OSCAR TALK: Ep. 23 — Divebombing the competition, doc and live action shorts, foreign film, etc.

Posted by · 12:36 pm · February 26th, 2010

Oscar TalkWelcome to Oscar Talk, a weekly kudocast between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood.

Every week inches us closer to the end of the loudest Oscar season of all time. Today Anne and I sit down and discuss the noise of the week, adding our own noise (we went on a bit long this week):

Leading off, Anne has a whole new reason to hate “the 10”: members just aren’t bothering with ranking and the preferential ballot, not to mention the rigging and manipulation that goes into making it an impure process.

Things are getting “hairy,” as Anne puts it, with a close race bringing out the worst in people. We talk about “The Hurt Locker” and EmailGate and add some much-needed perspective on the matter.

We bounce around ideas for dark horse contenders that could benefit from the preferential ballot (assuming it’s taken seriously).

We also discuss the documentary shorts at length (now that I’ve seen them all) as well as the live action short films (now that Anne has seen them all).

Finally, we discuss a potential upset lurking in documentary feature nominee “Which Way Home” as well as “A Prophet” in the scheme of the Best Documentary Feature race.

Have a listen below, with a track from James Horner’s “Avatar” score leading the way. And as always, you can subscribe to Oscar Talk via iTunes here.


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→ 35 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Oscar Talk

35 responses so far

  • 1 2-26-2010 at 1:02 pm

    Pam said...

    I love how everyone was complaining a couple of months ago about how predictable the race was, and now the race is too UNpredictable.

  • 2 2-26-2010 at 1:21 pm

    Craig said...

    How fucking hard is it to understand the preferential ballot and to rank ten films? If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t get to vote.

  • 3 2-26-2010 at 1:22 pm

    Craig said...

    And once again, there’s no way “manipulating” could do anything but backfire. How is that hard to understand either?

  • 4 2-26-2010 at 1:33 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I think the point is, there’s a lot of over-thinking going on. Obviously the sample voter we mentioned last week, who put Avatar at #1 and The Hurt Locker at #10 due to “strategy,” doesn’t get that it isn’t likely Avatar would be counted out at any point along the process, as it would have a lot of votes.

    But I’m sure people are keeping frontrunners out of the first half of the ballot if they’re voting for the more fringe titles, like District 9 or A Serious Man, just to help give it a leg up. Like I say in this podcast, given my personal ranking, my vote would likely go to my #2, Up in the Air. But since that has a fair shot at winning, and if I’m privy to that, and want to give A Serious Man as much of a leg up as possible, maybe I (if I were setting out to manipulate matters) would put, oh, District 9 in #2, or something that has the overall sense of being an unlikely multiple round player.

    But I agree with you. It’s set up to backfire in many an instance and voters would do well to just vote how they honestly feel.

  • 5 2-26-2010 at 1:58 pm

    Craig said...

    The way I see it, there are only so many films that have any chance at all, unfortunately, and what’s really going to matter at the end of it is what order you have those films in, and not what films you have as a buffer in between them.

    Anyway, here’s what my ballot would look like (quite different than yours)

    1. Inglourious Basterds
    2. The Hurt Locker
    3. Up in the Air
    4. A Serious Man
    5. An Education
    6. Up
    7. District 9
    8. Precious
    9. The Blind Side
    10. Avatar

    Clearly my vote would never go to anything but Basterds or The Hurt Locker. If I tried to be strategic and place Locker at ten (which I would never be able to bring myself to do, anyway), if Basterds lost, I’d be inadvertently casting a vote for Avatar, which is clearly the last thing I want to do.

  • 6 2-26-2010 at 2:04 pm

    chris said...

    Kris Tapley, you are my hero. You call it like you see it. I have always appreciated your commentary on awards season.

  • 7 2-26-2010 at 2:09 pm

    Jeff said...

    Two things:

    1. The Academy has never used a “weighted” ballot in the Best Picture category.

    2. All of this talk of “strategic” voting and “manipulation” is predicated on a deep misunderstanding of what such ranking schemes would actually do. To take your example, Kris, if someone really, really wants “A Serious Man” to win Best Picture, they would place it at #1 on their ballot. Placing “Up in the Air” at #2 certainly increases UITA’s chances of winning, but it does absolutely nothing to increase or decrease ASM’s chances because (and this is the important part), such a ballot would be moved to UITA’s pile only after ASM has been eliminated from the race. On such a ballot, putting “District 9” at number #2, rather than UITA, does not give ASM any sort of “leg up”.

  • 8 2-26-2010 at 2:13 pm

    Craig said...


    Your number 2 is what I’ve been trying to tell people for weeks. Clearly the academy should have explained this to it’s voters.

  • 9 2-26-2010 at 2:28 pm

    Jeff said...

    I agree, Craig, that the Academy could have done more to explain how the BP balloting will work. It’s alarming just how many people believe that down-ranking a frontrunner helps a #1, despite explanations to the contrary.

  • 10 2-26-2010 at 2:31 pm

    Craig said...

    With a real weighted ballot, this strategic voting could actually work. But it’s preferential. Maybe academy members are confusing the two?

  • 11 2-26-2010 at 2:50 pm

    Megan said...

    I don’t think the process of actually voting is what’s confusing about the preferential system. I think it’s HOW the winning film gets selected.

    Few weeks ago, Kris I think posted this article that gave a very detailed, hypothetical play-through of how the selection process works, and I understood it much better.

    If I were a voting member, I’d do two things:

    1) Make EVERY effort possible to see ALL ten films
    2) Just vote honestly

    Because how rewarding is it to have a film win, only to know that it probably came to be only because of the insane unscrupulousness within the entire Academy?

    Then again, there’s seedy business going on with the process EVERY year when you really think about it. But this year, foul-play abounds in the race.

    And it’s a damn shame, because I personally LIKE the 10-slot BP race.

  • 12 2-26-2010 at 3:06 pm

    Wha said...

    FYI Kris — if you’re talking about the US release for Un Prophete qualifying it for next year’s Oscars, they nixed that. A foreign film can only be nominated in one year, US release or no US release. The only way it would’ve been possible for Un Prophete to get consideration next year is if it wasn’t nominated in the Foreign Film category.

    Speaking of which, I actually think if Secreto got a US release, it would have snuck into the top 10. It’s just such an AMPAS-type of film, and it certainly would have had as much support as TBS.

  • 13 2-26-2010 at 3:44 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Jeff: Your #2 is the precise point I’m making in my example. A Serious Man is likely to be one of the bottom tallying films, so it will likely be eliminated. And putting District 9 at #2 may or may not give it a leg up depending on the way the voter thinks votes will play out. What if D9 is the first film eliminated? Then having it at #2 didn’t help it out and it was a safe placement. But I’m being very convoluted with all of this, I understand.

    Also, you’re right, the Academy has never used a weighted ballot, which is what I (for some reason) keep erroneously using to describe the one-vote ballot (which is called what, exactly?).

    Wha: Really? Fuck.

  • 14 2-26-2010 at 3:46 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yeah, Wha is sadly right, which is why I can’t fathom why SPC didn’t open A Prophet in 2009, and at least campaign for Director, Screenplay and Actor.

  • 15 2-26-2010 at 3:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    When did that stipulation take hold? Did I snooze it? Has that always been the case?

    Regardless, pretty fuckin’ lame. It should all be about the US release.

  • 16 2-26-2010 at 4:20 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I could be wrong, but I think the rule might have been changed as long ago as the 1970s — Amarcord was the last film to be Oscar-nominated in two consecutive years (winning Best Foreign Language Film in 1974, and landing Director and Screenplay nods in 1975).

    In other words, City of God’s surprise nominations coup in 2003 could never have happened if it hadn’t been snubbed by the foreign-language branch the year before. Ridiculous.

    Here’s the rule in black and white:

    Motion pictures that are nominated for the Foreign Language Film award shall not be eligible for Academy Awards consideration in any category in any subsequent Awards year. Submitted pictures that are not nominated for the Foreign Language Film award are eligible for Awards consideration in other categories in the subsequent year, provided the pictures begin their seven-day qualifying run in Los Angeles County during that calendar year.

  • 17 2-26-2010 at 4:22 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Alright, so there’s the confusion for me. Only if it’s not nominated for foreign the year it’s submitted. A Prophet gets the big ole’ shaft. Got it.

  • 18 2-26-2010 at 4:23 pm

    Jessica said...

    @Megan: I’m totally with you on the 10-slot BP race and voting for what they really liked.

    Perhaps if some film like District 9 sneaks in for the win that then these folks who try to rig the outcome will realize that they just need to vote honestly. Reminds me, I noticed in the 4 BP lists Entertainment Weekly printed in this week’s issue, District 9 placed in the top 5 on 3 out of 4 lists. Completely unscientific polling, but with some of the attempts at rigging going on you have to wonder at the possibilities until the envelope is opened. Perhaps we will get a completely unexpected winner? That would always make things more exciting in the future.

  • 19 2-26-2010 at 4:40 pm

    McAllister said...

    I just blogged about how “Ajami” could score an upset.


    I’m not expecting it by any means… but I don’t want it to be said that no one thought it possible in the extremely unlikely event that it does happen. I believe my logic is sound.

  • 20 2-26-2010 at 4:50 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It won’t, and trust me when I tell you that’s a fact. As in, there’s a tangible, specific reason why it won’t happen.

  • 21 2-26-2010 at 4:58 pm

    Jessica said...

    @Megan: I’m totally with you on liking the 10-slot BP race and voting honestly for what you really liked and in what order.

    It would be nice if something like District 9 won BP due to all the attempts at vote rigging. Perhaps AMPAS voters would be a little bit more convinced to vote honestly. Reminds me, I noticed that in Entertainment Weekly‘s current issue where they list 4 voters BP rankings, District 9 was in the top 5 in 3 out of 4 lists. Obviously it’s not a large sample of all the voting, but it does make me wonder about the outside shots of other films after seeing that.

  • 22 2-26-2010 at 5:11 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    @Kris: What is that referring to, and what is the tangible, specific reason for it?

  • 23 2-26-2010 at 5:28 pm

    Jessica said...

    Sorry about the double comment. (Having wi-fi issues.)

  • 24 2-26-2010 at 6:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Adam: Obviously if I could reveal it, I would have.

    Regarding preferential, as always, I leave it to Steve Pond to make it make sense:


  • 25 2-26-2010 at 6:48 pm

    RandomThoughts said...

    A Prophet got raves from The New York Times, Los Angeles Time, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone. Sony really dropped the ball on that one by putting all their eggs in one basket (The White Ribbon.) Rahim has been praised across the board. To think what could have been.

  • 26 2-26-2010 at 7:43 pm

    Damian said...

    I can’t believe Kris would put Precious #4. It’s a inmoral movie.
    You didn’t talk in any talk about The Milk of Sorrow.

  • 27 2-26-2010 at 8:06 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Inmoral, is it?

  • 28 2-26-2010 at 10:32 pm

    Gamers get Comeuppance said...

    Blindside will win because so many people trying to game the system will put it as their #2 choice.

  • 29 2-26-2010 at 11:02 pm

    Al said...

    Is there a reason every fyc is Hurt Locker right now?

  • 30 2-27-2010 at 7:28 am

    Adam Smith said...

    @Kris: Can you at least say whose post it was a reply to: McAllister or Jessica? That’s the main thing I was confused about.

  • 31 2-27-2010 at 7:38 am

    ninja said...

    How`s District 9 going to upset Hurt Locker when Blomkamp couldn`t upset Daniels in Director nomination? Quite a few people were calling Blomkamp nomination over Daniels despite his missing out on a DGA one. And the upset didn`t happen. Also, District 9 was supposed to get a make-up nomination and it didn`t. That doesn`t spell too much support for the movie, regadless of what 4 people say.

    Not to mention that AMPAS is not too hot on awarding sci fi, that District 9 is not talked about like Hurt Locker and two other movies and that Hurt Locker has an absolute momentum. It`ll make history with Bigelow win and it is shoo-in for Editing (always a major indicator of who wins BP) and is a frontrunner for the Script win too, taking over Bastereds. There won`t be a Director/Picture split between Bigelow and a strong competitor let alone “out of the left field” one.

  • 32 2-27-2010 at 8:15 am

    McAllister said...

    Kris- Will this reason be revealed at any point AFTER the ceremony?

  • 33 2-27-2010 at 8:55 am

    Big Braveheart said...

    Although they say Un Prophete is a good foreign film and gathered a nomination it is an incredible travesty that Mesrine has not got a nod as it is a
    brilliant film and harshly overlooked!

  • 34 2-27-2010 at 12:07 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    McAllister: Sure.

  • 35 2-27-2010 at 6:37 pm

    m1 said...

    That producer of The Hurt Locker needs to be stripped down to his boxers IMMEDIATELY.