kennedy kathleen 2

Kathleen Kennedy: Desert Island Producer

214581-director-steven-spielberg-and-producer-kathleen-kennedy-attend-the-uk-

Since the Oscar race that started with Argo in Telluride is now finishing with Argo in Hollywood I have really no choice but to quote Bob Dylan — “You just kinda wasted my precious time but don’t think twice, it’s all right.” All of the in-between that happened there? That was the stuff that dreams are made of. One of the things that happened this year and will likely be remembered by whomever decides to write about the Oscars ten or twenty years hence, was that Kathleen Kennedy became the most nominated producer in Oscar history with zero wins. Together with Steven Spielberg the two of them now hold the record for most producing nominations. It is astonishing to me, and should be to you, that a woman — A WOMAN — holds that record, considering Hollywood and the Oscars are driven, year after year, up to and including this one by men. You will say, oh she’s just bitter. Shut up about sexism already. Well, honey, if I don’t say something who will?

Maybe you’re tired of reading about it, the near shut out of women and people of color now that the Oscars are hitting their 85th year. If I hope to leave all of you Oscar watchers with anything once I end this insufferable game for good it’s this: don’t be lazy about what you see happening before your very eyes. Speak up about it. Always. You are the future. At their best, Oscars can mean more doors being kicked down.

Last month I went up to the Santa Barbara Film Fest and attended the Producers Panel. A group of very prolific, ambitious and supportive producers were there: Bruce Cohen for Silver Linings Playbook, Debra Hayward for Les Miserables, Dan Janvey for Beasts of the Southern Wild, Stacey Sher for Django Unchained and David Womark for Life of Pi. In the middle sat Kathleen Kennedy — self-assured and mostly quiet, letting the others draw applause for their engaging stories of basically turning water into wine. Each time the question was brought up about how any of them got their start or who taught them to do what they’re doing now they all looked over and said “Kathleen Kennedy taught me everything I know.”

Kennedy didn’t speak often but everything she did say was worth remembering. She talked about how difficult it was to get Lincoln made, even with Spielberg’s name attached. A talky procedural about government? Why on earth would anyone want to watch that? Most people are too comfortable with getting what they expect. They couldn’t wrap their minds around a movie about Lincoln being about his politics. Moreover, they didn’t seem able to make the bigger association with that film — that the strains that ran through that 13th Amendment are still at play today in so many ways. Women are still fighting to be treated as human beings, gay men and women can’t get legally married by federal law, and take a look at this year’s Oscar race or any other to see what kind of progress we’ve made in the white dominated entertainment industry.

“The public always steps up,” Kennedy said when she was asked whether studios were right in thinking “adult” movies don’t make money. And the public has stepped up for Lincoln. A random public poll put Spielberg at the top of the most deserving director this year but the public doesn’t need to decide what rises to top the screener pile. They don’t have to worry about what David Carr at the New York Times or what Jeff Wells thinks about Lincoln. They don’t have to feel the burn of the Affleck snub. They don’t have to reject Zero Dark Thirty because of the “torture debate.” They are free to simply look at what they thought was the best film of the year and speak with their wallets. So you’ll say, well, if it were about box office The Avengers would win. But it isn’t just about that. The Avengers is completely branded formulaic pre-sold Hollywood product designed for public consumption. It is not surprising it made the kind of money it did. What IS surprising is that art film made about President Lincoln that didn’t have sweeping battle scenes and is mostly comprised of characters ruminating on ideas and manipulating racists and backwards politicians could turn around and make $175 million. Even Harvey Weinstein, who has a rival in the race this year, has called Lincoln a masterpiece and is astonished at its box-office take.

But by all means let’s instead pay attention to cute young successful Ben Affleck and forget all about Kathleen’s Kennedy’s success this year. Cause poor guy, missed out on a director’s nomination but will win Best Picture anyway. Meanwhile, 40 years in the business the record for most nominations of anyone, male or female, will walk away again empty-handed, even for the unqualified success that Lincoln was.

kathleen kennedy - 4

After the informative, colorful panel, where two other women producers also participated, a stunning reminder of the pioneering efforts of Kennedy — a resident of Santa Barbara herself — ambled up the mic. Her question was about female directors. Why, if there were three female producers on the panel, weren’t there more females behind the camera?

Kennedy ruminated on it, behind her eyes you could see the wheels turning: do I give them a bullshit answer or do I tell them the truth? Well, at her age and with her success she doesn’t really have to kiss anyone’s ass so out came the truth. It’s harder, she said for female directors to just disappear from their lives to make a movie. Kids always come into it. Sure, some have worked it out okay — like Kathryn Bigelow who has never had children, or Sofia Coppola who is currently balancing it, or Lynn Ramsay who did take a lot of time off to raise kids. Mothers can’t really be that easily replaced. It takes a village to cover one mother and even then the mother needs help. It’s a matter of priorities.

The woman asking the question was not satisfied with that answer. The other women on the panel backed up Kennedy, none of them wanting to blame a sexist industry. Kennedy’s own ambition was one that just didn’t accept that she couldn’t become the most nominated producer in film history. So she said those doors weren’t closed to women so much as women have a clock ticking in their ovaries so they have to make that choice between one or the other. They can fit in a movie here or there but they can’t build a slow and steady career like so many of their male counterparts. The truth hurts.

It hurts especially for Kennedy, she made the sacrifice herself the one time she parted ways with Spielberg so that she could have a baby before it was too late, he made Schindler’s List and won the producing Oscar without her. She probably knows what many of us know who brought kids into the world. A career is one thing. It’s important, to be sure. But life is more than our work. It is too short to really notice it passing you by. The only thing that has made it worth living to me personally is having raised my own daughter.

I dropped out of film school myself after having studied long and hard to get to the Columbia graduate film program. I raised my daughter instead, starting up this website to keep us both afloat. I ended up doing what I consider to be decent enough work but the thing I look to when life rounds down to futility is that beautiful girl I raised. I remember the smell of her as a baby. I remember walking her a mile or two down Coldwater Canyon to get a snow cone and how all she wanted to do was get out of her stroller and walk so that she could put her bare feet on the green grass. I would never trade those precious memories for a trophy of any kind. Maybe Kennedy feels the same way.

When I think of how life goes I know that if you’re a woman it’s a balancing act, as cliche as that sounds. I look at Kennedy and I see a woman who did it the right way. She lost her Oscar as a result but I bet she’s not crying into pillow when she realizes what she did instead. She kicks ass up one side and down the other and maintains her cool while doing so.

That’s why Kathleen Kennedy is our desert island producer for sticking it out in a man’s world and coming out on top. For being gracious in the face of a desperate Oscar season, for continuing to back filmmakers both big and small, for teaching other producers how it’s supposed to be done, and for making the best film of 2012, sticking by Spielberg’s and Kushner’s vision. That’s the most you could hope for in a producer.

As she moves on to Lucasfilm she will once again stand behind another bright star in JJ Abrams. She will once again not take any of the credit for any of their success. Will she ever win an Oscar? It’s tough to say.

From the Hollywood Reporter profile, “‘I’d love to have the Oscar,’ she laughs. ‘I’d love to get this over with. It’s not fun to lose. I admit that.’ She has sat at the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, only to watch Ben Affleck and the Argo team stride to the stage. While she tries to assure others on the Lincoln crew that life will go on, she also is glad that she has a demanding new job. ‘I would hate to be in a situation where my entire focus was obsessing around the issue of whether we’re going to win best picture,’ she says.

Since Kennedy, in her record-breaking historical year, won’t win, she can take with her the memory of having done something remarkable. “Those are the most enriching, lasting experiences. It really represents an important part of your life, creatively,” she said.

Women don’t really get the credit they deserve in Hollywood — why, almost every Oscar strategist pushing the movies this year are women. They are the most hard-working and unrewarded players in the race. You want to know why Flight is nominated for original screenplay or why Silver Linings Playbook is a major Oscar player? And finally, why Argo is slaying the competition? Because behind all of these successes are women. And they will go unrewarded this year as Harvey Weinstein, Affleck and Clooney and everyone else steps up to take credit. They have a good payday and a pat on their backs from bosses but no shiny statues to put on their toilet tanks.

As we watch the triumphant win of Argo we will see three straight males once again take the stage. That’s showbiz. No one ever said it was fair.

Need I say again that winning an Oscar doesn’t make Kathleen Kennedy look good. Giving Kathleen Kennedy an Oscar makes the Academy look good.

Here Kathleen Kennedy sits atop the list of producer nominations. Notice that big fat zero by her name. I can totally get off on the idea that a woman has conquered all but if I were in the Academy I would be throwing awards at her — not just for her historical success but for what she did with Lincoln, bringing that movie to the big screen uncompromised. Despite the industry shunning it inexplicably, the public stepped up as it heads towards $175 million.

Kathleen Kennedy (7 nominations with 0 wins):
Steven Spielberg (7 nominations with 1 win): Schindler’s List (1993)
Stanley Kramer (6 nominations with 0 wins):
Francis Ford Coppola (5 nominations with 1 win): The Godfather, Part II (1974)
Scott Rudin (5 nominations and 1 win): No Country For Old Men (2007)
Frank Marshall (5 nominations with 0 wins):
Sam Spiegel (4 nominations with 3 wins): On The Waterfront (1954), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (3 awards within 8 years!)
Clint Eastwood (4 nominations with 2 wins): Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004)
James L. Brooks (4 nominations with 1 win): Terms of Endearment (1983)
Ethan Coen (4 nominations with 1 win): No Country For Old Men (2007)
Peter Jackson (4 nominations with 1 win): The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Sydney Pollack (4 nominations with 1 win): Out of Africa (1985)
David Puttnam (4 nominations with 1 win): Chariots of Fire (1981)
Irwin Winkler (4 nominations with 1 win): Rocky (1976)
Warren Beatty (4 nominations with 0 wins):
David Brown (4 nominations with 0 wins):
Norman Jewison (4 nominations with 0 wins):
George Stevens (4 nominations with 0 wins):
Saul Zaentz (3 nominations with 3 wins): One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) (co-produced with Michael Douglas), Amadeus (1984), The English Patient (1996)
Robert Wise (3 nominations with 2 wins): West Side Story (1961), The Sound of Music (1965)
Arthur Freed (2 nominations with 2 wins): An American in Paris (1951), Gigi (1958)
Branko Lustig (2 nominations with 2 wins): Schindler’s List (1993), Gladiator (2000)
Albert S. Ruddy (2 nominations with 2 wins): The Godfather (1972), Million Dollar Baby (2004)

And her list of producer credits. She can do it all — from Jurassic Park to the Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (associate producer)[17]
Poltergeist (1982) (associate producer)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) (producer)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) (associate producer) (producer) (segment 2)
Gremlins (1984) (executive producer)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (associate producer)
The Color Purple (1985) (producer)
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) (executive producer)
Back to the Future (1985) (executive producer)
The Goonies (1985) (executive producer)
Fandango (1985) (executive producer)
An American Tail (1986) (producer)
The Money Pit (1986) (producer)
*batteries not included (1987) (executive producer)
Empire of the Sun (1987) (producer)
Innerspace (1987) (co-executive producer)
The China Odyssey: ‘Empire of the Sun’, a Film by Steven Spielberg (1987) (associate producer)
The Land Before Time (1988) (co-executive producer)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) (executive producer)
Always (1989) (producer)
Back to the Future Part II (1989) (executive producer)
Dad (1989) (executive producer)
Tummy Trouble (1989) (executive producer)
Arachnophobia (1990) (producer)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) (executive producer)
Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990) (executive producer)
Back to the Future Part III (1990) (executive producer)
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) (executive producer)
Hook (1991) (producer)
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) (executive producer)
Cape Fear (1991) (executive producer)
A Brief History of Time (1991) (executive producer) (uncredited)
A Wish for Wings That Work (1991) (TV) (executive producer)
Noises Off (1992) (executive producer)
Schindler’s List (1993) (executive producer)
We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993) (executive producer)
A Dangerous Woman (1993) (executive producer)
Jurassic Park (1993) (producer)
A Far Off Place (1993) (executive producer)
Trail Mix-Up (1993) (executive producer)
Alive (1993) (producer)
Milk Money (1994) (producer)
The Flintstones (1994) (executive producer)
Balto (1995) (executive producer)
The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) (producer)
Congo (1995) (producer)
The Bridges of Madison County (1995) (producer)
Twister (1996) (producer)
The Best of Roger Rabbit (1996) (executive producer)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) (executive producer)
A Map of the World (1999) (producer)
Snow Falling on Cedars (1999) (producer)
The Sixth Sense (1999) (producer)
Olympic Glory (1999) (executive producer)
Jurassic Park III (2001) (producer)
Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001) (producer)
The Sports Pages (2001) (TV) (executive producer)
Signs (2002) (executive producer)
The Young Black Stallion (2003) (producer)
Seabiscuit (2003) (producer)
Munich (2005) (producer)
War of the Worlds (2005) (producer)
Persepolis (2007) (executive producer)
Le Scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) (2007) (producer)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) (producer)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) (producer)
Ponyo (2009) (U.S. version co-producer)
Crossing Over (2009) (producer)
The Last Airbender (2010) (producer)
Hereafter (co-producer with Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz & Steven Spielberg) (2010)
The Adventures of Tintin (2011) (producer)
War Horse (2011) (producer)
The Secret World of Arrietty (2012) (U.S. version executive producer)
Lincoln (2012) (producer)

kennedy santa barbara

kathleen-kennedy4s

Will the Real Nate Silver Please Stand Up?

Next Story »

How Many Oscars Can or Will Argo Win?

104 Comments

  1. February 14, 2013

    This is one of my favorite pieces you’ve written Sasha: personal, honest, and thoughtful. Maybe even my favorite. It’s not knee-jerk and there is a lot of genuine truth in it. We know where you’re coming from your own biases (i.e. Lincoln), but, this is something that will hold water years from now. Well done.

  2. Vivian
    February 14, 2013

    I think the producers circles are always gender balanced. Although producers never really get much attention. Most people don’t even know who the people who’re accepting the award for Best Picture are…nor to many people know what a producer actually does…

    I think Argo was a “good” movie…but Lincoln was incredible and something that really appealed to a lot of generations. Ben Affleck is one sexy bastard but…I don’t think that Argo is his film. I think his year will come in the future, but this year is too messy.

  3. Glenn UK
    February 14, 2013

    Of all the films she was not some form of a Producer …… why did she not stick with Spielberg on Schindler’s List – what took her away from that film?

    And I have to say it, I laughed a little when you said “three straight men” ….. can you not say allegedly? LOL

  4. Glenn UK
    February 14, 2013

    Just seen that she was Executive Producer on Schindler’s …… she should have produced!

  5. Vivian
    February 14, 2013

    As a woman myself forgive me I’m usually against feminism (I’m an egalitarian) and I disagree with a lot of snarky feminist arguments but I’m just glad Kennedy gave a sincere answer. Funny you say “the reporter was not pleased” as if the only suitable answer is to bash men and blame men for everything. She was more honest with her answer as well as realistic I think and I’m glad she didn’t say the type of things that Diablo Cody says (like blaming criticisms on sexism umm okay).

  6. Alboone
    February 14, 2013

    You know I’m reading this list of credits and I’m just astonished at the fact that this woman has had a significant impact in my life. Stunning. As far as Lincoln is concerned the movie has problems when it digresses from the legislative procedures and takes these detours into Abe’s home life which to me dilutes it of its emotional impact, but the fact that this has grossed over 175 domestic is a major accomplishment within itself. We’re not an educated society and for this movie to do the business that it has done gives me hope that we could be turning a corner towards introspection of ourselves and what kind of country we want to live in. For that alone Lincoln deserves the Oscar. At least that’s what I took away from the film.

  7. February 14, 2013

    Of all the films she was not some form of a Producer …… why did she not stick with Spielberg on Schindler’s List – what took her away from that film?

    Glenn UK .. The reason is in the post, but maybe not stated explicitly enough. Kathleen Kennedy took a break from producing to have a baby and that’s the year Schindler’s List won. So here’s the prize the Kennedy family got that year.

  8. Nic V
    February 14, 2013

    Let’s just hope that the end of this story just hasn’t been written just yet.

    You know someone said in another post that Lincoln wasn’t doing well internationally. I would just like too point out that in three weeks Lincoln internationally has grossed around 50 million dollars. In Australia it’s 1st week it came at #4 earning 1.7 million. In France in 2 weeks it has earned 5.9 million. In Germany in three weeks it’s earned 3 million. In Italy [and this surprised me] in three weeks it has earned 7 million. In Spain after 4 weeks it has earned 6 million. In the UK after 3 weeks 9.3 million and in Ireland 9.4 million. I didn’t expect Lincoln would resonate this well with foreign markets. Of course it hasn’t done as well in those markets as Django or Pi but when you consider what Lincoln represents it’s done quite well. I don’t think I’ve read the numbers wrong.

    I don’t know, and again I want Lincoln to win badly, but I don’t think this is over just yet. Kathleen Kennedy might just very well on Feb 24 or early Feb 25th go home with a little gold statue.

  9. steve50
    February 14, 2013

    Outstanding, Sasha.

  10. Francine
    February 14, 2013

    Thank you for this outstanding piece. I’m happy to have learned more about the incredible Kathleen Kennedy.

  11. February 14, 2013

    “And the Oscar goes to… Sasha Stone!”

    Bitch, you just owned it.

  12. Ian
    February 14, 2013

    I love Kathleen. She is a remarkable woman and has produced some very good movies and some of my favorite movies, and will now be helming up my favorite film company of all time with Lucasfilm. She should have already won several oscars by now for Best Picture….but Lincoln shouldn’t be one of them…..

  13. February 14, 2013

    I love the attention that you’re paying to Katherine Kennedy! At the very least, she should be fast-tracked to a Thalberg award!

  14. rufussondheim
    February 14, 2013

    I’m not so excited about this piece. Perhaps I come from a position of naivete because I don’t have children, but I think to blame motherhood on a lack of success in film direction is kind of silly. How many women have been nominated for Oscars in the last 20 or so years? Two? Bigelow and Sophia Coppola. And Bigelow only did it because she’s childless? That doesn’t ring quite honest to me.

    Plus, it’s kind of a sexist answer, saying that women as a gender prefer motherhood while fathers perform the traditional provider role. This doesn’t hold true in other professions. Heck, this doesn’t even hold true in Hollywood. Just for directors. And maybe for some other creative branches, such as in the music branch. How many women have been nominated for Best Score in the last 20 years?

  15. Gabriel
    February 14, 2013

    She has got 8 nominations, right?

    1. ET
    2. The Colour Purple
    3. Sixth Sense
    4. Seabiscuit
    5. Munich
    6. Benjamin Button
    7. War Horse
    8. Lincoln

  16. The J Viewer
    February 14, 2013

    Thank you for a great read, Sasha.

    Re Lincoln in an international market *someone’s mentioned it*, I believe Lincoln (are) will be doing fine in many countries, including Japan, where road show is for the time being slated to begin on April 19 for the general public. (J) People (we) love (catch-all) Spielberg’s filmography; They (we) one or two of them even awarded Jurassic Park for an equivalent of Oscars Best Foreign Film that year – I need to re-check if the said BP award (Jurassic Park) had been given by the J Oscars or the J Guild equivalents.

    Meanwhile, for now I still have a feeling Lincoln is going to win BP though.

  17. KT
    February 14, 2013

    Here’s an important question when considering whether Kathleen Kennedy sympathy could bring votes (a position the Lincoln camp is NOT pushing as hard as they could):

    WHAT DO PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY HONESTLY THINK OF KATHLEEN KENNEDY?

    - Is she “likable”/have much of a personality? To be honest, and from the interviews I’ve watched, I’m not so sure…
    - And as terrible as such a question is: is Kennedy seen as more than a Spielberg crony?

  18. February 14, 2013

    Sasha, thanks for the crash course on the career of Kathleen Kennedy. However, I have to admit that her stated “motherhood reason” for women not being at the helm of more movies, or being recognized for their achievements, makes me uncomfortable. Working women face the issue of motherhood all the time. The best that most women can hope for is a few weeks of family leave, often unpaid, to take care of the newborn, before returning to work. After that, women workers have to find day care, or a family member, to care for the baby, unless they are among the lucky few who can afford to take an extensive unpaid leave from work or, if they prefer, leave the workforce for an extended period. It would seem to me that, in Hollywood, powerful and accomplished women like Kathleen Kennedy should actually have more resources available for child care than the average person. Of course, it seems that she didn’t really take much time off herself, but posed motherhood as an issue for other women in the field. In her particular, case, she has been ignored for far too long despite having an incredibly impressive C.V. Part of that could be due to her gender, or her unassuming style. Then again, if she has been so influential and helpful to other moviemakers, you’d think that the least they could do is thank her for doing the phenomenal job that she has with the Lincoln movie. That ought to count for more than Ben Affleck’s “charm offensive.”

  19. DAvid
    February 14, 2013

    Maybe the simplest explanation is that she lost to better pictures.

  20. February 14, 2013

    It would seem to me that, in Hollywood, powerful and accomplished women like Kathleen Kennedy should actually have more resources available for child care than the average person.

    I’m not a mother, but I don’t believe the issue is a matter of affordable child care. There’s more involved in having a baby and raising a family than having somebody keep an eye on the the toddlers till mom gets home at 5.

    And that’s another aspect. Film jobs aren’t 9-5. When movies are made on location — as almost every movie is — geographic distance and crazy hours don’t allow parents to come home in time for dinner every night. What then? It might be feasible to drag a newborn along away from home for weeks and months, but I wouldn’t blame any mother who feels that’s not a great idea.

    It’s true what you say, Liz: women who want to be mothers face difficulties in every career. And they face the very same roadblocks that prevent most mothers from reaching the upper echelons of every profession, and I think that’s what Kathleen Kennedy is talking about.

  21. JP
    February 14, 2013

    “Maybe the simplest explanation is that she lost to better pictures.”

    Nope. Gandhi winning over E.T. is one of the worst mistakes the Academy ever made. And The Color Purple was not my favorite from that year but clearly a better film than Out of Africa.

  22. February 14, 2013

    Does anybody seriously believe that either Seabiscuit or especially War Horse deserved nominations?

    Pretty sure the Academy believed that they did. You might want to look it up.

  23. February 14, 2013

    Well, I revere The Color Purple. Sight & Sound be damned. It’s an epic story about sisterhood. And I’m not the only person who feels that way.

  24. February 14, 2013

    Shit, that’s the key! Make a film about horses!

  25. CJ
    February 14, 2013

    I for one loved Seabiscuit Bette. It wasn’t my favorite film of 2003, but it was in my top 5.

  26. February 14, 2013

    Oops- I just realized that I misspelled Sasha’s name in my comment above! Sorry about that!

    [fixed! - Ryan]

  27. February 14, 2013

    Great piece, and Kathleen Kennedy truly is a legend that NEEDS to win at least one Oscar for Picture. I’d be fine with Lincoln winning for that reason alone, even though I disagree about its masterpiece status. I wonder, if she doesn’t win this year, will she be able to get it done now that she’s running Star Wars? I seriously doubt those films will be in contention, and it seems like she won’t have any time to produce anything else for the foreseeable future.

  28. KT
    February 14, 2013

    Thanks for your response, Bette. Exactly–no matter how many times she has lost Best Picture, it’s likely because of the image you present very few if any people will be voting for Lincoln just so she can win a long-deserved Oscar. Not quite the equivalent to, for example, an overdue director like Scorsese, or the huge push in 2010 to award Kathryn Bigelow. Kennedy’s had to assume a hard-edged persona to do as much as she’s accomplished, and in the process does not come off as warm or approachable–fair. But these factors come into play in the Oscar politics, the narratives that drive certain individuals to wins. I’m interested in the stories of Spielberg being ruthless, if he’s ever screwed associates/collaborators over like say Harvey Weinstein has done. Is he approachable at events (I’ve heard no) and as congenial in person as his interviews suggest? The perfect contrast was seen at the Santa Barbara Film Festival when Ben Affleck and Daniel Day-Lewis received tributes within a two-day span, Affleck going around to everyone, bloggers, fans vs. Day-Lewis + the Lincoln team who remained apart from the public on the exclusive second-floor area. Such examples, and what you said, matters in whether the industry “likes” a person–and are often not as clear to us the public.

  29. Zach
    February 14, 2013

    Bette, you are being elitist, plain and simple. Sorry. Blade Runner never would have won with that narrative voiceover then. And even today, guess what? Blade Runner would never win. I’m not sure E.T. would win. ROTK won because it was three+ years in the making and was an epic production with a big cast. It wasn’t just a CGI fantasy. With that in mind, perhaps Kathleen Kennedy doesn’t always make the kinds of movies that the Academy likes to honor, but (1) she at least gets them nominated, (2) in a just world E.T. would have had the juice to win, and (3) regardless, Lincoln is a stereotypical Oscar-friendly film, so this year, it stings.

    I like that this website is drawing attention to Kathleen Kennedy not only because she’s overdue anyway, but because the emphasis this year seems to be on Affleck (and Clooney). Sure, Argo has its fans, but I simply don’t believe it would be winning all these popular votes if not for the fact that people are voting not for the films but for the people. And with that in mind, who is more worthy, more overdue than Kathleen Kennedy? Certainly not Affleck nor Clooney, especially since they already have Oscars.

  30. February 14, 2013

    Oh, the “Poor Miss Kennedy thing”…

    Where was she when Spielberg made Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan?
    She didn’t won for Benjamim Button.
    Why should she win for a lesser movie this year?

  31. February 14, 2013

    In MY opinion WAR HORSE (one of last year’s best films for ME) well-deserved it’s Best Picture nomination. I had it up there with THE ARTIST, TREE OF LIFE, MYSTERIES OF LISBON, MELANCHOLIA, OF GODS AND MEN and BAL (HONEY).

    Yes I do believe Spielberg’s film was THAT good!

  32. February 14, 2013

    This is an extraordinary post, one of Sasha Stone’s absolute best during the present Oscar frenzy run. Fascinating.

  33. February 14, 2013

    Where was she when Spielberg made Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan?

    Giving birth to 2 baby daughters. Did you even read the article?

  34. KT
    February 14, 2013

    At my college, The Color Purple was actually taught as a bad example of an adaptation. My professor, very highly regarded in adaptation studies, said he’s taught the film before to show how a filmmaker can negatively affect and mistranslate an author’s vision to the cinema. Some examples of very strong adaptations, of not only a director’s fidelity but also when he or she contributes additional meaning through visual translation: The Dead (John Huston), classics of world cinema Guy de Maupassant’s Day in the Country (Jean Renoir) and Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson), and more recently The Golden Bowl (James Ivory) and Adaptation (Spike Jonze).

    ALSO, the 1982-theatrical Blade Runner did not generate much critical acclaim or industry goodwill at the time, as E.T. did. E.T. would have been a worthy winner, and I suspect would have won Best Picture if the Gandhi-E.T. race was decided today, as our expectations of a Best Picture film has been expanded in recent years.

  35. February 14, 2013

    “Why should she win for a lesser movie this year?”

    Simple. LINCOLN is NOT a lesser film.

  36. David
    February 14, 2013

    If Ghandi hadn’t beaten E.T. Tootsie should have…

  37. CB
    February 14, 2013

    The problem for women and minorities in Hollywood isn’t whether they win enough Oscars – it’s whether they’re given opportunities of artistic merit that may enable them to win an Oscar.

  38. flor
    February 14, 2013

    @rufussondheim

    Sasha said Kathleen may have not wanted to give an honest answer about the topic (sexist industry). She opted for a classier and even truer answer: motherhood.

    Nobody is saying that men do not take care of their children, but you have to be able to see that men do not carry the baby inside therefore do not have to deal with the drawbacks of pregnancy (pain, swollen feet, nauseas, etc).

    I am not a mother but I am sure everyone would like to see the baby grow and be there for the time she/he makes the first step; and little things like that are the ones that stay with you forever.

    This was such a heartfelt piece Sasha, you made me cry a little bit when you mentioned your daughter. Congrats!

  39. February 14, 2013

    Should Gandhi have won best picture over E.T. and/or BLADE RUNNER or even TOOTSIE?

    I say NO.

    I agree with all the prior posters here.

    But my vote goes to E.T. over BLADE RUNNER regardless of what SIGHT AND SOUND says. (and I follow their choices religiously but don’t always agree with them)

  40. February 14, 2013

    At my college, The Color Purple was actually taught as a bad example of an adaptation. My professor, very highly regarded in adaptation studies…

    The adaptation of The Color Purple was nominated by the Oscars, BAFTA and the WGA.

    Your professor is highly regarded by whom? It’s a serious question. You say he’s highly regarded. OK, by whom?

    Just name 3 groups like the Oscars, BAFTA or WGA. Does your professor have some awards for Best Adaptation Studies? Just really curious how you know he’s highly regarded. I might buy his book if he’s ever written one. I’m not kidding.

  41. CB
    February 14, 2013

    The adaptation of The Color Purple was nominated by the Oscars, BAFTA and the WGA.
    Your professor is highly regarded by whom? It’s a serious question. You say he’s highly regarded. OK, by whom?

    Just name 3 groups like the Oscars, BAFTA or WGA. Does your professor have some awards for Best Adaptation Studies? Just really curious how you know he’s highly regarded. I might buy his book if he’s ever written one. I’m not kidding.

    The Oscars nominated The Blind Side for Best Picture, also an adaptation.

    I rest my case.

  42. Zach
    February 14, 2013

    I’d rather watch The Blind Side again than hear someone unnecessarily trash The Color Purple.

  43. CB
    February 14, 2013

    Ha! You watched the Blind Side!

    (…so did I…)

  44. February 14, 2013

    it’s kind of a sexist answer, saying that women as a gender prefer motherhood while fathers perform the traditional provider role.

    I believe what Bigelow said was, “It’s harder for female directors to just disappear from their lives to make a movie.”

    Katheleen Kennedy did not say “women as a gender prefer motherhood while fathers perform the traditional provider role.”

    That second quote is from somebody named rufussondheim. Yes, that does sound sexist, But rufussondheim is the only person saying it.

    :)

    Ask Sasha who performs the traditional provider role in her family.

  45. A
    February 14, 2013

    Correction. Actually, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy have EIGHT and not seven Best Picture Nominations. Both won a PGA award last year in addition to a ton of other prizes.

  46. Zach
    February 14, 2013

    @CB

    Eww, only once (in search of an Oscar-worthy performance).

    (Still love you, Sandy!)

  47. CB
    February 14, 2013

    Same here – plus I always see whatever’s nominated. But until the noms came out, I never would’ve guessed I would’ve seen that movie. Oof.

  48. Jack Traven II
    February 14, 2013

    “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

    Personal sidenote: The first Hollywood film I ever saw was a film Kathleen Kennedy co-executive produced – The Land Before Time, which I saw at the age of eleven with my sister. In 1989 – a year when a lot of people’s lives were changed here in Germany.

    P.S.: Beautifully written, Sasha.

  49. Zach
    February 14, 2013

    KK is so VERSATILE too. Affleck only makes one kind of movie.

    @CB — Bullock was just an example of “You Can’t Stop What’s Coming.”

    10 Most Surprising Acting Nominees in the Past 10 Years:

    10. Kate Winslet, The Reader, in lead
    9. Laura Linney, The Savages
    8. Keisha Castle-Hughes, Whale Rider
    7. Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    6. Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
    5. Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
    4. William Hurt, A History of Violence
    3. Alan Alda, The Aviator
    2. Demian Bichir, A Better Life (only because I literally went, “WTF is that?” I must have disregarded the SAG noms or else wasn’t paying close attention last year.)
    1. Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

  50. February 14, 2013

    The Oscars nominated The Blind Side for Best Picture, also an adaptation.

    But not best Adapted Screenplay.

    Touché.

  51. Vince S.
    February 14, 2013

    If people are going to diss The Color Purple they should bring something to the table other than “my professor said.”

  52. February 14, 2013

    I’m eager to find out this professor’s name so I can study some of his books and then I’ll know more about screenwriting than the WGA knows.

  53. KT
    February 14, 2013

    Just because the Oscars and other voting bodies nominated the film for Best Adapted Screenplay (it was a box office success + social commentary + Steven Spielberg + reasonably good script—all fair), does not mean The Color Purple is a particularly **faithful adaptation**. That’s the key to what I mentioned before. The filmmaker(s) mistranslate an author’s vision to cinema to serve a specific agenda—and in this case, the film was taught through the lens of adaptation and the franchise of art. Very academic, I know…it’s a more complicated way to criticize the film’s sentimentality. I repeat, a very strong adaptation, like some of the ones I listed that are standards in adaptation studies, not only exhibits a director’s fidelity to the text but also contributes additional meaning through the visual translation. Those films can be argued to actually exceed the original work, when a director’s vision can in some ways expand on the author’s in the film medium. At the core, this is auteur theory, why filmmakers like Jean Renoir and Robert Bresson are so highly regarded in academic circles (see What Is Cinema?, by Andre Bazin—the most famous and influential film critic).

  54. February 14, 2013

    I’m eager to find out this professor’s name so I can study some of his books and then I’ll know more about screenwriting than the WGA knows.

    Only then? Don’t be so hard on yourself Ryry!

  55. Unlikely hood
    February 14, 2013

    As usual people like Vince, steve50, paddy say it well. As usual they get here before I do. Brava. Nothing to add.

    OT but I’m giving this to Ryan to re-tweet cause I’m not on twitter and this will be the funniest thing I’ll say this month:

    Roses are red
    Violets are glorious
    Honey, at least I’m not
    Oscar Pistorious

  56. February 14, 2013

    Let’s ask Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple

    Monikka Stallworth (blackfilm.com): How did the screenplay differ from the movie that was actually made?

    Alce Walker: The screenplay was much sexier.

    Monikka Stallworth: Steven Spielberg once said in an interview that his one regret about the movie was that he was a bit shy when it came to exploring the relationship between Celie and Shug. Do you feel that their relationship was explored enough in the movie?

    Alice Walker: Well, his angle was very different. And I’m really at peace with that. It’s just that if I had directed it, of course their love life would have been much more vibrant. But, 15 years later or however many years it’s been now, when I look at it, I think he did a beautiful, very sensitive job of depicting the depths of their relationship. Because what he manages to do is, he brings in the sweetness. And that is so fine.

    Monikka Stallworth: What is your fondest memory looking back, of filming The Color Purple?

    Alice Walker: It was just an incredible high, in terms of the love. I don’t know – I mean, it was my feeling that this probably doesn’t happen often, you know, in Hollywood.

    Monikka Stallworth: What was it about Steven Spielberg that made him right for the job?

    Alice Walker: It was just clear that this was the person – the ease with which we took to each other. You know, you don’t want to be going off with anybody where you are feeling nervous… He turned out to be somebody who knew that he was in the presence of our people.

    Monikka Stallworth: The Color Purple was up for quite a few Academy Awards, but didn’t win any – how did you feel about that?

    Alice Walker: You know, I was actually glad because I felt the institution of the Academy, in a sense, wasn’t right enough. I mean, I never knew who those people were who were in it. I had my doubts, and I didn’t know if they really could give me an award. They could pass out Oscar, but can they really “award” something? You know, I mean, who are they?

    Man in Theatre Line: Oh, really? Well, it just so happens I teach a class at Columbia called “TV, Media and Culture.” So I think my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity!

    Alvy Singer: Oh, do ya? Well, that’s funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here, so, so, yeah, just let me…

    [pulls McLuhan out from behind a nearby poster]

    Alvy Singer: Come over here for a second… tell him!

    Marshall McLuhan: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing!

  57. February 14, 2013

    Sasha, thank you for this great article.

    Have you been dropping hints that this could be your last year of covering the Oscars, or am I reading into it too much? Could Feb 24th be the deciding factor?

  58. steve50
    February 14, 2013

    Unlikely hood – I don’t want to come down too hard, but not funny, my friend. I’ve followed his remarkable career and charity work since 2008. South Africa is in a state of shock right now. Whatever the circumstances, it’s a real tragedy.

  59. February 14, 2013

    Sasha’s point is that in the 90s and before women in general had to sacrifice more than men in order to have a family and provide good parenting while on their career path. Things are getting better, the more society evolves and looks at parenting as requiring different models than tradition dictates. As a side note, there is also the b.s. women (and to some extent men) have to deal with in actively choosing to not be a parent.

    It may be sexist to single out Kennedy’s gender as a reason to reward her, but the narrative is compelling in the context Sasha provided especially when she relates it to her personal experience so eloquently.

  60. Spacey
    February 14, 2013

    Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

  61. Spacey
    February 14, 2013

    “this movie is about performance and language”

    Sigh. That is a perfect description.

  62. February 14, 2013

    Sasha,

    I first want to say that this is a largely great post about how the personal things in a persons life usually stay longer with you than what you do with your career. That said, I’m getting tired of the remarks that white men are ruling the awards and snubbing women. I’m not saying it’s a bad argument, just that saying it over and over again doesn’t make it true.

    Therefor, I want to offer you a challenge.

    See, I believe in the best film winning each year. For me “Lincoln” was the sixth best film of the year. “Argo” was third, “Life of Pi” second, and “Zero Dark Thirty” first. Having loved all these films I’d be perfectly happy if any of them won. But I know women weren’t producers on all of them, but I don’t feel the reason they should give “Lincoln” Best Picture just so Kennedy can have an Oscar, but because they believe its the best film of the year.

    As for my challenge I think it would be interesting if you looked in the last five years of movies and find movies written/produced/starring/directed by women, blacks, and gay people that should have been nominated for Oscars in any of the big categories. We know Hollywood isn’t fair, but these people DO work in Hollywood, and we should evaluate whether they produced good movies that have been snubbed by the Oscars. On a final note I want to add that only one Asian has won Best Director: Ang Lee, and he might win again this year. Yet I never read any pieces about how the Academy is racist against Asians, Mexicans, or Germans for these categories, even though these people do work in Hollywood.

    For me (and many readers I suspect) it’s about the quality of the movies themselves, so these arguments might hold more water if you come up with some glaring omissions instead of just accused the Academy of being…well, everything you say it is.

  63. Free
    February 14, 2013

    Sasha,
    Let me start by saying I respect and admire you (which I’m sure you know). As an African-American myself, I really appreciate the time you take to champion minority artists, as well as women. I’m not sure anyone was as adamant about seeing Ava DuVernay nominated, maybe not even DuVernay herself! I’m sure I don’t say it enough, so I’ll just say it clearly here: Thank You.

    With that out of the way, I’ll say about Kennedy what I said about Spielberg: loving the hell out of the person doesn’t mean they deserve a reward pretty much automatically. I understand how hard Lincoln was to make, and I realize she’s always been on the verge of winning (HERE is where the “always the bridesmaids” headline actually applies), but if there’s a better movie out, that better movie should win. Not saying that it’s necessarily Argo, though I personally favored it over Lincoln (by a significant margin), but you get what I’m saying.

    [b]“But by all means let’s instead pay attention to cute young successful Ben Affleck and forget all about Kathleen’s Kennedy’s success this year. Cause poor guy, missed out on a director’s nomination but will win Best Picture anyway. Meanwhile, 40 years in the business the record for most nominations of anyone, male or female, will walk away again empty-handed, even for the unqualified success that Lincoln was.”[/b]

    - You’ve been making your case for Lincoln all year (and I suspect we’ll be seeing more pro-Lincoln articles in the next few weeks), but you’ve always composed those pieces on the merits of the film itself. Here you’re starting to get into ‘bad loser’ territory. And let’s not forget: the Oscars haven’t even happened yet! I, for one, am not 100% confident Argo has this in the big. The Oscars are clearly going their own way this year. And it’s not as if Lincoln was the only difficult movie to make this year. I bet if we research all of the other Best Picture nominees, we’ll find that Kennedy wasn’t the only facing a seemingly impossible task.

  64. Sasha Stone
    February 14, 2013

    - You’ve been making your case for Lincoln all year (and I suspect we’ll be seeing more pro-Lincoln articles in the next few weeks), but you’ve always composed those pieces on the merits of the film itself. Here you’re starting to get into ‘bad loser’ territory. And let’s not forget: the Oscars haven’t even happened yet! I, for one, am not 100% confident Argo has this in the big. The Oscars are clearly going their own way this year. And it’s not as if Lincoln was the only difficult movie to make this year. I bet if we research all of the other Best Picture nominees, we’ll find that Kennedy wasn’t the only facing a seemingly impossible task.

    THanks for this! But here’s my problem: I don’t think Argo is winning on merit. I think it’s a combination of factors and one of those is “good will” towards Affleck both for his charisma and charm and his “snub.” So you know I think Lincoln is the best film of the year BY A LONG WAY but if you’re going to reward Argo because you feel sorry for Affleck can’t you just instead award Kennedy for the career Oscar almost everyone in her business has gotten and not her? Martin Scorsese was rewarded for The Departed partly because they loved the movie but come on, good will towards Marty got him that Oscar too. So…

  65. February 14, 2013

    As for my challenge I think it would be interesting if you looked in the last five years of movies and find movies written/produced/starring/directed by women, blacks, and gay people that should have been nominated for Oscars in any of the big categories.

    Why should anyone want to take up that challenge? That’s not the question. Sasha is not arguing that every time any woman or gay guy produces a movie that they should get special consideration.

    Sasha wrote this as a reminder that one INDIVIDUAL woman (Kathleen Kennedy) has spent a lifetime doing extraordinary work and has never won an Oscar, so THIS YEAR, when there is ONE SPECIFIC FILM that is GREAT enough to garner MORE nominations that any other film, them MAYBE voters might consider this shameful sorry circumstance.

    You’re trying to turn this into a vast historical gripe-list going year by year to find obscure things to fret about — at the same time you say you tired of hearing about this one very obvious enormous situation looming right in front of your eyes.

    I say your challenge is largely bullshit. You’re not interested in thinking about the point of this article, fine. So how about you REFRAIN from assigning a big senseless job to Sasha to go dig up a lot of other examples that you’ll be equally not interested in hearing about.

  66. Sasha Stone
    February 14, 2013

    As for my challenge I think it would be interesting if you looked in the last five years of movies and find movies written/produced/starring/directed by women, blacks, and gay people that should have been nominated for Oscars in any of the big categories.

    I can start with this year: Middle of Nowhere by Ava DuVernay. The problem with your logic is that what you don’t get, what no one seems to get, is — I have to add what I didn’t get to say in my piece because Ryan and I felt it was too angry to put in there but here it:

    Hollywood worships at the alter of cock. If you don’t start changing things, like awarding Viola Davis the Oscar last year rather than giving Meryl Streep her third because was overdue … for her third Oscar, or valuing someone like Kennedy who has gotten where she is DESPITE THE MANY ODDS AGAINST HER – if we don’t do that, if we don’t think about that we will continue to do what Hollywood has been doing for decades — following the stories and narratives of white men. Sooner or later someone has to shake the tree. That person, sadly, is me. No one else gives a shit. I want people to not come here if this thinking bothers them because in all honesty it’s the only thing that compels me to blog about the Oscars which is A) a march to mediocrity every year, B) a system that rewards and worships at the alter of straight, white cock and C) just a back-patting fest. I think Lincoln should win because:

    A) it is an enormous achievement that took 13 years to come together, a passion project by Spielberg and carefully cultivated and realized by Kennedy.
    2) a movie for America to celebrate a moment in history, to reflect on that and to look forward to the problems we are dealing with every day – like equality in our courts.
    3) the best written, acted, produced, directed film of the year, with Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty right behind.

    My point is this: if the Affleck pity party is earning votes why can’t there instead be a Kennedy pity party? Why does another fucking white dude have to win another fucking Oscar? I say it hopes people start thinking about diversity. Will they? Oh I suspect not. But I won’t shut up for anyone. If it turns people off, so be it. It’s not like there aren’t 500 vanilla Oscar sites that let the tail wag the dog.

  67. February 14, 2013

    these arguments might hold more water if you come up with some glaring omissions

    I refer you to the post above.

    When there’s a glaring omission, you’ll hear about it. ok? No need to send us on a scavenger hunt through Oscar history.

  68. unlikely hood
    February 14, 2013

    Steve50 – I’m sure both of us are more interested in Sasha and Ryan’s ongoing dialogue above, but I’ll just quickly say that I don’t want to pull rank, but my small son is severely disabled (he will certainly be dependent for the rest of his life), and when I’m on the internet and not here, I’m reading email postings from my many compatriots in my disabled communities. I truly cannot overstate what a hero Pistorius is/was. 6 months ago my wife and I bawled tears watching him get past the first trial in the 400m. As for the news, I mask my pain with humor. The real butt of the joke is me and the standard of romantic behavior I apparently set – hey honey I didn’t shoot you! As for “too soon” – well it’s Valentine’s Day, that joke is nothing on Feb. 15.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled Lincoln debate… (without expecting the anti-Lincoln crowd to get anywhere near Stephen A. Douglas)

  69. Vince S.
    February 14, 2013

    If viola Davis won, I’m not convinced it would change things for black females in Hollywood. Otherwise, how have things changed any since Halle berry winning?

    What changes things is money. I think Kerry Washington’s popularity with scandal and he ad revenue she brought in did more for black women in entertainment than berry. Look, within months, we have that show deception. I can’t vouch for quality of those shows, but it certainly wasn’t a coincidence.

  70. Brian
    February 14, 2013

    Bette, to be fair I don’t think you are being elitist. I simply think you are being a bore reading Sight & Sound lists and trying to insert them into an Oscar discussion. The two are not alike, and your point is lost because of it.

  71. Tony
    February 14, 2013

    Sasha, I saw “alter” twice; it’s “altar.”

    Word association now has me thinking about “The Passion of the Christ.” Nobody expected it to gross nearly $400m in 2004. Plenty of people found it moving. Not even a BP nomination, let alone a win.

    The biggest loser in the acting categories? Peter O’Toole, a MAN. Next biggest? Richard Burton, a MAN.

    Why did Spielberg hire Kushner to adapt “Lincoln?” Why didn’t he hire a woman? There are many, many women who write well.

  72. February 14, 2013

    Tony. I don’t remember 2004 very clearly but wasn’t it perceived Mel Gibson was pandering to Bible Belt Fundamentalists? Turns out antisemitism doesn’t go over too well in Hollywood either. The beginning of the end for Mel Gibson.

  73. KT
    February 14, 2013

    Brian, you state a good point. As much as people criticize the Oscars for not representing “the best” in film (which as we all know is subjective) and ignoring foreign films/high art and being political and separate from public opinion (sometimes), Amy Pascal said it best when she said (paraphrasing from the Deadline Contenders panel) these awards were set up by Hollywood, are voted on by Hollywood, and are meant to honor the best Hollywood puts out each year. Following the wins by The Artist and even The King’s Speech in the past two years, there seemed to be enthusiasm among executives for a distinctly American film to be chosen this year. While it’s encouraging that the concept of a Best Picture winner has somewhat expanded in recent years—no longer the biggest box office hit, the biggest production, the most nominated—it’s important to remember that this is all about where the industry goodwill lies. That’s what’s so fascinating about the Oscars.

  74. rufussondheim
    February 14, 2013

    It’s sad to see two of my favorite contributors, Bette and KT, suffer backlash when they bring so much substance to the conversations. They are always on point, and always original. They are intelligent, thoughtful, relevant and interesting.

    KT – I know what you are saying about The Color Purple, I’ve not read it, but I do recall so many of my friends reading it and telling me how much they hated the movie since it didn’t follow the book’s spirit. Now, of course, I think a movie should be judged separately from the book, it’s a separate piece and no matter where they movie goes, it doesn’t change the source material. With that said, a loved book, not adapted faithfully, will create a terrible movie to the fans of the novel. I despise the film The English Patient. I can’t even judge the film objectively, and why would I want to, they didn’t include the best scene of the book in the movie. Terrible piece of shit.

    An adaptation I loved is The Cider House Rules. Now I know the movie is not very revered, but I love the book, and the movie is such a glorious celebration of the spirit of the novel I can’t help but love the movie too even though it’s not a faithful adaptation of the books events.

    Another adaption I think is bonkers good is Perks of Being a Wallflower. It helps that the director and writer of the film is also the writer of the book. Every change (and there are significant changes) was for the better and it’s just so good, the movie makes the book better and the book makes the movie better. Together they make a wonderful combination and I know of no other such pairing in cinema (although Cider House comes close, which was written by the book’s author, by the way)

    Bette – I love your asides about Sight and Sound and I urge you to never stop bringing them up. It’s a shame people care more about the Oscars than great films. The Oscars are junk food, but great films are sustenance. And it’s sustenance I come here for, a way to explore great films and to discuss them with smart and intelligent people who give me a different perspective. Since I’ve become an active participant here, I’ve enjoyed watching movies more than any other time of my life.

    And, Bette, your mention of the 600+ films that got four or more voted has me intrigued. Is there a list of these films online? Or was this just something that’s unofficially circulated by those who are well-connected in film academia?

    One more point – thanks for not mentioning the name of your professor, KT. It would be unprofessional of you to mention him on a public forum in these circumstances. And please pay not mind to others, I love to hear any and all opinions!

  75. February 14, 2013

    hey, rufussondheim,

    Don’t be concerned about KT. Earlier today the two of us were enacting a brief actors’ workshop scene. That was just some performance art to break the ice.

    We’ve since talked things out privately and discovered that my first film professor was a graduate student who studied under his film professor.

    But my film professor can still whip his film professor’s ass.

  76. JP
    February 14, 2013

    @ Bette

    I think E.T. is a better film than Blade Runner and the best film of 1982. I don’t think Sight & Sound is better than Oscars. I really can’t fully respect a list that considers Mulholland Drive one of the 10 best american films ever and that ranks Gone With the Wind in the same level of Melancholia and The Piano. And the worse: a list that pretends to be international but doesn’t show a single Almodovar film and that doesn’t include City of God but includes things like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Oscars are about industry validation… consensus choices… it was not created to award criterion-art-house productions. It doesn’t have this prevention in my opinion but the Sight & Sound poll has and just fails in achieving this goal.

    Regarding 1985, I consider many of the films you listed are better than both The Color Purple and Out of Africa but since

  77. rufussondheim
    February 14, 2013

    I feel left out, I’ve never had a film professor. But I bet my Chemical Engineering professor could send your film professor into space and back again without burning up on re-entry.

    But this guy was one of six actors who performed the scenes to the plays were were discussing in my intro to Theater class my freshman year. I was quite shocked to see him popping up on TV shows everywhere back in the 1990′s. He’s your classic journeyman actor everyone probably recognizes but no one knows his name.

  78. February 14, 2013

    “Giving birth to 2 baby daughters. Did you even read the article?’

    No, i didin´t.
    This year, day after day, the articles Pro-Lincoln makes me feel tired and boring.

  79. Brian
    February 14, 2013

    Rufuss, the list is over at the bfi website here: http://explore.bfi.org.uk/sightandsoundpolls/2012.

    The whole bfi website is fun to peruse, among them essays about the top films written by various writers. I was particularly fond of the Vertigo essay. This comes to mind in regards to Bette’s posts:

    “Why did it take so long [for vertigo to be recognized)? Unlike, say, Bicycle Thieves, which was more or less instantly acclaimed as a masterpiece (coming top in the 1952 poll, only four years after its release), films such as Vertigo and John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) initially met with a mixed reception from critics – and with indifference from the public. Which means that, beyond the mere passing of time and the perseverance of their defenders, these works must have something very special about them to have been able to finally impose themselves as great works.”

    Sight and Sound is the long view, one crafted by seasoned professionals with an eye towards cinema as art. The Oscars have been accused of many things, but not that. When Bette laments Jean Dielman as the ultimate in snubbing of women directors by the Oscars because of where it placed on S&S, well than she has a good deal of misunderstanding of both the Oscars, S&S, and perhaps more. S&S is a wonderful magazine, and their lists should be poured over at all times by film lovers. Between them and Criterion, the world is a richer place. But they must be discussed in context. If they are going to be mentioned in regards to the Oscar race itself, they must be handled with more care.

  80. February 14, 2013

    “Simple. LINCOLN is NOT a lesser film.”

    Considering Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun, Schindler´s List, Saving Private Ryan and AI, Lincoln IS A LESSER MOVIE.

  81. CJ
    February 14, 2013

    It’s too early to really judge Lincoln against the rest of his filmography (my general rule is 5 years) Fabinho, but I’d probably rank Lincoln above many of his most beloved works.

  82. Brian
    February 14, 2013

    I am very serious when it comes to Spielberg. Like most Americans of a certain age, he was my first true love at theatres (shout out to Dawson!). I’ve spent countless hours pouring over Spielberg’s warts and genius and warty genius and genius warts. And for all that time, one film has towered over his other film’s in the Spielberg canon to me. It was what all the others tried to be, in some part whether large or small. There was one film that captured everything great about Spielberg, and limited the flaws to the point of negligibility. At least to me. But for the first time in over a decade, I can honestly say I am unsure if it is still #1. Lincoln has given me pause. In my mind, it is not lesser anything.

  83. February 14, 2013

    I know, CJ.
    But we´re talking about this year Oscar, so we can´t wait.
    IMO, lose Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun, Schindler´s List, Saving Private Ryan and AI are all, by far, Spielberg´s best movies.
    I, personally, also love Always and War Horse too. And, sure. The Adventures of Tintin. :)

    I never liked ET, The Color Purple and Amistad.
    Lincoln won´t be in my Spielberg TOP 10.

    He really disappoint in period films.

  84. Brian
    February 14, 2013

    You do realize more than half the movies you love of his were historical films, right?

  85. Unlikely hood
    February 14, 2013

    I’m a film professor. Really. But if I give my name, y’all motherf*ckers will go crazy on ratemyprofessor.com and I don’t need that.

    I screened all of Jonze’ Adaptation for 50 undergrads yesterday. Seriously. This convo is making me laugh.

    I like KT, but adaptation studies? Really? There’s no such department in any school I know. No annual conferences or regular journals.

    Yes, some profs specialize in adaptation. One of my colleagues from USC, now at U of Michigan, is one of them. But let’s not pretend the field is well settled. Color Purple has been a football, perhaps more than even Heart of Darkness. Defenders and the offended go back and forth.

    I’m on rufus’ side: forget fidelity, just get the spirit right. Not everyone agrees.

    As a choice of example. Jonze over Spielberg is quite telling. In what world is Adaptation truer to the Orchid Thief than the Whoopi film is to Celia’s story? I’ll tell you: in an academic world that values reflexivity and “meta” comments over sincerity and polish. I guess KT’s prof would have preferred a Color Purple where we cut to Spielberg hating himself, masturbating, and inserting a Bob McKee third act at the end.

    Funny.

    Keep shaking the tree Sasha – we love it.

  86. ScottH
    February 14, 2013

    “if you’re going to reward Argo because you feel sorry for Affleck can’t you just instead award Kennedy for the career Oscar almost everyone in her business has gotten and not her? Martin Scorsese was rewarded for The Departed partly because they loved the movie but come on, good will towards Marty got him that Oscar too. So…”

    A great article about Kathleen Kennedy, I completely agree that there is definitely some sort of sexism going on in Hollywood. However, looking over Kennedy’s work and seeing what other movies were made those years I never thought any of her movies were the best (just my own personal opinion admittedly). I don’t agree with rewarding anyone an Oscar for either sympathy (Affleck) or career achievement (Scorsese for The Departed). It should only be about what movies were the best that year. This type of campaigning should not be encouraged either just because it suits your favorite movie.

    One recent example of a powerful Hollywood producer who isn’t one “worships at the altar of straight, white cock” that has won recently by making an excellent movie is Scott Rudin. As I am sure you know, he is a gay (albeit) white male producer who won his first Oscar not too long ago for No Country for Old Men. He did not win just because the Academy felt they should reward someone who is gay or for career achievement, but because they felt it was the best film of the year (and many would agree got it right for a change). Winning for making the best movie, like in Rudin’s case, should be the standard the Academy or any competition should live up to. Encouraging otherwise makes us no better then the Academy or the strategists that get them to vote outside of what was put on the screen that year.

  87. Ben Fan
    February 14, 2013

    “this movie is about performance and language”

    “Sigh. That is a perfect description.”

    No argument.

    Which is why it’s best to award the Oscar to DDL for the performance and the Screenwriter for the language, vs. the female with zero Oscars.

    Sasha Stone: “Hollywood worships at the alter of cock.”

    Thank you, dear.

    More: “If you don’t start changing things, like awarding Viola Davis the Oscar last year rather than giving Meryl Streep…”

    Dang Meryl and her white cock.

    More: “a system that rewards and worships at the alter of straight, white cock”

    Clooney is not gay. Boo.

    More: “Why does another fucking white dude have to win another fucking Oscar?”

    Grace. Class.
    I wept.

    “I don’t agree with rewarding anyone an Oscar for either sympathy (Affleck) or career achievement (Scorsese for The Departed). It should only be about what movies were the best that year. This type of campaigning should not be encouraged either just because it suits your favorite movie.”

    Agreed.

  88. Terometer
    February 15, 2013

    [Terometer, this is your final warning. Another comment like that and you will be IP banned from the site]

  89. February 15, 2013

    Bette’s insistence on appealing to the autorithy of S&S is bound to become a source of parody soon. It’s like those people who judge everything according to the Bible.

  90. Sasha Stone
    February 15, 2013

    Why did Spielberg hire Kushner to adapt “Lincoln?” Why didn’t he hire a woman? There are many, many women who write well.

    Spielberg hired Tony Kushner, an out gay writer, as much a minority as a woman in Hollywood.

  91. rufussondheim
    February 15, 2013

    Not to mention, this kind of script is right up Kushner’s alley, historical drama is where he’s at his best, although he’s more into drama than history in his own work.

    He does mostly work in the more personal realm withing the confines of history than what was seen in Lincoln, but Kushners stamp is all over Lincoln and the best parts of Lincoln are the more ‘Kushnerian’ parts (like the fight between Lincoln and Mary in the bedroom, which would be fantastic if performed on stage)

    In fact, I wish Kushner would have had final say over the film’s content, I suspect it would have been a better film.

  92. Ben Fan
    February 15, 2013

    “In fact, I wish Kushner would have had final say over the film’s content, I suspect it would have been a better film.”

    Well he got Spielberg’s promise to do the second inauguration as the ending, when most feel the film should have ended with the long walk instead. And he wanted the entire speech, too. So, I don’t know about that.

  93. February 15, 2013

    when most feel the film should have ended with the long walk instead.

    The laziest dumbest critique of the year. You know what? You should’ve just got up and walked out of the theater when Lincoln headed down the hallway. Who’s stopping you? If you ever watch Lincoln at home just keep your remote control handy and you can switch channels to Dancing With Stars at that point, ok? All you amateur editors can end the movie whenever you want.

    That way you’re happy, you can stop whining, and the rest of us get the magnificent ending Kushner and Spielberg gave us — instead of a trite hackneyed fade to black as Lincoln walks off into the fucking sunset.

    The reason so many people think the hallway walk would’ve been great place to end is because that’s right out of the “Movie Endings For Dummies Playbook.”

    (hey, no joke, I like to watch David O Russell movies at 1.5x speed. They’re twice as hilariously slapstick at that rate. (well, not twice as fun but, you know, 1.5x more fun). Plus, that way I waste less time on them. Try it sometime. Dickie Eklund cranked to 1.5x speed is funnier than Buster Keaton. He’s funnier than The Roadrunner — Beep Beep! Can’t wait to watch Tiffany’s butt jiggle like a springloaded wind-up toy. Nothing more fun that watching Russell’s fake derangement turned into a Benny Hill chase scene. His frantic style is thisclose to Benny Hill anyway.)

  94. Ian
    February 15, 2013

    “That way you’re happy, you can stop whining, and the rest of us get the magnificent ending Kushner and Spielberg gave us — instead of a trite hackneyed fade to black as Lincoln walks off into the fucking sunset.”

    LMAO at this quote Ryan! But agree with SLJ and many other folks who think the film should have ended with him walking down the hallway. And no, I don’t think it’s a lazy or dumb critique. I think it’s a very honest and fair critique, just like it’s fair to tell SLJ to go fuck himself for making those comments about Lincoln when his own film (Django) could have also ended much better and way sooner and not dragged on into the whole mining company plot etc….

  95. February 15, 2013

    I think it’s a very honest and fair critique

    I understand that it’s honest and widespread feeling, Ian. Not saying I think it’s cheap or honestest. I believe many people really believe the ending was off. I’m just weary of hearing it; to me it’s so facile. Depending on how it’s phrased, sounds patronizing too.

    Yes, also agree with you about Django. I might have liked Django a whole lot better if Tarantino had ended it before it even began.

  96. rufussondheim
    February 15, 2013

    I like the Lincoln Walking scene because of what he says before he leaves, something like “I’d like to stay but I have to go.” It’s so fucking cheesy, but it’s so perfect. That’s what I love about the scene, although the slow walk is effective as well.

    After much thinking, I would have liked the slow walk to fade into the second inaugural address. I think that would have been the most effective of the apparent possibilities.

  97. Brian
    February 15, 2013

    The viewer, to me, needed the catharsis of Lincoln dying. Spielberg (or Kushner, though it feels like Spielberg) chose to use the vehicle of Tad, something I was at first unsure about though it grew on me. But my acknowledging the death, it allowed the emotional release that flowed well into the second inaugural. Leaving Lincoln to go from riding off into the sunset to the inaugural leaves a weird gap, one that seems to sugarcoat over the ultimate price Lincoln paid for his actions. That ending would have been typical Spielberg, for good and ill. I found the actual ending more mature.

  98. JP
    February 15, 2013

    Fabinho,
    You love Always and think Lincoln is a lesser film. Really? This and Hook are almost unanimously called Spielberg’s worst. I respect your opinion but really don’t agree.

  99. February 15, 2013

    JP, no problems.
    I can livevin a world where peopke don’t need to agree whit me. :)
    I know, no one loves Always, but I do.
    It’s so tender… so full of affection… do unpretentious…
    And it shows Audrey as an angel…
    How can I resist? :)

    Maybe the problem whit Spielbergisn’t historical movies.
    Maybe it could be whit slavery.
    Cause for me, The Color Purple and Amistad are two pieces of shit. Lincoln is better, but too far of the idea of a masterpiece.
    And have, really, on of weakest endings in a Speilberg movie. Yes, the end is really ridiculous, Lincoln dead in his bed, everybody crying arround. And that speech? Please…
    It’s really bad.
    Sure, it was a choice. But, what a bad choice!

  100. Brian
    February 15, 2013

    Considering Spielberg just killed off the most revered Americans in history, the Lincoln deathbed scene was one of the most restrained moments of emotional outlets ever for Spielberg. Scene-chewing Sally Field barely had more than an audible whimper.

  101. Nick
    February 16, 2013

    All of the producers at the SBIFF panel said they learned everything they know from Kathleen Kennedy. Maybe she’s learned everything she knows by not winning an Oscar yet. I’m a teacher and I believe there are more teachable/learning opportunities when you lose versus when you win. Kathleen Kennedy has been a part of some damn good movies, and I’m sure that trend won’t stop any time soon.

    Maybe she hasn’t won because she hasn’t tried to hard for it like others have – if she really wants an Oscar she should get Harvey to work for her – he can get Oscar voters to believe any piece of shit is a pot of gold, so with a good project that he can back, it would seem possible.

    Something to keep in mind as well – Oscar voters don’t vote on the producers (are producers even listed on the ballot?). They vote for what movie they like best. The Lincoln campaign could’ve played up this angle more to garner support, but they took the more honorable (and more respectable) route of letting the film speak for itself (except for, arguably, asking Bill Clinton to speak about it at the Golden Globes). They (mostly) haven’t played the game this year and I respect them for that.

  102. Tero Heikkinen
    February 16, 2013

    This reminds of early 90′s when I suggested that we watched Dances with Wolves in our school. They only had 3 x 45mins to spare, so I used two VCR’s and cut 45mins out the film myself. It was a difficult task because that film is very tight even in its three hour long form, the four hour version is OK as well. I didn’t cut anything from the end, as people need some payoff, plus DwW has a very good ending. I do remember getting rid of the massacre flashback, some of the love story and most of the opening, like the heroic horse ride – that was all gone. I also censored some of the most violent seconds to make it more PG-ish (this had nothing to do with length). I think the shorter version still ended up being even more dramatic.

    It was fun playing an editor as a young teen.

  103. kevin
    February 19, 2013

    I still don’t see the appeal of Lincoln. I am a history teacher and thought it was okay at best. Too heavy handed for getting the history wrong – at least with Argo you know you are watching bull. With Lincoln, the whole premise of the movie is that it is extremely historically accurate, which is far from the truth. We whine that it’s never the “entertaining” film that wins, but the one with self importance. Now, the entertaining film is the front runner and you want the “important” one to win. Make up your mind.

  104. November 6, 2013

    トリーバーチ トートバッグ

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *