Now that a new derby season has begun, my L.A. Times colleague Patrick Goldstein, as usual, confuses it with hunting season and is already taking potshots at other Oscarologists.
On Wednesday he blasted away at some pundits who offered their best-picture views to Gold Derby, adding, "Call me old-fashioned, but this is another good reason why all of our nutty Oscar pundits should be required to actually watch a movie before being allowed to publicly predict its Oscar fortunes."
That certainly wasn't Goldstein's policy back in the old days, before the recent proliferation of award pundits, when he still held this terrain largely to himself, issuing racetrack odds on Oscar front-runners long before even the National Board of Review kicked off the derby with its first award.
In 2001, Goldstein issued his earliest odds on the best-picture race, betting on "Ali" in August — long before he saw it and seven months before the Oscar ceremony took place — with 4-to-1 odds. "Ali" wasn't even nominated; "A Beautiful Mind" triumphed.
In 2003, Goldstein issued his odds in early November — before he saw "Cold Mountain" or "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King." His odds on best picture: "Mystic River" (6-1), "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (8-1), "Cold Mountain" (10-1), "Finding Nemo" (14-1) and "House of Sand & Fog" (15-1). "Mystic River" didn't win, of course, and 60% of his picks for best-picture weren't nominated.
Goldstein's racetrack odds used to be an annual attraction. But now he refrains from making firm predix, preferring to take potshots at others who do. Last year he blasted me and cohorts as a "gang of daffy, clown-suit-clad Oscar bloggers" who have "hijacked" the Academy Awards. He thrills at taking aim at me personally. He's written in the pages of the L.A. Times that reading Gold Derby is "a high camp experience," like watching a Joan Crawford movie (a compliment, actually, which he meant as insult, of course) and blasted me personally as "the poster boy for the trivialization of Oscar coverage."
The one person who seems to be safe from Goldstein's public ridicule while Oscar blogging is Goldstein. Two months ago, on Sept. 1, he fumed at me for commencing Oscar discussions too soon over movies none of us had seen yet. Then, just two days later, he announced at his blog that the Oscar hopes of "The Road" — which he hadn't seen — had taken "a big dive" after Variety's review came out. Seven days later, after a few more reviews surfaced, a headline at his blog advised readers to "Put 'The Road' back on your Oscar contender ballot."
Photo: Weinstein Co.