Academy Awards

Oscar Nominees Infographic

In all the hubbub leading up to the Academy Awards, it’s easy to forget that the annual awards ceremony is meant to be fun — at least for the people sitting at home and gleefully filling out ballots and downing designer popcorn, we suspect it’s an entirely different story for those sitting in the audience, waiting to hear their names called (or, as it more often the case, not called). Since we’re willing to be that the vast majority of our readership will not be hitting Hollywood this Sunday to potentially pick up a little golden man (and, please, correct us if we’re wrong), now seems like as good at time as any to indulge in some pre-Oscars fun. You know what that means. Infographics. Not just any infographics, however, but some of the very best of the season, the kind that are visually appealing and packed with nifty facts, from tricky depictions of Best Picture winners, swanky takes on award-winning gowns, a new theory about Jennifer Lawrence, and even a clean-lined take on some of Hollywood’s worst diversity missteps. Fun!

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Oscars

No matter how boisterous and feel-good an Academy Awards show can be (and, given that the Oscars pour out significantly less booze during the show than other big time events like, say, the Golden Globes, things don’t often get too boisterous, but just boisterous enough, classy boisterous), one portion of the telecast is always guaranteed to bring the audience, both there and at home, to some serious sniffles. The “In Memoriam” segment is always a must-watch portion of the show, even if its biggest draw isn’t always a desire to honor the deceased talents of Hollywood, it’s to see who leads off and ends the piece, who was left off, and who you totally forgot passed away this year. But how does one actually land on the list? Not surprisingly, it involves a paper trail, voting, and plenty of hurt feelings.

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Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014

Everyone hates that one person at the Oscar party who’s seen absolutely every movie that’s been nominated and who goes to great lengths to make sure everyone else hears their opinions on each one, just to let them know that they’re only rooting for their favorites out of a place of ignorance and to shame them for basically being Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday movie watchers. Unless, of course, you are that person. Then there’s no greater thrill than lording your superior knowledge over the riffraff who just showed up to drink wine and hover over the cheese platter. As far as Oscar parties go, the only thing better than being the person who’s seen more of the nominees than anyone else is being the person who gets sat next to the cheese. Seeing as it would probably be in our best interests to keep our dignity and not become known as the most desperate snack-snatcher come this Sunday, being the smarmiest smarty-pants should be the goal we shoot for. Given our strategy, the biggest hurdle we’re going to need to get over when it comes to having a complete knowledge of what deserves to be praised and what deserves to be shamed come awards time is obviously the short films. Let’s be honest here, nobody is ever able to get around to all of the shorts by the time the ceremony happens. That could all change today though, because now there’s a way you can binge watch them all […]

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Oscars

The Golden Globes are not like the Academy Awards (and don’t let anyone ever tell you as such, even if they are holding both a pair of Louboutins and a dirty martini and seem very convincing). While the Globes come to us care of “Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” a voting body made up of, well, members of the foreign press who like to shower their nominees with a boozy dinner (and apparently just a lot of small boxes of Godiva chocolates), the Oscars are put together by a giant body of Academy members that include professionals across the industry who refuse to provide even a plate of whatever to their honorees and guests. The Globes also honor television (even if its talents are stuck in the back of a ballroom that seems to be crammed beyond all comprehension with far too many tables and far too few paths to the stage), while the Oscars are pure cinema. With the Globes concerned with two different mediums, there’s no room for awards for technical stuff like cinematography or costume design, and the Oscars relish that sort of stuff. There’s also the elephant in the room – the Oscars are the Hollywood awards ceremony, the Golden Globes are the other (more boozy!) Hollywood awards ceremony. Being a Golden Globe winner in no way guarantees that you will be an Oscar winner.

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The Plague Dogs

The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was penciled into the program starting with the 74th installment covering 2001’s releases, and the award went to Shrek. There were only two other nominees that year, Monsters, Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and yeah, one of those things is not like the others. Most folks would be forgiven for thinking only U.S. productions are eligible, but that’s not the case. Of course, in the twelve years since its inception only seven foreign language films have been nominated with only one going on to win the award (Japan’s Spirited Away). This isn’t exactly surprising, and while a lack of Academy awareness when it comes to foreign animation is the biggest culprit, the power of a homegrown juggernaut can’t be discounted. Pixar has won the award in seven of the last ten years culminating in last year’s win for Brave, and in fact the only time they were nominated and lost was for 2006’s Cars. This surprised no one. That statistic may be about to change this year as the list of the nineteen films submitted for the Oscar has been released, and Monsters University is facing some stiff competition… mostly from outside the United States. Here are the submitted movies in alphabetical order:

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header How to Win an Oscar

Winning a Best Actor or Actress Oscar can be a boon for your career, and while most performers will publicly pretend that they’d be happy enough just to be nominated none of them would turn down the honor if an Academy Award came their way. (Unless you’re George C. Scott or Marlon Brando of course.) Unlike Pac-Man and the Grammys though, there’s no sure-fire path to victory in the Oscar race. Except according to the fine folks over at Delayed Gratification, there actually is a very specific formula to help ensure the odds will be in your favor. And no, being good at archery is not part of it. Apparently there are a few key factors common across a large percentage of past Oscar winners in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. Common wisdom says playing a real person or someone with mental illness or an addiction increases your chances, but less than one in six winners actually fit those characteristics. Instead, the odds are greatest when playing a fictional character in the United States who neither fornicates nor dies onscreen. (This explains why no actress has ever won for a performance in a Friday the 13th film.) Those attributes apply to male and female characters, but interestingly, the sexes split when it comes to profession and time period. Men win more when playing soldiers or lawmen and are in contemporary times, while women win more playing performers most likely in the relatively recent past. Check out the full […]

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Oscars Zizek

When Seth MacFarlane, creator of The Cleveland Show and director of the “Pitch” segment of Movie 43, had to bow out of his Oscar-hosting duties at the last minute as a result of a mild case of whooping cough, ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences raised eyebrows when they chose Slovenian philosopher Slovoj Zizek at the last minute to sub in as host of the annual ceremony regularly watched by over 40 million Americans. While an obscure name in most American households and an unlikely choice to emcee the 85th Annual Academy Awards, Zizek is a celebrity in academic circles known for his provocative critiques of Marx and Lacan as well as his prolific production of monographs including Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism, and The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. The typically abstruse scholar turned out to be one of the most entertaining and downright stressful hosts the Oscars have featured in decades, besting recent standard-bearers like James Franco and Paul Hogan. Zizek avoided typical decorum as he strutted out on the stage to tepid applause, wearing a baggy pair of jeans and a brown T-shirt with a discernible ring of sweat under the neckline. It wouldn’t be until the closing song and dance number with Kristin Chenoweth that he deigned to put on a tux.

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate movie fans who are also ready to rock the red carpet. For your consideration, Episode #11:

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2013 Nominees

The masterminds behind the Academy Awards are not simply content with making all their nominees sit together in one room during their actual ceremony, they also like to gather them for an annual Nominees Luncheon a few weeks before the big dance, apparently just to get them all to pose like some massive graduating class (with risers and everything!). How totally fun and supremely awkward, especially when you consider the odds of how many eventual winners are crammed in alongside other talents who will soon have to talk about how “it’s such an honor just to be nominated.” Feel free to click on the picture for a larger version so that you can properly scrutinize the faces and outfits of all the nominees (for instance, Robert De Niro appears to be going for the Tommy Lee Jones look, Anne Hathaway is sporting the brightest smile, and the color of Jacki Weaver‘s dress is fantastic). It’s basically Where’s Waldo? with Oscar nominees. The Academy Awards will air on Sunday, February 24th. [via Cinema Blend]

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Django Unchained Sam Jackson

After I saw Django Unchained for the first time, I jokingly tweeted that it was going to be funny when a bunch of white people get nominated for Academy Awards for this movie about slavery. Then the Academy Award nominations came out, and it became less of a joke and more an eerily accurate prediction. I’m not telling you that to give you the impression that my twitter feed is magical or that following me will make your life immeasurably better (even though it is, and it will), just to remind you that the Oscars aren’t really about the best or most important movies, performances, or artistic accomplishments, which is why when you look at a history of the winners you’ll see a curious absence of classics like Die Hard or Star Wars, and an overabundance of moviesthatsuck. Because instead of telling us what movies were the best, the Oscars tell us what movies made the Academy feel the most warm and safe.  Nowhere is this more apparent than when looking at how the Academy treats movies about slavery. They don’t want a smart, artistic analysis that properly explores the darker aspects of the fact that the United States contributed to a centuries-long genocide. They want movies that gloss over the pain and suffering. At best, they want movies that cut right to the part where white people get forgiven. Which is why we see the following trend in this brief list of every movie to deal directly with slavery […]

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ted_02037204

Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 

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Kathryn Bigelow Oscar

Editor’s Note: We’ll be updating this in real-time as the nominees are announced. Make sure to refresh for the complete list. Will killing Osama Bin Laden mean more Oscar gold for Kathryn Bigelow? Was taking on Scientology Definitely Not Scientology enough for the Academy to recognize Paul Thomas Anderson this year? Does Oogieloves have a shot at all? These are the questions that Awards Season devotees have swirling around inside their heads, but with Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane announcing the nominees in the wee hours this morning…all of those questions still haven’t been definitively answered. Except the Oogieloves one. Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2013 Oscar nominees:

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As is their wont, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the fifteen documentary titles that round out their shortlist for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The newly-announced titles will now “advance in the voting process” in order to whittle the list down to the requisite five final nominees. In short terms, one of the fifteen films listed below is an Oscar winner in the making. Exciting! Still more exciting? Looks like our own Chris Campbell’s hypothesis that Searching for Sugar Man is a guaranteed lock for a nomination is inching ever-closer to fruition. Victory! The fifteen titles that make up the shortlist are as follows (listed alphabetically, per the Academy): Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Bully, Chasing Ice, Detropia, Ethel, 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, The House I Live In, How to Survive a Plague, The Imposter, The Invisible War, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Searching for Sugar Man, This Is Not a Film, and The Waiting Room.

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Ben Affleck

We’re entering Awards Season, folks. For most of you, that usually means seeing your favorite films of the year lose to what you’d consider the “lesser” Weinstein picture. It’s always very frustrating, but one of those movies you may be cheering on — and has Oscar nominations written all over it — is Ben Affleck‘s Argo. The movie is a shoe-in for both the heavy hitter nods and countless spots on year-end top 10 lists. To GQ, this makes Affleck the director of the year, considering how he went from “loathed, frat boy Ben Affleck” to “esteemed filmmaker Ben Affleck.” It’s a transformation, for sure, and one to be proud of, but does continuing an epic comeback we all knew about really make him filmmaker of the year for 2012? Affleck proved himself as the director of the year in 2010 with The Town. That doesn’t mean he made the best movie of that year — and he certainly didn’t — but it was a big statement for Affleck the filmmaker. He proved Gone Baby Gone was no fluke — that he was the real deal. Although Argo is the best of these three films, it doesn’t say as much about his directorial career as his first two features do.

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One of the most difficult Oscar categories for pundits (let alone regular folk) to predict is the one for feature documentary. And this year more than ever it’s going to be hard to pick the five nominees, because changes to the rules of qualification and voting have given the race an extra element of complication: there is no precedent for how things turn out with this particular selection process in place. In a way, it’s a wide-open field with no certainty that higher-grossing films or more issue-oriented titles or discernibly cinematic works have the greater chance at a nod. Some expected the number of contenders to be cut in half as a result of the new rules; instead it grew, much to the chagrin of branch leader Michael Moore. And until the annual shortlist narrows them down to 15, we have 130 eligible films to choose from. But most of those docs aren’t plausible nominees. Many of the kind that Moore gets upset about for paying for a screen rental to qualify aren’t likely to go all the way. So they qualified. Now they have to be good and popular enough for people to notice.

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Silver Linings Playbook

In a word – no. Over the weekend, the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped up and, like the end of all good things, the festival closed out with the bestowing of awards to various films. Winners included Artifact, Seven Psychopaths, Laurence Anyways, Keep a Modest Head, Antiviral, Blackbird, Call Girl, In the House, and the big winner – David O. Russell‘s Silver Linings Playbook. The Bradley Cooper- and Jennifer Lawrence-starring film won the BlackBerry People’s Choice Award, which is generally considered to be TIFF’s most important award and an indication of a film’s chances at a Best Picture nomination come Oscar time. As Wikipedia tells it, “Given that the festival lacks a jury and is non-competitive, regular awards handed out at other festivals for categories such as ‘Best Actress’ or ‘Best Film’ do not exist at the Toronto International Film Festival. The major prize, the People’s Choice Award, is given to a feature-length film with the highest ratings as voted by the festival-going populace.” Plenty of stories on the film’s win have noted that this all but guarantees that Silver Linings will end up with Oscar nominations, particularly a Best Picture nod. And why is that? Over the past five years, two People’s Choice winners have gone on to win Best Picture (The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire) and one film picked up a nomination in the same category (Precious). Good odds, right? Well, maybe not so much.

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Directors and writers aren’t the only one with viewpoints on filmmaking, so we’re starting at the beginning and the bottom as two production assistants give us their stories and share their insights into starting out in Hollywood. Plus, Fat Guy Kevin Carr joins us to play Good News/Bad News and deliver his own TED Talk. Download This Episode

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Boiling Point

The 84th Academy Awards have come and gone: let the bitching begin! As someone who is more of a genre fan than anything, I’ve never really cared too much about the Oscars, but that sure as hell doesn’t prevent me from complaining about them. Granted, over the years, some great films have won. I’m a big fan of Unforgiven and I dug Shakespeare In Love. I just think far too many good films are ignored in favor of “Oscar movies.” I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with any of the films nominated this year, but there were a few categories were I feel like the little golden man statue when to the wrong film. Luckily, the internet exists and I can complain about it!

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The Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars never agree. Well, almost never. In 28 years of co-existing, the two organizations have only agreed once before – on Oliver Stone’s Platoon back in 1986. It’s not surprising since the Spirit Awards focus on celebrating a particular method of filmmaking that is often overlooked by the red-carpet-ready Academy Awards, but if both honor prestige movies, it seems at least likely they’d agree from time to time, right? They didn’t until last night. The more-than-two-decades-long drought was finally broken when The Artist took home Best Picture less than a week after bringing home the top Spirit prize. It became the first movie since 1986 to win both the Oscar and the Indie Spirit Award. One was in an ornate theater, the other was in a tent on the beach, but the implication is clear: independent movies are breaking more and more into the mainstream.

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In a couple of hours, we’ll start live-blogging our little hearts out as Neil pretends to know what “chiffon” is, and after the red carpet, we’ll sink into that fifth drink while reveling in the sheer majesty of the 2012 Academy Awards. Stifling cynicism can take a taxi outta town for a while, because no matter what, if you want to see it, there’s still something magical about this night. Part of that magic is being completely wrong. We’re confident now, but when the winners are announced, there’s always the tiny possibility of a big surprise. So who did you put down in your office pool to take home gold tonight? Our team spent all week tossing out their best analyses, and it all comes down to this. Here’s who we picked. Would you take us up on these bets?

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published: 11.26.2014
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