Harvey Weinstein has a well-justified reputation for being a wizard at winning awards. Beginning when he and his brother Bob ran Miramax, they had a gift for choosing material that would appeal to Oscar voters and then campaigning hard to Academy voters – so hard that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences banned some of his campaign practices.

Jamie Foxx stars in Django UnchainedSo it is significant when Weinstein, who now runs The Weinstein Company with his brother, admits to making choices that he says may have hurt Django Unchained at the Oscars.

Whether Quentin Tarantino’s riff on spaghetti westerns deserves a Best Picture Oscar is beside the point in this game – did the Weinstein’s Shakespeare in Love or The English Patient deserve to win? How often does the best picture actually win the award anyway?

What matters in this instance is that Weinstein – whose movies (The King’s Speech and The Artist) won the last two Best Picture Oscars – told Deadline.com in a recent interview that his handling of the campaign for Django might’ve cost Tarantino a nomination for best director and may hurt the film’s Oscar chances in other ways. Campaigning plays a far bigger role in winning Oscars than most people outside of Hollywood realize.

Django Unchained won five nominations, including one for Best Picture, but Tarantino wasn’t nominated as best director. Weinstein says that may be because he delayed sending out screeners to Academy voters.

“I wanted people to see it on the big screen,” Weinstein told Mike Fleming of Deadline. “I told Quentin we’d probably pay the price at the Oscars, but it was the right way to see an epic period movie about a man who does not give up.

“Eventually, we gave out the DVDs but we paid the price for being late,” Weinstein continued. “We paid no price as far as the gigantic business the movie’s doing. It’s the biggest of Quentin’s career. After we put our heart and soul into the movie, the Oscar campaign was secondary. But make no mistake about it – we got five nominations including Best Picture, and we only had one week. We sent the DVDs out on December 17.”

If Weinstein hurt the Django Unchained‘s chances, maybe the release this week of a nine-minute featurette all about what a great script Tarantino wrote is part of Weinstein’s strategy to make up for his flub. The clip is full of interviews with Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio and the movie’s other stars praising Tarantino.

The reason for it is pretty transparent. Then again, so is the reason for all of the fluff pieces emanating from Hollywood at this time of year.

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  • About Eric Harrison

    Eric Harrison reviewed movies and covered film for a decade for the Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle. His movie coverage continues here on InsideMovies.net. You also can read Eric's movie coverage geared to Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, on MovieHouston.com. Find out more at EricHarrison.org.
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