Monday, March 06, 2006

campaigns & elections, hollywood-style

This dry satirical analysis made my morning:

New York Times' David Carr's biggest takeaway from his time blogging the Oscars is how much the Awards are like presidential campaigns. He learned "in punishing detail that the Oscar season, with its endless run of precursor awards, speeches and drama, is as twisted and closely fought as a presidential campaign."

So here's my take on the campaigns:

The most mishandled campaign. Worse than Dukakis '88. Considered the can't-miss pre-campaign presumptive favorite, Munich held back, refusing to be seen as campaigning for the nomination... then once it tossed its hat into the ring wasn't all that impressive on the stump. Think Al Gore in 2000. A big target so it took a lot of hits from commentators and 501(c)3 hit squads. Now seen as having too much baggage. Never really got off the launchpad. Joe Lieberman '04.

The pre-scream Howard Dean of this Oscar race. Got in the race well before anyone else, and began picking up under-the-radar support. A classic word-of-mouth candidate, its supporters are very passionate about its message. "Crashiacs." Its win at the SAG awards was like Bobby Kennedy taking Indiana. Ugly protracted infighting among the film's producers recalls the battles in the Kerry campaign between the Mary Beth Cahill/Bob Shrum faction and the Carville-led Clintonistas. But Crash is coming on strong, and could be a surprise winner if the frontrunner falters.

Capote. Has run a low-end yet dignified race. No chance of winning the top slot, just happy to be in the race. Think Kucinich '04. Or maybe Al Sharpton. Actually more like John Edwards: not going to win but by running an effective race can land the consolation prize (VP for Edwards, best actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Good Night, and Good Luck
Has run a terrific race thanks to the media savvy of George Clooney, the Karl Rove of the '06 Oscars. Has appeared "aw shucks" and "who, me?" but with his TV appearances, speeches and interviews has helped turn the film into the darling of the Hollywood politically aware. Think Obama '08. Only chance is if Brokeback and Crash divide the Academy/Convention and Good Night, and Good Luck is able to slip in as a third- or fourth-ballot compromise candidate.

Brokeback Mountain
Has run a very, very smart race. Entered late, with a platinum campaign staff (Ang Lee! Larry McMurtry! Annie Proulx!) and a powerful special-interest-group appeal. Began racking up endorsements left and right until the CW became that it couldn't be beaten. Superb work by the campaign's messaging team, highlighting the strong emotional bond of the Jack Twist/Ennis Del Mar ticket as opposed to the sweaty gay sex. Has avoided any major campaign faux pas (although Heath Ledger's mincing at the SAG awards came close). Its time as the frontrunner has made it the target of commentators, comics, and parodists, but it has, by and large, avoided an all-out Swift Boat attack. Convincing win at the final Spirit Awards primary bodes very well for its chances. Cue the balloons and confetti.

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