Is it too early to start predicting next year’s Oscars?


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The Atlantic, The Playlist and The New York Times all have them: 2013 Oscar prediction pieces. Predicting next year’s Oscars within days of this year’s Oscars? Isn’t that a little early? In a word: yes.

True, it’s useful to get a quick look at the big prestige movies coming our way this calendar year, to put them on our radar for when they begin to crop up in the fall. But the fall is still a long ways away. Some of these movies (like Terrence Malick’s upcoming project with Ben Affleck) don’t have release dates yet — or even titles (like Terrence Malick’s upcoming project with Ben Affleck) — and could easily wind up getting pushed back to the 2014 Oscar race (like Terrence Malick’s upcoming project with Ben Affleck). Since no one has seen any of these movies it is basically just a guessing game: look at the calendar, see which movies have the best creative pedigrees, and fire away. “The Dark Knight Rises” for Best Picture? Sure, why not. Best Adapted Screenplay? Uh, let’s see if we can understand the words coming out Tom Hardy’s mouth first.

Anyone who tried the Oscar prediction game at this time last year would have been way off: who would have called “The Artist,” a tiny silent film from France that hadn’t premiered anywhere, to win Best Picture? No one. At this point in the 2009 Oscar race, “The Hurt Locker” had just lost at the Spirit Awards, where it gambled on nominations prior to its theatrical release, and looked dead in the water. Meanwhile “Avatar” still sounded like the craziest of crazy gambles by James Cameron. Did anyone predict that horse race? At this point, no.

These pieces are endemic of a strange, and relatively new impulse in the world of movie journalism: the drive to extend “Oscar season” until it lasts the entire year. This is almost certainly a function of the number of websites devoted to Oscar coverage, which serve an important (and very ad-friendly) niche for a good third of the year and then need to justify their existence the other eight months. If you work on one of those sites, this has to be the toughest week of the year to fill: people are burnt out on Oscar talk (can you tell I’m burnt out on Oscar talk?!?), but you’ve got to fill the space somehow. Hence, mega-early predictions.

I was a guest on the /Filmcast this week, where we dissected the Oscar broadcast and awards (for this year, I want to be clear about that). And one thought occurred to me as we all piled on “The Artist.” This was a film I enjoyed when I saw it — not enough to declare one of the best pictures of the year, but enough to feel like it was a satisfying movie. Yet by late February, it had been the presumptive Best Picture frontrunner for so long that I was completely sick of reading and talking about it. Now that it’s the best film of 2011, I’m sure I never want to hear about it ever again, much less watch it again. These professional Oscar prognosticators are so good at their jobs that they’ve have taken a lot of the guesswork out of the Academy Awards. They’ve killed the suspense, and a little bit of the fun. Would I have been happier with “The Artist” as a Best Picture winner if it hadn’t been talked to death for the last six months? Maybe. What movie could hold up to that much scrutiny?

So maybe let’s hold off on the predictions for now. The Toronto Film Festival, in early September, feels like a better place to start this conversation. At this point, it’s just a lot of empty talk.

Do you like reading next year’s Oscar predictions now? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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