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Why Oprah won’t hurt “Precious”‘s Oscar chances.

Why Oprah won’t hurt “Precious”‘s Oscar chances. (photo)

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A few reasons why the upcoming “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” is a lock for a Best Picture Oscar nomination, not to mention a likely box office sleeper hit:

1. There are ten best picture slots open this year. It can’t not get a nod after winning both the Sundance audience and jury prizes.

2. It’s a melodrama that doesn’t waste time on stuff like “nuance,” going straight for the jugular with uncomplicated bursts of emotion (Brutality! Joy! Soul song montage!). And people like that — the film got 80% “definite recommend” scores at at a test screening. At a Magic Johnson’s in Harlem. Despite the dark subject matter, “Precious” is not a hard sell. It just sounds like one, but so did an Indian movie with police torture.

3. Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey have added their names in support — in fact, Oprah’s going to devote a whole week of her show to promoting the film.

Puzzlingly, this last fact has caused the New York Post‘s Lou Lumenick to express concern that the pair’s endorsement is going to spark a backlash that will hurt the movie’s Oscar chances, because Oprah “simply does not wield the same influence in the film world that she does with literature and theater,” and Perry’s “best known to Oscar voters as the cross-dressing star/director of wildly popular lowbrow melodramatic farces.”

Lionsgate, the distributor putting out “Precious,” has never been one to stay up late at night worrying about Oscar prestige — they’re looking to have the film break out from usual indie markets. Lumenick’s claim that Oprah doesn’t wield influence when it comes to film because she loved “Australia” and it still bombed doesn’t speak to the African-American audience that’ll be mobilized here. (That goes double for Perry.) And Lumenick’s implications of Academy snobbery — and how they’d look down on the “wildly popular lowbrow” — don’t take into account fears of growing irrelevance, best epitomized by 2005 host Chris Rock’s stinging segment in which he took a camera crew to a (hey!) Magic Johnson theater in L.A. and found that most of the moviegoers there hadn’t seen any of the best-picture nominees.

There are two things that could damage “Precious”: inadequate marketing (which seems unlikely at this point) and gay themes. Director Lee Daniels is openly gay, and [MILD SPOILER ALERT] “Precious”‘ most redemptive character turns out to be lesbian (leading to Precious’ most indelible voice-over commentary: “Oh shit! They straight-up lesbians!”), which may play poorly with the not-inconsequential segment of the African-American community that’s virulently homophobic. (Even then, they’re lesbians, not openly gay men; bets successfully hedged.) Aside from that? Path cleared. Seriously. Those Oscar-prediction mills are grinding awfully fine this year.

[Photo: “Precious,” Lionsgate, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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