As I was thumbing through the headlines and tweets about Ben Affleck, the DGA and Steven Spielberg I suddenly realized — after 14 years of observing the Oscar race — that in order to have a David you need a Goliath. Though Lincoln was an incredibly difficult film to get made, though even Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg had trouble getting it made, even though they budgeted to keep it around $65 million it somehow got propped up as the Goliath. I kept wondering why there was a kind of spiking the ball every time Affleck won and Spielberg lost – and the headlines on the web finally clued me in.
As a sidenote: apologies to all of the nominees, Affleck, Spielberg, you name it, they’ve been dragged through the mud or will soon be dragged through the mud. All they tried to do was make great movies and suddenly they were thrust into the latest episode of the Christians vs. the lions. The awards race is an ugly beast and it is choking the life out of film – while at the same time it does miraculous things too with movies that would get no exposure otherwise. It’s a two-sided coin – on one side, medusa and on the other, double rainbow.
So beware the need for a Goliath and remember, you never want that to be your albatross heading into the race. Though people like to be on the side that’s winning, they definitely don’t want to ever be on Goliath’s side.
This really only happens in a split or mixed up year. When you have a movie like Slumdog Millionaire, The Artist or No Country for Old Men it doesn’t make a difference because there really isn’t a choice. But The Social Network was the Goliath and The King’s Speech was the David. Brokeback Mountain, the Goliath, Crash, the David. It’s a strategy that can work as long as the opposite side plays into it. Since Lincoln never won any major awards yet headed into the race with 12 nominations it naturally took that slot. An underdog Lincoln was, an underdog Lincoln remains.
And therein, my new Oscarwatching rule: never become Goliath.