Patterico's Pontifications

3/7/2010

The Oscars

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 8:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Variety is watching the Oscars so I don’t have to. So far Avatar and The Hurt Locker lead with 3 Oscars each, but the night is young.

EDIT: The Hurt Locker won Best Picture and Director, Jeff Bridges was Best Actor, and Sandra Bullock was Best Actress. Other winners are at the link.

– DRJ

49 Comments

  1. Major upset tonight.

    The “little guy” won. Which is nice to see from time to time.

    Comment by Techie (43d092) — 3/7/2010 @ 9:16 pm

  2. The Academy got the Best Picture award right for a change? Wow.

    Comment by Robin Munn (fca9e9) — 3/7/2010 @ 9:31 pm

  3. As one headline puts it, the ‘Best Picture’ no one saw. The purpose of a movie is to entertain an audience, and hopefully a large enough audience to earn a profit, so by what crazy standard can a movie that has no audience be judged the ‘best’?

    The producers, directors and actors made a movie that lost money for the studio silly enough to pay their salaries… and Hollywood celebrates their incompetence with a trophy?

    And no, I wasn’t rooting for Avatar.

    Comment by steve sturm (369bc6) — 3/8/2010 @ 4:40 am

  4. If you go through a list of Best Picture winners, you will see plenty of small gross examples. This is the first time in a long time that I want to see the winner. I have ordered the DVDs of the best picture and best actress winners. I gave up on theaters long ago.

    Comment by MIke K (2cf494) — 3/8/2010 @ 5:42 am

  5. I think rewarding small grossing pictures is just one more way Hollywood thumbs its nose at the rest of us, a way of saying they don’t care that we didn’t like a particular movie, they are going to bless it with their seal of approval.

    Years ago, the now-defunct SPY Magazine had an article ‘How do these people keep getting work?’ which outlined how some of Hollywood’s biggest stars (DeNiro and Woody Allen are two that I remember) had a terrible net box office and yet kept on getting paid big bucks to star/direct/produce movies that nobody went to see.

    Comment by steve sturm (369bc6) — 3/8/2010 @ 5:57 am

  6. Like The Godfather II ?

    Comment by MIke K (2cf494) — 3/8/2010 @ 6:01 am

  7. Is the awards ceremony still going on?

    Comment by JD (8b8f03) — 3/8/2010 @ 6:38 am

  8. “Years ago, the now-defunct SPY Magazine had an article ‘How do these people keep getting work?’ which outlined how some of Hollywood’s biggest stars (DeNiro and Woody Allen are two that I remember) had a terrible net box office and yet kept on getting paid big bucks to star/direct/produce movies that nobody went to see.”

    Ironically, the magazine is now defunct.

    Comment by imdw (c5488f) — 3/8/2010 @ 6:45 am

  9. “The purpose of a movie is to entertain an audience” But this does not imply that the purpose of the Oscars is to reward movies for getting the biggest audience. If it was, then the Oscars would be superfluous to box office receipts rankings. The (ostensible!) purpose of awards like the Oscars is to recognize quality, not necessarily popularity.

    Part of the reason Hurt Locker had low BO was simply that it didn’t play in many theaters. Not having seen all ten nominees yet, I won’t venture to defend Hurt Locker as Best Picture, but I am glad I saw it, and think probably most Patterico commenters will like it. It’s a very simple movie: it’s about a guy who really, really loves his work.

    My favorite movie of the last year or so has been Gomorrah, which is about gangs in Italy.

    “I gave up on theaters long ago” Me too. Haven’t been in a movie theater since summer 2004. Still, I watch 200+ movies per year on DVD. With Netflix and Hulu, we really are in a miracle age for movie buffs now. Good movies have been made for a hundred years now, and they’re easily available for viewing. No longer are we restricted to seeing only those recent movies, good and mostly bad, that the theaters decide to screen.

    Comment by gp (72be5d) — 3/8/2010 @ 7:51 am

  10. Spin on NPR this morning seemed to be that people were ready to accept Iraq war movies now that the right party was in charge and the motives of the US were pure. The commentator did not seem to pick up on the fact that previous Iraq war movies have largely been shameless anti-American propaganda, where this one showed us as basically good and the enemy as basically evil… nah, that couldn’t have been it.

    Comment by sherlock (bbc421) — 3/8/2010 @ 7:59 am

  11. The Hurt Locker was absolutely riveting – even my wife, who usually hates anything associated with war themes was transfixed by the film. Bigelow has been anything but a “women’s director,” she’s done many fine work in the past, including Point Break with the usually unwatchable Keneau Reeves and the late Patrick Swayze. I should mention that this was the only Iraq – based film that actually shut Hollywood’s blowhole regarding pontificating and just displayed how it really was (and still is) for a select group of soldiers doing perilous work.

    The producers, directors and actors made a movie that lost money for the studio silly enough to pay their salaries… and Hollywood celebrates their incompetence with a trophy?

    Your assumption is incorrect, due to two factors:

    - the film was made on a virtual dime; little to no money was spent on marketing or distribution. The studio never gave it any support, until the end when it began rolling up momentum to the Awards. And what actors were paid big salaries here? Have you actually heard of any of them, except for a cameo by Ralph Finnes?

    - DVD sales and foreign film rights make up a significant proportion of many studio film’s total box office revenues these days. The final tallies won’t be known for a number of years from now.

    You could also speculate that most of the Hollywood film community just hates Cameron’s guts – even for that cesspool, he really grates on just about everyone, he treats people working on his films as absolute sh-t.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 8:23 am

  12. Hurt Locker was already profitable, and now it will be even more. Remember what the Oscar did for “There Will Be Blood”.

    I’m glad Avatar lost and Bullock won. Thanks to Cablevision, I never had the chance to actually see it here in NY.

    Comment by East Coast Chris (ded5f2) — 3/8/2010 @ 8:36 am

  13. “I should mention that this was the only Iraq – based film that actually shut Hollywood’s blowhole regarding pontificating and just displayed how it really was (and still is) for a select group of soldiers doing perilous work.”

    I was unsurprised that EOD folks were critical of it.

    Comment by imdw (803b85) — 3/8/2010 @ 8:43 am

  14. ^knee – jerk leftist blowhole, per example.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 9:06 am

  15. You’re getting childishly easy to parody these days – nothing left in your reflexive spambot bag of tricks, apparently.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 9:08 am

  16. Tricks what? Actual veterans disliking the fictional license taken with the portrayal of their jobs is what leftist blowhole?

    Comment by imdw (2b5cca) — 3/8/2010 @ 9:25 am

  17. audiences accepting Iraq War movies? If by accepting, you mean not showing up in anything more than dribbles, sure.

    And the movie is still net negative: box office of less than $15 million, of which the studio gets half, against a budget of $11 million. Maybe it will make some money (I doubt there’s going to be a big overseas market for anything close to pro-American) but it’s a sucker’s bet to make a movie like this whose box office success is predicated on winning an Academy Award.

    And gp, you can define quality anyway you want, but a movie that nobody sees can’t be that good.

    Comment by steve sturm (369bc6) — 3/8/2010 @ 9:34 am

  18. And gp, you can define quality anyway you want, but a movie that nobody sees can’t be that good.

    How can one determine this statement’s veracity, since it wasn’t available in any movie cineplexes to begin with (they were intending to release it straight to video until the last minute)? You can’t elect to see a movie that’s not available to see anywhere, let alone one that no one’s heard of because the studio never said a peep about in their complete lack of support for it.

    I don’t think you’re making a fair value judgement of the movie, at any rate. I can give you many examples of movies that hardly anyone saw during their initial release that are now considered to be incredibly popular today. I’ll cite just two off the top of my head, and both were definitively supported by their respective studios, yet were considered Box Office poison almost immediately after their release: The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 9:58 am

  19. Tricks what? Actual veterans disliking the fictional license taken with the portrayal of their jobs is what leftist blowhole?

    Yeah, a few soldiers suddenly suing the filmmaker after it’s won an Academy Award or looks likely to? This happens almost every time any work of film is based on real – life events and individuals and then succeeds. If the soldier in question was so upset, why did he wait until only recently to file his lawsuit?

    The blowhole description stands, as your example so aptly proves.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 10:03 am

  20. Tell you what, steve – go rent the movie and then come back and tell us how much it sucked. I saw it less than three weeks ago from Netflix.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 10:08 am

  21. Comment by steve sturm — 3/8/2010 @ 4:40 am

    I would refer you to 1966:
    A Man For All Seasons, with terrible BOR, beat out Doctor Zhivago, which was a blockbuster; and both were great movies.
    But “Man” was the fave of the Left, while “Zhivago” did not paint the Soviet system in a very good light.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! (3a472f) — 3/8/2010 @ 10:29 am

  22. steve must not realize that the Academy rules say that a film, to be eligible for consideration, only has to open in a theatre in New York, and/or L.A., during the year of consideration.
    If it played just on Dec. 31st, in one theatre in each city, it would be eligible – and have terrible box-office.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! (3a472f) — 3/8/2010 @ 10:34 am

  23. “Yeah, a few soldiers suddenly suing the filmmaker after it’s won an Academy Award or looks likely to?”

    I’m not talking about lawsuits. Or a particular soldier. I don’t know why you are.

    Comment by imdw (890d4b) — 3/8/2010 @ 10:41 am

  24. “And gp, you can define quality anyway you want” I didn’t define quality, only pointed out that the purpose of most movie awards is not to mirror box office receipt rankings. I’ll write about defining movie quality some other time; for now, I’ll assert that Hurt Locker is a good quality movie.

    Precious and Up In The Air are arriving from Netflix tomorrow, so that will be six down, four to go, in my watching the ten BP nominees.

    Comment by gp (72be5d) — 3/8/2010 @ 10:44 am

  25. Thank god Avatar did NOT win. That movie should not have been nominated for anything other than some technical achievements.

    The conspiracy theorist in me says Avatar might have won best picture, if not for the opportunity for the academy to reward best picture and best director to a female director for the first time.

    BTW what was wrong with Sean Penn, he was stuttering and looked totally uncomfortable.

    Comment by lee (cae7a3) — 3/8/2010 @ 11:19 am

  26. I’ll cite just two off the top of my head, and both were definitively supported by their respective studios, yet were considered Box Office poison almost immediately after their release: The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski.

    And then there’s poor Mike Judge, whose movies are considered box office and studio poison but somehow end up becoming incredibly popular after their video release.

    Comment by Another Chris (2d8013) — 3/8/2010 @ 11:26 am

  27. I’m not talking about lawsuits. Or a particular soldier. I don’t know why you ar.

    Because douchey, that’s all I can find relating to your expected reflexive screeching. Please provide links as examples of what you’re referencing. Oh, that’s right – you don’t like to “do” linking, correct? That pesky research to buttress your rants, no thank you.

    Then please provide contrary examples regarding my point about combat soldiers taking issue with every war movie that comes out, regardless of it’s POV. Should be easy for you, correct?

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 11:27 am

  28. Yeah, Office Space will always be a perennial favorite, the humor is universal despite changing times.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 11:29 am

  29. Part of the reason Hurt Locker had low BO was simply that it didn’t play in many theaters. Not having seen all ten nominees yet, I won’t venture to defend Hurt Locker as Best Picture, but I am glad I saw it, and think probably most Patterico commenters will like it. It’s a very simple movie: it’s about a guy who really, really loves his work.

    Hurt Locker was a fine movie, and the best of the nominees, but The Hangover was the best movie of the year.

    Comment by Another Chris (2d8013) — 3/8/2010 @ 11:32 am

  30. AD – RtR/OS: True, a movie can open in limited release the last week or so of the year, but that is usually in advance of a large rollout after the first of the year. And if a movie opened the last weekend of the year and still had a terrible box office the first week of March, then yes, it was a terrible movie.

    And guys, save the lame argument about Hurt Locker not being shown anywhere. If it wasn’t, isn’t that evidence that the distributor realized expanding the number of theaters was a waste of money? Tis better to not be seen in a handful of screens and be thought a good movie than to not be seen in a whole bunch of screens and remove all doubt.

    Here’s a question: in what other area is ‘quality’ defined in such a way that ignores the willingness of someone to pay money for the goods being offered? I can’t think of one. ‘Quality’ schools that nobody attends? ‘Quality’ restaurants that nobody eats at? Arguing that a movie that nobody goes to see can be labeled as ‘great’ is evidence of something wrong between the ears.

    And no, The Big Lebowski was not a great movie.

    Comment by steve sturm (369bc6) — 3/8/2010 @ 11:38 am

  31. Here’s a good outline of criticisms of Hurt Locker: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YzlhMjg4OGEzN2M2YjA5NjhjNmQyNDRhYTg3YmI2MDM=

    Comment by gp (72be5d) — 3/8/2010 @ 11:49 am

  32. And no, The Big Lebowski was not a great movie.

    Where did I say that, steve? You’re getting quite fond of making up assertions that weren’t stated. I said it became a popular movie despite little to no box office support. Others have given similar examples, which you choose to conveniently ignore.

    It’s all subjective in the end – but I’ve never heard of anyone with half a brain using box office receipts as their ultimate barometer of excellence. So does that mean that Citizen Kane sucked the big one, steve? Hearst owned most of the movie theatres of that time period, so it was considered a massive box office and therefore critical failure. Does this also mean that the Porky’s franchise was one of the all – time movie greats? That’s just ridiculous, and you know it.

    Again, I repeat – you’re dissing a film that you haven’t even seen yet, the ultimate ignorance. This isn’t the weekly edition of Variety, no one gives a crap about a movie’s box office. Go see it and then come back to tell us how much it sucked, ok?

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 12:02 pm

  33. What a surprise, imadouchebag didn’t respond to my request for objective research for his screeching. Another ginormous lefty blowhole.

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 12:03 pm

  34. Another thing that steve might not realize, is that theatre bookings are done months, sometimes a year, in advance; with the showings at pre-view festivals (such as Cannes) being very important to how, and how many, bookers will jump.
    If the initial critical response is negative, which is nothing but a reflection of the personal quirks of the reviewer, the bookings will suffer unless the booking staff has a lot of juice in the Corporate office.
    So, a film might open during Christmas for Academy consideration, and not have any bookings firmed until Awards time, or later. A lot of bookers won’t commit screen-time around Awards time until they see the Nomination List.
    It is one of the great guessing games.
    Techincally great films can end up with absolute death-ray word-of-mouth, which no matter what you do, results in commercial failure.
    And, the opposite is true.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! (3a472f) — 3/8/2010 @ 12:13 pm

  35. “Please provide links as examples of what you’re referencing. ”

    I said I was unsurprised to find EOD folks were critical of it. I found EOD folks critical of it in one article:

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-et-hurt-locker26-2010feb26,0,6078776.story

    I was unsurprised by this because it struck me as quite a bit of license that the movie took with how that job is performed. Plus while some of the micro-action and tension scenes were quite gripping, their place in the plot and how the characters entered them was often quite baffling. This also made me expect negative reactions from folks with military experience.

    “Then please provide contrary examples regarding my point about combat soldiers taking issue with every war movie that comes out, regardless of it’s POV”

    Oh I don’t doubt they do that. Though you said something about lawsuits. I haven’t heard of any lawsuits involving this movie.

    Comment by imdw (bb6a9a) — 3/8/2010 @ 12:14 pm

  36. Here’s one source that’s not a rag like the LAT that references your earlier point:

    http://militarytimes.com/blogs/scoopdeck/2010/03/08/dealing-with-the-hurt/

    The soldier who was with the filmmaker during most of his time he spent in Iraq with the demolition crews is suing the screenwriter, claiming that the depiction is too close to his real – life character, and thus is entitled to a share of the profits:

    http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/w0001515.html

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 12:33 pm

  37. “Here’s one source that’s not a rag like the LAT that references your earlier point:”

    So about that leftist blowhole…

    Comment by imdw (05d41e) — 3/8/2010 @ 1:01 pm

  38. Dmac: and you’re fond of assuming things not in evidence. Where did I say I hadn’t seen the movie? (hint: I like Jeremy Renner, and from before Hurt Locker, shame The Unusuals got canceled, it was a GREAT SHOW*) And I do use box office receipts as a measure of quality: a movie ain’t great because some small number of self-described experts deems it so, a movie deserves to be labeled great only when the public at large declares it so… and by going to see it. If I were a producer, I’d be happier with a shelf full of Porkies and Hangovers than with a Hurt Locker, Citizen Kane and so on.

    And AD – RtR/OS: again, you’re right that it could happen, but it didn’t in this case. Hurt Locker opened to rave reviews, it was touted as Oscar worthy from day one. Showings can – and have been – extended or expanded if a movie does better than expected.

    * no, it wasn’t. I liked it, but no one else did so that by definition defines a show as not great.

    Comment by steve sturm (369bc6) — 3/8/2010 @ 1:01 pm

  39. Well, what it boils down to is that the great unwashed don’t get to vote, the Academy Members get to vote, and their vote is final – Michael Moore and AlGore, anyone?.
    You, may or may not, contribute to their coffers as you will.
    No one holds a gun to anyone’s head to see one of these films.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! (3a472f) — 3/8/2010 @ 1:27 pm

  40. #9-. The objective of a film is to put tails in seats and make money. The purpose is to tell a tale. If it entertains and is considered art, both of which are viewed through subjective lenses, that’s gravy. The best advice for filmmakers are the four words from a late film buff who made his mark in television: “Tell me a story.” – Don Hewitt.

    A fine and memorable treatment of a ‘bomb disposal’ story was a BBC TV series from 30 years ago titled, “Danger: UXB.” It dramatized the lives and deaths of British Army personnel handling unexploded ordinance after air raids. Still holds up.

    Comment by DCSCA (9d1bb3) — 3/8/2010 @ 1:35 pm

  41. That’s my point, the Academy gets to vote, but that is no reason anyone else should adopt their version of what constitutes a great movie.

    Think of it this way: Hollywood could make nothing but great movies like Hurt Locker… and go broke. It would serve them right.

    Comment by steve sturm (369bc6) — 3/8/2010 @ 1:43 pm

  42. #39- Strip away the ‘glitz and glamour’ and the Academy Awards are little more than a glorified annual sales meeting where the 6,000 members of various guilds and divisions award themselves trophies for the past years work.

    Comment by DCSCA (9d1bb3) — 3/8/2010 @ 1:43 pm

  43. A very good friend of mine was on an EOD team in Iraq for a year. I haven’t asked him about The Hurt Locker yet, but what I heard from his family is that he loved it. I’m sure he could point out the inaccuracies in it that I would miss… but I can point out lots of computer-related inaccuracies in various films I’ve seen, and I still enjoyed them.

    And for what it’s worth — my friend’s family said that his whole squad had thoroughly enjoyed the movie. That’s coming from at two or three steps removed, but it’s consistent with most everything else I’ve heard about the film.

    Comment by Robin Munn (fca9e9) — 3/8/2010 @ 2:29 pm

  44. Well, that settles it then – the movie obviously sucks donkeys, right, steve?

    And most soldiers must obviously hate it – right, imadouchebag?

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 2:45 pm

  45. No longer is Jeremy Irons’s acceptance speech for Reversal of Fortune the worst I’ve ever heard. Bridges has taken that Worst Speech crown for himself, and I doubt anyone will ever take his place.

    Comment by Alan (07ccb5) — 3/8/2010 @ 3:03 pm

  46. “And most soldiers must obviously hate it – right, imadouchebag?”

    You’re the one that said that you had a “point about combat soldiers taking issue with every war movie that comes out, regardless of it’s POV.”

    I just said I was unsurprised to find some EOD folks critical of it.

    Comment by imdw (22078e) — 3/8/2010 @ 4:39 pm

  47. Personally I loved the film, but mostly I was really happy it won because it was terrific to see Kathryn Bigelow, who looked stunning, have the backbone to publicly thank our troops for their service, as well as first responders and those in uniform. That alone was worth all the hoopla and pageantry.

    Can’t you just imagine who James Cameron would have thanked if Avatar had won?

    Comment by Dana (1e5ad4) — 3/8/2010 @ 5:16 pm

  48. Himself?

    Comment by Dmac (ca1d8c) — 3/8/2010 @ 6:58 pm

  49. You know it, Dmac!

    Comment by Dana (1e5ad4) — 3/8/2010 @ 7:30 pm

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