Imagine if Hollywood gathered for their annual tribute, the grand Oscar ceremony, and when they got to the big award — the Best Picture of the Year! — the presenter just shrugged their shoulders and declared no winner. "Sorry guys, the Academy just couldn't decide."
Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize committee, the voting body behind one of the most influential culture and science awards on the planet, pulled a similar movie. They announced their winners, a full slate of top-notch authors, publications and organizations, but one category was blank: fiction. There were three finalists: Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and the incomplete The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. According to Pulitzer Prize administrator, "The three books were fully considered, but in the end, none mustered the mandatory majority for granting a prize, so no prize was awarded." Ouch.
It's a reasonable idea that the judges couldn't settle on one work and, in an effort to maintain their integrity, passed on anointing a singular piece of fiction with their prestigious award. But isn't that the point? If there was a complete void of quality writing in 2011, that would be one thing, but the Pulitzer Prize committee had three finalists — and more importantly, a slew of other great titles from the past year — to choose from.
The three finalists are there for a reason — Wallce's posthumously published novel and Russell's debut novel stand out as fine examples of American writing. In 2011, the Pulitzer Prizes even had old favorites to go back to, including Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot. The book was highly anticipated, even warranting a Times Square billboard, and while it didn't carry the same weight as Eugenides' previous effort (he won the Pulitzer in 2003 for his novel Middlesex), it was sharp and colorful. Too slight for the Pulitzer criteria? Hollywood.com's Aly Semigran stands by The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach's much-hyped, much-loved baseball novel. Even the controversial 50 Shades of Grey finds love from Hollywood.com's Kelly Schremph, who finds the book's prose "sexy and alluring." The novel may not be high literature, but it's a bold exercise from newcomer E.L. James.
The last time the Pulitzer Prizes declined to award a new book with their coveted seal was way back in 1977. That means for 35 years, the literary elite had no problem settling on a top dog. What was the problem this year? Throw your own recommendations for 2011's best work of fiction in the comments. If the Pulitzers aren't going to highlight the year's finest fiction, we should.
Find Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and remember to follow @Hollywood_com!
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With most of the major categories dominated by little-seen movies like Hugo and The Artist, Oscars ratings watchers were preparing themselves for the worst. But Nielsen numbers released this morning reveal that last night’s Academy Awards telecast actually registered a slight boost over the previous year.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC's Oscars telecast earned a 25.5 household rating and a 38 share in its time slot, amounting to a four percent increase over the 2011 Oscars, which garnered a 24.5/37 number. Ratings are still down from their highs in 2010 (26.5/40) and 2007 (27.7/42), however.
With little else to account for the surprise good news, credit for the improvement is being assigned to the familiar face who presided over the 84th annual gala: Billy Crystal. Added essentially as an emergency replacement when scheduled host Eddie Murphy opted to drop out last November, Crystal’s trademark shtick drew many a groan from television critics. Still, the overwhelming majority still found the sexagenarian funnyman vastly preferable to the preceding year’s co-hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, whose train-wreck performance went down as one of the worst-regarded in Oscars history. Let us never speak of it again.
We'd expect J.J. Abrams to know better than to do something like converting Star Trek 2 to 3D post-shooting. As the elected emperor of the film nerds, we'd expect Abrams to embrace the mentality about 3D: it should generally be reserved for films shot and visualized in the medium. A lot of movies opt to apply 3D post-shooting as what is widely considered a cheap ploy; 3D rarely contributes much to the moviegoing experience here. Then there are films like Avatar and Hugo, which were conceived and shot in 3D, and show in contrast how the technique can actually enhance the story and the world within the movie.
To Abrams' credit, he seems to be taking a very thoughtful stance on the conversion, telling MTV that the production team will employ a "a good high-end conversion," and that they "have the months needed to do it right."
But this isn't all the news surrounding the format of the upcoming Star Trek sequel. Abrams has also made mention of shooting the movie in IMAX, although he seemed less assured that this endeavor would take place (despite his apparent passion for IMAX).
All of that aside, Abrams offers a good deal of confidence about Star Trek 2: "The three writers, Damon [Lindelof], Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman], wrote the most amazing script. And I am thrilled to get a chance to direct it. It's totally mine to screw up. So if you don't like it, [it's] completely on me. Our sets are almost done, so we go back and start shooting next month." This 3D thing might be a slight rift in your usual good judgment, Abrams, but I think we're all still pretty pumped for the Star Trek sequel.