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Obst Cuts Into ‘There Will Be Blood,’ Sums Up the Poststrike Mood

Marion Cotillard in the “under-frog” film La Vie en Rose.Photo courtesy of TFM Distribution


As Oscar night approaches, David Edelstein and Hollywood producer Lynda Obst are discussing the race. Check back here Friday morning for another round.

To: David Edelstein

Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 12:38 PM

From: Lynda Obst

Subject: RE: No Country for Good Cheer

Dear David,

To say it’s been the winter of our discontent doesn’t overstate the despair that has gripped Hollywood since late October — as you know, having shared in the Hollywood bummer that was the writers' strike. Now that it’s over — having suffered through a party-less, drama-less, impoverished Globes season, not to mention that eight-week strike, which cost the local economy some $3 billion — we have arrived at something to celebrate. And what this town needs is a good bash: Half the place seems in the mood to get gussied up and let bygones by bygones, while the other half probably still feels like throwing a few back in a crew bar and having it out with their local studio head/agent/ producer/writer. Still, even Graydon Carter canceled his big party in favor of Chinese food in bed. The only option is to start the betting pool and declare it Pajama Oscar year.

There are definitely Two Favorite Oscar Contenders — and you named them, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. (Interesting how quickly American Gangster, this year’s Aviator, lost its Oscar buzz.) They are both Big, Tough Men’s movies, difficult to watch at times, and difficult to market in Middle America — both are dependent on Academy wins to reach the purple states (one reason the studios have been so anxious for awards season). And as many have noted, they are classic division movies. Studio heads made comedies, made money, and attend the ceremony as parental figures to their classic divisions. Hollywood is not too far out of step with the critics, with broad swaths of (fanatical) allegiances going to No Country and Blood; your prognostication about Juno benefiting from a split vote may be prescient. Though, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, “You are no Little Miss Sunshine, Juno” — nor do I sense a very big movement behind the movie for Best Picture. My guess is that it is Juno’s writer and little miss star who will shine.

For cinematography, I am prejudiced in favor of Roger Deakins, a genius whose craft is more subtle and technical than that represented by the huge, ejaculating oil wells in the anamorphic Blood. I would have voted for No Country’s simple, impeccable art direction — which, not being very flashy, was not nominated. Its brilliant, minimalist sound (almost un-sound) was noted, however, and I think it will win.

Yes, I think Javier is a lock. His is such a memorable and defining performance: It shows us the face of the existential other, the one that can neither be caught nor beaten. And for Cate Blanchett, the mere feat of having been nominated for two awards — a Kate Winslet–Forest Whitaker–like accomplishment — may in itself convince the Academy give her and the fascinating, actor-rich I’m Not There the supporting nod. Her competition as of now seems to be Marion Cotillard of La Vie en Rose, who is enjoying a healthy Academy campaign, for an “under-frog” film.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Julie Christie, of course, are also heavily favored, if not locks … who are we kidding? If there is such a thing, Daniel is a lock. Julie Christie made me weep, and despair for the vagaries of time and mind I am now living through in my own family. Daniel’s performance was so strong that he shattered the second half of the movie for me: Paul Dano strained to keep up and then cracked, harming the end of the epic. (It’s one of your faves, David, I know.)

Let’s pick up at the end of the week once I find an editor for the comedy we’re shooting in Boston. As for Wisconsin, my heart’s in my mouth.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,
Lynda

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