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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:56 pm

If The Hurt Locker is winning Best Picture, it will also take Best Editing for sure and likely also Cinematography. It might also win one of the sound awards, who knows? But don't count the film as winning only one other award if it's popular enough to win Best Picture.
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Postby Greg » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:46 pm

Big Magilla wrote:We are in a different era now, so as you say, nobody really knows anything, but as has often been proved true, those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. I think in the end the preferential voting system will have no effect one way or another and when The Hurt Locker triumphs over Avatar the system will be abandoned going forward.

You also have to take into account that Kathryn Bigelow will probably be the only winner for The Hurt Locker other than Best Picture; and, I think Rebecca, for 1940, was the last film to win Best Picture while winning only one other award.
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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:46 pm

Tee, Crazy Heart has the benefit of being in theatres post-awards, something that The Hurt Locker didn't have but it is still criminally under-released for a probable Best Actor Oscar winning performance.

As for the winners under the old preferential system, let's remember that this was in the era when studios were very much in control.

It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, Going With the Wind, Going My Way and to an extent, The Lost Weekend, were extremely poplar films that would probably have won under any condition at the time.

Supposedly there was bartering done between Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner that involved MGM employees voting for Paul Muni in Warners' The Story of Louis Pasteur and Warners' employees voting for The Great Ziegfeld for Best Picture.

The extras were blamed for Casablanca's win over The Song of Bernadette. They were probably to blame for You Can't Take It With You's win as well. Ater all, Frank Capra was their hero for allowing them in.

Rebecca's win was attributed to the film's re-release at year's end. The Grapes of Wrath, which had been released in January, 1940 was apparently not as fresh in the minds of the majority of voters, though it didn't stop them from voting for John Ford and Jane Darwell. Zancuk, having learned from this, opened How Green Was My Valley in L.A. on January 12, 1942, the last day of eligibility for 1941, thus insuring that it would at least be rememebred by voters.

With no clear favorite in 1937, The Life of Emile Zola strikes me as the only one that may have benefited from the preferential voting system.

We are in a different era now, so as you say, nobody really knows anything, but as has often been proved true, those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. I think in the end the preferential voting system will have no effect one way or another and when The Hurt Locker triumphs over Avatar the system will be abandoned going forward.




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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:38 pm

I'm perhaps understating its critical support, but that doesn't change the remaining argument.
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:12 pm

OscarGuy wrote:And, I also remember that before it started winning everything in sight, no one really even took it as a consideration for the best film of the year. Some may have, but it was never really talked of in that context, but as a good film that critics genuinely liked, but weren't head-over-heels for.

I realize that I'm the worst person to make this argument, given my enthusiasm for the film, but I completely disagree with this statement. The Hurt Locker received outstanding reviews from critics. To call it a 'good film that critics genuinely liked, but weren't head-over-heels for' is a tremendous understatement, IMO. Last summer, I read many articles on The Hurt Locker's poor box office in which numerous critics described it as the year's best American film thus far.

I didn't think it would win all three critics awards, but I knew it would win at least one, and that plenty of critics would think that, like me, it was the year's clear standout. I know some around here have been less thrilled by the film than I have, and that's fine, but its critical reception was very, VERY positive.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:07 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Tee, if you take a look at the Box Office Mojo page for weekend box office results for The Hurt Locker (http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=w ... locker.htm), it shows the maximum expansion was to 535 theaters.

Ah, thanks -- I never know where to look for those things. It was a bit less than I thought, but hardly a limited release. Crazy Heart, for example, is an a pace to do at least Hurt Locker's gross in far fewer theatres. Bottom line: if there had been an established audience for the film it would have lasted longer and done better.

I feel like I've become the designated trasher of Hurt Locker here, and I don't mean to be (even though I think the film's overrated). I like to think I'd be just as skeptical (or even more, a la BJ) if it were a deep personal favorite, because facts are facts, and the history makes the film a long shot despite appearances.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:02 pm

The Original BJ wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:I remember winning the DGA, WGA and Editors Guild award, and thinking it would manage to eke by despite its lackluster box-office.

This sentence is missing a major detail.

And, although I said it in another thread, I'll say it again. The last Best Picture winner that made less than The Hurt Locker was Gigi over a half century ago (and that's in actual dollars, not 1958 dollars). So that's a significant enough demerit to make me really nervous about its Best Picture prospects (aside from the fact that it's my favorite and its closest competition might be my least favorite nominated picture.)

I'm not even certain about Bigelow's Director win, given the overall murkiness of the race, though I do think she will likely prevail.

Yeah, somehow I typed over "Reds' when I made a slight change. I fixed it.

And, of course, as you say, Gigi's -- what -- $10 million dollar gross? -- would be probably be $100 million today.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:01 pm

Tee, if you take a look at the Box Office Mojo page for weekend box office results for The Hurt Locker (http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=w ... locker.htm), it shows the maximum expansion was to 535 theaters. I think it's poor performance has more to do with a public increasingly tired of shitty Iraq war films that they didn't give the film nearly a chance. The trailer also made it look fairly standard for one of these films, so I can imagine a lot of people not being that interested.

And, I also remember that before it started winning everything in sight, no one really even took it as a consideration for the best film of the year. Some may have, but it was never really talked of in that context, but as a good film that critics genuinely liked, but weren't head-over-heels for. Only from November forward did I really start getting that impression and that was mostly after it started picking up critics awards.

I may not have been reading what everyone else was, but that was my impression of the film prior to Oscar season ramping up.
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:46 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I remember winning the DGA, WGA and Editors Guild award, and thinking it would manage to eke by despite its lackluster box-office.

This sentence is missing a major detail.

And, although I said it in another thread, I'll say it again. The last Best Picture winner that made less than The Hurt Locker was Gigi over a half century ago (and that's in actual dollars, not 1958 dollars). So that's a significant enough demerit to make me really nervous about its Best Picture prospects (aside from the fact that it's my favorite and its closest competition might be my least favorite nominated picture.)

I'm not even certain about Bigelow's Director win, given the overall murkiness of the race, though I do think she will likely prevail.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:32 pm

I was blocked out of my computer last night, and couldn't respond to the responses here.

Magilla, I don't have the figures at hand, but my recollection is that Hurt Locker had some kind of standard if not truly wide expansion -- 800-1100 theatres, anyway. This is not on Avatar/Transformers level, but it's easily as wide as Good Night and Good Luck or Milk, both of which did better than twice Hurt Locker's gross.

As for the winning films under the old preferential system (and I'm not sure '44 and '45 should really be included, as preferential with 10 as opposed to 5 is a different animal) -- I'd say some would have won anyway (Gone with the Wind, clearly), but The Great Ziegfled, The Life of Emile Zola, You Can't Take It With You, Rebecca...I'd have my doubts. (And Inside Oscar tells us that Song of Bernadette was the expected favorite in '43. That Casablanca has endured as the ultimate beloved movie shouldn't blind us to the fact it might have been a surprise in its day)

Jack, I think you're just too willing to say "all precedent doesn't matter". Yes, Hurt Locker has done very well in precursors, but it still is the lowest-earning film to seriously contend for best film that any of us can recall. It's worth giving that history at least a little consideration. I remember Reds winning the DGA, WGA and Editors Guild award, and thinking it would manage to eke by despite its lackluster box-office. We all know what happened there. I certainly think Hurt Locker COULD win best film -- chiefly because there doesn't seem to be a clear path for any film this year. (As William Goldman once wrote after analyzing a particularly weak bunch of female nominees: "Conclusion: no one can win best supporting actress") But the certainty of some here reminds me of the equal certainty about Little Miss Sunshine, despite some of uupointing to its non-nomination for directing as a mitigating factor.

Okri, I do think Children of Men was poorly marketed, but in a different way, one that's become too common: selling it as something standard (in this case, rollicking action film), cashing in one weekend, then watching as it drops because audiences found a different film than they'd been promised. Ideally, it would have had a prestige run, gradually expanding with word of mouth...but studios don't seem interested in such an approach today.

dws, my analogy to critics' voting may not have been exact -- though I'm not sure critics automatically start their strategic voting on the second ballot (it certainly comes in on third and later). My chief point was, the initial leaders can slip back when secondary choices are blended in. Certainly there's no reason to assume a flm back in the pack will be the beneficiary of later votes, but there's no reason it can't happen, either. I think partisans of Inglourious or Up in the Air hold out hope because the Avatar/Hurt Locker divide appears to be growing bitter, which might lead to alot of last place votes and boost something more broadly acceptable. Again, I think back to that Reds race, where On Golden Pond was actually viewed as the alternate choice, but Chariots of Fire came up on the outside (with no precursor help) and took the big prize.




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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:19 am

The preferential voting system for Best Picture on the final ballot was in place from 1934-1945. Does anyone not think that the films that won in those years were the films that would have won anyway if a simple majority vote had been used to determine the outcome instead?

1934 - It Happened One Night
1935 - Mutiny on the Bounty
1936 - The Great Ziegfeld
1937 - The Life of Emile Zola
1938 - You Can't Take It With You
1939 - Gone With the Wind
1940 - Rebecca
1941 - How Green Was My Valley
1942 - Mrs. Miniver
1943 - Casablanca
1944 - Going My Way
1945 - The Lost Weekend

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Postby dws1982 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:44 am

Mister Tee wrote:And to answer dws' question, how can a split between Hurt Locker and Avatar help Inglourious Basterds (or, I'd argue, Up in the Air): the same way a film or performance that doesn't lead on the first ballot at a critics' voting can move up and win the final tally. As I understand it, all ballots will be sorted by first place vote. At that point, it's possible Hurt Locker and Avatar will have the most votes, but well short of the 50%+1 necessary for a win. But the next step will be to take the tenth-place finishing film's ballots, and reassign by the second place votes on those ballots. Then the same with the ninth-place film. It's possible that, after a few rounds of this, a movie like Basterds or Up in the Air can do well enough in runner-up votes to overtake one of the leaders. By the end, you're down to two films, and there's no saying just because a film was leading based on first-place tallies that it will still be even among the top two once second/third/fourth places votes are re-distributed.

I'm not sure that I agree that a split would work the same way it would in a critics award vote. In a critics award vote, the voters are voting together, and they know after round one what films lead, and can strategically put their support behind one film to try to put it over the top, or to keep something else out of the winner's circle. Here, essentially, all strategy has to be done in the first round. If you want to block Avatar from winning, your best bet is to put The Hurt Locker at the top and Avatar at the bottom. This could lead to an interesting dynamic, and I think that divisive films are going to run into trouble with this system, since voters aren't just voting for their favorite, but can also vote against their least favorite. But I don't see how, when the tenth, ninth, and eighth place films are eliminated, films like Inglourious Basterds or Up in the Air would be put to an advantage. It's possible, but it's also just as likely the distribution of the second place votes would still break in favor of Avatar and The Hurt Locker, or that the second place votes would kind of evenly thrown in every direction, which wouldn't put anything at a distinct advantage.

Bottom line though, is that William Goldman's famous line, "Nobody knows anything" is very much applicable to the Best Picture race with this preferential ballot.

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Postby jack » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:26 pm

The Hurt Locker's boxoffice shouldn't even be an issue. Though I don't consider Hurt Locker the best of the year (it would rank second behind Ken Loach's Looking for Eric) it does have to be said that its precursor success is quite fantastic. What's happening here is a hopfull indication that a film doesn't have to be a $100m boxoffice hit to be considered an awards contender.

And I'm sorry, but Best Picture is not an open race. It's The Hurt Locker's to lose. Avatar might have an outside chance (everyone one else may as well just turn up for the photo opp) but I can't see that happening.

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Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:18 pm

Franz Ferdinand wrote:All I know is that I saw The Hurt Locker in the theaters when it came out - it was playing at a multiplex, even!

Really? Hmmm. Maybe it had different distribution in different parts of the country.

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Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:16 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Magilla, I think you're making excuses. The Hurt Locker had its shot at doing better. It opened well in big cities; it simply didn't hang on. Just for instance, Memento almost a decade ago had the same sort of little-publicity-but-great-reviews release, and almost doubled Hurt Locker's gross in actual (as opposed to relative) dollars, by hanging around at a successful level. And Memento was too little a film, in the end, to get more than two nominations. The Hurt Locker had an initial rush and fairly quickly faded. I know people who love the film wish to death it had been more successful -- as I wish A Serious Man or Children of Men or Far from Heaven had been -- but you don't do your argument any favors by twisting statistics.

It's all in the distribution. A film can't make money in big cities alone. The Hurt Locker never opened wide. Would it have made a difference? Who knows, but the inexperienced Summit Entertainment, which threw all their eggs into the Twilight basket, was the distributor. The New Moon was the only film they opened wide this year.

Memento, which was produced by Summit as well, did more than just hang around. It was widely distrituted by Newmarket. Summit didn't get into the distribution business itself until 2006 with a film called Penelope. Remember that one? If so, you're probably the only one.

Fortunately I was able to see The Hurt Locker in one of the few theatres outside of big cities that bother to show poorly distributed films.

If I remember correctly Children of Men and Far From Heaven had wide distribution. I don't think A Serious Man did. Why Children of Men didn't do better at year-end awards I don't know, but Far From Heaven had highly vocal detractors as well as supporters and was probably wouldn't o have won whether it had been a box office hit or not.

In a conventional year, films like Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air would be likely alternatives to keep a phenomenon like Avatar from sweeping the awards, but there's something about The Hurt Locker that has taken hold and just won't let go.

Is it really the film that most people, having been given the opportunity to see it, liked better than any other this year or are there underlying factors at work?

Is it that the prevailing feeling is that it's time a woman won Best Director and as Best Director goes, so goes Best Picture? Is it that there's a collective subconscious that feels it's about time a film about a war which has raged for going on eight years is acknowledged? Or is it simply a desire to ignore commercialism and award a film that has something to say, unlike the heavily promoted in-you-face fare that we can see at any multiplex?

The intriguing question is whether this year is a fluke or a harbinger of things to come in future awards years.


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