Academy Member says Movie ‘Selma’ has ‘No Art In It’; says Filmmakers Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts Is ‘Offensive’

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An anonymous female Academy member gives Patricia Arquette a nod “for having no work done in 12 years,” says she “could have watched my hair grow” during ‘Foxcatcher’ and resented ‘Selma’ filmmakers wearing “I can’t breathe” T-shirts.

This is a lightly edited transcript of a conversation with an Academy member — who is not associated with any of this year’s nominees — about her ballot. A conversation with a different member will post each day leading up to the Oscars ceremony on Feb. 22. Needless to say, their views are not necessarily endorsed by Scott Feinberg or THR.

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First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?

American Sniper is the winner of the year, whether or not it gets a single statuette, because for all of us in the movie industry — I don’t care what your politics are — it is literally the answer to a prayer for a midrange budget movie directed by an 84-year-old guy [Clint Eastwood] to do this kind of business. It shows that a movie can galvanize America and shows that people will go if you put something out that they want to see. With regard to what it did or didn’t leave out, it’s a movie, not a documentary. I enjoyed it, I thought it was well done, and I can separate out the politics from the filmmaking.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, like American Sniper, is a big hero this year because it shows that people can and will remember how much they loved a movie, even if it comes out in March. I am not a Wes Anderson fan, but as his movies go, I liked it.

Birdman is a great job by Fox Searchlight — it’s a weird, quirky movie that they did a really good job of selling. I never thought that it would make it all the way to the finish line like it has — but then I remember that it’s about a tortured actor, and when you think about who is doing the voting, at SAG and the Academy, it’s a lot of other tortured actors. I just don’t know how much it’s resonating out in the world. I mean, American Sniper made more in its third weekend in wide release than Birdman has made in its entirety.

If you told me when I saw Boyhood that it would win best picture — or even be in the running — I would have told you that you were insane. Watching it, I thought it was ambitious and a directorial triumph, but the kid was uneven and Patricia Arquette probably was sorry she agreed to let them film her age over 12 years. I never thought, “Wow, this is the one!”

The funny thing about Whiplash is that while the rest of the world thinks that the J.K. Simmons character is an overbearing, horrible monster, there are many people in Hollywood who would model themselves on that character. As for the film itself, it’s a very traditional story, in some ways, about mentoring and excellence — that kind of movie has existed since [the 1933 film] 42nd Street. “You’re gonna go out there, and I’m gonna yell at you that you can do better, and you’re not gonna like me for it but then you will.”

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter | Scott Feinberg

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