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Daniel Radcliffe: HP Snubbed for Best Picture cause it was “too commercial”

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  • Paul Hanlin Jr
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    #54224

    http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/02/07/harry-potter-oscars-daniel-radcliffe/ 

    There was a time when being one of the highest grossing movies in history actually counted for something with the Academy Awards. Gone With the Wind was the highest-grossing movie ever in 1939 and won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture.The Sound of Music was the newhighest-grossing movie ever in 1965 and won Best Picture, despite or perhaps because it was “awful and sentimental and gooey,” in the words of ‘Music’ star Christopher Plummer. The Godfather became the highest-grossing movie ever in a long-ago time period when people went to see bleak three-hour crime epics that didn’t star Batman. The Godfather won Best Picture; the next three “highest-grossing movies ever” were nominated, but didn’t win. Jaws lost to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, an oversight you can blame on the hippies. Star Wars lost to Annie Hall – a justifiable loss, since as awesome as Star Wars is, it would clearly be much better if it featured a scene where C-3PO sneezed into a mound of cocaine. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial lost to Gandhi, which proves definitively that the ’80s were much lamer than we tend to think.

    Jurassic Park wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture when it grossed almost a billion dollars in 1993, although the productive Mr. Spielberg walked away with the big trophy that year for Schindler’s List. (And what did you accomplish in 1993, lazybones?) James Cameron’s Titanic grossed nearly $2 billion on the way to winning an award for everything except for the screenplay or the acting, which are two things that used to be important before the invention of digital effects. Cameron one-upped himself a couple years ago with Avatar, which made about $2.7 billion, but wound up losing the Best Picture award to The Hurt Locker, which made about ten cents.

    Avatar‘s nomination was a notable exception in this Oscar era. In recent years, the Academy has generally preferred nominating small, low-grossing mediocrities instead of big-budget, high-grossing mediocrities. It’s generally accepted that the Best Picture field was widened to 10 in 2009 specifically because the epoch-defining The Dark Knight was not nominated for Best Picture. (It lost out to the pleasant Slumdog Millionaire, the overlong Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the awful The Reader, the decent Frost/Nixon, and the actually-good Milk.)

    So Daniel Radcliffe is not alone in thinking that the Academy has been snubbing popular films. According to the Guardian, the Harry Potter star expressed some resentment that Harry Potter 7.5 was not nominated for Best Picture:

    I don’t think the Oscars like commercial films, or kids’ films, unless they’re directed by Martin Scorsese. I was watching Hugo the other day and going, ‘Why is this nominated and we’re not?’ I was slightly miffed… There’s a certain amount of snobbery. It’s kind of disheartening. I never thought I’d care. But it would’ve been nice to have some recognition, just for the hours put in.”

    Now, as a film fan, I’m inclined to point out that, for all its faults, Hugo is a real movie with a beginning, a middle, and an end, whereas Harry Potter and the Infinite MacGuffins, Part 2 is a TV series finale with a big fireworks budget. But Radcliffe does make an interesting point. I wasn’t a huge fan of the last Harry Potter, but was it really worse than Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close? (Notably, Radcliffe is also addressing the Academy’s recent habit of relentlessly nominating Martin Scorsese, perhaps out of collective shame for not giving him any awards in his golden era.)

    It’s always a bit strange when people complain that a massively successful movie was overlooked by the Oscars – by comparison, imagine if the guy who was the captain of the football team and the student council president complained that he wasn’t elected Prom King. Still, in a year when the two Oscar frontunners are inside-baseball low-grossers about moviemaking, it is a bit striking that the Academy seems almost painfully disinterested in the most successful film franchise in history. 

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    Scottferguson
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    #54226

    To state the obvious once again –

    In most cases, best picture nominees are strongly identified with their directors and their visions.

    The Harry Potter series has suffered by being a producers, rather than directors, vision.

    It’s why all 3 LOTR films were nominated, and none of these were.

    No James Bond films were ever nominated, and the early ones for me are vastly superior to any of the Potter films.

    Same reason.

    I suspect Potter PR people and/or teammates conveyed their dissatisfaction to him, making him retract his initial statement.

    And sorry, the most recent Potter installment (and the rest of the series) is not remotely as good as Hugo. It is better than some of the BP nominees, but so are easily 30 or 40 other films I can think of that were eligible.

    It’s as simple as that. Not some imagined bias.

    Meantime, the reason Radcliffe is now saying this?

    Almost certainly because a few days ago this is what he said (likely his truer feelings):

    “I didn’t expect it to be nominated for Best Picture, and no, it doesn’t faze
    us. Just because we’ve been around for a long time, and made a lot of movies, I
    don’t think when you come to the end of that series that anyone’s obligated to
    say you’re best picture. Obviously it would have been lovely, but I don’t think
    it’s something we’re going to be losing sleep over.”

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    M H
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    #54227

    I agree with a lot of what you said there, SF. As a producer’s accomplishment, I have supported David Heyman recieving an honorary Oscar rather than recognition for any individual film. While almost all were enjoyable (the first and especially the second are closer to trainwrecks), none come close to being among the best of the year for me. That is doubly true for the final installment, which is a nice, if unsatisfying ending, but does little to stand out. 

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    Scottferguson
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    #54228

    David Heyman deserves the Thalberg award for the series.

    My guess is he didn’t get it this cycle because it might have made it even more difficult for the last film to be nominated. Now that this no longer will be an issue, he could be in line soon.

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    dannyboy.
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    #54229

    Outside of some very deserving tech nominations I never found a single installment BP-worthy.. I’d say Imelda Staunton and Alan Rickman were both giving Oscar-like performances, but they were a bit over the top for my blood. All this being said, I certainly don’t think its a bad series by any stretch of the imagination. I think Yates ended up being the right person for the job, I wish we could have seen him do the first several..

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    Scottferguson
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    #54230

    And of course the whining about hit films not being nominated is disproven by the inclusion of all three LOTR films, Inception, Blind Side, The Help, Erin Brockavich, Gladiator, Ray, The Departed, Avatar, True Grit among those in recent years that hit $100 million or more on their own without any need of Oscar nominations, which in turn helped other films to become hits.

    But of course facts don’t matter when someone is obsessed with some ficticious nefarious plot against his favorite films.

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    Carbon Based Lifeform
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    #54231

    I own a copy of every Harry Potter movie and enjoy them all (some are better than others) but never once did I think, there’s the best picture of the year!

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    Andrew Eng
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    #54232

    While I share in the disappointment of DH2 missing the Best Pic nod, I’m not surprised. What may have hurt HP even more, in addition to the reasons mentioned above, is that HP is a VERY serialized series. A viewer can’t just watch, say, the 6th film and completely understand it without having seen the ones before it. I imagine most of the Academy was in this situation, considering the series had never been nominated in major categories before. If DH2 was the 1st HP film I watched, I would have no idea what was happening and would have dismissed it. In this sense, I can’t blame the Academy. 

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #54233

    I disagree with both assertions. Oscar loves commercial movies. On average. Best Picture winners tend to be hits, often very big hits. So HP did not suffer from being too commercial.

    Neither did it suffer, I think, because it wasn’t a director’s vision. That strikes me as too arcane an explanation. Did voters look at their ballots and say, “I’d vote for ‘Harry Potter,’ but it’s not enough of a director’s vision”?

    More simply, I think “Harry Potter” was snubbed because voters don’t take it seriously. Unlike “Lord of the Rings,” which is mostly about adult characters, “Harry Potter” probably looked too much like kids’ stuff. “Hugo” is also a kids’ movie, but the director gives it instant appeal to movie snobs. In that sense, Scottferguson’s argument holds true (with an auteur, they give themselves permission to vote for a kids’ movie). But mostly I think it’s because the Academy looks at “Harry Potter” and considers it closer to “Twilight” fluff than to “LOTR” art, which of course is an unfair bias considering how well reviewed the “Potter” films were. 

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    Scottferguson
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    #54234

    <<Neither did it suffer, I think, because it wasn’t a director’s
    vision. That strikes me as too arcane an explanation. Did voters look at
    their ballots and say, “I’d vote for ‘Harry Potter,’ but it’s not
    enough of a director’s vision”?>>

    I am not saying that they make a conscious decision in all cases. I’m saying that almost always when a film is initiated from the director’s own vision, it becomes a better film than it would otherwise, and this in turn leads to it being recognized.

    The Harry Potter series for me lacked that certain je nais sais quoi as they say, that particular distinctiveness that set it apart from Peter Jackson’s work or Nolan’s or Spielberg’s or similar. They seemed created by a committee – a capable committee, to be sure, but they all missed for me that extra level of vision to make them close to BP nomination worthy.

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    Renaton
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    #54235

    Of course it’s not a conscious decision. In fact, if a voter likes “Harry Potter” that much, why would they not vote for it? What SF means is that they tend to nominate auters and/or flms with a statement or a singular vision. “Harry Potter” is not a statement. “Harry Potter” is also not a singular vision from a director. All films (even the one directed by Cuaron) have the same feel and style while being done by completely different directors. It’s a producers creation, it’s a franchise, and that comes before visionaries and any kind of social commentary in these films. For it to get nominated, it needs at least one fo the two, at least that’s the way I see it.

    I’m not saying “Harry Potter” is bad, just that it isn’t the kind of film that gets passionate response from voters (and not just because it’s a fantasy film).

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    Renaton
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    #54236

    Also, I highly doubt voters care too much that “Hugo” comes from Scorsese. Does it help? yeah, but any kind of film would be helped by having such a big name at the direction. But to say it got credibility that “Harry Potter” doesn’t have based on the name of the director alone is extreme. Especially because they don’t automatically nominate every Scosese film (especially the ones that are too big of a departure for him).

    “Hugo” benefited from being a love letter to filmmaking that felt grandiose and yet, still personal. Voters like that sorta of thing (so much so, that the two frontrunners this year are exactly that). The fact that Scorsese is the director was just the cherry on top for them. However, if “Hugo” had the same editing and cinematography and use of effects while still talking about films the way it does, it would still have a ton of nominations more than “Harry Potter” (and it would probably still be a BP nominee while “Harry Potter” still wouldn’t).

    “Harry Potter” does suffer a bit from being a kids franchise, but it’s far from being the main reason, and it’s not why voters don’t take it very seriously. They could easily overcome that if it felt like a big personal artistic vision or a big statement. 

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #54237

    <<Neither did it suffer, I think, because it wasn’t a director’s
    vision. That strikes me as too arcane an explanation. Did voters look at
    their ballots and say, “I’d vote for ‘Harry Potter,’ but it’s not
    enough of a director’s vision”?>>

    I am not saying that they make a conscious decision in all cases. I’m saying that almost always when a film is initiated from the director’s own vision, it becomes a better film than it would otherwise, and this in turn leads to it being recognized.

    The Harry Potter series for me lacked that certain je nais sais quoi as they say, that particular distinctiveness that set it apart from Peter Jackson’s work or Nolan’s or Spielberg’s or similar. They seemed created by a committee – a capable committee, to be sure, but they all missed for me that extra level of vision to make them close to BP nomination worthy.

    I think in this case you’re making an assumption based on your own strict adherence to auteur theory. I’m an auteurist myself, to a lesser degree, but the idea that the “Potter” films are necessarily seen as inferior because they’re not the vision of a single auteur is not supported by the fact that “Potter” was actually better reviewed than “Hugo,” on both Rotten Tomatoes (which measures the percentage of people who like it) and Metacritic (which measures the degree to which they like it).

    Personally, “Deathly Hallows Part 2” was not my favorite of the “Potter” films or one of my favorite films of the year (though I did like it), but it is legitimate to criticize the Academy for not recognizing it, given its massive success, abundant critical praise, and significance to the film industry over the last decade. However, PaulHan’s usual reasoning about so-and-so organization being irrelevant because they don’t like popular things is, as you pointed out, quickly and easily disproven.

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    Scottferguson
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    #54238

    I’m not a strict auteurist, although I am firmly connected to the notion that, particularly in recent directors, there is no alternative to having a strong director with a purpose to making a film interesting.

    Again, Academy voters wouldn’t have seen it as inferior because it wasn’t identified with a particular director. I’m saying they didn’t think any entry was worthy enough because the end result wasn’t as interesting because it was produced by a committee of multiple levels that ended up with decent if somewhat impersonal films.

    I like Goldfinger a lot more than any of the Potter films. It was as big or bigger a hit in its day than any of the Potters. Guy Hamilton was a capable director. But it nor any of the Bond films was going to be nominated both because of genre bias but also because they were seen more as product, not a stand-alone special creation. Same with the Potter films.

    And this is nothing new. Louis B. Mayer was prouder of the Hardy Family films of the 1930s and 40s than anything else he produced at MGM. They were huge hits. They got few if any Oscar nominations, certainly never for best picture. Only the first Raiders and Star Wars films were nominated, and both were attached to previous Oscar nominated directors and strongly associated with them.

    I don’t understand why things should be different for the anonymous Potter films.

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    Renaton
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    #54239

    Just to say, something getting better reviews doesn’t mean it has more passionate response. reviewers were much impressed with hoe concluded the series, so they gave it great reviews, but how many of them really believe it was the best film of the year?

    “Hugo” may have a minor grade, but it’s supporters in the critical community are much more passionate about it than “Harry Potter” ones. There is always context that leads certain films to be graded certain ways. Each film is normally judged by different parameters by reviewers, and the grades and articles they write about reflect that. “Harry Potter” may have been extremely exceptional for what it was trying to achieve and critics saw that. Doesn’t mean a film with a minor grade is less repected or acclaimed. Grades are not the main parameter of analysis. You have to judge the impact this has on the critical consensus, not just a Metacritic grade.

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