Oscar bits and bites

David O. Russell probably didn’t know there was a camera on him when he heard Emmanuelle Riva had just won the BAFTA.

In Contention’s Kris Tapley does his annual Best Shots of the Year post.  

In typically old Hollywood fashion, you can’t have a leading actress race without a feud – but Chastain calls out media instead for needing this narrative.  And it’s true, right? Admit it.

Jeff Wells on the Argo backlash – those mean ol’ directors who “snubbed” him have turned this race into the reality show that it’s now become – we’ll never know how Argo might have fared without it.  Damn that Benh Zeitlin, Steven Spielberg, David O. Russell, Ang Lee and Michael Haneke.  Damn them!

And the Wall Street Journal says what Joe Courtney should remember when he made a last minute bid to do what so many others have done this year that: “Civil War historian Warshauer suggests Courtney’s view is a bit too positive, since both before and throughout the war, Connecticut was virulently racist.”

Connecticut’s State Democratic Convention responded to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 with a resolution saying it “would disgrace our country in the eyes of the civilized world, and carry lust, rapine, and murder into every household of the slaveholding states.” And once the 13th amendment passed, when Connecticut citizens were asked to remove the word “white” from the state constitution’s description of who could vote, they soundly refused – on two separate occasions.

Congressman Courtney’s point that Connecticut’s votes on the 13th amendment were misrepresented in “Lincoln” is indisputable. But in tinkering with history, Steven Spielberg may accidentally have more accurately depicted 1865 Connecticans’ complex and conflicted feelings about slavery itself.


Happy Birthday to Abe Lincoln (and Charles Darwin)

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Oscar bits and bites


  1. joeyhegele
    February 13, 2013

    I remember there was a rumor Russell Crowe did not win the Oscar for his performance in A Beautiful Mind because of his bad behavior at the BAFTAs. He yelled and cursed at a producer of the show for cutting off his acceptance speech. Supposedly, Academy members were so put off by his bad behavior, it was enough to sway some of their votes elsewhere.

    I do not necessarily believe this rumor, but David O. Russell better hope his rude behavior does not cost Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar.

    I still think Lawrence is the frontrunner, but Riva has a good shot at being the big surprise winner of the night.

  2. phantom
    February 13, 2013

    As I said earlier, I don’t know David O. Russell so I can’t possibly know whether he is an entitled douchebag or not, but he sure acted like one in that moment.

    And kudos to Jessica Chastain for that poignant, spot-on message !

  3. Sasha Stone
    February 13, 2013

    Joey, the Russell Crowe thing was big and in the news. He had to issue an apology and everything. It was much easier for voters to award Denzel Washington over that mean ol’ Russell Crowe, even though Crowe’s work in A Beautiful Mind was a career best.

  4. knee play
    February 13, 2013

    David O’Russell just seems like an all-around shitty person. He’s a sore loser, he’s pimping out his son’s mental illness (who is autistic, not bipolar by the way) for sympathy votes, he gets arrested for groping transgendered relatives and bullies actors. Awful.

  5. Rebel
    February 13, 2013

    This should be in the news so that SLP would lose some votes.

  6. steve50
    February 13, 2013

    Tapley’s top ten shots are one of the best things about Oscar season. Last year’s dragon jacket shot from Drive is one of my favorites.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow to find out the top 5. (I have an inkling of what they should be)

  7. phantom
    February 13, 2013

    …that is when he is not roughing up George Clooney, putting Christopher Nolan in a headlock because he dared to book an actor he wanted and yelling ‘cunt’ at one of his actresses ON SET. Of course in theory, all these stories and the ones you mentioned could be vicious fabrications OR he could have changed over the years and became a nice guy by now etc., but at the end of the day, taking everything into consideration, it doesn’t seem like he is the humble, emotional nice guy he acts like (basically exclusively) during Oscar season. The son angle particularly makes me angry, not that the Biden-story made me like him any more…

  8. Casey
    February 13, 2013

    THANK YOU sasha for bringing attention to the gross behavior of David o russel. You of course want your actress to win, but save your nasty faces for the limo ride home. And honestly if mr Russell had seen Amour and ms Rivas performance he should have applauded the brilliance of it, out of respect for an actress of her caliber and the brilliant performance. Not acted like a child.

    I hope this continues to go viral, it’s disgusting

  9. Jerry
    February 13, 2013

    I don’t know if David O. Russell looked mean as much as just showing open mouthed shock. It’s easier to interpret someone’s expression for the worse if you already hate him and Russell’s reputation does proceed him. However wishing his brief expression is going to cost him votes is as realistic as wishing that Jennifer Lawrence’s SNL skit against rivals or her ‘I beat Meryl’ joke was going to cost her her SAG vote. Which is to say outrage on the internet does not usually cross over to real life or to voters.

    On a positive Oscar bits and bites: Beasts of the Southern Wild and Quvenzhané Wallis are at the White House today with Michelle Obama hosting a screening. Washington is the place to be this year. http://content.foxsearchlight.com/inside/node/5345

  10. Tero Heikkinen
    February 13, 2013

    When The Fighter came out I was like: “Nice, Russell seems to be alright”. After BAFTAs I was like: “No, he’s still a dick”.

  11. Tero Heikkinen
    February 13, 2013

    Steve50, I think the top 5 was already there. Btw, very disappointing choices this time. I could’ve done better.

  12. Tero Heikkinen
    February 13, 2013

    Steve, I mean, how do you compare THAT #1 to Let the Right One In that was chosen a couple of years ago? There’s no competition. On a good year like this, you have to do better. Or maybe this was not the year of Cinematographers? Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Tom Hooper could never do this: http://wondersinthedark.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/amour-2.jpg

  13. Karl
    February 13, 2013

    I hope Emmanuelle Riva wins the Oscar and David O. Russell puts another damned stupid face, he’s a dickhead

  14. filmboymichael
    February 13, 2013

    Is O’Russell’s douchebaggery all that new? I think in recent years, he’s been given the great gift of a good publicist, but the man is a well known asshole and I think that putting him front and center of his film next to Lawrence could be an unravelling.

  15. steve50
    February 14, 2013

    Good article by Melena Ryzik in this morning’s New York Times about screenwriting and politics:


    It appears that Boal, Kushner and Terrio are more accepting of their respective controversies than the rest of us.

  16. steve50
    February 14, 2013

    You’re right, Tero – just noticed the top 5 shots and they aren’t anything compared to last year’s. #1, especially – if I never see that one again it will be too soon.


  17. cyrus
    February 14, 2013

    Wooh, I had never heard of the groping incident. His niece? and she is 19?! What a perv! Here’s the article if anyone’s interested:


  18. Winston
    February 15, 2013

    No one cares about Russell’s reaction. Actually I think most intelligent observers agree.

  19. phantom
    February 15, 2013

    …actually I think most intelligent ARTISTS don’t have reactions like that…

  20. Winston
    February 16, 2013

    Artists? First of all it’s nonsense. Every one of the nominees desperately want to win. No one is saying throw a fit, but that whole exaggerated “I’m so happy I lost smiling face” has got to go. It’s fake, and every sentient human being knows its fake. So Russell showed disappointment? Good.
    And SLP will cross the $100 million mark on Monday. It’s a critical and box office success due to Lawrence; she is the linchpin for the whole movie and she is the draw. Maybe Russell is think that here we have a critically acclaimed and ultra-relevant young actress who did terrific work in a film that moviegoers actually saw and paid for, that has achieved extraordinary appeal, that actually did very well by this industry, who represents the future and who fans actually know, and then along comes the academy the slap all of that in the face by trotting out a relic of the French New Wave whose last relevant film was from the 1950s, whose current film is virtually unseen and who is virtually anonymous but for being in the race with Lawrence. It’s every obnoxious tendency of the academy rolled into one: snobbery, willful irrelevance, contempt for youth, contempt for achievement, contempt for the audience. The academy finds a way to snub young actresses almost every time. That’s its bread and butter. Like I said appalling. Losing to Chastain is one thing; she earned it if she wins. Losing to Riva is an insult to an actress who actually accomplished far more than causing a mind-numbingly predictable tingle in the legs of cinephile snobs. So I think Russell expressed it quite eloquently.

  21. February 16, 2013

    It’s every obnoxious tendency of the academy rolled into one: snobbery, willful irrelevance, contempt for youth,

    alas, the Academy’s notorious contempt for youth.

  22. Winston
    February 16, 2013

    @Ryan-Yes. Along with your well documented disdain for Lawrence.

  23. Winston
    February 16, 2013

    Anyway the academy has a history of making younger actresses “wait their turn.” Since 1980, you had Swank for Boys Don’t Crie (24-25) and Paltrow (If I recall 27). (Maitlin is outlier for evident reasons). But neither had a tenth of Lawrence’s appeal, which brings out the wait their turn fogeyism with extra emphasis.

  24. February 16, 2013

    …your well documented disdain for Lawrence.

    Show us the evidence you’ve collected.

    You’re mistaken Winston. How many times do I need to talk about how much I’ve admired Jennifer Lawrence in other films to make you understand I just can’t fall for her in this implausible role as Tiffany, miraculous healer of damaged souls, in a bogus movie that pretends to address rage issues but really only serves as two-hour excuse for behavior just like this:

    So I think Russell expressed it quite eloquently.

    yes, Russell’s eloquent expressions of rage are legendary.

    How is it that everybody buys into Russell’s story that Silver Linings was “inspired by my son” and nobody talks about how much Pat in SLP acts exactly like Russell himself?

  25. phantom
    February 16, 2013


    This ‘if Lawrence loses, it will be because the Academy disciminates against the young’ argument has to stop, it is probably THE weakest argument of this season. If the Academy is ageist, trust me Lawrence is not the one who will suffer, in the last 15 years they gave Best Actress to 5 twentysomethings, 7 thirtysomethings (ALL under 36), 1 fortysomething (a youthful movie star), and 2 legends in their VERY early sixties, and to top all that, NONE of the five twentysomethings had previous Best Actress nominations, so obviously they had to prove themselves as worthy winners MORE than previously nominated Jennifer Lawrence. So let’s not pretend that A. being the ‘young and pretty one’ in the Best Actress race isn’t a big advantage and B. giving it to Lawrence would be such a groundbreaking development, sure she is just 22, but it’s not like there weren’t a bunch of twentysomethings who won this award in recent years, meanwhile the age gap (!) between Riva and the oldest Best Actress winner of the last 15 years is actually MORE than Lawrence’s age (23 vs. 22). So again, do NOT believe for a second, Lawrence is the one hurt by her age here, because she is so obviously NOT. Riva IS.

    Long story short, it is a VERY weak argument that IF Lawrence won’t win it’s because the Academy discriminates against her age, when in reality if the Academy is ageist, the under 36 demo is not the one who suffers, it’s everyone else above 36…so imagine what an 85 year old has to face here…

    Also, I continue to be utterly shocked that you bring things like Box Office and star status into this as reasons why your favorite should win. In my opinion, those are reasons why she COULD win a professional award on paper purely based on the quality of her work, not reasons why she SHOULD. Also, let’s not pretend that if Chastain/Bigelow or Riva/Haneke made that face when Lawrence won something, you wouldn’t be giving them HELL right now, at least a little objectivity would be most welcome when it comes to Lawrence/Russell…

    P.S. Here, you might not see a 22 year old on this list, but you see A LOT of twentysomethings and actresses in their early thirties. You know what you won’t see ? A Best Actress winner in her eighties…OR seventies…OR over 62.

    1997 – Helen Hunt (34)
    1998 – Gwyneth Paltrow (26)
    1999 – Hilary Swank (25)
    2000 – Julia Roberts (33)
    2001 – Halle Berry (35)
    2002 – Nicole Kidman (35)
    2003 – Charlize Theron (28)
    2004 – Hilary Swank (30)
    2005 – Reese Witherspoon (29)
    2006 – Helen Mirren (61)
    2007 – Marion Cotillard (32)
    2008 – Kate Winslet (33)
    2009 – Sandra Bullock (45)
    2010 – Natalie Portman (29)
    2011 – Meryl Streep (62)

  26. phantom
    February 16, 2013

    Ryan, could you delete my first paragraph, I meant to delete it myself when I rephrased my comment, but clearly forgot it by the end.

  27. phantom
    February 17, 2013

    You know what, Winston, I bite, I will now tell you why I have a HUGE problem with David O. Russell, and before you start, these have NOTHING to do with the fact that I didn’t like Silver Linings Playbook, a film I was looking forward to thanks to the great buzz, and a film that was without a doubt the biggest disappointment of the season for me. I did LOVE the performances (still not sold on De Niro, though), but I was utterly disappointed with the ridiculously Oscar-friendly (=calculated) writing and directing.

    So here are the events that make David O. Russell come off as an entitled hypocritical douchebag with rage issues, someone who obviously feels the need to hide his true colors and pretend to be someone else basically EXCLUSIVELY during Oscar seasons.

    1. George Clooney confirmed that working with David O. Russell was “without exception, the worst experience of my life”, because he was verbally abusive to the cast and crew on Three Kings, which resulted a fist fight between them.

    2. You can see the Lily Tomlin video, Ryan just gave you the link. He is screaming, yelling, cursing throwing things at a (at the time) 63 year old FEMALE Oscar nominee. How classy and professional…

    3. About putting Christopher Nolan in a headlock, from The New York Times : And then Jude Law quits. Mr. Russell is devastated: instead of doing his movie, Mr. Law has decided to take a role offered by Christopher Nolan (“Memento”). At a Hollywood party, Mr. Russell runs into Mr. Nolan and — in full view of the party guests — puts him in a headlock. Wrapping his arm around Mr. Nolan’s neck, Mr. Russell demands that his fellow director show artistic solidarity and give up his star in order to save “Huckabees.”

    4. He outs his teenage son as one battling with mental illness but of course never clarifies that it is autism and keeps telling people everywhere that he made the lighthearted comedy about a man with bipolar disorder, for his son. Problem is, it simply doesn’t add up, especially because the ‘son angle’ which will result inevitable sympathy votes, hasn’t come up until the film became a viable Oscar contender, so it does SEEM like he is using the child’s struggles to get sympathy votes and an Oscar in the end…

    5. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like Russell is using an Oscar-campaign to promote a good cause, it feels like he is using a good cause to promote an Oscar campaign, and if that’s the case, that’s horrible. I mean, he keeps telling people he did this film for his son, but if that’s the case, why is it that he has this teenage son probably diagnosed with autism years ago, and this Oscar-season is the first time he felt the need to talk about him or the unfair treatment of people with mental illness ? IF he sticks with the cause for years to come, kudos to him and I will be happy to admit that I was just way too cynical here BUT if these ‘SLP people really care, you guys’ articles that have been everywhere lately, stop post-Oscar, he will prove once and for all, that yes, he WAS shameless enough to use a good cause for an Oscar campaign. Until then, he has the benefit of the doubt.

    6. The Biden Case – How could ANYONE – including Russell AND Biden – think for even a second, that the lead and director of a FICTIONALIZED COMEDY are qualified to have a discussion with the Vice President of the United States (!) about the very REAL and very SERIOUS issue of mental illness ? Furthermore, why were they invited to Washington to help announce introduction of the Excellence in Mental Health Act to Congress, the bi-partisan bill that was drafted in response to the shootings last year in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado ? Don’t you see how offensive that is ? They are introducing a bill because of two recent mass shootings, and they think for even a second, that the Cooper-Russell duo who made a lightweight comedy vaguely dealing with bipolar disorder, are now suddenly qualified to be there ? Not the survivors, not the policemen, not the ER doctors…no, the movie star and the director of a romantic COMEDY who happen to be up for Oscars this month…

    7. Not long after the ‘The Fighter’ Oscar campaign – an Oscar season after I was pleased to see that he seemingly calmed down and became a decent human being – his transgender niece (!) accused him of groping her which sure, in theory, could have been a vicious, attention grabbing lie BUT when The New York Times writes an article about Russell being ridiculously inappropriate to female co-workers on set (groping, rubbing up against, included), you have to ask yourself, HOW fabricated a story like this can be…

    8. Making THAT face when an 85 year old European acting legend has the nerve to win something over HIS leading lady, is just plain tactless.

    9. The Crying Game – Basically whenever he had to make a statement about receiving a nomination (Oscar, DGA whatever), he was quick to start with confessing that like a proper nice guy/emotional artist, OF COURSE he cried hearing the good news. Aww, how touched that poor David O. Russell is, now let’s just give him Oscars, no ?!

    As I said, in theory, all these stories could be fabrications OR the very least exaggerations, and he could have changed over the years and became a nice guy by now etc., but at the end of the day, taking everything into consideration, it doesn’t seem like he is the humble, emotional nice guy he acts like (basically exclusively) during Oscar season. And you know what, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck about his ‘scandals’, had they been in his personal life, but most of these happened ON SET, and I find that intolerably unprofessional.

    And you know who will prove you that he is faking ? David O. Russell. IF Lawrence doesn’t win Best Actress, take a looong look at Russell’s reaction, because I can guarantee you right now it will be the BEST fake smile/gracious loser face you will ever see, because trust me, he IS aware that his pretend-nice-guy image was damaged thanks to his Bafta-reaction, and will be super careful NOT to let his true colors show next time. THEN you will have to ask yourself : which reaction was the honest one ? Because ONE of the two was definitely fake…

  28. February 17, 2013

    phantom, I finally saw your request. My laptop died a horrific death today and I’ve been hours fixing it like frankenweenie.

  29. phantom
    February 18, 2013

    Urgh, you are a brave, strong man then Ryan, I would be crying like a bitch if anything happened to my dear laptop :) Thanks for the edit !

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