Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Please No...

Disney is going ahead with an all-in Oscar campaign for Alice in Wonderland (my review). This is to say nothing of the fact that it's one of the year's worst-reviewed films (not as bad as, say, anything Katherine Heigl's been in, but still less-than-stellar). It seems that Disney is planning on selling the "it's the highest-grossing picture of the year!" angle (though that title actually belongs to Disney's other Oscar hopeful and real Best Picture contender, Toy Story 3), hoping that lots of money = Best Picture. And this is EXACTLY the kind of thing that I was worried about last summer when AMPAS announced the expansion of Best Picture nominees to 10: money would become more of a factor than quality, and at least a few popular films with awful reviews would be let in (see The Blind Side nomination last year, though that was certainly more Oscar-baity than this).
"What's all this nonsense about Oscar nominations?"
There's also going to be a push for Johnny Depp as a Supporting Actor nominee for his portrayal of the Mad Hatter. This is ridiculous; AMPAS doesn't necessarily love Depp (3 nominations, 0 wins), given that they ignored his baity Public Enemies performance last year, and then there's the fact that he's awful in the film. However, Gold Derby has the audacity to say that he's a real contender, as is the film as a whole. This is complete jabberwocky, if you ask me, especially the Depp nomination. For your viewing (dis)pleasure, here's 46 seconds of why Depp won't be in the conversation this year:

Will this plan succeed? I doubt it. I can see the film earning nominations for Art Direction (though it wasn't that special), Costume Design, Makeup, and maybe even Visual Effects (though it has stiff competition there). But Best Picture or any kind of acting nod? Not a chance. Being popular doesn't mean being good; just check out those dreadful Twilight films. And grosses don't actually mean that much to voters unless you underperformed on expectations, as in, if the film was made for $80 million but only made $20 million; flops usually don't get in.
Just to further prove my point, let me cite two examples. First, The Dark Knight was the biggest moneymaker of 2008 AND was one of the best reviewed films of the year, but still didn't make the Best Picture cut. Secondly, here's the list of the 10 biggest-grossing films of 2009 along with the film's Metascore (out of 100 points), with Best Picture nominees in bold:
1. Avatar ($760 million) (Metascore: 84)
2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($402 million) (35)
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($302 million) (78)
4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($297 million) (44)
5. Up ($293 million) (88)
6. The Hangover ($277 million) (73)
7. Star Trek ($258 million) (83)
8. The Blind Side ($256 million) (53)
9. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel ($220 million) (41)
10. Sherlock Holmes ($209 million) (57)
What I'm trying to prove here is that big box office is meaningless without great reviews or, in The Blind Side's case, great momentum and an Oscar-friendly premise. Alice in Wonderland, despite making $334 million, has a Metascore of 53, and lacks the kind of polish and genre Oscar loves (aside from Lord of the Rings, precious few fantasy films have been Best Picture nominees). Aside from technicals, I highly doubt the film stands much of a chance at the Oscar party, and Disney should really be putting it's effort into Toy Story 3.
What do you make of all of this? Comment below, this blog needs some lively discussion.


Kotsu said...

I still can't watch that Futterwaken all the way through....

Simon said...

AiW and Johnny Depp weren't bad, per se...they just both completely missed the point of what makes Alice in Wonderland awesome (paradoxes and loose mathematics. And Caterpillars), and it's just really mediocre. This shit ain't happening.