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Phase 1 of awards season wraps Monday, Jan. 14, when Oscar-nomination voting ends. So before Phase 2 (Jan. 22 nominations through the Feb. 24 ceremony), it’s time to reflect on the lessons of Phase 1 (though “lessons” may be misleading, since it implies everyone has learned something).
1. It’s an annual tradition to stir up bogus controversies over contenders. This year, it started with outrage that “First Man” doesn’t depict the planting of the U.S. flag on the moon. (For the record, “La La Land” didn’t include a shot of the Hollywood sign, but nobody got apoplectic.) The continued attacks on “Green Book” manage to be both silly and disgusting. The good news is that in the past, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voters have ignored this mudslinging (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Shape of Water,” et al.) The bad news is that this makes everybody look bad: AMPAS, Hollywood, and the entire human race, actually.
Empathy - Oscar - Bets - Campaign - Teams
2. We should have some empathy for Oscar “sure bets.” The campaign teams behind “A Star Is Born,” “Roma,” “RBG,” Glenn Close, et al, have to keep the buzz going while avoiding over-buzz. Oscar history is filled with cautionary tales. Kathryn Bigelow did a great job directing “Zero Dark Thirty” but wasn’t nominated; did voters assume she was a shoo-in and didn’t need more votes? “La La Land” scored record Golden Globe wins and earned a record-tying 14 Oscar noms, but didn’t win; was that because of a backlash? Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences only have time to see a fraction of the year’s 347 eligible feature films. So strategists need to build want-to-see attitude and maintain enthusiasm for a film without overselling it. The process is harder than it looks.
3. Bradley Cooper is enjoying a career high...
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