Carr’s Wrongos

In his debut column for the ’08-’09 Oscar-season, N.Y. Times guy David Carr – a.k.a., “the Bagger” — says that “seven or eight films have a shot” at the Best Picture Oscar. “The consensus, in no particular order — well, okay, in a little bit of a hierarchy — includes The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, Milk Doubt and The Reader.”

Uhm, no. Not The Reader. Ixnay on the Eader-ray. (God, that sounds facile! Can you imagine pouring your heart and soul into a film for 18 months and then reading “ixnay on the Eader-ray”?) Sorry but that’s the verdict I’m hearing. Intelligent, well written, handsomely shot, doesn’t deliver emotionally.

“And a surprise may be waiting in the wings,” Carr goes on. “Clint Eastwood, a durable crush object of the Academy, has a habit of swinging out of the trees late in the game, as he did two years ago with Letters From Iwo Jima so keep an eye on Gran Torino.” The early rumble is that it’s more of a Clint performance film than a Best Picture contender, but sure, yeah, I’d love to keep an eye on Gran Torino . No Manhattan screenings are currently set, of course. (That I know of.) Tomorrow night there’s an L.A. press screening with a wine–cheese-and-Clint after-party.

“With almost three months to go, a great deal can happen,” says Carr. “The chemistry of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in Australia may bring to mind oil and water, but the Academy may swoon over the epic intent of the director, Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet).” Forget it. No way.

“The Walt Disney Company is carpet-bombing voters with DVDs to argue that the robotic glories of WALL*E should not be pigeonholed into animation alone.” That’s a no-go also. WALL*E‘s excellence has never been in question, but animated films need to stay on their side of the Rio Grande.

“And there’s always a chance that smaller films like Rachel Getting Married, with a searing performance by Anne Hathaway, or The Wrestler, featuring the muscular return of Mickey Rourke, might sneak in.” Nope. Rachel was written off weeks if not months ago.

And The Wrestler isn’t playing well with the over-50s. It’s a sharp and ballsy film, but when you hear about older people walking out of screenings because of the metal-staple scene and booing the mention of its name the following week, you might as well throw in the towel. Rourke is in good shape for a Best Actor nomination, though.

  • HarveyCo

    Milk Doubt?

    That’s what I had this morning when I wasn’t sure if I could use skim on my cereal a week after the expiration date.

  • Ray

    You can toss out FROST/NIXON. And probably THE READER, too. I doubt if most members of the Academy will even watch these two films based on their boring titles alone.

    Am I being too much of a fanboy to secretly wish that THE DARK KNIGHT might show up for Best Picture? I realize that the rejection of summer blockbusters here is palpable, but consider this: films like STAR WARS and ET can make it into Best Picture contention; is THE DARK KNIGHT worse than either of those pictures? Hell, it might be better in some ways … it just wasn’t as galvanizing.

    Also, look at a film like THE DEPARTED: vastly overrated, ridiculous in spots, and contains one of the most ludicrous performances in Nicholson’s ludicrous career (he eats a fly, for God’s sake) … and it WINS Best Picture. THE DARK KNIGHT is structurally dense, emotionally complex, and wildly challenging … and certainly no more ridiculous (despite the hero wearing a bat suit) than THE DEPARTED.

    In a generally weak year, TDK seems to stand out more.

    I think DOUBT, BUTTON, and MILK are locks. Are there two better films than TDK this year?

  • ZayTonday

    Benjamin Button’s gonna win it.

  • crsryan

    I’m surprised there’s not more talk about Best Picture for Batman just because of the $500M+ haul.

  • BurmaShave

    He’s derelict to not even be mentioning DARK KNIGHT.

  • Chase Kahn

    I’ll go on record saying THE DARK KNIGHT is a better movie than E.T. — I’ll take freakin’ AUSTRALIA over E.T.

  • ZayTonday

    I think TDK deserves to at least get a BP nom, but the “comic book movie” baggage definitely affects the opinions of most people out there in terms of taking it seriously.

  • K. Bowen

    The Dark Knight, Rachel Getting Married and The Wrestler are better than the half of the contenders that I’ve seen so far.

  • Doug

    I agree – The Dark Knight deserves a Best Picture nomination and perhaps the award itself.
    I also hope Aaron Eckhart gets a supporting actor nomination in addition to Heath. He is great, especially after Harvey becomes Two Face.

  • EDouglas

    I really can’t imagine The Dark Knight not being nominated for best picture… just about every filmmaker and actor I spoke to in August and September referenced the movie… it was seen by just about everybody inside and outside the industry and it’s such a part of the public consciousness in terms of the summer…as well as being far more sophisticated than normal summer popcorn fare. I bet that it gets in with the BFCA but not HFPA or SAG or NBR but gets PGA and a BP nom.

    Jeffrey, just because you didn’t like Australia and The Reader doesn’t mean they’re out. I’ve spoken to a lot more non-critics who enjoyed and/or loved both movies and both Fox and Weinstein Co. have the money to go the distance. (In fact, Fox has already sent out screeners of Australia to win over the guilds and industry-ites)

  • mitchtaylor

    Shut the ever-living fuck up about The Dark Knight. It had 2 good things: a decent script and Ledger.

    Do you people forget the god-awful “2 boats” scenes? Or the future Lawnmower Man-esque cheese of the Bat-Sonar and the hilarious Bat Voice (not to mention the Bat Drone Snatcher)? And the overall rushed nonsense of the last act?

    Am I the only one left alive??? You maniacs!

  • K. Bowen

    The thing about The Dark Knight and artistically rendered genre films in general ….. the Academy needs to decide if Best Picture nominations are a vote for the year’s five best pictures, more or less, within the parameters of what we know that actually means, or is it for the best of a certain delineated group of sober-minded “important” movies being pushed by the studios.

    I’m not foolish enough to ask for a puritanical award, with some obscure Swedish documentary winning the Best Picture. But I can name one film that, while decent, has no reason to be mentioned in the competition, other than the fact that it’s been mentioned as a contender since last year. It’s a chilling idea that that film would get in ahead of The Dark Knight.

  • Josh Massey

    The Ark-day Night-Kay will get a nomination, guaranteed.

  • Yuval

    The Dark Knight is a good film, and it’s better than some films that have won best picture (though not The Departed) but it’s far from a perfect film, and Aaron Eckhart’s character in the last act is the main reason it barely holds together at the end.

    Jeff, you can (and could have for a weeks now) take Star Wars and Space Chimps from the animated oscar ballon, they weren’t submitted.

  • BurmaShave

    DARK KNIGHT probably reminded Carr of some bad nights he had 20 years ago. His book is sensational by the way.

  • Best Picture IMHO should be a film that covers alot of bases and meets or exceeds audience expectations. It should be a magical mercurial mix of creativity and work from both the crew and the actors.

    The Best Picture should never play safe. It should be a film that stands apart and ever so slightly higher than other films in it’s class.

    All that said, the Academy has made choices before using the above to make that decision, I point to No Country For Old Men and Silence of the Lambs for instance.

    But the Academy also makes mistakes… i.e. Miller’s Crossing.

    Therefore I do believe The Dark Knight deserves to be one of the 5. I haven’t seen the movies Carr has picked yet… So I cannot honestly say who should be the winner but the DK deserves to be seriously considered. It is that good despite it’s very very very few flaws… but then again what film ever doesn’t suffer from a slight flaw… as my Mom always told me… “Nothing Are Perfect”.

  • Edward

    “Rachell Getting Married” is an excellent film and I agree that Anne Hathaway delivered a brilliant performance.

  • jimb12345

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was one of the best movies that i ever saw. I think it should have one the oscar.
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