OSCAR TALK: Ep. 57 — SPECIAL EDITION! — Oscar’s rule change, prospects at the mid-way point, Spielberg hitting the zeitgeist, lead actress race already looking contentious

Posted by · 8:54 am · July 8th, 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.

A month and a half since the last off-season podcast, we take the temperature one more time this summer, right at the year’s mid-way point. There have been some Academy rule changes and some news and notes in the interim, so let’s see what’s on the docket today…

The summer’s rule change of note was the fact that films must be considered the best film of the year (and ranked as such on ballots) by 5% of the Academy to even be eligible for a nomination. The result will leave anywhere from five to 10 nominees, depending. We discuss.

With half the year behind us, we take a moment to take stock of what could swing back around as Oscar plays later in the year.

Speaking to Monday’s Off the carpet column, we also bat around the idea of Steven Spielberg striking the zeitgeist this year with his name on a bevy of projects, not to mention his own work as a director (including one very baity project).

The Best Actress race is humming this week with the announcement that the Glenn Close-starrer “Albert Nobbs” has found distribution, as well as the release of a teaser trailer for “The Iron Lady,” featuring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. We dig in on that.

Though nothing on the schedule appears to be Oscar-likely, we nevertheless preview Comic-Con, coming in a week and a half.

And finally, reader questions. We address queries regarding the animated feature film race, The Weinstein Company’s potential coming off major Cannes success, personal anticipations and thoughts on what may already be over/underestimated.

Have a listen to the new podcast below, with a bit of John Williams’s original score for “War Horse” leading the way. Apologies for my fan in the background. It’s HOT! 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. (NOTE: There’s something fishy with our iTunes feed lately. We’re on it. Sorry for the inconvenience.)


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50 responses so far

  • 1 7-08-2011 at 10:14 am

    Andrew M said...

    The whole “Is Tintin a animated film?” problem is headache inducing. Yes, it’s motion capture by it’s meant to be taken as stylized, not meant to be photo-realistic. That’s why I take it to be animated, and not something like Avatar.

  • 2 7-08-2011 at 10:16 am

    JJ1 said...

    Great podcast. You guys covered so much!

    The one thing I take from the podcast that’s interesting is: because I AM in the Harry Potter wheelhouse … I find it funny because the last film was one of my (and my friends) favorites – because of it’s slowness & atmosphere, and ‘Order of the Phoenix’ was my least favorite because it felt disjointed & left out so much from the book. The actual ‘Order’ got the shaft in introductions/pertinence, I feel.

  • 3 7-08-2011 at 10:26 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’ll be very interested to see how the Tintin thing plays out this year (and I imagine Maxim will be happy to hear we covered it). Could the bias be deep enough that using motion capture as a foundation for the entire film, even if it’s “painted over,” hurts it with animators? I don’t know yet.

  • 4 7-08-2011 at 10:52 am

    Will said...

    So funny JJ1, I’m also in the Potter wheelhouse, but I disagree. As much as I love the books, I think the two best movies (#3 and #5) are also the two that deviate or leave out the most from the source material.

  • 5 7-08-2011 at 11:32 am

    Loyal said...

    I’ve missed these podcasts, great job as always.

    I still think it’s too early to dismiss The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, especially to dismiss it because of dark or violent subject matter.

    Can’t be any worse than Precious or No Country for Old Men or The Departed or Black Swan.

    Coupled with Dragon Tattoo’s surefire commercial success, it’s perfect release date, and Fincher’s Oscar narrative as of late, it seems highly unlikely it’ll miss out on a Best Picture nomination.

    As for Tintin, the Oscar rules state “Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique.” To me that rules out things like Avatar and Rise of the Planet of the Apes but not Tintin. And it’s Spielberg, directing his first animated film. Hell, I’d say Tintin is the frontrunner (though Rango is my favorite film of 2011).

  • 6 7-08-2011 at 11:50 am

    Maxim said...

    Kris, I haven’t gotten to that part of the podcast yet but I think that my main point concerning Tintin isn’t so much that I think it will be nominated in the animated category (in fact I’m not even going into whether it should) at all but merely the fact that if motion capture does, indeed, become a factor (as it may well) then it makes sense to identify *all* the films that might affected, especially sight unseen. Otherwise, it just looks as if Tintin is afflicted or something :).

    (And if they’ve nominated Monster House – the dislike for mo-cap can’t run that deep – and the look will only improve in the future. I also wonder if the Academy will become more strict in regards to which animation/live action hybrids they consider to be eligible.)

    If anything, I think Tintin’s chances lay more in the best film category (where unlike Jurrasic Park it has a much more attention grabbing date – not that JP would not have a chance in any other year). I still think that despite the raised requirements, people would still turn havig at least one animated conteder on their list and this is the likeliest one for them to turn to.
    Not that I think we’ll have a lot of nominees this year.

    And as for “Midnight in Paris” it pains me to hear Anne says that it’s Allen’s best film in years. Not because I feel any less about it then she does(I love it a lot) nor won’t I argue about it being his biggest financial success in a long time but… way to equate financial success with quality and marginalize his other films in the processs .

    The reason Midnight in Paris a bigger success then his other recent films is because it’s a less demanding film for the audiences. For once, Allen is playing along with them instead of pulling them into the world of his own morality plays. It’s got a sexy title (well, it does!), it’s very fanservicy in that it gives viewers not only what they want, but, A LOT of it. It also leaves everyone feeling very smart at the end because they recognized most of the names mentioned. (If the hilarious reference to ‘The Discreet Charm of Bourgeoisie” didn’t leave them momentarily hanging). Of course it’s an audience pleaser.

    And none of that make it any less of an accomplishment. I just wish people could see a film like “Tall Dark Stranger” as an equally clever and, perhaps even more accomplished film.

    Wish, I’ve seen “Tree of Life” already so I could comment on that.

  • 7 7-08-2011 at 11:56 am

    Andrew M said...

    Yeah, if Tintin is eligible then it’s the front runner (this is assuming that it is successful, of course). Also, imagine Spielberg accepting both the directing and best animated feature award, probably for two different movies, but still that would be something.

  • 8 7-08-2011 at 12:13 pm

    Andrej said...

    About motion capture, analogously speaking, it’s what rotoscopying is for 2D animation, and no one’s saying at the Academy that any sort of rotoscopying whatsover isn’t animation at all, as it’s as old as the craft itself (and I don’t think Waltz with Bashir didn’t get nominated because of it).

    However, for motion capture to go over the Oscar rule, I think it’s dependable on the narrative context and the level of customization for the character animation, as mere movement translations could easily be frowned upon by animators, regardless their cartoony aesthetics. If Tintin applies the animation principles in noticeable ways while not abusing of the advantages of motion capture, then sure, it’ll get nominated. At least that’s what I think.

    Great podcast, btw ☺

  • 9 7-08-2011 at 12:53 pm

    tdr said...

    I was surprised “Beginners” wasn’t touched on in the podcast, considering the buzz Plummer is generating. I would have been interested in hearing your thoughts on the movie and its awards prospects.

  • 10 7-08-2011 at 1:06 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Kept meaning to get to it (since I actually saw it just yesterday), but never did, unfortunately.

  • 11 7-08-2011 at 1:11 pm

    Rashad said...

    “As for Tintin, the Oscar rules state “Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique.” To me that rules out things like Avatar and Rise of the Planet of the Apes but not Tintin. ”

    I think this nails it.

  • 12 7-08-2011 at 1:45 pm

    Jake G. said...

    Cars 2 will rack up about 3 nominations including Best Animated Film!

  • 13 7-08-2011 at 1:46 pm

    JJ1 said...

    What are your thoughts on ‘Beginners’, Kris?

  • 14 7-08-2011 at 2:06 pm

    Dooby said...

    What ARE your thoughts on ‘Beginners’ Kris?
    Just Plummer?

  • 15 7-08-2011 at 2:07 pm

    Dooby said...

    whoops, sorry for repeating the question didn’t see JJ1’s comment.

  • 16 7-08-2011 at 2:38 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I loved Beginners. Truly a delight. And a film that uses the “hip girl saves me” thing genuinely and not in the forced, gag on it kind of way.

    Plummer is superb. Maybe a nod, though a win would seem a bit unlikely. I was particularly taken with Melanie Laurent’s performance (after not being so head-over-heels after Basterds).

  • 17 7-08-2011 at 3:01 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Good to know, Kris. Your response is what I was hoping it would be (for whenever I get to see it).

    And Dooby, our simultaneous twin questions is quite funny.

  • 18 7-08-2011 at 3:04 pm

    red_wine said...

    “An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture … in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique. Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique.”

    I actually think this decisively disqualifies Tintin. The movement and character’s performance ARE NOT CREATED using a frame-by-frame technique in Tintin since its motion capture.

    And guys, this rule change was made after the 2010 Academy awards (the ceremony in which Avatar competed). So by the rules standing then, both Avatar and Monster House were eligible. But obviously Avatar did not submit for Animated.

    And simply talking from a animator’s point of view, you can see why animators might not like it. Just look back to the heart-broken looks on the faces of the toys in the finale of Toy Story 3. That right there is the pinnacle of the art of animation. The animator painted in such a way to express sorrow and longing from a drawing (or 3D model in case of animation) but in motion capture, that is simply captured by the motion camera and the motion assigned to a computer model. Toy Story 3 required the height of animation artistry to get those expressions, Avatar had a built in program. Of course the animators might not consider it animation.

    There is this other logical argument that, putting aside the characters in motion capture, everything else in the frame is animation. Like in Tintin, apart from the characters, everything else – the cars, streets, desert, planes, ships, water, everything else is animated. So there is essentially animation in the frame for 100% of the film, just the main characters are not animated.

    But that brings up an even grayer area in modern movies. I insinuated that apart from the characters, everything else in the frame of a motion capture movie is animated. But that is also true for Live Action movies these days. In Transformers HUGE action sequences, everything apart from the characters is animated – the city of Chicago itself, the robots, cars – of course rendered to a degree to seem photoreal, but yet animated.

    I believe this last element does bunch together motion capture and live action movies in their fundamental difference from animated movies. The humanity that pervades an animated movies will come from the animator, in motion capture and live action, it will come from the actor.

    And Waltz With Bashir WAS NOT rotoscoping contrary to rumors. Though fundamentally on my argument above, I would not classify even rotoscoping as animation because if the animator is simply drawing over a captured frame – where then is he showing his artistry as an animator.

    And lastly, I believe the Harry Potter films are all disposable. I have seen them all in the theaters but they are only examples of what infinite money can put up on screen rather than examples of good film-making. Barely a moment of genuine suspense or wonder in the entire series. I think its best achievement might actually be John Williams score from the first 3 movies, nothing about it really stands out as world class work.

  • 19 7-08-2011 at 7:58 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***(If the hilarious reference to ‘The Discreet Charm of Bourgeoisie” didn’t leave them momentarily hanging).***

    So hilarious you didn’t even correctly identify the reference. The movie would be “The Exterminating Angel.”

  • 20 7-09-2011 at 1:09 am

    Jasper said...

    I’m waiting for iTunes to download this. Is Dunst’s name thrown around in the Actress talk, or is she done already?

  • 21 7-09-2011 at 8:35 am

    Christian said...

    Love the “Close Encounters” Soundtrack at the end!

  • 22 7-09-2011 at 12:21 pm

    matsunaga said...

    JJ1 and Will count me in that Potter wheelhouse if you may… And for me the best was 3rd and the 6th… The 5th one I felt that they could have tackle certain issues more but the showdown between Voldie and Dumbledore was such a spectacle for me… The last one, I find it slow of course but that’s how it is in the book and for me I need top see this last part to really buy it…

    Anyway, great podcast as always… so many things to talk about yet so little time…

  • 23 7-09-2011 at 12:21 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Jasper: It’ll be a while before we have the iTunes situation fixed. Something screwed up our feed (and I’m considering dumping it altogether because it’s such a pain in the ass, with any slight update to a plugin causing things to go haywire). You’d be better off listening here.

  • 24 7-09-2011 at 12:22 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Or you can download the podcast by right-clicking the back-up download link at the bottom of the post.

  • 25 7-09-2011 at 2:05 pm

    Tom said...

    What do you guys think of TAKE SHELTER? Great reviews at Sundance, won the Grand Prix at Cannes, and going wide in early October. Do you think this will get any significant awards traction, or is it too small to break out with the Academy?

  • 26 7-09-2011 at 5:32 pm

    Rashad said...

    I hope Water For Elephants isn’t forgotten.

  • 27 7-10-2011 at 12:39 am

    The Great Dane said...

    Water For Elephants won’t get near a nomination for anything. That I can say without having even seen it. It’s forgotten, it wasn’t a hit and the reviews weren’t good enough. Costumes would, I think, be it’s only prayer in hell to get in, but it’s just not gonna happen. The movie is dead.

  • 28 7-10-2011 at 12:47 am

    The Great Dane said...

    Kris, my favorite Potter movie so far is the third. There are so many small, magic touches of wonder to it. But the only Potter movie I thought didn’t work at all and was the worst is the fifth. I know a lot of people feel that way. I have read the book, but I am not a die-hard Harry Potter fan.
    It’s just funny that you think it’s the best of them all, as a non-Potter fan. Interesting…

    On a different note, I had to sit through all three Twilight films (for reasons I can’t explain), and the first one was bla, the second was horrendous, and well, the third was actually promising and almost working (as opposed to #1 and #2). The critics seem to agree with me, and here I am NOT a fan and will never read the books. But if you ask the fans, they all agree that the second film is the best of the movies – a masterpiece! And from where I’m sitting, it’s the crappiest of them all!

    It’s interesting that there can be such a disconnect between fans of series and people just watching a film.

    (One thing I will never understand is the LOTR-fans who think that The Two Towers is the best of that trilogy. I makes no sense to me.)

  • 29 7-10-2011 at 1:16 am

    Rashad said...

    Dane, let me DREAM!

    It deserves cinematography so far at the very least.

  • 30 7-10-2011 at 5:24 am

    JJ1 said...

    Two Towers may not be the ‘best’. But it is my favorite of the 3. Some of my favorite scenes and sequences are from that movie.

    Water for Elephants has made 115 world wide so far (still in theaters around the world). The budget was 38 million.

    It has done quite well given the early middling reviews and so-so opening. It’s a minor hit; albeit, an extremely quiet one.

    I could see it surfacing again with some possible industry nominations (cin, art d, cost) if the studio puts forth a nice little campaign.

  • 31 7-10-2011 at 9:37 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I hear Potter fans don’t like the third and fifth because they changed a lot from the books or something. But then there are non-fans who love them for that very reason.

  • 32 7-10-2011 at 10:46 am

    matsunaga said...

    I was actually excited for Water for Elephants when I saw the trailer… Still think it wasn’t a bad film… I thought the film’s Cinematography was its strongest… Art Direction and Costume go second… That’s it… But you see, there are lots of strong contenders on those categories this year, most aren’t even released yet so I have a feeling it’ll be forgotten come awards season…

  • 33 7-10-2011 at 10:54 am

    Speaking English said...

    I agree, the 3rd and 5th films are the best of the movies by quite a margin. I even prefer “Order of the Phoenix” movie to the book.

  • 34 7-10-2011 at 11:03 am

    Brock Landers said...

    “I hear Potter fans don’t like the third and fifth because they changed a lot from the books or something. But then there are non-fans who love them for that very reason.”

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the third book, so I was welcoming some changes, but I feel the last act drags. It’s not my least favorite film of the series, but it’s not even close to being the best.

    I actually really dug the 5th one. There is a lot cut from the book, but it’s really focused and entertaining.

    The 6th is my personal favorite movie. I’m hoping 7B is the best, but it’ll have to be pretty damn good to top the 6th.

    Oh yeah, and contrary to Anne’s belief, the last Potter film was not shot in 3D, it was post-converted. You made the right choice Kris.

  • 35 7-10-2011 at 11:08 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I couldn’t tell whether that’s what she was saying or not. I’m pretty sure she knows it wasn’t shot in 3D.

  • 36 7-10-2011 at 11:12 am

    Brock Landers said...

    “I couldn’t tell whether that’s what she was saying or not. I’m pretty sure she knows it wasn’t shot in 3D.”

    It seemed like she was, although it was kind of hard to tell.

    And back to another part of my comment, by “personal favorite movie”, I mean in the HP series.

  • 37 7-10-2011 at 12:59 pm

    Christina Donaghy said...


    Any idea why Anne thinks Michelle Williams might not get a nomination for Best Actress? (I listened to the podcast last night- I don’t remember exactly the word Anne used, but something along those lines). Do you share similar feelings? What are your thoughts on “My Week with Marilyn” gaining enough momentum to please both the Academy and audiences? Also, any idea why a trailer hasn’t been released yet? From what I’ve read, the film is set to premiere in November… I would think with TWC backing this film, they would release a teaser trailer by now. This is a film I’ve been greatly anticipating, and there has been barely any buzz.

  • 38 7-10-2011 at 1:04 pm

    Hank said...

    Water for Elephants was terrible. The cinematography might make the cut- but even then, that’s a stretch.

    What’s the consensus with Carnage? Roman Polanski, Kate Winslet, AND Christoph Waltz… an Oscar feast?

  • 39 7-10-2011 at 1:34 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    The Water for Elephants trailer (have not seen the film) was trying SO hard to cash in on Titanic. TeenPrettyBoy of the now (Leonardo then, Pattinson now) as a poor, young man meeting an unhappy, “rich” woman with an evil, possesive man. Love happens, and then the big accident/tragedy begins. Even the dialogue in the trailer seemed to echo Titanic…
    Can anyone tell me, how Titanic-ish IS the film? Yes, I know there’s not a boat, but the story in itself? Isn’t it almost a remake in a different setting (and please don’t ruin the ending for me, I plan to see it one day)?

  • 40 7-10-2011 at 2:56 pm

    Rashad said...

    Waltz is much more likeable , and helps Pattinson in the business. It’s very much a circus troupe movie where the guy finds himself during his time there. (He was studying to be a vet, and finds huge enjoyment taking care of the animals.) The tragedy isn’t until the end, but by then the major stuff has already happened. It wasn’t truly significant to their relationship.

  • 41 7-10-2011 at 7:13 pm

    Hank said...

    Great Dane-

    Water for Elephants isn’t all that similar to Titanic. The star-crossed lovers concept is evident in both films, but you can’t really attribute that to Titanic alone. The dialogue in both films is nothing spectacular but if you can get past the 1000+ times Jack and Rose say each others names, the script isn’t hopeless. Water for Elephants, on the other hand, is just sad (not that it elicits sadness, but it’s just downright pathetic). The film had so much potential (as the novel is spectacular) but it fell so short of capturing the essence of its original source.

    I wouldn’t say it’s a remake- far from it. Titanic is great for a number of reasons and sure, it catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio to instant super-stardom, but the man has maintained a pretty respectable resume since. R Patz, not so much. Anyway, speaking to the specifics of WFE, he is underused in this film or is just plain awkward and Reese Witherspoon, in all her bleach blond glory, is a sad, sad girl that you just can’t seem to sympathize.

    My advice, read the book. It’s wonderful.

  • 42 7-10-2011 at 7:17 pm

    Hank said...


    Do you think Source Code or Hanna have a chance? Both were excellent films and although Source Code seems a little bit of a stretch, perhaps Hanna could plunge through with a few tech awards?

  • 43 7-10-2011 at 8:15 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Christina: It was me that was slightly down on that, and only because I’ve been hearing Branagh steals the show. I could easily be wrong, so don’t fret. If it’s a possibility, Harvey will go for it hard.

    Hank: Probably not. Typical solid films (though I did not like Hanna) early in the year that just can’t find traction. Best shot of everything would be Source Code’s film editing or sound work, I think.

  • 44 7-11-2011 at 7:57 am

    JJ1 said...

    Other than the evident framework of Titanic, I found Water for Elephant’s tone and execution to be nothing like Titanic’s (star-crossed lovers included).

  • 45 7-11-2011 at 1:12 pm

    Evan said...

    I still don’t get this “The new nomination process marginalizes voters” argument. If you vote for something way out of the running (i.e., that gets less than 1%), your vote gets reshuffled to your second pick. You get a second chance to vote for a winner.

    If you vote for something that gets 4.99% of the votes, your pick is disregarded, sure, but how is that different than previous years where voting for the Town or Blue Valentine (or looking to pre-10 nominations, The Dark Knight or Wall-E) got someone’s ballot eliminated?

    I just don’t see what’s so special about having everyone’s ballot end up in the pile of something that gets nominated, especially if for that to happen, your vote has to go to your 4-5th choice.

  • 46 7-12-2011 at 7:54 am

    m1 said...

    NO. No Source Code. How anyone can stand that movie is beyond me.

  • 47 7-12-2011 at 1:25 pm

    Tom said...

    Has anyone seen TAKE SHELTER? Will this be a player this awards season, or will it screen without real traction?

  • 48 7-20-2011 at 9:52 am

    kel said...

    this may have already been mentioned, but glenn close had been in3 best picture nominees in the ’80s. In addition to Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons, she was also nominated in Best Pic nominee The Big Chill, which was a big success in 1983.

  • 49 12-20-2011 at 4:17 am

    saw see said...

    Steven Spielberg and Holywood generally
    delivering tech worship and moral alibis
    galore as they BALK and RUN from the
    staggeringly relevant –20th –30th –40th –50th and now 60th Anniversary
    of the EUGENICS ‘unfriendly’

    ————-KOREAN WAR————–