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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

March 3, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Oscar week: Tough times for “The Hurt Locker”?

First of all, let me report that Meryl Streep beat the socks off Sandra Bullock in yesterday’s poll. A hint of things to come on Oscar night? We shall see.
“The Hurt Locker” got a couple of pieces of bad news this week. Yesterday, the Academy announced that producer Nicolas Chartier (one of the film’s four credited producers named on the Oscar ballot) has been denied attendance at the awards ceremony because of an aggressive e-mail campaign in which he lobbied for votes for his film while disparaging another nominee (“Avatar,” though he didn’t name it; calling it instead “that $500 million film”). Should “The Hurt Locker” win best picture, Chartier would still receive an Oscar, but would be given it sometime after March 7. A special Academy committee met Monday night to decide on Chartier’s punishment, in culmination of a week of tongue-wagging in Hollywood (during which several noted that lots of people send e-mails that violate the Academy’s strict standards, but Chartier just happened to send his to the wrong people and got caught).
More serious was the announcement this morning of a potential lawsuit by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver, a bomb disposal expert in the Iraq war who said that the main character in “The Hurt Locker” was based on him (screenwriter Mark Boal, Sarver says, was embedded in his unit and got much of the detail in the film from him) and that he was cheated out of financial participation in the film. Summit Entertainment, which distributed the film, issued a statement expressing hope for a quick resolution and reiterating that the film is based on a “fictional screenplay.” It’s telling, though — could it possibly be coincidence? — that this announcement was made immediately after the Oscar ballot deadline, so this particular news item won’t affect voting. But it does take a bit of luster out of the film’s perception as the little-movie-that-could. More later . . . .

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