Tuesday, January 22, 2013

DJANGO MISCATEGORIZED:  A separate note: under no circumstances should Christoph Waltz have been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category; he is clearly the co-lead of the film, and he, not Foxx, carries most of it. According to Joe Reid, who has compiled a solid list of 14 Supporting Noms That Were Actually Leads (see, esp., Martin Landau in Crimes and Misdemeanors), "Waltz was actually being campaigned as a lead in Django Unchained until the critics groups (who should know better) started tipping their hand that he might stand a better shot as a supporting contender."

One that I think Reid gets wrong, however, is Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. Yes, he's in the movie quite a bit, but it's not a movie about him or one which he carries—it's about Holly Hunter and her choices, and [SPOILER FOR A MOVIE THAT'S NOW 25 YEARS OLD]
as much as Brooks' Aaron Altman thinks he's in a romantic triangle, he's not. She was never going to choose him, or see him as anything other than Friend Material. Now, as to whether William Hurt also should have been categorized as Supporting as well as opposed to the Best Actor nomination which he did receive, I think that's open to debate. He's got more of an arc than Brooks has; it's his actions which set things in motion.

Final note: Broadcast News lost all seven Academy Awards for which it was nominated. Boo.


  1. 1. This year in particular, there was a rush to the Supporting category to stay away from Day-Lewis, who's been the presumed winner from the time "Lincoln" went into production. It happens from time to time. There's also something of a general assumption that a younger performer's role is automatically supporting, no matter the size, which is part of what makes Wallis' nomination such an achievement. (The other big category fraud this year? Helen Hunt for The Sessions. That is absolutely a lead performance, and a very good lead performance. Kind of inexplicable she went supporting given that Hathaway basically has it locked up.)

    2. Looking at what Broadcast News lost, the performances that beat them are all pretty damn fine--Michael Douglas for Wall Street (in the same year as Fatal Attraction), Cher for Moonstruck, and Sean Connery for The Untouchables (admittedly, kind of a comeback/career achievement award, but pretty dam indelible)--Moonstruck v. Broadcast News for Screenplay is something of a toss-up. The two that sting are the big two that The Last Emperor won (and Brooks wasn't even nominated for direction!), but the Academy, especially then, loves its epics.

  2. Adam B.10:54 AM

    I can make a pretty strong case for Hunter over Cher in addition to the big two -- wasn't Cher's award more of a "congratulations! we've been meaning to acknowledge your shift from singing to acting!" than anything particularly special about the performance? (It's been a long time since I've seen Moonstruck.)

    Also: showy performances like Cher's (ACTING!) get more recognition than Hunter's portrayal of a recognizable human being.

  3. I maintain Jackman has a decent chance of winning Actor. Lewis won just recently enough that Jackman could get a decent amount of people wanting to support someone else.

  4. I think you can make a serious case that Brooks is the lead of Broadcast News, or at least that it's his story of how he's being left behind in a new era of William Hurts.

  5. Marsha11:01 AM

    You can make a strong case, sure. So can I. But it's not Titanic-over-LA-Confidential kind of glaringly wrong. And Cher is very, very good in the part.

  6. Adam B.11:10 AM

    And I don't even think *that* one is so glaringly wrong; there's something to be said for epic melodrama, as much as I also love LA Confidential. Now, King's Speech over Social Network and Toy Story 3 ....

  7. Adam B.11:11 AM

    It's French! It's silent! It's perennial nominee Mike Hava Nagila! Lincoln, SLP, or Argo all would have won last year.

  8. Marsha11:23 AM

    Everybody's got their "this is completely indefensible" Oscar thing (well, at least everybody here). Titanic/LA Confidential is mine. I have nothing against epic melodrama. I have something against *mediocre* epic melodrama.

    LA Confidential was full of brilliant performances, had a complex, original, and fascinating plot, didn't talk down to the viewer, got richer on subsequent viewings, looked absolutely gorgeous, and made us believe that Kim Basinger could act. Titanic was a boring, derivative spectacle that completely distracted people from weak, one-note performances and a lousy script by screaming "look at my shiny sinking boat!" It deserved all sorts of tech awards, sure. But it is a mediocre popcorn movie (but don't drink a soda because man, will you have to pee looking at all that water in the interminable third act) and it is utterly ridiculous that it won over LA Confidential.

    YMMV, of course, and I know there are people who think I'm crazy that it wasn't a complete travesty that Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan (it was wrong, just not a travesty).

    King's Speech was a fine movie. It winning the Oscar was the triumph of the conventional over the daring, and Social Network absolutely should have won, but King's Speech is not a bad or even a mediocre movie.

  9. Yes, but it's about moviemaking, which gives certain segments of the Academy a collective orgasm, and had Harvey Weinstein behind it, as well as critical support from Cannes.

  10. Marsha11:27 AM

    Argo is also about moviemaking.

  11. King's Speech for picture is defensible. Hooper beating Fincher for direction, on the other hand, far less so.

  12. Adam B.12:03 PM

    The prospect of a Jackman EGOT at such a young age (he'd just need the Les Mis soundtrack to win a Grammy) is quite appealing.

  13. 1. Does Jackman qualify as "the artist or artists of a majority of tracks" on the album? That's what's needed for him to qualify for a Grammy in that category as a performer.
    2. I have little doubt that Jackman will either cut a vocal album or be a lead soloist on a cast album that wins eventually. The question for him in EGOT at this point is solely the Oscar.

  14. Adam B.12:48 PM

    I think the idea is that you nominate enough of them so that, collectively, they're the artists on a majority of the tracks. But now I wonder: can you get a Musical Theater nomination for a soundtrack to a film, not stage performance?

  15. bellawilfer1:44 PM

    Team Hugh! (As I said in another thread, he's also better at the campaigning part...)

  16. isaac_spaceman6:05 PM

    I agree that Brooks is a supporting actor and not a lead, and I also think that Joe Reid gets Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) and William H. Macy (Fargo) wrong. Jackson was just the best member of a great, weird ensemble; he wasn't even a character in two of the four principal stories. Calling him a lead is akin to saying that a movie has to have a lead, but that's clearly not true. And I think that to be a lead, you have to be the principal subject in a story about actions or the principal object in a story about reactions. Macy is an object, not a subject, and Fargo principally is a movie about reactions (that is, it is a movie about responding and redressing things that have been done by others, not a movie about people doing things), but it's Marge's reactions that are the heart of the story.

  17. isaac_spaceman6:11 PM

    As I always do, I will co-sign Marsha 100% on Titanic over LA Confidential being indefensible unless the only thing that matters (and I mean the only thing) is profit.

    I'll also say that Gladiator is a movie that had no business winning an Oscar or even being nominated for one, though it's hard to call it a travesty given that the only other nominee that I really loved that year was Crouching Tiger (a movie that basically could not have won) and the only other one that had a chance of winning was Traffic (which I thought was pretty good, but I liked it a lot more than I think most people did, at least in retrospect).

  18. Marsha6:17 PM

    I have a poster on my bedroom wall commemorating the first 70 years of the Oscars - it has little movie posters for each Best Picture up to 2007. Every so often I walk by and am jarred by Gladiator's appearance on the poster. It's not a bad movie, but the only thing that makes it a Best Picture contender is the absence of better ones that year. Frankly, Clueless was the best movie that year, but a movie like Clueless doesn't get noticed by the Academy.

    There are lots of things that, if they counted, could put Titanic over LA Confidential:

    - number of songs that make my ears bleed
    - steaminess of windows quotient

    - number of string instruments shown

    - number of teenage hearts going pit-a-pat

    - misuse of Victor Garber's talent

    and, of course,

    - number of sinking boats

  19. Adam B.6:24 PM

    Traffic still holds up pretty well; I caught it on cable last month. Also from that year: Almost Famous, Wonder Boys, You Can Count On Me.

  20. isaac_spaceman6:28 PM

    Ha. I'll give you most of those. I think there probably were a few teenaged hearts going pit-a-pat at sweaty, exhausted Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe slumped against the wall in a wrecked file room, though I surmise those weren't the same hearts as the ones beating for Leo in Titanic.

  21. Marsha6:33 PM

    I generally assumed that the hearts swooning over LA Confidential were at least in their twenties. I'd be very happy to be wrong about that.

  22. I can name 5 better movies from 2000 off the top of my head. You Can Count On Me, X-Men, Crouching Tiger, Cast Away, Almost Famous, Traffic, O Brother Where Are Thou?, American Psycho...wait, that's way more. But Gladiator won in an actual good year for movies and that;s annoying as hell.

  23. Adam B.7:15 PM

    It flopped, yet still had four Oscar noms (two supporting actresses, editing, original screenplay) and one win -- the last one. And it counts as "original" screenplay because "adapting your own life" doesn't count, I guess.

    And whenever it's on tv, I will watch it.

  24. Now that's an interesting question, and oddly enough Les Mis is featured in the last close thing. In 1991, when the category was called "Best Musical Cast Show Album", the winner was "Les Misérables- The Complete Symphonic Recording." That was not ever a stage performance but a put together album of various performers. I found the eligibility requirements for 2010:

    "Musical Show"

    For cast recordings of a specific musical show or shows, studio recordings of a specific musical show or shows, and concert recordings
    of a specific musical show or shows. In addition, this category includes reviews consisting of one or more artists performing songs from a
    specific musical show or shows and benefit/tribute concerts featuring performances of various musical show songs by a specific

    Bit of a knife's edge there as to whether it would count as a "studio recording."

  25. Marsha7:30 PM

    Huh - I seem to have conflated Braveheart with Gladiator in my head. Clueless came out same year as Braveheart, not Gladiator.

    Of course, the very fact that I constantly confuse them is a mark against them both.

  26. BarbL1149:53 AM

    Particularly since Jennifer Holliday won the Tony for Best Leading Actress for the same role.

  27. One thing to remember is that the Tonys actually have rules for what constitutes lead/"featured."

    1. If you are above the title on opening night, you're lead, if you are below the title, you're "featured."

    2. Producers can and may petition for roles to be considered differently from that. For instance, Ricky Martin and Michael Cerveris were both billed above the title in the Evita revival, and successfully petitioned down to the "featured" category. Similarly, I believe no one is billed above the title for Once, but the performers who play "Guy" and "Girl" petitioned up.