You could go batty trying to figure out why Oscar voters like what they like -- these are the rocket scientists who thought Crash was Best Picture material, as opposed to say, a candidate for the worst movie of that year -- so it was only with mild bemusement that I greeted the Academy's decision this year to snub Atonement director Joe Wright, who deserved a Best Director nomination for every reason you can possibly summon. A few reasons: 1) He managed the extraordinary challenge of taking a piece of dense, modern literature and turning it into a compelling drama and a romance that works as a movie without dumbing down the material. 2) He's a talented, 'every shot counts' style of director, who labors over his shot selections and has the visual acumen of a Stanley Kubrick. 3) He deserved a nomination for his last film and got snubbed that time too.
The Guardian recently got its own elaborate set visit to Wright's upcoming movie The Soloist, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, and the topic of Wright's snub was on everyone's mind. Downey, in particular, was ready to open up about it, saying that "it's a f**king crime Joe wasn't nominated. He's the goods, man, he really is." When Wright was asked directly about it, he responded "Well, out here it's all they bloody talk about, so yes for twelve hours or so I was gutted because everyone seemed so angry about it on my behalf. Then I just looked around and thought: What am I even thinking? I'm making a movie in Hollywood with these amazing actors I'd only ever seen sitting there in my cinema seat like a mad fan -- and they seem excited to work with me for some reason." A pretty classy response.
The snub talk is only one part of a huge and interesting set visit report that includes new details about The Soloist and a lot of funny stuff with Robert Downey, Jr. Here's a sample, to leave you with -- Downey talking about his working relationship with Wright: "First day, I said 'Listen Joe, just don't f**k with me and we'll be okay.' But the whole point is that we're supposed to f**k with each other and he did f**k with me -- for some reason he got under my skin and f**k, it worked."