Oscars

Street Fighter The Movie

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Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

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2014 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees Cartoon

After all the handwringing and concern, this year’s Oscars were reasonably even-handed. After all, the directors for Adaptation, Shame and Children of Men all got to make acceptance speeches — and they got to give them while representing incredibly strong pieces of cinema, standing alongside some stridently beloved performers. The next morning, there was a general perception that the whole program had been “fair” after a few years where the politicking (and its results) were too overt, where decent had replaced outstanding, where ossification had set in. The Academy had finally gotten it right. Whatever that means. The thing is, to think of any given stack of Oscar ballots as being wrong is both faulty and perfectly natural. We do it every year with gusto even knowing that — for all the pomp and ceremony — the Academy Awards aren’t a final or definitive word on quality. They’re one group’s opinions, but they feel like something more. Something that has the power to solidify cultural merit or spark an artistic legacy. It’s why the digital pitchforks come out for “snubs.” With that in mind, Scott Beggs, Rob Hunter and Landon Palmer got together to argue what movies should have had their names etched in Oscar history, to do a calculation on Academy accuracy — admittedly with the benefit of clear-eyed hindsight and correct opinions. That didn’t make some years easier or anything. Some bad picks were obvious, but most years led to a lot of verbal fisticuffs. Still, we managed to come out with […]

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The Royal Tenenbaums

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In Memoriam Oscars 2014

It’s a long-established fact that the annual Oscars “In Memoriam” segment will not make everyone happy – in fact, it won’t even come close to making even a majority of people happy, but damn if the Academy didn’t really try this year. We’ve already explored how one goes about making it into the segment (step one: die, step two: campaign), but even with that seemingly foolproof plan, plenty of worthy and notable talents were missing from this year’s bit. Sure, the overall look and feel of the segment was of far higher quality than it has been in years past, as nearly ever single person who was included got both a lovely still picture and a slice of accompanying video (you may remember previous years, when some faces only got a picture while others got a whole chunk of video, a choice that could be chalked up to actually available assets, but which also seemed weird and disjointed, while this year’s picture-only picks still looked good and fit with the overall structure), and the entire thing got to play without Bettle Midler tearfully scream-singing “The Wind Beneath My Wings” (which was mercifully saved until after the video played), but still there were plenty of people left off the list. Take a look at the segment after the break, and see if you can pick out its most glaring omissions.

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Whats Eating Gilbert Grape

Another year, another Oscar ceremony in the books. Once the booze wears off from Matthew McConaughey’s final “Alright, alright, alright,” of our year in film, we can get down to the really important part of the Oscars and start second-guessing the winners. Sunday night is all about rewarding actors and filmmakers for their hard work in the past year. Monday morning is reserved for the art of tearing down our sacred idols, convincing our coworkers that we always thought American Hustle was a little overrated or that Dallas Buyers Club was more than just a Philadelphia knock-off. And somewhere in the middle of all these conversations, someone will ask about Leonardo DiCaprio. When will the poor guy ever win an Oscar? Last month, Esquire ran a story on Leonardo DiCaprio titled “The Moment Leonardo DiCaprio Became a Man.” In a throwaway line intended to highlight his perpetually boyish good looks, his agent Rick Yorn refers to DiCaprio as a character actor in a leading man’s body. This intended compliment instead offers a great deal of insight into DiCaprio’s performances and why he is so often overshadowed by those around him. Including last night’s nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for four acting Academy Awards (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, WoWS) without taking home a single statue. During that same period, DiCaprio’s films have generated an additional eleven nominations for his co-stars and supporting cast, with Cate Blanchett and Christoph Waltz each walking away with the final prize.

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Hiroshima Mon Amour

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2014 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees Cartoon

A hijacking, the search for a child, a con game, an AIDS activist, a hometown reunion, a space exploration, a hunt for freedom, a genuine artificial love, and a wolf. These were the stories we told in 2013. Scratch that. These were some of the stories we told in 2013. The Oscars are an annual reminder that our focus has been reduced from hundreds of movies down to a few. It’s also a reminder that there is artistic work worth celebrating — beyond hype, beyond internal politics, beyond surface-level silliness — every year. We’re awash in it. Dozens  of titles that won’t even be name-dropped tonight. Inside and outside the ceremony’s spotlight, there are a powerful amount of brilliant films. There are so many amazing movies in existence that we don’t have enough time in a life to watch them all. That sounds slightly depressing (especially for completists), but it’s really a silver lining on top of a silver lining. It’s a non-stop parade of outstanding. Now, as we watch a few of the movies (out of a few of the movies) earn gold, it’s important to remember that the full list of stories being told reaches to the moon and back. We’ll be updating this post with the winners as they come in throughout the night. Here are the winners of the 86th Academy Awards.

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Oscar Poster 1

Whether you think of the Academy Awards as irrelevant or increasingly irrelevant, there will always be a surface-level fun to the proceedings. The gold is shiny, and beneath it there are some truly outstanding films gripping the edge of the spotlight. Like we’ve done every year, we’ve made some predictions (using tea leaves, pig entrails and, later, Pepto Bismol) about which of those outstanding films will find the spotlight’s center. Here are those shots in the dark, which will most likely be 110% accurate, collected in one place for your convenience.

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Picture

This is it. The big one. The most coveted award in Hollywood. The one only the greatest of the great win. You know the ones I mean. The Artist, The King’s Speech, Crash, Chicago, Million Dollar Baby. Classics, all of them. It reads like a list of the best films of the 2000s don’t you think? Right? Yeah? This year sees nine nominees up for Best Picture, and a whopping two thirds are films based on true stories. Perception is such that a basis in fact would be an advantage, but while playing real people helps actors win awards, only five films based on true stories have taken home Best Picture in the past two decades. I’m guessing this year will make six. As has been the case since the Academy opened this category to more than five nominees, we once again have a field of players stuffed with titles well out of their depths (sorry Nebraska), so while there are nine titles listed, there are realistically only three contenders. Keep reading for a look at all of this year’s nominees for Best Picture along with my predicted winner in red…

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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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Oscar Predictions 2014: Documentary Short

It’s a mediocre year for the Best Documentary – Short Subject category. It had been having a pretty good run, too. The Academy’s recent picks have included some remarkable little films, from simply told character profiles like Inocente and God Is the Bigger Elvis, to wise community portraits like Kings Point and Redemption, and formally intriguing works like The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom and Rabbit à la Berlin (a personal favorite). There’s a a bit of a stereotype that this category is always just an endless parade of blandly-directed films that exist only to tug at heartstrings, but it’s actually more complex than that. Unfortunately, the batch this time around has fallen short. The nominees for Best Documentary Short at the 86th Academy Awards include one decent film, two half-decent films, one mediocre film and one bad film. With that whining out of the way, here are the films and where they stand. One of them will win, after all, no matter how much we like the overall quality of the batch. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Documentary – Short Subject along with my predicted winner in red… READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Documentary

Documentaries deserve their own category, not jut in order to spotlight nonfiction films additionally but also separately, because they aren’t easily pit against narrative works. Yet while it’s fair to say it’s too difficult to weigh something like 20 Feet From Stardom or The Act of Killing against Gravity or 12 Years a Slave, it’s just as difficult to weigh this year’s nominees for Best Documentary – Feature against one another. It’s one of the few years in which every contender is an exceptional and unique work in this area of filmmaking and not two of them is alike in any way. One may be the most enjoyable of the five, another the most important. Another is the most creative with the art of documentary storytelling, and another is the most necessary at capturing history in the making, another the most moving in telling of a history already made. Let’s give them all an Oscar! Obviously that’s not possible, and so we’re left with a race that’s not easy to predict. To do so, we must look at not only how these nominees are doing with other honors and audiences leading up to the Academy Awards, but we have to consider how they might be campaigned for as well as how they’ll be voted on. I’ve tried to do my best in that regard. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Documentary – Feature along with my predicted winner in red… READ MORE AT NONFICS

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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 Ballot 2014

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Editing

Sydney Pollack once likened film editing to sculpting, and he’s (of course) right. The Invisible Art is also like having a 10,000-piece puzzle to solve without knowing exactly what the final image is supposed to look like. You’re creating the puzzle while solving it. It’s a remarkable skill that blends technical prowess with creative ability and gut-level instinct. This year, the Oscar nominees in this field were able to successfully submerge us into the world of antebellum slavery, 1970s swagger, modern-day violence, 1980s epidemic rebellion and futuristic-feeling isolation. Read on to learn more about the nominees with my predicted winner in red…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Visual Effects

The horse race! The great question! The draw of history! Is there anything more exciting than the uncertainty of not knowing who will take home gold on Oscars’ big night? Of course there is. Lots of things are more exciting, and there’s no uncertainty here because Gravity is going to win the crap out of this award. So instead, let’s talk briefly about magic. Because that’s what visual effects are. Ever since the first days when a train scared people by pulling into the station, film itself was magic. The idea that you can capture the world around you and preserve it on a chemical strip has an air of sorcery to it, as it should, but we’ve had a century to get used to the mechanism, so visual effects have taken on the hefty mantle of casting spells. Like making us believe we’re in space, or fighting a dragon, or fighting an exploding foe, or fist-fighting on top of a train, or returning to space. Here’s a look at all five nominees with behind-the-scenes VFX videos to make up for my totally unsurprising predicted winner (which is in red)…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Foreign Film

Best Foreign Language Film remains one of the tougher categories to predict well in advance, but the last few years have seen the race narrow in the final weeks to reveal an obvious winner. In a Better World, A Separation, and last year’s Amour were all easily identified winners before the Oscar telecast. This year appears to be no different. The nominees come from a fairly respectable spread of countries including Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Italy, and Palestine. Cambodia’s submission is only their third ever and their first to receive a nomination, and just as notable is the fact that the film is a documentary. Hopefully they’re happy with the footnotes, though, as they won’t be taking home the gold on Oscar night. Keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film along with my predicted winner in red…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Production Design

When pundits begin to go on about the look of a film, most often the person they name drop is the director, or maybe the cinematographer. But one should never overlook the importance of the production designer. They’re probably the most hands-on when it comes to dealing with the collaboration of all the costumes, hair, and makeup, dressing locations and building sets, finding or fabricating props, and basically ensuring that everything you see on the screen fits into a unified vision of how the movie is supposed to look. One might even say that these are the people who create the worlds that movies exist in. Because of that, the further away a film can get, visually, from our everyday reality, the more likely it is to be recognized for its production design come awards season. It’s much easier to notice the work that went into creating a fantasy world or bringing back a lost era than it is to notice the work that went into making Vancouver look like New York, after all. In keeping with that trend, this year the Academy has chosen for the category’s nominees a movie that takes place in the swinging 70s, a movie that takes place in the vacuum of space, a movie that takes place in the roaring 20s, a movie that takes place in a future version of LA, and one that takes place in the plantation-era of the southern United States. Nothing from either the here or the now. Here’s […]

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Sandra Bullock in

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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