There was a moment last season where I gave up going against the grain on the notion that “The Dark Knight” would be nominated for Best Picture. I was called a fool, I was told I wasn’t with the program, I was told certain milestones related to the film would not be overlooked, etc. I just didn’t think it was going to happen.
But I relented. I used the healthy precursor trail the film blazed as reason enough to join the (perhaps fanboy-driven) chorus and say sure, the film will be nominated. Why not? Still didn’t feel right. And we all know how that turned out.
I’m getting a similar vibe from “Inglourious Basterds,” which is even being considered a sure-fire lock in some quarters. An extra five nominees change the dynamic, of course, and most would argue that “The Dark Knight” would have made it in with 10 nominees. But even with a wider target, I still don’t think Quentin Tarantino’s latest will make the cut. And if I go down in flames sticking to that inclination, so be it. But I don’t think I will. Fool me once, as the saying goes.
But all of this doesn’t mean there isn’t an old-school concentrated effort on the part of The Weinstein Company to appeal to the Academy membership, and things really kicked off in earnest on that front Thursday night in Montecito.
I was unfortunately unable to make it up the coast for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival toasting of Tarantino with the Kirk Douglas Award (handed over by the living legend himself), but there are a few accounts out there worth reading. Here is Jeff Wells, who came out from New York for the festivities. And Pete Hammond (who recently penned a piece attempting to stall the anti-”Amelia” sentiment) wrote a thorough report from an awards hawking standpoint:
Reaction in the packed ballroom was wildly enthusiastic, and if the idea was to kick off an Oscar campaign it appeared to be mission accomplished.
Afterward, [producer Lawrence] Bender and recently departed Universal Co-Chairman David Linde (Universal handled the international release of “Basterds”) were talking about strategy in bringing awards attention to their box office smash, Tarantino’s most successful film ever. They noted that it’s main strength in that regard is that filmmakers really seem to love it, and that should bode well once awards season gets around to Oscar and guild voters, the ones who really count.
Hammond goes on to touch on the Weinstein campaign strategy. And it’s worth noting that a December DVD release will come at an opportune time for the film’s awards hopes. But I keep coming back to my gut, which has let me down some but has certainly pulled me through plenty. And my gut says this is all a fantasy. I expect plenty of below-the-line respect for the film. But I anticipate Christoph Waltz will be its lone representation in the major categories.
Movieline’s Seth Abramovich (who calls the film a “decade’s-end masterpiece”), recently talked to Bender, by the way. No questions concerning awards, mainly just production stuff.
Anyone want to make a case for or against “Inglourious Basterds” making it into the Best Picture field, have at it in the comments section. I’d love to hear the logic, whatever the stance.