Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back to Oscar 2010: Newsweek, a Nagging Question... and a Cleaned-up "King"?


Newsweek Had Inside Info?

This past Tuesday, a mere three hours after the Oscar nominations were announced, I received my copy of Newsweek in the mail.  On the cover were six actors who had just been nominated for Academy Awards: James Franco, Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Annette Bening, Natalie Portman, and Michelle Williams.  The title read, "Our 14th annual Oscar Roundtable" (click for the whole article with video links).  It's a fine article, with six actors I admire. It was good, for a change, to read about a group of talented, respectable Hollywood celebrities gathered in an atmosphere of fellowship, see them have fun, and mix it up together. 
And then I wondered: how did Newsweek know?  Sure, a lot of the eventual nominees were easy to predict.  And I know that Newsweek had featured these Roundtables before, where occasionally a member of the panel had missed receiving a nomination.  Even then, I don't recall the issue being released the very day of the nominations.

It seemed a little fishy, and roused my inner cynic.  It would have taken at least 2-3 days for the magazine to reach my mail, plus another week or so to produce the piece.  And a few of these, like Michelle Williams, Nicole Kidman, and even James Franco, were far from sure bets. 

I felt foolish on behalf of all of us who study Oscar trends, keep track of the lead-up awards, and labor over our predictions.  Because somehow, Newsweek assembled six actors weeks before they were all announced as Oscar nominees, and proclaimed the gathering an Oscar Roundtable.

If Newsweek knew this a week ago....well, it makes me wonder if they have already completed the congratulatory profile of David Fincher, or the producers of "The Social Network".  If they didn't know the nominees ahead of time, (and there is a chance they did not), then the Oscars may be getting too predictable.

I'm sorry, but all of the media "excitement"over a supposedly level playing field, because "King's Speech" won at PGA, seems like a desperate ploy to create interest in the Oscar broadcast, and an attempt to introduce artificial suspense into a contest that most of us, if we're honest, could have called weeks ago.

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"King's Speech" to Be Edited??

F****ng  MPAA!!   Harvey Weinstein is making a mistake....  He plans to re-edit "The King's Speech" to clean up a scene that the MPAA felt warranted an R rating and resubmit it for a PG-13, or even a PG. Why?  Sh*t!! To make it more "family friendly"...Weinstein states  that young people are not attending this film because of profanity, citing bigger box office in England, where the film has a more inclusive rating.

Really?  Seems to me that the film's box office is doing pretty well ($90 million so far). The movie is in the top 10, and Fandango reports an over 70% uptick in ticket requests since it received 12 Oscar nominations.  Wow...maybe an older audience is flocking in support of this that such a foreign concept that producers are threatened by it? Sons of Bit***s!

The scene in question is crucial to the development of Colin Firth's and Geoffrey Rush's characters. To circumvent the King's (Firth's) tension, his therapist, Logue (Rush) goads him into letting loose with a stream of expletives.  And voila!  The stammer temporarily disappears.  It is a turning point, and also one of the biggest crowd-pleasing scenes in the film.

The problem is NOT with the film, but with the God**mned Motion Picture Association of America, and a sick and confused national attitude that takes offense to fairly common obscenities, but thinks nothing of allowing kids to be exposed to the most unspeakable cruelty and bloodshed in the name of thrills and chills.

Hey a***holes!! No one enforces the ratings any more.  If you want to attract more young people to  your film, find a new marketing angle.  The LAST thing you want to do is make it more "kid-friendly"! 

We need to all "find our voices", all of us who care about cinematic integrity, and express our distaste at what will absolutely ruin a marvelous work of popular art.

This Weekend: back to Oscar 1970, and best Actor and Best Picture.  Next Week: a review of a great new novel, "Enchanted April".


  1. I definitely think the Oscars have become predictable. With all the awards leading up to it, though, I don't see how that can be helped. Sadness.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with your commentary about the King's Speech -- and Hollywood's desire to make it more "accessible" to impressionable young people who might otherwise gasp in horror and be marred for life by ... a great scene .. in fact, one of the best/most revealing scenes in the film. (Nevermind, the horrors pre-teens are facing in their everyday lives.) It's time to scrap the crappy MPAA rating system. Let people decide for themselves what is worth viewing.

  3. I understand where Weinstein is coming from, and I have much respect for him but I hate that it had to reach this point. Most unfortunate.

  4. The Oscars are painfully predictable, yes. It's really the fault of there being so many precursors that seem to be wary of striking out on their own instead of accepting universal acclaim. Oh, but I also love these roundtables they do every year. It's so much fun to see the prestige actors gab. :)