Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost

17 Jan 2020 (PT)

A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit.

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost

With Monday’s Oscar nominations in the rear view mirror now, and the nominees lunch just a week away,  this shortened season is getting shorter and shorter. In fact it feels like it is moving like a freight train now with one guild show after another crowding for attention including the ACE Eddies tonight, the often-predictive Producers Guild Saturday night, and SAG Awards on Sunday , and believe me it doesn’t slow down from there as we head to the wire. As I mentioned in my coverage of the Oscar nominations this also happens to be as wide open a race as you can possibly get at this point. There are genuinely realistic scenarios for any number of films to prevail, especially with the Academy’s  unique voting system when it comes to Best Picture  where you must rank your choices in order from one to nine, a system that actually might favor your number two vote with even more weight than your first choice. It is the battle to be the least disliked, and we will get a real burst of momentum for whichever film tops the PGA awards tomorrow as that is the one guild that actually uses the exact same tabulating system as the Academy’s for Best Picture the other 23 categories at the Oscars are straight up and down votes.

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost Fox Searchlight

With a record-breaking four films 1917, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, The Irishman, Joker all with 10+, double digit nominations including Director, the final vote which starts at 8AM PT on the 30th could be so close that anything could happen. The fifth nominee in the directing category, Parasite, may be the most universally  admired movie in the whole bunch based on voters I talk to and so , even with just six nominations and the oft-told fact that no foreign language film has ever won Best Picture, its position as a heavily chosen #2 choice in addition to the #1’s it gets puts it in a prime spot to be the spoiler. Or not. Who knows?  But as the newly christened Searchlight Pictures rep pleaded in a phone call Monday don’t underestimate their Jojo Rabbit after I pointed out it does not have a directing nomination.   Staffers there combed through AMPAS archives to find past examples of movies that have won Best Picture without a corresponding nomination for its director. I thought about it a beat and realized you have to look no further than last year. Giving Searchlight a reason to hope I mentioned the eerily similar track Jojo is on with 2018 Best Picture winner Green Book.  Like the latter,  Taika Waititi’s film  has Best Picture, Screenplay, Acting, and Editing nominations but no Directing. Both films did however get a DGA nod, and both won the much desired People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, a key early indicator of Oscar potential.  Because of that also very key Editing nomination Jojo is , according to the signs pundits always look for , in a better situation to crash the party and pull off a shocking upset  than the other Best Picture nominees that also were snubbed by the directors branch including Little Women, Marriage Story, and Ford v Ferrari  which is up for , and could win Editing but lacks acting , writing and directing nods making it the longest of shots to become the biggest upset in Oscar’s Best Picture race ever.

IS OSCAR REALLY A MALE CHAUVINIST PIG? NOT THIS YEAR , FOLKS

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost Shutterstock

So with such an exciting Oscar contest looming why are all the headlines and internet chatter about the Academy getting slammed once again on diversity and women , or the lack of each in what is apparently the only  category the Oscar-bashing media thinks exists, that being Best Director.   A record 62 women were nominated this year , including a majority of directors in the Best Documentary Feature category, but the press, pundits, and social critics only want to talk about who wasn’t nominated for Director, meaning Greta Gerwig who became only the second woman ever Kathryn Bigelow is the other to direct two, count ’em ,  two Best Picture nominees and in Gerwig’s case those two happen to be the  first two movies she ever had sole directing credit on.  Of course she is nominated  for her adapted screenplay, but the media dismisses that as a consolation prize should she win and I think she just might. I have news for them: creating a script from scratch is the most important aspect of filmmaking because there would be no film to make without one so let’s stop calling that a consolation prize.

I was having lunch with a well-known producer and actually former Oscar show producer this week and he said the very fact we are astounded that there is no woman nominated for Best Director is an achievement in itself for progress in that regard. This conversation would  never have even been conceivable in the great majority of Oscar’s 92 years,  or even 5 years ago. He’s right. Our consciousness has been raised to a promising degree, but in terms of this year’s race it is just the way the cookie crumbles. Oscar breaks a lot of hearts, male and female. That is just the way it always is and short of creating a committee with the power to change that similar to what the Grammys did a few years ago to avoid looking out of touch with the real world, and what the Academy did in determining finalists for the now renamed International Film category likely always will be when voting is done in secret by individuals.   The correct question being asked is which of those five male nominees – Quentin Tarantino, Martin ScorseseTodd Phillips, Bong Joon Ho, Sam Mendes – gets knocked out instead? Is there an egregious error with this bunch?  This is a superb group of directing nominees and I can think of several other male helmers who could just as easily be in there too as well as women like Gerwig, Lulu Wang, Marielle Heller. It was a good year, but no question it would be great to see more women among them in the future. Expanding the category would be a way to start.

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost Reuters

It seems a shame and you can sue me if you don’t like it that this group of Best Director Oscar contenders are being made to feel guilty just for being nominated.  So let’s get positive and point out something that I have not seen written anywhere else.  Each of these films also have women in key power positions including as Producer, a first in the history of the Best Director category. Scorsese has long been a champion in promoting women in areas where there weren’t many working including his long time association with his film editor Thelma Schoonmaker , and his Irishman producers Jane Rosenthal and Emma Tillinger Koskoff,  the latter also a producer on  Joker which Phillips lobbied to get, and the director also blindly hired a female composer Hildur Guonadottir, a rare move considering the pry percentage of female composers even working on this level.  She’s been  cleaning up on the awards circuit so far and is an Oscar nominee herself. Phillips had no idea when he approached her that it was a woman whose music he was so impressed with. She got it on merit and that’s the way ideally it should be.  Tarantino has also been a huge supporter of women on his films from his longtime producer and associate Shannon McIntosh to most of his department heads. Sam Mendes shares producing credit , as he often does, with women including fellow 1917  Oscar nominees Pippa Harris and Jayne-Ann Tenggren, and for the first , now Oscar and WGA- nominated , screenplay he ever wrote hired a first time screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns to share the credit. She is now an Oscar nominee too who along with Gerwig , is the only female nominated for writing this year.  There should be more of course but again , who gets knocked out?   And then there is Bong Joon Ho whose Parasite sports two producing Oscar nominations , one for him and one for his  female producer Kwak Sin Ae, who is among many women in key positions on his films. So congratulations guys on not only your well deserved Best Director nomination  but for all each of you do in making sure women are getting the opportunities they also richly deserve, the only way  real change in this industry and at the Oscars is going to happen.

IS THOMAS NEWMAN THE NEW SUSAN LUCCI  OF THE OSCARS?

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost

When I saw  1917  I thought immediately it had two Oscars in the bag for sure:  Roger Deakins for Cinematography and Thomas Newman for Music Score.  Both are superb and such major reasons for this film’s creative success.   I would still say Deakins is a lock,  but because of the equally fine and aforementioned score for Joker by Hildur  Guonadottir, there is suddenly a real horse race going on for Score. She has been triumphing at one event or another lately from the SCL awards to the Golden Globes to the Critics Choice and all that means is  Joker could be in the pole position to take this category. Newman has won at the largest number of critics groups around the country, but since the Globes momentum has been moving towards Guonadottir who also won an Emmy this year for  Chernobyl and is up for a Grammy  too.

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Very few women have ever won in the scoring categories at the Oscars and that could be added motivation as well for voters. However only the film’s name appears on the ballot , not the composer’s,  so a smart campaign can be important here. Both scores are highly deserving and really complex achievements so telling how they were accomplished is very important.

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost Universal

And it could also be noted that Newman has quietly become the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, a title that formerly belonged to Sound Mixer Kevin O’Connell who finally won for Hacksaw Ridge on his 21st nomination.  His time may have finally come.   Newman , a member of the prodigious Newman musical dynasty and son of Alfred Newman who died in 1970 but is still the all time musical Oscar winner with 9 Oscars John Williams has more nominations but only 5 wins, received his whopping 15th  nomination for  1917.  He has been a familiar presence at Oscar ceremonies but has never connected with a film that made him a winner.  He has been getting Oscar nominations for so long that ironically his first came  in 1994 for  Little Women,  and now a quarter century later he finds he is in competition with the  new version of Little Women and its lovely score by two time winner Alexandre Desplat.  That year he lost to Hans Zimmer for  The Lion King twice since he was also nominated for  The Shawshank Redemption  wouldn’t it have been ironic if  the new version of  Lion King made the cut here but it didn’t.  His nominations since include  Unstrung Heroes,  American Beauty, Road To Perdition, Finding Nemo, A Series Of Unfortunate Events,  The Good German , Wall-E including a song nom for that as well, Skyfall,  Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge Of Spies, and   Passengers. Due to the unique “one shot” structure of  1917  Mendes told me it was only with Newman’s scoring that any significant changes could be made to the film in post-production, and that is why it was doubly important to have someone like Newman on board.  The two have been collaborators on every Mendes film except one.  The other irony for Thomas Newman is that his competition this year also includes cousin Randy Newman , a past Oscar winner for the Newman family, who has nominations for song for  Toy Story 4  and score for  Marriage Story directly competing with Thomas. This is one of this year’s most interesting Oscar stories and time will tell how it all turns out.

TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT AND ‘THE IRISHMAN’ 

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost Nancy Pelosi Shawn Thew/Shutterstock

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  gave a million bucks of free publicity to Martin Scorsese’s ten-time Oscar nominated  The Irishman yesterday in signing the articles of President Donald Trump’s impeachment, and Netflix was anxious to pass it along in case we missed the reference.  She linked  Trump’s request to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor”  to the Scorsese film by suggesting it was coded mob talk.  “Do me a favor? ”  she said in her speech on the house floor before signing off on the articles.  “Do you paint houses too? What is this? Do me a favor?”  In the movie , which is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses”   Al Pacino’s  character Jimmy Hoffa tells  hit man Frank Sheeran Robert De Niro , “I heard you paint houses”.  That is mob-speak for doing a hit.   I am sure that well-known Trump hater De Niro got a big kick out of this free plug, so to speak.

TAKING OUT THE TRASH WITH SAG

Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost

Finally  with the SAG Awards upon us on Sunday at least one member of the SAG Nominating Committee a group of 2500 randomly selected members who get the royal treatment each awards season in return for their votes posted the mounds of campaign crap she is taking to the dumpster this weekend.  “As a member of the SAG nominating committee, I was shocked to receive approximately 30 pounds of propaganda in magazines and ads seeking my vote.  I was also dismayed that movies were sent on disc rather than a truly disposable link.  In an industry where many claim to care about the environment, this is a shameful, flagrant, and unnecessary creation of trash and destruction of trees, ” wrote Penny Woods in an email to Deadline. ” Imagine, or calculate, how much that 30 pounds would become when multiplied by the numbers of industry votes being sought in all guilds and industries. How about the entertainment industry starts actually setting a good example to help save our environment.”  She also notes the stack pictured does not include the additional trash of packaging. No word on if any of this made a bit of difference in her votes, but she’s clearly casting one against the way Hollywood does business in its award seasons.

Source: deadline.com

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD,THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTIONPRESIDENT DONALD TRUMPSHAWSHANK REDEMPTIONQUENTIN TARANTINOROAD TO PERDITIONONCE UPON A TIMESHANNON MCINTOSHMARTIN SCORSESEBRIDGE OF SPIESAMERICAN BEAUTYFORD V FERRARIOSCAR NOMINEESROBERT DE NIROTHE REAL WORLDMARRIAGE STORYBEST DIRECTORGOLDEN GLOBESROGER DEAKINSFILM FESTIVALTAIKA WAITITITHE LION KINGHACKSAW RIDGEINTERNATIONALTODD PHILLIPSBEST PICTUREBONG JOON HONANCY PELOSIOSCAR WINNERTHE IRISHMAN
Weekend of February 14 - 16, 2020 (IMDb)
1.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Net: $58.0M Grs: $58.0M
Weeks: 1
3.
Fantasy Island
Net: $12.3M Grs: $12.3M
Weeks: 1
4.
The Photograph
Net: $12.2M Grs: $12.2M
Weeks: 1
5.
Bad Boys for Life
Net: $11.5M Grs: $181.6M
Weeks: 5
6.
1917
Net: $8.1M Grs: $144.4M
Weeks: 8
7.
Gisaengchung
Net: $5.7M Grs: $43.4M
Weeks: 19
8.
Jumanji: The Next Level
Net: $5.5M Grs: $305.6M
Weeks: 10
9.
Dolittle
Net: $4.9M Grs: $70.3M
Weeks: 5
10.
Downhill
Net: $4.6M Grs: $4.6M
Weeks: 1
Pete Hammond’s Notes On The Season: Oscar Controversies; The Susan Lucci Of Music; Pelosi’s ‘Irishman’ Campaign Boost
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