Frankly, I’m spending way too much energy thinking about this, but so goes it. That left-cross I felt Friday night when I first read that Shutter Island has been pushed back from October to February hasn’t healed yet; it’s still numb, and I’m dropping these thoughts onto my keyboard simply because my fat-lip is puffing past the point of comfortable speech.
The fact that I can’t see Martin Scorcese‘s flick for another five months isn’t the most infuriating aspect of this news. What’s really irking me is the bottom-line reason for the delay, an inability on the half of Paramount Pictures to get down on their knees and slob down the Oscar voting committee. At least that’s what it feels like to me. When the defense on the studio’s part for this move is that they won’t be able to pay for a proper Academy Award campaign for the film as their books stand this year, how can I not think that? Other reports say that star Leonardo Dicaprio won’t be available to promote Shutter Island internationally, which seems a bit inconsequential.
The name of this disappointing game is Money Can’t Talk; rather than just release the film and bank on its actual quality to either convince or dissuade the Academy, the studio retreats, leaving the film in February’s unbefitting terrain for a Scorcese film.
There’s a good chance that I’m wrong here, and that my not being in the crust of Hollywood dollar-crunching has left me misinformed. I could also be coming at this from a purely one-sided “fan” perspective. If so, color me biased. I’m just struggling to decipher why a Martin Scorcese film starring Leonardo Dicaprio that’s been apparently testing super-strong and has ever-lengthening word-of-mouth buzz can’t stand on its own laurels. If it’s good enough that Paramount considers it worthy of an expensive Oscar push, then let the film lobby for itself. Make it a hands-off awards season event, instead of a February 19, 2010 passer-by.
As far as I’m concerned, the most intriguing thing about Scorcese’s Shutter Island isn’t whether it’ll become a Best Picture contender or not, nor if Dicaprio can finally earn that elusive Best Actor statue. Intense curiosity is favoring how Scorcese will handle the novel’s definition-of-polarizing twist, which has been a catalyst for widespread hatred for Dennis Lehane‘s book. While I completely understand the anger directed at Lehane’s decision to turn the tables with a conventionally-overused reveal, I’m able to look past the head-shrugging and appreciate the great ways that Lehane sets this twist up from the first page. It holds up well upon repeat readings. How Scorcese will be able to manipulate the audience well enough to not spoil the twist is what I’m really excited to see unfold. That trailer has already given away a good deal; Scorcese has hands full now.