Tuesday, February 15, 2005



An interesting article in the entertainment section of the New York Times on Sunday (2/13) described the films now thought to be leading possibilities for next year's Oscars. The article begins, "This time last year, film industry insiders were picking..." And then goes on to name five movies, like "Alexander," that did not end up on Oscar's short list.

It's always fun to preview the films in the works that look interesting. Hey, that's one of the reasons to do this BLOG. And the preface to the article is designed to deflect any criticism the author might face if his selections fail to make the Oscar list next year. But (and I know that for an article about next year's Oscar's I'm making too much of this) there is something insidiously wrong about that quote.

The trouble is, it is a completely meaningless statement, because the "film industry insiders" are a nameless group. There were doubtless some that did like the named films and others that didn't. It is always fatuous to describe the results of a prediction when the prediction itself was never explicitly made. It is more common to describe how well you predicted something that you claimed to have predicted a while ago. But it is no more useful to say a prediction failed, when there never really was an explicit prediction made.

Predictions must be forward looking. Stated. Then checked.

Does the article actually make a prediction now about next year? Well, the prediction is ascribed to "Hollywood experts." So, whether the films mentioned are successful or not, we will never know who was right or wrong.

My prediction is that whether they succeed or not, all these movies will get a lot of pre-release publicity. (More precisely -- and again this is overkill -- there's a high probability each of them will get lots of publicity; and a small, but significant, chance that at least one will be such a turkey that it will be delayed till the year after or just quietly slipped into the theaters.)

Personally, I am looking forward to "The New World," Terrence Malick's version of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas. Films about early American history have been mediocre performers, so I wouldn't be too certain it will do well financially, but it is a story that I personally find interesting, and I hope it will be fun to watch.

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