Monday, January 9, 2012

By the numbers (Edited)

Article updated to include today's announcement that Michael won Best Actor from the Vancouver Film Critics!
According to this article at Variety, critic's choices may forecast the Oscars, and this year may be a bit of a nail biter with the Best Actor race. As you can see, here is the breakdown of the major contender's wins:


George Clooney, "The Descendants"
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics;
  • St. Louis Film Critics; 
  • Southeastern Film Critics;
  • Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Assn.

Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"

• Las Vegas Film Critics Society

Michael Fassbender, "Shame"
  • Detroit Film Critics;
  • Houston Film Critics Society;
  • Los Angeles Film Critics (for multiple roles);
  • Online Film Critics Society 
  • Vancouver Film Critics (added today 1/9/12)
Paul Giamatti, "Win Win"

• Indiana Film Critics

Woody Harrelson, "Rampart"

• African-American Film Critics

Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

• San Francisco Film Critics Circle

Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

  • Boston Society of Film Critics;
  • New York Film Critics Circle (co-recognized with his perf in "The Tree of Life")

Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter"
  • Austin Film Critics;
  • Chicago Film Critics;
  • New York Film Critics Online;
  • San Diego Film Critics;
  • Toronto Film Critics
It's very clear that the critics have been spreading the love all around, and that there is not a clear front-runner, as pundits may have you think. I love nail biter races, even if I have a favorite. Many of the actors above I have great respect for and enjoy their work. And in a fair world, most of these guys would receive their Oscars at the right time; not at make-up time.

As more people have had the chance to view Shame, the overwhelming response is that it's a fantastic film with a brilliant performance by Michael. Then there are others who are enjoying being in the high-brow minority and are quick to share their negative views about the film and Michael's performance - like the one person in particular whose critique of the film I was interested in hear about. However, knowing how strongly I support the film and Michael's performance, he fell just short of loathing the entire thing, but tried to break his disappointment with me as softly as he could, as a favor to moi. But oh, he felt Carey was the standout performer. O-k. To each their own, but sometimes, I wonder what is the motivation behind some people's negative comments about the film.

And this brings me to ponder several questions about the entire Oscar campaign in general for all films and actor/actresses:

When is a performance pure Oscar bait?
When is a film gimmicky?
When is a performance/film "too divisive"?

The term 'oscar bait' has been tossed around for a very long time, but only in the past decade, does it seem to me, to be an equivalent to a panic button when a film is saved for and designed to be released during the fall or very, very, very late December. An Oscar bait film comes out specifically during the short-attention span window of November-December, ideally, in December as it's just a month outside of the Oscar nomination time frame. Coincidence? Nope. At Urban Dictionary, this is their definition:

Oscar Bait - A film released during the last two months of the year with a big cast and 'important' subject matter to attract the attention of the Academy.

"'Good Will Hunting' and 'I am Sam' are sickening examples of Oscar bait."

I have always wished that more 'Oscar baity' films would just come out from March to October -  that way I can see them. Who has the money and time to see about a dozen films in a 6 week or less span outside of a film festival? I sure as hell don't!
Some people have gotten sick and tired of the hype surrounding 'The Artist' already. I'm not, then again, I can't say enough how much I love the film. When a film is criticized as being gimmicky, you know that comment is not coming from someone who supports the film. There has been comments that Michael's performance is gimmicky. These are just random comments expressed from a few articles so there's no opportunity to request additional information about why they consider the performance as a gimmick. However, I do recall reading a critic's comment, a woman, mind, inquiring if Shame would have received the same praise if the male lead were Paul Giamatti. Yeah, I laughed at that too. Back in 2008 when Viggo Mortensen was nominated for 'Eastern Promises', some critics felt it was gimmicky to nominate him, just because of his crazy naked bath-house fight scene.
I also never really understand when people say a film or performance is too divisive for critics to embrace or audiences to connect with. That's what some say about Shame. It's such a specialized, high-art film with nudity, that it cannot be played at more than 50 theaters at once, across the nation. I get it that a lot of people would rather see deranged psychopaths murder people, instead of a realistic view of a man fighting his personal demons of not drug addiction, or alcohol addiction...but of sex addiction. Even in this sex obsessed society when sex is used to sell SHOES, Shame is just too much for a lot of people to handle, and hence, it is divisive, not for general American audiences, and it may not appeal to some of those AMPAS members. The same person who told me, oh so gently, that he hated Shame, wanted to brace me for a disappointment by informing me that Fassbender is not as strong a contender as I hope he is.
I believe that sometimes, when a film is considered oscar baity, gimmicky, and divisive, some cinephile/Oscarologists go to watch a film with a pre-set mind to not like it as a defense mechanism to go against the hype and support for the film and a particular performance. Believe me, I have done this myself, we're only human and when something is put in my face as great and fantastic, I go there on rare occassions and find something that's not so great and fantastic, and hence, it's a not all that. This is what I imagine happened with this guy. That's fine - I hated his favorite film last year. LOL! Well, I know my peer is wrong in thinking that Michael won't get the nomination, and the critical acclaim thus far begs to differ with his opinion.
This coming Sunday is the Golden Globes and Michael Fassbender will be there. I hope we get a nice peek of him at his table - I wonder if he'll have his parents with him, or Steve McQueen.  It should be fun to watch in any event -  and watch out, the host, Ricky Gervais will surely use the opportunity to poke fun at him.
Lastly, I have posted at Awards Daily my final five Oscar nominees, and I don't think I'll change it again, but here it is:
*Gary Oldman could get in and that would be nice, but Shannon has won five critics awards for Take Shelter. DiCaprio is out as he hasn't impressed critics with J Edgar. And I'll write it here - Clooney is not going to win, not in a year with so many other strong performances by four-five other people who never won an Oscar. I like George Clooney, but I'm tired of him!


Anonymous said...

I'm curious, was your friend an AMPAS voter or member of the press? Wondering of he was a regular viewer or a possible insider...

Anonymous said...

Did you see Feinberg's updated predictions today that have Bichir taking Michael's place in the top 5? Most prognosticators think Guild support means more that critic organizations in terms of nomination chances.

Simone said...

@anon 1:22 - my friend has several friends who are AMPAS members, and said friend has been an Oscarologist for over 40 years.

@anon 2:08 - I haven't seen Feinberg's latest predictions but many people do seem to be quite fond of Bichir's work. I had Bichir on my top five list last week. I refuse to remove Fassbender from the top five. But others seem to have no problem in removing Fassbender to make room for Oldman and Bichir.

Anonymous said...

Simone: did your friend poll his AMPAS members acquaintances on their opinion about Michael's nomination chances?

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely seeing a generational gap in Shame's reception. Younger people tend to "get it" more. I hope the younger generation of AMPAS members vote en masse this year.

Simone said...

@anon 2:34 - my peer said about 15 of his friends, most whom are AMPAS members weren't impressed with Shame. Said peer is in his a 60-something, so, make of that what you will. I do not know what they think of his chances, but the way he writes, he gives the impression that it's the majority who don't think he'll get a nomination.

Please keep in mind that AMPA is made up of nearly 6,000 people.

@anon 3:03, you're right, and I hope more of the younger voters give Shame and Michael a fair shake.

I want to stress that this is one person's opinion of what he senses from his small group of friends who have some AMPAS connections.

I'm still very, very optimistic! :-)

Anonymous said...


I just wanted to say that it's important who are your friend's AMPAS friends. Actors, directors, writers, etc.? Because, at least during nominations process, it's actors opinions that count. Only they will decide about acting nominees. That's why some are worried about Michael's snub by SAG, the actors guild. But on the other hand who knows how big is an overlap between SAG nominating comitee this years and AMPAS acting branch. I guess not that big, considering that SAG chooses nominating comitee randomly every year.

aka GeminiNotTwin :)

Simone said...

Hi Barbara, if I can make one thing clear, no, the AMPAS members in question are not part of the acting voting bloc.


Anonymous said...

Go fassbender!! I'm tired of Clooney too... i don't think he's such a good actor.. I do believe michael has a big chance to win!! I think Dujardin has a lot possibilities too.... but definitely not pitt nor clooney ( i don't get it yet why brad hasn't been nominated for the tree of life instead... i mean is moneyball that good?? from the trailer it seems like a worse interpretation of coach Taylor from friday night lights..i just don't find it that original..but i have to see the movie to judge). That leaves me thinking that Brad may just win for being more years on the cue to win it.

Anonymous said...

GeminiNotTwin: Good question. This is what the voting overlap looked like:

Only around 2100 SAG members pick nominees for film, then the entire membership of 100,000 votes on the final awards. Adjusted formula: of 100,000 SAG members, only 1.2% are also eligible to be AMPAS members. That means of the 2100 SAG nominators, only 25 are also from AMPAS.

As for BAFTA, over 6300 members vote in three rounds to decide the longlist. But specialists vote to determine the winners, EXCEPT in the acting categories (which are voted on by everyone - if I recall correctly). Now here's the question, of the BAFTA nominators, what percentage is also eligible for AMPAS membership?. If its higher than, or equal to, the SAG statistics, then BAFTA's choices may be a better barometer of AMPAS' attitude.

Simone said...

@anon 6pm, Michael has a great chance. It makes you wonder what is the agenda of those who are so quick to diminish his chances; perhaps they are doing so to hype of the chances of others, or to influence votes. I don't know.

@anon 6:59 you asked:

"Now here's the question, of the BAFTA nominators, what percentage is also eligible for AMPAS membership?"

To become a member of AMPAS one must either have been a nominee and be invited to join, or a specialist in the arts field of the industry to receive an invitation to join. There is a huge British bloc within AMPAS, and they greatly influence and support British/UK citizens to win in many cases.

So far, the British seem to be impressed with Shame and Fassbender.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason BAFTA actor nominees generally don't align with AMPAS with the same degree of accuracy that SAG does is that all nominating SAG members are actors, while all BAFTA members (not only actors) nominate the acting categories.

Like SAG, the AMPAS acting nominees are determined by actors alone.

dshultz said...

I want that critic fellow you know to meet my friend "Louisville". And I can't believe that people called Viggo's Oscar nom gimmicky cause he was naked when attacked in a bath house! Seriously? Also, Simone, If you could put Gary Oldman into the group, which he most definitely deserves, who would you remove?

dshultz said...

By the way, what was this guys favorite film of last year?
And what did you think of Colin Firth in TTSS?

Simone said...

Girl, a lot of people were pissed when Viggo got his nomination, I totally defended him, but one person was particularly livid. He wanted Frank Langella from 'Frost Nixon' to get the nom instead of Viggo. LOL! I saw 'Frost' and felt Langella was good, but, Viggo was better.

Anyway, I would LOVEx10 to see Gary Oldman nominated. If I ruled the world, I would go ahead and remove Brad Pitt only because he has the least precursor critic wins. But that doesn't mean a thing in AMPASland.


For ratings bait, AMPAS NEED at least ONE hearthrob A-list American nominated, two would be better, that's why it's risky and bold of me to dare remove Pitt from the equation. Unlike me, some people are more than willing to remove Michael from the list, and btw, he's the youngest of the bunch too. However, he's prettier than Shannon, but more known than Dujardin.

Again, we can't forget the threat of Bichir. Like the SAGS line-up, he's the one who could kick Fassy out of the Oscar nom top 5.

Anonymous said...

Oldman was excellent in TTSS, especially in his Karla monologue, but I feel that the performance was too subtle for AMPAS. Much of the time he is reacting to others, rather than being the catalyst. Plus, he seemed to be more part of a larger ensemble cast.

Unfortunately, I think he'll need a more "showy" role to get his first ever Oscar nomination.

Simone said...

The guy's favorite film last year was The Social Network.

I saw it and first gave it a B. But then I saw it a few months ago, and I knocked it down to a C+. I just don't get the hype.

I will see TTSS this weekend - perhaps after I see how awesome Oldman is, I'll revise my top 5 list.

Anonymous said...

Bichir's role is definitely Oscar-baity. He's Michael's biggest threat, IMHO. His name was put in the spotlight at just the right time in terms of when AMPAS ballots were out.

Then Oldman and Shannon.

Iris said...

It has been years and years since the Oscar meant something. now it's mostly a popularity contest.

As for this year, there is no way Leonardo Dicaprio will not be nominated,(and probably win).
The locks are:Clooney,Pitt,Dicaprio,Dujardin.
the fifth spot is between:Michael, Bichir,Shannon,Oldman and Gosling.
And Sadly i dont think Michael will be nominated (i will be very happy if i am wrong)because i feel like "Shame" is out of the academy league.

Simone said...

Iris, what makes you think that DiCaprio will be nominated? He has not won ONE single critic award, his film has been panned. His nomination would block and potentially harm Fassbender, or Bichir for that matter, a valid nomination. DiCaprio is one of the most eager Oscar bait taking role actors on the planet, and he will be in another one, strategically placed next year, to be considered, yet again. But this year, I can't see him being nominated. It would be a waste. And I don't dislike Leo at all, on the contrary, he's a great actor, but this year, J Edgar has bombed, and so too Leo's Oscar chances.

But, as AMPAS has proven time and time again... what the hell do I know?

Iris said...

Well,he is Leonardo Dicaprio :)
And it's exactly what i meant about the academy. if it would be about BEST actor the nominees would be Fassbender, Shannon, Oldman, Dujardin and Bichir. but it's about who are your Friends in the industry, and if you are popular. i agree, a nomination for Leonardo will be a waste, but it dosent matter what the critics say he will be nominated. since 1992, when Ralph Fiennes lost the Oscar for best supporting actor in "schindler's list" i stoped taking the academy seriously.

Simone said...

"since 1992, when Ralph Fiennes lost the Oscar for best supporting actor in "schindler's list" i stoped taking the academy seriously."

Ooooh, a woman after my own heart! I still feel that sting too sister. It is an unjust world to live in where Mr. Fine Fiennes doesn't have an Oscar yet.

We will know for sure what size balls AMPAS have on Jan. 24th.

Anonymous said...

I will eat my hat if Leo doesn't get nominated. The fact that he has BFCA, SAG and Globes without any other precursor support is testament to his power and influence in the industry. He is simply in.

Anonymous said...

Jane Eyre has been nominated for best european film at the Goya's! It competes against the artist, carnage, and melancholia, I hope it wins! Really loved that movie

Iris said...

Simone, yea an unjust world! one of the best actors ever without an oscar. just goes to show...

If after all the critical acclaim Michael will not get a nomination, the academy will look really really stupid. just once lets see them move a bit from the mainstream.

Take a look at this link it has a good statistics on How Golden Globe, and SAG Will Impact the Oscar Race.

MLM said...

Simone: what an interesting and fun post. Reading these Oscar predictions and analysis is more fun than watching the actual award show. I'm like this when it comes to the NFL post-season, but I digress.

Iris: you seem to have a realistic and bitter outlook on the Oscars and the Hollywood pecking order, just like me, ;-).

I have a long list of grievances regarding past Oscar wins, nominations, and snubs. Shall I mention some blatant offenses? How about the brilliant "Farewell My Concubine" by Chen Kaige losing the best Foreign Film award to a Spanish, pastoral schlock such as "Belle Epoque" in 1993? What about Marisa Tomei beating Judy Davis (Husbands and Wives), Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), and Miranda Richardson (Damage) in 1992? The fact that Winona Ryder was nominated for best actress in "Little Women" in 1994 was a joke. Thanks god Jessica Lange beat her, even though Miranda Richardson should have won that year for "Tom and Viv".

So I've been bitter since the early 1990s. The 90s were great in that the shows was hosted by Billy Chrystal and he was fantastic!

Iris said...

MLM, i will always be bitter about the Oscars, beacuse of the Ralph Fiennes snub in 92' :)

I was a little happy about it last year, after Christian Bale won, but that was a moment of rarity on the academy side...

Anonymous said...

I've heard rumblings that Fox Searclight didn't get Shame screeners out to SAG voters in time, but I've yet to confirm it. If so, what a miscalculation. But it also would suggest that Michael's snub isn't indicative of their opinion of his perf, since they didn't see it.