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The Bus 10-28-08 04:26 PM

The 81st Academy Awards — 2009 Oscar pre-nomination discussion
 
I know this is usually Mr. Cinema's honor but I didn't want to bypass this article, which I found interesting:

<img src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo153x23.gif">

<img src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/28/arts/wallspan.jpg">

October 28, 2008

<b><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/movies/28stud.html?_r=1&8dpc&oref=google&pagewanted=print">Studios Are Pushing Box Office Winners as Oscar Contenders</a></b>
By MICHAEL CIEPLY and BROOKS BARNES

LOS ANGELES — Walt Disney is in. This week the studio will break new ground by starting a campaign that boldly offers its <FONT style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffbf">“Wall-E” as a contender for the best picture Oscar</font>, an honor never yet won by an animated film.</b>

Warner Brothers is in, too. That studio recently telegraphed plans for <FONT style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffbf">a multifront Oscar campaign for its Batman blockbuster “The Dark Knight”</font> by sending awards voters a query about their preferred format for promotional DVDs.

Not to be outdone, Paramount may join the party. Along with Marvel Enterprises, it is weighing <FONT style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffbf">an Oscar push for “Iron Man” and its lead actor, Robert Downey Jr., even while promoting Mr. Downey as best supporting actor</font> for his role in the DreamWorks comedy hit “Tropic Thunder.”

Welcome to the pop Oscars.

After years of giving plenty of running room to independent film companies or studio art house divisions that set the pace with critic-friendly but limited-audience films like last year’s “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood,” this year the major studios are pushing some of their biggest crowd-pleasers into the thick of the awards race.

Their approaching multimillion-dollar campaigns come at a time when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose 6,000-plus members award the Oscars, is planning to give its annual show a more commercially popular flavor. In part the academy’s producers will do that by including glimpses of the year’s box office favorites, whether or not they are nominated for prizes.

The shift is coming about partly because companies in the last year have either folded specialty divisions like Warner Independent Films, which in 2006 had a best picture nominee in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” or downsized them, as Paramount did with Paramount Vantage, which in 2007 had a nominee in “Babel.”

Shrinkage in the small-film business has left more room for big studios to play the Oscar game. Awaiting awards pushes are films like Universal’s “Frost/Nixon,” directed by Ron Howard; Paramount’s “Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a David Fincher film starring Brad Pitt; and 20th Century Fox’s “Australia,” a Baz Luhrmann epic starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

(“Australia,” still unseen by critics, does not arrive until December but was screened in unfinished form for Oprah Winfrey, who is expected to feature it with star interviews on her show next week, kicking off the studio’s campaign.)

At the same time Hollywood’s blockbusters, rich in effects and increasingly complex in their themes, appear to have become more award-worthy of late.

“Wall-E,” from Disney’s Pixar unit, emerged as a darling of the critics for its adult sensibility, in addition to its heavily detailed computer animation. The film, the story of a lovesick robot, tackles a serious topic (environmentalism) while taking huge risks (for instance, a 45-minute stretch with nearly no dialogue).

As early as midsummer Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal’s film critic, was arguing that “Wall-E” should be considered for best picture. “The time to start the drumbeat is now,” he wrote in a July 12 essay, noting the extreme difficulty animated films, while hugely popular, have faced in vying for the most prestigious Oscar. Only one, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” released in 1991, has ever been nominated for best picture.

“If we didn’t do it, I don’t think we’d be giving the movie its due,” Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said of the decision to promote “Wall-E” for the top prize, even if that complicates the movie’s simultaneous bid for the more easily won award as best animated feature. One problem is a presumed tendency to split votes. Academy members can vote for a film in both the best picture and best animated feature categories. But they may not be inclined to do that or even know that the rules permit it.

In the past films more appealing than self-consciously artistic were routinely included in the Oscar mix. “Ghost,” the No. 1 movie at the box office in 1990, with $506 million in worldwide ticket sales, won five nominations, including one for best picture. “There was much less campaigning back then, and the academy tended to go more with what moved them emotionally, even if it was a big commercial hit,” said Lisa Weinstein, a producer of “Ghost.”

The last runaway hit to win a best picture Oscar was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003. In the years since the prize has gone to “Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash,” “The Departed” and “No Country for Old Men” — the combined domestic box office sales for which fell short of the $377 million taken in by “The Return of the King.”

The drift away from audience-oriented contenders has precipitated a sharp drop in viewers for the annual Oscar show. Last year’s program, with Jon Stewart as host, was the least watched on record, with about 32 million viewers in the United States. The highest rating was 55.3 million in 1998, when the immensely popular “Titanic” won the big prize.

Ultimately, of course, the academy’s voting members will decide whether the year’s more popular and mainstream offerings make the cut. They will have plenty of artier options, including “Rachel Getting Married,” Jonathan Demme’s intricate look at a family coping with a drug-addicted daughter played by Anne Hathaway, and “Revolutionary Road,” a period romance directed by Sam Mendes and starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. “Slumdog Millionaire,” from the director Danny Boyle, and “Milk,” directed by Gus Van Sant with Sean Penn in the lead role, are also in the running — all with backing from studio specialty divisions.

Studio Oscar campaigners are largely reluctant to discuss their reasoning and strategies publicly for fear of overreaching with the academy’s finicky voters. However, several noted a belief that audiences — weary of economic crisis and political strife — are ready for a dose of fun from the entertainment industry.

“People like to vote for winners, and this year there are box office winners that also exhibit incredible craft,” said Amanda Lundberg, a partner at the New York publicity firm 42 West, an Oscar campaign powerhouse.

In that spirit, Disney will open its “Wall-E” campaign with something of a wink, by taking an advertisement that transforms the logo of a famous industry trade paper to read “Variet-E.” Warner’s campaign for “The Dark Knight” will get a boost from both a Dec. 9 DVD release and an expected rerelease, on both standard and Imax screens, as the awards season peaks in January.

If, as expected, “Iron Man” comes into the awards mix, that will be partly because Paramount recently moved a more conventional prospect, a drama called “The Soloist,” into next year and out of contention. That film, which stars Mr. Downey alongside Jamie Foxx, had promised to complicate the studio’s life at a time when it saw awards potential for the currently very hot Mr. Downey in three pictures at once.

Meanwhile, those who create the Oscar ceremony — to be shown on Feb. 22 on ABC — are determined this time around to connect with the people, and lots of them.

The academy has lifted a 50-year ban on commercials for coming movies during the Oscar telecast in the hope of creating more of a feeling of “event” television for movie fans by including more splashy ads. Organizers (and ABC’s advertising sales staff) are hoping to take a page from the Super Bowl, at which movie studios have often shown exclusive footage of big-budget summer movies to start generating fan interest.

And there will most certainly be superheroes and villains present on Oscar night, whether or not Mr. Downey receives a nomination for his role as Tony Stark in “Iron Man,” or Heath Ledger is nominated for his portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

“Not only should the Oscar show celebrate excellence in the movies of the year; we believe it should also celebrate the movies,” said Laurence Mark, the producer of the next ceremony, sounding what has become a theme for the year.

“We just need to figure out a way that is appropriate to do that.”

<hr>

I wouldn't have a problem with Wall-E, The Dark Knight, or Iron Man being nominated as Best Picture, as long as all three of them aren't nominated.

Rypro 525 10-28-08 04:57 PM

Iron Man screams long shot Was it a good movie, certainly, but will it get a best picture nod, absolutly not (unless the arthouse fair for later in the year turns out to be crap)

Matthew Ackerly 10-28-08 05:02 PM

What sort of alternate reality is Paramount living in?

OldBoy 10-28-08 05:06 PM

TDK is the only legitimate shot at a nomination and i would love win. the others were nice in their respects, but certainly far from Best Picture worthy. i don't think IM or Wall-E broke away from typical Summer blockbuster popcorn too much. they were very successful, but with the exceptions of some of Wall-E weren't that deep or thought provoking. smarter than your average summer-time movie, but not as insightful and gut-wrenchingly bold as TDK. now is TDK the tops, i dunno as i obviously haven't seen the upcoming contenders which will trickle in now through 12/31, but to date it is the winner imo.

chris_sc77 10-28-08 06:28 PM

If Wall-e gets a best picture nomination I will never watch the Oscars again in my lifetime.
I think more and more though that The Dark Knight has a very legitimate shot at getting nominated for Best Picture (and screenplay, Director, supp. Actor and many technical awards).
I personally feel the Dark Knight and Miracle At St. Anna are the two best films so far of the year and would be happy to them get some love. I know Miracle probably has no shot now considering the reception most people gave it but I still feel it deserved Academy recognition.
Also Im really hoping to see Snow Angels and The Fall get some love this year. They were two of the best films of the year and despite making money they seem to have become a bit more popular with the DVD releases.
Is Religulous eligible for Best Documentary? I hope so cause I'd love to see that win or at least get nominated.

beavis69 10-28-08 06:39 PM

I personally think both Wall-E and Dark Knight are better than Million Doller Baby, The Departed and Crash. All 3 decent movies(although ill argue The Departed was one of the most easily forgetable oscar winner in awhile) i think Wall-E and Dark Knight are the top in their genre. Iron Man is more than a long shot, you might as well put in the Hulk. Fun popcorn movie but nothing more.

BJacks 10-28-08 06:51 PM

Slumdog Millionaire for the win. Best film I've seen in years. I think everyone involved with it stands a chance of taking something home, including best picture.

MaxMFP 10-28-08 07:44 PM

The Dark Knight is a shoo-in for Best Picture.

BJacks 10-28-08 08:12 PM


Originally Posted by MaxMFP (Post 9035043)
The Dark Knight is a shoo-in for Best Picture.

It's a good film and one of the best genre pics ever, but there ain't no way the stuffy academy would give it the best picture statue. Not when there's much more dramatic pics in contention. This isn't like when Return of the King won; that was a relatively weak year so it stood a chance. I don't think so this time.

toddly6666 10-28-08 08:15 PM

I can't think of too many films that are award-worthy. Here are a few which should get awarded for something:


Redbelt
Kung Fu Panda
Wall E
The Fall
The Dark Knight
Happy Go Lucky
Lakeview Terrace (for Samuel L. Jackson)
W.
Milk
Doubt
The Curious Case of Ben Button
Valkyrie

darkhawk 10-28-08 08:18 PM


Originally Posted by chris_sc77 (Post 9034925)
I personally feel the Dark Knight and Miracle At St. Anna are the two best films so far of the year and would be happy to them get some love. I know Miracle probably has no shot now considering the reception most people gave it but I still feel it deserved Academy recognition.

Are you crazy? Miracle will get nominated for The Razzie Awards.

chris_sc77 10-28-08 08:21 PM

I'm thinking Milk may end up winning Best Picture. Maybe it'll be the academy's way of apologizing for Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain.

PopcornTreeCt 10-28-08 08:33 PM

There was a story today, stating Focus Features isn't campaigning or advertising Milk at all. They said they're relying solely on word-of-mouth. Not a good idea and it's definitely not going to get nominated if it doesn't try to get nominated.

It's nearly November and The Dark Knight is still the only bonafide Best Picture candidate. Yes, of course there will be some great movies coming out. However, this time last year we already knew No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were Oscar locks.

Oh, and Wall-E was fucking amazing. It definitely deserves a nomination. In Bruges deserves a nomination as well, but that'll be lucky if it gets an original screenplay nomination.

BJacks 10-28-08 08:55 PM

I've heard mixed things about Milk so I'm not sure it'll make the cut. Oscars will be hugely back-loaded in terms of release dates. Ton of high profile oscar contending Q4 releases so it's really hard to make betting picks right now.

GreenVulture 10-28-08 09:56 PM


Originally Posted by BJacks (Post 9035081)
This isn't like when Return of the King won; that was a relatively weak year so it stood a chance. I don't think so this time.

Just like 2003, 2008 has been a pretty piss poor year for great movies, which explains why The Dark Knight actually has a chance of getting nominated for Best Picture (imagine if TDK came out in 2007, back when there several serious contenders; it wouldn't even get a second thought at awards season).

And I think this might be the first year in awhile where virtually all the upcoming Oscar fodder looks pretty underwhelming.

MaxMFP 10-28-08 10:20 PM


Originally Posted by BJacks (Post 9035081)
It's a good film and one of the best genre pics ever, but there ain't no way the stuffy academy would give it the best picture statue.


A nomination I meant. It'll get a nomination for sure.

BJacks 10-28-08 11:04 PM


Originally Posted by GreenVulture (Post 9035271)
Just like 2003, 2008 has been a pretty piss poor year for great movies, which explains why The Dark Knight actually has a chance of getting nominated for Best Picture (imagine if TDK came out in 2007, back when there several serious contenders; it wouldn't even get a second thought at awards season).

And I think this might be the first year in awhile where virtually all the upcoming Oscar fodder looks pretty underwhelming.

I dunno, right off to bat I think Benjamin Button, The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, Australia, Revolutionary Road, Frost/Nixon and Milk all stand in the way of Dark Knight. And you never know about sleeper indies like I've Loved You For So Long. I hope TDK gets a nod, I just think it's marching uphill given the Academy demographics and number of serious dramatic pics. But I have my fingers crossed right along with you.

inri222 10-28-08 11:05 PM

Maybe?????

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910905/

In the Electric Mist

Director:Bertrand Tavernier

Writers : Jerzy Kromolowski & Mary Olson-Kromolowski

Based on the novel by James Lee Burke

Starring : Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Tom Sizemore, Peter Sarsgaard, Kelly Macdonald, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty, Justina Machado, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Buddy Guy & John Sayles

Set in New Iberia and New Orleans, the film follows a detective on the hunt for a serial killer who preys on young women, a glamorous Hollywood star and a local crime kingpin who are all involved in a bloody murder mystery. Along the way he is led into a series of surreal encounters with a troop of Confederate soldiers.

BJacks 10-28-08 11:20 PM

Where'd you pull that one from? I don't think that even has a US release date. It's been in limbo for a while.

Boba Fett 10-28-08 11:27 PM

Downey Jr definitely deserves a supporting nomination for Tropic Thunder.

I'd also be shocked if Eastwood, between both his film coming out this year, doesn't get nominated for Best Picture, Director, and Actor.

fumanstan 10-28-08 11:40 PM

As someone that typically doesn't care for 2 or 3 of the Best Picture nominees every year, i'm more then happy to support the push of big budget crowd pleaser's.

Sean O'Hara 10-28-08 11:45 PM


Originally Posted by GreenVulture (Post 9035271)
Just like 2003, 2008 has been a pretty piss poor year for great movies,

It's October. The Oscarbait hasn't hit theaters yet, except possibly Appaloosa and Burn Before Reading. Get back to us after The Road, The Wrestler, and Eastwood's two films hit theaters.

Torchur317 10-28-08 11:49 PM


Originally Posted by beavis69 (Post 9034939)
Wall-E better than Million Doller Baby, The Departed and Crash.

That's a joke..... :lol: -rolleyes-

Cameron 10-29-08 12:00 AM

I though Kung Fu Panda was better than Wall-E, and hope that if pixar creates a split that the panda gets the animated award

GreenVulture 10-29-08 12:25 AM


Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara
It's October. The Oscarbait hasn't hit theaters yet, except possibly Appaloosa and Burn Before Reading.

Apaloosa has not gotten any raves, has it? I doubt people will even remember it when the ballots are cast. And even critics who loved Reading think it's a pretty minor effort by the Coens, especially coming on the heels of No Country For Old Men.


Get back to us after The Road
Been pushed back to 2009.


The Wrestler
Most definitely a Best Actor nomination, but that's about all at this point.


Eastwood's two films hit theaters
Changeling has gotten pretty average reviews, and I have no clue about Gran Torino; personally I think the trailer is pretty bad, but the Academy has had this inexplicable desire to reward Eastwood's mediocre efforts ever since Mystic River (and going further back, Unforgiven), so who knows.


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