• The Dec. 16 nominations announcement for the Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live on TNT from the Pacific Design Center. Nominees are determined by the 4,200 SAG members who sit on separate film and television screening panels. In the wake of the success of other awardscasts going live nationwide, the 17th annual edition of these kudos will follow suit. TNT and TBS will beam the Jan. 30 festivities from the Shrine Auditorium live from coast to coast beginning at 5 p.m. PT. SAG AWARDS
•Scott Kraft chats with "Fair Game" star Naomi Watts and Valerie Palme, the real-life subject of the film. L.A. TIMES
• Erik Childress surveys the lead actor field and speculates on a last-minute entry by Christian Bale ("The Fighter"). MOVIEFONE
• Sasha Stone points out a clever marketing trick pulled off online by "The Social Network" and "Black Swan." AWARDS DAILY
• The long lists for one of the top three West End kudos have been released and, as Natalie Woolman notes, "Judi Dench, Gemma Arterton, Sheridan Smith and Keira Knightley are among the nominees for the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress." Knightley made her West End debut in a production of Moliere's "The Misanthrope" last spring and received generally good notices. Also in the mix is "Another Year" star Lesley Manville for her performance in "Six Degrees of Separation." The final list of nominees will be released on Nov. 21 with the winners announced at a ceremony one week later. THE STAGE
• Knightley is set to return to the West End in the new year headlining a revival of Lillian Hellman's provocative 1934 play "The Children's Hour" opposite Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"). The subject was quite shocking at the time -- two schoolteachers whose close friendship subjects them to the scurrilous rumor that they are lesbians. And, as per Patrick Healy, with all going well in the West End, American audiences will see Knightley make her Broadway debut next fall. ARTS BEAT
• Anne Thompson dismisses the notion that Tyler Perry could get into the game for his screen adapatation of the 1977 Tony-nominated play "For Colored Girls." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD
• Greg Ellwood catches up with Jennifer Lawrence, lead actress hopeful for "Winter's Bone," during her whirlwind visit to L.A. during a break in filming "X-Men: First Class" in London. HIT FIX
• Jeff Wells wonders why more pundits aren't predicting that Anne Hathaway in "Love and Other Drugs" will be in the awards mix. HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE
Photo: Keira Knightley in "The Misanthrope." Credit: Comedy Theatre.
Huge controversy surrounds the involvement of Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." They signed on as executive producers after the film was shot, thus offering their celebrity status as support to help boost the profile of a movie with an important social message. Are they therefore entitled to win an Oscar statuette if "Precious" wins best picture?
Official answer: no. "The rule is up to three producers get statuettes," a studio rep tells Gold Derby. "The producers are Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness."
Among those slamming Winfrey and Perry for their participation in "Precious" is Armond White of New York Press, who is chairman of the New York Film Critics Cirlce. Recently, he fumed in print: "Shame on Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey for signing on as air-quote executive producers of 'Precious.' After this post-hip-hop freak show wowed Sundance last January, it now slouches toward Oscar ratification thanks to its powerful friends. Winfrey and Perry had no hand in the actual production of 'Precious,' yet the movie must have touched some sore spot in their demagogue psyches. They've piggybacked their reps as black success stories hoping to camouflage 'Precious'' con job — even though it's more scandalous than their own upliftment trade."
Watch Winfrey and Perry discuss "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" in this trailer.
Photos: Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. Credit: Lionsgate
The shocking omission of "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" from the list of Gotham Awards nominees has triggered an uproar. Does this mean that there's a backlash against the likely Oscars contender since it swept top awards at the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals? Will it reverberate at the Oscars? Or is this just one of those ridiculous, irrelevant side shows we should all just ignore because it's a fluke — a case of huffy film critics acting stubbornly against a popular trend when permitted to decide the nominees of an awards group?
Gold Derby asked other esteemed Oscarologists what they thought about this possible "Precious" backlash. Here's what they wrote back published in the order in which I received the emails:
JEFF WELLS, HOLLYWOOD-ELSEWHERE.COM — If there's a "Precious" backlash — "if," I say — it's due to the oppressively ugly, emotionally sadistic vibe generated by Mo'Nique's "mom from hell" character. It's a movie about compassion and, at the end, a ray or two of light breaking through the clouds, but the cruelty we are obliged to endure (along with poor Gabby, of course) is quite awful to absorb. Mo'Nique sells malicious monsterhood like a champ. So if — IF — there's a certain hesitancy or resistance to "Precious," it's that.
STEVE POND, THE ODDS, THEWRAP.COM — I suppose there might be a slight film-snob bias that says a movie loses some of its indie credibility when it's embraced by figures as mainstream as Oprah and Tyler Perry. But unless that bias is backed up by some kind of feeling that the movie doesn't deliver the way its staunchest admirers insist it does, I don't see it affecting the Gotham voting. Hell, even film critics could handle Oprah loving the movie if they really loved it too. I don't think any of the critics on the Gotham panels have yet gone on record about "Precious"; my guess is that when they do, we'll see some qualms that have nothing to do with Ms. Winfrey.
If Oprah does devote a full week to the movie, and if those shows come across as heavy-handed overkill, then we might legitimately see an Oprah backlash. Then again, since when do film critics and academy members watch Oprah?
SASHA STONE, AWARDSDAILY.COM — I agree that the backlash is so miniscule it won't really matter in the long run.
I think sometimes bloggers and journalists get caught in a vacuum when a film has been seen by many who cover this stuff but not yet seen by, much less released to the general public. Once the movie is seen and there is actual buzz instead of fake buzz it will be easier to tell how the film will do overall, and with the academy.
As far as Oprah goes, I don't think Oprah's word and Oprah's word alone can ever really push a film in or out of the Oscar race. It doesn't matter how much breathless coverage there is, how many great reviews — and in some cases, bad reviews — if it strikes their fancy, they vote for it. If it doesn't, they don't.
Although I suppose the case could be made that since Oprah has delivered a few bombs that people might think, oh great, here comes another bomb — but the truth is, "Precious" is NOT "The Great Debaters," which was schmaltzy and went nowhere. "Precious" has already won the audience award at Sundance AND at Toronto. That is why it isn't at the Gothams — they seek to be unique.
BOB TOURTELLOTTE, REUTERS -- There's probably a bit of a snub and may well be tied to Oprah and Perry signing on. I don't "know" that, but I'd believe it. And I understand the logic. Gotham has consistently awarded the "truly independent," which as you know is raising money on your own and working outside the mini-majors and specialty wings. At first, "Precious" or back then "Push" would fall into that vein, but along come Sundance and then Oprah and Cannes and Perry and Lionsgate and it begins to have the feel of a bigger movie, one that has a certain amount of cache and name value and departs from the "truly independent" arena. So, yes, if you or Lou told me it was snubbed because Oprah and Tyler Perry signed on, I'd believe it.
"Precious" is good enough, I think, to rise above any negative impact the reverse Oprah Effect might have.
GREG ELLWOOD, HITFIX.COM — Ludicrous, I would suggest he take a serious look at the previous winners in this category. The Gotham Awards are hardly a barometer on who will or won't get nominated for an Oscar. More importantly, "Precious" plays. You don't win the audience award at both Toronto and Sundance and the grand jury at Sundance without winning people over. Can you remember the last film that played at all four major festivals? Backlash? Please. Another four weeks and someone will be stupidly proclaiming "Avatar" will win best picture. Ridiculous.
Hmmm. I agree with Lou that a backlash is brewing against "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," but among some film critics, not among Oscar voters or other industry folks and not as a result of Oprah's or Tyler's embrace. (An interesting theory Lou's got, though — more on that later.) As Lou notes, "Precious" topped IndieWire's critics' poll, but now I think critics are starting to resent the fact that their darling flick's gone mainstream, as evidenced by it winning the audience awards at the Sundance and Toronto International film festivals. Now "Precious" is obviously Oscar-bound. Critics are stubborn, contrary-minded folk, of course, and I think we're seeing classic evidence of that in the nominations just announced by the Gotham Awards.
If any film should've been lavished with bids from the New York-based awards honoring outstanding indies, it's "Precious," the Harlem-based drama that towers above all other indies this year in terms of awards buzz. Clearly, it should've been nominated in three Gotham Awards races (where it was eligible — yes, we checked): best picture, breakthrough director (Lee Daniels) and breakthrough performer (Gabby Sidibe and/or Mo'Nique). However, these are the judges who decided to snub "Precious" when they chose the nominees in those categories. Best picture: Rajendra Roy, chief film curator, Museum of Modern Art; Lisa Schwarzbaum, film critic, Entertainment Weekly; Dana Stevens, film critic, Slate.com; and Kenneth Turan, film critic, Los Angeles Times. Best breakthrough director and actor: Florence Almozini, program director, BAMCinématek; Justin Chang, film critic, Variety; Rob Nelson, film critic, Minnesota Post.
It's curious that the Gotham Awards continue to submit to the tyranny of film journalists to decide their nominations — something the rival Indie Spirits, based out on America's opposite coast, would never do — considering all the trouble they caused in the past. Film journalists are so wacky that they brazenly, arrogantly flouted the whole purpose of the Gotham Awards in 2006 and nominated "The Departed" for best picture even though the huge Warner Bros. production, budgeted at $90 million, was as far away from being an indie as Manhattan is from Akhiok, Alaska (population, 80). One year later, they pulled another shockeroo. The critics responded to all of the gushing over "Juno" at the Toronto Film Festival by snubbing it for best picture at the Gothams. (It made it into the category for breakthrough performance, but that's that.) In both cases, the Indie Spirits righted such obvious wrongs by snubbing "The Departed" and giving their best picture award to "Juno," which was also nominated for the top prize at the Oscars.
It's safe to say that the Spirit Awards will rectify this ridiculous snub of "Precious" by heaping kudos upon it. Pay attention to the soap opera as it plays out. The Indie Spirits and Gotham Awards used to be part of the same organization, then split, partly due to the Manhattanites having the gall to create their own Gotham Awards after the Spirits had been humming along so merrily for so long out in L.A. How much these rival awards loathe each other can be seen hilariously in how they announce nominees and winners. This year, just like last, the Spirits will try to upstage the Gothams by unveiling their nominations just hours before the Gothams announce their winners on Dec. 1.
So, yes, I think there's a backlash against "Precious," but it's a peculiar, isolated case, not epidemic, so therefore not significant. Just like "Juno," "Precious" will rebound just fine with major laurels at the Indie Spirits, Oscars, Golden Globes and, yes, even a few brave critics' kudos. Certainly, the Critics' Choice Awards, which are bestowed by the broadcast journos, not the snobby others.
Now back to Lou Lumenick's point about Oprah. (Click here to read his full article.) Could there be an Oscar backlash against flicks she pushes hard? That's a fascinating idea that Lou expresses thus: "Oprah's own Oscar nomination for 'The Color Purple' notwithstanding, she simply does not wield the same influence in the film world that she does with literature and theater. Witness her embrace of Baz Luhrmann's 'Australia,' which she hailed as another 'Gone With the Wind,' something that even Nicole Kidman looked embarrassed to hear. O reportedly plans a full week of shows to push 'Precious.' Yikes. Which I'm not sure is going to help the movie's Oscar chances (or its performance in year-end critics' awards) any more than Perry's recent public confession that he was abused as a child. After all, he's best known to Oscar voters as the cross-dressing star/director of wildly popular lowbrow melodramatic farces."
Oprah was also a producer of "The Great Debaters," which was unjustly snubbed at the Oscars. Ditto "Beloved," which I truly loved, but it got crucified by critics first, then snubbed by Oscar.
Coindidence? Or do you think there's anything to this theory? Or to the idea of Tyler Perry's silliness being to blame? Vote in our polls below and check out the discussion of this hubbub in our forums here.
Read what other top Oscar bloggers have to say about the "Precious" backlash in this post that rounds up reax they sent to Gold Derby.