Ahead of our live blog this Sunday we caught up with Elliot Grove (above), founder of Raindance and the British Independent Film Awards, who shared some Hollywood insight and gave us a few Oscar predictions.
CM: What are your thoughts on the Oscar contenders?
EG: I believe The Artist is going to take home at least four Oscars, including Best Picture, since it won at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and Producers Guild. The Artist is a favourite for Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Actor. Best Supporting Actor is a lock for Christopher Plummer and Best Supporting Actress is a lock for Octavia Spencer. Best Actress in a Leading Role is the toughest choice. There may be an upset in this category. I believe the favourite is Meryl Streep, but Viola Davis has a shot after her Screen Actors Guild win. Martin Scorsese's Hugo may take some technical categories, while Harry Potter should win its first ever Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The final category that may be a tough choice is Best Original Screenplay. The Artist should be a favourite, but Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris is a definite threat since it's his most original work in years. It's not winning Best Picture, but the screenplay was too good to ignore with Allen's brilliant dialogue and unique storytelling skills. Anything can happen.
CM: What are the biggest myths or misconceptions about Hollywood?
EG: One is that it is a liberal institution. Is that a possibility? Does Hollywood allow celebrities to act as they choose. That's a definite no. Recently, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen asked the Academy producers if he could attend the awards on Sunday as his new character in the upcoming The Dictator. Cohen was not allowed to do this. He was not given the freedom to do this, because it would be extremely inappropriate for cable television. I don't believe they force people to think a certain way, even if they have the freedom to do what ever they want, sometimes
CM: Is there any way for a film to be completely independent of Hollywood and still crack the Oscars?
EG: The last few years, the Best Picture winner was a film that never encountered a wide release until after it won Best Picture. The Hurt Locker and The King's Speech were not successful in the box office at all, but they still managed to sweep the major categories at the Oscars. After the Oscars, people decide to go see it. I saw The King's Speech before it won, but it took me a while to find it. I heard about The Artist, but could not find it in any local theatres. After I arrived in England, it was really well advertised and is playing in a few theatres. After viewing the film, I hope it wins every Oscar it's nominated for, because it will pull another independent film upset over the films that were a box office success
CM: What do independent fesivals like Raindance and BIFA do that Hollywood and the Oscars can't?
EG: Hollywood and the Oscars are a big deal, but they cannot show absolutely every film that many independent film festivals presented. Raindance had a better shot presenting The Artist, because it took Hollywood so long to present it in theatres. Most importantly, Raindance and BIFA want to promote upcoming filmmakers. They want to help filmmakers find their big break or teach them important aspects of making a successful film. For Hollywood it takes a while to work your way up to be successful, while you can be a beginner and learn how to make your own films in Raindance and BIFA. It wants to give people a chance, while Hollywood only want to exploit people that are just beginning. It doesn't always give people a shot unless they have a lot of experience doing it.