F.I.L.M. of the Week (September 10, 2010)

10 09 2010

There’s been plenty of attention paid to the Oscars on this site recently, and there will be significantly more starting next week.  The Venice Film Festival will wrap tomorrow; Toronto began yesterday; Telluride came and went.  The race is now beginning to take shape.  Exciting, isn’t it?

I find myself getting a little too carried away with the whole awards season, as do many other people.  We think that Hollywood is obsessed with the Oscar hunt, spending millions upon millions pushing their movie in an attempt to secure it a place in cinematic history.  But not everyone is amused.

Case in point: Christopher Guest.  His 2006 ensemble comedy “For Your Consideration” is a dead-on satire of the Oscar chase, seen from the eyes of the people whom the outcome directly affects.  It’s a reminder for those of us who get caught up in the craze that the whole thing is really a silly game and doesn’t deserve the serious attention we give it.  So I’m hoping that by entering it into the “F.I.L.M. of the Week” series, I might remember how trivial these awards really are in the grand scheme of things.

It all starts with a rumor as some idle Oscar buzz around Marilyn Hack, played with hilarious gusto by the ever hilarious Catherine O’Hara, and her performance in “Home for Purim” gets the star’s attention.  The movie is still shooting when the word gets out, and all of a sudden, it becomes all that anyone can can talk about.  The actors, the directors, the writers, the technical crew, the producers, the agents – everyone suddenly begins to believe they are a part of something special.

Dynamics begin to change around the set as the arbitrary layer of prestige is added to the production.  Hack’s performance is affected as she tries to pull typical over-the-top emotions just begging for Academy attention.  Beyond Hack, everyone starts acting solely out of self-interest to push themselves into awards contention as well.  This is more than just a movie about the Oscars; it’s a cautionary tale of what can happen if we get too wrapped up in layers of self-importance.

There’s a great exchange between Harry Shearer’s B-list actor Victor Allan Miller and his makeup artist.  While fixing his hair, the artist says, “The Oscars are the backbone of this industry,” to which Miller replies, “In an industry known for having no backbone.”  In just two lines, Guest smacks the nail on the head of Oscar frenzy.  Actors are involved in more compelling drama off screen than on, and their lives become an act to satisfy the politics of awards gimmicking.  The Academy or any other significant voting body couldn’t in their right minds honor a movie that so deftly lambasts their institution, but “For Your Consideration” has a home here.  I’m an Oscar maniac and won’t hide it; however, I’ll have Guest’s movie in the back of my head all season telling me to recognize these movies for their art, not their campaigning.

Oscar Moment: Screenplays

22 11 2009

NOTE: This “Oscar Moment” is a tad different from any of the prior ones.  Rather than focusing on a specific movie, this post focuses on a particular category – in this case, screenplays.

A part of the Oscar season that I particularly love is watching the studios promote their movies.  Thankfully, my friends over at Awards Daily do a fantastic job of monitoring the “For Your Consideration” ads that are placed in Variety and other indudstry magazines.  But as the Internet becomes bigger and more present in our lives, the studios have adjusted campaigns slightly over the past years.  Now, they have set up “For Your Consideration” websites designed to promote their movies to the voters but also provide a place for average moviegoers to learn more about the movies simultaneously.

A recent feature that most studios have graciously included on these sites is access to the screenplay of that movie in its entirety.  Personally, I find these a great way to learn about the different styles of moviemaking in the race.  Some movies draw heavily from their screenplay, others use it as merely a guideline.

Therefore, I feel it to be my duty to impart the knowledge of this treasure trove of movie gold to any interest moviegoer reading this blog.  Click on the links below and they will take you to the screenplay for that movie (I will update this page periodically with new screenplays when they become available).  Enjoy, because the race is just beginning!

NOMINEES for Best Screenpalay:

Click here to read the screenplay for “Precious.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “An Education.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Hurt Locker.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “Inglourious Basterds.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “A Serious Man.”

Other Screenplays:

Click here to read the screenplay for “A Single Man.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “Nine.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “It’s Complicated.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Informant!”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Road.”

Click here to read the screenplay for “The Blind Side.”