OSCAR TALK: Ep. 51 — The new frontrunner, Santa Barbara tributes and panels, potential Oscar upsets

Posted by · 12:26 pm · February 4th, 2011

Oscar TalkWelcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you’re new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar’s stage and we’re here to address it all as it unfolds.

It’s been a little over a week since last we left you, and to say the least, plenty has happened in that stretch. We’re both back in Los Angeles after some festival bouncing and have a number of things to chew on so let’s see what’s on the docket today…

What a difference a week and a half makes. Since we last recorded, “The King’s Speech” has won the DGA and SAG awards and become the undeniable frontrunner for Best Picture. We talk about the race where it is now, and how it got here.

There are a few areas where we could see a few more surprises. We discuss what they might be.

The Santa Barbara Film Festival is on-going and we were both there last weekend. Anne participated in a bloggers panel and we both were on hand for a few tributes so we offer our separate experiences.

Finally, reader questions. We address queries concerning Sundance Oscar potential this year and what we would do if we were charged with turning the train around on “The Social Network.”

Have a listen to the new podcast below. If the file cuts off for you at any time, try the back-up download link at the bottom of this post. And as always, remember to subscribe to Oscar Talk via iTunes here.


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40 responses so far

  • 1 2-04-2011 at 12:29 pm

    Naruto said...

    I was waiting for it..i love those podcasts.

  • 2 2-04-2011 at 1:09 pm

    Maxim said...

    Good podcast. Still kind of liked to have heard Anne’s take on O’Russell but that’s kind of irrlevent at this point.

    Got me thinking if Academy could ever consider switching to ten best Foreign nominees. That would make all kinds of sense and would go a long way in increasing the international profile.

  • 3 2-04-2011 at 1:10 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Thank you Kris (and Anne) for addressing my comment.

    Great podcast, once again. I really look forward to seeing the ebb & flow of Oscar night to see if it’s a sweep or a smattering of recognition (as Anne noted) throughout.

  • 4 2-04-2011 at 1:13 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Thank you so much for taking my question!

  • 5 2-04-2011 at 2:08 pm

    Andrej said...

    About Sundance movies for next year’s Oscars, there are a few movies that I’m eager to see how they are and how they perform with wide audiences, Another Earth, which has a nice sci-fi element to it I really dig, and Martha Marcy May Marlene. The plot outline sounds very interesting for the latter.

  • 6 2-04-2011 at 2:35 pm

    Gabriel D. said...

    Great podcast, great questions, as usual.

    Oscar Talks are unique and of great quality. Congratulations and keep on talking, we love it!

  • 7 2-04-2011 at 2:41 pm

    Speaking English said...

    “Don’t then turn it around and try to make things up about the movie.”

    Not this again. PLEASE. The reason some of us are putting “The Social Network” *oh so high* and “The King’s Speech” *oh so low* is not because the latter is all of the sudden beating our favorite. It’s more likely because we truly *didn’t* think “The King’s Speech” was all that well directed, or *didn’t* think it was a ‘home run.’ Hooper is my main issue with the film, in fact, and I think his direction kept it from being something special. Oh well. But I’m not ‘making anything up about the movie.’

  • 8 2-04-2011 at 2:46 pm

    Evan said...

    I’m going to sound really self-righteous with the following post, but the past week has been slightly ridiculous on the blog circuit so I think the following needs to be said.

    Let’s admit it. We’re all just too afraid to admit the truth: we don’t always know why things happen the way they do in Oscarland.

    Two weeks before the nominations, I was reading dozens of historically-based articles online about how TSN’s critical awards success meant it was sure to win Best Picture. There were grand ideas about how this was the film of my generation, about how this film’s feel and energy spoke to larger aspects of modern cinema.

    Now that we know that those original articles were wrong wrong wrong, I’m reading more historically-based arguments, this time explaining to me why Best Picture was always going to go to TKS. Often more qualitative than their TSN-favoring ancestors, these second type of articles dismiss almost any “baity” film from the past four years as having some fatal flaw that lessened its quality and thereby pushed the Academy toward some more unusual candidate. “There haven’t been any good baity films recently,” they want me to believe.

    I’m not buying it. Just last year, one could argue that An Education, or Up in the Air, or even Precious were ‘baity’ films. In the years prior, there was The Reader, the epic There Will Be Blood, and The Queen for goodness’s sake! All these films were good, but the Academy didn’t bite. Why? We don’t know. In 2002, several baity films– The Hours, The Pianist, Chicago– duked it out and only one won the big prize. Why *that* one? We don’t know.

    We can give all sorts of justifications as to why “The King’s Speech” was always going to be the winner and we can find all sorts of arbitrary quibbles with the also-rans of recent years to explain away our uncertainty about why “The Departed” could win but “The Social Network” can’t. But in my opinion, it’s all just b.s. We theorize because after so many of us were wrong, it makes us feel good about our ability to predict these sorts of things. It’s a sort of self-glorifying prognostication in hindsight. And it’s just rubbish.

    All that matters is that now TKS is going to be the winner. So instead of trying to prove our intelligence with grand theories, let’s enjoy the next few weeks, looking forward to the big day, and see if we can at least enjoy some competition in a couple of the other 23 races.

  • 9 2-04-2011 at 2:48 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    English: Then I’m obviously not referring to you, but instead the legions of suddenly, breathlessly hyperbolic detractors slinging mud as of late.

    So, yes. “This again.”

  • 10 2-04-2011 at 2:53 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “Just last year, one could argue that An Education, or Up in the Air, or even Precious were ‘baity’ films.”

    Not in the slightest, actually. And that you try to extend your point to There Will Be Blood of all things proves to me we have different definitions of “baity.”

    “We theorize because after so many of us were wrong, it makes us feel good about our ability to predict these sorts of things.”

    Wrong again. The reasoning is outlined rather clearly in this podcast and the reporting has been there, proving the point, all along.

    But I join you in wanting to just try and enjoy the next few weeks.

  • 11 2-04-2011 at 3:10 pm

    Evan said...

    Kristopher, about baitiness, I’d say something that falls in the vein of previous Oscar nominees and winners is baity. Period pieces, bildungsroman, stories of jaded men coping with the complexity of the present, sweeping epics with pronouncements about an entire country… these are baity films to me. They’re as old as Oscar itself. Maybe you disagree, but I’d say there’s at least as much truth to my assertion as there is the one I keep reading on online blogs that films like “There Will Be Blood” or “The Queen” just didn’t appeal to the Academy’s tastes because they weren’t good enough or didn’t make us stand up and cheer at their ends.

    As for your second excerpt of my comment, I’m not saying you don’t have a reasoning for TKS’s dominance- I’m saying that we’re all giving these vast explanations (and it’s important to note that these explanations directly contradict with the things that so many of us said two weeks ago) because we want to reassure ourselves that Oscar makes sense all the time.

    This isn’t an attack on In Contention or you- I love the site (and by extension, you I guess!). It’s just that it seems silly to wax eloquently about why things are they way they are when so many of us are still wiping the egg off our face from last week.

  • 12 2-04-2011 at 3:16 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    There Will Be Blood is not an Oscar bait movie by anyone’s measure, Evan. So yeah, I guess I disagree with you.

    The Queen, kind of. But it wasn’t “big” enough, not enough emotion at play, etc. That was the closest year I’ve covered, though, and I’ve always said that the Marty narrative is what won it for The Departed in the end. I think it was Little Miss Sunshine that was nipping at its heels, though.

    “these explanations directly contradict with the things that so many of us said two weeks ago”

    Speak for yourself, I suppose. Again, I’m on the record with my own reasoning. The facts of the matter never changed.

    But Oscar DOESN’T make sense all the time, so hopefully I’m not putting that vibe out there. This year, however, it makes perfect sense.

  • 13 2-04-2011 at 3:28 pm

    Drew said...

    Would an endorsement from someone other than the critics help The Social Network? If Steven Spielberg, or, fuck, I don’t know, anyone from the industry come out and say TSN is the best movie of the year help it all? Obviously the answer would be yes, but what are the chances of it hapenning? King’s Speech has certainly had a few. I think.

  • 14 2-04-2011 at 3:59 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Kevin Spacey endorses it, but the reason why is obvious.

  • 15 2-04-2011 at 4:33 pm

    Evan said...

    “There Will Be Blood is not an Oscar bait movie by anyone’s measure, Evan.”

    Well, it is by mine. It’s a big-budget film with such serious tones that it could never have hoped to be a huge commercial success. Who was it made for if not fans of prestige pictures? Not only that, but it’s a period piece taking place in dramatic landscapes detailing a man’s rise and then gradual fall in the American capitalist system as he slowly goes insane. It was bound to win an Oscar for its lead actor in my books, if not in anyone else’s.

    Back to the larger point, touche if you’ve always predicted The King’s Speech as this year’s Best Picture. I’m just saying that not everyone has been so steadfast (I think we can all name at least one big site that fits this bill, haha) and that in the light of last week’s surprises, it seems more appropriate to suggest what the Academy is thinking this year as opposed to what motivates them every year.

    Most of all, I’m sorry if I seemed to be picking on just this site or especially on your TKS logic- it was not my intention. I look forward to listening to more Oscar Talk in the coming weeks and hearing your insight on many of the categories.

  • 16 2-04-2011 at 4:38 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “Back to the larger point, touche if you’ve always predicted The King’s Speech as this year’s Best Picture.”

    I haven’t. But, again, that explanation is in the podcast. I won’t pretend I held fast when I didn’t. I just expected things to go a certain way based on pressure, but never on how they actually felt about the films.

    But can we be serious, re: There Will Be Blood for a minute? Do you really think it’s in the same territory as typical Oscar bait the likes of Dances With Wolves, The English Patient, etc., etc.? It’s a stark piece of work, more in league with Kubrick or Malick or what have you. And leagues better, of course. I feel like you’re stretching to include it. And I think you could boil any number of films down to the essence you do here if you wanted to.

  • 17 2-04-2011 at 5:08 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    There Will Be Blood is far from Oscar bait. The only bait film that year was Atonement, which itself was pretty great.

  • 18 2-04-2011 at 5:15 pm

    Loyal said...

    There Will Be Blood makes you think, which is strike one against it being Oscar bait.

    There Will Be Blood also ends with one character beating another character to death at a bowling alley WITH a bowling pin, which are strikes two and three.

  • 19 2-04-2011 at 6:30 pm

    Agent Zero said...

    I love TSN’s score!!

  • 20 2-04-2011 at 6:50 pm

    Evan said...

    Haha to the two comments above me. Good points all. I guess my thought process is that TWBB demands that viewers take it seriously, thereby attracting Oscar’s attention. Just look at that trailer. You know instantly that it’s going to be a classic film.

    But I do completely understand what you’re saying.

  • 21 2-04-2011 at 7:14 pm

    Hans said...

    The short’s name is Le Maisson de Petit Cubes. I remember that being a pleasant little short, though I quite liked Oktapodi.

  • 22 2-04-2011 at 7:30 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I am in the camp that says ‘TWBB’ was not Oscar bait. Prestigious? (directing, acting, impressive craftwork) … sure. But not baity.

    And I am one of few people who also found the film disappointing (overacted in spots, draggy, overlong).

    ‘Atonement’ was the true Oscar bait film of ’07, and I loved it.

  • 23 2-04-2011 at 7:33 pm

    Pete said...

    What’s with all the Dances With Wolves bashing? Kris, one would think, that you of all people, would see it as more than Oscar bait, both because of your love for Westerns and because it’s film that threads relatively new territory.

  • 24 2-04-2011 at 7:47 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I guess it all depends on what we individually think “Oscar bait” means.

    To me, it is usually a lengthy, self-assured (sometimes good, sometimes to a fault) film with A-list directors/actors, and a story with sweeping universal themes. It’s weighty.

    And then there are Prestige or “intelligent” films. The Social Network is one. The way it was shot, directed, edited, acted … all very, very well done. Intelligent. Not a piece of sh*t. But to me, it lacks the sweep & emotion of “Oscar bait” films.

    That’s how I see it. {shrugs}

  • 25 2-04-2011 at 10:00 pm

    SJG said...

    I think the problem is that “Oscar bait” is in a process of being redefined. I think if this race were taking place ten years from now, TKS would be being dismissed as a conservative lightweight classic that had earned its place among the ten but certainly had no chance at winning, while TSN would be seen as the “Oscar bait” for appealing to a certain high-brow, prestige aesthetic and thematic construction that would be more suited to the Academy’s tastes.

    The fact remains that what was Oscar bait is slowly ceasing to be Oscar bait, and what used to be seen as risky or outside the Academy’s tastes is increasingly becoming the bait.

    So There Will Be Blood is a movie that arguably IS Oscar bait at the same time that it ISN’T Oscar bait. It’s the sort of thing that, as older members go to their rest and newer members with different ideas come into the Academy, will come to be looked back upon as “Oscar bait”, even if that’s not quite true of the present makeup of the Academy.

    Just my thoughts.

  • 26 2-04-2011 at 11:06 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “What’s with all the Dances With Wolves bashing?”

    Just because I identified it as Oscar bait doesn’t mean I was “bashing” it. I just recently defended it as an example of gross revisionism in the wake of a Goodfellas defeat at the Oscars. So, sorry, I’m not bashing it. I think it’s a great film.

    That said, I don’t like a film just because it’s a western…

  • 27 2-04-2011 at 11:38 pm

    DarkLayers said...

    In terms of the lack of success for TSN with industry voters, I am actually reminded of content in the fim itself. We realize Mark is brilliant and worked so hard, but his likability would matter for a jury, so has to settle. There’s likely a lot to go into TSN’s lack of success. But despite the great dialogue, direction, performances, terrific work from the crew, etc. the lack of likability mattered, lol.

  • 28 2-05-2011 at 1:01 am

    The Great Dane said...

    I still think it would be a surprise and a surprisingly big win for King’s Speech to get Director. When “baity” films by relatively unknown directors win Best Picture, the director never wins. You have to be a famous director or an actor-turned-director to get both.

    If King’s Speech is a film in the family of Shakespeare in Love and Chicago, it won’t win Best Director. But then again, Hooper is not Spielberg or Polanski.
    On the other hand, if King’s Speech is in the family of English Patient, Hooper is in. But English Patient was an epic – King’s Speech most certainly isnt.

    No director is “due” for a win this year. There are just a lot of hard-working, well-known directors finally getting taken SERIOUSLY.

    I would personally give it to Aranosky, though it would never happen. But remember, DGA matches up with Best Picture more often than Best Director. I still think Fincher has this.

    It would be sad if there was another Slumdog/Hurt Locker sweep, even though King’s Speech is a great film. Hurt Locker winning so many technical awards over Avatar? A joke… Best sound? Best score? Come on…

  • 29 2-05-2011 at 1:05 am

    Anna said...

    “Hurt Locker winning so many technical awards over Avatar? A joke… Best sound? Best score? Come on…”

    Up actually won Best Score. And Avatar’s score was easily the worst nominee.

  • 30 2-05-2011 at 6:30 am

    Joel said...

    I really enjoy these podcasts. As Kristopher said, I really like hearing the voices behind the blogging. It brings a sense of realism to the mysterious world of Oscar prognosticating and film coverage.

    Anne is smart, clear and thoughtful in her views on film. There are always several things I pull away from her messages after listening to her. Kris, as always, is the epitome of the hot movie nerd. And I mean that in the best possible way.

  • 31 2-05-2011 at 9:27 am

    Alex L. said...

    Social Network wins adapted screenplay AND sound editing. I’m just saying.

  • 32 2-05-2011 at 10:03 am

    Drew said...

    I think you mean mixing

  • 33 2-05-2011 at 10:22 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “Kris, as always, is the epitome of the hot movie nerd.”

    This is the first and, I imagine, last time I’ll ever hear this. So I’ll soak it up for now.

  • 34 2-05-2011 at 10:26 am

    DarkLayers said...

    Great Dane, are you sure DGA matches up with pic more often than director? There have been 6 times where DGA and AMPAS differed, and it was a little bit higher for Best Pic and Best Director.

  • 35 2-05-2011 at 3:57 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Kris, maybe Joel is mixing you up with someone else. ;)

  • 36 2-06-2011 at 6:46 pm

    daveylow said...

    I agree with Anne that The King’s Speech is more than just Oscar bait and Hooper did transcend the usual predictability of a period film.

    Richard Corliss has trashed The King”s Speech twice at Time magazine and it’s obvious he’s doing it because a favorite film of his isn’t going to win.

    I’m surprised that There Will Be Blood was even nominated for best film and I don’t think it could be considered Oscar bait in the least. That film lost narrative direction about halfway through and the acting by Daniel Day-Lewis was embarrassing scenery chewing. And how Deakins lost the cinematography award that year boggles the mind.

  • 37 2-06-2011 at 7:24 pm

    JJ1 said...

    I enjoy everything you wrote, daveylow.

  • 38 2-06-2011 at 7:37 pm

    DarkLayers said...

    35–Ellswit is not a bad choice at all, though. Some of the “There Will Be Blood” shots were unbelievable, and Deakins might have split votes between the two movies. Hopefully, this will be his year. A bright spot if it is.

  • 39 2-07-2011 at 11:30 am

    Strangebird said...

    Did anyone miss “I Love You, Phillip Morris”?

  • 40 2-07-2011 at 11:32 am

    Strangebird said...

    Or “Despicable Me” and I thought Sam Rockwell’s performance in “Conviction” was Oscar-worthy, anyone else?