1/20 OSCARWEB ROUND-UP: Portman milestones, Best Director not equal to Best Picture, Sony goes iTunes, too

Posted by · 8:03 am · January 20th, 2011

Eight milestones in the evolution of Natalie Portman. [Movieline]

Carolyn Giardana notes a rare Best Visual Effects nomination for an animated film at the BAFTAs. [Hollywood Reporter]

Nathaniel Rogers argues against the notion that Best Director must equal Best Picture. [The Film Experience]

Jesse Eisenberg: “Every time we get a nomination, it makes me realize how much I was losing before.” [Little Gold Men]

Another director’s round table. [The Envelope]

Carter Burwell on the music behind “True Grit.” [Awards Campaign]

Sony joins Fox Searchlight and Focus in offering screeners to SAG via iTunes. [Variety]

[Photo: Columbia Pictures]

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16 responses so far

  • 1 1-20-2011 at 9:14 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    You would think that what Nat’s saying is a no-brainer, but it surprises me just how many people assert the opposite; that somehow the director MUST get the lion’s share of the credit for a film’s artistic success.

    That’s why I thought Whoopi Golderg’s little joke about Moulin Rouge was stupid. No, the film didn’t “just direct itself,” the Academy just thought it wasn’t as well-directed as Black Hawk Down and Mulholland Drive.

  • 2 1-20-2011 at 9:23 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    And they were wrong. ;)

  • 3 1-20-2011 at 9:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Robert: I do agree with Nat — but in the case of ‘Moulin Rouge,’ Goldberg’s jibe was pretty on-point. The film is so overwhelmingly the product of its director’s imagination that nominating it in one category and not the other jarred. To love that film is to love its direction, which, as Nat reminds us, is not always the case.

  • 4 1-20-2011 at 9:33 am

    Maxim said...

    If a film is memorable and well received, than the director should get the credit for not messing it up. However, as it could also be due to acting and screeanplay, among other factors, it should take a bit more to get a nomination for oustanding (read: oustanding) directorial work.

    Emprerically speaking, however, it should not be suprising that brilliant visions also tend to be recognized in best picture category, so the correlation (not causation) we see is understandable.

  • 5 1-20-2011 at 9:46 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Okay, maybe Moulin Rouge was a poor example.

    My point (actually Nat’s point) still stands, though. A director’s contribution is just one piece of a large collaborative effort, and should be awarded as such.

  • 6 1-20-2011 at 9:51 am

    Maxim said...

    Tell that to the auteurnerds.

  • 7 1-20-2011 at 9:59 am

    James D. said...

    What is an actor without a director, though? How many times do respected actors bomb under the direction of a sub-par filmmaker? Aronofsky was able to get the most out of Portman’s limited acting ability, and great directors get great performances out of amateurs all the time.

  • 8 1-20-2011 at 10:10 am

    Anita said...

    That’s been my question all along: does Tom Hooper really deserve to be a lock amongst all the other Best Director contenders or is he being swept along on the strength of the film’s Best Picture potential? I haven’t read any strong arguments in favour of his directing when compared to the others in the field this year.

  • 9 1-20-2011 at 11:31 am

    Maxim said...

    James, your example is stupid. Aronofsky, didn’t make her into a great actress all of a sudden and her acting ability is just fine as demonstrated by such films as Leon and Closer (career best work so far).

  • 10 1-20-2011 at 1:00 pm

    Kassie said...

    No, I agree with James. Natalie Portman has had a few doozy of bad performances.

  • 11 1-20-2011 at 1:04 pm

    Maxim said...

    That’s an overstatement. And I really feel like she had come into her own. In any case, the peformances I’ve listed above are enough.

  • 12 1-20-2011 at 1:08 pm

    Kassie said...

    Well, I would say she has had more bad performances than good ones, which means that directing (and writing as well) matter with her. That’s my opinion. I didn’t like her in Closer either – I felt like I was watching her read from a teleprompter.

  • 13 1-20-2011 at 3:00 pm

    JJ1 said...

    For me Portman has been excellent 3 times. 1) Cold Mountain 2) Closer 3) Black Swan.

    I haven’t thought much of any of her other performances. But her talent is certainly on display in those 3 instances.

  • 14 1-20-2011 at 4:10 pm

    James D. said...

    I haven’t seen Leon, but she was awful in Closer. Staying on Portman, even if you want to argue that she is a good actor, look at her work in the Star Wars prequels. She is so grating in them. Is that the fault of the director, or would you make the case that she is awful sometimes and great in others?

    The list goes on. Anyone who looks at Robert DeNiro’s career in the last decade would think he is an awful actor, but look at what Scorsese, Coppola, and others got out of him. Actors can bring a lot to the creative process, but for the most part they are tools that need to be properly utilized by a director.

  • 15 1-20-2011 at 4:23 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Film is a director’s medium
    Television is a producer’s medium
    Theater is a writer’s medium

  • 16 1-21-2011 at 3:56 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    To play devil’s (actor’s) advocate, I would suggest that the writing and the editing of a role are more important than the directing. You could even make a case for the camerawork. But the bottom line: bad acting=bad performance.

    And as far as Portman is concerned, Bette Davis (arguably one of the greatest screen actresses of the 20th century) had just as many bad performances as good ones. It wasn’t always the director’s fault when she was bad. And her lesser performances don’t diminish her outstanding ones.