Should Lee Daniels tread more carefully?

Posted by · 8:38 am · October 23rd, 2009

Lee DanielsBased on an unexpected blanking in the Gotham Award nominations, plus the lingering resentment in some quarters over Mo’Nique’s reluctance to play the publicity game, talk has surfaced this week of a “Precious” backlash. I’m not buying it until there’s a larger press reaction to the film upon its release — if it receives further anti-consensus pans along the lines of Ed Gonzalez’s, perhaps.

Either way, according to Patrick Goldstein, director Lee Daniels isn’t helping matters with some cocky statements that could rub some Academy voters the wrong way. His assertion that “‘Precious’ is so not Obama … so not P.C.,” in the film’s recent NYT spread, strikes me as a harmless bit of bluster, while I’m not sure why anyone but the most conservative bluehairs would be concerned by him describing himself as “a little homo … a little Euro … a little ghetto.”

But Goldstein goes on to highlight a strain of Daniels’ so-called “trash-talk” that could cause more offense in Academy circles:

Daniels’ downfall may come from his boast in the Hirschberg profile where he claimed that he “kind of co-directed” “Monster’s Ball,” which he produced, but was actually directed by Marc Forster. Daniels also says he gave (the Oscar-nominated) Halle Berry her line readings, which is bad form even if it were true and could lose Daniels a couple thousand votes from the actors branch right off the bat.

(That’s “Oscar-winning Halle Berry,” by the way.)

It may or may not be true, but it’s tactless either way. Goldstein likens this to the “king of the world” arrogance for which James Cameron took so much flak after the 1997 Oscars, while also making the more obvious Spike Lee comparisons, arguing that mouthiness is tolerated to a degree from established filmmakers, but less so from a comparative outsider with two features (one of them dreadful) under his belt. I’m making no judgment … just passing the issue along. Read the rest here.

“Precious” premieres tonight at the London Film Festival, though it seems Daniels is too ill to attend. Due to scheduling conflicts, I’m catching up with it on Monday.

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 10-23-2009 at 9:25 am

    Cal said...

    See, I don’t get why there should be any resentment of Mo’Nique. If she doesn’t want to parade herself around then fair enough.

    I haven’t seen Daniels’ comments about Monster’s Ball (sometimes these things get exaggerated) but if he did say that then it does seem like he’s trying to take credit. Frankly, I didn’t think her line readings were all that anyway.

  • 2 10-23-2009 at 9:36 am

    Aleksis said...

    Ha! Loving Lee Daniels and Mo’Nique. I hope she wins and doesn’t even turn up to collect it. Fabulous woman.

    None of the things Daniels has said seem particularly arrogant to me. How do we know he didn’t “kind of co-direct” Monster’s Ball?

  • 3 10-23-2009 at 9:43 am

    Silencio said...

    I’m already getting tired of all this hoopla and the film hasn’t come out yet.

  • 4 10-23-2009 at 10:36 am

    Jilda said...

    Why does everyone keep picking the people involved with Precious’ words? Seriously, do people WANT a backlash to happen? Nothing has happened yet for there to be a backlash. And I have never heard this much talk about a backlash forming before the film is even released. And whenever I have heard about this, it hasn’t affected the film in the long run.

  • 5 10-23-2009 at 12:10 pm

    Michael said...

    to go off of what Jilda just said, what is the point of creating a “backlash” for a movie that hasn’t even been released yet. I don’t know if some rival studio is trying to mastermind a smear campaign or what, but it just seems random and pointless. why don’t the media wait until the film has been released wide to take a temperature of how the audience feels about the film before attacking the people involved in making the movie. if the film is as good as everyone keeps saying it is, then it will be able to withstand some bad-mouthing no matter what. but all this negativity out of nothing is just getting annoying b/c it seems way to preemptive and without merit.

  • 6 10-23-2009 at 12:12 pm

    Michael said...

    *please excuse the spelling and grammar errors, I hit submit before re-reading

  • 7 10-23-2009 at 12:15 pm

    Jilda said...

    I made way more mistakes than you Michael. lol

  • 8 10-23-2009 at 2:21 pm

    Patryk said...

    “Shadowboxer” was so shockingly awful. It has to be seen to be believed. Talk about gratuitous! I am still in shock over the cast.

  • 9 10-23-2009 at 2:41 pm

    Me. said...

    What’s wrong with giving an actress her line reading? I’m not getting this article.

  • 10 10-23-2009 at 3:07 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Is Tom O’Neil behind this? I always feel like he enjoys propelling controversial ideas (i.e. Crash) to cause upsets.

    Anyway, I respect Mo’Nique a lot for not wanting to prostitute herself, and simply letting come what may. Perhaps her lack of enthusiasm may cost her a win from the Oscars, but the other awards bodies probably won’t care as much, so it’s nothing to fret over.

    As for Daniels, yeah, I do kind of get that vibe from *this*–not from him for sure. This type of behavior usually does irritate the Academy and often sully chances of winning.

    And, um, frankly I’m all for it. If it means poisoning his chances of winning Director so that Bigelow’s chances duplicate, then bring it. Please.

  • 11 10-23-2009 at 3:31 pm

    SHAAAARK said...

    What’s the difference between a backlash and just not liking the film. I’ve read in several places people irritated by the whole backlash talk, because they just didn’t like Precious on its own merits. I suppose it was inevitable that this movie would have some crazy defenders insinuating that people who don’t shower it with awards are racist. Knowing as they did that Precious is poised to receive a megaton of awards, I think it was smart of the people who decided the Gotham nominations to put a spotlight on movies that won’t receive such attention, like Big Fan and The Maid. And they maybe, just maybe didn’t like Precious all that much?
    As for arrogance in directors, it can’t help, but then again, it can’t hurt either. I mean, James Cameron has a Directing Oscar.

  • 12 10-23-2009 at 3:56 pm

    Baxter said...

    I don’t see how anyone can praise Mo’nique for not prostituting herself. For starters, going out to promote a film you and others have worked hard on is not prostituting yourself, and, more importantly, people say the reason she hasn’t been going out to premieres and festivals to promote the movie is because she wants to be paid more. Isn’t that closer to prostituting? How can someone have respect for that?

  • 13 10-23-2009 at 4:44 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Patryk: Yeah, it’s appalling, isn’t it? It’s the reason I’m still just-so-slightly nervous about approaching “Precious,” for all the confidence engendered by multiple raves from voices I trust.

    That said, Macy Gray’s performance in “Shadowboxer” is fifty kinds of awesome.

  • 14 10-23-2009 at 9:16 pm

    Pablo (Col) said...

    The only truth is that Precious is in the top 5 of the season, no question. There have been very few films this year to be talked among people and this is one of those. I think nominations are still not only possible, but evident for the film.

    Not showing herself to the press does not make Mo’Nique less worthy of attention.

    Senseless discussion i say.

  • 15 10-23-2009 at 10:50 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Lee Daniels is a liar – first off he didn’t want Halle Berry in the role – he also didn’t want Marc Forster as the director – btw taking credit for Ivana Chubbuck’s Halle’s acting coach for the film – who she gave full credit to in her Oscar speech – he’s lame I hope he goes without a director’s nomination.