Movie Forum: Beware the unstoppable 'Argo'
05:00 AM, Feb 11, 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 in the Movie Forum, USA TODAY movie reporters Brian Truitt and Susan Wloszczyna discussed the awards domination of Argo and its momentum heading into the Oscars. We also took a look this year’s crop of Super Bowl movie spots and answered readers’ questions about casting for the new Star Wars films and the lack of nominations for The Hunger Games.
Enjoy the chat and submit your questions for next week below.
John Elliot: Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
We’ve seen our shadows and there are only 2.5 more weeks of awards season left!
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 Susan Wloszczyna and Brian Truitt.
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week? Argo’s Oscar momentum and Super Bowl movie spots!
Brian and Susan 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!
In spite of (or perhaps due to?) its snubbing in the Best Director category, Argo and it’s director Ben Affleck have been absolutely cleaning up on the awards circuit this season. Argo clearly has the momentum/buzz/mojo heading into the Academy Awards. Will it be able to ride that wave to a Best Picture win?
Susan Wloszczyna: That is THE question of the Oscar season. The theory is that the academy feels sorry for poor Ben for being overlooked by that mean director’s branch, while anyone who has seen Argo knows how greed-driven and callous Hollywood can be save for a makeup artist and washed-up producer. Anyway, here is why Argo might or might not be able to pull it off based on my homework last night …
Here goes. Only three films have ever won without their directors being nominated: Wings, the first-ever winner; Grand Hotel, a winner from the early ’30s; and the now-infamous Driving Miss Daisy from 1989.
Also, this is only the third time that a director took the Directors Guild prize without an Oscar nom.
When Ron Howard, another actor-director, took the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild top awards for Apollo 13 while being snubbed by Oscar — just like Affleck — he still lost best pic to Braveheart.
Even more interesting: The only category that Argo is expected to take is best picture and really none of its other six nominations. That would make it the first best picture winner to only take one award since Mutiny on the Bounty from 1935. Wings and Grand Hotel also only won best picture.
Still, anything could happen.
Brian Truitt: Ah, but that is the Oscars, isn’t it? Everybody digs the unpredictability.
As folks woud have said back in the day of Grand Hotel, this Argo movie has got some moxie. I would have never predicted it to build the momentum it has and it definitely looks like the best pic favorite at this point. BUT, if they didn’t nominate Affleck as best director, maybe they know something the rest of us don’t.
There’s part of me that still thinks that there is an out-of-nowhere Silver Linings Playbook victory.
Susan Wloszczyna: Supposedly, the academy is much more elitist than the DGA, which has more than 10,000 members I believe. So that is why the other Benh and Haneke got in there perhaps. Actually most of the big categories seem so predictable — Hathaway, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence all seem pretty certain although Robert De Niro crying on Katie Couric might help bump Tommy Lee Jones out of the supporting actor throne.
Actually with the last two categories — director and best pic — being nail biters this year, perhaps more people will stay awake to see the results and the ratings might improve.
Brian Truitt: I will stay awake. But I’ll be working so I’ll kinda have to.
John Elliot: Award shows have been performing well, ratings-wise, this season. Do you think this trend will continue with the Oscars, and first-time host Seth MacFarlane?
Susan Wloszczyna: You don’t sleep-work, like I do?
Brian Truitt: Nope. I have not mastered that way of the Jedi yet.
I will be your apprentice!
Susan Wloszczyna: Yawn …. oh my turn. Seth who? That is a real problem. Sure, they will have Babs and Adele singing but the host sets the tone. And the people who care most about these awards probably aren’t the target audience of Ted and The Family Guy. From the TV spots and his Hitler shtick during the announcements, I am worried he will be David Letterman redux — watch those tapes to see how not to host.
Brian Truitt: He will be a wild card for sure. I don’t think he will be offensive like, say, Ricky Gervais - not that i would mind - but he has the potential to be good.
John Elliot: Finally, on this topic…IF there is a blackout in the middle of the Oscar ceremony…will the momentum switch back to Lincoln?
Brian Truitt: Well played.
Susan Wloszczyna: Only if someone sneaks into the locked box and changes the vote. Keep an eye on Tommy Lee.
Brian Truitt: I think it will mean that Bane has taken over the Oscars and The Dark Knight Rises will win best picture. And somehow Tommy Lee Jones will win too.
John Elliot: As we ALL know Sunday was the Super Bowl. While a blackout may have delayed the sport, nothing could stop the commercials. Brian, what did you make of this year’s crop of of Super Bowl movie spots?
Brian Truitt: There were some surprises, for sure. I expected more from The Lone Ranger and Iron Man 3, but didn’t love either. IM3 had a weak 30 second spot that told you to go to their Facebook page, where there was an AWESOME trailer there. I get the social media aspect but I think they dropped the ball - pun very much intended - a smidge.
That Fast and Furious 6 spot, though? HOLY VIN DIESEL. That movie looks freaking great. Any film that combines Vinnie D, The Rock, Gina Carano and a car exploding out of an airplane has my heart.
Susan Wloszczyna: I am so happy that Vin Diesel is back and working, I would be happy if he had a Dorito commercial during the Super Bowl. Although a car flying out of the front of a plane — would the TSA really allow that? Liked the Star Trek one because they went with more Cumberbatch, the only living man on the planet who could out-ego James T. Kirk, As for The Lone Ranger, I am getting really bad Wild, Wild West vibes from that.
Brian Truitt: There are two things everything is better with more of: ranch dressing and Cumberbatch.
And yeah, can’t wait for Star Trek and I definitely feel you on the Wild, Wild West vibes, too, Susan. The fact that Armie Hammer is in it gives me faith, but then again I like Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, and Wild, Wild West looked good for 30 seconds. We all know how that turned out.
Susan Wloszczyna: OK, now you are giving me naughty ideas about Sherlock.
How about James Franco as the prequel Wizard of Oz? I wish Johnny Depp had done that movie instead of doing his post-modern whimsy stuff with Tonto. I see Franco as a slacker king and that guy in 1939 movie was definitely no slacker. Those witches are going to blast him off the screen.
Brian Truitt: Yeah, I think everyone will come to that for the witches and the flying monkeys. That movie LOOKS amazing though, and while I am no Francophile, Sam Raimi doesn’t usually do anything that bad.
Susan Wloszczyna: Did you see Spider-man 3? That was bad. But it looks like Alice in Wonderland went through a new and improved looking glass and I might want to see it just to enjoy the visuals. And Mila Kunis as the bad witch.
Brian Truitt: Touche on Spidey 3. What, you didn’t enjoy emo Tobey Maguire Spidey?
John Elliot: What other trailers have you seen recently that have caught your interest? Or made you cringe?
Susan Wloszczyna: I think it is ridiculous to do another Superman so soon but Man of Steel’s trailer certainly caught my attention. You wonder who is this he seems familiar then someone calls him Clark and you are riveted. I think that Henry Cavill has something that has yet to be tapped yet in his other films.
Brian Truitt: Agreed, Susan. I think the Man of Steel captures a certain emotional aspect that people need to have to tap into a Kryptonian dude who is pretty much invincible. I also really dug the recent Pacfiic Rim trailer, but that’s more because my nerdy self always can get into giant robots walloping giant monsters.
John Elliot: Now let’s move on to some questions from our lovely readers!
Jimbo From NJ asks:
Hi Guys. I am surprised that Hunger Games was totally ignored at Oscar time. Do you think it’s because of the whole YA novel (Twilight-effect)?
Brian Truitt: I am not really sure it was ignored as much as I don’t think Summit really touted it for any awards other than like the MTV Movie Awards who love them some Katniss. And I’m not sure there’s any hate against YA novels in general - I just think no adaptation has ever come close to being Oscar-level “good.” While I liked Twilight: New Moon as much as I liked, say, Weekend at Bernie’s, I don’t think it was best-pic material.
Susan Wloszczyna: It was granted the best award any film can win: Mega-box-office. I actually enjoyed it more than The Dark Knight Rises story-wise, but the effects can stand an upgrade next time.
Brian Truitt: Agreed on both parts.
Liz from NY says:
Josh Holloway is the only reason I’d ever sit through another Star Wars movie.
Brian Truitt: Well, I would sit through a movie with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler playing old Han and Leia because I’m that much of a nerd. But agreed, Liz, I think Josh Holloway would make for a great young Han Solo. And - oh hey - just today there are rumors of a young Han Solo standalone movie being developed. The Star Wars folks confirmed standalones were being planned just yesterday, and we’ll start hearing more about these films that will take place in-between Episodes in the overall saga.
Susan Wloszczyna: Sawyer, my beloved shirtless Sawyer. If they could photoshop him into Oz and replace Franco, that would be perfect. Couldn’t he be Han Solo’s brother.
Brian Truitt: That is possible. If they have a Han Solo movie, that’d have to have other people. Like other Solos and hopefully Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca. I’d geek out for Donald Glover as young Lando, for sure.
What do you think about character-centric standalone Star Warses in general, Susan? Are you looking forward to a possible Yoda or teenage Jabba the Hutt flick?
Susan Wloszczyna: A teen Jabba. You just know that guy was a bully victim. And I have always wondered what species Yoda was beside Muppet. Is there a missus in his past. Baby Yodas? I think I would rather see separate stories than a gang-bang approach like The Avengers.
Brian Truitt: I think those kinds of things work with Marvel movies because mainstream types are still being introduced to Iron Man, Thor and the rest of the crew. Star Wars is a bigger thing though that EVERYBODY knows about. To me, while I will see the movies and be there opening day, I don’t need to see films just about Han Solo and Boba Fett. I know enough to love them anyway. I don’t need the minutiae. The new Star Wars movies that are big and spectacular and will open the universe to new characters for this generation are much more appealing to me.
And bonus points if there are AT-ATs.
Susan Wloszczyna: I used to live with AT-ATs and those white beasts of burdens in toy form. Anyway, one of my favorite parts of Argo, coming full circle, is when the nervous embassy guy made the universal noise for Star Wars weapons to convince the guard at the airport they were legit filmmakers. I think that noise actually saved the day.
John Elliot: Unfortunately, time for us to wrap up it is…
Thank you Susan and Brian. And a VERY big thank you to all our readers who participated and submitted questions.
Brian Truitt: Thanks, Susan and John! And thanks to our lovely readers for stopping by and asking questions and such. Be sure and see a good movie this weekend!
Susan Wloszczyna: Farewell, one and all. Are there any new movies out there worth talking about? warm Zombies, crazy Mamas, you name it. Come back and ask next week.
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.