Well, folks, I’m sorry to say that this Oscar race just keeps getting more and more boring by the minute. After taking a lion’s share of the critics awards (including the televised Critics Choice) and three Golden Globes, “The Artist” has began its domination of this industry’s guilds, as well. While one wants to discredit the circulating logic that this year’s frontrunner has had the big award sealed up since Cannes, it becomes more and more difficult to deny it, everyday.
Much like “The Hurt Locker” did, two years prior, “The Artist” defied a certain common logic by taking this prize, being the lowest money-earner of the group. The most profitable of said nominees would be “The Help,” which grossed around $160 million dollars, domestically. Second is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” which is steadily creeping up on the $100 million mark. yet, following a similar (though not as rushed) release schedule as last year’s Best Picture winner, “The King’s Speech,” which at this point in its theatrical run had already earned around $46 million, “The Artist” has scored a measly $9.2. Much of this can be due to relatively low word of mouth, a lack of stars, a foreign origin, it’s black and white print and…oh yeah…IT’S SILENT. Not exactly a recipe for monetary success.
However, while Harvey Weinstein isn’t always the best at making money, there’s one thing he is the boss at. That skill can be referred to as quietly rigging the Oscars. Granted that he never performs any illegal activities to do so (at least none that have been proven), the man always finds the right buttons to press to make everything go his way. One would like to believe that if a movie is smart, entertaining and an extremely well-maid endeavor, it would have a fighting chance for Oscar gold. Yet, in reality, we all know that this race was over before it began.
This was widely considered the last stand for many films, trying to peck out a piece of the precursor pie. A win here for “The Descendants,” “The Help” or “Hugo” would show that this is more than just a one-horse race. However, it looks as though they will all have to find comfort and satisfaction in a nomination. That’s pretty much all one can ask for in a race against “The Punisher” (Weinstein’s new nickname, endowed by Michelle Williams). True, “The Help” is still the frontrunner for the SAG Ensemble Award and we can all hope that Martin Scorsese takes the DGA if for no other reason than to shake things up, but soon might be time to accept the inevitable. This Oscar season…sadly…is over.
Here’s the full list of film winners from the Producers Guild Awards, announced late last night:
Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures: “The Artist”
Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures : “The Adventures of Tintin”
Producer of the Year Award in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures: “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest”
Well….shit. This is some of the best and worst news that I’ve heard in quite a long time. Perhaps more impactful things have happened to the world of cinema that have affected me in different ways. However, this news is rubbing me in a way I really can’t even describe.
I guess that it’s important to know the history. Most people have heard of or seen a production of “Les Miserables” at some point in their lives. It’s practically the most popular and adored musical of the last quarter century. I am definitely one of its fans. Little do some people know that before turning to a life of film, I did a lot of theater. I starred in a number of plays in high school, musical and dramatic, and dabbled in stage direction, as well. Without a doubt, my favorite performance that I’ve ever had the opportunity to give on stage was the role of Javert in “Les Miserables,” and ever since then, I have been eternally hooked on every aspect of said play.
Since I’m such a fan, I have been waiting and hoping for a film adaptation of the musical itself to come along for the better part of a decade. It is my absolute dream film. I would wait in line for weeks at opening night for a ticket. Now, it appears that it’s finally happening and all I can feel is disappointment.
Why, oh, why, oh, why in heaven’s name did they have to go with Tom Hooper. I can think of any number of names who I’d rather see attached to my dream project. Directors well-suited for the job would include Roman Polanski, Guillermo Del Toro, Joe Wright, Stephen Daldry, Baz Luhrman, Paul Thomas Anderson, Frank Darabont, hell, even J.J. Abrams might be a stellar choice.
You know, maybe Hooper’s not even a terrible decision. I mean, the man is not a bad director. He did, in fact, do a phenomenal job with the “John Adams” miniseries. Perhaps this film is actually right up his alley. Yet right now, I just can’t see it, because for the last few months, I cannot imagine him as anything more than an antagonist. Partnered with Harvey Weinstein, he is the arch nemesis to what what could have been one of the greatest Oscar outcomes in recent memory. Will I ever be able to shrug off this hatred and enjoy the man for what he can produce and how good his craft can be. Maybe.
Yet, for now, I mourn…..
Below is a clip, not from the musical production itself, but from the 25th Anniversary Concert. Whoever was conducting this should be shot for what he did to some of these cues, but this is still a powerful rendition of one of the show’s greatest numbers.