Breaking Baz: I Wanted ‘Top Gun’ And ‘All Quiet’ To Win – I Got Half My Wish; Why Paul Mescal Was Trying To Channel Humphrey Bogart
There’s always a reckoning. There has to be. A studio chief tells me that next awards season they’re going to recalibrate how they screen to voters “because there are a bunch of movies that people did not bother to see. Good movies that people did not watch because they were drawn to the noise. And the noise won.”
Look, gazillions of words have been written about the season that finally ended Sunday at the Dolby Theatre with a Best Picture win for A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Yes, it was a breakthrough for diversity and I’m not going to deny that I was moved by the wins for Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis, though I am not the biggest fan of the film itself. It did not warm me to the marrow of my being.
I did not feel it in my bones as Richard Burton once told me of his abiding love for Elizabeth Taylor.
I do not feel that Everything Everywhere All at Once is an Oscar-winning film for the ages.
I have seen it three times because I wanted to fully embrace it, but we love what we love, right?
The win at the Dolby was the result of a brilliantly, surgically executed campaign by A24.
I can stand back and admire that.
At the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, someone reckoned that Everything Everywhere All at Once winning the main prize was some sort of compromise between Top Gun: Maverick and Tár. “You wanted popular to win,” I was told. Everything Everywhere All at Once made over $100 million so what more do you want? Go shut up and stop bellyaching.
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I wanted a big popular movie to win. I wanted a gigantic motion picture that people sitting at home on their couches had seen to win.
As I write, I’m controlling myself not to write about The Whale. I’ve got those yellow Post-it notes on my hotel desk saying: Don’t mention The Whale. It won’t be pretty. So I won’t mention The Whale because why spoil someone’s day.
Okay. I wanted Top Gun: Maverick to win. Okay, I’ve said it. If not that then All Quiet On the Western Front, though I got satisfaction out of it winning Best International Feature Film. Every time I watch Edward Berger’s film I think of the sons and daughters who aren’t coming home from the wars being waged and I thank God my own son is not engaged in a theater of war.
I loved Avatar: The Way of Water too. “What is this guy smoking?” I hear you mutter. I have this soft spot for it. Sue me.
Please know that I’m a fan of the other nominated pictures but I enjoyed and loved Top Gun: Maverick more. I have little or no connection to Paramount Pictures which pains me, but I got Top Gun: Maverick in my blood. I saw it on a mammoth Imax screen in London not once or twice but a bunch of times. It entertained the bejesus out of me. I saw it at Cannes as well.
Now what if the busy Mr. Tom Cruise had done just a handful of carefully targeted interviews — on TV, because he cares not for print or digital as I understand it — then perhaps the film might have garnered a couple more nominations; maybe an important one for Joseph Kosinski in the Directing category.
Heaven knows, Mr. Tom Cruise might have gotten a Best Actor nod for himself!
You can go nuts on all this: what if stuff. But think about it. Just think about the roar out there in the real world if Top Gun: Maverick had taken home Best Picture.
People who pay to go to the movies would have taken notice.
The message from the Academy would have been: Yes, we have been listening. We’ve been so wrapped up in our own little bubble that we forgot that the movies are meant for you, the people out there who pay to go to theaters for a collective experience. But we’ve listened and we’ve voted for the biggest bloody box office hit of the year to win the Oscar for Best Picture. We heard you!
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I introduced myself to Disney’s Bob Iger at the Governors Ball and pleaded for him to push good mainstream popular films into cinemas to bring audiences back.
He didn’t take much notice because what I was saying was noise to him. Though I did like that he chatted with Michelle Yeoh and congratulated her on her Oscar.
I was at the 60th annual ICG Publicists Awards on Friday when Top Gun: Maverick deservedly took the top film prize.
Sara Hull of Walt Disney Studios was named Publicist of the Year. I was interested in what Hull had to say about her mother taking her to the pictures when she was young and how she so looked forward to watching the Oscars on TV.
I’m a bit older than Hull, plus I grew up in London at a time when the full Oscar show wasn’t beamed into our homes. I had to scratch around and see the odd clip here and there on a film show. I’d watch all these big names, giants really. I mean, huge stars like Newman and Redford and Streisand and Hepburn (rare) and Poitier and Hackman and Nicholson and Dunaway and Brando and so on.
Note I have not written in their Christian names. There’s no need. You know exactly who I mean.
I’d read about them in movie magazines and newspapers. News about them back then was as rare as hens teeth. They weren’t as readily accessible as they are now what with Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and so on.
Brie Larson was right to challenge me when I asked Idris Elba if I could take his picture at the Chanel/Charles Finch dinner at the Polo Lounge. “No, you don’t need it. Ask yourself why you need it,” she argued.
I was slightly peeved but Larson was right.
There’s no mystique left.
I know what stars have for breakfast. I know when they burp because they tell us. Not all of them, but enough of them.
By the way, please don’t assume that I only love big studio movies. Not so. Not true. I love all kinds of movies from Avatar to Women Talking. My only requirement is that I connect. That I feel them in my bones. That I can love them.
Phew. I got through this without writing about The Whale.
As for the Oscars: Do better next year and remember the people watching at home and stop patronizing them.
Paul Mescal Is A Bogie Man
I posted a stack of photos on my social media feeds on Sunday. The most popular was one of Aftersun’s Paul Mescal as he arrived at the Dolby.
He was resplendent in a double-breasted white tux with a black bow tie and red rose in his lapel.
A fan commented that he looked like Sean Connery in a Bond film.
I mentioned this to the actor when I saw him in the bar during a commercial break at the awards.
“Well that’s a shame when I was trying to be Humphrey Bogart,” he laughed.