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Podcast - 1996 Cannes Competition Revisit

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Entries in Punditry (30)

Monday
May022016

Which actors will Oscar celebrate this year?

We've discussed Best Actress and the overall April Foolish Predictions so let's talk Best Actor & Supporting Actor

First, we have to wonder what it will take to get Tom Hanks back in Oscar's shortlist. His last two acclaimed hits have wound up with Best Supporting Actor & Best Picture nominations but Hanks was passed over in both cases. If the same thing happens with Aaron Eckhart in the co-pilot seat of Sully, the famous story of the pilot who successfully crash landed a plane on the Hudson, we'll have a bonafide trend and not just a coincidence. That's what I'm currently predicting though of course it's all fun and games now before we see the films. And before we even know about several competitors as the year doesn't really get going until the fall according to Oscar voters.

The pressure is off Birth of a Nation... at least a little bit. Several films with actors of color look promising this year, so it needn't be the sole standard bearerIn other acting category predictions, I feel confident in saying that we'll see the end of the dread #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Or, rather, the issue will persist (Hollywood having white male imbalance problems) but it will take a different shape, less focused on the Oscar's acting branch which was an easy but unfortunate scapegoat of a much larger Hollywood problem. The Acting branch has always been the most inclusive and diverse of any Oscar branch but the uproar and embarrassing photo ops of the past two years -- as well as, yes, too-defensive quotes from some famous actors themselves -- have convinced the public otherwise. With more racially diverse dramas being released this year (Fences, Birth of a Nation, A United Kingdom, Loving, Lion and possibly more)  it should be an easy fix; AMPAS members can only vote for films and performances that are eligible. My sincere hope is that we see a few Latino or Asian nominees in the mix soon so we can move past this idea that racial identity and diversity are binaries. But first people will have to start actually casting Latin and Asian actors in movies. Wouldn't that be nice. It's especially rough for Asian actors since they nearly always change their characters to white characters between source material and production.

[Tangent for Hard Core Fans: Despite the difficulty of predicting a full slate of nominees this far in advance I don't actually do a poor job of it. Even in the below the line craft lineups I tend to score two of five before we've seen any films. This sounds easy but I assure you it's not. Try it one year in April and save your list with no changes ever each time you hear news or release date shifts thereafter and see how many remain at the end of the year. Best Actor remains my best category in terms of flying that blind. In 2013 and 2015 I correctly guessed 4 of the 5 nominees this early which is really something. And in 2001 and 2008 the scores would have also been that incredible but for the business of men being nominated the next year instead. - Nathaniel]

Sunday
Mar062016

Podcast Season Finale: 88th Oscars

NathanielNick, Joe and Katey close this season of the podcast with their final "it's all sunk in now" feelings

42 minutes 
00:01 "So Spotlight won..."
02:15 Katey's Party / Nick's House Rules 
05:25 Stallone's Loss / Compton Moviegoing
09:30 How much changes if Idris Elba had been nominated?
15:00 Sam Smith, The Gays, and Original Song
20:00 What wins will age well and much randomness
37:54 That moment when we thought George Miller was possible...
40:00 Girl Scout Cookies and Goodbyes

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Related Reading: Index of Oscar Ceremony Coverage

Oscar Wrap Up

Friday
Feb262016

Final Oscar Predictions. Here We Go...

Thanks for reading all year, dear Oscar freaks.  I originally published these predictions in my column at Towleroad but the write-ups are expanded here with more details since y'all are movie freaks and I love you for it. Here we go...

From silly rumors of a bear “raping” Leonardo DiCaprio, to the critical fervor for a fourth film in a Mad and previously non-prestigious action franchise, to obviously gathering but non-impactful support of our years long anti category fraud crusade, to the internet rage and ongoing controversy over #OscarsSoWhite this has been an eventful and often surprising awards season. Will Oscar night continue that trend or feel like an anticlimax? Whichever way it goes, it all comes to an end this Sunday night on ABC when the 88th Academy Awards unspool.

The following predictions can be used to inform your Oscar party or office Oscar pool but fair warning: even seasoned Oscar pundits like myself and other Gurus and Experts are confused this year about some categories. As early as last week, for example, I had planned to start this article with an obnoxiously cute bit about the surest prediction being that the producers would try desperately to pretend that Hollywood was very diverse on Oscar night. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. They went and made another anti-diversity blunder, axing performances of two of the Original Song nominees, the two that happen to be sung by a famous Asian soprano and a trans woman. Can we have a round of applause please for Anohni (better known as Antony Hegarty) who has published a must-read personal essay about the insulting behavior of the Academy in regards to her nomination for Best Original Song.

Sigh. It’s like The Academy can’t help themselves!?! They just dig themselves deeper every time. Yet we can’t help ourselves either and continue obsessing over that 13½ inch naked gold man. Let’s look at all 24 categories after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan162016

Best Picture Chart Fun: Rankings, Nomination Formulas, Stats, Etc...

We love who what we love. And one of the things we love is Stats. And Charts! Oh god do we ever    charts. Why don't you marry them then? Okay. I will. Call city hall. I'll throw a veil over my laptop for the big day.

The new charts are now walking down their virtual aisles to you. First up Best Picture. If you smoosh them all together you have a 131 minute violent R rated drama in which a captive mother tells her son the fantastical story of a grizzly fur trapper and a lovely Irish lass who attempt to survive on a harsh inhospitable planet called Mars where a raving band of warboys pursues them relentlessly... but we never hear how the story ends because suddenly a  lawyer negtotiates the mom & son's release and a crack team of Boston journalists swoops in to investigate just what the hell happened and why no one knew about this story until now. 

But that's just a synopsis.

Click to the chart to see how these movies got nominated, how would we rank or compare them and trivia. It was fun working the angles on this charts so please take a look and consider your own rankings in the comments. 

Housekeeping Note: You'll notice the reader poll is no longer part of the Oscar charts. Since we lost our favorite poll site Twiigs... we have yet to find a suitable easy to access poll site that works well for embedding without interrupting the site in question or being ugly or forcing you to leave the site (you'll notice their fun absence on other former poll loving sites like Fug Girls - why is it so hard to find a good poll site?). But I'll keep an eye out and hope some new service emerges. 

Thursday
Jan142016

Prediction Stats & Well Wishing

Focus, Nathaniel, focus. So many posts are in embryonic stages of writing so be patient. This day is so demanding but we love it. It's our Christmas (Oscar Night being our New Year's Eve). True, The Academy always delivers a few ungodly lumps of coal (like ignoring Carol in Best Picture) but you take the bad with the good or you go insane. 

First we should begin by saying "Congratulations!" to all the nominees. In the next 48 hours we'll talk about our favorite choices the Academy made, wonder about the headscratchers, say a symbolic farewell to our beloved but snubbed, and cover trivia and such.  If you missed recent interviews with some of the nominees now would be a great time to catch up with them and comment away: Jack Fisk (Production Design, The Revenant), Jacqueline West (Costume Design, The Revenant), Phyllis Nagy (Screenplay, Carol), László Nemes (Foreign Film, Son of Saul), Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Foreign Film, Mustang). More Oscar Nominee interviews are coming soon including Alicia Vikander, Sandy Powell, Chivo, and a little Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As for how I did on my predictions? I scored 79% accuracy in the big eight categories but a 74% overall. Not shabby but not great either in one of the more difficult years I've experienced as a pundit. You can see the breakdown on the nomination index page (nailed Actor and Sound Editing, biffed big time on Song & Production Design) or on this blow by blow account. 

Did the morning turn out as you'd predicted?
One things for sure: If you were betting against The Revenant you were viciously mauled by The Academy. They went for it in nearly every category they could save Best Supporting Actress where they passed on Judy the bear.  I'll confess: though I admire much of the craftwork, it's  already my great borennoyance of the season, just grunting and bleeding and sufferring and suffocatingly obssessed with its own masculinity.

Wednesday
Jan132016

Final Oscar Predictions. What We Got Wrong.... (And Right...?)

UPDATED TO REFLECT ACTUAL OSCAR NOMINATION RESULTS

This post will self destruct in 5...4...3...

With Oscar nominations hitting us first thing in the morning, we'll be frantically updating the Oscar charts to reflect the official history book decisions from our beloved/hated AMPAS and you can look back at this madness and point and laugh. The title of the post is even preemptively self-mocking because the punditry business is tough tough tough in this volatile year. Without further ado here are the predictions we made at the last minute and we'll update later when we know how wrong we were.

PICTURE 
Predictions (9): (locks) Spotlight, The Martian, The Revenant, The Big Short, (probably safe) Mad Max Fury Road, Bridge of Spies, (iffy) Carol, Straight Outta Compton, Room
Alternates (3):  Inside Out, Sicario, Brooklyn

Results: I scored 7/8 here missing Brooklyn where I had Carol... though curiously Carol did far better in the nomination tallies. Straight Outta Compton was probably just outside with Inside Out and Sicario since it managed a screenplay nod.

DIRECTOR
Predictions: Scott (The Martian), Inarittu (Revenant), Miller (Mad Max Fury Road), McCarthy (Spotlight), McKay (Big Short) 
Alternates: Haynes (Carol), Villeneuve (Sicario), Abrahamson (Room) 

Results: 4/5 I assumed Ridley Scott was the strongest lock for direction -- as I think most people did but he was the one shut out. Lenny Abrahamson took his place reminding us again that the DGA nods almost always feature one man who's going to be replaced when Oscar chimes in.

more...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan132016

Who will be nominated for Best Picture? Our Final Predictions.

The wisest thing to do in Oscar prediction in most years is a holistic approach. Start with Best Picture and let everything flow outward from that. Many technical or acting nominations throughout Oscar history are headscratchers unless you notice that their housing film was up for the big prize. People love what they love and they love blindly. Or, well, that's not right. That's... ungenerous. I don't think anyone is willfully myopic  -- which is why diversity in Academy membership is so important -- it's just that we all have our limitations and our fields of vision can be narrowed by any number of things including time spent looking at options.

If there were still only five. Oscar.... so manly!

For my own awards -- which statistically always include more movies than Oscars field each year -- this is probably because I see more movies and I probably fuss over my ballot more than 90% of Academy voters. They're inside the raging storm (and as some of them have told me over the years they either see movies very early before they're out in the world or well after the fact depending on their connection to the filmmakers studios and demands of current projects) while we're outside the storm looking at it and able to consider it from more vantage points. Of course that always brings the danger of overthinking it, the #1 easiest trap for pundits. "Guilty!" I shout, knowing myself

How many of these pictures will also be nominated? Last year we had 8 nominees in total.

Best Picture is unusually competitive this year and it's been a  clogged up mess. The sudden lurching away from critical darlings  Carol & Mad Mad Fury Road -- no secret at all that they're my two favorite films of the year -- that some pundits were predicting to lead the nomination tallies as recently as a week or two ago, toward more traditional Oscar Bait like The Revenant and The Big Short (read: heavily masculine, more traditional in form and message) has been a bit disheartening. I go on about this and the gender bias of Best Picture in my intermittent column at Towleroad. I am hopeful that Carol will be nominated still but it's no sure thing. I expect Carol and Room and Brooklyn are in the same 'could go either way' boat .. and together with longer shots Sicario and Inside Out -- well it's hard to miss that these are all extremely well reviewed films with female leads. So why are none of them sure things? Oscar might me walking into an #OscarsSoMale situation tomorrow morning. But we'll cross our fingers and hope voters realized during balloting that women are 50% of the human race and their stories aren't any less important and when they're told so gorgeously it'd be a real shame to pass them over. 

UPDATED CHARTS: PICTURE | DIRECTOR | ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTORALL SOUND CATEGORIES