PODCAST: Oscars derby update from Variety's Anne Thompson
Tonight I ran into Anne Thompson of Variety at a Warner Bros. fete in Beverly Hills and ambushed that noted film guru and ace Oscarologist to give us her take on the derby to date. Inside, the party din was too loud to record a podcast so we stepped outside where the background roar of passing traffic was at least a bit less intrusive.
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On the topic of what's out front in the best-picture race, Anne says, "I think we have some frontrunners — 'Atonement' is in there, 'American Gangster.' I think 'Juno' is rising fast. 'No Country for Old Men,' very highly regarded. It will get a big boost from critics' groups, I suspect. There's been some debate about how the academy responds to that movie, but I'm hearing a lot of really good things. 'Diving Bell' coming up in the rankings.
"'Sweeney Todd' is a movie that works really well for people who love this musical. Obviously, the production credits, as Variety would say, are fabulous. It looks great: makeup, costumes, production design, all of the things you'd expect Tim Burton to deliver. Johnny Depp's performance. I see all of these things doing very, very well. The question is if it gets all the way to best picture. But it's a very violent film. Geysers of blood. Is it a work of art? Will the academy override the gore to reward this, as they did with 'Silence of the Lambs'? That was an outright horror film that they decided deserved to be considered a work of art. Last year's 'Pan's Labyrinth,' extremely violent — a work of art. The question with 'Sweeney Todd' is: will the elderly, classy academy members with distinguished taste buds be willing to wolf this one down?" (Click here to hear more of our full podcast chat.)