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The ACE and BAFTAs…A Shift in the Winds?

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week, I reported that “The King’s Speech” cleaned up at the British Academy Awards. However, this was to be expected. Records for acting awards and the first film to win both of their Best Film and Best British Film. Go figure, considering it’s the most widely popularized British film since “Shakespeare in Love.” However, on the whole, I almost have to say that “The King’s Speech” underperformed at the BAFTAs, and if one film had an equal, or possibly better night overall, it would have to be “The Social Network.”

No, this is not favoritism. No, it is not just just wishful thinking. I think at this point of the race, it is now more neck and neck between the two big contenders than it ever has been. For the first two weeks after nominations were announced, it was all all about “The King’s Speech,” especially after picking up its trio of key guild awards. However, after the BAFTAs, the WGA, and now the ACE victory, “The Social Network” has shown that it could very easily take home the big prize. One simply has to look at the past and the science behind it all.

Yes, it’s true that the PGA, DGA and SAG are all very heavy hitters when it comes to inducing a Best Picture win. However, in the long run, it looks like “The King’s Speech” will be down several big awards on Sunday night. This takes us back to why the BAFTAs were such a key event. While taking them for a sweep, “The King’s Speech” managed to lose Director and Editing, perhaps the two key awards in the Best Picture race. After winning the American Cinema Editors top prize, “The Social Network” seems to have Best Editing in the bag, along with the obvious Best Adapted Screenplay. And one has to wonder that if the Brits won’t even bestow Tom Hooper with the big director’s prize, how willing will the Academy be to snub David Fincher for what is quite possibly his finest work to date and maybe ever again.

Now, let’s look at the stats. Best Director and Best Editor are more engrained in the blood of a Best Picture winner than any other awards. An example of how important the editing honor is, no film has won Best Picture in over thirty years (not since “Ordinary People” in 1980) without being nominated for Best Editing. Many people believe that aside from the homophobia, this was the bane of “Brokeback Mountain,” being that “Crash” had the fervent support of the editors with both Oscar and ACE awards under its belt. Now, granted, both “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” have been nominated for that award, so the race does not end on this stat.

However, here’s some other info to chew on. If “The Social Network” does win Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Editing, however loses Best Picture, it will be only the 3rd film in the history of the Oscars to do so. The other two were “Traffic” in ’00 and “A Place in the Sun” in ’51. Furthermore, in the situation that “The Social Network” wins Directing and Editing: Only 2 films in the last 20 years have won Best Picture without winning either of those two awards (“Gladiator” in ’00, “Shakespeare in Love” in “98). Going back even further, only 5 films in the last 50 YEARS have accomplished that task. In this regard, precedents for “The King’s Speech” winning peg it at only about 1 in 10.

If ancient history is too flimsy for some, let’s look at the last decade. Three of the last four films to win Best Picture (“The Hurt Locker,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “The Departed”) all took home Director, Screenplay and Editing. Also, in regard to the recent American Cinema Editors award, 7 out of the last 10 films to win Best Picture also won the ACE, and in the years that they didn’t, the winner of the ACE went on to take Best Editing at the Oscars, which speaks well for “Social Network,” as well.

There are a few big precedents to support a “King’s Speech” victory, most glaringly would be “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan.” However, one event is strangely alike to the present year that stands behind a “Social Network” upset and that is 1995. Before Oscar night, “Apollo 13” had taken the PGA, the DGA and the SAG. “Braveheart” had taken the Golden Globe for Best Director, the BFCA for Best Director, the ACE and the WGA. Freakishly similar. “Braveheart” came out victorious. Perhaps the only thing that separates it would be that Ron Howard was not nominated for Oscar’s Best Director, while Tom Hooper is. However, “Braveheart” also did not have the added incentive of having won practically EVERY SINGLE BEST PICTURE AWARD THAT EXISTS up to the PGA.

A lot of jargon, right? What does it all mean? It means that I have made a decision to support “The Social Network” to the final moments in regards to my Best Picture prediction. Hope may be a dangerous thing in this game, but if ever there was a year that I had to hold on to it, it would be this one. Will I be wrong? Possibly. Probably. Yet, I imagine a scenario in which “The Social Network” won and I predicted against it. I’d never forgive myself.

And in all honesty, I really think it’s going to happen.

Well, I’m off to work on the Edgies. Stay tuned for the winners’ announcement on Thursday evening, while my final Oscar predictions will have to wait until Saturday night. I spare not a second.

EW Ranks the Top Ten Worst Best Picture Wins

February 19, 2011 3 comments

It’s no doubt that “The Social Network” is the unanimous choice for Best Picture by this country’s critics. Entertainment Weekly’s own Lisa Schwarzbaum and Owen Gleiberman were united for the first time in years by both placing the film at the top of their lists. Therefore, it’s hard not to chuckle at the timing of this article: less than two weeks before “The King’s Speech” takes the home the gold at this year’s event.

I know. I’m such an opportunist. But let’s be serious. The 2011 Best Picture will eventually make it to this list. Just a matter of time. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the past. This is a really good list. I’d almost like to make one of my own, except it would probably mirror this one quite a bit. Here’s the list:

10. “Forrest Gump” over “Pulp Fiction”
9. “The Last Emperor” over “Broadcast News,” “Fatal Attraction” or “Moonstruck”
8. “Around the World in Eighty Days” over “Giant”
7. “Gandhi” over “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”
6. “The English Patient” over “Fargo” or “Jerry Maguire”
5. “Dances with Wolves” over “Goodfellas”
4. “Chariots of Fire” over “Reds”
3. “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan”
2. “How Green Was My Valley” over “Citizen Kane”
1. “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain”

The only one on this list that I really cannot concur with is “The Last Emperor.” While it’s certainly not an amazing film, neither was any of its competition. None of the other three films listed are any more deserving of the prize. 1987 on the whole was a pretty horrible year for cinema. My favorite was “Full Metal Jacket,” but even that film I have a difficult time calling Best Picture-worthy. Also, while the excruciatingly long and uneventful “Gandhi” was a shameful choice, “E.T.” would not be my pick from the nominees. For as much of a Spielberg whore as I am, his cuddly alien movie is not one of my favorites. Personally, I would have picked Sydney Pollack’s in-the-moment comedy, “Tootsie.”

My equivalent list would probably look like this:

10. “Chariots of Fire” over “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
9. “The Sting” over “A Clockwork Orange” or “The Last Picture Show”
8. “Going My Way” over “Double Indemnity”
7. “Titanic” over “L.A. Confidential”
6. “Dances with Wolves” over “Goodfellas”
5. “How Green Was My Valley” over “Citizen Kane”
4. “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain” or “Munich”
3. “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan,” or even “The Thin Red Line”
2. “Rocky” over “Taxi Driver,” “All the President’s Men” or “Network”
1. “In the Heat of the Night” over “Bonnie and Clyde” or “The Graduate”

Masterpieces like “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Taxi Driver” losing out to works of pure mediocrity like “Rocky” and “In the Heat of the Night” are enough to make eyes roll. I still also remember watching Harvey Weinstein and his entourage taking the stage in 1999, not being able to move for twenty minutes, my blood boiling with rage. Same in 2006 with the ridiculous Paul Haggis. It’s enough to make one cry.

Meanwhile, when it comes to the “test of time” question, not many films earn it to the same extent as “Citizen Kane,” “Double Indemnity,” or even after 20 or 30 years, “Goodfellas” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” These films are considered works of art by critics, industry and audiences alike while their competition has faded into the video store walls.

Give it a year and expect to find “The King’s Speech” up on this list. Maybe some day the Academy will realize that history will judge their decisions, and their hindsight is not very kind, and nor should it be, considering some of these decisions.

Check out Entertainment Weekly’s article, with a slideshow and commentary. Also, if you want to see something funny, check out this video of “Shakespeare in Love” winning Best Picture and watch Harrison Ford’s dismayed expression after reading the name. I feel for you, buddy…

Tom Hooper’s Chances with Oscar

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I just came upon a really interesting piece by Tom O’Neil over at Gold Derby. It discusses Tom Hooper, the director of “The King’s Speech,” and his previous awards track record. “The King’s Speech is still stationed as the frontrunner to win Best Picture, despite all of the accolades that “The Social Network” is beginning to reign in. Yet, having such an inexperienced and unrecognized director at the helm is really holding it back.

O’Neil writes:

If Hooper surmounts this and wins at the Directors’ Guild of America, then “King’s Speech” is an Oscar shoo-in, natch, but beware: he’s got a lousy track record at showbiz awards, including a shocking past defeat at the DGA.

It very much does remind me of the 1998 race for Best Picture, when “Shakespeare in Love” overtook “Saving Private Ryan” (a similar travesty, such as what might happen this year if “The Social Network” is taken down), even with a relatively unknown stage director at the helm. We’ll wait and see, but as of now, it’s all about the Fincher.