Monday, December 13, 2010

Broadcast Film Critics: Black Swan Shows True Grit

The BFCA have revealed their "Critics Choice" nominees and Black Swan looms like an evil tutu'ed shadow over the competition with a record breaking 12 nominations. True Grit and The King's Speech were second with 11 nominations each, indicating that the BFCA voters really do like the films they've just seen the most. The BFCA has long been known (and celebrated and reviled) as being obsessed with predicting the Oscars. It's a curious character quirk for an awards body that ought to be concerned with establishing its own voice and one that would be a smidgeon more respectable, even as pure punditry, if they'd only limit their acting categories to 5 nominees like the Oscars do. When individual pundits are judged on their predictive power, they aren't allowed extras, you know? But ah well.

Running the gamut from beloved to respected to entirely snubbed

 The top ten films are as follows:
  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The King's Speech
  • The Social Network
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter's Bone
Did not make it all the way: The films racking up the highest nomination tallies outside of the Best Picture field were The Kids Are All Right and Alice in Wonderland (with 4 noms a piece).

Proving once again that comedies have tough treks to awards glory outside of the Globes, you'll notice that none (apart from an animated film) are mentioned. Though the BFCA are 16 years old, there is only one year to accurately compare their listings to the Academy in terms of Best Picture. Last year they chose Nine and Invictus in their top ten; Oscar passed on both. If the same stats hold true this year, two of those 10 above will drop away in 42 days when the Oscar nominations are announced. (Perhaps The Kids Are All Right, or Another Year will step in. Perhaps not... maybe the BFCA will go 9/10 or even *gasp* 10/10 this year.)

Curiously the BFCA field of nominees is only four-wide in four different craft categories? I can't figure why. Don't want to hog the entire blog with each and every category so the full nomination list with much opinionated commentary (and snubbing notes) is after the jump.

Annette Bening – “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman – “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
Noomi Rapace – “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Michelle Williams – “Blue Valentine”
  • This list is a bit more unruly as is this category in 2010. The four women most often predicted for Oscar are present but the other two (Noomi & Michelle) are important campaign gets. There's no Lesley Manville for Another Year (bad news for her) no Julianne Moore (she'll be in the Globe lineup I expect) and no Tilda Swinton for I Am Love... who has been picking up a smidgeon of renewed buzz again lately.

    Trivia note: This is Nicole Kidman's 7th nomination with BFCA (including ensemble citations) making her one of their very top performers in their 16 year history.
Jeff Bridges – “True Grit”
Robert Duvall – “Get Low”
Jesse Eisenberg – “The Social Network”
Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
James Franco – “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling – “Blue Valentine”
  • No surprises here but... F*** yeah, Ryan Gosling. This is every pundits top six for Oscar. But obviously Oscar restrains itself to five. So who is out? I'm assuming Franco & Firth are quite safe. But the other four... I could see any snub (yes even Bridges or Eisenberg) and any get. I'm so pleased for Gosling who is smashingly good in that movie. What'cha think?
Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), the captain of True Grit's ship.

Amy Adams – “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter – “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis – “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver – “Animal Kingdom”
  • In the past couple of weeks the Supporting Actress category has seemed to be in major flux but we may be experiencing The Great Settling as it were. (The Mila Kunis nod is the only mild surprise. She's fun and totally sexy in the movie but I don't understand it as "great acting"... would've much preferred Barbara Hershey.) I still think we need the Golden Globes tomorrow to be sure about this lineup.

    P.S. Hailee Steinfeld is the lead of True Grit, no ifs ands or buts. She's in every scene. She drives the story. She narrates. She even gets in on the action. It's so silly to call her supporting but whatever. Awards season makes people do dumb things.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTORChristian Bale – “The Fighter”
Andrew Garfield – “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner – “The Town”
Sam Rockwell – “Conviction”
Mark Ruffalo – “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush – “The King’s Speech”
  • The only surprise here, if you can call it that, is the lack of a Bill Murray citation. But otherwise all of these men are expected to be actual threats for Oscar nominations next month. Obviously AMPAS might change it up a bit. 

Elle Fanning – “Somewhere”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Winter’s Bone”
Chloe Grace Moretz – “Let Me In”
Chloe Grace Moretz – “Kick-Ass”
Kodi Smit-McPhee – “Let Me In”
Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”

  • This category disappoints me as I knew it would as it usually only settles around whichever young performers are the most famous. But that said, I think it's pretty inexcusable in a list of six not to include Josh Hutcherson (who is mildly famous) from The Kids Are All Right who was so perfect at conveying the film's coming of age catalyst need as well as in his differentiating his relationship with all five of his co-stars since his relationship to each was quite different.

    Low profile snubees also include Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank), James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom) and Faith Wladyka (Blue Valentine).

    Perhaps Lawrence is the defacto winner but I didn't vote for her myself, primarily because I didn't even think of her as eligible (it's "under 21" which she is... but since she's so close to 21 she didn't even occur to me when voting. Oops).

The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
The Town
  • I'm on board with these choices apart from The Town, which I don't understand as "great ensemble acting" but only as good cast of recognizable faces performing their roles adequately (some) to well (many) all the way to superbly (Renner). Having watched The King's Speech a second time recently, I think I've been a bit rough on it in terms of hating its presence in these ensemble categories. The supporting cast is quite delectable actually. But knowing the way ensemble votes tend to go I'm assuming that if they win, it'd only be because of the trio which is why I have a problem with it as an "ensemble". The Kids Are All Right should obviously win this prize but I have no illusion that it will.

Darren Aronofsky – “Black Swan”
Danny Boyle – “127 Hours”
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – “True Grit”
David Fincher – “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper – “The King’s Speech”
Christopher Nolan – “Inception”
  • Oscar's expected nominees list absent the Coen Bros. I believe True Grit would not be in the running for 11 nominations had it opened a couple of months ago. This is an example of a film really benefitting from its last minute berth. Since I often bitch about the reverse (films which are doomed by December glut releasing) I thought it was worth noting when it really works. Maybe I'll be in the minority but I just don't think it's top tier Coen Bros at all. But it's good enough with a few super sharp moments and a strong finish to be an exciting last watch before turning in your ballot. Ending well is so important.

“Another Year” – Mike Leigh
“Black Swan” – Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin
“The Fighter” – Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson (Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson)
“Inception” – Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right” – Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
“The King’s Speech” – David Seidler
  • One of these will have to fall off with Oscar. That looks to be Black Swan, which is more often lauded for its visuals and performances than its story or dialogue.

“127 Hours” – Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle
“The Social Network” – Aaron Sorkin
“The Town” – Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Sheldon Turner
“Toy Story 3” – Michael Arndt (Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
“True Grit” – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Winter’s Bone” – Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini
  • Again, you have to jettison something for Oscar. I'm guessing we lose The Town. And I still hope that Oscar voters throw a surprise in here, like The Ghost Writer or Rabbit Hole. You can imagine that The Social Network will hog many #1 spots on AMPAS ballots. When there's a steamrolling #1, that opens up the field to upsets, given the unique way that Oscar tallies votes, discarding the ballot after calculating its #1 (if you're #1 choice is counted on the first round, your ballot is gone... which means that true passion for something other than Aaron Sorkin's highly verbal instant classic, will count since those ballots won't be discarded immediately as they fill the other 4 slots.)

“127 Hours” – Anthony Dod Mantle
“Black Swan” – Matthew Libatique
“Inception” – Wally Pfister
“The King’s Speech” – Danny Cohen
“True Grit” – Roger Deakins
  • These nominations are getting really repetitive, eh? But these are some talented men.

“Alice in Wonderland” – Stefan Dechant
“Black Swan” – Therese DePrez and Tora Peterson
“Inception” – Guy Hendrix Dyas
“The King’s Speech” – Netty Chapman
“True Grit” – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh
  • Glad to see Black Swan here though I am horrified by the nomination for Alice in Wonderland. That film was so ugly and busy on so many levels. I like the handsome sets and costumes of The King's Speech quite a lot but it is, in some very noticeable ways, striving to be nominated in all these craft categories. It's always presenting itself like "look how pretty I am... like a twee diorama. Did you notice the wallpaper?! Yeah, we thought that was a great touch"

“127 Hours” – Jon Harris
“Black Swan” – Andrew Weisblum
“Inception” – Lee Smith
“The Social Network” – Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
  • Why only 4 nominations? It's a mystery. I expect these are all easy gets for Oscar noms, too. But what else? 

“Alice in Wonderland” – Colleen Atwood
“Black Swan” – Amy Westcott
“The King’s Speech” – Jenny Beavan
“True Grit” – Mary Zophres
  • Black Swan was on my ballot and I was among the first pundits to suggest it could find its way to Oscar in this category -- knowing that it would have the performative element, and not just ballerinas rehearsing and sexing. I'm disappointed, though that there's no imagination left for a 5th and less high profile nominee. What about Made in Dagenham or Tilda's duds in I am Love. Or even all those espionage sleek corporate power looks in Inception. People are so literal about costume design which is why you almost only ever seen very period films and / or royalty porn hogging this category each year.

Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
True Grit
  • I can't figure why Harry Potter is here. Which new characters were there makeup wise? The makeup in True Grit is fun -- Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin are so hideous in that movie so you know the make up team had to work hard.

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Tron: Legacy
  • No Scott Pilgrim. Oh, my fellow voters... you bore me. Alice in Wonderland is U-G-L-Y. Why do people like it? ARGH.

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
  • Oscar list? I love the sound work in The Social Network but I worry that it might be a little artful for Oscar if you know what I mean. They prefer the loud explosive movies. Movies which attempt to use sound in interesting or authentic or mood-shifting ways, don't always fare well.

Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3
  • No surprises there though Oscar's 3-wide field is still hard to read beyond the toys and dragons. Will Tangled (old school retro choice), The Illusionist (sublime artful choice) or Despicable Me (populist choice) win that crucial third spot?

The Town
  • No Scott Pilgrim again? sigh.

Date Night
Easy A
Get Him to the Greek
I Love You Phillip Morris
The Other Guys
  • No Scott Pilgrim? Trivia: It received a higher BFCA rating at the time of its premiere "80" than all but one of their nominated comedies (strangely Easy A was the top reviewed). No Kids Are All Right?
Entirely Snubbed Films That Were Rated "80" or Higher by BFCA (i.e. higher than some of their actual nominees)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The
World, Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer

The Pacific
Temple Grandin
You Don’t Know Jack
  • I abstain from this category each year as I never know what's eligible and I generally haven't seen any of them since I am cinema focused. Hasn't Temple Grandin been winning prizes for like 15 months now?

I Am Love
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Why only 3 nominees?

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Tillman Story
Waiting for Superman
  • Really? You just went for Oscar frontrunners even here? (Barring Joan Rivers). They couldn't have made a point of nominating something like Catfish? That would have been an exciting move.

“I See the Light” – performed by Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi/written by Alan Menken & Glenn Slater – Tangled
“If I Rise” – performed by Dido and A.R. Rahman/music by A.R. Rahman/lyrics by Dido Armstrong and Rollo Armstrong – 127 Hours
“Shine” – performed and written by John Legend – Waiting for Superman
“We Belong Together” – performed and written by Randy Newman – Toy Story 3
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me Yet” – performed by Cher/written by Diane Warren – Burlesque
  • Can I just say, nothing against Dido and A.R. Rahman who I've enjoyed before. "If I Rise" is so dull. Now that I actually vote in a major organization I'm realizing why campaigning is so important. In categories like this it's really hard to know what's eligible unless the films present those songs to you. Some films send out CDs and some don't. I received the music to all of these so they were obviously campaigning.

“Black Swan” – Clint Mansell
“Inception” – Hans Zimmer
“The King’s Speech” – Alexandre Desplat
“The Social Network” – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
“True Grit” – Carter Burwell
  • Disappointed that they went with Desplat's The King's Speech rather than his superior work on The Ghost Writer but then you have to remember... the voters are thinking Oscar. Still, in this category, I'd be surprised to see much Oscar similarity. Oscar is notoriously stingy with previously unnominated composers and this list contains four of them: Mansell, Reznor, Ross, Burwell. So, this list will never transfer without some adjustment to Oscar.
There you go. Your verdict on this year's pool of film nominations? Or would you rather just wait for the Golden Globes tomorrow.


OtherRobert said...

I thought Mila Kunis was the standout supporting performance in Black Swan. You can say she had a fun, sexy role, but that's not even half of the part. You can't ignore the role the dancing will play in potential nominations; she might not have done as much hard choreography as Portman in the film, but she's still dancing in a few key scenes. She is used so well in the film and so often, I won't be surprised if she's nominated at the Oscars. Barbara Hershey is wonderful in the film, but her character is a bit more static and used in the same way again and again. The variations are more subtle and not as visual as Kunis's performance. I'd love to see them both nominated, but I don't see that happening.

Jeff said...

Nathaniel you didn't like Elle Fanning in Somewhere? you haven't commented the movie what did you think of her?

john said...

Kidman is not the most nominated BFCA performer, Blanchett has 9 noms, though there may be other actors with more.

Broooooke said...

You're dissapointed in the Best Young Actor/Actress catagory????

I find it completely loaded myself. All the performances are great and transcend the fact that they are young. I feel that Lawrence probably is too old for this, especially concerning the ages of the others (How old is Steinfeld anyway???), and te fact that she's looking at a BA nomination. But the age limit is there for a reason I guess. I'm thinking she may not win, just because of the fact that people may be more inclined to vote for someone who is actually young.

Good to see Easy A there. Is anyone else rooing for a GG nom for Emma Stone?

adam k. said...

Wow, I'm frankly pleasantly surprised that Black Swan did this well. I'm sooooo happy that Aronofsky appears to finally be breaking through to the mainstream. Now it won't get 12 nods with oscar, but it will have to get a lot, no? I'm very curious to see just how strongly the globes embrace it. I think it's actually being helped by the fact that this year was relatively weak in terms of the craft categories, at least as far as traditional oscary stuff is concerned.

No Kids Are All Right in best picture OR best comedy is rather shocking. I didn't even love it that much and I'm very disappointed it couldn't find love anywhere. Did they not consider it a comedy? Was it not populist enough for them? Sigh.

I also have to agree that Mila Kunis was a good choice in supporting. Her part is much more fleshed out than Hershey's. Hershey seems to be doing a less full and rounded homage to Piper Laurie in Carrie, whereas Mila Kunis really gets to sink her teeth in as Portman's dark alter ego. Looks like oscar will be Weaver/Adams/Leo/Steinfield/Bonham-Carter, give or take a nod for Dianne Wiest.

Ryan T. said...

The Scott Pilgrim snub is a little annoying. I know they're all about predicting Oscars and SP isn't going to be lighting the nomination tally, but COME ON. They gave it an solid 80 rating (though their ratings mean less than nothing most of the times) and they couldn't have given it a token nod in any of the tech awards? Supremely lame.

Ed Howard said...

Totally agreed with OtherRobert re: Mila Kunis. I think it's somewhat silly to say that fun and sexy can't also be great acting, which implies — as I'm sure you didn't mean to — that only heavy emoting is worthy of acclaim. She's just so much fun to watch in this film, so expressive, and I thought it was an utterly delightful performance. It was important for that character to be the opposite of Portman's repressed, inward-looking girl-child, and Kunis clearly has a lot of fun embodying carnality and joie de vivre. It would be a much lesser film without her.

Mike R. said...

do they have some kind of minimum vote system? Because how many they nominate for each award seems to change year to year...


Mike R -- i don't know. perhaps i should look at the rules more closely. I prefer Oscar's static 5 no matter what. I think all awards groups ought to have very specific rules about tiebreakers and nominee fields and such. for consistencies sake.

OtherRobert & Ed -- i didn't mean to imply that no, that only "heavy emoting" means great acting. And you both know that about me if you follow the blog. But I guess I just don't see how it's "best" but again, i really like the performance and the movie. But i am absolutely certain that her sexiness is winning her votes ;)

Jeff -- i thought Elle was really good in SOMEWHERE but it's a very low key performance and I know it wouldn't have been here if the movie hadn't been a Decembre release and she weren't already famous is what i'm saying.

John --okay, their press release is confusing. I shall amend.

Ryan T -- the Scott Pilgrim snubs are to me the most embarrassing. Not because the movie is a masterpiece, but because there are very specific categories to which it should have had an iron lock. Best visual effects and best comedy.

I realize that maybe i shouldn't get as angry about awards as I often do but I just don't understand ANY notion of Alice in Wonderland having great effects when they looked so fake, so muddy, and were so obtrusive to the eye... so much going on that it was just like one big CGI gaseous swirl. blech. Give me the clean, witty, aesthetically styled f/x of Scott Pilgrim any day of any week of any year over Wonderland.

OtherRobert said...

Nathaniel, I didn't mean to imply that you were saying the part wasn't good acting. I was suggesting that the fun/sexy was one part of a very wide-reaching performance. It's an unusual kind of role to recognize, but it's also used in a pivotal way throughout the film.

Kyle said...

I still find it dissapointing that we're going to see such pedestrian work by Tom Hooper get rewarded with a Best Director nom, I mean by all means, nominate it for Best Picture...but I can easily think of 6,7, maybe even 8 directors this year that I'd nominate before Hooper. There really needs to be a rethinking of how the concept of Best Director is awarded.

Also, it's too bad that Daft Punk's Tron score is attached to such an Awards unfriendly (along with Zimmer's, Reznor's, and Mansell's) was some of the best scoring work on a thematic and inventive level.

Ashley said...

I think it's safe to say that this will be the least diverse awards season in a long time. No Halle, no Javier, and almost all of the best picture nominees have little or no people of color in them.


Ashley -- that's undoubtedly true. But it came down to which films got released basically. I mean Biutiful and Frankie & Alice were almost like afterthoughts in terms of distribution. That's no way to run Oscar campaigns.

Clover said...

I still think Javier Bardem is not entirely out of the race...

Volvagia said...

Off Topic: Nat, on the escalating thread earlier I have some moral issues with There Will Be Blood, but it's still minor and I always thought of it as vital and energetic movie. (But, still, I can't watch another PT Anderson. Sorry. The bile in my mouth says: NO!)

Rank of moral issues:

Anti-Intellectualism (first four issues are the big 4 (can't get above a B with extreme amounts of any of those.)
Dogmatic viewpoints (Not above a B+ at the most extreme.)
Ageism (not above an A- at the most extreme.)
Aphobia (Stops at an A. Can't quite give an A+ to such material, now can I? (Yes I do consider fear of my own orientation a lesser sin than fear of yours, Nat. Why? Figure it out yourself.)

Dean said...

If the Academy nominated Penelope Cruz in Nine then they could definitely nominate Mila Kunis. A performance based on sex appeal seems to fine with them.

The Noomi Rapace thing is beyond comprehension to me. There is just nothing in that performance that deserves recognition. It's straight out of the Kristen Stewart handbook of how to act like you don't want to really be in your own damn movie.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

The broad support for Black Swan and Aronofsky is so pleasantly surprising to me. If someone had told me, even a month ago that Black Swan would be our nominations leader at the BFCA, I would have referred him or her to the nearest shrink. I'm just as surprised as I was by the awards body reaction to There Will Be Blood three years ago. Spectacular film, visionary director, but awards season has never embraced his work in a major way before, so no reason to think they'll do it this time...and then they do. Good for Aronofsky for not having to make himself more "accessible" to get there (knock on wood).


the pretentious -- i think it's like what Todd Haynes said around the time of i'm not there... he figured that the culture eventually comes around to you rather than you having to come around to the culture or whatnot. And that's definitely true with the visionaries.

The lucky ones see this happen while they're still vital but some people have to wait until they're dead.

MRRIPLEY said...

Seems lesley manville's buzz came and went with cannes,i feel michelle williams will fill that 5th spot and maybe ryan gosling over duvall or bridges,supp actress is locked i think minus kunis,supp actor garfield,rush and bale loced then the 3 r's renner,rockwell & ruffalo.


well. we'll see THE GLOBES are tomorrow and SAG is later this week so there is still room for things not to be set in stone.

James T said...

According to imdb this is Kidman's sixth BFCA and it might (read: will) be her 8th golden globe nod.

I'd like to say one think. Though i do agree that the BFCA seem (or do) to try to predict the Oscars, i'm not sure they (or anyone) believe Black Swan will be that big so i guess this is a case where (when?) they really feel strongly about a movie.

Anonymous said...

hey nathaniel, how did you think hailey steinfield is in true grit? im surprised how many nominations the movie got, since no one seems interested in western movies anymore, and honestly seems pretty boring compared to most CB movies.


james -- according to the BFCA themselves, it's Kidman's 7th. so not sure which movie is the disconnect. and i'd imagine you're right about hte black swan enthsuiasm. it's also a matter of timing. The BFCA was voting during the absolutely insane first wave of Black Swan mania.

anon -- i thought Hailee was good in a difficult part but it's TOTALLY a lead role (like Portman sized lead role rather than Bening sized lead role cuz she's never offscreen) and she's not one of the 5 best leads of the year ;)

Rebecca said...

I'm always shocked when I'm reminded that Carter Burwell has never been nominated for Oscar. Seriously, you could mention that fact to me again tomorrow and I would be surprised again.

Peggy Sue said...

The Foreign Film category is a joke. I'm pretty sure these are the only foreign films they have seen in the whole year.

Jason said...

In other Black Swan news, well sort of. This is perhaps the best trailer ever made:)


Rebecca -- oh trust me. I KNOW. He was so fascinating to hear speak last year when i went to this event for him at Nashville. So so smart. Smartest composer i've ever listened to other than alexandre desplat. they're both so amazing.

mike t said...

Rabbit Hole needs to be released as soon as it can to get the attention back to Nicole Kidman because she is soooo gooood in it. Too bad Aaron Eckhart is not in the mix at all.

Is Julianne Moore’s performance really that forgettable? C’mon, she was just as good as her “the so called frontrunner” co-star.

I think that the Fish Tank’s Katie Jarvis and Animal Kingdom’s James Frecheville are worth the nomination for best young star.

animal kingdom actually deserves best ensemble cast than the king’s speech which just features 3 people communicate again and again.

Philip said...

I totally understand your anger - you feel like the people voting, who are essentially telling the general public what good films are, vote like they have no sense, and just hop on the bandwagon half the time.

Vaus said...

Re your comment about AMPAS discarding ballots after calculating #1, this is not the full story.
There is the "Surplus rule" where if a film gets 20% more than it needs for a nomination then the
votes are proportioned according to following preferences. So if The Social Network gets twice as
many #1 votes as required for a nomination (the quota is about 9% for 10 nominations) then they will proportion second and maybe later votes. So a vote for 1=Social Network 2=Animal Kingdom could count as 1/2 a vote for Social Network and 1/2 vote for Animal Kingdom. (Still one vote per voter but can be split across multiple nominees.)
Steve Pond at The Wrap did a fuller explanation of Oscar and Preferential voting last year but people who aren't into voting systems might have stopped reading before the surplus rule was mentioned.