Man From Hope

Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil has written that Lincoln is “looking good” for the Best Picture Oscar, “but don’t wager money on it…it’s not a lock. Lincoln will probably have the biggest tally when nominations are announced on January 10th and that’s key. The movie with the most bids wins the top Oscar about 75% of the time. However, it’s very vulnerable and its rivals are strong.”

O’Neil suspects that Lincoln won’t win Best Picture from the Critics’ Choice Awards on January 10th “and that usually matters a lot,” he writes. “Over the past 10 years, that trophy...

Why Not Delay Until Monday?

With all the online-voting issues going on, you’d think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would extend the balloting deadline by 72 hours, or to Monday, January 7 at 5 pm. Give people a bit more extra time to watch those screeners, etc. But no — they’ve decided to bump it a mere 24 hours. The new deadline is Friday, January 4th, at 5 p.m. Pacific.

Those who can’t finagle their way through the Academy’s much-lamented online voting software will have the option of submitting a paper ballot. They can buy #2 pencils and erasers at CVS or Walmart.

“By extending the voting deadline [by 24 hours] we are providing every opportunity available to make the transition to online balloting as smooth as possible,” Academy COO Ric Robertson said in a statement. In other words,...

Technical Agonies

Today and yesterday friends and readers have told me they’ve gone to the site and seen nothing — a blank page. Or they’ve gone to the site, seen the front page but gotten nothing when they click on a jump page. I noticed this myself early this morning while using Firefox and Google Chrome browsers, and occasionally with Safari. (I don’t use IE or Opera.)

I naturally took this up with the all-but-worthless, know-nothing techies at my appalling internet service provider known as Softlayer. I started a trouble ticket with them but it took hours to find a tech support person whose vocabulary and attitude indicated even a glimmer of intelligence and/or a willingness to try and solve the problem.

This is my fault, of course, because I didn’t ditch these guys last year. My life becomes a head-throbbing hell when this stuff happens. And it totally turns off the juices...

Best January 2012 Tweets

I was working on a Most Noteworthy HE Jottings of 2012 piece. Pick and highlight the best stuff posted throughout the year, month by month. But that was too hard to do in a single day. I should have begun a few days ago — my bad. And then some more technical crap happened. Awful stuff. I’m glad I don’t own a gun. Sometimes I just want to inject opiates. But there’s comfort, at least, in knowing I’ll remember Fake Armond’s “fine mulled wine” tweet for many years to come.

Tahrir Square

2012 began with the depression of The Artist being the all-but-guaranteed Best Picture winner, and it’s ended with the depression of Oscar handicappers (Gurus of Gold, Gold Derby guys) lazily forecasting with all the vim and vigor of a 74 year-old fat man that Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln has the strongest head of steam, blah blah. Please don’t listen to their tired consensus thinking, which is a kind of virus that spreads from one lazy mentality to the next.

Not Lincoln — I’m down on my knees — and anyone but King Poobah Rajah Sultan Spielberg. Zero Dark Thirty‘s Kathryn Bigelow, Silver Linings Playbook‘s David O. Russell, Amour‘s Michael Haneke…please! And dear merciful God, not Quentin Tarantino!

There is something so profoundly...

Anthropology

As The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a very tedious film to sit through, I find it appalling — almost mystifying — that fans the world over are paying to see it in record numbers. $222,703,000 stateside, $464 million overseas and a general worldwide haul of $686 million. There really is something wrong with spending that much on a film this tiresome and overlong. Taste (even geek taste) has little to do with it. They saw the Rings trilogy so they have to see the new one. Obsessive, sad, depressing. I’m averting my eyes from here on.

Busy 12 Days

New Year’s Eve (i.e., Monday night) is always lame and New Year’s Day is the emptiest day of the year…flatline. The ballot deadline for the Writers Guild awards is at 10 pm on Wednesday, January 2nd with the nominations out the next morning. The Oscar ballot deadline is late on Thursday, January 3rd. And then the National Society of Film Critics will announce their awards on Saturday, 1.5.

And then come the all-important DGA nominations on Tuesday morning, January 8th. The BAFTA nominations will be known on Wednesday morning, January 9th. Oscar nominations happen the next morning — Thursday, January 10th — at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am. That night the 18th Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will broadcast. And then the Golden Globe awards happen on Sunday night, their importance somewhat diminished by...

Reunion Poker

Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, my longtime Oscar Poker partner until we split up two or three months ago, accepted my invitation to do another one for old time’s sake. We covered everything, except I thought Sasha was recording and she thought I was recording. We talked for a good 90 minutes or so, and it was all for naught. Then I started recording and we did about 49 minutes’ worth. Happy New Year.

Matchmaker

The following story about Steven Spielberg‘s initial connection with Lincoln star Daniel Day Lewis was apparently included an 11.30 Oprah Now interview. I may have heard it and brushed it aside, but I don’t think so.

“For a time I was going do [Lincoln] with Liam Neeson,” Spielberg explained. “But then, you know, we just decided to move in two different directions. I was sitting around at home one day realizing I’m never going to make Lincoln. It’s just never going to happen.

“And Leo DiCaprio came over for dinner that night. It was just my wife and Leo and myself. We were sitting around and Leo said, ‘What’s happening with Lincoln? You’ve been, what, five years on...

For Those Who Are Susceptible

Mom isn’t just weeping after seeing Les Miserables; she’s fairly devastated and having trouble explaining why. Everyone else in the car either has a case of the giggles or is going “okay, I respect your reaction but not so much on my end.” (Tip of the hat to Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone.)

Living High In The Dirty Business of Dreams

I like to think of my own life in this way. I am living a kind of Steve Winwood “high” life without the big money, or life as defined by a series of highs rather than one of “stability” in the old-fashioned, white-picket-sense of that term (which my parents invested in). I live in order to feel high and spread highs of a certain kind.

Another way to put it is that I live in order to celebrate dream states that have obviously been made, at root, to fuel the fires of commerce, which is where the vaguely dirty aspect comes in. Except I love revenue. Who doesn’t?

There’s also the “constant fighting with people who disagree and are looking to spread poison by tearing you down any which way” aspect, but that will never go away.

All I know is that writing this column sure beats working. Which is what Robert...

Thus Spoke O’Hehir

“Art is an inherently amoral and ruthless enterprise, however much we may want to believe otherwise.”

This is a quote from Andrew O’Hehir‘s 12.29 Salon analysis of the Zero Dark Thirty shitstorm. Many of us go to films hoping to be blown away or mesmerized or emotionally melted down, period. We just want the movie to work. We’re not uninterested in its political leanings, or oblivious to same, but most of us, I think, are willing to process this as connected-but-separate dish.

Others want their movies above all to stand on the right side. They want their art to be moral and compassionate. In exactly the same way, I feel, that the Soviet bureaucrats of the 1930s wanted their art to celebrate the glorious wheat farmers of the Ukraine. The...

Not Over Lunch?

In a 12.27 N.Y. Times interview with Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, Brooks Barnes writes that Bigelow and ZD30 screenwriter-producer Mark Boal “have succeeded — perhaps a bit too well — in renewing a conversation about America’s use of torture to fight terrorism.”

But Bigelow “was not particularly keen to discuss torture over lunch, she said, partly because she wants her work to speak for itself and partly because she is aware that any public comments could just add fuel to the fire.”

I love and admire Bigelow, but c’mon. The anti-ZD30 rhetoric has obviously been raging over the Christmas holidays, and it’s become clear that the Hollywood Stalinists have probably...

Dan Latimer

The only time Harry Carey, Jr. half-got me was when he played young Dan Latimer in Howard HawksRed River (’48). He’s on his horse, gently calming the herd…”whoa, dogies, whoa”…when Tom Dunson (John Wayne) and Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift) come up to chat. Latimer tells Dunson that when they reach Missouri and everyone gets paid he plans to buy his wife a pair of red shoes.

An hour later the cattle go on a stampede and Latimer is trampled to death. They find what might be his body but can only presume it’s him because he was wearing a checkered shirt. Dunson tells Garth to give full pay to Latimer’s wife, “just like he finished the drive…and, uh, … anything else you can think of.” Garth replies,...

It Happened In The ’50s


I know the 1950s are generally regarded as a moderately prudish or at least somewhat restrictive era in terms of sexual content in movies, TV and advertising. But I doubt if any copy for a 2012 one-sheet would allude to a woman’s “soft mouth” for fear of sounding soft-porny. This poster is currently hanging in the Academy’s main lobby as part of a general Stanley Kubrick exhibit.

I’ve run this photo once before. It may be my all-time favorite Times Square capture. I love the blizzard-covered atmosphere, or the blizzard-at-6-am atmosphere or whatever it is. Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Quiet American opened in early February of 1958.