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Joaquin Phoenix Says Goodbye To Oscar Chances, Calls Awards "Total Utter Bullshit"

by Kevin Jagernauth
October 18, 2012 10:23 AM
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Nearly everyone who has seen Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" agrees that the performances by its two leads, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, and co-star Amy Adams, are Oscar-caliber turns. Given rich, complex characters to dive into, in a world unlike anything we've really seen on the big screen, the trio really deliver some special moments in the film. But let's be frank, Oscars are as much of a political campaign as the race for the White House, and if you aren't willing to play ball, you won't be invited to the Dolby Theater. Yes, there are exceptions, but that's the basic rule of thumb. And one man who has already been absent for most of the press tour for "The Master," has essentially written himself out of the Oscar race as well.

In a pretty fantastic conversation with Elvis Mitchell at Interview, Phoenix explains why he's not participating in the awards circuit gauntlet. "I'm just saying that I think it's bullshit. I think it's total, utter bullshit, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other...It's the stupidest thing in the whole world," he says. "It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when 'Walk the Line' was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don't know how to explain it—and it's not like I'm in this place where I think I'm just above it—but I just don't ever want to get comfortable with that part of things" (See our related feature: 10 Other Actors Who Dissed The Oscars).

And while folks might say it's easy for Phoenix to take this position because he's been nominated twice already, he was also playing a bit more by the rules back then. But he's clearly marching to the beat of his own drummer now, and really, more power to him. And while his fellow acting colleagues may go up and nominate him anyway -- anything is possible -- the truth is that's it's fiercely competitive, and voters tend to favor those who at least give the illusion that they want to be there. 

Also, Anderson's film isn't doing the kind of business many thought it might. As Sharon Waxman notes in her otherwise stupendously moronic piece about how Megan Ellison is ruining indie movies (we shit you not), she notes that so far "The Master" has only banked $14 million at the box office -- a far cry from both its estimated $40 million budget and the $40 million domestic that "There Will Be Blood" earned. Essentially, it's going to take that much more gladhanding to keep the movie fresh in voters' minds.

So, in short, don't bet on Phoenix getting a nomination or a win. But do read the rest of the Interview chat because it's pretty amazing, and you can also find out why Phoenix thinks every white person needs to see "Jumping The Broom." Seriously. [via ScreenCrush]

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More: The Master, Joaquin Phoenix, Oscars

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  • Michele | May 7, 2014 11:27 PMReply

    Hes brave to speak out against all that power. He should have won best support in Gladiator he was drop dead awesome in that roll. I hope he stays in the game and slices out hs own reality because I a mere mortal love to watch him act.

  • irony | January 10, 2013 11:22 AMReply

    now that he has been nominated, i can't help but think that it was because of this interview....

  • Chauncey | October 26, 2012 11:56 AMReply

    Well Marlon Brando thought the whole Academy Award process was a Meat Market as well.. and look where the name Brando is today .. Highly ACCLAIMED/ most honored name in the movie industry & business..

  • Uncle Oscar | October 26, 2012 8:37 AMReply

    The Academy Awards isn't a talent contest it's a popularity contest, plain and simple. Michael Fassbender's non-nomination for Shame and Halle Berry's win for Monster's Ball are glaringly obvious examples of this fact.

  • Jenna | October 24, 2012 12:12 AMReply

    It's weird because a lot of the things he says is true, but the somehow manages to make it sound douchey and I want to disagree with him.

  • comedy gigs | October 20, 2012 4:47 AMReply

    It was not right attitude to treat award ceremony, I personally thinks that every actor/actress should attend this event.

  • DG | October 19, 2012 2:53 AMReply

    So does that mean he's not going if he gets nominated? I think someone here mentioned PTA accepting for him or something like that but is that really how it'd go? I'd like to think he'd go and win and use his acceptance speech time to do something amazing...

  • Sean | October 19, 2012 2:30 AMReply

    Just Joaquin being Joaquin. This should not be a surprise. I completely agree w/him. The Oscars are just a popular contest & politics!!!!!! Whoever is most liked or whoever basically has Harvey W in their back pocket will def fare better. I agree w/ the Playlist however that this does hurt his chances. BELEIVE ME. Not too many voters will be pleased once they hear about this news (which is really unfortunate & sad b/c his performance is brilliant UTTER BRILLIANCE like nothing really ever done b4 on screen). I still think he will get nominated though....... Phoenix is really just saying what every single 1 of us know & every Hollywood person knows. He's just a boss & brave enuff to say it out loud lol

  • Ryan McLeod | October 18, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    I thought everyone already knew awards shows were bullshit?

  • Sasha Dowding | October 18, 2012 8:08 PMReply

    I agree with what Phoenix says. The American film industry as a whole has grown into a monster. It's all about repetition (the tried and tested) and rather one-dimensional. Well that may be sufficient for the masses, but I personally find it really boring and stale. How's about some fresh ideas, give her a serious overhaul. The current incarnation of Hollywood needs to die and be buried so that a new phoenix can rise from the ashes. Hopefully film will reappraise it's humble roots and start something new for the next generation.
    It's all so 'monkey see, monkey do' these days.
    Don't even get me started on the Oscars!

  • SaraS | October 18, 2012 8:03 PMReply

    That's too bad, because out of the three "Oscar-caliber" actors in the movie, he was the only one deserving in my opinion. Amy Adams made the same face throughout the 2.5 hours, and Philip Seymour Hoffman has played other roles in a similar way.

    And the reason the movie's only done $14 mill is because people heard that the last 3/4 is dreadfully slow and there's no pay-off at the end. It has good performances, but it's not a good movie.

  • Norton231 | October 27, 2012 2:39 PM

    Name the movies in which Philip Seymour Hoffman has played a character like this one. If you actually knew anything about his career, you know he hasn't. Your list would come up short, like zero. Phoenix is great, but Hoffman deserves his nomination too.

  • alfredo | October 18, 2012 7:28 PMReply

    fuckin'-a right buddy! it's not just that the oscars in and of themselves are fucking bullshit, but really, that in general most of mainstream film-dom is one pandering-to-the-masses piece of utter shit after another in order to make money and then, once award season hits they bring out a few worthwhile pieces that are serviceable in a true movie sense. but yeah, the awards are based on what? well, American-made films made from the largest and most well funded movie production machines and, ultimately, "sold" on their award-worthiness to the "academy" for some trophy that says, "I have the biggest, flashiest gold plated dick in town! (when it comes to..." That isn't to say that no movie that's won didn't rightfully deserve it, but that's my 2 cents

  • River | October 18, 2012 5:30 PMReply

    Oh please, he is just pissed because he didn't win the Oscar for Walk the Line! Then after that he went all crazy and "marched to his own drum". He was great in The Master, but not award-worthy, so I don't think there's a chance for him winning anyways.

  • Jake | October 18, 2012 5:36 PM

    He never went crazy, it was all part of an act for a documentary he did. Frankly, I completely agree with his attitude towards the Oscars.

  • Mike | October 18, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    In another news, Twilight's Kellan Lutz says he'll win an Oscar one day.

  • Rob | October 18, 2012 7:17 PM

    I think he means award ceremonies in general, not just the Oscars. It is all subjective. Art appeals to different people in different ways and it's impossible to single at one as being "the best."

  • fry | October 18, 2012 3:39 PMReply

    For those pointing out that the film isn't doing very well at the box office may be forgetting that most international distributors are waiting until after awards season to release the film, at least in most of Europe, Asia and South America people won't be seeing it in theaters until January - March 2013. So don't expect earth-shattering figures at all for this one, no matter how great the director and actors are, it's just a rather internationally delayed art film we're talking about.

  • Ramon | October 18, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    Get over yourself. You and everybody else already knows the Oscars are bullshit. It's just a nice night out for people in the movie business. And it's kinda of fun for a little while for all the people at home who like all that stuff.

  • Edward Huff | October 26, 2012 6:46 AM

    Thanks for your gentle, "balanced' comment. I get it that movies shouldn't be the "best" or the "worst", for that matter. I have enjoyed "Oscar night" since I was about 9 years old. it was the first TV show i was allowed to stay up late for, after much begging and pleading. I just like to see the movie "stars" dress up, and the show itself, with the obits tribute, the glitter, some humor, production numbers, film clips-well, for a regular movie goer, at age 56, it is just fun. People are awfully cynical, if they think they are above all of that, or there lives are unhappy and they hold some sort of "success grudge" against talented people having a a good time and rewarding themselves. Lighten up, and play nicer.

  • Yknot | October 18, 2012 2:50 PMReply

    I think he's right too. I just hope he informed his producers ahead of time that he wasn't going to help them promote the movie and that he wouldn't be sucking up for Oscars. Oscar buzz generates a lot of revenue for films. So, yeah while I agree with him, I just hope he was keeping it just as real with the studio when he signed up to do the film.

  • AssHat | October 18, 2012 2:50 PMReply

    Finally a actor realizes awards are just a circle jerk. Good for Him.

  • d | October 18, 2012 2:05 PMReply

    I didn't know Sharon Waxman had so many defenders. What the hell?

  • Zippy | October 18, 2012 1:49 PMReply

    It kind of shows an arrogance for him to speak out like this. He thinks he's untouchable now that he's in this humongous Art Movie; which, consequently, wasn't the success it was meant to be. Considering a lot of people didn't like The Master, he may be speaking too soon, but it wouldn't be the first time an actor fell for his own hype. He's probably sitting around nude somewhere right now, in a beachhouse, playing bongos.

  • Norton231 | October 27, 2012 2:34 PM

    Zippy the pinhead needs to shut his mouth.

  • ZIPPY | October 18, 2012 2:09 PM

    I'm just saying there seemed to be a lot of hubris surrounding The Master, in the first place. And the old cliche of actors considering themselves 'artistes' has already been played out and we know how it ends: either go out like James Dean or end up in Adam Sandler films when you're in your sixties.

  • Derp | October 18, 2012 2:04 PM

    Hi Zippy! Perhaps you're right in what you said in your comment, but if you read the article Joaquin gives a pretty sound reasoning why he snubs the Academy Awards: "It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when 'Walk the Line' was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don't know how to explain it—and it's not like I'm in this place where I think I'm just above it—but I just don't ever want to get comfortable with that part of things."

  • d | October 18, 2012 2:02 PM

    "He thinks he's untouchable now" Based on what? Maybe he just doesn't give a shit about getting nominated, seeing as how that's basically what he said.

  • leo | October 18, 2012 1:44 PMReply

    Joaquin Phoenix should have stuck to rapping..

  • ZIPPY | October 18, 2012 2:08 PM

    I'm just saying there seemed to be a lot of hubris surrounding The Master, in the first place. And the old cliche of actors considering themselves 'artistes' has already been played out and we know how it ends: either go out like James Dean or end up in Adam Sandler films when you're in your sixties.

  • JEFFS | October 18, 2012 1:38 PMReply

    I'll bet he'd be singing a different song if he had won the Oscar for Walk the Line

  • kitcon | October 18, 2012 1:12 PMReply

    It's just Phoenix being Phoenix. With his history, this isn't going to drastically change how people view him. Monique swept the awards while being just slightly more amenable.

  • Derp | October 18, 2012 2:09 PM

    The Academy Awards is suppose to give you an award based on your performance in a film, it is not a personality contest. Now there are actors like Daniel Day-Lewis, who people say is eccentric and sometimes downright rude, that due to his excellent performances in films he keeps winning awards.

  • Joesy Denny | October 18, 2012 12:53 PMReply

    Sometimes dude you jsut gotta roll with it.

  • joeflambe | October 18, 2012 12:43 PMReply

    Who watches the Oscars anyway?

    HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD, and they ran out of ideas

  • Katie Walsh | October 18, 2012 12:25 PMReply


  • yossarian | October 18, 2012 12:10 PMReply

    "...performances by it's two leads"? "IT'S TWO LEADS"?

  • lotsoftechnique | October 20, 2012 12:34 PM

    To D: It should have been written without an apostrophe, "its" (possessive pronoun standing in for the words, "the movie's" [two leads]).

    "It's" (with an apostrophe) is a contraction of "It is", which clearly isn't what's meant here.

    This has become an increasingly common grammatical error in our age, when we sometimes forget that first and foremost writing is thinking.

  • d | October 18, 2012 1:55 PM

    what's your point?

  • DavidY | October 18, 2012 12:04 PMReply

    I give him props for that especially his sharing his experience with "Walk the Line" and walked away from it with a lot of distaste. There are politics and money that drive the Awards and I can see why he would want to distance himself from it and surround himself with his work. I applaud that. However I'm as puzzled by this your waxing and inclusion on Waxman's article. What exactly is your beef with her article? I don't consider nor considered "The Master" an indie film. At this point anything with Weinstein on it I consider mainstream. So is your issue that money is ruining indie? Its no longer indie when you start talking about 14 million and such. So thats the core issue, not Waxman taking issue with it. The problem started before the billionaire came to town and started spending money, its been going on for some time. You knew indie was going to give out eventually, I saw it coming so I dont understand with calling someone's article moronic for highlighting it. Seems a bit juvenile.

  • Head Buckaroo | October 18, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    While I disagree with Waxman's stance on Ellison, her argument is the farthest thing from "stupendously moronic." Saying so belies how little this writer understands about film financing. Perhaps it would be best to abstain from such flip, bitchy editorializing.

  • rodie | October 18, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    No way. If the Academy wants to give Phoenix an Oscar, then they will. They don't care what he says in general about 'awards'." Brando felt the same way, and he was still given one. He sent a Native American to accept the trophy, and I imagine Phoenix would send PT Anderson up there to accept on his behalf or something....

  • Chris | October 18, 2012 11:54 AMReply

    As much as I like The Playlist, this post exemplifies a consistent and aggravating trend: Something happens, or something is said, and you make a gigantic leap in logic followed by a broad, often unsupportable pronouncement. You do this all the time. You take one news morsel and you somehow convince yourself that you've figured out the end game. Well, you haven't. It's certainly possible that Phoenix could go un-nominated, but your logic - that he's virtually GUARANTEED to be snubbed because of this comment - is, to borrow your own phrasing, stupendously moronic. If he was considered a candidate in some small upstart where his performance alone was garnering buzz, maybe you'd have a point. But he's the leading man in an almost-certain Best Picture nominee that's being pushed by the fucking Weinsteins. Odds are he gets nominated anyway. Even putting the Weinstein issue aside, your logic falls apart. Do you know how many times over the years Woody Allen has said essentially the same thing as Phoenix? And that he never attends the award show itself? Sean Penn was equally dismissive of the Oscars (and the Academy in general) some years ago, and he still got nominated. So please, let's cut it with the melodrama. The "story," such as it is, is this: Joaquin Phoenix blasted the awards-season process, a fact that may or may not affect his chances to get nominated. END. Anything further than that is bullshit made up by you.

  • Rob | October 18, 2012 1:07 PM

    Love The Playlist, but Chris is dead-on right. This is stupid hyperbole, thought this site was better than this.

  • Chris | October 18, 2012 12:49 PM

    Hey Playlist, try fixing your comments feature, won't you? I've commented to a completely separate post twice and it's posted to this one instead. Awesome. In any case, those previous identical ones were meant for "JOEFLAMBE" above.

  • Chris | October 18, 2012 12:47 PM

    Wow, nicely done. You managed to write one line that includes three tired cliches and literally nothing else. Talk about running out of ideas...

  • Chris | October 18, 2012 12:47 PM

    Wow, nicely done. You managed to write one line that includes three tired cliches and literally nothing else. Talk about running out of ideas...

  • Eddie Berenger | October 18, 2012 11:36 AMReply

    Explain why Waxman's article was "stupendously moronic"? Such hyperbole requires a bit of explanation. You may not agree with her position on Ellison, but at least it's a valid point she's making.

  • d | October 18, 2012 11:17 AMReply

    I still think he'll be nominated.

  • KT | October 18, 2012 10:58 AMReply

    And he's right...

  • pt | October 18, 2012 10:50 AMReply

    Don't forget he's got Harvey Weinstein behind him...he basically goes knocking on ppls doors to get nominated lol

  • dudeabides | October 18, 2012 10:47 AMReply

    a lot of ppl have said much worse and have won or at least been nominated. Malick, Woody, De Niro to name a few. He will be nominated but I never thought the Academy would go for him over DDL anyways, even though I think The Master should sweep the whole awards season.

  • WhattheFCK? | October 18, 2012 11:59 AM

    Lol - did you see the same movie? Sweep the award season?? For acting maybe, but the year isn't over. For anything else, I sure hope not. I'm a huge PTA fanboy, and this was his worst movie. It went nowhere and dragged you along for 2+ hours. The actors should get an award for being the only thing keeping me awake, but this movie was void of all other things.

  • JD | October 18, 2012 10:47 AMReply

    I think he's saying campaigning is bullshit. But yeah, "awards are bullshit" is a better headline.

  • ThadS | October 18, 2012 5:02 PM

    Only Seymour-Hoffman should get nominated. Adams was bland and Phoenix didn't do anything we all haven't seen before. As much as they never change Seymour-Hoffmans physical apperance he always is a different character in ninety percent of his movies.

  • oogle monster | October 18, 2012 10:30 AMReply

    Yeah because Woody Allen wasn't nominated and WON last year. He has the same OUTSPOKEN perspective on awards season as Phoenix, and he's still very much in the club.

  • lotsoftechnique | October 20, 2012 12:41 PM

    Interestingly, the year "Hollywood Ending" came out Allen attended the Oscar ceremony, was introduced onstage and delivered what many thought was quite a funny monologue. I don't know why he made an exception that particular year.

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