Oscar History

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Oscar Updates: Rule Changes, Germany's Submission, Child Stars

Oscar, continually bewildering himself with rule changesRULE CHANGES & THE BIG SHOW
If you thought you heard paradoxical wild-mild applause at Oscar's new rule changes that was, uh, me. The Art Direction category will now be called Production Design which is all well and good since it's the Production Designer (aka the boss) that wins the prize, not the Art Director (who reports to him/her). The Best Original Song category finally gave up its horrifically unfair voting procedures where you could sabotage competitors rather than voting for them (yuck) by scoring them with low marks and now it'll be a simpler process with a standard five nominees and ranked nomination ballots like all the other categories. I'm going to pretend that this is The Film Experience's fault for our years of bitching about how screwed up that voting process was. Oh shush. It's possible we talked some sense into them... especially since every other site seems to have been asking them to just cancel the category already. I'd rather stick with history and keep the same categories, but treat them fairly. Too bad we can't use a time machine to get Cher her rightful performance time at the 2011 ceremony.

Meanwhile, I know you've heard that Craig Zadan and Neil Meron of Chicago and Hairspray fame will produce this year's ceremony. If they're true to their roots maybe they'll rescue the newly reformed Song category with big ass production numbers? Or maybe they'll hire Hugh Jackman to host again since they'll need a song & dance man to move the High Holy Night along. Yes, Jackman hosting might get awkward if Les Miz is in the (major) running but the Tonys do that all the time (nominees as hosts). Not that we approve...

Oh and while we're on the Oscar topic, I have finished updating the charts. Just in time to alter them again when film festival season [Venice, Telluride, TIFF and NYFF comin' atcha] give us more info on the competition to come.

BARBARA (2012). Germany's new Oscar submission

The drama Barbara, from director Christian Petzold of Yella fame, will represented Germany in the Foreign Film competition. Can the drama about a doctor in trouble with the government in East Germany become their 17th nominee? Their 16th nominee last year was the 3D dance documentary Pina. Barbara stars Petzold's regular muse, the award winning actress Nina Hoss.

Ewan holds his family in the poster for THE IMPOSSIBLECHILD STARS FOR LEAD OSCARS?
Meanwhile Kris Tapley at In Contention weighed in on the somewhat suddenly buzzy tsunami family survival drama The Impossible and Summit's plan for a lead actor campaign for its 11 year old boy star Tom Holland (who plays the child of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts). With both Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Holland's camps planning lead campaigns, might it be time to reinstate the Juvenile Oscar?

Frankly, I don't much like it when children win acting prizes (I know Kris considers this objection "nonsense" but the world would be dull if we all agreed), for a variety of reasons. It's not because they aren't sometimes worthy but because they...

a) ...are usually fraudulently campaigned
b) ...often have an unfair advantage based on general cuteness (nothing wrong with voting with your heart so long as your head is allowed a word in edgewise)
c) ...accidentaly reveal Hollywood's ugly sexism since time and again the Academy has shown that they don't mind snubbing unOscared mature actresses for "thank heaven for little girls" moments but would never ever dream of giving an Oscar to a little boy when there are men who have paid their dues waiting -- don't believe me? Just look at how few little boys have won acting Oscars (i.e. never competitively) compared to little girls.
d) ...are unschooled in acting so it's hard to know how much of their performance we must credit to the director and how much they found on their own in the role.

I think the occassional juvenile Oscar for performances that are just too wonderful to ignore might be the way to go.

How are you feeling about the rule changes and the presence of child thespians in this year's race?


148 Days Til Oscar Nominations!

Do you ever marvel at the countdown clock in the lefthand sidebar and think "Wow, only ___ days until Oscar nominations!". I know I do. As of right now there are only 148 days and some hours left until Oscar nominations. 21 weeks! That means the universe has plenty of time to back me up on my current predictions or destroy them savagely. Either way is fun for me which is, I suppose, why I've never been able to quit predicting Hollywood's High Holy Night.


Best Picture & Best Director - The Great Gatsby and Baz Luhrmann exit the charts, both moving to summer 2013. And though I never had faith in Gatsby as an actual finalist (the book is too perfect as a book) what can rush in to replace it on the charts? The race is still wide open as it should be.

Gatsby will sit this particular party out. He'll throw his own next Summer

But from where I sit though I'm sure some will disagree, the franchise hopefuls are toast. A lot of people still think that The Gidling of the Lord of the Rings Lily: Part 1 of 3 will factor in but Oscar is not Emmy and LotR is not The West Wing. Fantasy is still a novelty for Oscar voters and I can't imagine that handing the last one 11 Oscars won't feel like enough of a reward for Jackson & Middle Earth. Yes, they've had a decade long breather but I figure the only way The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is competing for the top prize is if people go crazier for it than the original trilogy. And that would be an unexpected journey. 

Meanwhile I suspect that The Avengers and The Dark Knight Concludes Divisively will have a rough time making it through the wild rapids of winter campaigning and I don't expect either of them in the big show beyond a few craft nods. I don't even have faith in the eagerly awaited Django Unchained as an Oscar hopeful. Quentin Tarantino, when he leans toward retro remixes of less prestigious film genres, is just not necessarily for them (see: Jackie Brown, Kill Bill). Yes,  he leans towards that.. always... and he has made two big Oscar hits. But Pulp Fiction was the kind of pop-cultural zeitgeist breakthrough that's impossible to ignore and Inglourious Basterds was a WW II fantasy and Oscar does his own share of fantasizing about that.

All of this nitpicking doubt leads me to believe that Beasts of the Southern Wild, a movie that doesn't look much like an Oscar film (yay!), is on its way to locked up status as an Oscar film. While it didn't become the crossover hit we'd hoped it would, it's done well enough financially to ride the "beloved indie / critical darling" into the mainstream competition for gold. (Think Winter's Bone.)

Best Actor - It's been 11 years since Denzel Washington won his second Oscar and in that whole time he hasn't done anything worth Oscar's time. Will they welcome him back if Flight is a big hit?

What's Denzel's poison? And was he drinking it before the Flight?



The way I see it mainstream dramas that become big hits are shoo in for Oscar play. Oscar likes drama best and when films without genre trappings that are intended for adults soar at the box office, they join in the applause. I'm feeling it'll hit. Just a feeling.

But the big question in Best Actor is whether the Weinstein's will try to convince AMPAS voters that Joaquin Phoenix is "supporting" Phillip Seymour Hoffman (or the other way around) in The Master. If they risk a double lead campaign and the film is the critical mega-success the internet seems to be expecting, could they be the first Actor Pair since *gulp* Amadeus (twenty-eight years ago) to hog 40% of the shortlist? It's hilarious (and depressing) to view Amadeus in retrospect and know that campaign teams would try to pretend that Salieri or Mozart were "supporting" players in their own riveting brutal musical duet. 

Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress -- We discussed these last week here

Best Supporting Actor - This category hasn't come into focus yet which should make the fall extra exciting. So for the moment, you can predict just about anything (at least here) and feel like a true psychic. You can feel like a psychic right up until the moment the films open and prove you wrong! But the foggy nature of the Supporting goods me wonder if I'm not underestimating those that have already arrived and delighted (like Matthew McConaughey and Michael Fassbender) despite the lowbrow nature of their roles... at least accordingi to Oscar's general aesthetics.

Ruth E Carter, two time Oscar nominees, doing retro-chic looks for Sparkle

The latest film to enter the ring visually and aurally is the Motown musical Sparkle (my review tomorrow) and while I don't expect Oscar play anywhere stranger things have happened in the below the line categories. 

Screenplay, Animated, Foreign Film and the Complete Prediction Chart. Check them out and report back.


Oscar Watch, Israeli Edition: The Ophir Nominees

[Editor's Note: I asked our sometime correspondent in Israel, Yonatan, to bring us up to date on Israel's Oscar submission possibilities. They've been scoring nominations frequently of late. Alas my single favorite Israeli movie of all time (Late Marriage) was rejected by Oscar voters in its year - Nathaniel]

Can "Filling The Void" fill one Oscar spot in Foreign Film this year? 

Ten Israeli movies have been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category, four of them in the last five years. That list includes one indisputable landmark: Waltz with Bashir (2008) which is the first and only animated film, despite frequent submissions from all around the world, to score a nomination in this category. 

Israel's Oscar History
With links to Netflix pages -- all but one of them are available for rental!
1964 Sallah
1971 The Policeman
1972 I Love You Rosa
1973 The House on Chelouche Street (instant watch!)
1977 Operation Thunderbolt
1986 Beyond The Walls
2007 Beaufort (instant watch!)
2008 Waltz With Bashir
2009 Ajami (instant watch!)
2011 Footnote 

Still, without an Oscar win, Israel is the Peter O' Toole / Deborah Kerr of the foreign film category with the most never-winning nominations (just ahead of Poland's 9/0 record and Mexico's 8/0). After so many loses, a win seems perpetually just around the corner...

Click to read more ...


'Til Link Do Us Part

The Film Doctor usually finds interesting angles. For Hope Springs he interviewed his signifant other on the depiction of marital turmoil and therapy therein.
Final Girl this one is for you horror fans, a funny mashup of The Human Centipede with slasher icons.
The Playlist 15 new stills from P.T. Anderson's long awaited scientology drama The Master
Coming Soon Life of Pi will open the New York Film Festival and...
Awards Daily Flight will close it. (Will Robert Zemeckis and Denzel Washington and Ang Lee all be returning to Oscar's good graces?)

In Contention You've probably read Guy Lodge's Sight & Sound top ten list by now but in case you haven't it's interesting from top to bottom. Somehow I hadn't completely registered that Guy shared my love of Colorogy. So much green and red happening here!
Guardian so Jennifer Aniston is engaged and there's a whole new round of false romcom press narratives happening
NYT interesting observations on the trainwreck spectacle of online confessional blogging
AV Club Jodie Foster to direct a female-led mob drama on Showtime. Interesting... but I sure wish she'd rediscover her love of bigscreen acting instead. There are a lot of directors who are good at helming TV series. There are very few actors who can be Jodie Foster on the bigscreen.
/Film lately I actually forgot Ron Howard existed but they've reminded me that he is making a movie with Chris Hemsworth and the adorable Daniel Brühl called Rush
Film Junkie has behind the scenes photos from 12 Years a Slave 
Pajiba on 8 memorable marital fights on TV



Anne vs. Amy. Oscar Chart Updates!

If anyone can threaten the widely held assumption that Anne Hathaway will win the Supporting Actress Oscar come February for dreaming that dream in time gone by in Les Misérables, isn't it Amy Adams in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master? In the heat of August, Anne seems to have this thing sewn up. But August is August. It ain't February.  

Actress Wars 2012: Anne vs. Amy

Though we haven't seen either performance yet, it's worth noting that Oscar wars are rarely won by a stand alone acting achievement. They can be, sure, but more often than not they're fought with a fluctuating combo of deft campaign tricks, strong timing, media drum beatings, general feelings for the film that houses said performance, barely acknowledged collective memories of past triumphs and defeats, preconceived notions of what the actors in questions are capable of, and other films  -- particularly brand new ones or "snubbed" but beloved efforts -- that contribute to or detract from the "It's Her/His Time" argument.

So, let's discuss ANNE & AMY (&, yes, STREEP) with a fancy battle chart...

Click to read more ...


MIFF 2: Will "The Sessions" Make Oscar Feel Good?

[Editor's note: Glenn of Stale Popcorn fame is back to report from Melbourne Iwith a look at an Oscar hopeful that's been working the festival circuit all year - Nathaniel]

I suspect it will be easy for cynical audiences to look upon Ben Lewin’s The Sessions as merely a hurdle to get over this upcoming awards season. Yes, it’s about a man with a disability and, yes, it co-stars Helen Hunt, but the mere fact that it got made at all makes it an important film whether you consider it good or not. Given Hollywood’s fussy attitude towards sex (particularly the sex that makes us feel good), it’s strange to see so much talk about The Sessions (nee Six Sessions, nee The Surrogate) in regards to the Academy Awards. That the film is about sex and disabilities and religion, and examines it with maturity and gentle pathos, just makes Lewin’s film that much more of an anomaly worth exploring.

John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) stars as Mark O’Brien, a real life figure who lived with Polio into his 40s who has already been the subject of one Oscar-winning movie already. If the rest of the plot – O’Brien hires a “sex surrogate” to lose his virginity – elicits giggles from the viewer then that’s a-okay since the film and the man have a sense of humour. Yes, you know where it’s going, but it's so refreshing to see this topic played out openly that it’s almost hard to care.

The Sessions, for me, most resembled Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids are All Right. [more after the jump]

Click to read more ...


Singin' in the Dog Day Afternoon

As I type this I am slick with sweat and praying for rain, glorious thunderstorm born heavy-pellet rain. (In the interim I will crank up the air conditioner --f*** that gargantuan electricity bill! -- and stay inside until I'm forced to scurry off to the next movie theater.) So it strikes me as perfect that the last two episodes of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" this season are Singin' in the Rain (Wednesday night) and Dog Day Afternoon (Wednesday night August 22nd... the day of the actual events in the film!). Won't you join us?

This is the last hard sell for this series but I'm all keyed up because I'm so heartened by the response these past few weeks and I feel like I learn so much just by reading other people's takes on the same movie I'm looking at; 48 eyeballs are better than 2! 

Once Season 3 is wrapped we're entering  fall film season, Oscar's pre-season and with only 156 days to go until Oscar nominations we know that that familiar naked gold man will consume more and more of our thoughts. OSCAR CHART UPDATES COMING VERY SOON...


Yes, No, Maybe So: "The Trouble With the Curve"

Longtime Clint Eastwood collaborator Robert Lorenz (producer or first assistant director on many Clint features) rousted Clint out of the director's chair and in front of the cameras for a father/daughter baseball scouting drama The Trouble With the Curve. Or is it a comedy? Let's break down the trailer with our usual system.



  • Always up for a father/daughter drama... and Eastwood gave that relationship all sorts of interesting edges and nuances and softspots in Million Dollar Baby. Plus in the interest of selling Gran Torino 2 with all those shots of Clint "Get Off My Lawn!" Eastwood maybe we're not seeing some of the meat of the central relationship in the trailer.
  • Amy! Just saw her in Into the Woods in Central Park. She got majorly swallowed up in her wig (so big that from my bad seat I could barely notice her face) but I like that even if she might not have limitless range she is able to adapt her screen persona for drama, comedy, and musicals. That's a type of range -- the movie star type of range which is nothing to scoff at.
  • Hei John Goodman!

NO and maybe so after the jump...

Click to read more ...