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Posts Tagged ‘best picture’

I have now seen Lady Bird so have included it in my ballot.  As the Oscars are happening in two days, I don’t think I will See Call Me by Your Name before the ceremony. 

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The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced about a month ago, voting is about to start in preparation for the ceremony on Sunday, March 4, 2018.  The nominees for best picture are:

Call Me by Your Name – Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, and Marco MorabitoCALL-ME-BY-YOUR-NAME

Darkest Hour – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten, and Douglas UrbanskiDarkest Hour

Dunkirk – Emma Thomas and Christopher NolanDunkirk

Get Out – Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., and Jordan PeeleGet Out

Lady Bird – Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, and Evelyn O’Neilllady bird

Phantom Thread – JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupiphantom_thread

The Post – Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, and Kristie Macosko KriegerThe Post - Copy

The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles DaleThe Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonaghThree Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Since 2009, the Academy has allowed more than five films in the best picture category.  At the same time they changed the way this category is voted for.  Unlike the other categories that appear on  ballet as a simple tick box, the Best Picture category has a larger box with a space to rank films in order of preference.  The system known as instant-runoff voting, the idea being that the eventual winner is the film preferred by the widest consensus of voters.

When counted, if a film receives more than half the votes, it is declared the winner.  If there isn’t a winner, the film with the lowest number of first-choice votes is removed from the ballot.  All ballots that places this film at number one are redistributed using the second placed film on the ballot.  This process is continued until there is a clear winner.

I have not received my ballot paper, possibly something to do with not being an academy member.  Were I able to vote, this is my ranking for the best picture nominees:

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Get Out 
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Phantom Thread
  6. Lady Bird
  7. The Post
  8. Darkest Hour

Not Ranked*

  • Call Me by Your Name

*I haven’t ranked this film as I haven’t seen it.  Will the actual voters stick to films they have actually seen, or even better, watch all the nominated films.

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Is it time to address the elephant in the room? Probably.  The lack of glossy images will tell you this is a little more serious than my usual fair.  Can we appreciate the art and overlook the artist? This was a question Charles McGrath asked five years ago in his New York Times article Good Art, Bad People. I this he concentrated mainly on painters and writers but the same is true of any art, or is it? The article predates the current scandals that are engulfing the entertainment industry. This BBC article outlines the unfolding to the accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein. But this is where things get complicated. McGrath’s article talks of many artists including Hemingway, Degas and Picasso, these were visionary individuals famed for their art. But where a painter, sculptor or writer works largely alone on their creative process, film-making is collaborative.

Take The English Patient, winner of nine Academy Awards including Best Picture credited to producer Saul Zaentz; Harvey Weinstein is credited as executive producer. My understanding of the process: director Anthony Minghella, producer Saul Zaentz and Michael Ondaatje, on whose book it is based, worked together on adapting the story for the screen. Studio 20th Century Fox wanted big Hollywood names for the lead roles and wouldn’t fund the film without their choice of stars, I believe Demi Moore was suggested for the Kristin Scott Thomas role. Miramax Films (still at this time owned and run by Bob and Harvey Weinstein) stepped in to help fund, and to distribute the film. In short, one of my favourite films of the 1990’s would not have been made if not for Harvey Weinstein.

But it isn’t just a case of saying that Weinstein has been accused of bad things but he was behind a great film. If it were that simple and redemption came with great art we would be knighting him having been credited as executive producer on many beloved movies including Paddington, Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction and the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, to name just a few. My argument is more complicated than that. There are over four-hundred names on the credits to The English Patient. While we can not and should not forgive peoples misdeeds because we like their art, we must remember that they are just one cog in a very machine.

Then we look back at the golden age of cinema. It is filled with stars who were less than appropriate in their treatment of their leading ladies. We have the draconian seven year contracts. Starlets forced to have cosmetic surgery. Legendary directors bullying their stars. Studio fixers breaking the law and covering up the crimes of others to protect the studio investment. Exploitative working hours in the trades behind the scenes. It would be impossible to work out which films had been ethically made.

The cog in the wheel argument may be harder to accept when the accused is on screen in front of us and not a producer in the background. I understand there is a film about sexual misconduct within the film industry that has been pulled from release because its star (who is also writer, producer and director) has been accused of misconduct himself.  As the situation snowballs, there may well be false accusations made along with all the real ones and we must to a certain degree give people their right to presumed innocence. This isn’t always easy but I am prepared to go forward with an open mind, I make no accusations, or assumptions about those people named in the article, I am simply commenting on what has already been reported. There are no simple answers, and there are sure to be more questions.

 

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There has been much debate for the reasons and merits of having ten nominees in the best picture category. Having any number between five and ten makes a certain sense in the event there are no more than five suitable movies. The selection of nine when many worthy movies have been overlooked does however seem bizarre. Here are the nominated movies ranked in order of my preference (*denotes unranked as I haven’t seen the film):

The Artist
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
The Descendants
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
The Help
War Horse
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close*

Had there been ten nominations which would be the tenth selection? Here are my suggestions, many of which would be ranked above the nominated films:

Drive
The Guard
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We Need to Talk About Kevin
The Skin I live in
Shame

Which would you chosen as the tenth nomination?

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