'Sweetest Sex Ever Shown in Movies' Boosts Michelle Williams' Oscar Hopes
Harvey Weinstein turned Blue Valentine's NC-17 to an R rating, and now moved its release from New Year's Eve to Dec. 29.
"We moved the date up due to overwhelming response," says Weinstein COO David Glasser. And I put star Michelle Williams on my Gold Derby Oscar Predictions list.
Blue Valentine is surfing a rising tide. Williams' and Ryan Gosling's Globe noms, goodwill from the victory over an especially antifeminist instance of censorship (it's a woman-receiving-pleasure scene), critical kudos, and smart, coy marketing of the stars' do-they-or-don't-they-do-it-offscreen question boost the film's profile. Poor Anne Hathaway's conspicuous nakedness in Love and Other Drugs couldn't compete with Blue Valentine's once-censored wooing scenes, which the Huffington Post calls "some of the sweetest sex ever shown in movies."
But Harvey Weinstein's crucial move to fight the NC-17 was a bold and risky one. "After four or five years of being focused on other ventures," says Glasser, "Harvey has come back to what he does best: movies, TV and marketing. Harvey [stands] behind his filmmakers. They came to him and said, 'Please don't change my movie.' " (Actually, it's not necessarily bad when Harvey does change a movie. An inside source says the effective montages in Jersey Girl were originally ineffective desultory nonmontages, for instance. When people call him "Harvey Scissorhands," they forget that Edward Scissorhands was an artful sculptor, not a butcher.)
But challenging MPAA so late was perilous. "It was a very tough decision," says Glasser. "At 1:42 in the morning Dec. 8, Harvey went off to L.A. [from the New York screening] to fight this." But while MPAA was deciding, the film's whole campaign was on hold -- ads, billboards, publicity-generating screenings, articles. "The Academy said, 'If this version [the original] changes, you're gonna have a real problem on your hands,' " says an informed source, " 'Because you'll have to collect all the screeners.' Studios are not allowed to send Academy members two versions, because in the old days they would blanket people with screeners." After a cliffhanger period, MPAA relented in the nick of time. "All the screeners went out on Dec. 1."
Blue Valentine, which had sagged when SAG and AFI spurned it, is now on the upswing. Instead of being perceived as a cause and a giant hovering marketing question mark, Blue Valentine is a movie again, not a censorship statement. "Michelle's and Ryan's performances speak for themselves," says Glasser. And they get to do so two days early in New York and L.A., with a wider release the first week of January.
And here is my new Oscar prediction list on GoldDerby.com:
Best Actress Oscar:
Follow THR's The Race Awards blog @timappelo
Feedback, brickbats, shameless lobbying to: Tim.Appelo@thr.com
What Hollywood Earns
Covering The Race
Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.