By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
We’ve come to expect year-round insane decisions from those studio lunatics, like the fact that sources tell me Warner’s at first refused to fund what became its best hope in eons for a Best Picture Oscar. But it’s that loathsome time of year again when the inmates take over the asylum, so we’re stuck ranting against our own Hollywood lunatics who came out with this week’s sanity-defying Oscar nominations. So before we get to my projected winners, I have to ask: What the hell is wrongwith you people?
Eleven nominations for a mess of a movie like TheAviatorand a monster of a man like Harvey Weinstein is just incomprehensible, as is the snubbing of TheMotorcycleDiaries,Fahrenheit9/11,and even ThePassionoftheChrist.You hypocrites pretend that the Academy Awards honor motion-picture artistry, while always keeping an eye on popularity to stay in step with Main Street. Yet you overlook the year’s three most talked-about movies that had the vision thing. And don’t even try to argue that daring subject matter like humanizing commie icon Che Guevara or turning Dubya into a war criminal and Jews into the killers of Christ was too hot to handle, when you were willing to praise films about abortion (Vera Drake),euthanasia (Million Dollar Baby, The Sea Within),genocide (Hotel Rwanda),drug addiction (Ray), paranoia (The Aviator),pedophilia (Finding Neverland)and wild, monkey sex (Sideways).
That said, it’s not just that passing on Passion(only three nominations, and only in the non-marquee categories of Art Direction, Makeup and Original Score) flew in the face of everything the Academy is supposed to reward. No other movie this year, rightly or wrongly, was as risky an endeavor, even if it did pay off. (Talk about arty. Much of the movie was made in the Aramaic and Latin languages, with few subtitles. Remember when DancesWithWolveswon Best Picture because of its use of Sioux Lakota dialect?) Irony of ironies, because of its prejudice against Passion,Hollywood will have in its arsenal even less ammunition to fend off those anti-Semitic bigots complaining how America’s entertainment industry is controlled and contaminated by “The Jews.”
As for Weinstein, he appears to have been the beneficiary of an Oscar pity party after getting kicked to the curb by Disney. But I predict Harv’s humiliations are only just beginning. (And I’m not only talking about the inevitable lawsuit with Disney over any realistic valuation of Miramax.) Recent history has shown that, while Weinstein can certainly score an Academy nomination, he can’t steal the awards anymore. His movies, such as The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Cider House Rules, In the Bedroomand ColdMountain,have come up virtually empty on Oscar night. I predict that same fate awaits TheAviatorthis time around. As for Harvey, he may have to rethink his moviemaking formula, which depends heavily on his amply demonstrated ability to sweet-talk talent into working for him for bupkisin exchange for Academy gold. Here’s hoping the stupid stars wise up.
Meanwhile, Marty Scorsese deserves this year’s Dumb and Dumber award, and I don’t mean Best Director. You’d think he would have learned his lesson in 2003 when GangsofNewYorkwas nominated, and he and Harvey were bitch-slapped by the Academy for not only dragging poor old Robert Wise into their over-the-top Oscar politicking, but then deceiving voters by having a Miramax publicist ghost-write a praiseful column on Scorsese that appeared under the beloved wrinkly’s byline. (Kudos to John Horn of the LosAngelesTimesfor busting them on it.) Now, all of a sudden, Robert De Niro is talking publicly that TaxiDriver2is in the works with Scorsese. Sources tell me that RagingBull2is also being considered, and that Harvey is going to eventually join Bobby and Marty in this sick joke, along with financier Graham King. (For the record, a Miramax mouthpiece played coy about Weinstein’s involvement.)
I’m told this sequel mania is intended to remind Academy voters of all the great movies in Scorsese’s body of work. But I think it will have an unintended effect: to remind Academy voters what disgusting moneygrubbers both De Niro and Scorsese have become in recent years, culminating in their even thinking about revisiting two great classic American films just to score a coupla bucks. It’s Francis Ford Coppola all over again, and look what happened to him after the critical and commercial failure of Godfather3.In Scorsese’s case, this kind of overreaching is committing Oscar suicide.
I’ve reported in the past about people on the Miramax payroll launching verbal salvos against SavingPrivateRyanand ABeautifulMind.This year’s badmouthing war is targeting MillionDollarBaby,which is up for Best Picture against Miramax’s TheAviator.Granted you gotta have steel balls to take on Clint over anything, much less his movie and its euthanasia subplot, especially if you’re a dickwad like Michael Medved and the rest of those right-wing wackos. Far more interesting than the usual mudslinging is that word from inside Eastwood’s production company is that Warner’s did notwant to underwrite MillionDollarBaby.(But watch the studio gang preen come Oscar night.) That, more than any heavily financed campaign, should help the movie clinch Best Picture, since it makes Clint’s project seem almost indie.