Campaigning posthumously for Oscar…where’s the beef?

Posted by · 2:40 pm · December 6th, 2008

Heath Ledger in The Dark KnightI read this Rachel Abramowitz story concerning the pitfalls of campaigning for a posthumous Oscar nomination on behalf of Heath Ledger twice.  Packed with anonymous sources (until 42 West’s Cynthia Swartz pops up at the end with some insight on hawking Massimo Troisi 13 years ago), it really is a brick-wall story.  Nothing gleaned, nothing of substance conveyed.

Dare I say it, I would have killed it.  Not because of the subject, and Abramowitz does what she can at the whims of her sources, but because it doesn’t carry the weight it might have if certain parties had taken their heads out of the sand.

At this point, I think it’s a bit ridiculous for Warner brass and campaigners to stay off the record for this stuff.  It’s understandable in certain cases and I get it, you don’t want to come across as taking advantage of Ledger’s death.  But other than idiot Terry Gilliam, I don’t think anyone really thinks that is happening or has happened.  It’s been a classy ride, and as Abramowitz notes, the studio “was deft in its initial marketing push for ‘The Dark Knight,’ for the campaign neither hid Ledger’s presence nor overly hyped it.”

This could have been an insightful story with names in the mix, giving a real face to the realities of attempting to ensure a sort of prosperity for Ledger’s work through campaigning it for awards.  The most interesting point comes at the end of the article, when Abramowitz is forced to quote from the paper’s geek blog Hero Complex (from a Geoff Boucher interview with Christopher Nolan).  But otherwise, it’s just a lot of hot air and it really gets under my skin.

The true infuriating quote, however, has to be this doosey from some moronic competitor (who we can only hope represents either a marginal Hollywood opinion or, at the very least, is indicative of nothing more than behind-the-scenes smearing that takes hold this time of year):

“Until we wake up one day and we no longer are making any good movies — dramas — then the academy will not go this route, unless it’s outrageously different . . . . This picture is not so different from the first one. It’s still the Batman story. He wears a hat with ears, a cape that can fly.”

I’ve been repressing my inner Bat-geek for some time this year, trying to keep an even keel, combatting the hyperbole when I can.  Because let’s face it, praise for “The Dark Knight” got out of hand this year.  But more and more, as I read stuff like this, as I talk to publicists whose antagonistic banter you can see through like crystal — oh yeah, believe me, there are people trying to take this thing down because it rightfully scares them — more and more I’m finding it necessary to beat the drum.

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 12-06-2008 at 2:58 pm

    Jamieson said...

    I will add a firm slam of my drum stick to the beating of the drum.

    Dark Knight

  • 2 12-06-2008 at 3:14 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Every popular thing has its backlash in some sort. But this is all just truly getting silly.

  • 3 12-06-2008 at 3:16 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Kris, I agree with your stance about the whole posthumous award deal, but I really don’t think that The Dark Knight has been at all over hyped this year. It’s perfectly fine that you think that it is overrated, but I remember in one of your posts you said it was extremely overrated, which I disagree with.

    I certainly don’t think that the film is one of the greatest ever; after the next couple of years go by, I highly doubt it will even make my list of top ten for the decade.

    But the reason that I think (finish the sentence before you pass out) that it one of the greatest cinematic achievements ever, arguably the greatest, is that I have never seen a movie that can appeal so much to virtually every group of people in society. From young to old, from old-school conservative types to newer liberals of any type, for the most part everyone at the very least, thought it was a good movie. You have to admit that your average teenage girl probably wouldn’t care too much for say The Godfather or Citizen Kane.

    But in saying this, I’m still sure that once I see all of the films to come, it won’t be the best movie of the year. Just one comparative example I can think of is “Into the Wild.” I liked that movie a lot more than TDK, yet I would still probably classify TDK as a better achievement in cinema.

    And don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t think that a movie’s greatness should be judged solely on the range of people it appeals to. I just think that if it does in fact do that, then that counts for something.

  • 4 12-06-2008 at 5:42 pm

    Chris said...

    Although I’m not an avid fan of the film (I think it’s fine, but “Batman Begins” was better), I still agree with you that the quote is complete rubbish.

    Apart from the fact that the guy’s pretty arrogant, I don’t see how he could say that “it’s still the Batman story”, because no, it isn’t. It’s a completely different style of portraying Batman and it is much less focused on him than any film before it.

  • 5 12-07-2008 at 2:42 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    That quote pissed me off, too. I bet that idiot also wonders why the ratings for The Academy Awards have plummeted over the past decade.

  • 6 12-07-2008 at 4:49 pm

    Chris said...

    People can’t seem to accept the fact that comic book movies can improve as the years go by, and not just be recognized for technical achievements. Ledger’s going to win the Best Supporting Actor award, get over it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a Best Picture and Best Director nomination as well.

  • 7 12-08-2008 at 10:24 am

    Brandon 'No Hay Banda' House said...

    Uh, I’m not saying anything to upset anyone this time. Heath Ledger deserves the award even if the part given to him could have been more well rounded, he did with the role what he could and made more than the best of it. Plus, he died, and it really is a testament to his memory to give him the award- as a great actor dead far too soon (I think he was better in Brokeback, but who cares at this point, you know?). Also, Into the Wild is from 2007, so, uh, it doesn’t count for 2008.

    My top five of the Year (minus foreign, etc etc etc):
    5) Ballast
    4) Milk
    3) Doubt
    2) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    1) Synecdoche, New York