erik lundegaard

Movies - The Oscars posts

Thursday February 21, 2013

My Q&A with Oscar's Lawyers

During the day, as many of you know, I'm the editor-in-chief for a national legal publication. Mornings I do this. Recently I combined interests. For the most recent issue in Southern California I interviewed the general counsel and main lawyer (John Quinn and David Quinto, respectively) for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The Oscars. 

It was fun and informative. I never thought about gatecrashers at the Oscars before--not being a gatecrasher myself and never guarding a gate worth crashing. I never thought that the script for the show has to go through lawyers:

Me: Earlier you mentioned you have to look at the Academy Award show script for approval. What are some examples of things you’ve flagged in the past?

Quinto: One year there was a joke about an actress that suggested she had been having sex out of wedlock with a minor.

Quinn: And we said, “You really can’t do this.”

Quinto: And the response from the producer was, “Look, I heard a joke about Jerry Buss going to Cedar Sinai to wait for his next wife to be born.” And I said, “That’s completely different. The imputation of a lack of chastity to a man is a lot different than the imputation of a lack of chastity to a woman. Plus, what you don’t know,” I said to the producer, “is that the Academy had a dispute this year with that particular actress.” The Academy had threatened a lawsuit. The whole thing was resolved confidentially. But if anyone had a reason to be sore with the Academy at that moment, it was that actress. That was one time I raised a challenge.

Me: Was it listened to?

Quinto: It was listened to. Another time there was a hysterically funny joke about an unnamed baseball player on steroids, and ABC broadcast standards said, “Look, people will tell in a nanosecond that this joke is about Barry Bonds. We’ll be sued. So the joke has to be cut.” And I said, “No, no. I’m a litigator. And as a litigator, I can tell you Barry Bonds will not sue. If he were to sue all his medical records would be open to discovery. He doesn’t want that.” So they kept it in. I thought it got good laughter during rehearsals but they cut it on the basis that it didn’t get enough laughs.

I love all that. I love this sentence: “The imputation of a lack of chastity to a man is a lot different than the imputation of a lack of chastity to a woman.” It's not funny cuz it's true. 

Then there's the discussion of the riders (in effect since 1950) that Oscar winners must sign:

Quinn: When you receive your Oscar, before you take physical possession, you’ll be asked to sign a rider for a first refusal agreement. Basically, before transferring or selling it to anybody, you will offer it to the Academy for one dollar. The Academy is of the view that Oscar statuettes shouldn’t be articles of commerce. They are unique recognitions of achievement, and they shouldn’t be purchased and sold in the marketplace. So from time to time, somebody tries to sell one, and we’re in court seeking injunction against the sale.

Check out the whole Q&A. Digital version is here. A friend who once lived and worked in Hollywood called it “the best behind-the-scenes-at-the-Oscars piece I've read since Edgar Bergen won the Woodie.” Which I think is a compliment.

Posted at 03:18 PM on Feb 21, 2013 in category Movies - The Oscars
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Wednesday February 20, 2013

Edward Copeland Ranks the Best Pictures: from 'Casablanca' to 'The Broadway Melody'

Casablanca starring Humphrey BogartEdward Copeland Ranks the Best Pictures

1. Casablanca (1943)
2. The Godfather (1972)
3. Annie Hall (1977)
4. All About Eve (1950)
5. The Apartment (1960)
6. It Happened One Night (1934)
7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
8. On the Waterfront (1954)
9. Amadeus (1984)
10. Schindler’s List (1993)

11. Gone with the Wind (1939)
12. The Godfather Part II (1974)
13. Terms of Endearment (1983)
14. No Country for Old Men (2007)
15. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
16. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
17. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
18. The Last Emperor (1987)
19. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
20. The Sting (1973)

21. The Departed (2006)
22. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
23. West Side Story (1961)
24. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
25. Unforgiven (1992)
26. Grand Hotel (1932)
27. From Here to Eternity (1953)
28. Rebecca (1940)
29. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
30. In the Heat of the Night (1967)

31. Ghandi (1982)
32. My Fair Lady (1964)
33. Marty (1955)
34. American Beauty (1999)
35. Forrest Gump (1994)
36. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
37. Out of Africa (1985)
38. Rocky (1976)
39. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
40. Oliver! (1968)

41. Chicago (2002)
42. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
43. Mutiny of the Bounty (1935)
44. The Sound of Music (1965)
45. The French Connection (1971)
46. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
47. Gigi (1958)
48. Hamlet (1948)
49. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
50. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

51. All the King’s Men (1949)
52. You Can’t Take it With You (1938)
53. Tom Jones (1963)
54. The English Patient (1996)
55. The Lost Weekend (1945)
56. Ordinary People (1980)
57. Cavalcade (1933)
58. Patton (1970)
59. An American in Paris (1951)
60. The Hurt Locker (2009)

61. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
62. Crash (2005)
63. Going My Way (1944)
64. Wings (1927)
65. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
66. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
67. Chariots of Fire (1981)
68. Rain Man (1988)
69. The Artist (2011)
70. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

71. The King’s Speech (2010)
72. Titanic (1997)
73. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
74. Dances with Wolves (1990)
75. Platoon (1986)
76. Braveheart (1995)
77. Ben-Hur (1959)
78. The Deer Hunter (1978)
79. Gladiator (2000)
80. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

81. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
82. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
83. Cimarron (1931)
84. The Broadway Melody (1929)

Haven't seen

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1928)

Edward's comment

I've seen “Sunrise” and it would rank high but I left it out since it doesn't count as a best picture winner.

My comment

Interesting. We may have to amend the interactive feature. Well, we'll have to amend it anyway in a week when we get a new best picture, but Edward is right. “Sunrise” was voted the “Unique and Artistic Picture” in 1929. The “Outstanding Picture” that year, forerunner to best picture, went to “Wings.”  See his fascinating blog post on this and other Oscar subjects.
But considering how well “Sunrise” had held up and “Wings” has not, it makes me wish the Academy had kept the former category. One wonders what it would have looked like through the years, and what artistry it might have inspired in other filmmakers.

OK, who's next?

Rank Oscar's best pictures from 1927 to today.

Posted at 10:15 AM on Feb 20, 2013 in category Movies - The Oscars
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Anne Thompson Ranks the Best Pictures: from 'Lawrence of Arabia' to 'Going My Way'

poster for David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia"Anne Thompson Ranks the Best Pictures

1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
2. The Apartment (1960)
3. It Happened One Night (1934)
4. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
5. Annie Hall (1977)
6. All About Eve (1950)
7. The Godfather (1972)
8. Gone with the Wind (1939)
9. Casablanca (1943)
10. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1928)

11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
12. The Godfather Part II (1974)
13. The Last Emperor (1987)
14. Unforgiven (1992)
15. No Country for Old Men (2007)
16. On the Waterfront (1954)
17. Schindler’s List (1993)
18. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
19. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
20. Amadeus (1984)

21. Platoon (1986)
22. Ben-Hur (1959)
23. Titanic (1997)
24. The Deer Hunter (1978)
25. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
26. An American in Paris (1951)
27. The Sound of Music (1965)
28. Oliver! (1968)
29. The Departed (2006)
30. From Here to Eternity (1953)

31. Patton (1970)
32. Gladiator (2000)
33. Hamlet (1948)
34. Braveheart (1995)
35. The Hurt Locker (2009)
36. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
37. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
38. Tom Jones (1963)
39. The English Patient (1996)
40. Terms of Endearment (1983)

41. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
42. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
43. The King’s Speech (2010)
44. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
45. Gigi (1958)
46. Out of Africa (1985)
47. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
48. You Can’t Take it With You (1938)
49. The Lost Weekend (1945)
50. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

51. Rebecca (1940)
52. American Beauty (1999)
53. Forrest Gump (1994)
54. The Artist (2011)
55. Ghandi (1982)
56. The French Connection (1971)
57. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
58. Ordinary People (1980)
59. Mutiny of the Bounty (1935)
60. Rain Man (1988)

61. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
62. West Side Story (1961)
63. Chariots of Fire (1981)
64. Dances with Wolves (1990)
65. Rocky (1976)
66. The Sting (1973)
67. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
68. Grand Hotel (1932)
69. Chicago (2002)
70. Marty (1955)

71. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
72. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
73. My Fair Lady (1964)
74. Crash (2005)
75. Wings (1927)
76. Going My Way (1944)

Haven’t seen

The Broadway Melody (1929)
Cimarron (1931)
Cavalcade (1933)
The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
All the King’s Men (1949)
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

Anne's comment (on her Twitter feed)

Cinema buffs, I warn you that ranking the Best Picture Oscar winners is a serious time suck.

My comment

Indeed. The biggest issue with these movies is the lack of passion we have, for or against, for most of them. Most are just shrugs. Makes me almost happy for “Crash.” Something to make me shake my first rather than toss up my hands.
Ms. Thompson can be followed, of course, at Thompson on Hollywood

OK, who's next?

Rank Oscar's best pictures from 1927 to today.

Posted at 07:08 AM on Feb 20, 2013 in category Movies - The Oscars
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Tuesday February 19, 2013

The Worst Best Picture

The worst of the best pictures?

Thus far, 61 people have sent me their rankings of the Academy's choices for best picture from 1927 to 2011. That's about 55 more people than I thought we were going to get. Two days ago I listed off who's winning in the best best-picture race. This is a post about who's losing. Which is the worst best picture the Academy has chosen?

It's not much of a surprise.

Oddly, save for that one film, there is generally less agreement on which of the Academy's best pictures is worst. Those 61 readers chose 19 different movies in the No. 1 slot but 29 different movies for last place.

Here are the 18 best pictures who received just one vote as our worst best picture:

  • The Broadway Melody (1929)
  • Cimarron (1931)
  • The Great Ziegfield (1936)
  • How Green Was My Valley (1941)
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942)
  • Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  • The French Connection (1971)
  • Terms of Endearment (1983)
  • Amadeus (1984)
  • Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
  • Unforgiven (1992)
  • Titanic (1997)
  • Chicago (2002)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
  • Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  • The Departed (2006)
  • Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  • The Hurt Locker (2009)

I know. “Unforgiven”? “Amadeus”? But there 'tis.

Four movies received two votes each:

  • Rocky (1976)
  • Gandhi (1982)
  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Five movies received three votes each:

  • Cavalcade (1933)
  • The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
  • Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
  • Dances with Wolves (1990)
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)

There's a surprise, at least to me, for our second-worst movie. With four votes:

  • Braveheart (1995)

No surprise at all, as I said, with our choice for the worst best picture the Academy ever chose. In a landslide with 16 votes:

  • Crash (2005)

Make sure you get your votes in. We'll be parsing the numbers on a deeper level soon.

the worst of the best pictures?

Posted at 07:11 AM on Feb 19, 2013 in category Movies - The Oscars
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GOB Bluth (Kevin) Ranks the Best Pictures: from 'The Godfather Part II' to 'The Greatest Show on Earth'

The Godfather Part IIGOB Bluth (Kevin) Ranks the Best Pictures

1. The Godfather Part II (1974)
2. The Sound of Music (1965)
3. No Country for Old Men (2007)
4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
5. Terms of Endearment (1983)
6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1928)
7. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
8. The Godfather (1972)
9. Schindler’s List (1993)
10. Gone with the Wind (1939)

11. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
12. Casablanca (1943)
13. Forrest Gump (1994)
14. Annie Hall (1977)
15. All About Eve (1950)
16. Ordinary People (1980)
17. The Departed (2006)
18. Braveheart (1995)
19. Gladiator (2000)
20. American Beauty (1999)

21. The Hurt Locker (2009)
22. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
23. It Happened One Night (1934)
24. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
25. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
26. The French Connection (1971)
27. Unforgiven (1992)
28. Patton (1970)
29. On the Waterfront (1954)
30. Dances with Wolves (1990)

31. Platoon (1986)
32. Ghandi (1982)
33. The King’s Speech (2010)
34. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
35. The Deer Hunter (1978)
36. Rocky (1976)
37. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
38. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
39. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
40. The Sting (1973)

41. Chicago (2002)
42. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
43. Titanic (1997)
44. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
45. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
46. My Fair Lady (1964)
47. Chariots of Fire (1981)
48. West Side Story (1961)
49. An American in Paris (1951)
50. The Apartment (1960)

51. Rain Man (1988)
52. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
53. Gigi (1958)
54. The Lost Weekend (1945)
55. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
56. Going My Way (1944)
57. From Here to Eternity (1953)
58. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
59. You Can’t Take it With You (1938)
60. The English Patient (1996)

61. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
62. Oliver! (1968)
63. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
64. All the King’s Men (1949)
65. Grand Hotel (1932)
66. Mutiny of the Bounty (1935)
67. Marty (1955)
68. Amadeus (1984)
69. The Artist (2011)
70. Ben-Hur (1959)

71. Out of Africa (1985)
72. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
73. Rebecca (1940)
74. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
75. Hamlet (1948)
76. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
77. Crash (2005)
78. The Last Emperor (1987)
79. Tom Jones (1963)
80. Wings (1927)

81. Cimarron (1931)
82. Cavalcade (1933)
83. The Broadway Melody (1929)
84. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
85. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

My comment

A third reader listing all 85 movies! And another victory for Coppola and another defeat for the Academy in 1952, which chose “Greatest Show” over “High Noon,” and didn't bother to nominate “Singin' in the Rain.” Agree with the low placement for “Around the World in 80 Days,” which is dullsville, a Cinemascope travellogue; but “Last Emperor” below “Crash”? I'll take the former just for its colors. Its yellows.

In other news, how's the magic show coming?

OK, who's next?

Rank Oscar's best pictures from 1927 to today.

Posted at 06:39 AM on Feb 19, 2013 in category Movies - The Oscars
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