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Monday, January 17, 2005

Academy Awards Axes "Greendale" Oscar Nomination

Here's some news from last month that Thrasher never got around to digging into and posting. And this is pretty outrageous.

Neil Young's Greendale film has been denied the opportunity to compete in the Original Musical category because the entire category has been eliminated this year.

In a blow to independent filmmaking, according to a Hollywood Reporter article by Martin A. Grove, the Academy's Board of Governors voted to eliminate the Original Musical category despite the fact that there were the requisite number of eligible films according to the Academy's own rules. This decision was based on the Academy's arbitrary assessment that the films were not up to Academy standards of quality.
"It's an outrage," said filmmaker and Slamdance Film Festival co-founder Dan Mirvish, who would have been a potential nominee for two of the five eligible films. "I have a great deal of respect for the Academy, but this decision was disingenuous at best, and arbitrary and capricious at worst. The Academy is a huge stickler for the rules when it comes to filmmakers following them, but it's clearly disregarded the spirit and letter of its own rules because it suited them. You can't score if the ref keeps moving the goalpost."

The five eligible films were "Home on the Range", "Team America," "Greendale" (directed by Neil Young), "Open House" (directed, co-written, and co-produced by Mirvish), and "Big in Germany" (co-written and co-produced by Mirvish, with director Robert Peters). According to the Academy's rules, three of these five films would have received nominations.

Dan Mirvish continues:

"And then they tried to eliminate 'Greendale' by saying it's based on previously existing material, which was simply factually incorrect. If they had simply been curious about which came first, the album or the movie, they could have just called the filmmaker. But they didn't. So we kind of allied together with the 'Greendale' folks and (very quickly) they had a whole package together saying exactly what came first (and) what Neil's intents were. I think they even said, 'Hey, Neil will come and sing at the board meeting, if you really want it.' I mean, he felt that strongly about it. And Neil's an Oscar nominee, himself, for 'Philadelphia.'"

Subsequently, there was a Board of Governors meeting, Mirvish continued, "and they realized, 'Okay, I guess we have to say that 'Greendale' really is eligible and so then there's five films. Now how do we get out of this?' And that's when they came up with this very fractured language, which they literally spent two hours trying to come up with on Wednesday morning (Dec. 15). Basically, they were then, I think, at their meeting saying, 'Okay, let's look at this slate. We've got five films. We've got a Disney (animated movie). We've got the vulgar puppet movie with the guys who show up in dresses. We've got a Neil Young Super 8 movie.' Apparently there's some bad blood because Neil didn't show up at the Oscars the last time he was nominated (with) a best song nomination for 'Philadelphia.'"

This last bit about "bad blood" between the Academy and Young over Philadelphia is an error because Neil actually attended the Oscar's and performed the song "Philadelphia". Bruce Springsteen went on to win the Best Song Oscar for "Streets of Philadelphia".

The snubbing of small independent filmmakers by the Academy is a long running tradition. Certainly Neil's "homemade Super 8 film" doesn't meet the criteria which corporate Hollywood believes is necessary to maintain it's grip on mainstream filmmaking. But the breakdown has been going on a long time and continues to accelerate as the costs of media production continue to drop.

More on the Oscar kerfuffle and Greendale controversy.


At 1/17/2005 11:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boycott the Oscars! Yeah, that'll show em.

At 1/25/2005 10:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's face it: Neil doesn't play by the rules, never did, never will.
And though I don't necessarily endorse as best picture material, the 3 most controversial films of the year were ignored by the Acadamy: Fahrenheit 9/11, The Passion and The Woodsman.
This isn't about art any more, it's about commerce.


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