Oscars 2008

Put Your Dollar on Michael Clayton
E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
Feb. 22 2008 1:31 PM

Oscars 2008

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Dear Troy and Dana,

Oh, the excitement! Oscar week at last, the writers' strike is over, the red carpet is being unfurled …

Advertisement

Is the suspense killing you?

Didn't think so.

Obviously the Academy is aware of the problem. Veteran Oscar watchers were stunned to see that VH1 is broadcasting a show of the "Twenty Greatest Oscar Moments." The Academy is famous for refusing to allow use of clips from past shows. But this year it has opened its zealously guarded vaults, and for what? One of those list shows that are a staple of cheap cable. Or, as VH1 elegantly puts it: "We're counting down the wackiest, zaniest, most unexpected moments in Academy Awards history!" It's "a dose of fun to get everyone in the mood" for Oscars!

And yesterday this landed in our mailbox: "The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched a branded Oscars® channel on YouTube™ —www.YouTube.com/Oscars—featuring Academy Awards® show highlights and exclusive video interviews with members from each of the Academy's branches." Another dose of fun!

The folks at the Academy may talk a good game about their confidence in this year's show, but behind the scenes they must be terrified. The suspense isn't killing us, but it may be killing them. And you can't blame them for trying to reach out.

Last week we talked to a veteran Academy member and Oscar forecaster who, because of that all-important relationship with his employers, declined to be named here. "I can't even vote," he moaned. That's how bored he is by this year's crop—dark films that, with the exception of Juno, haven't exactly danced their way into America's heart.

Not only does our Oscar guy find the films uninvolving, but, yes, most of the top contests seem predictable, he says. Our guy thinks No Country will win even though he says the so-called ending is indefensible. In his view, the surprise winner might not be Juno but Michael Clayton. You heard it here. The premise seems to be that No Country and There Will etc. will split votes, and popular Clooney will step through. That would be nice for Warner because our fellow thinks that the studio spent more money on marketing Michael Clayton than the movie has generated in revenue. It's important to keep George happy because to Warner, Oceans is more important than Oscar.

Our expert also acknowledges the inevitability of Daniel Day-Lewis. "The guy's played three roles and only three roles!" he hisses. "The twerp, the tough guy, and the artist … I like subtle performances." And so on.

The larger issue is that the studios have all but abandoned those midlevel movies that used to get audiences and Oscars. They have specialty branches that nurture smaller films like the ones that are nominated, and the rest is Spider-Man and Pirates. If that trend doesn't change, the Academy needs to hope that the VH1 and YouTube can deliver.

Cheers,

Kim

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 8:07 AM The Dark Side of Techtopia
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 2 2014 6:00 AM Can’t Stomach It I was shamed for getting gastric bypass surgery. Should I keep the procedure a secret?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 2 2014 7:30 AM What Put the Man in the Moon in the Moon?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?