Movie Forum: The Oscars and other old men
05:00 AM, Feb 22, 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, USA TODAY movie reporters Bryan Alexander and Susan Wloszczyna discussed…what else?! THE OSCARS! The 85th annual Academy Awards take place this Sunday, Feb. 24 and USA TODAY Movies team dissected the awards from all angles in this week’s live chat. We also touched on the recent phenomena of older action heroes (Last Stand, Bullet to the Head, Die Hard 5) barnstorming the box office, and whether Seth MacFarlane will be a good fit as Oscar host.
John Elliot: Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
The Oscars. Sunday. FINALLY! What more is there to say? Stick with us over the next hour and find out!
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 Bryan Alexander and Susan Wloszczyna
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week? Oscar, Oscar, Oscar…and other old men!
Bryan and Susan 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!
The Oscars are this Sunday (FINALLY!), but the only real surprise this awards season is how unsurprising the awards season has been. So, Woz, will we see any drama Sunday night? Are any of the categories truly contested? Which Oscar category has the most potential for a shocker?
Susan Wloszczyna: Drama, certainly, now that Russell Crowe will attempt to sing live onstage. As for sources of potential surprises, suddenly the supporting actor race is in flux. Right now I am going with Christoph Waltz, but do not discount Tommy Lee Jones or even Robert De Niro. The real potential shocker is if Spielberg is not the best director choice.
Bryan Alexander: Look out for that Ang Lee train, it’s rolling.
Yes, that was quite a shocker to hear the news about Russell Crowe this morning.
Especially with him taking the brunt of the critics for the singing. But a brilliant announcement.
The Les Mis fans are passionate.
Susan Wloszczyna: Yeah, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is an international sensation right now with at total gross of more than $500 million. So do not discount the Pi guy.
Bryan Alexander: And I’m liking to watch the story of Emmanuelle Riva. She could make some noise on Sunday. The oldest nominated actress at 85. She turns 86 on Oscar Sunday. She has not done a lot of campaigning. She lives in France and doesn’t speak English. But a lot of people are starting to look at her.
She could upset the Jennifer Lawrence apple cart with her Amour performance.
And a cute little side note. She’s coming to the Oscars and it’s her first time to ever visit Los Angeles.
Susan Wloszczyna: Speaking of Les Mis, who wouldn’t want to see Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Hudson do a sing off with I Dreamed a Dream. The tears would flood the stage.
And I would cry if Riva won — she did give the best performance in that category, not that it necessarily the most important consideration when it comes to the Oscars.
John Elliot: Bryan, you recently spoke to Family Guy creator and first time Oscar host Seth MacFarlane. What can we expect from Seth on Sunday? And what are the dangers for a first time, and relatively unknown (at least in terms of your stereotypical Oscar audience) host?
Bryan Alexander: Seth is keeping a tight lip on what he’s going to be doing for the show. But we’ve already seen bits of his humor come out during the Oscar nominations in January. He and Emma Stone cracked funny during the normally straightforward affair. He got in trouble for a Nazi joke. It was typical Seth.
And he’s a famous roaster. He won’t go too hard on the Hollywood crowd. But as he told me, he’s going for “medium to medium well.” I don’t think he’ll go too hard, but that will definitely be a factor.
He’s definitely going to sing and dance. He’s not a great dancer. He’ll get through it. But people might not know that he has an album of jazz standards. So he’ll show off the pipe. We’re definitely going to see his Ted from his movie. Ted will present an award and Seth believes it’s going to be a technical marvel. He was excited about that.
But there are more questions than answers. Will the Hollywood crowd accept in the Dolby Theatre accept him enthusiastically? And will his legion of young fans tune in. If every one of his 3.5 million Twitter followers watches, it’s a decent start.
Susan Wloszczyna: I think most home viewers know him as Seth who? I wish him the best, but I thought Emma Stone had more comic timing than he did during the announcements. If Chris Rock and Jon Stewart flopped,what hope is there for someone who isn’t a household name. Besides, his fan base is probably going to be playing video games or watching Spike TV (is that still on) and not debating the fashions on the Oscars on Sunday night.
Bryan Alexander: If anyone can get these kids, I think he has a good a shot. But how it’s going to work, is going to be interesting.
I met with him twice and for good reason the nerves sometimes came out. But in the second meeting he was pretty chill at the Beverly Hills Hotel, except when he thought the sun was shining on him. He didn’t want to have a total strange sunburn. A Frank Gorshin look he called it. I had to look it up. But that’s the guy in Star Trek who had the strange face. Classic geek joke.
Are you looking forward to the Bond tribute Woz?
Susan Wloszczyna: I mean Diana Krall has great jazz standard collections. But she should not host the Oscars.
Bryan Alexander: Nice one.
Susan Wloszczyna: Oh the Bond tribute. Pierce Brosnan sort of messed that one up but good but begging out of any reunion. So expect lots of dancers pretending to be Bond in suits and taps shoes and Dame Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger as if it were 1965.
Bryan Alexander: Pierce! Really. That would have been pretty cool.
John Elliot: Ok, let’s have it: Your final predictions for Best Picture, Actor, Actress and the Supportings.
Susan Wloszczyna: Best picture. Argo is the anointed one, although little did I think when I saw it back in August before the Toronto Film Festival that it would be the one. Fun stuff, well done, and the Hollywood angle lifted it to a new level. But Zero Dark Thirty is a more solid political thriller.
Bryan Alexander: It would be hard to argue with that. I think if it doesn’t win, people are going to storm the stage and take Seth hostage.
So I’m going Argo as well
Susan Wloszczyna: Ooh that would be a reason why to pick Amour instead. Riva could lead the charge.
Bryan Alexander: Love it. Best actor?
Susan Wloszczyna: As for actor, yes yes yes Daniel Day-Lewis. They would have Civil War re-enactors lead the riot on stage if he did not win.
Bryan Alexander: I agree. Daniel Day Lewis should simply climb up on stage at the beginning of the show with a folding chair and just wait. And he should wear a stove-pipe hat.
Susan Wloszczyna: Best actress. This is slightly more dicey. But I am sticking to the script and going with Jennifer Lawrence. It will be one of the rare comedy performances to win in a lead I believe. Someone has to be a winning funny lady beside Marisa Tomei and Mira Sorvino.
Bryan Alexander: As much fun as it would be to see the presenter try to say Quvenzhane Wallis and to see that amazing child give an acceptance speech, I think I’m going to go for the Riva upset. Amour wins every time. Don’t you know that?
Susan Wloszczyna: Supporting actor. Again I am torn. Today it is Christoph Waltz. But I still have time to change my Gold Derby choice if I suddenly feel De Niro tomorrow.
Bryan Alexander: When’s the deadline for that? What happened to Tommy Lee Jones? He was supposed to ride the Lincoln train?
I’m sticking with Tommy Lee on this one. Even though De Niro is a good story. Hasn’t won since 1981 or so. And showing his softer side.
And he’s taken some dastardly parts lately. Nice to see this comeback of sorts for De Niro
Susan Wloszczyna: He became a viral grumpy troll, that is what happened. I had him on top for ages before switching recently. I think I have up until Sunday to pull a switcheroo. Speaking of love, there is not much left for Lincoln I fear and that is my reason.
Bryan Alexander: By the way, I sat next to Tommy Lee Jones at the Oscar luncheon. And he couldn’t have been a nicer man. He was the star of the table with his lovely wife. I felt like I was at home in their Texas dining room as they told tales.
But the Golden Globe image was tough
Susan Wloszczyna: I really enjoyed De Niro in Silver Linings. However, unlike Meryl Streep who went years between Oscar wins but actually gave some academy level performances in the meantime, De Niro hasn’t been nominated since Cape Fear simply because he hasn’t done anything worth acknowledging him for. Rocky and Bullwinkle and being in Focker movies might pay the bills but they don’t bring the trophies.
Bryan Alexander: That’s true. But I think that actually ADDS to the story. He’s coming back.
And he cried on Katie’s couch. Enough said. Onward
Susan Wloszczyna: Supporting actress … and the winner is Anne Hathaway. Yes, she has been giving some awkward TMI speeches while collecting trophy after trophy. But that scene still gets me every time I watch her sing it. I think I would rather give it to Helen Hunt in The Sessions, which should be seen if you haven’t caught it yet. But I can live with Anne — and I actually think she looks better with short hair.
Bryan Alexander: Hopefully her pr people will help prepare a decent speech and preparation. I mean, it’s so obvious. And yes it’s inevitable. So I won’t argue with you on this one.
And it’s a nice Oscar comeback after her disastrous Oscar hosting performance alongside James Franco
John Elliot: Alright! Now, let’s move on to some other old men!
The year is still quite young yet we’ve already see three action flicks starring older stars: Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand, Stallone in Bullet to the Head, and Willis in A Good Day to Die Hard. IN FACT, if we include Jason Statham’s Parker that is four independent action efforts from members of the elder action supergroup The Expendables…SO, in Seinfeld-ian terms…What’s the deal with the old actions stars at the box office?
Bryan Alexander: The gig is this. They don’t have the audience, necessarily to do it on their own with new stories. There has to be a gimmick. Like getting all the old guys together like some sort of 80s action hero Avengers (Expendables 1 and 2). Or else going back to these time-tested franchise. Like Die Hard. That’s why Willis pulled it out. And that is why Arnie is running back to the Terminator after The Last Stand flopped.
But yes Bullet to the Head went exactly as the title suggested for Stallone.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Arnold and Stallone do in The Tomb. That’s going to be interesting to see if this flies.
But Die Hard held it’s own last weekend.
Susan Wloszczyna: If you want golden oldies, I prefer RED or even The Debt. Something with substance. You can’t just de-mummify these guys. They have to have a good story, co-stars to spar with, a reason to see them again. If I want to watch actors of a certain age go at it, give me Quartet or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel instead.
Bryan Alexander: I just want things to blow up. That’s where we differ.
Susan Wloszczyna: These just blew up in their faces at the box office. Even Die Hard was disappointing even thought it opened at No. 1. I mean it made as much as Warm Bodies.
John Elliot: Now some questions from our lovely readers!
Saul Vesecky of Tempe, Arizona asks:
Who will win the Best Actor Oscar?? Daniel Day Lewis/Lincoln appears to be the favorite but alas I am hoping Oscar goes to Hugh Jackman/Les Miserables
Bryan Alexander: Break his heart Woz
Susan Wloszczyna: Sigh. Hugh is a gent, a special talent who finally got to show nearly all of what he is capable of as a performer in his first movie musical. And sadly that will have to be his award since Daniel Day-Lewis is as sure as Jack Nicholson showing up in sunglasses and sitting in the front row (at least I hope he is there this year).
Bryan Alexander: It breaks my heart too. Jackman is such a great guy, and he has such fantastic facial hair in the movie (oh, and he performs really well too). But this baby has been DDL’s since he slumped down in that horse and looked over the Union Troops.
Sorry Saul and Hugh
MattK of Minnesota asks:
So speaking on how such movies got the BP nomination this year and how the Academy likes to maintain the viewers box office golden films and the independent low earners, why was Skyfall snubbed from BP? Les Mis IMO could have been dropped in place of Skyfall. Given, I wouldn’t see it winning, but it’s 007’s 50th anniversary! And Skyfall reps in just enough areas to where I don’t see why not nominate it for BP.
Bryan Alexander: There is no limit. They didn’t have to drop Les Miserables. Skyfall could have made it’s way into the expanding list of Best Movies. It just didn’t have the good. Sorry, Mr. Bond, but thems the facts. However it’s up for a score of other awards.
Susan Wloszczyna: Yes, popcorn movies should get more respect. But the academy is not ready to embrace comic book movies and spy thrillers just yet apparently. they left the 10th best pic spot open this year and Skyfall could have easily filled that slot. But they chose not to. But take solace in the fact that Adele singing the theme will be a high point. And Bond will get his due with a tribute.
Bryan Alexander: Was that a subtle Quantum of Solace joke? Woz
Susan Wloszczyna: Don’t give me that much credit, Bryan, but I will take it.
Jakeem of Atlanta asks:
I don’t know if any of you believe in Oscar omens and precursors, but here’s one to consider for the Best Supporting Actor race. If you hadn’t noticed, the last three winners in the category had names beginning with the letters C-H-R-I-S — that is, Christoph Waltz (2009), Christian Bale (2010) and Christopher Plummer (2011). So don’t be surprised if Waltz wins again Sunday night.
Remember, between 1978 and 1981, the winners of the Best Supporting Actress award had the initials M.S.— Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Mary Steenburgen and Maureen Stapleton.
Bryan Alexander: I feel like Woz put this in to back up her Waltz theory
Susan Wloszczyna: I love how your mind works, Jakeem. If you have any other conspiracy theories about awards shows, send them along. It would make great reading. Maybe I will keep my Waltz prediction intact after all. When I have time I will try to find other patterns in the Oscar winners — maybe a Q type person could be recruited to assist me.
Bryan Alexander: I have the answer. Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar playing Christy Brown in My Left Foot and I am sure part of that personality remains in Day Lewis. He’s so method. So he’s sort of a Chris. End of conspiracy theory. Mr. Daniel “Chris” Day-Lewis please come get your Oscar
Oops, that’s Supporting Actor. Nevermind
Susan Wloszczyna: Oh and Sissy Spacek was born on Christmas Day. That is why she won for Coal Miner’s Daughter.
John Elliot: Unfortunately, it’s time for us to wrap up
Thank you Woz and Bryan! And a VERY big thank you to all our readers who participated and submitted questions.
Bryan Alexander: Thank you all. I’ll be backstage at the Oscars. Look for me on the backstage camera!
Susan Wloszczyna: And I will be in the office, suffering through the endless show with the rest of you and trying to make sense of it all. Conspiracies and all. Have fun and happy Oscar day to you all.
John Elliot: And look for Bryan backstage Oscar night at @BryAlexand
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.
Enjoy the Oscars, everyone! Meet us back here next week to discuss the winners and losers!