Getting carried away with ‘District 9’ Oscar talk?

Posted by · 11:23 am · August 19th, 2009

Sharlto Copley in District 9An acquaintance and AMPAS member who was at the “District 9” Academy screening last week, the one Peter Bart reported as a big success based on applause and overall audience reaction, has written to set the record straight:

I was there at the Academy “DISTRICT 9” screening and I think people are getting too carried away. The Academy members also saw JULIE And JULIA this past weekend and that was the one that had the best turnout I’ve seen in years to a screening. The turnout for “DISTRICT 9” was pretty good and the reaction was very good, but I don’t think that the overall reaction was that great to be honest.

The reaction to JULIE AND JULIA was good but a little subdued (I think that they loved the Julia Child segments, the Amy Adams sections less so). During “DISTRICT 9” there were several walkouts (I think that the hand held camera work drove some people nuts and some found the accents a bit hard to understand) . I am saying this, however, as someone who LOVED the film and would be happy to see it nominated frankly, but the fact that this got a phenomenal reaction is someone trying to put too positive a spin on it. Don’t get me wrong I would love to see it happen. The film is that good. We will have to wait and see, I guess.

Fair enough.  Bart’s quick-to-the-draw reaction could be something else entirely.  As Sasha Stone of Awards Daily wondered aloud, “Is this Variety trying harder to get into the Oscar game in order to get those Oscar ads flowing?”  No comment on that, though I guess it would behoove Vareity, for obvious reasons, to paint as many films as “players” as possible.

Anyway, just passing it on.  At the end of the day I don’t think “District 9” has much of a shot at major Oscar notices beyond a long-shot original screenplay berth.  All the tech stuff — visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing — that’ll likely be in play no matter what.

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27 responses so far

  • 1 8-19-2009 at 12:16 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    ya no best picture nom here, definately wont happen, but i do feel moon, star trek, and district 9 are all just paving the way to avatar

  • 2 8-19-2009 at 12:47 pm

    Nudgoo said...

    People need to get it into their heads that these films won’t get nominated – learn from The Dark Knight and all of the others that it’s not going to happen in this day and age… yet every year we think, “Maybe, just maybe this will get nominated”. Not gonna happen.

    In the 70s and 80s, when sci-fi/action/horror would get major nominations, maybe (see The Exorcist, Jaws, Carrie, Star Wars, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc) but not anymore.

  • 3 8-19-2009 at 1:09 pm

    Chris138 said...

    Maybe it’s just me, but the guy shown in the photo above sort of looks like Darren Aronofsky.

    Anyways, I’ll be very curious to see what 10 movies are picked this year for nominations. It would be nice to see some more popular (and actual good) movies nominated for a change. It’s been a while.

  • 4 8-19-2009 at 1:13 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***(I think that the hand held camera work drove some people nuts and some found the accents a bit hard to understand)***

    Funny, because the film isn’t nearly as shaky as something like “The Hurt Locker,” and everyone with a thick accent is subtitled.

  • 5 8-19-2009 at 1:35 pm

    KB said...

    Really? There were Academy members that couldn’t understand a South African accent? unbelievable…

  • 6 8-19-2009 at 1:54 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Nudgoo: It goes without saying “year after year” doesn’t compute since there are ten spots up for grabs this year. Obviously there wouldn’t be much Oscar talk for District 9 if there were only five.

  • 7 8-19-2009 at 2:42 pm

    Simone said...

    KB, I feel the same way. It says loads about the state of mind of the Academy.

    *shakes head*

  • 8 8-19-2009 at 3:42 pm

    James D. said...

    I just got back from it. I really don’t get the hype. Is it the complete awfulness of Transformers and G.I. Joe that makes people think that good movies are great?

  • 9 8-19-2009 at 5:01 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    District 9 is great, Transformers or not.

  • 10 8-19-2009 at 5:15 pm

    Nudgoo said...

    I keep forgetting about the extra five Best Picture slots… dang.

  • 11 8-19-2009 at 5:43 pm

    Joel said...

    It’s the most original and inventive sci-fi movie since…well…ever, James. It ain’t that it was released in the summer of a Michael Bay movie.

    I REALLY hope this pans out. At this point, who knows. But it’s the best release so far this year, in my opinion.

  • 12 8-19-2009 at 5:54 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “It’s the most original and inventive sci-fi movie since…well…ever.”

    No slight intended on the film, but think about that for just one minute.

  • 13 8-19-2009 at 9:24 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    “It’s the most original and inventive sci-fi movie since…well…ever, ”

    Once again, there is a lot of knee-jerking going on around here.

    Move over Kubrick, “District 9” is here!

  • 14 8-19-2009 at 9:35 pm

    JFK said...

    Chase, you need to get a new phrase, I think your knee gave out. Let the film breathe, let it be what it is, outside of critic stares, give it a chance.

  • 15 8-19-2009 at 9:37 pm

    James D. said...

    Joel, I thought the first hour was very good. The documentary angle was a nice approach, and I appreciated the symbolism throughout. However, the ending devolved into every action stereotype imaginable. People coming at the last minute to save someone from the barrel of a gun, professional soldiers not able to hit an object, gunfire completely stopping when a dramatic conversation has to commence. The only thing was missing was Vickus diving through a closing door and reaching back for his hat.

  • 16 8-19-2009 at 10:20 pm

    Joel said...

    Well, yeah, of course, James. It had to lose the documentary angle, because then you’d be complaining, “How the hell did the camera get there?!” And as for the action, I think people–not just you–need to think about whether it builds tension, not whether we’ve seen it before. Old material can be used brilliantly. Yeah, we’ve seen that type of action before, but since there’s no more original ideas to choose from (or VERY few, if any at all) I think that originality then needs to come from how the film is made. Blomkamp helmed something everyone’s seen before in a way that no one’s seen before. THAT is why most of the critics loved it. Not because it was original, per se, but certainly inventive and–most definitely–originally told.

  • 17 8-19-2009 at 10:21 pm

    Joel said...

    Oh and that is also a response to Chase and Guy, by the way.

  • 18 8-19-2009 at 10:53 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Some of the members walking out almost proves that any movie that deviates in the least from conventional film making has almost no chance of winning anything. Certainly not saying that District 9 is that great or that it should be nominated, but to walk out of a movie that has received such high praise from critics and audiences alike proves nothing else except the Academy’s obliviousness of quality film. At the very least I would say that the film was at least as interesting and compelling as CC of BB from last year, and I certainly didn’t bash on the latter at all.

  • 19 8-19-2009 at 11:11 pm

    James D. said...

    Well, in order to continue this discussion, I will have to spoil the film. You have been warned.

    Joel, I will contend that there was a level of suspense that you don’t find in modern blockbuster action films. I actually thought there was a chance that Vickus or Christopher could die, which is never allowed in most commercial films.

    But still, the stereotypes did me in. Vickus betrays Christopher and knocks him out, and then he goes to save him. One could say he felt compassion, or it was his prawn instinct starting to kick in, but it felt like Rose jumping back on the Titanic.

    These are minor issues, of course, and mostly they are my own. I have a hard time taking commercial films as art the way others do, often because of the predictability factor (how good can the Dark Knight be if we know Batman won’t die). It was a refreshing film, and I enjoyed it a lot, but I just cannot get on board the same way you or others can. Maybe if the year had not seen such a cerebral and nuanced science picture film (Moon) I could rate District 9 a bit more favorably.

    And to clarify, I wasn’t deriding the documentary angle for going away. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel that the transition went so smoothly that it felt perfectly natural.

  • 20 8-19-2009 at 11:48 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Sam Rockwell getting snubbed would be the year’s biggest, though not astounding, robbery. He must get nominated (so his studio better pimp him w/ a screener push).

    That is all.

  • 21 8-20-2009 at 6:04 am

    M said...

    I enoyed District 9, it was unique and something diffeernt. However, Oscar talk? is a bit much.

  • 22 8-20-2009 at 6:42 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    JFK: I like the damn movie, but you comparing to something with the cultural impact and groundbreaking mythology and allure of “Star Wars” is downright silly.

    My redundant phrasing was intentional, hence, “Like I said…”

  • 23 8-20-2009 at 8:43 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    I’ll never cease to be astounded by the repeated attitude that films nominated for Oscars are all masterpieces. “It was great, but Oscars?…” is something that only makes sense coming out of the mouth of someone with no knowledge of Academy history.

  • 24 8-20-2009 at 9:59 pm

    The InSneider said...

    Pardon the phrase Burma, but looking at the Big Picture, the Academy has excellent taste. They’re not perfect but what organization is? The Oscars still matter for some strange reason like the Super Bowl MVP and the NCAA Men’s Bball Champion. The best rarely wins but that’s life. You can’t argue that the Academy gives Oscars to bad movies, because that’s not true.

  • 25 8-20-2009 at 10:02 pm

    Marshall said...

    I think it has the simplicity that characterizes great sci-fi classics like “Alien” and “The Terminator.”

    And the political relevance was nice, but everyone kept talking about the message for “Wall-E” too. Maybe if we don’t overkill the “District 9” talk, it will stick around and the voters won’t feel the need to backlash so violently.


  • 26 8-21-2009 at 7:25 am

    M.Harris said...

    I thought that the movie was good,but not great.I liked how it drew parallels to the illegal alien issue’s that are happening in countries around the world.
    I don’t mind the hand held camera shots so much because it added some authenticity to the movie.My minor problem with the film is that the relationship between Sharlto Copley’s character in the alien seemed a tad bit contrived.

    Also the South African gangsters seemed a tad bit contrived.Especially when one starts talking about eating alien flesh and gaining power.And they just happen to break up the NMU’s plans for Copley’s character.But like I said these are minor flaws.

    To me Sharlto Copley’s performance is at the top of the list of the things that I liked most about the film.Now if there was a outside chance for an Oscar nomination-I think he is more deserving of it than the film it’s self.Liked it didn’t love it.

  • 27 9-02-2009 at 5:37 am

    JJ said...

    Cough cough M. Harris the gangster were Nigerian not South African…..

    Also “Muti” is a very popular form of traditional medicine in big parts of Africa. So not that contrived after all, is it.

    Don’t compare this film with western culture coz then you are missing the whole point.

    Not so sure about an Oscar but still a brilliant film. One for the DVD collecton.