Nathaniel R: First things first, please welcome this year's Symposium guests (in alpha order just like Oscar do): Timothy Brayton, Antagonie & Ecstasy, Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine, Karina Longworth, Spout, Erik Lundegaard, Eriklundegaard.com and Kris Tapley, In Contention. They were chosen through an elaborate and painstaking ranked balloting system. Only Price Waterhouse employees know who was snubbed for the 4th annual Film Experience event. Pundits suggest that they were invited on the basis of their mad skills with dramaturgy and accents. I'm happy to have these five in my virtual house to discuss the 81st annual Oscars.
But where to begin in a year when the Academy is feeling so passive aggressive? It's almost as if they took a look at the semi daring and pleasingly rangey shortlist of 2007 and thought: 'we simply can't have that again!', beating a hastry retreat back into their bios, Holocausts pictures, and vaguely ambitious epics a good portion of which will be forgotten about in five years time. I'm still unsure, given the ranked balloting system of the Academy, how at least 60% of them managed to get a sufficient number of #1 votes to compete. Who is passionate about them?
AMC Theaters is hosting a marathon of the Best Picture nominees in several cities the day before the Oscars. I've considered going for the blog fodder but who wants to sit through these five particular films back to back to back to back to back and again for that matter? That's someone's idea of hell surely, or at least one circle of it. There's not even a comedy to break up the 12 hour day. Could you do it? Or would you like to propose a separate marathon. Is there an entire category you could sit through all at once?
Erik Lundegaard: Is the Academy feeling passive-aggressive? Does the Academy feel? All I know is I'm feeling passive and Harvey Weinstein is feeling aggressive. A friend of mine said that 2008 was a bad year for movies but it was really only a bad year for Oscar movies. The blockbusters were great: The Dark Knight, Iron Man, WALL•E, even Hancock which I think is underrated. The Oscars have Milk, which I think should win, and Slumdog Millionaire, which I wouldn't mind winning, but nothing to stir the passions like No Country or Brokeback or The Pianist. At least for me. Anyone else?
As for Nathaniel's question: I could sit through all the foreign language films, since it's probably the only way to see them all. I'm in Seattle, not a bad city for movies, but only Waltz With Bashir has shown up. The Class is scheduled soon. The others? Lotsa luck.
Karina Longworth: I agree that 2008 was not a bad year for movies. I don't think it was even necessarily a bad year for nominated movies...
Find out how Sean Penn gave Kris a black eye, who loves Rachel Getting Married, why Slumdog didn't set off Ed's bullshit detector, how France pissed Karina off and which Muppet Frank Langella reminds Timothy of. Return and comment if you'd like to join the convo.