So, MTVU is holding a contest for college students to win a place on the red carpet before the Oscars. We have a q&a one of the entries, David Distenfeld, who compete with his cameraman, Lawrence Chen, against the other finalists.
I watched them all and I’d say David is one of three who strike me as the best. I gave him my vote. He is a film student, not a journalist major, and seems to know more than the others in terms of film awards, and specifically the Oscars. The others were all charming and could act well in front of the camera but they didn’t seem to have the same kind of insider knowledge he had. Anyway, take a look at the vids and vote here. David’s q&a after the cut.
Do you and your college friends watch the Oscars every year?
You bet. There’s nothing better than spending seven to eight hours with some of your best friends. But seriously, I’ve definitely tried to get my college friends aboard the Oscar night bandwagon.
Do you always see the movies that are nominated for the Oscars?
Yes, I try to, and this is something I did even at very young age. I remember when I was 10 I asked my parents if I could go see “American Beauty” in theaters. When they said no, I replied, “But it’s nominated for Best Picture and has swept all the guild awards.” (That story is actually NOT that exaggerated.)
If you could change one thing about them what would it be?
I actually like most aspects of the Oscars, from the hosts to the winners to the musical numbers. However, I think the presentation of the awards themselves is absolutely ridiculous. First, there is always such bizarre pairing of presenters. Please welcome Dame Helen Mirren and, from “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” Kevin James. Second, the banter seems to constantly come off as inappropriate and awkward. HELEN MIRREN: This ceremony marks the end of an awards season that began with the Golden Globes. KEVIN JAMES: Helen, you seem to have brought your own “golden globes” to the show tonight. (Long Pause) HELEN MIRREN: Here are the nominees for Best Sound Mixing.
Here’s my suggestion: I want to see Anthony Hopkins (Nixon #1) and Frank Langella (Nixon #2) present together‚Äîthat would be fantastic.
If you could wave your wand and have everything you wanted, would you change the Best Pic lineup?
Sure, I’d love to see The Wrestler up there instead of The Reader. However, what I’d really like to change is the Best Song lineup. How can the greatest musical artist of all time not be included? No, that’s not a Miley Cyrus reference. I’m talking about Bruce Springsteen.
Who are you hoping to interview on Oscar night and why?
While it would be nice to interview some famous actors, I really want to meet and talk to the writers and directors nominated. They never get enough attention on the Red Carpet and, as an aspiring filmmaker, I think they deserve a lot more notice. I’d most want to interview director Danny Boyle, who would probably be even more excited than me to be at the Oscars, if that’s even possible. Also, I think screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has a great story that most people, especially college students, don’t know much about. By the way, my cameraman, Lawrence, wants to meet Frida Pinto.
Do you think the Oscars are out of touch with the American public and the TV watching public?
Yeah, a bit. It’s easy to pick on The Reader, but the fact is it’s one of the least acclaimed and lowest grossing BP nominees from the past five years. Who really loved that movie? Also, it’s so rare that a commercial success is also a critical success and usually the Academy rewards these films (Titanic, Lord of the Rings, Saving Private Ryan), which makes the exclusion of The Dark Knight and, to a lesser extent, Wall-E so absurd. Were they the best movies of the year? Maybe not. But, in my opinion, they were definitely better than The Reader, Frost/Nixon and (gasp!) Slumdog Millionaire.
Is it one of your big dreams to win an Oscar?
Yes, of course. I think it’s one of everybody’s dreams.
What is your favorite movie this year and why?
I loved The Wrestler and Man on Wire, but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was by far the best for me. I love epic films when they’re done right. The premise felt like it came straight out of a Charlie Kaufman script (or, I guess, an F. Scott Fitzgerald story) and it had so many interesting things to say about aging and life’s coincidences. Of course, it was also (CGI) heads and shoulders above every other film this year visually. I can tell you that my mom starting crying as soon as Old Daisy opened her mouth, which must break some record.
Who is your filmmaking hero and why?
Steven Spielberg (clich√©, I know), but no one else has ever made films that have such a high level of both artistic integrity and general accessibility. My producing hero is Scott Rudin‚Äîit was a great experience working for him this summer, though I probably wouldn’t want to have been one of his assistants nomination morning (any other day is fine).
Wall-E or Kung Fu Panda?
I think this is an extremely easy question to answer (Wall-E), but apparently every voter of the Annie Awards disagrees.
Sean Penn or Mickey Rourke?
I’m going with the old broken-down piece of meat. Plus, Rourke is best friends with Bruce Springsteen‚Äîyou can’t top that.
Meryl Streep or Kate Winslet?
Nuns or Nazis? Hmm‚Ä¶ Nuns.