Say Whaaaa? Special Edition: Analyzing the Crazy Basterds' Oscar Finale

Loath as we are around here to give away free advertising, the last lunge of Inglourious Basterds' sprint to the Oscar-race finish line is something that both awards-season campaigners and observers will be studying for a while. Sure, the suspicious Hurt Locker takedowns and the rabbi-recruitment drives are one thing, maybe even kind of standard in the historical scheme of things. But this new, crunch-time banner ad wields its own scintillating magic -- the kind of magic that springs one to attention, tilts your head in curiosity and coaxes that most profound purr of reactions: "Say whaaaa?"

Taking care not to decontextualize the devices at hand here, let's first consider what the hell we're looking at, one element at a time:


OK, so a few grammatical errors aside, I'm with it. No reason to be picky! And Mick LaSalle really did write a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, so hey -- so far so good.


Say whaaaa? Presumptuous much? I thought the whole thing about Oscar campaigning is how voters didn't like to be told what what to do, hence part of the backlash that erupted from Hurt Locker co-producer Nicholas Chartier's infamous campaign e-mail last week. Beyond being illegal, it was just tacky. But these are the Weinsteins, and anyway, you haven't seen tacky yet.

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  • CiscoMan says:

    I agree that "Inglourious Bastards" is the thing that happened in cinema this year, but the bigger question is: when we're all in time at that one place, what film represents the thing that happened the previous time with the other thing at the other place? Riddle me that, Academy.

  • The Cantankerist says:

    "Inglourious Basterds" is certainly the thing that happened *most often* at the cinema this year (and most years lately): I went in hoping to see a movie and came out having seen a two-hour trailer.

  • DarkKnightShyamalan says:

    First the obnoxious massive "Bingo" billboard I always have to drive past on Sunset, and now this. If the Weinsteins aren't careful, Avatar is going to un-backlash.

  • Ian Mantgani says:

    This perfectly represents the phoney hype that so many publicists and critics have been guilty of regarding "Basterds". People just can't seem to take the fact that the movie didn't flesh out most of its characters (did any basterd except Brad Pitt have more than 3 lines of dialogue?) or that Quentin didn't deliver the war epic he'd promised for so many years, so they embellished the significance of every frame, every line and every cinema reference instead of realising this was an okay film with a few great scenes that was ultimately a misfire.
    You're right: What the hell DOES that mean? Why is this THE THING THAT HAPPENED IN CINEMA THIS YEAR? If I'd read that line on its own, I'd think, jeez, I guess a great new form of 3-D was what happened this year, so this must be an ad for "Avatar".
    I thought "Basterds" stood a good chance of winning BP, due to the fact that the "Avatar"/"Locker" vote is gonna be split, there's a preferential ballot, and IB is well-liked. I've even put a bet on it with William Hill - not that I'm sure it will take the gold, but 16/1 odds were too sweet to resist. (I like longshots... perhaps a little too much... before the noms, I tried to get the bookies to take my novelty bet that "Hangover" would get a BP nom... thankfully they didn't take my money, and I learned once again that in the pre-nom phase my imagination gives the Academy way too much credit.)
    This aggressive campaigning actually makes me think a win is LESS likely; Harvey's insistence turns people off at this point, I would imagine, and if Jews on the rampage wasn't enough to push "Munich" over the edge, I don't think a transparent playing up of this angle in a few Oscar posters is going to cause a groundswell of support.
    We'll see. It's nice to have some mystery in the Best Picture race, though, that's fer sure.

  • Al says:

    Nice try, but the real breach in rules was the Hurt Locker producer's jab at Avatar in his letter. That was the only cited reason for his backlash. Seriously though, nice try. haha, go Basterds.

  • james says:

    Inglorious Basterds is the best picture of the year and I think in any other year it would and should be the oscar front runner -- its so multi-layered, so enjoyable and truthfully, it reminds you why you love going to the movies in the first place. readers voted it number 1, in mock oscar voting. I hope it sweeps but I am resolved to be hurt, which is not bad, but Inglorious Basterds is a classic.
    This time Harvey's got the goods. And if anyone has seen all of the films, i really can't see them picking any other movie as best picture.

  • D says:

    Seriously? this is probably the most painful example of pandering to a particular audience that has happened in a long, long time.
    Not to mention that if Nine hadn't gotten execrable reviews, the Weinsteins would be finding an equally obvious angle to reach voters... maybe appeal to gay Italian-Americans?
    I fricking hate the Weinsteins.

  • D says:

    It's not a "breach in rules," it's just shameless and tacky. I don't think there's been such a blatant campaign since John Wayne's for The Alamo.
    The Weinsteins just irk the hell out of me.

  • George says:

    I think Tarantino was in over his head with "Inglorious Bastards". I think the film, based on its subject matter, could have been bigger, or more grand. It just fell short of being epic because it needed a director with a bigger vision. Also, I found Brad Pitt totally unnesessary. Pitt and his terrible accent was a distraction. Excuse my spelling mistakes to.

  • deejay says:

    The campaign probably helped DVD sales.

  • kirby drake says:

    YOU MORON, this is the 21st century......duh!

  • [...] little desperate, sure, but at least it beats “WHAT MOVIE REPRESENTS THE THING THAT HAPPENED IN CINEMA THIS YEAR?” You’ve come a long-ish way, [...]