AwardsDaily is a free-thinking zone. Anyone who is not familiar with this site should be aware of that. This is great in some ways but probably not so great in other ways. Social media has trained us to form tribes and anyone inside one of those tribes would be expected to follow the ideology of that tribe. I don’t run my site that way. Writers here offer different points of view and belong to very different ideologies. I could fire everyone and say I only want writers who mirror my own beliefs but that would be, I think, a boring way to go. You’re kind of screwed either way – you can’t really build a large audience if you don’t adhere to any specific “side.” But you also can’t build a large audience if you only stick to any specific “side.”
Either way, that is what you get here. I am honest as I can be vis-à-vis Oscar and Hollywood analysis. Do I sometimes pull punches for studios and films? Sure. I will keep quiet about a film I may hate so as not to wreck that movie’s chances in the awards race (give or take). I never fake liking a movie. My weakness, like everyone’s, is in boosting films I want to do well as opposed to giving you cold, hard analysis. That is baked-in. If you love movies you can’t help but think the movies you most love will do well.
Love can sometimes be blind. I never regret standing behind a movie I love, however, even if that movie doesn’t go anywhere in the Oscar race. That’s because the Oscar race is just a moment in time, a fleeting glimpse of an industry and a collective trapped in time. Movies last much longer.
Take, for instance, 2014. Anyone reading this site knows I lost my mind over Gone Girl. I still have residual anger that the screenplay made it all the way through the necessary nominations but missed out on an Oscar nod due to Whiplash being placed in the Adapted category at the Oscars. But does anything that happened that year matter? Not really. In the flurry of the season the power accessible for various people shifted. Birdman won and that meant a lot for Alejandro G. Iñárritu and maybe Michael Keaton, even if he didn’t win. Boyhood was proof Richard Linklater had committed his talent to over a decade’s worth of storytelling. It didn’t win but it was still impressive.
No, the only movie anyone really talks about now, remembers, and is as resonate today as it was then, maybe even more resonate is, of course, Gone Girl. Do I feel bad I lost my mind for it? No. Was I right and everyone else was wrong? Of course. I was right because it is a great movie. The Oscar voters were wrong for not recognizing that.
You should never regret loving a movie so much that it obscures your objectivity. Like my dad would have said, “what else have you got to do?”
The irony of 2014 is that I felt resentful of Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash for taking Gone Girl’s slot — and again resentful of La La Land, for some truly sad and inexplicable reason for taking Moonlight’s spot (except it didn’t prevail in the end, famously). First Man turned me into a true believer for Chazelle’s talent. I was so utterly blown away by that movie it caused me to re-evaluate all of his work. Do I regret losing my mind for First Man out of Telluride even though it never made it to the Big Show? No. Of course not. I figure Chazelle is going to keep making movies and those movies will cause others to look back on his previous films, as we do with all of the greats. I just get to say I was there first with First Man and Gone Girl.
So what does all of this mean? It means we’re only human. We should go easier on each other across the board. In Oscars and everything else.
We’re in the midst of a pendulum shift, which I’ve been warning about for a few years now. Where we are as we head towards 2023 is when everything we thought was good for the past 20 or so years will wear out its welcome as the pendulum swings in the other direction. The bummer, at least for me, is that we won’t see a full transformation back to individualism until around 2033, if the theory holds. That means things are going to kind of suck for a while. For me, I wish I had 50 more years of life to see how it all turns out but alas, I do not.
Let’s revisit the book Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future by Roy H. Williams and Michael R. Drew. This book was written around 2011 and published in 2012, and is an interpretation of the book The Fourth Turning, which divides the span of generations into 80-year cycles. Pendulum divides those up into two 40-year cycles of a “me” cycle and a “we” cycle. We are coming to the last desperate gasp of the “we” cycle right now, wherein a “witch hunt” phase emerges.
The “Witch hunt” phase is born out of the idea that the group sees itself as “okay” and seeks to purge those who are not. This has reached extreme heights in our culture right now. No one knows exactly how bad it is going to get before everything breaks apart. Previous Fourth Turnings in America have included WWII, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, etc. Either way, for our purposes here, I figure things will change as new generations come of age. Can the Oscar race, can Hollywood, survive that?
If the Pendulum theory is any indication, yes. As the pendulum swings, we will get back in the business of what actually drives Hollywood – hero worship, individualism, the free market. We can see now what that looks like without it. In our efforts to make sure no one is left behind and everyone is represented we’ve lost the plot a bit.
Say Drew and Williams:
If history is a reliable guide, we’re about to take a good thing too far. As we approach 2023, the Zenith of our current “We,” we’re about to learn what Steinbeck was talking about when he spoke of a similar time: “a teetotaler is not content not to drink—he must stop all the drinking in the world; a vegetarian among us would outlaw the eating of meat. Yes, “working together for the common good” can quickly become self-righteousness. In the words of novelist David Farland, “Men who believe themselves to be good, who do not search their own souls, often commit the worst atrocities. A man who sees himself as evil will restrain himself. It is only when we do evil in the belief that we do good that we pursue it wholeheartedly.”
And this fun paragraph:
Out of balance: From halfway up a “We” to halfway down that “We” is the time of witch hunts, transparency, and authenticity: “I’m OK, you’re not OK,” the twenty-year season of Holy Wars, us vs. them. “We, the good and righteous defenders of truth and beauty against them, the evil and sinister malefactors intent on destroying our way of life” (2013–2033).
Hey great, sounds good. Looking forward to it! EEEEEK! How much worse can it possibly get than it is right now? Well, apparently a whole lot worse.
As they put together their book way back in 2011, they were trying to imagine who would be the witches and who would be the hunters. They could not have fathomed it because it was also about to kick into gear the year this book was published, 2012, wherein a new brand of social justice was taking root on college campuses and online — self-righteous, judgmental, punitive all in the name of protecting the new frontier of American life.
2013–2033: Who Will We Burn This Time? On the upside, the Zenith of a “We” offers some very specific marketing opportunities. Self-definition—“ branding” if you will—is no longer determined by who you include and what you stand for; instead, it becomes a function of exclusion: who you exclude and what you stand against.
Here’s the payoff: the easiest people in the world to manipulate are those who are focused on a single issue. Be forcefully against whatever they’re against and you can lead them around like a tame calf on a rope. You can’t have insiders without outsiders.
Hey that sounds good. Sounds fun! Sign me up. Just kidding. Where’s the off switch?
Finally, they offer a way to survive this era:
1. Listen with your whole heart, and try not to interrupt. Resist the temptation to put words into others’ mouths. Don’t be accusatory. Try to understand, truly, what “the other side” is saying. The last time we were in this “I’m OK, you’re not OK” cycle, Ernest Hemingway is reported to have offered the perfect advice to his readers: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” It’s time to heed that advice once again. WE Instantaneous worldwide communication might be able to help us mitigate the negativity and soften the viciousness of the next 20 years. But you must have the courage to speak up. —Michael R. Drew
2. Be capable of articulating calmly how “the other side” sees it. Always acknowledge that goodness and sincerity can be found on both sides of every argument. Paul Hewitt said, “The person who can state his antagonist’s point of view to the satisfaction of the antagonist is more likely to be correct than the person who cannot.” Most of us cannot articulate the position of our antagonist to the satisfaction of the antagonist because we fear that a clear understanding of their perspective might cause us to change our minds. And in an era of “I’m OK, you’re not OK” this feels like the ultimate disaster because, if that were to happen, we would, by our own self-righteous definition, no longer be “OK.”
When we discuss this Pendulum phenomenon with others, people often ask, “Will the advent of instantaneous worldwide communication (the Internet) accelerate the Pendulum?” The logic of this question is obvious, but we feel the answer is No. If intellect or information drove the Pendulum, the answer would most certainly be Yes. But these things don’t seem to drive the human heart. The pace of deep human change is agricultural—our motivations change at the speed of trees.
Think of a tree—a specific tree whose location you know. That tree seems not to change from day to day, right? And unless it’s very young, it seems not even to change from year to year. But take a snapshot of that tree today and then come back in ten, twenty, or forty years, and it will be astoundingly different. This seems also to be the way of the human heart. Grief counselors are very familiar with this “agricultural” pace of the human heart, as it often takes a complete cycle of four seasons for an emotional wound to heal. When a member of one’s immediate family is lost, a single cycle of four seasons barely begins this process of recovery. The Internet has done nothing to change this.
The good news, however, is that instantaneous worldwide communication might be able to help us mitigate the negativity and soften the viciousness of the next twenty years.
But you must have the courage to speak up. Edmund Burke is reported to have said 240 years ago, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
This is clearly a different kind of Predictions Friday. It still sort of counts. Some of you have been coming back here for two decades. Some of you have grown up on this site. It’s important to see where we are, what is changing and how it’s changing. In this world, the Oscars and the film industry, things are changing very fast.
I sense a bit of a shift happening both in terms of what audiences want to see (Top Gun: Maverick) and how the Oscars have become too reliant upon the insular world of film critics and film twitter that is becoming increasingly closed off from the outside world. I expect this is why storytelling seems to be so much more free in other countries. They are being held to the same sorts of rules this town is, or the same sorts of moral panics.
With that, here are your predictions as such. Paul Sheehan at Gold Derby has a fresh crop of predictions. These should be taken with a slight grain of salt as no one has seen any of the movies yet. But it’s interesting.
Sheehan has given a bit of a glossary outlining each movie which you can read at GD:
All of his “strong contenders” are auteur films, written or co-written by their director:
“Amsterdam” (20th Century – Fall)
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
“Avatar: The Way of Water” (2oth Century – Winter)
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
“Babylon” (Paramount – Winter)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
“The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight – Fall)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
“Bardo” (Netflix – Fall)
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Writers: Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone
“Empire of Light” (Searchlight – Fall)
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Sam Mendes
“The Fabelmans” (Universal – Fall)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner
“The Greatest Beer Run Ever” (Apple TV+ – Fall)
Director: Peter Farrelly
Writers: Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly and Pete Jones who adapted the non-fiction book of the same name by Joanna Molloy and John “Chickie” Donohue.
“Women Talking” (UA – Fall)
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley, who adapted the novel of the same name by Miriam Toews.
Moving on to the “strong contenders” it’s along those same lines – written and directed by the same person:
“Armageddon Time” (Focus – Fall)
Director: James Gray
Writer: James Gray
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Disney – Fall)
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24 – Spring)
Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Writers: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
“The Son ” (SPC – Fall)
Director: Florian Zeller
Writer: Florian Zeller, who adapted his play of the same name.
“Tar” (Focus – Fall)
Director: Todd Field
Writer: Todd Field
“White Noise” (Netflix – Fall)
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach, who adapted the novel of the same name by Don DeLillo.
“The Woman King” (Sony – Fall)
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writers: Gina Prince-Bythewood and Dana Stevens; story by Maria Bello
And then we move on to the collaborations — different writers and directors:
“Bones and All” (UA – Fall)
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: David Kajganich, who adapted the novel of the same name by Camille DeAngelis.
Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Chloë Sevigny
Plot: Maren, a young woman, learns how to survive on the margins of society.
“Causeway” (Apple TV+ – Winter)
Director: Lila Neugebauer
Writer: Elizabeth Sanders, Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh
“Don’t Worry Darling” (WB – Fall)
Directors: Olivia Wilde
Writers: Katie Silberman, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke
“Poor Things” (Searchlight – Fall)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writer: Tony McNamara, who adapted the novel “Poor Things” by Alasdair Gray
“She Said” (Universal – Fall)
Director: Maria Schrader
Writer: Rebecca Lenkiewicz, who adapted the non-fiction book of the same name by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
Then we get to the possible contenders, first the auteurs:
“Blonde” (Netflix – Fall)
Director: Andrew Dominik
Writer: Andrew Dominik who adapted the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates.
“Decision to Leave” (MUBI – Fall)
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writers: Park Chan-wook, Jeong Seo-kyeong
“Elvis” (Warner Bros. – Summer)
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (Netflix – Fall)
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
“Triangle of Sadness” (Neon – Fall)
Director: Ruben Ostlund
Writer: Ruben Ostlund
And those that are collaborations:
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (Sony – Winter)
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Writer: Anthony McCarten
“A Man Called Otto” (Sony – Winter)
Director: Marc Forster
Writer: David Magee, who adapted the novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman.
“Till” (UA – Fall)
Director: Chinonye Chukwu
Writers: Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp, Chinonye Chukwu
“Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount – Spring)
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig, Justin Marks
“The Whale” (A24 – Fall)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Samuel D. Hunter
The first thing I’d note is simply that auteurs as sole screenwriters don’t win Picture, Director and Screenplay very often. It happens — but usually there is a co-writer, as with Iñárritu and Birdman and Bong Joon-Ho with Parasite. Somehow we all seem to dive into the Oscar race still believing that someone is going to win all of those major prizes. The reason they don’t is that, with ten nominees, voters like to “spread the wealth.”
CODA — Picture, Screenplay, Supporting Actor
Nomadland — Picture, Director, Actress
Parasite — Picture, Director, Screenplay (co-writer)
Green Book — Picture, Screenplay (co-writer), Supporting Actor
Shape of Water — Picture, Director
Moonlight — Picture, Screenwriter (co-writer), Supporting Actor
Spotlight — Picture, Screenplay (co-writer)
Birdman — Picture, Director, Screenplay (co-writer)
12 Years a Slave — Picture, Screenplay, Supporting Actress
Argo — Picture, Editing, Screenplay (different writer)
The Artist — Picture, Director +
The King’s Speech — Picture, Director, Screenplay (different writer)
The Hurt Locker — Picture, Director, Screenplay (different writer)
CODA appears to be the only film that won Screenplay and Picture with a single writer, just not director. Not nominated for Director either so there’s that. Would it have won all three? Maybe. Who knows.
My other comment on Paul’s list is to have Elvis down so low at this stage of the game is what I would consider to be dereliction of duty and/or allowing one’s personal dislike of a movie cloud their judgment. Elvis has legs. Word of mouth is driving it at the box office. Last weekend it was still holding at #7 with $128 million. We likely have a strong Best Actor contender with Austin Butler — and Best Actor is pretty much married to Best Picture. He also has Top Gun Maverick too low, considering what a massive impact it has had culturally this year. So yeah, I’d rethink these Paul! With due respect to my buddy.
My own imaginings for Best Picture would look something like this, starting with what we know and moving backwards to what we imagine might happen — for nomination only, not wins:
Top Gun: Maverick
Everything Everywhere All at Once
These three films have been seen, did well, and should be remembered by year’s end.
Then we move on to what sounds good or “sexy” to me as a Best Picture choice:
The Greatest Beer Run Ever
Empire of Light
My next in line would be:
The Woman King
Don’t Worry Darling
But it’s early yet. You can see some themes emerging from some of this. It looks like a great year so far.
I have definitely worn out my welcome with this post. Wishing you all a great weekend.