Set In Stone

On the ten possible 2012 Best Picture nominees mentioned yesterday by Gold Derby‘s Brenden Murphy, three are candidates for instant dismissal, at least according to my yardstick: Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained and Marc Forster‘s World War Z.

The Hobbit is out because Jackson has already snagged a Best Picture Oscar for the Lord of the Rings finale and that, trust me, is the very last Oscar Jackson is going to get for any film having anything to do with Tolkien or Middle Earth or dwarves with huge ugly feet. People are on to his game, and the days of knee-jerk Jackson kowtowing are over. The Hobbit may land a nomination, but it cannot, must not and will not win.

Django is out because it’ll just be another bullshit grindhouse B-movie wink-wanker — a neo-Italian spaghetti western (being shot in Lone Pine by way of Almeira, Spain) with everyone duded up in Sergio Leone ponchos and smoking smelly stogies and scratching matches on their six-shooters and wearing rotting-teeth dental implants and chicken-grease makeup, etc, It’ll be loads of “fun,” of course, and probably a big box-office hit but forget any level of serious Oscar consideration….out the window! Tarantino is mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physiologically incapable of delivering a film that comes from any kind of real place. He can only make films about other films, or more precisely whack off to them. He can only make movie versions of what Max Fischer did when he put on those “sampling” plays in Rushmore. He can only compose knock-off tributes to ’60s, ’70s and ’80s movies that he savored when young.

And World War Z is out because it’ll be a cold day in hell when a zombie movie becomes an Oscar contender. And because director Marc Forster, on-the-stick as he was when he made Monster’s Ball, has been seen as over or waylaid for a long while now.

Otherwise Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina, Baz Luhrman”s The Great Gatsby, Roger Michell‘s Hyde Park on Hudson, Tom Hooper‘s Les Miserables, Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master, and David O. Russell‘s The Silver Linings Playbook…yeah, sure, maybe.

Not to mention Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity, Wachowski/Tykwer’s Cloud Atlas and Terrence Malick‘s The Burial (or whatever he’s going to call it), Derek Cianfrance‘s The Place Beyond The Pines, Andrew Dominik‘s Cogan’s Trade, Martin McDonagh‘s Seven Psychopaths and Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives.

  • Ponderer

    “Tarantino is mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physiologically incapable of delivering a film that comes from any kind of real place.”

    If you’re counting Jackie Brown in this assessment, I’ll throw a ham at you.

  • Jesse Crall

    Django might not fall into your realm of favor, Jeff, but Basterds was a major success with Oscar nominations. Tarantino does not write from a real place, you’re right, but his immense stylistic capabilities and ability to produce an endless stream of exhilierating sequences makes him as important a filmmaker as anyone working today.

    Plus, his stuff isjust fucking awesome to watch.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Okay, Oscars are over. Have I mentioned lately that I hate Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino?

  • Padre la Tiempo

    You are 100% correct about Jackson. There is no way in hell he even gets a nomination this time. I wouldn’t count out Tarantino, but you are spot-on with your assertion that his movies are just riffs on other movies he likes. That said, they are masterfully put together, photographed, and he always gets EXACTLY what he wants from his actors.

    World War Z is not going to be anywhere near an Oscar win outside of tech categories either.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    “three are candidates for instant dismissal… Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained”

    Do you still think Inglorious Basterds is just a goof on 70s trash cinema instead of a creepy under-the-skin exploration of how audiences will lap up any barbarity a director can serve up to them the right way, and the same goes for presidents during the war on terror?

    I’m a rightwing nut who thinks we’re not using enough drones on enough innocents in enough little brown countries, but even I can see that in an era of weak milquetoast liberal films like Redacted and In the Valley of Eegah, Inglorious Basterds was the one flat out 60s-ballsy, Strangelovian-dark satire on the Bush era which made heroes out of Jewish suicide bombers and equivalence between the SS and movie audiences? What’s the matter, did too many nights of Keith Olberman rot your brains that you can’t see scorched earth satire when it comes to you with movie stars and broad yucks?

    Brilliant, insanely daring film. That audiences got, even if critics didn’t. And now he’s taking on the ultimate third rail, race. With Altman dead, Scorsese mellowed out and who knows what Lynch is up to, Tarantino is the last giant walking the earth.

  • Jesse Crall

    @Ponderer: You’re right, Jackie Brown DID have some very human scenes between Jackie and Max Cherry. And The Bride screaming when she realizes her child is gone in the hospital room. And the Shoshanna storyline. And the Tim Roth/Harvey Keitel dynamic in Reservoir Dogs…Even if Tarantino doesn’t write from a real place, he’s so great with dialogue and set-ups and casting that his scenes come across as authentic whenever they need to be. he can dial it up to eleven for the action and step back for the emotion.

  • Krazy Eyes

    Although I tend to agree with you on the Jackson and Forster predictions I think you’re way off on Tarantino. Nothing you said about him isn’t true but that didn’t seem to be a problem for Pulp Fiction or Inglorious Basterds.

    You’ve clearly got a blind spot for QT and you’re going to need to work through that if you ever want to elevate yourself from a half-baked prognosticator.

  • Mark G.

    Don’t you contradict yourself?

    “On the ten possible 2012 Best Picture nominees three are candidates for instant dismissal”

    vs

    “The Hobbit may land a nomination”

  • JLC

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that Django gets Kurt Russell a lifetime achievement award. Supporting roles in Tarantino films are Academy catnip and Russell has been excellent for a very long time.

    I’d also be careful with that Hobbit prediction. The Hobbit is a much more “intimate” story than LOTR, particularly the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin, the head dwarf. Part 1 probably won’t get anything by a nomination. But if Jackson pulls off the finale of Part 2, it could sneak in there again.

  • BoulderKid

    Did anyone actually see Marc Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher?” It was obviously here one second and gone the next but he seem to remember some talking it up around it’s release. Anything with Gerard Butler doing something with even an aura of legitimacy (i.e. not a Jen Aniston rom-com) can’t be all bad right?

  • jujuju

    yeah, can’t really argue. django might get a nod for costume or set design/decoration or something.

    it might get a nod for ‘best one-liner in a pure and distilled genre motion picture that’s highly derivative yet so well done it seems original and plays with great energy and fits perfectly with the scene yet does little to add any depth of character or propel the story forward and is so well crafted it snaps into place considering the context of an extremely convoluted setting and just plain sounds like exactly what such a weird character in such a twisted predicament would say at that moment’

    and the winner is…qt for his superficial but entertaining ‘django’!!!!

  • Rashad

    Tarantino makes movies in his own universes, and that’s what makes them great.

  • dkaye

    I’m happy as hell to see THE HOBBIT, but I agree it won’t get near Best Picture — they’ll feel like they gave it to him for that story before.

    On the other hand — I’d wager that Nolan and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES both have a shot, if only because he’s been robbed on his last two movies of even a Best Director nomination.

  • Gabriel

    “It’ll be loads of “fun,” of course, and probably a big box-office hit but forget any level of serious Oscar consideration….out the window! Tarantino is mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physiologically incapable of delivering a film that comes from any kind of real place. He can only make films about other films, or more precisely whack off to them. He can only make movie versions of what Max Fischer did when he put on those “sampling” plays in Rushmore. He can only compose knock-off tributes to ’60s, ’70s and ’80s movies that he savored when young.”

    It’s already painful to relive, but subtract 40-60 years and you’re left with the film that just spent four months winning every fucking award in sight.

    If Django fails to set the Oscars on fire, it will be either be a result of it not working, or because it doesn’t stroke the “I like movies that make me feel good” blanky.

  • Raising_Kaned

    In my opinion, Tarantino is currently the ballsiest mainstream auteur we have working in this country (also in the discussion: P.T. Anderson, Aronofsky, Coens, probably Fincher — although he doesn’t write — I’d still actually rate the Wachowskis higher than most…Cloud Atlas could be HUGE for them this year); you underestimate Quentin at your own risk, Jeffrey.

    I think he lost that title somewhere in the ’00s, but he regained it in a big fucking way in my eyes with Inglourious Basterds (an amazingly complex film that — against all odds — actually became a huge box-office hit, too…how novel!), which is a flick you’re flat-out wrong about, Jeffrey.. So hopelessly, stubbornly, completely wrong…

  • Raising_Kaned

    “Mainstream” and “established,” I should specify…there are a few younger guys that I have on my “watch list,” but you need to do it more than just once to be mentioned with the big boys…

  • Eloi Wrath

    Mgmax, le Corbeau is spot-on about Basterds. As is Kaned.

    Django’s biggest awards obstacle (and yes, I can’t believe we’re already discussing the Oscars again) will be its (supposedly) unflinchingly graphic depiction of slavery and somewhat comedic tone. I haven’t read the script so I can’t vouch for that, but I remember some Guardian guy saying he was worried it trivialized slavery, etc. Considering the Academy likes its “issue films” to be respectful and sepia-toned, they might not enjoy this one.

  • Ray

    INSTANT BOOKMARK.

    If I had any way to bet money with Wells, I’d bet that 2 out of 3 of these films get a BP nod.

    HELL, I’d even say all 3 have a shot.

    This isn’t him being professional. This is Wells being emotional.

  • adorian

    But if the Weinstein Company is releasing Django, The Wettest County, and Silver Linings Playbook, I think we have to have them in the Top Ten. Harvey knows how to play the game.

  • Edward Havens

    I guarantee you that 2012’s eventual Best Picture Oscar winner has not been brought up yet. Like The King’s Speech and The Artist, it’s going to be something that sneaks up out of nowhere from Cannes or Telluride or Toronto, gets Harvey Weinstein’s attention and gets carried to glory on Harvey’s shoulders.

  • Dances with Smurfs

    I am sick of Jackson and his middle earth junk. I still can’t believe that Return of the King won Best picture. The best movie out of the three was Fellowship. They got progressively longer and more boring after that. Does anyone besides insane fanboys even remember Return of the King? Master and Commander was so awesome and deserved Best Picture. After that crap fest that was the Academy Awards this year I don’t know if I will ever watch again. The Artist, really? Just put The Artist with Crash and Million Dollar Baby as Best Picture winners that NO ONE will want to watch again. I don’t know what your beef is with Tarantion is Jeff. Basterds was awesome. I would be more surprised if Django did not get a Best Picture nod. Also, I miss LexG. He needs to be allowed back.

  • Carl Kolchak

    Lincoln will, without any doubt, get best actor and best adapted screenplay. You can count on it.

  • Ms. M

    You really have to let go of your personal feelings if you’re going to be an Oscar prognosticator. Jackson and Tarentino can’t be ruled out based on their past success with the Academy. You may not dig their stuff but lots of Academy folk do.

    That said, you are dead on about World War Z not being a real contender. I hope it will at least be close to the quality of the book, which is a lot of fun and surprisingly touching in parts.

  • http://www.kindvast.com cardboard displays

    I very much look forward to it

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    “That said, you are dead on about World War Z not being a real contender. I hope it will at least be close to the quality of the book, which is a lot of fun and surprisingly touching in parts.”

    I liked the book, though I did kind of think all the way through it “fiction for people who don’t like novels,” but after a zillion zombie movies and Contagion, I have a really hard time knowing how you film it without it seeming overly familiar.

    Fortunately it’s being directed by Marc Forster, so it will underwhelm regardless.

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com THE MovieBob

    To echo those above, the only REAL reason that “The Hobbit” is all-but garaunteed NOT to win Best Picture is that everyone and their uncle knows that it’s a two-part movie and they’ll have a chance/obligation to award it next year.

    Otherwise, there is no logical rationale – “fan” or not – to regard the “comeback tour” of the most Oscar-winning-est movie franchise EVER as an automatic frontrunner.

  • Gabe@ThePlaylist

    You can write off “World War Z” because it’s not fucking real literature and because Marc Foster has NEVER, EVER, EVER once made a half-decent film. His filmography is loaded with visually-dull DEADWEIGHT, just a graveyard of movies that would have been half-interesting in ANY other filmmaker’s hands. The world didn’t ask for another Joel Schumacher, but it got one.

    I don’t know if The Hobbit will or will not light the Academy’s asses on fire, and I don’t particularly care. I sat through eleven hours of Lisbeth Salander, and I did a full ten (maybe more?) in Middle Earth. NO MORE. Peter Jackson has shown only brief glimmers of actual human behavior in anything he’s made over the last decade and a half. And, lest we forget, The Lovely Bones was a Razzie-level DISASTER. I hate saying this, but the Jackson who didn’t exclusively make movies for thirteen year old boys is fucking DEAD. And I really used to love the dude.

    Django, though… are some of you guys fucked in the head? Cinema is a language, and few are more fluent than TARANTINO, a genuine-article CINEMA GOD that brings it every time. His films are filled to the BRIM with ideas, not just about movies but about history, human understanding, love, hate, triumph, revenge, failure.

    He found all those old grindhouse-y movies of his youth, stole from them wholesale, and imbued them with real HUMANITY. And even if you weren’t feeling the minor tragedies within the margins of Tarantino’s usually Grandiose Five Star Cinema storytelling, the guy knows Scale, he knows Storytelling. No, he might not remind you of anything in your wimpy regular-joe life because he creates CINEMA. Jump in – he re-writes the goddamned rules every time. To not worship at the altar of Tarantino is to not even enjoy movies, to wish you could return to the shakycam mumblecore vision of indie future, to devote yourself to CGI-assisted crowdpleasing horseshit, to just give up on the potential of personal, idiosyncratic, blockbuster cinema.

    Also, it’s the Weinsteins. Anyone thinking it won’t get a nomination will feel the wrath of HARVEY THE PUNISHER.

  • http://www.kindvast.com cardboard displays

    Peter Jackson has shown only brief glimmers of actual human behavior in anything he’s made over the last decade and a half. And, lest we forget, The Lovely Bones was a Razzie-level DISASTER. I hate saying this, but the Jackson who didn’t exclusively make movies for thirteen year old boys is fucking DEAD

  • Marty Melville

    I agree with Gabe about Tarantino, though I might dial it back a few notches.

    Even so, Truffaut might have agreed with him even more than I do: “I demand that a film express either the joy of making cinema or the agony of making cinema. I am not at all interested in anything in between.”

  • Jesse Crall

    @Marty Melville: Good quote. Tarantino’s one of the few filmmakers to build a wide audience, critical acclaim, and fanboy devotion and then hold it for an extended period. More than awards or money I think Tarantino wants a lot of people to think he’s awesome so he busts his ass to make an amazing presentation without losing the personal touch and engagement with the subjects that enthrall him.

    When I was about 13, I was starting to get into the ballsier movies like GoodFellas and The Godfather, so my mom rented Pulp Fiction and said “You gotta see this.” Right after the coffee shop scene with Roth and Plummer I just went “This is the coolest movie I’ve ever seen.” I had a giant grin on my face that never went away. Same thing with Kill Bill, just an amazing experience for audiences that Tarantino deserves a ton of credit for.

  • Hank94

    Agree with Gabe, Jesse, Kaned, on Tarantino.

    As usual, Wells is wrong in his assessment of…everything.

  • Raising_Kaned

    “Does anyone besides insane fanboys even remember Return of the King? Master and Commander was so awesome and deserved Best Picture.”

    Hmmm. I’m not really much of a M&C fan — although I really like Weir — but isn’t it fair to say that these two flicks are kinda boring in some of the exact same ways?

    “Fortunately it’s being directed by Marc Forster, so it will underwhelm regardless.”

    ZING! Funny ‘cuz it’s true.

    “I hate saying this, but the Jackson who didn’t exclusively make movies for thirteen year old boys is fucking DEAD.”

    Waitasecond, though…is that really the problem?? I don’t like Jackson as much as I used to, either, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the target age of his audience changing over the years. Aside from Heavenly Creatures (and its retarded stepsister of a movie, Lovely Bones), it feels like he’s been making movies for 13 year-olds his entire career.

    I think the only real discernible difference is he has mainstream appeal and respectable pedigree now — two things that will completely shift a career built on violet puppetry and gory zombies in a heartbeat. I’ll always admire the effort and focus he had in completing the daunting LotR series back-to-back-to-back but — from a film buff perspective — that’s kind of the worst imaginable thing that could have happened to his career.

    I liked him best when he was working on the fringes of the film world, making shamelessly transgressive cinema. The same thing sorta happened with Raimi and Spider-man, although I don’t think the latter’s nearly as talented, and — judging by some of his recent comments — I don’t even think he particularly “loves” the genre in the same unabashed way P-Jax does (not that any of this trite intellectualizing subtracts from the power of Evil Dead 2, which is still a fucking masterpiece).

  • Cde.

    Hopefully Weinstein throws his weight behind The Master. With the scientology whisper campaigns that could pop up on its release, it needs a master like that to help control the conversation and keep it afloat through award season.

  • CB

    That’s true, QT films are DEATH at the Oscars. Except for, you know, the Best Picture noms for Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, the performance noms for Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Inglourious Basterds, and the screenplay and performance wins for Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, respectively.

    Yeah, with that history and Harvey Weinstein as a backer, there’s no FUCKING CHANCE of any nods for QT’s latest.

  • va

    All of these pro-QT comments, and still Kakihara doesn’t bite?

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Well said, Gabe, though I don’t know what being real literature has to do with great movies (“More great movies have been made from the novels of W.R. Burnett than the novels of Dostoevsky” –Andrew Sarris).

    I keep bringing up the mid-Bush-era rash of leaden antiwar dramas, the liberal equivalents of The Green Berets (not least because they’re all Vietnam movies plopped in the desert than don’t know jack about this war and this century), because I really wonder, did they destroy the ability of liberal moviegoers to catch irony? I mean, think about it. Tarantino takes the most appalling on a human level form of Islamic terror, suicide bombing, and puts a bunch of mopheaded American Jewish boys out of American Pie in that position and dares us to make moral sense out of it. He’s fucking with the moral premises of our “war on terror” so deeply and daringly– and the response he gets is “the guy’s just a pothead video store clerk who stopped making real movies a long time ago.”

    The only thing I can compare it to is the incomprehension that each new Stanley Kubrick movie elicited from the critical elite. Dr. Strangelove’s satirical take would never compare to the importance and impact of a well-crafted serious drama like Fail Safe– Newsweek predicted that in ’63. 2001 gets lost in its visuals, a sad loss of the satiric bite of Strangelove and so badly written that the computer’s the most human character! (What a screw up!) A Clockwork Orange is full of jokes only a humorless Prussian scientist could love (Kael said that). And of course, the ultimate misreading, The Shining is just slumming in the horror genre, too bad it’s not about anything but “Boo!”

  • JLC

    I do agree about World War Z. However, IF the movie were to even approach some of the social commentary in the book (impossible since a lot of it consists of internal monologues), there would be more than a few critics championing its cause.

    In fact, there’s more than enough meat in the book that I could see a director like Kubrick finding something he could hang a unique vision upon.

    Regardless, if they pull off the the Battle of Yonkers and the Chinese submarine scene (both doubtful), World War Z will at least be a worth addition to the genre.

  • Floyd Thursby

    Real places are overrated.

  • Mr. Fabulous

    Gabe@ThePlaylist FTW.

    It floors me how utterly, tragically wrong Wells is about Basterds. He’s so wrong that the only explanation is that he knows he’s wrong but insists on Basterds-bashing as a trolling strategy.

    The only thing keeping Basterds from unassailable-classic status is Eli Roth. If Adam Sandler had played the Bear Jew as Tarantino envisioned, it would be a perfect film.

  • Eloi Wrath

    “The only thing keeping Basterds from unassailable-classic status is Eli Roth. If Adam Sandler had played the Bear Jew as Tarantino envisioned, it would be a perfect film.”

    Really? I think Basterds is one of those films that has really benefitted from the first choices not being available. We could have also had Simon Pegg as Hickox, Leonardo DiCaprio as Landa. I like them both, but it’s hard to imagine them being nearly as good in their roles as Fassbender and Waltz.

    And Roth only has about four lines. His Boston accent and line delivery is a bit ridiculous, but he’s also a pretty hulking figure on screen and it’s hard to see Sandler being nearly as intimidating. He’d be more of a distraction.

  • TL

    This has to be the Jeff Welles uber post:

    1) Oscar speculation 2 days after the Oscars are over? Check.

    2) Hating Peter Jackson? Check.

    3) Hating Tarrantino? Check.

    4) Complaining about feet? Check.

    5) Hating genre movies? Check.

    6) Assuming that everyone in the world has the same hang-ups that he does? Check.

    If only Spielberg was mentioned….

  • goodvibe61

    Mgmmax, Gabe, Eloi:

    You guys better knock off that Tarantino talk right now. You could get in some serious trouble around here for that kind of thing…

  • Jesse Crall

    @Mgmax: Good post, and the Kubrick comp is interesting. I’m a left-wing nut but fuck it, I love vigilante justice in film because it’s exciting! Dirty Harry might have been co-opted by Republicans as an example of what’s wrong with hippie extremism but Harry Callahan challenges authority as much as any lefty. Why? Because Democrat or Republican it’s awesome to watch someone stick it to his higher ups, especially if he’s carrying a .44 Magnum.

    Tarantino strikes me as a very apolitical filmmaker, and I think his 1st priority is to entertain, whereas movies made with overwhelming political intentions already have one reel in the idealogical grave. The Deer Hunter (imo) remains so great because it doesn’t take a definitive side and instead becomes about the characters, the visuals, the ambiguities…

  • http://www.franklin-et-marshall.net alico

    Tarantino is mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physiologically incapable of delivering a film that comes from any kind of real place. He can only make films about other films, or more precisely whack off to them. He can only make movie versions of what Max Fischer did when he put on those “sampling” plays in Rushmore. He can only compose knock-off tributes to ’60s, ’70s and ’80s movies that he savored when young.

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