THR’s Friedman bashes NBR for not naming “Precious” among years’ best films

The shockwaves have started….right on schedule….

As usual, THR's "Showbiz 411" columnist Roger Friedman – you remember, the gossip troll, er, columnist FIRED by Fox News last spring for reviewing an unfinished bootleg of Wolverine that he illegally downloaded from the internet – has launched his annual assault on the selections made by the National Board of Review.  He does this every year, usually because they tend to sometimes pick a popular movie over a critically acclaimed indie for their annual Top 10 Best Of Films.

This year, Roger says it's a "scandal" and an "embarrassment" that the NBR members selected a movie like Star Trek for their top ten, while "ignoring" a film as wonderful as Precious.

So of course, in the good tradition of gossip columnists, Friedman has to make personal jabs at the members of the NBR thusly:

Of course the National Board of Review, despite its name, is not about professional filmmakers or critics. Indeed, the actual professionals have been dropped by president Annie Schulhof over the last several years in favor of a sex therapist and Schulhof’s Park Avenue socialite friends.

Gone from the NBR just recently are Annette Insdorf of Columbia University, a respected professor and writer; as well as both Roy and Lewis Frumkes, writers and film academicians, and Reeves Lehmann, head of the School of Visual Arts. They’ve added, however, Erik Tarloff, screenwriter of the memorable “Car 54, Where Are You?” and several episodes of TV’s “Gimme a Break!”

As for “Precious”: luckily the NBR is a  precursor of nothing. Insiders say the Oscars are months away, and that the Academy voters don’t take the NBR seriously. Basically, it’s an advertising tool so that the studios can trumpet an impressive sounding award name in ads over Christmas. By March 7th, the NBR will be a distant memory, and their snub of “Precious” just another on their long list of embarrassments.

Ok, well, obviously it's NOT nothing, or the media wouldn't make such a big deal about it. People do care about the opinions of members of the NBR, and their "cred" isn't in danger by anyone from someone of Friedman's gossipy bitching. It's important for everyone to have a say, but like a typical extreme-left liberal, if the choices don't mesh with Friedman's, he attacks the choices they do make.  Also, I don't see the word "professional" in the name National Board Of Review. No one ever claimed that they were "professional" in any sense of the word other than professional movie fans. Yes, they ARE well connected, particularly with Warner Brothers. And yes, some of them ARE in the film business, either directly or on its fringe. But nothing requires them to be in the industry.

There's also one other overwhelming fact – Preciousis getting raves from the critics, and is doing well on scoring at the IMDB (about as reliable as, say, NOTHING). But the word of mouth from regular fans is that it's an INCREDIBLY DEPRESSING film. One person I talked to didn't see that "uplifting" end as very uplifting – in fact, they said Preciousis quite possibly the most depressing movie ever made and, in a reference that shocked me, called it the film equivalent of Gloomy Sunday. For those of you who don't know that song, it's from the 30s or 40s, the best known version is by Billie Holliday, and it's earned the somewhat-ubiquitous nickname of "The Hungarian Suicide Song" for the number of suicides it supposedly inspired.

If THAT is the general populace's take on Precious, it's NOT going to go over with the average audience, but of course it will do well with the critics, it's the kind of movie that critics like – socially relevant and depressing as all hell.  Me, I haven't seen it as yet, but plan to in the next couple of weeks, because i'm hearing how great it is. But all indications are that it's NOT going to be the huge Oscar contender that many seem to believe it will be.

Star Trek, on the other hand, is a crowd pleasure – HORRORS! How DARE a "professional" group give a feel-good fun romp of a movie like Star Treka year-end award? It's just not acceptable…NO NO NO NO NO! The indie fans have DECLARED it so.

Grow up, indie fans…Of all the Oscarlists I've looked at around the net from various columnists and indie blogs, includingINDIEWire, the standard of indie coverage, I think they're all about 40-50% wrong…and no matter how much they think that all ten Best Picture Oscarnoms are going to go to indies, they're very wrong on that – with Up, Star Trek, Watchmen, and several other films as good possible nominees, it's inevitable that many many indie columnists are going to be severely disappointed, severely pissed, and ready to unload at anything they perceive as a threat to indie domination of the Oscars. Hey, guys, i'm an indie fan  – I mean, I DO run an indie site too – but i'm also a realist. And I know a great, well-reviewed, well thought of movie like Star Trek has a shot at Oscar. Not because it's mainstream, but because it's just that damn good.

I do agree with Friedman on one thing, though – I too find it weird that Precious wasn't mentioned on NBR's list of top indie films of the year either. Surely it should have been there at least. But then again, neither was That Evening Sun, one of the most underrated films of the past several years. It also deserved to be there…especially in the light of several Spirit Awardnoms (though inexplicably not nominating star Hal Holbrook, but giving nods to two of his supporting co-stars).

It's gonna be a fun Awards Season folks…and we'll be here keeping you tuned in to all the gossip, malicious or friendly, and weighing in on it as well…