The Academy hasn’t added any new Oscar categories since Best Animated Film was established back in 2001; that was the first in 30 years. Every winter we discuss ways to spice up the ceremony, whether it’s new hosts or new production ideas or streamlining the handing out of the statues — but maybe it’s time to rethink the categories… Read More
If there’s one thing you hear a lot in the run-up to the Academy Award nominations, it’s that they’re predictable — that the industry’s “Oscar bait” films are clearly labeled and marketed as such. So maybe it’s just because there was such an embarrassment of cinematic riches in 2012 that there were so many genuine surprises and shocking snubs when Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announced the Academy Award nominees yesterday… Read More
As a general rule, we try to steer clear of “Oscar blogging” this far ahead of the game — it’s a subset of online film writing that too often amounts to announcing that any fall release that generates a fair amount of early-screening praise is suddenly an awards contender that is totally, unexpectedly changing the game. It’s become a pretty silly ritual that we all go through every fall, particularly as more moviegoers and writers come to realize that the Oscars are an essentially meaningless horserace that seldom if ever genuinely reflects what is actually the best of the current cinema.
But gauging trends among the fall prestige pictures — the best foot that Hollywood puts forward every year — can be valuable; it gives us an opportunity to read the tea leaves a bit, to see what studios are hoping to accomplish, and what they would at least like our perception of them to be. And that’s maybe why this year’s Oscar pre-nomination race has become so interesting: because it’s so dominated by big studio releases. … Read More
Well, film fans, the big night is here. After a month spent puzzling over the nominations, remembering acting snubs and other illogical choices, and scrambling to see all of the nominees, HOLLYWOOD’S BIGGEST NIGHT has arrived. It’s Oscar night, kids. Glam it up!
We’ll start the big live-blog at around 8pm; in the meantime, be a dear and check out some of that Oscar coverage above, because we worked very hard on it. Oh, and here’s our official picks and predictions, but if it’s just too much hard work for you to click over there and read them, here’s the list of our predictions (not always, it must be stressed, our actual picks), which we’ll track for accuracy throughout the night:
Best Picture: The Artist
George Clooney – The Descendants Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer – The Help
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Documentary Feature:
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory Undefeated
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation (Iran)
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource – The Artist
Emmanuel Lubezki – The Tree of Life Robert Richardson, Hugo
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash – The Descendants
See you in a half hour. Or more. Or less. IT’S UNPREDICTABLE. … Read More
It’s rare to read a genuinely thoughtful and nuanced analysis of our collective love/hate relationship with the Academy Awards, since so much of what is written about the Oscars is basically carping and naysaying (guilty as charged). “Oscar cynicism has become its own special form of Oscar hype,” wrote A.O. Scott, in last Sunday’s New York Times, “and I wonder sometimes if the whole thing — the nominating process, the heavily publicized tweaks in the rules, the dreary broadcast and the endless drudgery of the ‘season’ — is exasperating on purpose. The louder we criticize, the more we must care.”
But, Scott continues, “I think that underneath all the empty pomp and hyperventilating coverage there is something worth caring about. Yes, the Academy often recognizes mediocrity and overlooks excellence. Yes, the documentary and foreign language film categories are hobbled by ridiculous rules that seem designed to exclude some of the best work… Yes, the show goes on too long, with too many bad jokes and not enough moments of genuine emotion or surprise. Yes, Hollywood is a swamp of vanity, myopia and bad taste. But it is also a community of hard-working and talented people who approach this annual ritual of self-congratulation with a sincere spirit of respect for the labor of others and reverence for the traditions that bring them together.”
Mr. Scott is right (about that, anyway — he then proceeds to defend Billy Crystal, which is unconscionable). There are plenty of complaints to be made about this year’s nominees (and we’ve certainly made them), but there is nonetheless something exciting about the whole Oscar thing, about the ranking and predicting, the flurry to see the films, and the ceremony itself (Crystal or no). So yes, the exclusions continue to rankle — there’s no bigger Drive fan than this one, you guys — and the inclusions are befuddling — not to continue to beat a dead horse, ha ha, but seriously with the Best Score nomination for War Horse? — these are the nominees we’ve got, and this is the show we’re gonna get, and we’re going to watch it, and enjoy it, and, yes, even live-blog it. Until then, we’ve put together both our picks for the best film in each of the major categories (“major categories” being chosen by the highly scientific method of “the ones we felt like writing about”), and our prediction for what actually will win. They’re all after the jump; check ‘em out, and add yours in the comments. … Read More
The Oscars are six days away, and you know what that means: only one more week to see every major nominee, in order to appropriately cheer, jeer, and second-guess on Sunday night. But time has flown in these early months of 2012 — we got distracted by the Super Bowl, and then we suddenly had to watch Knicks games, and now, here it is Oscar time. How on earth are you supposed to get through all of the major nominees? It’s easy to go into a tailspin — what do you see? What can wait? What should you avoid, now and forever?
Have no fear. Flavorwire is offering, as a public service, a priority ranking of the nominees for the major awards (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress), so you can sift through the 18 nominees and see what time will permit you to see. Let’s be clear: this list is only tangentially related to the actual quality of the films at hand (since, as we’ve discussed, the Oscars often don’t reflect that quaint notion). And it’s not a prediction list per se (that will come later in the week). But it is a guide to working your way through the stuff that’s probably going to matter come Sunday night. Sift through with us after the jump. … Read More
This year’s Academy Awards are just around the corner (well, okay, they’re still a week and a half away, so it’s more like around the corner, down a little, second door on the left), and while we can’t help but get a little excited about Hollywood’s big night, we’re also being very careful to keep our expectations in check. We’ve already lamented the many worthwhile films and performances that were unduly snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the nominations phase; when Sunday the 26th rolls around, you can bet the farm that the AMPAS will confound us again by making at least a couple of spectacularly bone-headed choices. There’s a long and storied history of the Oscar simply going to the wrong damn person or movie, countless cases where a peek back at the list of nominees and the eventual winner provokes confusion, rage, or at the very least, a bit of head-scratching. After the jump, we’ve gathered ten of the most egregious examples. … Read More
Now that we’ve all had the chance to let last week’s Oscar nominations sink in, the general consensus of complaint (and that’s always what they boil down to) appears to have settled on the acting nominations — specifically, the rather shocking number of brilliant performances that were snubbed outright, against expectations. Tilda Swinton, for example, was presumed a shoo-in; same goes for Albert Brooks and, to a lesser degree, Charlize Theron and Kirsten Dunst. We won’t rehash everyone who got shafted; the point is, it happened, as it seems to every year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has a long and storied history of shutting out great performances; after the jump, we’ve assembled ten iconic acting turns that we were stunned to discover weren’t even nominated for the Oscar. … Read More
PARK CITY, UT: Disillusionment with the Oscars is one of the rites of passage for cinephile; we can tell you all about the great movies and filmmakers they didn’t nominate, and the swill that they did, we’ll tell you how it’s all politicized, bought, and sold, seldom having more than a passing acquaintance with actual cinematic quality. And yet here is your humble film editor, up early at Sundance to peruse the nominees announced this morning, and I must confess: it’s not just out of professional obligation. The Oscar derby is phony and petty and silly, and it’s also exciting and fun — the NCAA Sweet 16 for movie nerds. So fill out your brackets now; the major nominees are after the jump, along with some reactions. … Read More
The Academy Award for Best Documentary has always been, let’s face it, problematic. For decades the Documentary branch was notorious for snubbing, on an almost yearly basis, any doc that’d had the good fortune of actually accomplishing box office success; some of the most acclaimed nonfiction feature films of recent years (including Grey Gardens, The Thin Blue Line, Roger & Me, and Sherman’s March) weren’t even nominated for the award. In 1994, amidst charges of unfair rules and cronyism, the critical outcry following the snubs of Hoop Dreams and Crumb prompted the Academy to change, at long last, the way it nominated and voted on documentary films. The new rules certainly improved matters, and well-regarded, deserving pics like The Fog of War, Man on Wire, and Inside Job won the award.
But it’s still an imperfect system, and this year’s 15-film “short list” had several puzzling exclusions: Werner Herzog’s masterful Cave of Forgotten Dreams and powerful Into the Abyss, Errol Morris’ Tabloid, and the sharp and moving The Interrupters (from Hoop Dreams director Steve James). It’s hard to say if the louder-than-normal response to those snubs caused the new round of just-announced changes to the documentary nominating and voting procedure; what we can say is that they are a decidedly mixed bag. … Read More