Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The (Mostly) Unseen Contenders of '06: Letters From Iwo Jima


Release Date
: December 20th (limited)

MPAA Rating: not yet rated

Ten Words Or Less
: Watanabe leads Clint's second shot at Oscar this season.

Reason For Existence: The flipside to Flags of our Fathers, told from the Japanese perspective. Think of Eastwood as Switzerland, and his movies as the Axis Powers and the Allies.

Mathematical Equation: Dirty Harry + Private Ryan - The Last Samurai (guns, no swords) divided by zero (box office stars).

Take A Look
: Careful, it's in Japanese (and no translation)

Early Buzz (Good)
: "I'm predicting "Letters from Iwo Jima" to take the win for Best Picture of the year, what I think will be seen as a salute to Clint Eastwood's one-two punch." - Kris Tapley, In Contention

Early Buzz (Bad)
: We can't find any...although the box office for Flags of our Fathers isn't exactly encouraging.

Oscar Locks: None

In The Running: Best Film, Best Director (Clint Eastwood)

Long Shots
: Best Actor (Ken Watanabe)

Completely Irrelevant Best Picture Odds
: 15-1

Why It's Essential
: Eastwood tries to pull off a two-fer, and generally people lose their ever-loving minds over Eastwood movies. (Except Nathaniel...I still try not to mention Million Dollar Baby in his presence.)

The Achilles Heel
: Million Dollar Baby wasn't long ago. And Flags of our Fathers didn't do too well at the box office, despite good reviews, which is why we're seeing Iwo Jima suddenly pumped this early (it was supposed to be released in 2007).

The Verdict
: Oscar loves an 11th-hour entry to mix it up. That's how Million Dollar Baby first came into the race, remember? But the marketing team is going to have to work overtime to get enough momentum rolling this late in the game.

A final note: I've had a ball this week sitting in for Nathaniel, who returns tomorrow. Thanks for welcoming a guest in the holy house, and please come visit us at ModFab whenever you can. Enjoy the NBRs! - Gabriel

[Modern Fabulousity]


RC said...

Iwo Jima as a best picture win? Interesting better be pretty good if it's even going to get a nomination...and to pull of a win it will need more than a nomination for best pic and director.

-RC of

Glenn Dunks said...

God I hope it doesn't win. Even if it is good that'd just be getting ridiculous.

If Scorsese loses the Oscar this year I fully anticipate boos. Especially if it's to Eastwood.

Lucas Dantas said...

Seriously, everything that has the words "Clint Eastwood" involved now makes me wanna cry.

adam k. said...

I suspect this will actually be quite good, and will make people go "um, er..." as to who to vote for this year.

I mean, nobody wants to screw Marty for Clint AGAIN, do they? Do they???

And maybe it's not so good if they were originally gonna release in February. They were obviously expecting nothing from this film 'til they got desperate (except some added press for FooF).

Plus even if this gets nominated for things, who is actually gonna see it? Seriously. NOT that many Americans really want to go pay money to watch a movie in Japanese that humanizes our WWII enemies. I can't imagine this making anywhere near M$B's gross. Nowhere near.

Anonymous said...

I want to say that I had really enjoyed reading this series of "(mostly) unseen contenders of '06" Job well done, Gabriel.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Surely everyone in the Academy got the message Marty was sending with all those headshots in The Departed?

Anonymous said...

At least it doesn't contain Hilary Swank. I'm interested to see it (which will not be for some time and then only for 30 seconds at the distant multiplex). You know, while I quite often like and respect Clint as a director, it does all seem like overkill. Shame, because even if this is a completely worthy BP winner, there is no way that if it does win it can leave a good taste in the mouth.

Glenn Dunks said...

The thing is I actually want to see this one because it's a story that I have zero idea about, whereas I knew the Flags story from the trailer (and the movie was shite)

Anonymous said...

If you're gonna link to a trailer for Letters try this one from the official US site which is actually subtitled in English! Just click on 'video' when you get there:

>>I knew the Flags story from the trailer (and the movie was shite)

Nope, Flags was fine, one of the best movies of the year.

Anonymous said...

ahem, or even this link:

Anonymous said...

I saw the SAG screening of Letters yesterday, and audience response was overwhelming- standing ovation for Ken and Clint before the Q & A. I was expecting something a little more engaging, considering all the buzz. I enjoyed the battle scenes and the fact that the films showed the other side, but I really couldn't bring myself to be completely invested in the characters. It also felt a little too small in scope- felt like we only see two hundred Japanese max when there were 22,000 stationed at Iwo Jima.

Jason Adams said...

I'd just like to reiterate the sentiment of great job on these posts, Gabriel!

Anonymous said...

It just won NBR for Best Picture. Dreamgirls and The Queen was not in the top Top but Flags, LMS, The Departed was. They had some intresting choices like The Devil Wears Panda.

Beau said...


Anonymous said...

Sweet Jesus - more Clint? I just might move back to India and subject myself to spectacular dance sequences amidst melodramatic performances. THAT'S how I feel.

Surely, this one man can't rob Scorsese...twice? Flags of our Fathers had a whole stale Saving Private Ryan feel for it, while The Departed reminded us of classic Scorsese while still being fresh and pumping with energy.

Beau said...

I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

more Clint? I just might move back to India and subject myself to spectacular dance sequences amidst melodramatic performances. THAT'S how I feel.

Don't let us stop you. The swim should certainly sharpen your appetite. You'd better hurry though, the tide leaves in 20 minutes.

Oh, & kamikaze camel? I just wanna say ... AHAHAHAHAHAAH!!!!

Anonymous said...

By releasing Iwo Jima in late December, they get to qualify it AND release it so late that slow box office won't hurt its chances because it will have only just gone wide. Which is what they did with M$B too.

I saw The Patent Leather Kid this week, a silent 1927/28 Best Actor nominee with Richard Barthelmess. Waaaay too long at 130+ mins, and I only mention it because parts of the plot reminded me of M$B (hard to say without spoiling the - frankly, hilarious - ending). Think of it as The Patent Leather Baby or The Million Dollar Kid. Heck, Eastwood probably saw it as a youngster and was inspired by it 75 years later :)


is there anything more tiresome than previous winners swooping in (undeservedly) to make an Oscar fuss in December due to hero worship ?

I stand by my feelings that FooF is derivative, overlong, and structured awkwardly. It isn't a patch on Million Dollar Baby or Mystic River

If it were a perfect world, it wouldn't get anywhere near a nomination...

but it's not a perfect world ;)

The frustrating thing is this: Hollywood is STILL going to pretend that Clint Eastwood is a better director than Scorsese, Almodovar, and a few dozen others who have yet to win their first "Best Director" prize but who have proven themselves absolutely vital to the cinema? Blech!

Two Oscars is more than enough for a good (no more. no less) director like Eastwood.

But all that said, I'm very curious about Letters From Iwo Jima because it sounds a heckuva lot more interesting.

adam k. said...

It's really hard to picture Clint winning again over Marty... and just two years later.

But Letters will be all the rage now. If he does somehow win, it will be for that. I think Flags will be pushed aside, with people just pretending it never existed and never flopped. It'll only be referenced in relation to Letters. Or maybe they'll rerelease it WITH Letters and see if more people come.

I'll just be really disappointed if Clint wins a third oscar because of a strategic move designed to cover for Flags' flopping.

Anonymous said...

I'm not that concerned about The Queen not being included in the Top 10, simply because it's Mirren's show and she won Best Actress. That's practically a Top 10 placement, right?

Maybe I'm grasping at straws.

Anyone notice the lack of The Good German, The Good Shepherd, and other contenders? I'm definitely more intrigued by The Painted Veil and Iwo Jima now. I just don't think I can handle more Clint Eastwood.

I definitely hope that this is The Departed's to lose, and since there isn't much out there, it's practically a lock.

Anonymous said...

Hollywood is STILL going to pretend that Clint Eastwood is a better director than Scorsese, Almodovar, and a few dozen others

They don't have to pretend. Eastwood has a better body of work and more genuine great/masterpiece movies than any other contemporary director. He is so far ahead of Scorsese, thematically/narratively, that it's a joke to hear Scorsese's fans voicing the same tired mantra over and over, 'Finest living director, honest! .. Robbed by the Academy!' while mediocre & utterly forgettable works like Aviator & GoNY pile up.

Anonymous said...

Thank you JA, Marcelo and Kin for the kind words about the series. I just hope Nathaniel liked it, too. ;-)

I think winning the NBR may, paradoxically, end up being the worst thing that could happen to LFIJ. It means that it's not even out yet, and it's already peaked. The purposeful snub of other race leaders proves that NBR had an agenda. Eastwood will have to pick up a couple more awards before I believe this movie is a frontrunner.

Beau said...

Anon, give me a list of the great Eastwood films, please. I'm dying to hear what accompanies "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "Blood Work" in his portfolio of masterpieces.

Gangs of New York was a good film, I enjoyed it. It was a passion-project, and like so many of its kind, the director lost his head. Unlike so many others, the film itself didn't suffer as greatly as it could have.
I loved "The Aviator". Fuck the haters.


anonymous --even if consider all three of Eastwood's most well received films to be total unqualified masterpieces (i'm speaking of Mystic, Million, and Unforgiven of course) how on gods green earth could you possibly ever say that they outclass Scorsese's (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) --I mean that's just crazy talk.

but maybe by "body of work" you mean. Films from the past few years. that's the only way that that might be a sane statement. ;)

Glenn Dunks said...

Yeah, Cause Play Misty For Me, Honkytonk Man, Firefox, The Gauntlet, Breezy, Bronco Billy, True Crime, Blood Work and The Rookie represents are far better level of accomplishment than Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The King of Comedy, Age of Innocence, Raging Bull, Mean Streets, The Last Temptation of Christ and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Before Unforgive most people didn't even know Eastwood directed films at all, let alone good ones.

"I'll just be really disappointed if Clint wins a third oscar because of a strategic move designed to cover for Flags' flopping."

That's actually the annoying part. If Flags didn't flop, Iwo Jima woulda stayed put in February. But then we'd have to see Flags win awards and at least Iwo Jima is (apparently) good.

adam k. said...

Except Flags wouldn't have won awards.

Most of what people talk about now is Eastwood's "great achievement" meaning the two films together (mostly Letters). Flags on its own just died a quick death. Wouldn't have won a thing.

Beau said...

Quick and relatively painless.

I swear, 'Letters' had better be a f***ing amazing film. If I'm subjected to another two-and-a-half celluloid lecture on honor in war, I'll off myself with a bushido blade in the theater itself.

Or just bitch. I do it so well.

Anonymous said...

its a good movie but it romanticizes the japanese. Nothing they did was great. i dont think its so touching and sad. It makes them look like they didnt do anything wrong.

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