Obeisance before power

For some of us, picking Oscar-race favorites at this stage is about choosing players and films that we truly feel were among the year’s finest. (Like Zodiac, for instance — unquestionably one of the year’s five best entries.) But for others, 75% to 80% of their Oscar prognosticating is about bowing down in front of the throne of this or that big-league distributor. Strictly a show of obeisance before power…no different than the protocol observed among New Guinea headhunters in the presence of this or that tribal chieftain, especially when entering his hut.

Which is why films and filmmakers being promoted by smaller distributors — Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Control, Once, Sam Riley, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sidney Lument, etc. — don’t fare as well as they should when it comes to the Gurus of Gold and Buzzmeter choices.

11 thoughts on “Obeisance before power

  1. dre on said:

    I agree we should be talking about what SHOULD be considered more … rather than what most likely WILL be nominated, but I don’t know if you can hate Oscar prognosticators from, you know, prognosticating

  2. The Oscars are about broad appeal, not rewarding films for being Jeffrey Wells’ personal favorites. I’m disappointed every year because most of my favorites are too particular to resonate with a sufficiently broad Academy audience… but this isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just the nature of awards. These awards aren’t really for best picture, best director, etc., they’re for most broadly-liked picture, director, etc. among respected industry professionals. They shouldn’t be given any meaning beyond that qualifier.

  3. This is off topic, but has anyone who bought advance tickets for There Will Be Blood at the Castro gotten an email stating that the tickets are no longer valid?

    Apparently they’ll be holding them in reserve at the door — but bring cash, because your Ticketweb purchase has been refunded, and any tickets you’ve gotten in the mail won’t be honored. You might wanna know this if you’re driving all the way up here in your infernal machine.

    This has been a public service announcement from the city of Lumberton.

  4. Um, I think Oscar prognosticating is about predicting who will be nominated. It’s taking personal opinions of the films’ quality out of the equation. People who pick horse races bet on winners based on who is going to win, not which horse looks the best. That’s why critics, in my opinion, make bad Oscar predictors, because they allow their personal opinions to get in the way.

  5. Michael Clayton is my favorite film of the year so far, but if I were prognosticating, it wouldn’t be included. Because I’m predicting the Academy’s choices, not my own.

  6. I’m an avid reader of the site and this is my first time participating, but I’d like to comment if I may:

    Speaking of this debate, Tom O’Neill is currently predicting that “Sweeney Todd” WILL win Best Picture. This strikes me as the ultimate example of the contradiction between the personal preferences of an individual and objective prognosticating. He is forthright in admitting he has not seen the film, but his affinity for musicals is well documented. No one is doubting his knowledge of awards races, but O’Neill is consistently cited as the authority on the predictions game. Come on, can anyone take his “predictions” seriously ever since he declared “Dreamgirls” “A perfect movie” a year ago?

  7. “But for others, 75% to 80% of their Oscar prognosticating is about bowing down in front of the throne of this or that big-league distributor. Strictly a show of obeisance before power…no different than the protocol observed among New Guinea headhunters in the presence of this or that tribal chieftain, especially when entering his hut.”

    You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Sorry but it’s true.

  8. I agree that prognosticators should take more risks with their predictions, rather than giving into group think. Since few people have actually seen all of these films, the emperor (or the Charlie or Sweeney) could very well have no clothes.

    However, this is not about individual preference, but the preference of a large body of middle-age individuals with bloated egos. They may be politically liberal, but their personal constitutions and tastes are conservatives.

    Jeff, instead of whining about what other prognosticators are doing, why don’t you track your own award show favorites. Call them the “Jeffreys” and give out cheddar cheese statues in February. They’d be just about as meaningful as the Oscars and would reflect your subjective “perfect world.”

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