Good Morning Oscar, November 1: It’s the Values, Stupid

An election-week theory says that Oscar voters want candidates that share their values

In this morning’s roundup of Oscar news ‘n’ notes from around the web, an election-week theory says that Oscar voters want candidates that share their values.

Jeff Wells trots out a point he says he makes about the Oscars every year: the key factor in what wins is the “values” espoused by the top contenders. In other words, voters aren’t responding to great moviemaking as much as they’re saluting movies that are “saying something that the Academy recognizes as fundamentally true and close-to-home – a movie that reflects their lives and values in a way that feels agreeable.” Sounds like true election-week sentiment – and, he says, it’s why “Ordinary People” beat “Raging Bull” and why “Kramer Vs. Kramer” beat “Apocalypse Now.” He doesn’t draw any conclusions about what that might mean for this year’s race, except to suggest that “The Social Network” isn’t trying to say anything as much as its trying to “observe and frame a particular social world.” (Hollywood Elsewhere)

James FrancoThe New York Times presents a real tease from this week’s big Oscar contender, “127 Hours”: video from a scene that takes place about halfway through the film, accompanied by audio commentary from director Danny Boyle about the filming of the scene. The two-minute video details a dramatic sequence that begins when it starts to rain in the desert where James Franco’s character is trapped – though you can’t accuse Boyle of spoiling anything, because his comments leave out an absolutely crucial fact about the scene. (The New York Times)

John Horn details the long process of bringing “The King’s Speech” to the screen, starting with screenwriter David Seidler’s youthful identification with how Britain’s King Edward VI overcame a speech impediment, and running through Seidler writing the story as a play, director Tom Hooper and co-star Geoffrey Rush seeing the script, and the eventual discovery of the original notes made by the speech therapist portrayed by Rush, which happened just before production was set to begin. And when star Colin Firth accepted an award for “A Single Man” in the middle of the film’s production, Hooper says he was delighted to find that his leading man was unable to shed his “King’s Speech” stutter. One assumes that Firth will be speaking clearly by the time he has to pick up some honors for the new film … (The Los Angeles Times)

David Poland’s latest pronouncement on the state of the race (it’s now “18 Weeks to Oscar”) focuses on the art and science of Oscar campaigning, and on how each new winner seems to create a new paradigm for a successful campaign. He thinks last year’s strategy with “The Hurt Locker,” in which the movie hit theaters early but didn’t show up on screeners until late, is leading to a real logjam of screenings this December – and in the end, he reaches the common-sense conclusion that the real key to winning is to have a good film with a respected filmmaker and a smart marketing team behind it, regardless of what happened to somebody else last year. (Movie City News)

Todd McCarthy moves to the Hollywood Reporter with a review of “Megamind,” the new DreamWorks film that’ll have a rough time squeezing into the Oscar Animated Feature race unless that category somehow expands from three to five nominees. He likes it: “Fast-paced but not frantic, goofily good-natured and attractively designed for widescreen 3D, this splashy new effort from Tom McGrath, who made the ‘Madagascar’ hits, happily avoids the crassness and relentless showbiz referencing that have marred some past DreamWorks Animation entries.” Didn’t they say something similar about “How to Train Your Dragon,” way back in March? And didn’t they say that the last “Shrek” avoided that more than its predecessors, too? And doesn’t that mean that maybe DreamWorks shouldn’t be tied with that old complaint anymore? (The Hollywood Reporter