December 08, 2011 10:58am PT by Scott Feinberg
FEINBERG & FRIENDS, Ep. 8: Scott & Women and Hollywood's Melissa Silverstein on the Race (Audio)
I'm very pleased to bring you the eighth episode of "Feinberg & Friends," a podcast about the awards race that airs on The Race every week.
Each episode features a discussion between me and a different guest -- a film blogger, critic or journalist of some other variation -- about 10 different awards-related topics (which we list in the text accompanying the audio so that you know exactly what you're signing up for) and runs for approximately 30 to 40 minutes (so that if one topic is not of particular interest to you it will only be about three or four minutes before we're on to the next one, which hopefully will be).
I was delighted that my friend Melissa Silverstein, who runs the blog Women and Hollywood (which looks at Hollywood and the awards race through the prism of feminism), agreed to join me for this episode. I really enjoyed our chat, during which we tackled the following 10 questions...
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -- the last two awards hopefuls to screen -- are now out of the bag. Does it seem like either of them are game-changers in the best picture Oscar race?
2. This year's best actress race features portrayals of a wide variety of female characters, from the first woman duly-elected to lead a western power (Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady) to a cross-dresser (Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs) to a bisexual hacker (Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) to a self-proclaimed "bitch" (Charlize Theron in Young Adult). What do women -- and particularly feminists -- think about this field?
3. As THR reported earlier this week, it appears as if The Help faces an uphill battle to win the best picture Oscar, in large part because of the fact that the Academy's gender breakdown is belived to be roughly 2-to-1 male. Can it overcome that?
4. Virtually everyone acknowledges that The Artist and War Horse are two locks for best picture nominations, and that either might even win. Why, though, are some beginning to strenuously disparage the two films for being too lightweight and too schmaltzy, respectively?
5. It has been a tale of two films this week for Focus Features: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which the studio has long regarded as its strongest best picture prospect, was shut out by the early awards-dispensing groups, but Beginners, which it had long regarded as a contender primarily for best supporting actor (Christopher Plummer) and best original screenplay (Mike Mills), started showing up everywhere. Should we read into the results?
6. The controversial NC-17 film Shame began its platform release last weekend and made a lot of money from just a few theaters. Will Academy members be similarly inclined to check out a film about sex addiction that features scenes of full-frontal male and female nudity and all sorts of sex acts?
7. There are several films in this year's awards race that were directed by a woman, including The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd), Pariah (Dee Rees), We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsey), and The Whistleblower (Larysa Kondracki). But, two years after Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) became the first woman to win the best director Oscar, have things actually gotten any easier for women directors?
8. As THR noted on Wednesday, Jessica Chastain has given strong supporting personalities in no fewer than five 2011 awards contenders, each of which is being pushed by a different studio -- Fox Searchlight's The Tree of Life (5/27), Disney's The Help (8/10), Focus Features' The Debt (8/22), Sony Pictures Classics' Take Shelter (9/30), and The Weinstein Company's Coriolanus (12/2). Will having so many films in contention prevent her from garnering enough votes to get nominated for any one of them, or could she still pull off a nod?
9. There are certain technological references in David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that seem likely to go over the heads of older Academy voters, just like several in Fincher's previous film, The Social Network. Might this hurt the film's best picture Oscar prospects?
10. This week, THR revealed its 20th annual "Women in Entertainment" list of the most powerful females in the entertainment industry. What should we make of who did -- and also who did not -- make the list?
Give it a listen (above)...