Open Thread for January 28, 2011

Crank this thread Open until the bass BLOWS OUT YOUR WINDOWS. Then, regret the choices you’ve made. Did anything happen this week other than Oscar nominations being announced? Probably! But we’re too lazy to look. If you want to discuss … Continued

Crank this thread Open until the bass BLOWS OUT YOUR WINDOWS. Then, regret the choices you’ve made.

Did anything happen this week other than Oscar nominations being announced? Probably! But we’re too lazy to look. If you want to discuss something else, sound off in the com– oh, wait, too soon for that part. Sorry. Hold up.

Here are the Academy Award nominees:

Best Actor, Man Parts: Jeff Bridges in a role John Wayne made famous; Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and James Franco playing real people; Javier Bardem playing, honestly, I’m not sure what. Try watching the trailer and tell me. Is he a drug dealer with cancer? Is he a sweatshop owner raising special needs kids? He looks great, don’t get me wrong.

Best Actor, Woman Parts: Annette Bening as a lesbian; Natalie Portman as a ballerina with a lesbian sex scene; Michelle Williams as a wife grappling with domestic ennui; Jennifer Lawrence as a teenager tracking her meth-dealing father through the Ozarks after he put up their house for bail and fled, and holy shit. Wow. Don’t everyone else’s problems sound trivial compared to that? I’ve had to dig my car out of a lot of snow this winter, but I’m doing all right.

Best Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech, The Kids are All Right, The Fighter, Inception and Another Year. Two of those are based on true stories and one’s named after a Who song, so how original can they be? Am I right? Am I right? (Am I?)

Best Movie For All the Marbles: Oh, crap, they’re doing that thing where they nominate ten movies again. Do I have to write them all out? You know the ones. With the dancers and the meth addicts and the other meth addicts and the dream ninjas and the Facebook and Toy Story 3. Good luck picking a winner out of that bunch.

Could Mark Wahlberg take Natalie Portman in a fight? (Yeah, yeah, I know, but think about it) Or is there something we missed? Sound off in the comments, for this is your … Open Thread.

16 Comments on “Open Thread for January 28, 2011”

  1. Gab #

    I am highly doubtful Toy Story 3 won’t win, but I think I’d prefer How to Train Your Dragon more. The experience of the latter was different and more enjoyable, imo.


  2. Trevor #

    Colin Firth is one of my favorites, so even though I haven’t seen the King’s Speech yet I’ll be rooting for him (Eisenberg was golden in the Facebook movie, of course, but Firth is great if he was just reading the phone book aloud). I have a crush on the lovely Ms. Portman, so based on that alone I’m gonna pull for her. I tend to be superficial when making my Oscar picks.

    David Brent met Michael Scott on the Office, and the universe did not collapse into itself.


  3. Chris #

    I’ve only seen three of the Best Picture Nominees (The Fighter, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone) plus five minutes of Black Swan in which I got to see (spoiler alert) Winona Ryder stab herself in the face, so there’s that.

    I thought The Fighter and True Grit were really good, but I don’t have the same lofty opinion that many have on Winter’s Bone. It’s pretty good, but I can’t speak more highly of it than that. I still want to see The King’s Speech and The Social Network, but I’ll probably only be able to see one before the Oscars actually happen. I figure The Social Network and The King’s Speech are going to take home most of the awards, but I think Christian Bale and Melissa Leo have a good chance of taking home their categories. Deservedly so, might I add. Leo in particular was tremendous.

    The collision of The Office worlds reminded me of my long dormant question to watch a couple episodes of all the spin offs of The Office. There is even an Israeli one now! Alas, so far no dice on anything outside of America and the UK.


    • CC #

      I beg to differ. I think BLACK SWAN and THE SOCIAL NETWORK (not THE KING’S SPEECH, despite its high number of nominations) will walk away with the majority.

      I think Best Actor, however, will likely go to THE KING’S SPEECH, as the only thing I found decent about this film is the performances from Colin, Geoff, and Helena.

      Best Actress will be for Natalie Portman, I think, not only because of her fantastic performance, but for the fact that she had to run an entire movie around her — her world, her crazy little world — and Annette Bening, her competition, got to tango with Julianne Moore. Natalie is in every scene. Not true for Annette. It’s down to that.

      Best Animated Feature — TS3. No doubt.

      And I would love it if Hailee Steinfeld won for TRUE GRIT for Best Supporting Actress (even though she’s clearly the lead of that film, what with her being in every single scene).

      Either way, looking forward to the Oscars. It’s my major celebration of the year. The only film I haven’t seen now is 127 HOURS. I was hoping to have seen them all, but I won’t have that watched ’til after Feb. 27, which is a shame. Oh, well.


      • Gab #

        I feel like Steinfeld was shoe-horned into the supporting category because she’s so young and up-and-coming. She indeed *was* in every scene- more than Bridges, and he got a lead actor nomination.


  4. Bob in San Diego #

    Does anyone think that Toy Story 3 shouldn’t win Best Animated Picture because it is up for Best Picture? I mean, I love the movie but I don’t think it should be able to go for both.


    • Sillyweasel #

      I don’t think qualifying for multiple categories should mean a film is relegated to one or the other, otherwise you’d never have has any of the Lord Of The Rings movies up for best picture, along with Best Score or Special Effects for example. Animated films have their own category for a reason, and that reason is not because an animated film cannot be the best film of the year.

      Personally my vote for best film of the year IS Toy Story 3. I’ve actually had the urge to watch that film multiple times, in the theater, and again and again now that it’s available in my dvd player at home.
      Of all ten movies on that list I felt more emotionally connected to Toy Story 3, moved even to friggin’ teary eyed sniffles, than any of the others. I can count the number of stories that have managed to do that in my entire life on one hand, and it shouldn’t matter one bit whether or not the focus of any of those stories was a flesh and blood human being in a film directed at people over the age of 13 anymore so than if the story is based around animated toys and safe for all ages. A good story is a good story.


    • cat #

      I do…but that might just be a little leftover resentment that the Best Animated Picture category wasn’t around for much of the Disney Renaissance.

      @Sillyweasel I don’t think your argument works because the question is about a film qualifying for different categories while you’re talking about different elements of a film. You could nominate Ben Affleck for directing The Town AND for acting in it, but it would be a little unfair to nominate him for acting as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the name movie…or for a better analogy that doesn’t exist because these categories don’t exist…if you were to nominate one of the voice actors from Toy Story in a Best Actor category and then AGAIN in a Best Voice Actor category.


      • Sillyweasel #

        You’re talking about a single aspect of a film, not the film itself. An actor being nominated for the lead and a support role would have to actually play two separate roles in the movie, the lead as well as another character who is a supporting character. Either way if both performances were separate and completely different characters I don’t see a problem with that either.


  5. George #

    Yeah, I was surprised that Christopher Nolan was passed over for a Directing nomination… maybe they thought the Screenplay nod would make up for it?

    Also, after seeing The Other Guys and Black Swan in the same weekend, I think Mark Wahlberg and Natalie Portman should have a dance-off.


  6. elle #

    who was the winner of the female action movie script contest

    the one that was called the linda hamilton screenwriting contest

    i looked all over this site because i was curious about what happened but it never gets mentioned again

    sucks for the poor saps who sent their creative ideas into random anonymous people on the net

    it should serve as a warning to people to register your work with the WGA at least before entering any contests


    • fenzel #

      Hey Elle,

      Let me explain what happened, because it was entirely my fault. I came up with the idea of the screenwriting contest and announced it before I’d thought my idea all the way through, and there were a bunch of problems.

      I have never run a screenwriting contest before or anything like this — many of these contests are written for a variety of reasons, good or bad, involving control of the work and money and whatnot, so there is a lot of legal haranguing around these things and best practices. I had no idea about any of this stuff. So when my dad, who had been an attorney for a long time, recommended I put some stuff in about ownership of the work, I did.

      Little did I know it really offended people who had experience with this stuff and were more invested in the screenwriting and pitching business. We got a bunch of complaints, and I clarified the rules. I wasn’t comfortable with where we were from a legal/ownership perspective — I’m primarily an improv / 48-hour film / black-box theatre playwright kinda guy – I make art quick and dirty, and while I have a decent amount of experience in theatre management, I have no experience in intellectual property law. So this got things off way on the wrong foot.

      I would definitely not call the people who entered “poor saps.” We were not trying to abuse them or anything — we (and by that I mean I) just had no clue what I was getting myself into with all the tensions around this stuff.

      Plus, there were only 3 entries, by Kenny Beyerly, Alec Harkness and John Turner, who are all awesome.

      I wanted more entries before judging the contest, so I continued to extend the deadline.

      I had gotten a bunch of local amateur and freelance filmmakers and videographers (people from the same sort of artistic community I hang out with) on board with the project, but what was being called for in John’s script in particular (which probably would have won if I’d completed the contest) was just way beyond our ability to film it. Like, helicopters and stuff in Southeast Asian war zones – I had no idea what we were going to do with this thing.

      I also had judges on board, but we wanted to get more scripts before doing the judging.

      But as I extended the deadline, unfortunately, people started dropping out. Filmmakers moved on to other projects. Judges weren’t as interested. Energy behind the project faltered.

      And then the whole thing just fell apart.

      I’m not proud of how it went, because it was a pretty great idea, and I’d like to do it again sometime – but if I do it again sometime, I want it to be done right, and I want to make sure I have the knowledge, time and team to make it work properly. That combination hasn’t really been there for the last couple years for me.

      So, yeah, this is on me for biting off more than I could chew and also for just inadequately promoting the thing or keeping the team engaged. I made a lot of mistakes.

      But I want to address this legal thing – I definitely, definitely never intended to take away people’s rights to their projects. I assumed the only people who would want to enter were amateurs who just wanted their work out there – I didn’t think we’d get interest from serious people with well-developed scripts, and it didn’t occur to me that, given the invitation to collaborate, since for me OTI and the people behind it have always been really ethical and positive contributors, well … it didn’t occur to me there would be problems with people not trusting our intentions.

      So I’m sorry about all that.

      One more note, though: In general, I think people are a little bit too tight-fisted about their ideas or paranoid about them getting stolen. The most productive thing you can do with any project is just write the damned thing. And I’m skeptical that showing your idea around to people who might produce it or know people who might produce it is a mistake. Writers need to network. They need to get their work in front of people, and they need to do it fearlessly.

      I know what I’ve shared previously undermines my authority to say such things, but it’s still what I believe, which probably influences in turn the kinds of projects I work on and structure my collaborations.

      Hopefully this addresses your concerns, and if the contest comes back around, maybe you’ll enter :-)



      • fenzel #

        By the way, if there’s one lesson I learned from the Linda Hamilton Screenwriting Contest and the Mr. T Party Day, it’s that “putting something on the Internet” does not relieve you from the responsibility of actually executing on it.

        I think a lot of people assume that once something “goes viral” the hive mind and general enthusiasm surrounding it will cause people to band together and get everything done that needs to be done.

        But in reality, projects with online components that succeed require a lot of work and time, much of it off the Internet, that may not be obvious at first.

        Trying to do both the Linda Hamilton Contest and the Mr. T Party day by myself — well, those were mistakes. Before launching them, I should have had teams together with clear responsibilities. I should have had expectations set on what sort of work we were going to do and when. I should have done a bit more research and talked to people who had run similar projects about common pitfalls and strategies for addressing them.

        I didn’t do any of those things. I thought my idea was awesome, and I threw it out there assuming when push came to shove myself and others would pull together and get it done.

        This isn’t really the way to run projects. I know this now, both from the site and from my professional work outside OTI.



      • Elle #

        I hear what you’re saying as far as ideas being a dime a dozen. But if for example, the person running the contest is a writer who wants to send out a spec scripts in hopes that it gets optioned but the person hit a block then a contest like this would be perfect to get their creative juices flowing. We have all heard of entire scenes being ripped off of lesser known writer and integrated into the scripts of the Hollywood big boys. They have the means to get the ideas executed so it’s no shirt off their backs to steal material and claim it as original. In fact it’s ideal for them because people will rave about how ingenious they are.

        In How to Write A Damn Good thriller by James N. Fey, he talks about the great Hollywood ripoff.

        Here’s an excerpt:

        “A friend of mine once had a great job working for a major studio. She had a nice office and a large desk and windows that got morning sun, and she had her name on the door in gold lettering with a title something like ‟assistant acquisitions manager″ Her job was gathering high concepts, great lines of dialogue, and fresh, dramatic situations from scripts and treatments that were submitted to the studio. A world-class speed-reader, she would scan the scripts and treatments quickly, then pass the gold she’d mine from these scripts to any producer working for the studio who could use them. She was a hired thief, which did not square well with her self-image.”

        Additionally, I think many writers enter contests because the deadline gives them motivation to finish. It gives them a goal set in stone to aim for. Writing is hard and it’s easy to get distracted so having a deadline is helpful to a lot of aspiring writers. Of course, they still want ownership of the copyright so they can option it off/ sell it to a studio if there is any interest. If you’ve already produced their script for a couple hundred bucks and a couple of days work it hurts their chances of generating legitimate interest in their work. If a producer is interested but decides to google them out of curiosity and comes across a shoddy youtube video their price goes down with their credibility. That’s not a diss to you because I haven’t seen your work but I think that is probably what people were thinking.

        I don’t think people enter contests because they want their film to be made but more for inspiration and recognition. Also, a film made haphazardly is not exactly a prize, in my humble opinion. If they are looking for their script to get made I’m sure they hope the production would be worthy of their writing, but I could be wrong. Even amateurs hope to go pro which is why many stick with it. You actually would be better off posting the scripts for all to read that way the writer has some proof that you acknowledge you received his/her work . But that’s only with permission and if they’ve done the steps to ensure their copyright is protected. Otherwise, they might think they’ve sent their work to an anonymous person who works as an acquisitions manager. There are reasons why it is encouraged for writers to protect their work with the WGA and the Library of Congress and it’s not just because aspiring writers have big delusional egos. I had a teacher who would have us write/pitch our ideas and then he’d sneak off to Disney and the like and re-pitch it as if it were his ideas. I won’t go into details but theft in this business is far from being a figment of people’s imagination.


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