One of the things you get a pretty good read on if you start watching the Oscar race early is the planted buzz. It comes usually with the following phrase, “I’m hearing great things about…” Even in Fall that phrase evaporates the moment the film opens to critics. With that in mind, no one right now is more busy than Jeff Wells, who is smartly firming up his awards coverage as he needs to be a player in order to secure ads. We all do, but Jeff is loud and proud about it. In fact, he doesn’t even pretend to be objective; he comes right out and says who should win. This item popped up recently:
A reliable friend in the creative community (i.e., no suspicious agenda) has written two things in response to the 2008 roundup piece: (a) “I’m hearing Doubt is really good and a likely Oscar contender” and (b) “Also hearing excellent things about things about Milk. Everyone is flipping out about how great Sean Penn is.”
Who are these mysterious voices out there feeding the “reliable friend” his information? Perhaps the friend has “no suspicious agenda” but the friend isn’t the one who saw anything. The friend is merely parroting back information he heard from ….
We know that it’s 99% probable that Sean Penn is worthy of people flipping out his behalf. Early Oscar chatter like this is, generally speaking, manufactured at the source. That doesn’t mean the movies or performances won’t be good, because sometimes they luck out. If a category is weak to begin with heading into any particular year, the hard core buzz machine can work for a writer or actor simply by making it all seem very real. Buzz is ever-elusive. 50% of it is true but the other 50% leaves those outside of the game scratching their heads in wonder, “how did that person end up with a nomination?” Well, this is how. Believe it or not, it starts this early.