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Has the Email Controversy Hurt The Hurt Locker’s Chances?

Well, balloting is official closed. The deadline has passed and, by the time you read this, counting will more than likely be under way. It’s been an interesting Oscar season, and – since this is my last post before the ceremony – I should probably make some sort of generic observation about the competition. In truth, the acting races seem to have been sewn up since before nominations were even announced, but it looks like there’s a genuine race on for the Best Picture Oscar. In the interest of objective journalism (okay, blogging), I should concede that I have a €10 bet with my brother on the race. He expects Avatar to win because (and I quote) “it looks awesome”. I was backing The Hurt Locker, but part of me wonders if the anti-Avatar fiasco means that I should just give him the tenner now and be done.

Chartier attempts to defuse the situation...

For those unaware, producer Nicolas Chartier sent an email around the Academy asking for support and bashing an anonymous “$500m film”. This was, in case you can’t tell, a wee bit of a mistake, as the Academy ended up banishing Chartier from the ceremony until he learned to play well with others, informing him that he’d have to pick up his statuette later (if he won). Apparently there was the possibility that the Academy could remove The Hurt Locker from the Best Picture nominees, but that was never going to happen this close to the deadline. Although I quite liked the somewhat ironic punishment of sitting him next to James Cameron and watching him squirm.

Just when the movie couldn’t take another kick to it’s rather sturdy (but useless) bomb disposal suit, an army officer comes forward and claims that he was cheated out of money due for his involvement in the film. Like any testosterone-fueled military man who likes to live his life on the line, they’re taking this inside… a courthouse. In fairness, the producers of the movie must be sighing in relief, as this second problem emerged after the voting deadline had passed. There is no way that this lawsuit could cost them the Oscar. It’s just a fitting end to a week that’s been a bit crap for the film.

The question I’m interested in, however, is whether the email incident impacted the voters. First of all, the sending of the email, which seems just a tad desperate for a film which has been recognised as one of the two leading contenders. I can’t imagine too many people opening their mailboxes found a chainletter from Nicolas Chartier (“Please call one or two persons, everything will help!” he pleads) were particularly delighted. And then the slap on the wrist and disappoint head-shaking that followed, as the Academy didn’t like negative campaigning. Apparently they only like the fun, holding-hands kind of campaigning.

The punsihment was announced ninety minutes before polling closed, so I can’t imagine it having too much of an impact. And, in fairness, it wasn’t as if anyone was actually expecting an announcement saying “we’re totally cool with it”. But the initial email went out five days before polling closed, which would be the perfect time for it to make an impact on those last minute floating voters. And I don’t think it was a good one, to be honest.

I don’t know. Part of me assumes that the members of the Acadamy will recognise that they shouldn’t pass on voting for The Hurt Locker because the producer is a bit of a dick. I mean James Cameron has a tendency to come across as a bit… self-centred and the Academy loves him. On the other hand, I can’t imagine too many members liked being told what to do by a mass-mail email. Whatever the impact it had, I think we can all agree that it certainly didn’t have a good one.

In good news though, Roger Ebert wants it to win.

I guess we’ll know early Monday morning. I’ll probably have a reaction up after the ceremony. I guess my brother can wait until then for me to pay up.

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