It's tough to be an Oscar favorite in October, five full months before the awards. And a little film called Precious is learning that it's even harder to be Oscar's front runner, especially if no one has seen you yet.
But since Toronto, the little film has been plagued by nothing but questions, with some Oscar pundits ready to declare it dead in the water before it's even been released.
The trouble for Precious started last week when the film which had all but been anointed an Oscar lock failed to get a nomination for the Gotham awards. The oversight prompted the NY Post's Lou Lumenick and The Envelope's Oscar savant Tom O'Neil to question whether the film's prominent endorsements by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry had sparked a backlash; the Brokeback precedent holding that Oscar voters hate having winners foisted upon them and will do crazy things, like give the Best Picture trophy to Crash when someone tries.
Eyebrow raising statements from director Lee Daniels, coupled with the star Mo'Nique's seeming unwillingness to properly schmooze the press, were beginning to coalesce into storm clouds suggesting an ill-starred campaign ahead.
Well, now there's a backlash against the backlash. On O'Neil's own blog, his survey of pundits said phooey to any backlash talk. While over at thehotblog, sagacious industry watcher David Poland sputtered in disbelief at such early chatter. He writes:
It is the profound arrogance of the entertainment media to delude ourselves that we, not the real movie goers or even the privileged awards voters, decide what should be praised and how intensely. It is the same pathetic mindset that happens when Variety pans a movie like The Road or AntiChrist and other media monkeys line up to suggest that this is a meaningful moment in the history of the film and future audience reaction.
There can be no backlash against Precious because, so far, the entire definition of how the movie plays has been based on a breathless media and Oprah... not necessarily in that order. Some fools are even wondering aloud whether Lee Daniels is costing himself a Best Director win by being honest in public... when he is a long ways away from getting a nomination, much less a win. (This is true of all the filmmakers in play, not just him.)
STOP!!!! Get some perspective. And stop damaging a movie like Precious by treating it, months before the response to the movie from real people and real voters will be heard, like the Holy Grail.
And there's just five months to go until Oscar night.