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Entries in Oscar Trivia (168)

Thursday
Jun262014

Welcome to the Academy. 10 Interesting Invitations

The Academy welcomes its new members at an invite only event in September, just as we begin to feel the rumblings of Oscar buzz everywhere.

While not every person nominated for the first time for an Oscar in any given year is invited to join the next year (isn't that weird?) it's common practice that they are. So new names like Lupita Nyong'o, Barkhad Abdi, and more established actors like Sally Hawkins and June Squibb will all be voting for the first time this coming season after walking the red carpets as nominees. That's expected. What's far more interesting is the people invited in any given year that have not been nominated.

Here are ten names I want to highlight because they're interesting invitations for one reason or another.

Sean Bobbitt - Cinematographer (12 Years a Slave) - egregiously snubbed last year which might have done it but that's not his only beautifully shot film. He also filmed Hunger and Shame and The Place Beyond the Pines. contributing much to their moods and power.

Bradford Young - Cinematographer (Pariah, Mother of George, Aint Them Bodies Saints, Middle of Nowhere) one of the brightest stars among newer DPs. The Academy could not have chosen better. He's just brilliant.

Denis Villeneuve - Director (Prisoners, Enemy) Surprised this Canadian hasn't been invited previously given that Incendies was nominated in Foreign Film. Technically speaking the director isn't an official nominee when a movie is nominated for Foreign Language Film but here at TFE we consider it to be so since the Director accepts and sometimes keeps the Oscar.

Sonja Klaus - Production Designer/Set Decorator (The Counselor, Prometheus)- she's done pretty great work for Ridley Scott several times as well as work on big popcorn movies like X-Men First Class and the Lara Croft movies.

Casting Directors In General - 22 of them were invited (!!!) which leads me to believe AMPAS is seriously considering finally adding a Casting Oscar. People have been complaining that there isn't one within the industry for some time.

Paul Rudnick -Writer. Rudnick was such an endearing and important comic voice in the 90s (Addams Family Values, Jeffrey, In & Out) but his last feature film credit was literally The Stepford Wives ten whole years ago. So why now for the Motion Picture Academy? I don't begrudge him any honors but he doesn't even work in movies any more. (though his first project in ten years is supposedly due this year, a TV movie with Bette Midler). 

Casting Directors In General - 22 of them were invited (!!!) which leads me to believe AMPAS is seriously considering finally adding a Casting Oscar. People have been complaining that there isn't one within the industry for some time.

Beatrix Aruna Pasztor - This costume designer has never been nominated despite a filmography that includes films of wildly varied genres: Vanity Fair, Aeon Flux, Great Expectations, Brothers Bloom, To Die For and many more so she's versatile. But I'm highlighting her mostly because Nick and I like saying her name to each other. (Long story)

Josh Hutcherson in "Mockingjay Part 1" / Ben Foster in "Lone Survivor"

Josh Hutcherson & Ben Foster - Actors. Sometimes the actor invitations are real head scratchers when it comes to timing. Aren't we a bit premature on Josh (please note: I like him as an actor) and aren't we super duper late to the party on Ben Foster who has been quite acclaimed for some time. Was it Lone Survivor that did it? These things are puzzling because if you didn't want to invite him after 3:10 to Yuma what the hell is wrong with you?

Beth Grant - Actress (Small Role Goddess of Limitless Indies / Mainstream Efforts)

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion."

 

The full press release from the Academy is after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun252014

Eli Wallach (1915-2014)

The great character actor Eli Wallach didn't quite make it to his centennial, dying at 98½ but at least he lived long enough to get an Honorary Oscar a few years back. The Academy honored him for "a lifetime's worth of indelible screen characters" even though they'd never nominated him.

I'm sure AMPAS didn't mean to include "Mr Freeze" on the Batman TV series as one of those characters but that's the one that's indelible for me. Is that wrong? When I was a child that show was always on through the magic of syndication. But Mr. Freeze was recast frequently (curiously enough two other Oscar favorites also played the chilly bad guy: three time nominee Otto Preminger and Oscar winner George Sanders). They rarely showed episodes in order so the memories of the faces get all jumbled up. 

He made a lot of career noise with his onscreen debut in Baby Doll (1956) for which he was Golden Globe nominated. But several fine characters and classics would follow like The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, How the West Was Won, The Moon Spinners, The Good the Bad and the Ugly and The Godfather Pt. III.


What do you remember most about this actor?



Sunday
Jun012014

First Oscar Predictions of the Year, Complete!

The April Foolish predictions for 2014 are complete! In record time* for June 1st.

INDEXPICTURE | DIRECTOR
ACTRESS | ACTOR  
SUPPORTING ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR 
FOREIGN FILMS | ANIMATED FILMS
SCREENPLAYS | VISUALS | SCORE & SOUND 

BULLISH: I've predicted that Foxcatcher and Interstellar will lead the nominations with 8 nods each with Gone Girl, Mr Turner and Birdman not far behind. I also have high Oscar hunch hopes for Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.

BEARISH: Though I will readily concede that Unbroken might be a juggernaut, I'm not yet feeling it's as as sure of a thing as many pundits are likely to given the extraordinary amount of Oscar boxes it checks off on paper.  My bearishness is largely because you can argue that Oscar has become less enamored of "traditional / inspirational" material in the past several years - even skipping inspirational Holocaust movies like The Book Thief -- and are quicker to embrace thornier auteurism than they have since the 70s. It's also because Angelina Jolie is a largely untested director whose first feature had a good measure of pre-release media attention only to be totally ignored once it arrived (and I don't mean in terms of Oscar nominations, though that was the case as well). That said if everyone agrees that Unbroken is quite good (nobody has to think it's great) it'll do very well for itself in the nominations. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May312014

Smackdown 1941: Margaret, Mary, Sara, Patricia & Teresa

Behold the Supporting Actresses of 1941, two stalwart mothers, two helpless pawns, and one reckless diva. All but one of them, the diva and eventual winner, were in Best Picture nominees in this highly satisfying Oscar showdown.

THE NOMINEES

Allgood, Astor, Collinge, Wright, and Wycherley

Oscar had entered its teenage years by 1941, (14th annual Academy Awards) but it was still a green enough institution that all of its supporting actresses were first timers. Mary Astor, who won the Oscar, was the only star among the nominees and she was having a great year also starring in the noir classic The Maltese Falcon. Career momentum issues should never be underestimated with Oscar outcomes. Astor was joined in the shortlist by two sturdy character players in their 60s: the British stage actress Margaret Wycherley and the Irish screen actress Sara Allgood (who had been featured in some early Alfred Hitchcock movies). Rounding out the nominee list were two true finds making their charmed film debuts in the Best Picture nominee The Little Foxes, Patricia Collinge and Teresa Wright, the latter of whom was an instant darling in Hollywood and would win the Oscar the following year for Mrs Miniver. There's that momentum factor again.

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

Angelica Jade Bastien, Anne Marie, Nick Davis, Nathaniel R, Stinkylulu and You - we tabulate reader votes and quotes from your ballots appear!

Without further ado, the main event...

1941
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN

Click to read more ...

Friday
May302014

Oscar Quandaries: Original OR Adapted?

The Screenplay categories were not always as fluid as they are now and once adhered to very strict rules about a script's prior existence. Now, they let you get away with a little fudging which started in force a dozen years ago when Gangs of New York and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which had spent all of their pre-release hype talking about being adapted from [insert fabulous thing here] were suddenly "originals" through complicated explanations once awards season was in sway and it became clear that the original category was infinitely less competitive. Since then much has changed and now previously established characters is a thing everyone does to fight for adapted (when it suits them) and the lines are really blurry.

ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL. EITHER COULD HAPPEN...

So here are four plus movies that seem like they're balancing on a wire between original and adapted. Which way will they fall? 

Bruce Wagner's Maps to the Stars screenplay was a screenplay first, then it became a novel ("Dead Stars") when the movie plans fell through. It's now a screenplay again for a David Cronenberg movie. So if the movie picks up steam once it's released and not just as a curio given Julianne Moore's Cannes win, who knows? In ye olden times this would clearly be Adapted because the old hard line was once 'Previously Published or Produced Material'... but now I'm not sure.

Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel is "inspired by" the writings of Stefan Zweig ... which might mean adapted but "inspired by" is also the excuse Gangs of New York used to change its campaign from adapted to original. So I'm guessing this is up in the air until Fox Searchlight really starts campaigning (and they should).

Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert is based on the life story of Gertrud Bell but so far there are no books credited on IMDb or in articles about the film. Several books have been written about her. Is this a Milk situation where it will claim "original" despite vast reams of information to draw from written by others? And if so, is there anything wrong with that? Perhaps we need a third screenplay category for true stories that are adapted from a wide variety of sources. Other True Story This Might Apply To: Pawn Sacrifice another film about chess prodigy Bobby Fischer)

Damien Chazelle's music drama Whiplash, which has been very well received in the festival circuit, seems like the type of indie that could make waves in Original Screenplay. Only problem is it's technically adapted. It's based on Chazelle's own short film of the same name. This same situation occurred last year with Short Term 12. To date I'm not aware of anyone who tried to argue that adapting yourself is not a thing -- even Nia Vardalos, when Greek Wedding changed course argued that she'd written her comedy hit as a screenplay first before adapting it into a play so therefore it was an original (Bruce Wagner could argue the same this year for Maps to the Stars if he wants).

Under the old clear rules of "previously published or produced" you couldn't get around this even if you absolutely wrote the thing as a screenplay first but for the past 12 years these categories are more fluid and I wouldn't put it past some savvy strategist to claim original and basically negate the hypothetical 'can you adapt your own movie into a new movie?' question when it comes to these categories. 

SCREENPLAY CHARTS

Saturday
May172014

Cannes Tidbits: Deals, Toons, and Oscar Futures

I haven't organized my thoughts. I'm warning you up front. I am just collecting them like dead leaves and throwing them at you in chunks with links to related articles. I'm doing my meager part to engage with Cannes from my Harlem apartment across the ocean...

COMPETITION & UN CERTAIN REGARD
After that much maligned Monaco kick-off, not uncommon with festival openers, Cannes competition films have been collecting more fans. Well, not Atom Egoyan's Captive (which was booed) but the others. And frankly no film festival ever wins consensus "that was awesome" reviews anyway. It's part of the ritual this 'it's a terrible year for the fest!' hand-wringing.

Diana chimed in earlier today on the African film Timbuktu and Mike Leigh's artist biopic Mr. Turner which we can safely suspect will win plentiful Oscar talk. There's a ceiling for Leigh films with Oscar but the Academy adores him nonetheless. Since his mainstream breakthrough Secrets and Lies (5 nominations / 0 wins) all but 2 of his pictures have won at least a screenplay nomination with Topsy Turvy and Vera Drake (period pieces like Mr Turner) proving most popular. To date Topsy Turvy is the only Mike Leigh picture to win any Oscar statues and Mike Leigh himself, though a 7 time nominee, is still Oscar-less. That's probably good news for Mr. Turner on both the 'overdue' front and the 'it takes a period piece and a genre they love' (in this case the biopic) truth about awards bodies. If you're interested in Mike Leigh's process (and many are since it's so unusual) there's an article in the LA Times where he explains why they still do the same character creation groundwork for months before shooting even though the actors are playing real people rather than fictional ones. I think Mr Turner is also inspiring some interesting reviews (including this one from David Poland who compares it to the Grand Budapest Hotel of all things) 

More Oscar hopefuls, deals, and animated buzz after the jump...

Click to read more ...