Hollywood-Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells has raised $2,000 in order to screen Tyrannosaur earlier than the studio’s intended screening, in early November.
Jeff believes, and rightly so, that time is of the essence in the Oscar race. Momentum and consensus slowly build around a handful of contenders. Once that momentum gains traction it is often hard to break up the cluster. Of all of the branches, though, the actors are the easiest to infiltrate. The reason for this is that, until you get to the SAGs and the Oscars you don’t have actors voting for actors. You have film critics voting for actors and that is a whole different ball of wax: actors know more about acting than critics do – they know it from the inside out. The trick is always getting them to see the film. There are two ways to do this – the first way is to get to the bloggers, like Jeff, to champion the contender — works sometimes (we championed Winter’s Bone last year, for instance, and Javier Bardem) and sometimes not (we both championed Lesley Manville to no avail). Or you can go straight for the actors themselves. You hold Q&A screenings for SAG members who also might be Academy members.
“Yesterday afternoon I announced Hollywood Elsewhere’s Tyrannosaur fundraising campaign with the idea of raising $2000 to cover the rental of a screening room that Strand Releasing doesn’t want to pay for. I’m happy to announce that just shy of $700 — more than a third of the amount required! — is now in the safe. So I’m asking again for all believers to step up and throw in $20 or so to help pay for this. Tyrannosaur power!”
That was Jeff’s plea. Some of his readers kicked in little amounts but then he got a huge chunk of it from an anonymous donor looking to help out the film. This is a very kind thing to do, especially anonymously. Though I support Jeff 100% I am always skeptical about any kind of campaigning. Oscar voters get hinky about it when it’s too obvious. Or do they? Melissa Leo’s FYC ads from last year didn’t seem to hurt her as she ended up winning that damned Oscar after all.
You can lead an Academy voter to water but you can’t make him think. The truth is that great performances are a matter of opinion – opinion and consensus. To Jeff’s mind, it isn’t fair if no one can even see the film to decide for themselves. That, and he’s probably sick of being one of two or three people championing Colman.
The Academy can’t control our output as bloggers and critics; but they can control access to their members. Try as they might, with plain screener wrappers and party blockage, the Oscars are never going to be just about the movie or the performance. Buzz is what carries a nominee through. Buzz can only be controlled to an extent. Dreamgirls had buzz covered up one side and down the other but it still wasn’t enough to get that film a Best Picture nomination.
One can sometimes get lulled into the notion that the internet is everything and that actual buzz doesn’t have to exist. But it does. The performance has to be good, like Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock good. Like Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose good. If it is that good, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a nomination. The problem with Colman isn’t that she isn’t good enough – it’s that there are so many better actresses holding their spot for the Best Actress so whom do you bump?
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help (confirmed in lead)
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
And those I feel pushing through, other than Colman, would be Charlize Theron for Young Adult, Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ellen Barkin for Another Happy Day, Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Macy May Marlene, Keira Knightley for A Dangerous Method, Michelle Yeoh for The Lady to name a few. Whom do you bump?
Swinton got there first, before any of the other actress’ names were being bandied about. Swinton was buzzed starting all the way back in Cannes. Streep and Close are living legends and Viola Davis is probably going to win. Michelle Williams is a Weinstein contender and bet against them at your own peril. Ditto for Olsen, who is the adept hands of Fox Searchlight.
So then we get down to supporting actress. To Jeff, a case could be made for Colman in supporting. But will the studio run in that? Would Academy voters vote for her in that? She really only needs to get a SAG nod to be really in the running for the Oscar in any category.
But what of Supporting?
We have Octavia Spencer for The Help
Vanessa Redgrave for Corolianus
Jessica Chastain for The Help, Tree of Life, Take Shelter
Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs
Shailene Woodley for The Descendants
Judy Greer for The Descendants
Sandra Bullock, presumably, for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Marion Cotillard for Midnight in Paris
Vanessa Redgrave for Anonymous
Joely Richardson for Anonymous
Surely Olivia Colman could make it in there somewhere.
I’ve seen people campaign to the Academy both in standard newspaper stories, film reviews, editorials — I’ve seen ads purchased for contenders. What I’ve never seen is someone setting up a screening for a film whose production company can’t afford to set one up. I think that’s aces on Jeff’s part. What do you think?