grip.

Kris said...

Grip gotten.

Anonymous said...

The Oscars have become too much like professional sports and presidential elections.

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Anonymous said...

2006 seems to be set up for being one of the worst Oscar races in the past 10 years. Since ROTK swept the Oscars, the lackluster quality of Best Picture winners has been appalling. With possibly the worst decision in Oscar History, Crash won Best Picture to a bunch of homophobic idiot savants in Hollywood. 2005 was not as bad, but Million Dollar Baby was NOT the best picture of the year. There were plenty of directorial flaws and narrative issues with the movie.

I am no Scorcesse worshipper, but I find it cruel that everyone sets his films to some impossible standard, while allowing praising mediocrity from other directors. The Aviator was an excellent film in terms of structure and directorial technique. The scene involving the crashing airplane was exquisite. Instead of allowing Marty to chose and direct films that he desires, people keep criticizing him for not living up to the quality of Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. Taxi Driver, for example, has become a classic over time. Upon release it only received lukewarm reviews. Yet, everybody expects Scorcesse to direct an instant classic. This is completely unfair and stupid.

With this trend in mind, I am expecting Oscar to vote like twelve year old girls. I would not be surprised if the winning tally played like this:

Best Pic: Bobby
Best Actor: Will Smith - Pursuit
Best Actress: Renee Zelweger - Total shit
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt - some movie crying scene
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson for singing so well
Best Director: Clint Eastwood - because of idol worship
Best Foreign Film: Apocalypto

The Oscars are heading down a downward spiral. If they continue their streak of blatant stupidity they will become as worthless as the daytime Emmys.

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