Oscars

Oscar 2013 Mid-Year

What kind of movies get released in January? In the summer? From November through December? Exactly. We know the cycle so well that a movie with only half a dozen explosions in June is considered counter-programming while Fall films are actively baiting golden statues and podiums. We know it so well that people predict the following year’s Oscars the day after the Oscars. We know it so well that the ceremony “shaking things up” has become the status quo. So I wondered what would happen if they truly shook things up by holding the Oscars in July. A kind of mid-year awards ceremony where The Weinstein Company hasn’t even brought out its heaviest hitters yet. This alternative universe isn’t necessarily about what movies are the best — because the Oscars almost never are. It’s about finding the close enough blend of prestige and popularity from the first half of the year, but make no mistake, it would still result in a wildly different list of nominees.

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Life of Pi Tank

Dear Mr. Lee, When asked about the bankruptcy of Rhythm + Hues, the visual effects house largely responsible for making your film Life of Pi as incredible as it was, you said: “I would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s very tough. It’s very hard for them to make money. The research and development is so expensive; that is a big burden for every house. They all have good times and hard times, and in the tough times, some may not [survive].” I just want to point out that while, yes R&D can be expensive and yes it takes a lot of technology and computing power to create films like yours, it is not computer chips and hard drives that are costing you so very much money. It is the artists that are helping you create your film.

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Oscar2013Winners

Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our full Oscar coverage, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Winners will be bolded. Will it be Argo? Or Lincoln? Or will Resident Evil: Retribution have launched a furious write-in campaign that puts it up on the podium? These are the questions that exactly no one is asking because anyone who’s reading this post has already scrolled beyond this to check out who won. We get it, and we don’t take it personally. But here’s something fun to remember tonight and heading into tomorrow: there have now been 85 Oscar winning Best Pictures, but there are far more than 85 iconic movies. This is a shining awards show with an undeniable power to propel films into the cultural conversation, but it’s only one avenue to do so. Granted, it’s got a pretty solid track record (Driving Miss Daisy notwithstanding), but these names tonight are more about celebrating excellent work than choosing movies that will echo for eternity. And the Oscar goes to…:

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Tux PJs

An honest question: would you rather scroll through a bunch of Oscar experts’ probably practiced thoughts during the 85th Academy Awards, or would you rather share your opinions while carousing alongside the whisky-stabalized Reject crew? Exactly. But you’re already here, so why not stay a while? This year, we’ll be getting comfortable in formal pajamas, propping up a pillow fort and collectively sharing our shock when Anne Hathaway rips off her mask and reveals that she’s been Meryl Streep all along. Obviously we’ll have our usually brand of snarky profound insights, trivia and interactive polls, but this year you won’t be required to put on pants. Enjoy!

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Emilio Fernandez

Every year, dozens of people wrap their hands around Emilio Fernandez‘s torso and hoist him high into the air while thanking their supporters. Usually, they’re played off the stage by a swelling orchestra, but they still get to take Fernandez home. Fortunately for everyone involved, he comes in portable size that you can keep easily on your shelf because Emilio Fernandez is the Oscar. Or, rather, the Oscar statue is Emilio Fernandez. As the story goes, he was a good friend of actress Dolores Del Rio who introduced Fernandez to her future husband, Cedric Gibbons in 1928. Gibbons was an art director at MGM, an original academy member and the man who supervised the design of the trophy that would go on to become an international icon. All he had to do was convince Fernandez to pose nude, and AMPAS had their statue. But Fernandez was more than just the body that would become Oscar. He was an accomplished actor, director and writer who worked nearly six decades making movies right up until the year he died.

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Oscars Death Race Explosion

Well, here we are. Awards season is almost over and the Oscars await us on Sunday night. What’s left to say? After months of campaigning, precursor awards and general flustering, what have we learned? The focus now is on the last unknowns of the race heading into the big night. Some of the winners are already obvious, while others remain subjects of much debate and anxiety among Oscar prognosticators. Daniel Day-Lewis is a shoo-in for Best Actor, but what about Best Cinematography? The suspense is killing all of us. However, I won’t go into that here. The Film School Rejects team has spent the last week running through the categories in great detail, and there’s really nothing I can add. Check out the tip-top analysis here. What I can address is the overall character of the awards season. I can do this because as of late Wednesday night, I have completed what is known as the “Oscars Death Race.”

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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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Ben Affleck Globes

With painted-on Tuxedos and a foolish bet about who can accurately predict more Oscar winners, we set out to discuss the Academy Awards with the lucky benefit of hindsight. We’ll be borrowing expertise from Guy Lodge of HitFix’s In Contention blog for a look into how this year shapes up (and what the future may bring). Plus, one of us is going to be drunkenly reciting the opening monologue from Patton next week. It all comes down to who wins for Best Achievement in Costume Design. Download Episode #7

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Olly Moss Oscar Poster 2013

For 85 years, the Oscar statue has been the symbol of the ceremony, evolving into a mythic icon with its own storied history. Now master artist Olly Moss has transformed that perfectly postured, bald man into a sexy hitchhiker, a southern belle, a skull-carrying Danish prince, a pudgy butcher, a chariot racer, a Shark (or a Jet?), a chauffeur, a little girl in a red dress, a king of the world, a bomb disposal technician and 75 other figures from Best Picture winners. It’s also a fun game to see if you can spot all the winners and the characters he’s chosen to represent each. My personal favorites include the statues for The Godfather, The Deer Hunter, Casablanca and American Beauty, but there’s a kind of brilliance in what he did for the Oscar winner of 2001. Check out the hi-res poster over at Moss’ website and play along.

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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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Oscar Live-Action Shorts 2013

Short films are an easily misunderstood art form. At the Oscars, celebrity introductions of the short film nominees and winners often justify the importance of the category by citing shorts as a platform for future feature-filmmaking. But the elements that make up a great short are hardly the same as those that make for a great feature. Here at FSR, we’ve made something of a habit of looking at short films on their own merits, as works of cinema with their own unique possibilities. The short film category at the Oscars is typically a rushed-through affair so that the broadcast can proceed to more ratings-friendly moments. But the Academy Award-nominated short films make for some of the strongest categories of the event: all the nominees are, most often, very good. Here’s my take on the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film.

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2013 Oscar Animated Shorts

Short films are an easily misunderstood art form. At the Oscars, celebrity introductions of the short film nominees and winners often justify the importance of the category by citing shorts as a platform for future feature-length filmmaking. But the elements that make up a great short are hardly the same as those that make for a great feature. Here at FSR, we’ve made something of a habit of looking at short films on their own merits, as relatively brief works of storytelling with their own unique possibilities. The short film category at the Oscars is typically a rushed-through affair so that the broadcast can proceed to more ratings-friendly moments. But the Academy Award-nominated short films make for some of the strongest categories of the event; all the nominees are, most often, very good. It’s also a level playing field. In the shorts categories, studio properties can compete with self-funded passion projects and film school theses. Since they’re out in a handful of theaters today, here’s my take on the Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Short Film.

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How to Survive a Plague

If you want to sell a movie script, you’ve got to get in the room. But what do you do once you get there? Geoff answers a listener question by explaining what you need to do when prepping a pitch and presenting it to producers (all of whom are throwing knives at you as you speak). Plus, we kick off Oscar Month, celebrating the 99th anniversary of Oscar royalty Charlie Chaplin‘s appearance in film, and Scott engages in an insightful discussion with How to Survive a Plague director David France about his Academy Award-nominated AIDS documentary. Download Episode #4

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Dooley Wilson in Casablanca

A few weeks back, Matthew Perpetua of Buzzfeed wrote a post arguing that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should consider an award for “Best Use of an Old Song,” citing the memorable instances of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” in Silver Linings Playbook and Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” in Moonrise Kingdom as possible contenders in this imaginary category. I could not agree more. It’s been a long time since a Best Original Song or Best Original Score winner made a major cultural impact, and the Music Supervisors who find the best existing music (within legal and budgetary constraints) for the greatest effect deserve their day in the spotlight for making us think about old songs in a new memorable audio-visual context or introducing us to great music that we didn’t know was always out there. Here are the reasons why such a category doesn’t already exist.

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Amour Movie

Amour is a very difficult movie. I would go so far as to say it’s the toughest, most painful Best Picture nominee in an awfully long time. It’s so heartbreaking and uncomfortable that I was somewhat taken aback when it pulled five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Sure, Emmanuelle Riva seemed like a good bet and it was certainly going to be ahead of the pack in the Foreign Film category, but that top-tier nomination? Only eight foreign language films have been nominated for Best Picture in the past, and only one of them (Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers) is as profoundly upsetting as Michael Haneke’s blunt portrait of love and death. It just didn’t seem likely. Obviously, I was wrong. Let’s hope that isn’t the theme of the season. In hindsight, the impressive crop of nominations for Amour makes a ton of sense. It makes so much sense that I think it has a very good shot at winning three Oscars. Here’s the case:

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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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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

No, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hasn’t set up a new category to honor writing about film. The Oscars of the title are my dog, Oscar the Groucho Marx Campbell (who is in no way named for the awards of the same name), and one of Kate’s two cats, Oscar Erbland (the other is named Felix, by the way, so you can guess what he’s named after). The two animals will be joining us next month for some actual Academy Awards fun, but for now they’re just being introduced to bring you the latest Reject Recap. Which, not coincidentally, reviews the week the Oscar nominations were announced. And of course we did report and comment on those nominations. But before we get to all that, the Oscars want to remind you to read our reviews of new releases, including Gangster Squad, 56 Up and Let My People Go, and our interviews with The Impossible director J.A. Bayona, Struck By Lightning (and Glee) star Chris Colfer, Looper writer/director Rian Johnson and Gangster Squad director Ruben Fleischer. Oh, and definitely take a listen to the brand new podcast from Managing Editor Scott Beggs and his co-host, screenwriter Geoff Latulippe. It’s called Broken Projector, and you can listen to the very first episode, which includes a debate on the best Indiana Jones sequel, here. Now, check out our biggest and best stories and original content from the past week, as most definitely chosen by a dog and a cat:

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Rick Ross

In what might be a bit of an over-correction from last year’s two-song race, The Academy has released the largest list of Oscar-eligible original songs in years, topping out at 75 tunes from the movies of the year. Naturally, the big names are there — Adele with “Skyfall” and Arcade Fire with their work on The Hunger Games — but there are also some far out choices like work featured in Death By China and Saint Dracula. With that many songs in the mix, it was bound to be an eclectic group, but even though it’ll be whittled down for the final nominee list announced January 10th, it’s nice for the time being to see “Ladies of Tampa” from Magic Mike right next to “Love Always Comes as a Surprise” from Madagascar 3. Here’s the complete list with a few examples for your listening pleasure:

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Oscars

Last week the Academy announced its shortlist for Best Live Action Short, a typically eclectic and international bunch. However, forgive me if I approach this category with a bit more cynicism than Best Animated short, the shortlist for which I broke down last month. The Live Action Short nominees are often pretty easily broken up into types, almost as if the Academy has had strange genre requirements these last few years. They go for stories about cute children in the United Kingdom or Australia or Ireland, often about religion and always with an adorable accent. They also like kids in third world countries, though they prefer them a bit sadder. The list is rounded out by talky New York stories, especially in black and white, and there’s an almost annual spot for a Northern European comedy. For the last 4-5 years or so, this has been almost a rule. However, 2012 looks to be a little different, at least initially. There are two oddities right off the bat: there are eleven films instead of the usual ten, yet none of them qualified via the Student Academy Awards. Last year’s Tuba Atlantic, by far the best of the bunch, was a student nominee, as was 2010 winner God of Love. The new group still contains quite a bit of the major “types” of nominees, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t excellent films. Fortunately, most of them have trailers to discover beyond a simple synopsis.

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