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Entries in Oscar Trivia (208)

Monday
Jan192015

Fairy Tales, Witches, and Oscars. An 87 Year History

Over on Twitter Alex posed an interesting question to me and I thought I'd share it with you. Is Meryl Streep the first actor to be Oscar-nominated for playing a witch, or anyone in a fairy tale for that matter? As far as I can tell the answer is "in the way that you mean, yes" and "I believe so."

Though no witches in the fairy tale or broom-riding sense have been nominated before Streep, technically a witch star turn has won an Oscar and another spell-caster has been nominated. The first would be Ruth Gordon's diabolical coven leaderbusybody in Rosemary's Baby which we discussed in worshipful detail here.  And Sir Ian McKellen was nominated for playing "Gandalf the Grey" who, being a sorcerer, is basically the male equivalent of a witch. Otherwise, no witches. The famous witches we think of when we think of the movies weren't actually nominated. No, not even the greatest of them all, Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz (1939). 

After the jump let's look back through cinema history and see how fairytale or witchy films like Into the Woods have fared at the Oscars shall we?  (This is an incomplete history. Feel free to share things I missed. Especially great witchiness.)

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan192015

Lensing Black Faces: Why the Bradford Young Snub Stings

Manuel here taking the MLK holiday to discuss the cinematography category in terms of its aversion to honor black faces.

Young on the Selma set

Amidst all the outrage surrounding Selma’s near-shutout at the Academy Awards (nabbing only two nominations in Best Picture and Best Original Song), the focus has been on Ava DuVernay’s absence in the unsurprisingly male best director lineup and David Oyelowo’s absence in the unsurprisingly white best actor lineup. I want to focus today on Bradford Young’s absence in the best cinematography lineup. Had Young been nominated, he’d have been only the second African-American black D.P. [Ed. Note: thanks for correcting me on this crucial distinction, Ian & 3rtful] to be nominated for an Oscar (the first and only so far is Remi Adefarasin, nominated for his beautiful work on Elizabeth). Of course, this also reveals the systemic lack of diversity that TFE bestie Jessica Chastain brought up just last week at the Critic’s Choice Awards. Can you really focus on this type of statistic without addressing larger institutional issues? Not really. Or rather, not constructively. And so, rather than focus on this one snub which is already quite disappointing given Young’s rising profile, I wanted to know what it might tell us about the academy’s reticence to celebrate D.P.’s that lens black faces.

I’m never satisfied with the way I see my people photographed in movies. I think it comes from a lack of consciousness – if you grew up in a community where you don’t know black people, I wouldn’t suspect you would photograph them in a concerned way. - Young on the Politics of Lensing Black Films

The Academy, as it turns out, has been rather skittish about nominating directors of photography who have worked with the type of canvas Young so skillfully paints with in Selma. Indeed, several films with predominantly black casts have been on the hunt for a cinematography award before, sometimes coming quite close to landing that coveted distinction... 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan172015

If you fused two Hulks together could they smash J.K. Simmons?

That's the question I keep asking myself about Best Supporting Actor. My Oscar-clogged brain works like that, taking flights of fancy when it finds true facts too boring to contemplate any further. J.K. Simmons could only lose the Oscar if he suddenly became a different person before ballots were due and was unmasked as a terrorist or a serial killer or what not. He's going to win because in addition to giving a big beloved performance, he is also very well liked. As with Patricia Arquette, it's churlish and unbecoming to root against a long time actor finally getting the role people will remember them by. 

In any other year, though, this particular Oscar race would be a weird superhero collision between two very fine famous actors who both happen to get green when they're angry. Former Hulk Edward Norton vs. Present Hulk Mark Ruffalo. Both would have tremendously strong narratives for a win in that "They haven't won yet? But they're always great!" kind of way. But they'll both lose.

Silver lining: Perhaps if you tally the final votes in a month's time, their combined totals would beat Simmons? No never mind. He's too far ahead even for that.

See the Best Supporting Actor chart here! Find out how they got nominated*, how many films they've made, and vote on the poll for who "should" win - it's Reader's Choice.

*theorizing for entertainment purposes only - we can't read voter minds

Friday
Jan162015

Supporting Actress: The Chart, The Poll, The Stats

It's funny how little news coverage there is now each time Meryl Streep breaks her own Oscar records. With her 19th nomination she's just 5 more away from DOUBLING the previous record holders (Jack Nicholson & Katharine Hepburn) whose record of 12 nominations she broke a dozen years back with Adaptation (2002), her 13th. Five would seem like a ridiculous number remaining to even mention (only roughly two dozen actresses have managed five nods in entire careers in the history of the world) but it's Meryl and she's nominated each time she makes a movie and makes them (almost) every year. Maybe she'll reach that big number before her 75th birthday in the summer of 2024?

Supporting Actress nonsense, The Arquettes, and more trivia after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan152015

Interesting Stats About The 87th Oscars

DuPont has something in common with those other sociopaths Lisbeth Salander and James BondDid you know...

• The tiny grossing Foxcatcher is now tied with two blockbusters Skyfall and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for "most nominations without a Best Picture nomination" in the modern Best Picture expanded era. The all time record holder if you include years with only 5 Best Picture nominees is They Shoot Horses Don't They from 1969 which received 9 nominations but not Best Picture. And that one is better than all of the actual Best Picture nominees from its year.

• Grand Budapest Hotel, a very atypical nominee in so many ways (comic, uber-stylized, filled with slapstick) is also the highest grosser currently. The Oscars went very small this year after a few years of big hits peppering their Best Picture lineup

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan152015

Best (Male) Directors - The Chart!

I wish I had time to sketch Wes Anderson riding to the Oscars on a bicycle made of antique tuba parts (thanks Tina & Amy) but alas. It's nomination day. No time for goofing around.

Manly men and the men who love them and direct them and vote for them to win miniature idols of gold men.

The Best Director chart is now up with details on the nominees and gives you the opportunity to vote for your favorite (the poll will be up until two days before the Oscars). If you fuse all the Best Directors together this year into one über Frankenstein director you get a 6 foot tall white brown-haired American man with some Norwegian/Mexican blood in him who's rapidly approaching his half century mark and who has made about 7 movies in his career all told. (There's no way to fuse these five men's temperaments and styles though... despite being very similar in age, height, and Oscar favor they have very different aesthetics and concerns as filmmakers)

On the new Nominated Directors chart, you'll aso learn how each man got his nomination*. Besides having penises that is. That goes without saying in this category so we left their penises off the chart.

• How much did Birdman's showbiz navel-gazing help Inarritu?
• Which was more important for Linklater: conception or execution?
• How crucial was that spring release to Budapest's overall success?
• And did Morten Tyldum benefit from Oscar's World War II fetish?

Find out on the chart! (More charts to follow)

* for entertainment purposes only you understand. We can't know what lurks in the hearts and minds of voters but we love pretending to!

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