Academy Awards

The 10 Weirdest Best Picture Nominees in Oscar History

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Just in time for Oscar weekend, Vulture has a fascinating examination of this year’s crop of nominees, and how exactly they fit it into our notion of what an “Oscar movie” is. And you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that, like everything else in the movie biz, there’s a formula at work here: “movies with some combination of the four top genre categories — biography, drama, history, and war — have always gotten the most nominations, but over time they’ve slowly been crowding out everything else.” But, it must be noted, it wasn’t always so — in fact, a perusal of the Academy Award nominations for Best Picture makes it clear that the increasing dominance of biopics about troubled geniuses is a stark contrast to an organization that used to be just as comfortable nominating musicals, Westerns, thrillers, and even comedies for the night’s biggest prize. Yet even when taking that changeover into account, there are still a few Best Picture nominees that stick out, either as just plain odd on their own terms or for the fact that they’re unthinkable as serious Oscar contenders now.
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Flavorwire’s 2015 Oscar Picks and Predictions

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Sunday night is the big night! The night when Hollywood’s brightest star shine! When everyone puts on their coolest tux and their hottest gown and trips the light fantastic! The night — ah, to hell with it. Yes, we’re finally creeping up on Oscar night, and some of us are just plain wheezing to the finish line. But let’s not overlook the fact that these nominees, while betraying a couple of irritating blind spots, also spotlight some really excellent films — and while a couple of the races have been locked for months, there are at least a couple of key nail-biters that should make Sunday’s ceremony a bit more suspenseful than usual. And thus, we present our annual look at the nominees: who we think is going to win and who would win, were your film editor the sole …Read More

Why ‘Birdman’ Is the Most Divisive Best Picture Nominee

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It’s a shame that after months of general release, it’s rather difficult to go into a screening of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) cold. Birdman, which is neck-and-neck with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as the frontrunner to win the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday night, is the story of Riggan Thomson (a wonderful Michael Keaton), a washed-up actor who made his name in a ’90s superhero franchise. He’s searching for artistic redemption by staging his own show on Broadway: an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s classic short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” If you — unlike myself — were lucky enough to see Birdman without knowing much about it, I’m sure that there was an initial spark of magic as you realized that it’s a “one take” movie, with a constantly roving, circling camera that keeps the audience mostly rooted in Riggan’s point of view.
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Exclusive Supercut: The Early Roles of Your 2015 Oscar Nominees

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The Academy Awards are this Sunday night, so it’s time for one of our favorite annual traditions. No, not the picks and predictions (because those are later this week); no, not the red carpet predictions (because blech), but our yearly compilation of the early, often unsung, film and television appearances of this year’s acting nominees. And rest assured, we’re not just doing this to point and laugh (at least, that’s not the main reason). It’s to remind you young, up-and-coming actors — and, frankly, all you established thesps working with them — that the next Oscar nominees and winners could be anyone: a one-line day player, a Freddie Kruger-battling ingénue, a movie theater hold-up man, or even a bathroom Madonna-slapper.
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Today’s Collection of Things That Are or Aren’t Related to Vampires: Links You Need to See

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Just when, after over a decade of excessive vampire romanticism in film and TV, you thought you were ready to declare the undead dead, information started trickling out (like blood, you might say!) about Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement’s vampire mockumentary, What We do in the Shadows, and you probably thought, “If they’ll make me laugh and they’re from New Zealand, how can I say vampires are dead, quite yet?” Indeed, since they’ll surely outlive all of us, it’s best we continue to get acquainted, not only with our fictional vamps, but also with the real ones. Inspired by True Blood, Vice’s series The Real, which explores the real-life versions of Hollywood phenomena, has filmed a short doc about a vampiric subculture in the American south.
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“I Did Not Want a Character With an Arc”: ‘Nightcrawler’ Filmmaker Dan Gilroy on His Oscar Nomination, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Crime Scene Photography

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The phrase “first-time director” tends to summon up a very specific picture: a bright-eyed kid, perhaps fresh out of film school or graduating from YouTube, a Hollywood outsider looking for an in. Dan Gilroy is, well, not that kid. Nightcrawler (out Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD; available now on demand) is his feature directorial debut, but the 55-year-old writer/director has been knocking around the business for nearly a quarter-century now; his first credited screenplay was 1992’s Freejack, where he met his future wife, Nightcrawler co-star Rene Russo. She’s not the only familiar name in Nightcrawler’s credits — you’ll also see two other Gilroys, Dan’s brothers, editor John (Salt, Warrior, Pacific Rim) and producer Tony (himself a two-time nominee, for writing and directing Michael Clayton). I asked Dan how filmmaking became, for him, such a family business.
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Is David Oyelowo Right About Oscar’s Preference for “Subservient” Black Narratives?

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Last weekend, the Santa Barbara Film Festival presented its “Virtuosos Award” to seven actors, in recognition of their fine performances in films this year (check out the list; it is, in many ways, better than your Oscar nominees). As part of that evening’s festivities, the honorees were interviewed onstage, and one of those interviews has, over the past couple of days, gone viral: Selma’s David Oyelowo, discussing his Oscar snub with a bit of insight about the kind of performances the Academy likes to nominate and award. “Historically, this is truly my feeling,” he says. “I felt this before the situation we’re talking about and I feel it now. Generally speaking, we, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative, driving it forward.” Does Oscar history prove him right? The answer may surprise you! (It totally won’t surprise you).
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