Friday, 24 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #600: Oscar Season Is Upon Us

Welcome to show number 600 folks...

You've probably noticed that Autumn has arrived, and as sure as the leaves change color and fall screaming to their leafy deaths, the season of Oscar whoring has begun. I poached a partial list of of this year's Oscar contenders and will dish out my usual ill-informed and completely biased opinion on them.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (Twentieth Century Fox - 9/24) Everyone remembers Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good" speech from the first Wall Street as the defining image of the 1980s. I see that film as the fundamental illustration of how so few people know what actual capitalism is.

In the first film Gekko declares that capitalism is a "zero sum game," where in order to become wealthier they have to somehow take that something from someone else. In other words, for me to win, you must lose.

That's not capitalism, that's a description of a poker game.

Capitalism is where two free people engage in the exchange of goods and services within the framework of the rights of private property. That means no fraud, or coercion, and in the end everyone gets something they want. It's why you and the person you bought coffee from both said "Thank you" to each other. You wanted the coffee more than the money, and they wanted the money more than keeping the coffee sitting in the pot on the counter.

Thanks this fundamental misunderstanding about capitalism people think it's all about the accumulation of wealth. In fact, is all about the
creation of wealth, which is a completely different thing. Sadly, Hollywood is not alone in this mindset, as recent developments show us, many on Wall Street don't know what capitalism is either.

NOWHERE BOY (The Weinstein Co - 10/8) More 60s nostalgia and Beatlemania for the aging baby-boomers who make up the bulk of the Academy's voters, which could land it some nominations. However, it is a Weinstein Co. release, which means the date given for it to hit theaters is not a guarantee.

SECRETARIAT (Walt Disney Pictures - 10/8) A feel good movie about horse. If the audience falls in love with it, the Academy might not, having already Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side last year.

COMPANY MEN (The Weinstein Co - 10/22) Premiered at Sundance, has an all star cast, and is another TWC release. It will never actually be seen by anyone.

WELCOME TO THE RILEYS (Samuel Goldwyn - 10/29) Viewed a strong contender at the Independent Spirit Awards, which actually may hurt its chances with Oscar.

FAIR GAME (Summit - 11/5) Hollywood takes on the Valerie Plame scandal without actually bringing up the real reason her identity was leaked to the New York Times or the person who really did it, because it didn't fit the pre-conceived narrative of the filmmakers. Also the presence of box-office toxin Sean Penn will prevent anyone outside of a few Academy voters from actually seeing it. Which means it's a shoo in for at least some nominations.

FOR COLORED GIRLS (Lionsgate - 11/5) Adapted by Tyler Perry from a play with a title too long for me to retype. Since it doesn't involve Perry's minstrel drag act Medea, unless he radically rewrote the play, it might not do as well as his other films with his target audience. While the Academy loves grim dramas about abortion, domestic violence, and other misery, they might give this film a miss.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (Warner Bros - 11/19) Fantasy had its shot with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Academy will not deign to soil the award with imagination and commercial success anytime soon.

THE NEXT THREE DAYS (Lionsgate - 11/19) Paul Haggis breaks from his usual self-important dramas to make something that might sell some tickets and put some real green in his pocket.

BURLESQUE (Sony/Screen Gems - 11/24) Three words: Show Girls Two.

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (Twentieth Century Fox - 11/24) A comedy about love between a pharmaceutical salesman and a woman with Parkinson's Disease. I got a bad feeling that it's another one of those "woman with a terminal illness teaches stuffed shirt to live" flicks.

I LOVE YOU, PHILIP MORRIS (Roadside Attractions - 12/3) The Academy might think that the fact that the rest of the world saw it before them as a point against it.

THE FIGHTER (Paramount - 12/10) Too much Rocky meets The Departed without the whole "just give Scorsese a damn Oscar" pressure because Scorsese didn't make it.

THE TOURIST (Sony Pictures - 12/10) Too commercial.

HOW DO YOU KNOW? (Sony Pictures - 12/17) A James Brooks relationship comedy, who saw that coming?

COUNTRY STRONG (Sony/Screen Gems - 12/22) Gwyneth Paltrow tries going country for some Oscar gold, sadly, it only works for grizzled farts like Robert Duvall and Jeff Bridges.

TRUE GRIT (Paramount - 12/25) Speaking of grizzled farts, Jeff Bridges stars in this Coen Bros. remake of the John Wayne classic. The Coens are always interesting, but their outsider mentality and insular working methods may turn off Academy voters who think they've already got enough awards working outside the system, why give them any more.


  1. A few years back, a friend and I were attempting to figure out why so many Oscar nominated films were a chore to sit through. It wasn't always that way ,but it had been coming on for awhile but arrived in earnest in 2005. Those five nominated films were more akin to experimental,constipated film festival movies. You know the kind with no likeable characters ,deconstructed storylines, some Hollywood PC political theme or maybe something with a social issue to chew over. For the record I always wait to see Sean Penn's political movies,they are sooooo informative and objective.Actually these Oscar baiters have very small audiences, gee I wonder why?Nowadays a lack of an audience is seenas a badge of honor by many in Hollywood.Movies that make money are sneeringly referred to as,"populist' and "popcorn flicks." Movies like Gone With The Wind,The Unforgiven,Gladiator,and The Godfather are tainted with the stain of boxoffice success. Oh the shame of it.It is much more chic if the winning film was seen by 5200 people.Anyway I hope Haggis makes money with his new film, The Next Three Days. After all Crash is still the number one rental at Netflix...for the last few years.

  2. I've noticed this fall I am eagerly awaiting the releases of Medal Of Honor, fallout new vegas and call of Duty Black Ops. Are these movies, No new video games, when was the last time there was a FILM that was coming out that I just HAD TO SEE. Avatar barely for some reason, despite the hype did not get a rise out of me. I blame SW: Episode 1, after the months of hype and anticipation. I went to see the film and it just felt FLAT.