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A critic’s blessing is its own reward

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Doug Krizner: Golden Globe nominations were announced yesterday. In film, 35 titles are up for awards. That’ll make for a lot of jockeying for attention. Studio campaigns are underway. The selling points will include accolades from the critics associations. The critics have already selected best pictures.

Let’s bring in Mike Speier, executive editor of Variety. Mike, which critics associations carry the most weight?

Mike Speier: The ones that matter, and have mattered over time, have been the obvious big-market ones, like New York and Los Angeles. There’s a next tier of them in Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. They probably don’t matter as much to the public, but certainly the studios and the indie companies use them, because if they collect a lot of awards and a lot of recognition, they’re going to use as many as possible.

Krizner: So give me a sense of what happens behind the scenes as they jockey for position. I mean, I’m talking about the studios in trying to get these critics to put their films at the top of the list.

Speier: This is why the studios love this time of year, especially if they have a movie that people love, because if you get something like “No Country For Old Men,” which won the New York Film Critics’ Association, you can use that as kind of ammunition and use that as kind of momentum as so many films try to jockey for position and try to get that Best Picture Oscar.

Krizner: Is there a New York state of mind that is different than L.A.? I mean, do the films that are chosen in New York differ greatly from the ones that get picked up in L.A.?

Speier: Yeah, there is. The L.A. film critics are just bathing in movies anD screenings and premieres all the time. I mean, every single day. They might have seen more, more came early to them, because here in Los Angeles, you can really get a screening to any movie, any time.

Krizner: What did they chose this year?

Speier: They chose “There Will Be Blood,” which is the Daniel Day Lewis movie. Which, that’s not to say that other critics’ groups won’t pick it, but very rarely do you see New York and Los Angeles meeting in the middle and picking the same one.

Krizner: So when a critic in New York or L.A. says, “This is Best Picture,” what does it mean for business?

Speier: It’s great for the indie box office business. I mean, you use that in your ad campaign, and when you use that, people say, “Wow, this must be a really good film. In a season where there’s so many movies to chose from, why not go to see the one that people at least are acknowledging as something that’s quality?” So, it’s better than not winning, and it’s great to put it on the poster. You might not win any trophies down the road, but you can get that moment when you say, you gotta come see our movie when there’s a hundred movies out there.

Krizner: Mike Speier is executive editor of Variety here in L.A. Mike, always a pleasure, thanks so much.

Speier: My pleasure.

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