OSCAR TALK: Ep. 27 — Special Edition! — Quick Cannes review, bleak summer season so far, counter-programming

Posted by · 4:29 pm · June 11th, 2010

Oscar TalkWelcome to Oscar Talk, your one-stop kudocast between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood.

In the second of three off-season discussions, Anne and I address the following today:

Since we haven’t talked since Cannes, Anne talks about the stronger titles from the Croisette as well as various news and notes that came out of the fest.

We’re in the middle of the summer, and as far as we can tell, it’s bleak out there. We discuss the lackluster box office so far and the potential hope of what’s still to come.

One of those hopes is Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” which Anne enjoyed. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it yet.

Another hope would be counter-programming, like titles such as “Winter’s Bone” and “The Kids Are All Right.” Anne and I discuss our feelings on each.

Finally, we address the fact that all eyes seem to be on Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which will certainly dominate our next off-season podcast on July 16 (coincidentally the day of the film’s release).

Have a listen to the latest podcast below. As always, remember to subscribe to Oscar Talk via iTunes here.


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27 responses so far

  • 1 6-11-2010 at 5:53 pm

    red_wine said...

    Clash of the titans is the automatic razzie front-runner. By far the worst I have seen this year. You could now make a case that the performances in Avatar were digitally enhanced, because Jake Sully was (comparatively) more expressive in blue color Avatar mode and Worthington here is so awful, so monumentally bad, his career should be flushed down the toilet. I will never understand how such a talentless hack got into such big movies, but yeah all of them were just blow-em-up blockbuster category films.

    He recently said in an interview something like he was bored doing a Keira Knightley drama because there were no guns. He said he enjoyed doing action more than kissing her!

    But that’s a great round-up of the summer. I think Toy Story 3 reviews are extremely positive so far, Corliss from Time has already called it an instant classic.

  • 2 6-11-2010 at 5:57 pm

    JJ said...

    For me, this is the first time I’ve heard a podcast that sounded somewhat Oscar elitist.

    That looks miserable when written in text, I honestly don’t mean it to sound that way.

    But the tone of the cast felt different to me. Such disdain for anything commercial (primarily coming out of Anne, this time – which I normally don’t get that vibe from her, so I’m surprised).

    But, for as much as I’m looking forward to The Kids are Alright, Biutiful, Another Year, Blue Valentine, and other assorted Oscar fare, I have to say that I also really enjoyed Clash of the Titans as big, fat, dumb entertainment, and I liked Prince of Persia even more.

    So, I wasn’t wild about the air of snobbery present (again, I sensed moreso from Anne, who I normally love for her thoughts/opinions).

    So, bring on the cherished “original” films that are so highly regarded such as Inception and The Fall/Winter rub-my-hands-together Oscar shizz. But I’m also itching for Knight and Day, Last Airbender, and other kinds of ‘lesser’ films that never stand a chance come January/February.

    And for what it’s worth, ‘Avatar’ was stunning, I enjoyed it, it was visually original, but it also contained one of the most un-original stories in recent history, as well.

  • 3 6-11-2010 at 5:59 pm

    JJ said...

    Don’t know if I got my points across. Didn’t mean to offend anyone or anything. It was just my knee-kerk reaction after listening. Kris, I love your site. Don’t hurt me. :-)

  • 4 6-11-2010 at 6:37 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    No prob, I get it. I think Anne and I are coming off that way because, in our view, even the popcorn is below par this year. But like I said, I’m on board for Knight and Day and Airbender, so here’s hoping.

  • 5 6-11-2010 at 6:54 pm

    JJ said...

    Cool. Even though I dug the likes of Clash and Persia, I agree with you and hope that the popcorn flicks improve, and that the Oscar fare lives up to expectations. That’s asking for a lot, right? haha

  • 6 6-11-2010 at 6:58 pm

    James D. said...

    Tapley, why do you apologize for going long? More content is always good.

  • 7 6-11-2010 at 7:41 pm

    JJ said...

    Agreed. Love the elongated podcasts.

  • 8 6-11-2010 at 7:57 pm

    Princess of Peace said...

    I found all of this very interesting. However, you mention P and A. What is that? Please explain.

  • 9 6-11-2010 at 8:36 pm

    Princess of Peace said...

    I looked up P and A and I now know what it means.

    I recently saw Agora and really liked it. However, it only played in NYC and LA and there was very little publicity for it. Rachel Weisz appeared on Charlie Rose and that is about it. However, when I saw it in the theater it was pretty full and people liked the film.

    It is a pity that more isn’t being done for Agora and I hope that Biutiful gets a better deal from the distributor that picks it up (Agora is being distributed by Newmarket Films).

  • 10 6-11-2010 at 8:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    James: That’s the note from last time, actually. Forgot to update it in this post.

  • 11 6-11-2010 at 9:10 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Honestly, whether it comes off as snobbish or not, Anne and Kris are right. This summer, and 2010 on the whole (with the exceptions of Shutter Island, How to Train Your Dragon, and to some, Iron Man 2) everything has been so awful, bland, cliche, and cookie cutter that it’s downright embarrassing. There’s a reason this summer has been a huge disappointment so far in the box office. People are tired of the same old crap. And studios aren’t doing themselves favors by making such risk-aversive and conservative choices on what to make, especially on the popcorn front.

    The only blockbusters being greenlit are 3D flicks remakes of old films that aren’t exactly the epitome of great cinema anyways. The bottom line is that there are filmmakers with original ideas out there, but they aren’t getting through to studios who are so afraid of anything risky.

    Say what you want about Shyamalan, The Last Airbender, even if it’s an adaptation, it’s something different and cool. Anyone who’s seen the show can attest to the huge strength of the source material. Paramount is really positioning this film to be their secret weapon of the summer and I for one am really excited about it. Could it be disastrous? Sure. But a lot of signs point to it being something special. We shall see.

    Toy Story 3 is getting fantastic reviews, so we get the idea. But really, Nolan is one of the few populist filmmakers left making films like nothing we’ve seen before. Inception looks to be as big of a watershed moment for the genre as The Matrix, maybe bigger. It seriously looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I think anticipation is huge right now, and rightfully so.

    But really, that’s it. A bleak summer season, and year for that matter, for populist entertainment. Here’s hoping the fall may change things with some surprises.

  • 12 6-11-2010 at 9:46 pm

    Melissa said...

    “We’re in the middle of the summer…”

    Summer doesn’t officially start until the 20 of June. So actually Summer is about to begin. We’re nearing the end of Spring.

  • 13 6-11-2010 at 11:57 pm

    Hans said...

    Melissa, the summer movie season is generally understood to go from the first weekend of May to Labor Day weekend, since that is generally the most profitable time for the studios with kids out of school, people taking vacations, etc.

    For me, Clash of the Titans was an enjoyable piece of dreck that probably would’ve gone up a point in my book had I not been so stupid to watch it in 3D.

    Funny that you guys mention Tom Cruise because I’ve been on a recent movie streak with him, recently (re)watching War of the World and MI2, and watching for the first time Vanilla Sky. The guy is a great actor and knows how to pick great movies, so I am looking forward to K&D as well. I also have a small soft spot for Cameron Diaz. I really enjoyed her in Vanilla Sky and her hamming it up in The Box, and I just feel so sorry for her that thrice she has been on the verge of an Oscar nod only to come up short.

    Salt looks like it’s going to be fun.

    And Inception. What else is there to say.

    I’m still kind of holding my breath for Toy Story 3. I feel a little wary, I don’t know why.

    In other news, I recently finally saw Shutter Island and How to Train Your Dragon, and, absolutely, they easily top everything else this year so far.

  • 14 6-12-2010 at 1:54 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yes, what Hans said. Stating the obvious, really.

  • 15 6-12-2010 at 8:29 am

    Melissa said...

    I understand that, but it’s a pet peeve of mine when people get the seasons wrong. Maybe you should have said it’s the middle of the Summer MOVIE season.

  • 16 6-12-2010 at 8:48 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Except we’re on a MOVIE site, so I think we all get that we’re trading in industry definitions here. If they shifted to talking about, say, croquet season, then it’d be necessary to specify.

  • 17 6-12-2010 at 9:46 am

    John said...

    Concerning Miral: another regrettable casting of an Indian as an Arab character. When will they learn?

  • 18 6-12-2010 at 10:56 am

    Chris138 said...

    Well, it’s not a mainstream movie, but I am looking forward to finally seeing Get Low when it’s released on July 23rd. Wasn’t there some Oscar buzz for Duvall last year when it was first shown in festivals?

  • 19 6-12-2010 at 2:52 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Movie season or not, it’s hardly the “middle” of summer. It’s actually toward the very beginning… I’d categorize mid-July as “the middle.”

  • 20 6-12-2010 at 11:32 pm

    Kevin said...

    @red_wine: Even when Worthington wasn’t in his Avatar form in the film, he was still far better than he was in Clash. I think Clash just basically had him playing a combination of Leonidas from 300 and Kratos from the God of War games. Plus, look how badly written the film was. Actors can only do so much with the material they’re given. NO ONE was good in Clash. Even Liam Neeson, who can almost always make a bad movie tolerable (Phantom Menace anyone?). Worthington was great in Avatar and one of two redeeming factors of Terminator Salvation (the other being Christian Bale). He’s got talent, he’s just gotta put it to good use with scripts and directors that give him guidance. He’s still a newcomer, give him time.

  • 21 6-13-2010 at 11:48 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The fact that people are hung up on “middle of the summer” saddens me. Any chance in, I don’t know, actual discussion?

  • 22 6-13-2010 at 1:17 pm

    Kevin said...

    What Kris said. A thousand times what Kris said.

    As far as I can tell, here’s what I’m looking forward to.

    Toy Story 3 finally lands this coming weekend. Will it live up to nostalgia and sky high expectations? Early reviews are extremely positive and this could end up being the top grossing film of the summer. Not sure if it can top Alice in Wonderland for highest grossing film of 2010, but seriously, who saw that one coming anyways? I think Anne hit the nail on the head as far as what I’m expecting out of Toy Story 3. I knew it wouldn’t turn into a lame Shrek-esque rehash sequel, since, this is, after all, Pixar, not Dreamworks or 20th Century Fox Animation. Though, I have to agree with Kris. How to Train Your Dragon is far and away the best American film I’ve seen so far this year and will more than likely be in my top 10 at the end of the year. Toy Story 3 I think will land the usual slew of Oscar nominations that Pixar gets. Animated Film, Score, and Sound. However, one category that I’m not sure about is Screenplay. Sequels have a rough time with Oscars, and would Toy Story 3 be considered an adapted screenplay? If so, it may have a hard time getting a Screenplay nomination, both because it’s a sequel and because it’s harder to get into the adapted category, as that is usually reserved for literary adaptations and Best Picture nominees. Speaking of which, will Toy Story 3 follow in Up’s footsteps and be included in the Big Ten? Again, the sequel factor hurts. But maybe they want to reward the franchise, which started before the Animated Category existed. It’ll be interesting to see how the film plays for Oscars, and how it plays this weekend.

    The Last Airbender, as I’ve stated before, and Kris has echoed, will either be a secret weapon and surprise success for Paramount, or a total flop. I’m hoping for the former. The cartoon, simply put, is, in my opinion, the greatest animated kids show in history. Before you call hyperbole, let me explain. Having watched all three seasons again recently on netflix, I can safely say it’s a show with serious impact. The first season is a little more kid-friendly, but still very good. Seasons 2 and 3, however, are some of the best television I’ve watched in years. Simply put, the show doesn’t pander to kids and is very sophisticated in it’s story-telling and character development. In that sense, Avatar: The Last Airbender is like the Pixar of children’s television. It’s definitely a family entertainment show, but it never once avoids broaching deep, mature themes and tells a great story with layered, complex characters. The Zuko character in particular is, for me at least, the best part of the show. His arc and character development is really something special and the kind of depths explored in his character is somewhat unheard of in a kid’s show. Like I said before, the reason the show is so great is because it’s about great storytelling and characters. The question is, will the live-action adaptation capture that same magic? Or will it be too Shyamalan? Too Hollywood? Will it be something special and different? Or just another fantasy kid’s film. My instincts are telling me that Paramount (which owns Nickelodeon, the channel the show aired on) and Shyamalan are taking this very seriously and going to great lengths to make this a faithful adaptation. Paramount clearly invested heavily in the film, and I get a Star Trek vibe from it right now. Whereas last year, Transformers 2, regardless of cinematic quality, was their guaranteed success, Star Trek was an ace in the hole surprise that turned out to be one of the outright best films of the year and a box office hit, despite being met with apprehension pre-release. This summer, Paramount knew Iron Man 2 would be very successful, but they seem to have really worked hard on The Last Airbender and making it their secret weapon of the summer. Count me in, I’m very excited to see it.

    Inception, well what more is there to say. It’s Christopher Nolan with a great ensemble cast and a big budget + creative freedom from WB. It’s going to be huge. It looks like nothing I’ve seen before and anticipation is through the roof. Can’t wait to see it in one month.

    Any other films that could be pleasant surprises? Salt? Knight and Day?

  • 23 6-13-2010 at 4:39 pm

    med said...

    What does Anne mean when she says Tamara Drewe is a sides & side job?

  • 24 6-13-2010 at 5:08 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Med: You misheard Anne — her words are “besides ‘Inside Job,'” referring to the Charles Ferguson doc.

  • 25 6-14-2010 at 12:46 am

    decs said...

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Animal Kingdom if and when you see it. I absolutely loved it, but I wonder whether much of it will go over the heads of overseas audiences.

  • 26 6-14-2010 at 10:27 am

    THE Diego Ortiz said...

    Inception, a new OSCAR TALK and my birthday too! All on the 16th of July!

    Kris, I expect a shout-out.

    p.s. have you seen the Mortal Kombat Rebirth trailer? (youtube it) The director is pitching the idea to WB.

  • 27 6-14-2010 at 10:29 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yeah, I saw it. BAD. But novel.