UPDATED: ‘Milk’ Screening Gets a Strange Bit of Attention

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UPDATE: This has now turned into an all out online brawl, which really seems to support the conclusion that as vast and wide as the Internet may be there just might not be enough room for all… At least, apparently not in terms of Oscar punditry. Get the gossip here.

NOTE: To be clear I use Kris Tapley at the beginning of this article randomly. It is not a sign that I have any problem with him or his blog or anyone else mentioned. This is an opinion piece on an issue, not an attempt to slander or discredit anyone referenced.

Yesterday the vast majority of Los Angeles bloggers and critics got their first looks at Milk and Frost/Nixon and instead of writing opinion pieces about the film(s) there was a lot of finger pointing and calling out of names, which leaves me a bit dumbfounded as to what is real opinion and what is written in an attempt to one-up and draw attention to oneself.

Kris Tapley at In Contention:

Anyway, David Poland was eager to iPhone in his “First!” response on “Milk,” and while I agree with his assessment of Sean Penn’s phenomenal portrayal, I can’t share his overall enthusiasm for the film itself.

From this I get the impression that Sean Penn is looking at a nod for Best Actor, we’re still not sure about the film and David Poland was the first to write about it. Which one of these points doesn’t matter?

Scott Feinberg from And the Winner Is and The Envelope commented on Jeffrey Wells’ Milk and Frost/Nixon post in which he gives both films 8.5/10 ratings saying:

Jeff, I was getting the same BS tips about “Milk” being a disappointment, and then I saw it today and happen to think it’s terrific, especially–but far from exclusively–Penn. The bad buzz actually only lowered expectations and made the movie all the more rewarding… but, still, you’ve gotta wonder where this stuff starts, and why it sometimes builds to the point that usually-credible people start circulating it to us.

So now I have to worry about bad buzz being planted by rival studios jockeying for position?

Wells, in his post, also questions “the London haters” of Frost/Nixon which I reported on a couple of weeks ago. Am I to assume those reviews had an agenda?

The real problem here is that each and every one of the people that attended the screenings last night, from what I can see, didn’t write any kind of formal review and each and every one of them wanted to be “first” with the opinion to some degree, which has now lessened their ability to just speak to the quality of the film without taking sides. If this sounds like it isn’t a big deal I must say I disagree with you.

There are several films I have been luke warm on in the past that others truly enjoyed, so much so that I found myself slowly really hating on movies I didn’t necessarily hate as much as I was arguing. Someone would argue with me a film is great because of A, B and C and we would be so polar opposite on B and C we would find ourselves arguing against each other’s opinions rather than on the merits of the film and I see that happening here.

You have to take a step back and check yourself and remember your original opinion, that is if it still exists. Jumping to the gun on an opinion is the primary problem here. Blogging affords many people the ability to get their opinion out there first, but I can’t help but wonder how accurate that opinion is when it comes immediately after the credits have rolled.

Someone gets their opinion in first and someone else feels they have to one-up that opinion in order to make their’s more valid, or more readable. Challenges have to be made to earlier reviews and comments to the extent we are talking about proposed conspiracies. Soon we will have Oscar’s very own Troopergate, lipstick on pigs and mavericks. It’s true, the Oscar race is very similar to a political race, and it is one of those reasons films get lavished so much praise one year and then over the course of the following years people begin to question the nominees that won. Hell, we now have “Entertainment Weekly” running a Recall the Gold feature looking at past Oscar winners and trying to see if they still hold up.

“Which nominee deserved the 1988 Best Director Oscar?” “Which nominee deserved the 2003 Best Supporting Actress Oscar?” It’s a fun game, and in all honesty the only way to really judge movies on such a level is upwards of five years later since that is when heated and passionate arguments have finally settled and everyone is either starting to agree or at least agreeing to disagree, but in this new era of everyone having a voice it’s hard to say if anyone is right or wrong and how passionately they even believe in the spew they’re spewing.

How good is Milk? 8.5/10 sounds good to me and Wells seems to be one of the few coming with an opinion on that flick without much bias and his tendency to deliver such lines as “I felt a genuine gayness from Sean Penn” proves to me he is laying his real opinion on the line. I am not sure if I can say as much about the others just yet.

Sasha Stone at Awards Daily I now see has started asking questions about this year’s race and has even more to add than I did. Give it a read here.