The 84th annual Academy Awards lovefest is eight months away but the Oscars are already provoking heated debate in Hollywood.
That followed an unedifying row between two leading awards' commentators over whether it's too early to start prognosticating about the winners when we're only half way through the season.
The Wrap's Steve Pond analysed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's new stipulation that a film must earn at least 5 per cent of the first-place votes to earn a best picture nomination.
Using various critics' Top 10 lists for 2010 in his simulated model, Pond concluded that more than 25 per cent of the votes in that category won't count, arguing, “The new rules could very well change Oscar campaigning, hurt consensus movies that would have fared well in the past, and essentially take the decision out of the hands of hundreds of Academy members in the Oscars' marquee category.
“Critics who voted for The King's Speech or The Social Network helped their top choices get nominated. Ones who went for Biutiful or Shutter Island had their ballots redistributed to help out another pick. But the ballots of critics whose top picks were True Grit, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right and 17 other films were left sitting on the table.”
The Academy's outgoing executive director Bruce Davis concedes the new rules will mean more voters will lose their chance to influence the nominations slate. But Davis defended the move, telling Pond, "It's not as though those voters have been disenfranchised. They had a fair chance to help choose a nominee, but not enough other voters shared their admiration for their top-line film.”
At least one Academy member wasn't convinced, posting a comment to The Wrap which asked, “Can someone explain why I'm reading this on The Wrap but have never been asked by the Board of Governors for input on this important change before they voted on it? How can they represent members if they don't tell members what is under consideration and give us the chance to weigh in?
As for the possible contenders at the 84th awards, to be presented February 27 Australian time, The Hollywood Reporter's Gregg Kilday gazed into his crystal ball and came up with a lengthy list of candidates, most of which neither he nor anyone else has seen.
Among the titles whose chances he fancies, which he's had the benefit of actually watching, he nominated Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (pictured) and J.J. Abrams' Super 8.
As for most of his other tips well, your guess is probably as good as his, as he reeled off numerous films including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Martin Scorsese's Hugo Cabret, Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and two from Steven Spielberg, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin.
Kilday's musings provoked a furious riposte from the Los Angeles Times' Patrick Goldstein, who wrote, “Go ahead and gag with a spoon.”
Labelling Kilday's column as a “dreary thumbsucker,” Goldstein argued, “If there were such a thing as Oscar porn, this would be it, as Kilday runs though all of the serious and not-so-serious contenders months before anyone has seen a frame of footage.
“The bad news for the movie business is that this sort of nonstop forecasting is exactly what has wiped out any of the anticipation we might have for the Oscar race. Having to imagine an academy season that never ends is exactly the kind of buzz kill that makes you want to tune out the Oscars on a regular basis.”
I'm with Goldstein. Would it be too much to hope the so-called Oscars experts hold off on their predictions until they've seen the majority of the films in contention?