A breathtaking read: Anne Thompson reruns the Oscar derby of 2012-2013

Hey, Derbyites: Please do not repeat the same mistake I made by waiting to catch up with a new book by Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood/ Indiewire) titled “The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, An Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System.” (Click here to read reviews at Amazon and to order your own copy.) It came out a few months ago, which is when I downloaded it to my kindle, but, egads, I just now got around to reading it. Hurrah. I’m glad I didn’t miss this gem.

Anne not only knows her stuff about how movies get made, succeed gloriously or flop disastrously, but over and over here at Gold Derby she has demonstrated her prowess as Oscar and Emmy prognosticator by kicking other Experts’ butts when we tally scores for best predix.

So it’s of special interest to us that her book on the 2012 film year devotes a meaty chapter to the Oscar derby that played out in early 2013. Anne makes Oscar references throughout the book, but she concentrates focus in one chapter titled “Ten Things That Changed the Oscar Race.” Therein she documents the academy’s transition to electronic online voting (so successful that 90% of members cast ballots), the implementation of new rules to halt the possible invasion of TV films, the switch to DVD viewing of documentaries instead of mandatory attendance at screenings and more.

But the best parts of her retelling of that derby year are reminders of key details like this: “As soon as Universal’s marketing department, which had been so nervous about all the singing in ‘Les Miserables,’ made the call to unveil footage of the tear-flooded Anne Hathaway‘s hearbreaking rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ to exhibitors and media at CinemaCon in April, she became the front-runner for Best Supporting Actress.”

Or this revelatory report on 85-year-old Best Actress contender Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”), which is rich with industry insights and personal tattle: “Riva has limited stamina for awards campaigning. So Sony Pictures Classics put her on the phone with press. They send director Michael Haneke to the L.A. Film Critics awards and Golden Globes, and put Riva in the limelight at the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review. It’s her first trip to America. She asks SPC co-president Michael Barker for a car so that she can drive to lower Manhattan and see the Statue of Liberty.”

My own favorite parts of this chapter come when Anne invites readers to go along with her personally on the derby track — to the BAFTA Tea Party, for example, where she asks Kathryn Bigelow about the questions of accuracy surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty” (“I would not change a thing,” Bigelow asserts). And to the Oscar nominees’ luncheon where she reports how the room greeted the director of “Life of Pi” – “Ang Lee garners by far the most enthusiastic round of applause.”

Ultimately, she ends up at the Dolby Theatre, of course: “I have a blast attending the Oscars as a guest, as opposed to standing for four hours in high heels doing red carpet interviews, or backstage in the pressroom trying to simultaneously track the live show and winners interviews as I’ve done for too many years to count.” We follow her as Anne sweeps down the red carpet past Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jennifer Aniston and other superstars, then, once inside, spills caviar on her iPhone. “Nice problem to have!” she acknowledges cheerfully.

Now, Derbyites, buy the whole book to savor the rest of her (and our) story – like (unspilled) beluga. Click here.

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