Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fued of the Sound Mixers & The annoying focus on oscar losers

I found myself quite interested with the sound mixing controvoursey that took place between Michael Minkler, one of the three sound mixers for Dreamgirls who won an Oscar, and sound mixer Kevin O'Connell, the 18-time Oscar loser, who turned up a record-breaking #19 at this year's ceremony, thanks to Dreamgirls.

I did see the video today, but before that had heard reports about what happened, and the best thing to do is see the video yourself to see exactly how Minkler worded what he had to say, but here's a summary by the Hollywood Reporter:

Could a little rivalry have been revealed in the sound mixing world? Things turned weird when the winners in that category -- Willie Burton, Bob Beemer and Michael Minkler for "Dreamgirls" -- were onstage in the press room. A question was thrown to the trio about what advice they had for Kevin O'Connell, a nominee for "Apocalypto" who now has been nominated 19 times without a win. While Burton and Beemer had conciliatory things to say -- "Hang in there, Kevin, you'll get your chance," Burton said -- Minkler's words were the opposite. "I think Kevin should go away with 19 nominations," he said without cracking a smile. "We work really hard, and if we stumble upon an award, we are so grateful. I have to wonder ... Kevin is an OK mixer, but he should take up another line of work." He exited the stage leaving people wondering whether he was serious.

Minkler just revealed an apology:
"Gentlemen, Friends, and Colleagues,

A very unfortunate situation has developed because of my stupid answers to some inappropriate questions. I did not seek this spotlight­ -- the press did, as they have in the past. It was wrong of them to ask the questions, and wrong, wrong, wrong of me to answer them the way that I did.

I apologize to all of you for creating a messy situation, and exposing the appearance of any dissention among our ranks.

The press has been asking me questions about Kevin since 2002. They continue to hound me with the same questions again and again, and this time I lost control, using bad choices of words and bitter sarcasm. The award should be about the work---period.

It is always my concern to preserve the Oscars' significance to the filmmaking community and its international audience. My thoughts got away from me at an emotional time, and that I regret.

My response to the last question was off-the-cuff sarcasm meant as humor. However it seems that it has caused even greater reaction...shock. I wanted to end the questioning and those words came out. Not funny. I am very sorry. The time and place was wrong for any of it.

Adding sentiment to this unfortunate situation has of course been the sorrowful passing of Skippy O'Connell. My sincere condolences go out to the entire O'Connell family.

I have been in communication with Kevin directly, and I wish the best for him in the future. I am sure that he will receive his due recognition on that same stage very soon, and I will be the first to congratulate him.

In my career, I'm sure that I have accidentally hurt people, but I've never intentionally sought to do harm. I ask forgiveness from them. I have given shots and taken some, but I don't believe that at any time, true malice was the objective.

I appreciate you sharing your personal thoughts with me, as I always have. I now thank you for allowing me to share mine with you.

Respect to all, Michael Minkler [src]"

A lot of people were harsh, saying Michael Minkler was a humongous jerk, but I perfer to look a little beneath the surface. I'm not saying I forgive Michael Minkler, obviously some of it is a PR stunt, but there must be more to it than him just being a jerk and I'm glad to see more to the story.

I always thought there was a little more to it than Michael Minkler being a jerk when I saw those comments. I reasoned that it probably had something to do about the press not caring anything about sound mixing at the oscars and how people like Richard Roeper are saying that the smaller awards should be given a seperate ceremony. The Oscarcall pundits who do a weekly podcast from theenvelope.com and write for various LA Publications are also saying something about how the Oscars should follow the format of the Grammys, where the more technical awards that appeal less to the general public are relegated to a seperate ceremony in the Grammys.

I think that there is just tension beneath the surface of the Oscars for the equal treatment in terms of facetime on tv for the smaller categories. Similarly, the press room full of film critics has to come up with similar questions to field to a group of artists that they probbaly know nothing about.

If you look at how many posts I've written, you'll see that I know quite a bit about the movie industry, yet I have no freaking clue what sound mixing is, what it takes to be a good sound mixer, and of course which movie had the best sound mixing.

So maybe the only question I might be able to come up with to a sound mixing winner is "so what do you think about that other guy, who hadn't won 18 times, he should've won. That would've been a more interesting story for us to have written about." But the truth is that that's an insensitive question and will get on the guy's nerves who is taking the award on stage and these guys probably could just crack under the pressure of having to be politically correct all the time. They should ask him questions about his sound mixing craft like they do with the acting winners or the directing winners, but who really has any f*ing clue? that's the problem.

Also, i'm tired of the focus on losers. If you get nominated you're a winner, and if you win, you're even more of a winner. I'm incredibly impressed with someone who has racked up 5 nominations like Kate Winslet, let alone to have done so at a younger age than anyone else. And who knows, if she won for Sense and Sensibility or Titanic, the academy might be less inclined to honor her subsequent work because they felt she'd already been given her dues. Tom Hanks is one of our generation's greatest actors and has continued to turn in excellent performances, for example, in The Green Mile, Catch Me if You Can, The Terminal, and The Ladykillers but has gotten no oscar buzz for any of those performances (and i'm not saying he should've been nominated but at least he could've made the top 10 or top 15 on sites like the oscar igloo or the film experience who monitor oscar buzz).

And don't get me started on Peter O'Toole. First of all, why has everyone freaking forgotten his honorary oscar. Kirk Douglas got an honorary oscar and got to join the 75th anniversary oscar photo for it. Not to mention, Peter O'Toole's Lawrence of Arabia performance ranked him #1 all-time on Premiere Magazine's 100 best performances list. I also personally judge an actor by
how many memorable roles they have. I look at someone like Dustin Hoffman and think: Midnight Cowboy, Rain Man, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, Papillon and The Graduate, what a career! He only won Oscars in 2 of those but by looking at his list of nominations you easily get a sense of what a great actor he was. If you look at Hillary Swank's # of Oscar nominations and # of wins, you see the same # of wins but outside those 2 winning-films, it's not nearly as impressive of a career yet. Same goes for Russell Crowe, a more modern day example, his nomination in A Beautiful Mind and The Insider along with his win for Gladiator gives me a better idea of how great an actor he is vs. Helen Hunt, for example with 1 nom and 1 win. Another example of a guy with a lot of worthy nominations but only 1 win would be Paul Newman.

ate Winslet had


The Judge said...

"I know quite a bit about the movie industry, yet I have no freaking clue what sound mixing is, what it takes to be a good sound mixer, and of course which movie had the best sound mixing."

For what its worth, it basically involves taking the various elements of a scene: actor dialog, ambient sounds and musical score and combining them together in such a way that it sounds balanced and natural to the audience. It also includes things like automatic dialog replacement, foley, and any tweaks to the surround sound to create more of an effect.

Emma said...

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Anonymous said...

Getting an honorary Oscar is not the same thing as winning one in competition. Peter didn't want the 'lifetime achievement' Oscar, and he was right. It's a stupid consolation prize from a stupid committe who belatedly realised he should have won an Oscar years ago - they had seven missed opportunities to award him one before his latest nomination for 'Venus' this year. Having cleared their consciences and 'put their house in order' by forcing the retirement prize upon him against his will and befofre his retirement it is unlikely he'll ever win one now, no matter how many more times the septuagenarian may be nominated. Which is a shame.

OKonheim said...

The value of Peter O'Toole honorary oscar was a minor tangent on my main point that we should be celebrating O'Toole's 8 nominations and not 8 losses.

I think if we took a step back from the oscars and just treated it like someone giving you an award, wouldn't it be unsportsmanlike to not take kindly to it and treat it like rubbish? I mean, think of the values we're sending here when we get all worked up over the oscars. That winning is absolutely everything and you must beat other people in a certain year. I hope we don't raise our Little League kids in this way in the way that we do with the Oscars.