MGM Swats Rogue Critic in Latest Round of 'Valkyrie' Backlash

It's been far too long since MGM was on the defensive over Valkyrie, the campaign for which uncomfortably started in its own office lobby but has since found decent enough traction in theaters and on TV. So! Right on cue, and apparently just for old time's sake, a high-ranking New York film critic has found something new to whine about.

Star-Ledger writer Stephen Whitty, the chair of the NY Film Critics Circle, suggested last week that MGM still wasn't serious about pushing Valkyrie for awards season despite moving its release up to Dec. 25. it was a better date than that Feb. 13, 2009, dump job planned before Paula Wagner's departure, but the release date was less important to critics than when they could see it for their own awards consideration.

And with the first official press screenings taking place after Whitty's organization votes, that can only mean one thing: MGM and United Artists have no faith in their $90 million Tom Cruise Nazi epic. Of course! Isn't that what you derived from that strategy?

Us neither. In fact, MGM has been screening Valkyrie informally for media on both coasts since at least September, and either way, the film was an awards-season write-off for months among many of the same newspaper and online critics whose senses of entitlement are now somehow offended. MGM can't win for losing, though its beleaguered marketing VP Mike Vollman can at least send along another spirited defense:

When did a december release date mean that a film exists first and foremost for award consideration? And when did film criticism become a competitive sport, with deadlines, rankings, winners and losers.? We want valkyrie to be judged on it's [sic] own, not as one of a cramped herd of dissimilar artistic endeavours lumped together unfairly due to the vagaries of the calendar and the marketplace. Valkyrie is eligible for every guild honor, from ampas to ves, and will be on every single nomination ballot. If members of the entertainment community wish to honor it, they will be able to do so. We hope they do as the work is excellent and deserves recognition.

Fine — they can sort it out themselves. And anyway, who cares? We're all really just waiting for Ben Lyons's take, anyway.