Inglourious Basterds Will Win Best Picture. Just Ask Harvey Weinstein.
With his Best Actor nominee A Single Man suffocating at the bottom of the box-office pile, and with Nine having arrived stillborn in both theaters and the Academy consciousness, Harvey Weinstein is down to Inglorious Basterds as his last major play for this year's Oscars. And in various calculated moves around the press, he's playing hard. You'd expect nothing less, but does he have a chance? You bet! It just depends on his chance at what.
Of its eight Academy Award nominations, Basterds' only mortal lock to date is Best Supporting Actor. Or at least that's the conventional Oscar wisdom for everybody but Harvey, who swears up and down that Quentin Tarantino's hit has every shot at Best Picture as well. "We're going to win best picture," the mogul told one interviewer last week. "This is the movie people love and it's Quentin's time. We are going for it and we are gonna get it."
Perhaps overcorrecting for that abstraction, he specified later to the NYT (from a swanky, Harvey Keitel-hosted party in New York):
"I think it's between three movies - Inglourious, Hurt Locker and Avatar. We have all the actors - it reminds me of my Shakespeare in Love upset over Saving Private Ryan. All the actors voted for us. And then we're building all the other people. It's half a Universal movie, half Weinstein, so it's like that hybrid of studio and independent, and it did business, and people saw it, and it's great. And [Tarantino] has a body of work that people honor. I wouldn't be here or doing a campaign at this point if I thought it wasn't totally winnable. And I think it is."
Which takes us back to A Single Man and Nine, essentially dead in their respective categories and thus dead to Harvey. At least he's consistent, right? And wait until you see what else he has in store: Charity! According to a press release passed around Movieline HQ today, a collection of 13 artists have composed their own Basterds posters as a fundraiser for earthquake relief in Haiti. Tarantino will sign a limited edition of six apiece, with each going for $300. You don't see The Hurt Locker revising its own marketing as marketing, at no cost to Summit and with the six-figure proceeds going to a good cause, do you? Of course not.
That's not being cynical, either. A Weinstein campaign trick is a Weinstein campaign trick, no matter where the money or the influence are going. If Best Picture doesn't work out during "Quentin's time," then all the potent, top-shelf campaign action should trickle down to at least Best Original Screenplay. (Even Tarantino has ceded Best Director to Kathryn Bigelow.) That's where Monday's interview with the LAT's Patrick Goldstein seems to be targeted. The chat is the first in the Weinstein pal's "informal series of interviews with Oscar-nominated talent about the varied influences on their work" -- and face it, it's pretty persuasive surrounded by all those hot Basterds ads screaming, "The one movie that reminds you! Why you LOVE movies! Is now nominated for! 8 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture! INGLORIOUS BASTERDS!"
Subtle, Harvey. Real subtle. At least mention it's on DVD, won't you? May the shamelessness cycle be unbroken.