As we contemplate where we’re going and where we’ve been it’s important to take note of how things stand right now. To my mind, there are three films that could win Best Picture if the Oscars were held today. So many movies have yet to open, some of them completely shrouded in mystery, others seem to be deliberately avoiding being screened here in Los Angeles. Reports are trickling in on how the films are doing but one can’t help but think there is a concerted effort to gauge audience reaction without the most vocal bloggers getting a crack at it.
It really is as true today as it’s ever been: “Nobody knows anything.” What William Goldman meant by that is this: all of the planning and good intentions can vanish in an instant when the film hits audiences. The great movie everyone expected and hoped might suddenly turn out to be a disappointment at best, a total bomb at worst. It’s the publicity department’s job to help mitigate this. It worked well for The Blind Side to avoid the bloggerati completely, to go straight to the people and the major news outlets that aren’t in the business of determining artistic value but are perfectly content to simply tell the film’s story to the world. Even though no one has yet seen J Edgar, you could see Clint Eastwood doing 60 Minutes with the film profiled and have absolutely no idea whether the film was good or not: you would simply want to see it. Publicity old school. It worked then; it works now.
But blogs work too. Grass roots publicity campaigns pretty much rule the Oscar race these days. Even if The King’s Speech won without any significant support from critics or bloggers — almost all of whom preferred a different film — it was still important for the filmmakers responsible to work the bloggers at festivals long before its preordained Oscar win. Jason Reitman’s Young Adult seems to be screening in various locations, as pointed out by Kris Tapley on Twitter, but isn’t being screened here in Los Angeles yet. A few people seem to have seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close but that film, according to the studio, isn’t yet finished. We Bought a Zoo, The Iron Lady, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and War Horse have not yet been seen by anyone. There are no trickle down reports. J Edgar will be unveiled in early November at the AFI Fest. The others most likely in November, some maybe even December.