Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter just posted his post-Oscars podcast with Neon’s Tom Quinn as a guest. At one point, Tom acknowledges his debt to Don Rugoff’s Oscar campaign for “Z” and they talk about my film. You can hear the excerpt here…
I would also encourage you to listen to the entire episode, which you can do here.
Throughout this Oscar season, as I watched the smart and aggressive campaign that the folks at Neon were mounting for “Parasite,” I couldn’t help but think about the campaign that Don Rugoff orchestrated for Costa-Gavras’ film “Z” in 1970.
Before Rugoff, no one had attempted to get a foreign language film into any of the main categories, and Rugoff pulled it off by doing some things that Oscar marketers are emulating to this day–touring the filmmaker to theaters all over the country, spending lavishly on trade ads, holding private screenings for Academy members and most effectively, getting enormous amounts of press to position the film as the long shot people could root for. The end result was a literal bombshell in its time. “Z” was the first film ever nominated for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, and also received nominations for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. It walked away with two wins–Foreign Language and Editing.
Every year I get an email from Indiewire inviting me to submit my 10 best list for inclusion in its survey of industry-types. And every year I miss the deadline because I feel like I haven’t seen enough of the films yet. But as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I’ve been assiduously plowing through as many of the films released this past year as possible, which, when added to those I’ve seen at the various festivals I attend, now add up to enough to feel I can share my list with a clear conscience. It’s also my chance to offer up my thoughts in slightly more than 140 characters.
I must add that this list is alphabetical even though I could easily have ranked them, because as a voting member of the Academy, BAFTA and the PGA, I am sworn to secrecy about my actual votes. So without giving anything away, here are my top 10 films of 2014.
This film is a case of profundity created through simplicity. Linklater’s 12-year stunt pays off by adding a level of subtext that deepens the experience. As we watch the actors age on screen, the film has a documentary-like impact that make us feel our own passage through time, and as such makes the film far more moving than its simple plot would have earned in a more traditional narrative. I would put it in the category of being more “special” than truly great, but it’s an amazing achievement.
When I saw this film at Cannes last year, I was completely smitten. I was recommending it to everyone I saw, describing it as “Scenes From A Marriage” meets “The Shining.” From the opening images of the film, the mood is portentous and unsettled, and from there it veers from surprising turn to even more surprising turn, from near tragedy to a sort of droll Scandinavian comedy. Beneath it all, it’s a touching portrait of how sometimes the people we are closest with are the ones we know the least. Continue reading “The Good & the Bad of 2014 in the Movies”
I should start this by saying that I hate Oscar prognostications. It’s a ridiculous exercise that only feeds the massive publicity machine that the studios and mini-majors do their best to manipulate. When I come across yet another column that offers up daily updates on the “race,” I tend to cross my eyes and turn the (sometimes virtual) page.
The one and only time that I start paying attention is when I’m preparing to participate in various Oscar pools, which by the way, I almost never win. I know who I voted for, of course. But I also know that my votes are likely to be way outside the mainstream, and therefore offer no clues as to what the majority of Academy members will do. I find myself guessing differently with each pool that I enter.
When AMPAS announced its new documentary rules this week, I thought the idea of having a New York Times or Los Angeles Times review be a qualification for the Oscars was a good idea. Putting outsiders who have no stake in the results in a position of defining what is considered “theatrical” is a brilliant stroke. This is especially true of the New York Times, which has a commitment to review everything that plays a full week run in New York City. Their definition of a theatrical run has included venues like MOMA and films that have opened day & date on VOD, so this should not be a difficult obstacle for any film that mounts a real theatrical release.
On the other hand, there is still an obstacle created by the rules that I strongly feel is not only unnecessary, but is destructive to the integrity of the award. Earlier today I expressed my displeasure in two tweets and the reaction was so strong that I felt that I should use more than 140 characters to flesh out what I was referring to. The tweets were as follows:
In case you didn’t know, @MMFlint is Michael Moore, who has been credited with influencing the Academy’s change of rules.
On the eve of Oscar weekend, I just want to make note of the fact that today would have been Robert Altman’s 89th Birthday. I don’t have the heart to take this date out of my calendar. We all miss you, Bob.