'True Grit' Is Oscar Front-Runner, Says Top Pundit (5 Others Say No Way)
Pundit David Poland insists True Grit has "muscled its way into the front-runner slot to win Best Picture." Sasha Stone, Scott Feinberg and Poland nemesis Jeff Wells say why he's blind as a man with two eyepatches.
Poland argues that True Grit's box office will exceed that of what most people call the No. 1 or No. 2 front-runner, The Social Network, by Jan. 5. He also compares its performance with that of 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which didn't win best picture (no doubt because it's not half as good a picture as Grit), but says Grit has greater box-office velocity. This is an odd comparison and a skimpy rationale for a controversial claim. Still, we can't really judge his argument until his follow-up "Why True Grit Will Win" column, which he says is coming up within a day.
Pundit Sasha Stone mocks Poland's prediction, and anyone who disagrees with her championship of The Social Network as best picture. (But soon after this post went up she objected on Twitter that this mischaracterizes her response: "I didn't say 'no way' to Poland's assertion that True Grit will win. I simply questioned the (usual) misreading of this year's race by people who are underestimating TSN, which they do continually. Hoping that the best film does win is different from saying it WILL DEFINITELY WIN. There is a subtle but important difference there.") So noted.
Scott Feinberg can't believe his eyes. "Methinks Poland is too smart to actually believe that and is just hoping to generate some late Phase 1 traffic to his site and/or be the guy who made a crazy pick that somehow came true (as Tom O'Neil attempted last year with Inglourious Basterds)."
Jeff Wells, seldom a Poland fan, accuses him of hitching a ride with Rooster in a plot to squash the Facebook movie. "Poland needs an 'anything but The Social Network' movie to champion, and he's given up on The King's Speech's ability to stay the course ... and True Grit's surprisingly strong revenues have convinced him that this is the horse to ride." Wells cites True Grit-loving pundit Kris Tapley's doubt that it can win without a SAG ensemble nod.
Less persuasively, Wells predicts that Poland's endorsement will actually cost True Grit best picture votes. Less persuasively still, Wells says Poland killed Never Let Me Go's Oscar hopes. "This will be the second time [the] Poland Curse has struck, the first being when MCN's founding rabbi stuck a shiv into ... Never Let Me Go by calling it 'a masterpiece ... smart and demanding and emotional and rigorous and profoundly artful.'"
But lots of important people agree with Poland on that commercially ill-fated but extraordinarily ambitious and difficult adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Booker Prize shortlisted masterpiece. Oscarologist Steve Pond put it on his own imaginary Oscar ballot, omitting The Social Network, The Kids Are All Right, Inception,The Fighter, Rabbit Hole and Blue Valentine. "A beautiful, heartbreaking and perfectly devastating meditation on humanity and complicity," says Pond.
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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.