Movie Forum: The 'Movie 43' mystery
05:00 AM, Jan 24, 2013
Every Wednesday, the Movie Forum convenes to discuss the latest news from the film world and answer questions submitted by you, the reader.
This week, movie reporters Scott Bowles and Brian Truitt looked ahead to this weekend’s SAG awards, discussed Arnold’s new film The Last Stand (and its lackluster performance) and examined the weirdness that is…Movie 43. We also answered readers questions about Ben Affleck’s Oscar snubbing, and the likelihood of awards wins for Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour.
Enjoy the chat and submit your questions for next week below.
John Elliot: Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
I’m John Elliot, online producer for USA TODAY Movies and I will serve as your moderator. Joining me today is USA TODAY movie reporters Scott Bowles and Brian Truitt.
It is FREEZING here on the East Coast, so come snuggle by the Forum fire and let’s talk movies!
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week? SAG awards, a lackluster Last Stand (and what it means for action films this year) and what exactly is Movie 43?
Brian and Scott will start by sharing their thoughts this week’s topics, then we will move on to reader submitted questions.
SO…let’s get the Forum started!
This Sunday, Jan 27 we’re treated to our second awards show of the season: SAG! The Screen Actors Guild Awards…what should we expect from these performance-focused awards?
Brian Truitt: Hey John! Hey Scott! Hey peeps! Yes, awards season is in full swing and the SAGs are interesting because it is ALL about the acting. They call their trophy “the Actor” for goodness sakes.
I think we will really start seeing how the Oscars will play out, especially in terms of best pic and the lead actor and actress categories.
Scott Bowles: I have a conflicted relationship with the SAG awards, sort of like dating an alcoholic. On the one hand, it’s one of the industry’s most accurate barometers of who is going to win Oscar’s acting categories. On the other, it takes a lot of suspense from the Academy Awards. So, like an abusive spouse who says he’s sorry, I’ll probably cave and let it back into my home. You rooting for anyone, Brian?
Brian Truitt: Aren’t we supposed to be objective, Scott? HAH! I think I’m rooting a little for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence to get some love, although I think Lincoln and its horde of insanely good thespians may take the overall cast award - the SAG equivalent of best pic. How about you, sir?
Scott Bowles: I agree, Brian. I have to put my vote in for Bradley here, only because he doesn’t seem to be an actor who takes himself too seriously. The race I’m most interested in, though, is the ensemble award, which is SAG’s equivalent of Best Picture. Argo gets my vote here, though it could be a showdown between Les Mis and Lincoln.
Brian Truitt: Argo winning the Globe for best drama was cool but I think that may be the end of the line. I figure it’s a two-horse race between Les Mis and Lincoln, which would be a lock if it had Russell Crowe singing. I would also like to see Nicole Kidman grab a supporting SAG for her Paperboy role just to send Oscar pundits into a snit.
John Elliot: Ok, you two…play prognosticator: Who is the big winner sunday night?
Scott Bowles: Ok, here’s my guess: Day-Lewis for Lincoln, Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark, De Niro for Silver Linings, Anne Hathaway for Les Mis and Lincoln for best ensemble. Mr. Truitt?
Brian Truitt: I believe Honest Abe’s gonna loom large taking best ensemble, and Tommy Lee Jones and DDL taking the actor awards. I’ll say Jennifer Lawrence for lead actress and Anne Hathaway for Les Mis - she has the best chance of running the entire table.
Scott Bowles: And though we’re a movie forum, a side note about the TV candidates: Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, Claire Danes for Homeland, Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock, Tina Fey for 30 Rock (the show is in its last season) and Breaking Bad for ensemble show. Yeah, I’m a Breaking Bad, er, junkie.
Brian Truitt: Ooooh, going rogue! We’re like Sarah Palin! I can see Russia from my desk!
Scott Bowles: And now to our Super Bowl predictions…
Brian Truitt: My picks: Jeff Daniels in Newsroom, Danes in Homeland , Baldwin and Fey from 30 Rock.
And 49ers. But don’t tell anybody I was Kaepernicking while I was typing that.
John Elliot: The Last Stand, the first leading role film by Arnold Schwarzenegger since leaving the Governor’s mansion, opened this past weekend to a rather lackluster box office…What does this mean for the Ex-Governator?
Brian Truitt: Oh Ahhhnuld. What happened, man? As a guy who grew up on his movies, I think the problem now is nobody in this generation seems him as a real film star anymore, unfortunately.
Scott Bowles: It means the governor is going to have to shed his iconic image of the past. I’m not sure the old-school shoot ‘em ups are as viable as they once were in the wake of our recent mass shootings. The movie actually wasn’t bad, but it’s tricky to go from politics to acting. The reverse tends to work better. See Ronald Reagan.
Brian Truitt: Yeah, the politics were a diversion. And as much as I do like a good shoot-em-up, you’re right, Scott. One of the reasons why Last Stand and Gangster Squad did a big faceplant were because of all the gun talk in mass media now. Some people might just feel guilty by going to see one of these movies.
Scott Bowles: It will be an interesting test to see how Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head is going to do. The title alone could turn some people off. And between Arnold, Sly and Bruce Willis, why is it all of our action heroes are AARP qualified. We still have action movies (comic book adaptations, etc.), but the standard shooter is fading. Maybe Arnold was right years ago with his film Last Action Hero.
Brian Truitt: I agree, the films that were integral to my childhood like Commando, Predator and Raw Deal just don’t work anymore. They need to have some other genre to mash up with them, for better or worse. I’d be a little concerned if I was Sly, for sure. But I think there is still an audience for The Expendables type super team-up, or something like Fast and Furious that has its sixth movie out later this year.
John Elliot: Does this signal anything for early 2013’s crop of action flicks?
Scott Bowles: Go team violence! Brian, you’re right on the money. The old formula of a renegade with a gun and a chip on his shoulder seems outdated. But when we’re talking about a group of heroes taking action, it seems less…offensive? It may be a while before we accept lone gunmen theory in theaters.
Brian Truitt: I think the rest of this year’s crop will be just fine, if hopefully there are not more real-life incidents of violence. Plus, films coming out around this time usually are not very good, or someone involved thought they weren’t very good. So your big action flicks like GI Joe and Fast and Furious and the new Die Hard I think will have their audiences.
Scott Bowles: Take a look at some of the marquee summer action films, and only a few of them are of the old-school shoot-em-ups. Iron Man 3, World War Z, After Earth. They will have their share of violence and mayhem, to be sure. But the violence will likely be far-fetched enough not to offend the PG-13 crowds.
John Elliot: And finally…What EXACTLY is Movie 43?
Brian Truitt: The sequel to Movie 42, or course.
Scott Bowles: All right, smart guy. Movie 43, if nothing else, is going to be one of the more unusual cinematic experiments in a while. You’ve got 12 directors, doing “inter-connected” shorts of raunchy humor. My guess is a few stars went on a bender, made a lewd home movie and thought, ‘Hey, we could make millions off this.”
Brian Truitt: What’s weird is just how A-list this thing is. Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard, Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Liev Schreiber, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry. There are a few Oscars in there along with a lot of f-words tossed by Oscar nominee Naomi Watts.
Scott Bowles: Actually, the red-band trailer looks like the movie could have some offensive laughs. But a word of warning to readers: The studio is not screening this for critics, which likely means it’s lousy. It’s a surprising move, given the stars involved. Either they needed money or proof that they know swear words.
Brian Truitt: Oh no doubt this this thing is probably terrible. But the red-band trailer is hilariously offensive and I am not sure it needs critics. This thing would get ravaged, but if it’s any good it’ll have word of mouth. And the cast list alone will get butts in seats,
Scott Bowles: And likely bared on screen.
Brian Truitt: What’s kinda cool to see, though, is how much fun it looks these guys are having. Any other movie would have Schreiber and Watts in some kind of tragic drama. Here, they’re a wacky married couple. And when would you ever picture Halle Berry and The Office UK creator Stephen Merchant the same movie scene?
There’s something appealing about that. If you are game for Movie 43, I would suggest two other hilarious anthology-type comedies to prepare: Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon.
John Elliot: And remember: You won’t understand the subtle plot intricacies if you HAVEN’T seen Movie 42!
Brian Truitt: Or Movies 1-41. I’m lost already!
John Elliot: Movie 26 was NOT canon!
Brian Truitt: Movie 14 was an unfortunate reboot.
John Elliot: Alright…Let’s take some questions from our lovely readers!
John H. from Milwaukee asks:
I hear a lot about zero dark thirty, good and bad. what did you think, and what are it’s chances at the awards. I loved it!
Scott Bowles: Ok, I know this is blasphemy, but I actually didn’t care for it. My problem is that the real story (done really well in documentary form) is so dramatic that a dramatization of it actually pales. There were elements to the raid — a closing window, uncertainty if bin Laden were in that actual house — that the movie doesn’t really address. The film has taken a lot of heat for its depiction of torture. But it doesn’t have much depiction of action. Still, it’s a craftsman movie, and is working with audiences and likely award voters.
Brian Truitt: It does seem like Chastain is its best shot of major Oscar glory. I think the best pic field is really deep and unless there’s a late surge, probably won’t make any waves there.
Scott Bowles: My other issue: The trailer makes it look like a Hurt Locker redo. There isn’t NEARLY as much action in Zero as Locker. But I think you’re right, Brian. Jessica’s character, a behind-the-scenes agent orchestrating the hunt, is an unusual tack for a war film, and could pay off for Jessica come statuette time.
Brian Truitt: Somebody told me that Zero Dark Thirty wasn’t as interesting as an episode of Homeland. And I don’t cheat on Carrie Mathison!
What are your thoughts on some of the less known Best Picture Nominees? Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild,etc?
Scott Bowles: Amour is going to be wiped from memory on Feb. 25, the day after the Oscars. No one has seen it, and tracking numbers indicate no one is going to. But Beasts has been an unmitigated success, already doubling its production cost. And I think once moviegoers see some clips of this cinematic fairy tale, it’s going to give a big boost, particularly on the DVD front. But I wouldn’t expect trophies for these films. The cliche here had better be true: being nominated is the honor.
Brian Truitt: Too true, Scott. I think Amour has a great chance at taking the Oscar for foreign film, and that’s where it’ll get its props. Beasts is a true dark horse and probably has little chance of besting the likes of Lincoln or Les Mis, but it really is a spectacular film that will have legs long past this awards season.
Laura from Chicago asks:
How did Ben Affleck not get nominated for best director? That seems impossible if his film is nominated.
Brian Truitt: It still stings a little, doesn’t it, Laura? Totally agreed. It was a whopper of snubberation, but the two categories are independent of each other. Pics like Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty are up for the big prize, but their directors aren’t. Oscar can be weird in that way.
Scott Bowles: Actually, it’s not impossible, it’s inevitable. Now that the Academy has increased the number of eligible films to 10, but kept best director nominees to 5, the academy is going to have to make a Sophie’s Choice every year. Ben is the most glaring snub here — no one expected Michael Haneke to take his spot. But he was hardly the only surprising exclusion. Kathryn Bigelow, too, won’t hear her name called.
John Elliot: Unfortunately, it is time for us to wrap up…
Thank you Scott and Brian. And a VERY big thank you to all our readers who participated and submitted questions.
Scott Bowles: Thank you John and Brian, and stay warm on the East Coast. And hey, it’s cold here in LA, too. I may have to put on a cardigan.
Brian Truitt: Thanks Scott and John. It was a pleasure being in Thunderdome er, the Movie Forum with you guys. I’ll leave Scott to his 60-degree “freezing” weather while it’s 19 here, and wish a merry week to all readers!
John Elliot: Remember: you can submit your burning movie questions all week long, right here.
Thank you all for joining us for the USA TODAY Movie Forum! Please join us again next Wednesday at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST for another edition of Movie Forum.