5:14pm PT by Scott Feinberg
88-Year-Old Oscar Voter Assesses Field After 2015's Bleak First Quarter: "It's Gonna Be a Long Year" (Podcast)
"It's gonna be a long year," sighed Marcia Nasatir, the first woman ever to serve as vp production in Hollywood and a member of the Academy for the past 40 years, during our recent taping of the second installment of "The Geezer and the Kid" podcast. (You can still hear the first installment, which dealt with the 87th Academy Awards and 50 Shades of Grey, by clicking here.)
Over the course of a 36-minute conversation, Marcia, the self-described "geezer," and I, the Marcia-described "kid," discussed why the first-quarter of 2015 — like most years — has been almost entirely devoid of quality narrative films. (In short: Quality narrative films tend to be held until the fourth-quarter of the year so that they are fresh in the minds of Oscar voters when nomination ballots go in the mail.)
Marcia and I agreed that Yann Demange's '71, a story about a young British soldier (Unbroken's Jack O'Connell) who becomes trapped behind enemy lines during The Troubles, is probably the one narrative film from the year's first three months that could/probably should be remembered by Oscar voters at the end of the year. (Marcia likened it to Carol Reed's 1947 classic Odd Man Out, and I explained why it reminded me of Fernando Meirelles' 2002 modern-classic City of God.) Still, for several reasons that we touch upon, we're skeptical that it will be.
We also discussed a number of other early releases that almost certainly won't/shouldn't be remembered at the year's end, including John Madden's The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a geezer-courting movie if ever there was one; Christopher Young's Focus, rare in that it is a Will Smith vehicle that did not do well at the box office, and even rarer in that it features an interracial love story in which the fact that it is an interracial love story is never discussed; and a number of outright bombs (including Jupiter Ascending, Mortdecai, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Chappie, etc.).
And we celebrated the fact that there have been a handful of interesting/provocative documentaries to keep our spirits from sinking totally down the toilet. In particular, we discussed Alex Gibney's Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Marcia and I object to it for different reasons); Erik Anjou's Deli Man (Marcia adores it, I still need to see it); Ethan Hawke's Seymour: An Introduction (I like it, Marcia still needs to see it); and three films from this month's Boulder International Film Festival, at which I served as a juror — documentary prize winner Call Me Lucky, as well as Meet the Patels and Austin to Boston. (Another very good one is Louie Psihoyos' Racing Extinction.)
"People want real stories," Marcia insisted, citing omnipresent discussion of HBO's Robert Durst doc series The Jinx as evidence. But I pessimistically pointed to the poor box-office returns of most recent theatrically released documentaries — even some outstanding ones — in contrast with the massive grosses of movies that do not tell "real stories," but are remakes, sequels and adaptations of other properties built around superfluous stories, if you can say they have stories at all. We agreed to disagree.
With Emmy season almost upon us, we also talked about a few other TV series, with a promise to dive deeper in the April installment. For now, Marcia made it known that she regards CBS' The Big Bang Theory as "the best series on television" (she puts it on a pedestal with geezer-favorites Jeopardy! and Judge Judy), while I professed my affection for AMC's Mad Men, the final season of which premieres April 5. (Marcia, who worked on Madison Ave. in the 1960s, finds the series difficult to watch, having experienced firsthand the sexism that it depicts.)
Finally, we mourned the passing of several distinguished geezers (documentarian Albert Maysles and actor/director Leonard Nimoy) and celebrated recent moments-in-the-sun of others (the SXSW Film Festival premiere of an impressive new doc about 1950s movie star Tab Hunter called Tab Hunter Confidential, an upcoming THR profile of legendary publicist Bobby Zarem and the 100th birthday, on March 19, of Golden Age actress Patricia Morison).
We encourage you to share your respectful questions, comments, concerns and suggestions in the "Comments" section at the bottom of this post. Marcia and I will do our best to respond to all of them.