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Academy Members out in Force, Freely Endorsing Movies and Contenders with Ballots Outstanding

Well, this is something you don’t see every Oscar year. Three different outlets are posting what amounts to For Your Consideration pieces by celebrities. Entertainment Weekly is running a series where different actors endorse films or contenders. Reese Witherspoon wrote a heartfelt FYC ad for Naomi Watts in The Impossible.  James Franco, for Perks of Being a Wallflower.  And in The Envelope’s awards edition, Helen Mirren is endorsing Beasts of the Southern Wild.  From what I know, the Academy has, in the past, frowned upon such practices. I wonder what’s changed that makes that now no big deal? The parties, the endorsements, “it’s still the flea circus.”

Back in the day, Harvey Weinstein took out a full page ad in Variety with a splashy Robert Wise quote endorsing Martin Scorsese for Gangs of New York. It turned into a controversy, from Alt Film Guide:

Following the Robert Wise-Miramax-Gangs of New York firestorm, Academy President Frank Pierson said in a statement that “there will now be personal consequences to improper campaigning.” According to the Academy’s new rules, “Any Academy member who has authorized, approved or executed a campaign activity that is determined by the Board of Governors to have undermined the letter or spirit of these regulations will be subject to suspension of membership or expulsion from the Academy,” while those violations deemed truly serious “could result in a film losing its eligibility for Awards consideration.”

But Alt Film Guide goes on to name all of the endorsement that were in print in last year’s Hollywood Reporter.

 

 

But the group grope that has become Oscar coverage simply doesn’t allow for such things. All’s fair in love and war and the Oscar race is both.

32 Comments on this Post

  1. Welcome to post-Citizens United Oscar campaigning. ;)

  2. I don’t like this AT ALL. It’s bad enough that we know it’s political but this kind of shit makes it as dirty as real politics.

    All I can think about this particular example is that I liked both Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Watts. YESTERDAY.

  3. Erik Anderson

    It’s kind of crazy, it’s like the AMPAS version of Citizens United.

  4. Ann Dowd is now doing what Melissa Leo did a few years ago. I don’t think I really have a problem with it.

  5. I think the Ann Dowd thing is completely different. She’s campaigning for herself. The Reese Witherspoon/EW thing is like when a rockstar gets all their little fans to buy Pepsi. Do you really want Justin Beiber’s favorite movie winning Best Picture every year? lol

  6. I find this a major concern. We all know that people tweet, FB, email, and burp about everything, but this is too far down the road of innocence lost. Sorry but the voters really need to just vote and leave the rest of us out of it until the BIG REVEAL. It is one of the few bits of magic still left in entertainment. We might all KNOW politics are being played, shins kicked under the table, dollars exchanged, and nefarious deeds and shenanigans transpire, but lets leave just a little bit of plausible denial in the system.

  7. Okay let’s make sure we separate Melissa Leo from Ann Dowd. Leo took ads when her film was doing extremely well, she was pretty much winning everything, and she got scared that the girl from True Grit was getting some buzz. Plus she was competing against her own costar which just made the whole thing look bad on her. Dowd is trying to rise above the lack of push her film got, I think it’s a different case. Plus I don’t view other artists enjoying other artists work. Is not like Witherspoon is swooning over Phoenix. Her Watz celebration really seems genuine. Ditto for Mirren.

  8. Yeah, I don’t know, it doesn’t really bother me that people are expressing their genuine enthusiasm over performers/films they think were great. Like GL mentioned, it’s not like they’re championing the stuff with all of the buzz. These are all dark horses.

  9. I don’t understand how anyone could even give a shit. It’s the Oscars, not the Presidential election. And the Oscar race is characterised by much better behaviour than that every year.

  10. SallyinChicago

    In this world of twitter, email, goog+, et al, I don’t see anything wrong with actors coming out and supporting their favorite movies (esp. Beasts)….they’re doing it anyway with their twitter accounts….so this is more transparent. The Academy needs to come into the 21st century.

    The Academy needs to read “Dear Oscars”, because they’re holding onto the past.

  11. And the Oscars get cheapened and more cheapened every year.

  12. If anything helps Naomi Watts get nominated I’m all for it. Such an underrated actress.

  13. Why can’t people campaign for oscar the normal way – and take a cow for a walk down Sunset Strip?

  14. Sheesh, who cares? So we know Reese Witherspoon likes Naomi Watts in The Impossible. I know that part of the fun is not knowing anything and guessing what will happen. But I also think it’s interesting to know just a little Hollywood insider stuff. Reese is one out of 5,800. It just doesn’t bother me.

  15. John – You can add Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Mark Ruffalo and Edward Norton to the outspoken fans of Naomi Watts and “The Impossible”. have a feeling this film will have a late surge and surprise come Oscar morning.

  16. steandric

    This is excellent! This means the so-called film critics, gurus, oscar-watchers/bloggers/twitters, forum posters or whatever bottom feeders….et al are no longer buzz-manipulators trying to monopolize the yearly king/queen-making process.

    Hurray!

  17. ^
    Hurray!
    If only Ernest Borgnine could tweet from the grave.

  18. David Lindsey

    Self-campaigning is nothing new….just ask Diane Ladd, Sally Kirkland, and Chill Wills.

  19. I don’t mind it, and I didn’t understand the hoopla over Gangs of New York either. Melissa Leo’s was a bit crass but well-intended. The Oscars aren’t Dancing with the Stars. It’s the Academy that’s ultimately voting, so what’s wrong with members of the Academy publicizing their preferences? They’ve been doing it for years behind closed doors, so a little transparency is welcome; I just don’t need a new FYC every day.

    Besides, nothing will reek as much as Julia Roberts’s “I don’t want to live in a world where Denzel Washington doesn’t have a lead actor Oscar” comment.

  20. I don’t have a problem with this- in fact, it’s much better to see these campaigns in the open rather than behind the scenes, with the Weinsteins of the world playing dirty and doing God-knows-what to win.

  21. I think Naomi Watts really deserves to win this year.In The Impossible her performace is really a tour de force,it is really much more strong and powerful than Jennifer Lawrence so I think the celebrities support for this excellent but really underated actress is really important.
    Thanks Naomi Watts,you are an inspiration for new actors.

  22. alan of montreal

    Julia Roberts did the same thing for Javier Bardem. I saw Alfre Woodard’s passionate support for Middle of Nowhere. These are mostly indie films that don’t have the promo budgets (save Harvey, of course) that the studio films have, so I think every little bit helps. If anything, I think this should be encouraged. I think the actors, in particular, will more likely try to boost the underdog. Besides, if everyone is allowed to do so, would that just make it a fair playing field anyway?

  23. I prefer this up front campaigning than the secret parties. Alfre Woodward did one for Middle of Nowhere. She doesn’t have Reese Witherspoon’s starpower but it helps. http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/12/19/consider-this-alfre-woodard-on-the-lovelorn-middle-of-nowhere/

    Jason Reitman did one for Looper.
    http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/12/20/consider-this-jason-reitman-looper/

  24. gbpocampo

    I’ve been saying this since November. Mark my words, Naomi will win the Oscar. She has the role of an Oscar winner and her film has been getting a lot of push. I could see her winning GG, not BFCA and a possible SAG or Bafta (If her film eligible). If the film gets nominated for BP, expect her to win. But if it doesn’t it’s a two way race between Lawrence and Watts. (Yes, I excluded Chastain.) Silver Linings Playbook has a lot of fanboys and they really love it. A kind of love where you obsessively vote anyone involved in the movie.

  25. There’s absolutely no problem with them championing films or performances, especially for movies that could use a boost. Will Entertainment Weekly be printing these in their magazine? I would kinda like to see that. Very cool that Franco’s pick is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, easily the most criminally under-seen film of the year, IMO. I would be so happy if this film could get some recognition from the Academy.

  26. SallyinChicago

    The Oscars have expanded the BP to 10 slots…some it’s very likely that all those little seen movies will be nom’d. I notice that some of them are streaming online, so I’m renting them….thank you Hywd for making them available online.

  27. Surprise, surprise, film bloggers and critics are up in arms that people who actually work in film would *gasp* give their opinion on film! If Angelina Jolie wants to host a screening, there’s nothing wrong with that. Same for Reese Witherspoon praising a performance. Just because they’re not endorsing Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy afoot.

  28. No. That’s not it. I don’t have a problem with stuff like the Julia Roberts example. A comment is one thing. Being in a magazine where the sole purpose is to campaign for someone for an award is different. It’s like political ads paid for by the So-and-Sos to elect a given candidate.

    I don’t see how it’s that far from payola. But instead they’re trading in on their fame to get their less famous friends an award which is meant to be a recognition of the best. Not who’s got the most friends. Oh but of course a magazine with Reese Witherspoon in it won’t sell more copies than one with Naomi Watts. So there’s no money involved. I made that up in my head.

    I’ve complained about people voting just for their friends before. So it’s not like I just decided to not like this junk today. I was under the impression that Academy memebers weren’t even supposed to say who they voted for publicly. So is this breaking the rules or completely ignoring them entirely? If you don’t see how a few years of this will turn the Oscars into complete trash, you’re not thinking far enough ahead.

  29. Don’t be naive. Sites like this, and OscarWatch, Golden Derby, THR Oscar tracking etc etc already have brought down the integrity of Oscar to low enough levels as it is. It’s a horse race now and people like Sasha don’t predict Oscars based on the highest quality but based on what’s been most widely seen, who has the most friends, who hasn’t offended Academy members, etc etc. You think throwing in a few celebrity opinions is going to ruin it? It’s already ruined. Might as well have some people out there putting attention on the films that haven’t already been pre-anointed by the critical and “oscar blog” communities.

  30. Bethany Nanc

    I started coming to this site after I heard an excellent podcast Sasha and Ryan and another gentleman did about Middle of Nowhere, which i had been followng on their Facebook page. I’m just a regular person not in the know about what happens in Hollywood. But I have to say that I am shocked by what I thought was a fair process called the Academy Awards. There is so much behind all this I never knew. I seriously thought a group of professional picked from the best films of the year. I’ve never seen or heard of a “for your consideration” ad in my life nor did I know that there were big campaigns around films to get them to the winners stage. I read somewhere that parties are being thrown at private homes for certain films by studios and celebrities. And that only the films that send DVDs to all the voters even get in the running and that there are thousands of voters. What is a small film to do to compete with that? What is a film with no studio or deep pocket backing to do? I also read that all the Academy is white men! So through visiting this site I now see that this is really kind of all rigged. Some movies will have no chance in these Oscar races. I find that very sad and very elitist. Bubble has been burst.

  31. What is a small film to do to compete with that?

    Someone help out. What was the new rule? Was it just docs that have to send out screeners, even if they can’t afford it?

    I also read that all the Academy is white men!

    It’s not all. We can’t know the percentages for sure. (We don’t right?) But it’s most likely the vast majority. Every year they announce who’s been invited in and it’s usually mostly white guys. The fact is when we go to the movies the names in the upper end of the credits are usually white guys. So it is what it is. As time goes on the academy will become more diverse. Nothing happens overnight. But a lot of people think it should have happened faster than this. It’s a lifelong membership so take that into account, thinking of who our early movie stars were.

  32. “Sites like this, and OscarWatch, Golden Derby, THR Oscar tracking etc etc already have brought down the integrity of Oscar to low enough levels as it is. It’s a horse race now…”

    It’s been a horse race since 1927. Although the blogs (and twitter) add a bit more politics into the mix, they also add transparency.

    It’s not “ruined” – it’s a competitive business, always has been and always will be. Even the critics circles do their share of maneuvering.

    You’ll only find integrity and truth in your own lists.

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