THERE are still three months to go before a couple of lucky stiffs get their statuettes for the academy's best screenplay Oscars. Right now the writers who matter are the Oscar bloggers, who create the buzz studios need to keep their campaigns humming.
In years past, the studios controlled the conversation, shaping campaigns with swanky "For your consideration" ads. But the Internet has changed everything. Just as Daily Kos and other liberal blogs exert a powerful gravitational pull over Democratic Party politics, the blogmeisters have become the key generators of buzz in Oscar campaigning.
After Matt Drudge raised a ruckus in 2002 over how "A Beautiful Mind" papered over its hero's alleged homosexuality, a giant light bulb went on above studio executives' heads: Oh, my God! The old-school journalists are reading the bloggers!
So now everybody invites bloggers to early screenings, ersatz DVD parties and the cozy Q&A sessions with Oscar contenders. Here's this man's very opinionated take on a few of the main players.
Risky Biz Blog
Hollywood Reporter columnist Anne Thompson knows the business, so when she deals with the Oscars (only one of the blog's regular topics) she speaks with authority. Unlike most of the competition, she actually does shoe-leather reporting. A recent post about a "World Trade Center" bash at Morton's was a model of how to work a room, with Thompson getting a fascinating insight from financier Moritz Borman (European audiences are turning against American movies as well as American foreign policy) while shrewdly gauging the movie's Oscar hopes. This blog is a must morning read.
Reading Tom O'Neil, which, thanks to the modern miracle of media mash-ups, you can do in this very issue and on The Times' own award site, is like cozying up under the covers to watch a Joan Crawford movie -- it's a high-camp experience. Though obviously steeped in academy lore, he's the poster boy for the trivialization of Oscar coverage. Every minor item is an eye-popping scoop, whether O'Neil is touting Catherine O'Hara in "For Your Consideration" or "Factory Girl's" Sienna Miller, whom he claims "is coming on strong as a late-breaking Oscar rival -- some gurus even dare to say front-runner -- in the best actress derby." My favorite O'Neil headline: "Did Oscar Break Up Reese and Ryan?"
Blogging is supposed to be personal, but too often Jeffrey Wells tells us more than we want to know about what's going on in his life, including how the tape of his chat with "The Queen's" Michael Sheen was ruined "by clattering dishes and the loud, insistent voices of three or four women sitting two tables away." I admire Wells' pit bull-like tenacity but could do without his delusions of grandeur, as in his recent boast that he was "very satisfied -- I can even say comforted -- that I was part of the team that ... took down 'Munich.' "
The Hot Blog (mcnblogs.com/thehotblog)
David Poland spends most of his time deriding the print media's feeble attempts at covering the award racket. (Full disclosure: I'm a favorite target.) Alas, his own coverage leaves something to be desired, as with this recent bizarre Oscar musing: "Even the fumbling, slightly irritating bedmates from Toronto couldn't be sent on their way, never to be clumsy again, because what if the frogs turned out to be princes/princesses and we were too stupid to see it and sent them away too soon and someone else became their famous mate?" Poland is so dismissive of everyone else's scoops that Wells once wrote that if Jesus Christ floated down from the heavens onto the White House South Lawn, Poland would say, "Is anyone really surprised by this?"