Movie Forum: Date movies & Oscar expectations
05:00 AM, Feb 14, 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 honor of the holiday of love, USA TODAY film critic Claudia Puig and movie reporter Scott Bowles discussed what constitutes a quality Valentine’s Day “date movie” — and rated this year’s V-Day film fare. We also talked about the upcoming 85th Annual Academy Awards (what to expect, Seth MacFarlane, dream hosts) and took a look at the latest (and very NSFW) episodes of Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, which feature several Oscar nominees and have been lighting up the internet. We ended with reader questions about The Master and Argo’s awards chances, the likeliest Best Actress winner and the new Jackie Robinson biopic 42.
Enjoy the chat and submit your questions for next week below.
John Elliot: Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
Happy Valentine’s Day Eve, everyone! Remember: if naughty to your significant other you will be receiving a lump of coal in a heart-shaped box tomorrow.
I’m John Elliot, online producer for USA TODAY Movies and I will serve as your moderator. Joining me today is USA TODAY movie reporter Scott Bowles and film critic Claudia Puig.
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week? Valentine’s Day movies and Oscar expectations!
Claudia and Scott will start by sharing their thoughts this week’s topics, then we will move on to reader submitted questions.
Please note: You CAN submit questions, live, during the Forum, and we will do our best, time permitting, to answer them.
SO…let’s get the Forum started!
As we all know it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow! We’ve got three films that will be opening for the occasion: Beautiful Creatures, Safe Haven and A Good Day to Die Hard. Claudia, how to you rate this year’s crop of V-Day films?
Claudia Puig: I’d say go out for a romantic candle-lit dinner, but skip the movie. Go home and cue up Netflix. Or just watch whatever’s on TV. The new Die Hard won’t inspire the ladies to feel all warm and cuddly towards their man. And Safe Haven will only repel most of the audience, and probably especially men. If you really want to see Josh Duhamel, find a copy of Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. That’s a whole lot better than Safe Haven. And if you must do Nicholas Sparks, I guess the least objectionable is The Notebook…
Beautiful Creatures is for people celebrating Valentines Day between the ages of 15 and 22, so that’s a very specific crowd. But I would suggest going back and watching 10 Things I Hate About You for that crowd and older.
Scott Bowles: Hi gang! And right on, Claudia.
I’m not sure why it is, but there is such a dearth in this industry of movies geared toward women, date movies included. Every time we get one, it not only tends to be a box office success, but a home video phenomenon as well. Look at The Vow and Magic Mike. Even Channing Tatum has expressed surprised at how few there are. Either studio executives are bitter and lonely, or their mistresses would give them static for it. Either way, there’s not enough, though there seems to be money to be had.
John Elliot: What qualities do you think makes a film the ideal Valentine’s Day date movie? Any examples?
Claudia Puig: Good question Scott! John, good romances are few and far between, but here are some picks: I guess I would say go retro: Annie Hall or The Way We Were, or the Richard Linklater Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and there’s a new one coming out in that series later this year. Or there’s alwatys When Harry met Sally….For more recent fare, I would say search out One Day with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. It was a great book and a grossly under-appreciated movie. Actually Out of Sight had some pretty hot love scenes between George Clooney and J-Lo of all people. I know it seems like an odd couple, but thanks to Steven Soderbergh’s artful editing, and the great cinematography and musicit was sexy and romantic. I think I’m out.
Scott Bowles: For me, any movie that has old fashioned love in need of psychiatric help is a good Valentine’s Day movie. I’ll vote for The Graduate and Harold and Maude.
Claudia Puig: Then you must have loved Silver Linings Playbook too, Scott!
And I’m with you on The Graduate and Harold and Maude…love the music too!
Scott Bowles: One of my faves. That and Beasts of the Southern Wild, which a Valentine’s to the South.
John Elliot: If you HAD to select a movie currently at the box office (maybe not THIS week’s releases) for a V-Day date move, what would it be?
Claudia Puig: I guess I would say Silver Linings would be the best date movie. And the aptly titled Amour–though that’s not fully a love story
I guess we could add Les Mis since it has that key line: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Scott Bowles: I’m going to go with an acknowledged but sweet turkey. Identity Thief. While it’s hardly a love story, the relationship between Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman is better than 98% of America’s marriages.
Claudia Puig: Love Melissa McCarthy!
And Jason Bateman too
John Elliot: We’re a mere week and a half away from the Oscars…FINALLY! After a somewhat unsurprising, but nonetheless lengthy awards season, what do you think viewers should expect from this year’s Academy Awards, Scott?
Scott Bowles: Initially, I would have said suspense. It truly looked like a neck and neck race between Argo and Lincoln.
Now, it looks like we face the inevitable. Argo has become the prohibitive favorite, as does Daniel Day-Lewis.
There’s good drama in some of the other races, and it will be interesting to see whoever wins the director’s race, because that will draw comparisons to Ben’s snub.
What are you looking for, CP?
Claudia Puig: I agree about Argo and DDL and probably Arkin will get supporting and Anne Hathaway supporting actress. But i think the best actress race is still out….It seems to be between Jennifer Lawrence vs. Emmanuelle Riva
Since Ben is out I’d like to see Ang Lee get director…Life of Pi got so many nominations, but so many are technical.
Scott Bowles: I’m going to be secretly pulling for Beasts of the Southern Wild in every category, though I guess that’s no secret now. And Disney and Sony have been making HEAVY 11th hour pushes for Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. Each insist a surprise in the works. So I guess what could be most exciting is whether there will be anything exciting.
Claudia Puig: It would be great to see Beasts get some love, but it’s probably one of those in which the nomination is the win. But can you imagine first timer Benh Zeitlin beating out Spielberg? That would be something!
And speaking of Zero Dark, I should add that Jessica Chastain probably makes it a real three-way race for actress
Scott Bowles: As a writer, I also love the screenplay contests. Claudia, what’s your pick among the original: Amour, Zero Dark, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom and Django Unchained.
And adapted: Argo, Beasts, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Silver Linings?
Claudia Puig: For original I’d go with Django because it’s SO original. For adapted, I’d say Argo. Scott, do you think all the Argo wins lately might have something to do with Ben Affleck being snubbed for a directing nomination?
Scott Bowles: Oooh, I like that theory. And certainly, he’s riding a newfound love he never got as an actor.
What’ll be interesting is the pressure Ben faces after all that. Does he go back to starring in movies, or helming them?
Claudia Puig: Can he go back to being a kind of mediocre actor? But then again, can he make an even better movie as a director than Argo?
John Elliot: Any expectations for Seth MacFarlane?
Scott Bowles: Yes. I expect him to make love to Ted.
This is a fascinating pick. There are probably five people who know him in the academy. This is a ratings move. But comedians are the quickest guys in the business, and I’m really hoping he brings his Family Guy irreverence to the big heads at the Kodak. Imagine the scowl he could bring to Tommy Lee Jones’ face!
Claudia Puig: It is truly a fascinating, and not to sound cliched, but….bold choice for the Academy. I have high hopes for him.
Scott Bowles: And he’s got a great voice.
But if it weren’t Seth, Claudia, who would you like to see emceeing? Besides Carrot Top, of course…
Claudia Puig: But would anyone NOT bring a scowl to TLJ’s face?
OK, here we go….After the Globes, I’d love to see Tina Fey take a turn with Amy Poehler on the big stage. Or Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Or Amy Poehler and Rob Lowe? Steve Carrell could be interesting, possibly. But the person I’d MOST like to see is Steven Colbert….either with or without Jon Stewart. Stewart got to do it once, but I’d be happy to see him do it again.
I think Ellen DeGeneres hosted, but here’s an idea: Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris. Or would that put off too many advertisers?
Scott Bowles: Why not Melissa McCarthy? She’s the hottest actor in Hollywood. And give me Jon Stewart any day. That guy could host tea and crumpets and make it work.
Interesting, though, that talk of hosts rarely encompasses too many female candidates.
Claudia Puig: I like the Melissa McCarthy idea…What about Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler? A Bronx Beat for Hollywood?
Or how about a fake-out in which it’s announced the hosts will be James Franco and Kanye West? One is stoned, says hardly anything and the other just insults the winners?
John Elliot: Finally, Zach Galifianakis had a number of the nominees on his sometimes talk show Between Two Ferns (which is almost always NSFW; consider yourself warned!). The videos have been making a splash across the web. Who do you think came off the best with undecided Academy voters?
Claudia Puig: I thought Naomi Watts was surprisingly funny, but Jennifer Lawrence had the best line, riffing off “off-putting” telling Zach he should be “off pudding…”
Scott Bowles: These are a wonderful couple videos. Look them up if you can.
Priceless moments: Bradley Cooper being asked to read a loser’s speech (written by Zach), and best actress nominee Jessica Chastain saying she pressured to put as much torture as possible in Zero Dark Thirty. If she said that to a real journalist, Sony would have gone apoplectic.
John Elliot: And now some questions from our lovely readers!
MKelley from Rochester asks:
What’s with The Master being shined out of BP? And also Phoenix is being talked about very little for his Masterful performance as Quell. Whats with that? Id say both Phoenix and Hoffman should get the oscar. As for BP, is suppose the academy slighted it for its distancing approach, but for me The Master stands as my favorite film of the year next to Silver Linings Playbook.
Claudia Puig: I think The Master divided most people and did the same with the Academy. Everyone agrees that Phoenix and Hoffman deserved nods, but the overall story was lacking.
Scott Bowles: I think it’s not getting love for a couple reason.
One, it was a bomb at the box office. And as much as the academy likes to tout itself as an independent body, it is influenced by how the public feels about a movie. This year, six of the nine pictures nominated have done more than $100 million, an unparalleled percentage.
The other reason: It’s slooooooooow. Like a bug in amber. The performances are great, but nothing actually…happens.
Claudia Puig: And I should add that our reader is not alone—I knew a few people, and plenty of critics, for whom it was the best picture of the year.
Scott Bowles: Not me. :-)
Claudia Puig: Or me
Adam from Atlanta asks:
How did Argo get so big? I thought Lincoln was supposed to win
Scott Bowles: Argo is doing well for the reason Claudia mentioned above. He’s found new life as a director, respect he never got as an actor. And I think we’re seeing the industry welcome him back with open arms.
It’s also a feel-good movie, even though it’s a lot less accurate than Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln. The entire third act, Ben admits, is fabricated. But that’s a Mideast mess we’re out of, with zero loss of life. You leave that film feeling good about America, so people are feeling good about the movie.
Claudia Puig: I think the film’s chances were actually helped by Ben Affleck’s snub in the directing category. And of course Argo really is a well-made movie—one you can watch again and Lincoln, good as it is, is kind of a one-time viewing experience. And I agree with Scott it’s a feel-good movie, but also smart which is a killer combination. You learn something, feel tense in the thriller moments, and laugh…it has it all
Jakeem from Atlanta asks:
There’s been a recent history of BAFTA-winning actresses who’ve gone on to win the Oscar for Best Actress (Marion Cotillard and Meryl Streep, for example). The winner of this year’s BAFTA Award for Best Actress was 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva of France for “Amour.” Should she now be considered the front-runner for the Academy Award?
Claudia Puig: I would love to see Emanuelle Riva win—and love that she’s the oldest nominee and Quvenzahane Wallis from Beasts is the youngest ever. But I don’t know if she’s actually the front-runner. I think the winner of the SAG best actress has also gone on to win, so in that case it would be between Riva and Jennifer Lawrence. But I wouldn’t discount Jessica Chastain, or even Naomi Watts, though that’s a longer shot. But with Cotillard and other wins going to foreign actors, I’d say that Riva has a higher chance than she might have had when the Oscars were less global.
Scott Bowles: Hi Jakeem. My folks live in Atlanta. Do you know them? One’s an older man, the other an elderly woman.
Great question. I don’t know that you could consider Emmanuelle a front-runner, because the film is so obscure. Of course, so was Cotillard until she won.
I wouldn’t consider her a front-runner, given the competition. But suddenly, there’s a real dark horse entry — and some excitement in that race. Lawrence is still my pick, but what a field.
Michelle from Durham, NC
42 looks awesome!! Is it good?
Scott Bowles: Hi Michelle,
WB would go crazy if we gave it any kind of review. But I will say that this movie has the best trailer of the year so far, and there is a scene of racial tension that’s pretty breathtaking.
More importantly, this is a movie that has a good moral lesson to it. It’s real, and something people should know about.
Claudia Puig: It’s got a great cast of what used to be called character actors—great TV and film actors whose faces you know, but whose names you might not be as familiar with. And a good director, Brian Helgeland, who wrote LA Confidential, behind it, so I’m excited to see it. Jackie Robinson is such a worthwhile subject for a film too.
Scott Bowles: Oh, and the actors can actually throw a ball! How many times have we seen athletes portrayed in movies who were clearly the last one picked on the ball field. Even TheNatural wasn’t so natural. Sorry Mr. Redford.
Claudia Puig: There’s another baseball movie in which the actors can actually throw a ball and it’s called Sugar. They used real Dominican ballplayers, not actors for a lot of roles. Not many people saw it when it came out a few years back, but it’s about players recruited from the Dominican Republic and it’s one of my favorite movies. It was made by the directors of Half Nelson and it’s an amazingly good movie….Check it out!
Scott Bowles: For my money, the best sports film in recent days is The Fighter. Even the commentary used in the film was taken, verbatim, from HBO’s fight commentators.
Claudia Puig: Loved The Fighter too! And best use of How Do You Like Me Now—which has now been overplayed, alas
John Elliot:Unfortunately, it is time for us to wrap it up…
Thank you Claudia and Scott! And a VERY big thank you to all our readers who participated and submitted questions.
Scott Bowles: Thanks for the great questions, gang. And don’t forget the Oscars. I think they’ll be televised this year.
Claudia Puig: Thank you, kind readers, for your astute questions. Keep ‘em coming! And happy Valentines Day!
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.