The Awards Daily team has formed slowly, over two decades. I started my site with a 28-baud modem and an iMac while living in a guest house in the back of my sister’s house in Van Nuys, with a three-month-old baby on my hip and a great idea. What if we could follow the Oscar race from start to finish and see if we could crack the code for why some films make it in, why some films win, and why some films fall by the wayside. It was to be called OscarWatch and it remained such for six years. Then the Academy sued me so the site’s name was changed to AwardsDaily. That newborn baby? In what seems a blink of my eye, she became a phenomenal young woman who’s now a student a NYU.
It’s now been nearly twenty years of coverage, twenty years of the Oscar race, twenty years of watching loyal regulars mentor new readers, raucous guests come and go, a forum that came and went, writers who went on to found their own sites after getting their start right here. And then the predictions. So many predictions about so many award shows. Over two decades, the abundance of established film critics has grown from less than 100 across the country to now, on Rotten Tomatoes, around 300. The number of critics groups handing out awards has tripled. The voices that shape which films are destined to be rewarded have grown and the criteria for appraising those films have shifted.
AwardsDaily’s staff, however, is the thing about the site that has changed the most. This Oscar year has run more smoothly than ever because of them. Starting with the inexhaustible TV crew, led by the brilliant Clarence Moye, and his staff of whiz kids, Megan McLachlan, Jalal Haddad, Joey Moser, and David Phillips, who not only cover TV and the Emmys but also contribute their smarts to the Oscar Squad. Each of them occasionally writes bright incisive features for the film pages, as well as keeping a very popular podcast running year round.
Our meticulous Dr. Rob spends countless hours every year building the Awards Daily Oscar ballot and then laying out the results in lucid spreadsheets so we can see real-life illustrations of how the preferential ballot math works. Paddy Mulholland studies journalism at same time he reinvents it, covering the London Film Festival with his fluid phrasing, inimitable wit, and deep-dive insights about movies he knows we need to know more about. Zhuo-Ning (Tony) Su brings us his own pitch-perfect analyses of the European festival circuit, bopping from his hometown Berlinale, to Cannes, to Venice, delivering elegant dispatches about cinema gems that may not always be on a path to Oscars, and perhaps all the more fascinating because they’re not.
Jazz Tangcay somehow floated down from the clouds like Mary Poppins and has been putting the site in posh tippity-top shape ever since. Dragging us kicking and screaming into the modern tech era, Jazz, like Mary Poppins, can seem to be everywhere at once. She’s at a party one night, running a Q&A another night, conducting interviews, writing reviews, working the press room at the Oscars or the Spirits and all the while keeping the Awards Daily Instagram a thousand times more exciting than it ever otherwise would be — yes, AwardsDaily has an instagram because of Jazz. When Ryan got sick recently, Jazz sent him North Yorkshire tea and Scottie-dog shortbread biscuits. I’m not kidding. She has motivated our own Marshall Flores to someday work the red carpet at the Oscars. And has helped me sort out a million things I was not able to deal with. We love Jazz like family, and I thank her from the bottom of my miserable, cold heart for being such a superstar.
Marshall Flores and I have been friends a long time. Being my friend isn’t easy, especially since I’m much like my own little dog Luna who seems driven to start fights with every other little dog she sees. Why so aggressive, Lunagirl? Indeed, a good question. I tend to start too many fights and Marshall, for some reason, is always ready to be wingman, swooping in and backing me up. We’re kind of like a dog pack. We got each other’s backs. He’s an invaluable friend, one of the truest and kindest people I’ve ever known. And I thank him from the bottom of my heart for being such a good friend and such a brilliant stats guy. Ask him anything about the Oscars. Bet you can’t stump him.
And finally, saying thank you to the scarecrow is hardest of all. I don’t ever really know how to thank Ryan Adams for being really and truly Awards Daily’s beating heart. You guys have no idea how many terrible things I write that he smooths over, or awful things I say that he gently suggests I take out. Ryan, like Jazz and Marshall, is a kind person with a big heart who seeks nothing more than mentoring and motivating others to do their best. He helps everyone with their pieces that get posted here. All three editors need to pitch in and proof my long, lumbering essays because every writer knows that just when you think you’ve found the last missing word or elusive typo, another one miraculously appears. Ryan gives so much of himself here, in the comments, and on Twitter, I can’t imagine what a frigid planet this would be without him. So thank you dear Ryan.
Finally, thanks to all our veteran readers who have come to the site faithfully all this time, and thanks to our new readers, young and old. It’s always a pleasure to see your longtime friendships form, thrashing out your alliances and differences with sharp intelligence and mutual respect. I know that oftentimes you feel I’ve let you down whenever we don’t love the same movies, or see eye to eye on issues , or lately when I’ve tried to resist the forces in the film community that threaten to make our feelings about movies as partisan as our opinions about politics. We’ve always been proud of the AwardsDaily community and we know without a doubt we have the most passionate, interesting, and kick-ass comment section in the industry. So THANK YOU for your thoughtful observationss from all around the world that add such value to our content throughout the season.
I can’t pretend I’ve enjoyed this Oscar year much. I don’t like what I saw go down and I don’t like where I fear it’s going. It feels like we’re headed for some kind of war, ideological or cultural, I just don’t know what kind. As a nation we turn to movies for a relief from strife. As individuals, we turn to movies to escape the mundane, the dreary, the painful, and the unpredictable twists and turns of life itself. For 2 hours at a time, movies can take us somewhere else, someplace better. We count on them for that. We need them for that. For an art form that involves so many moving parts, so many people who devote their lives to get them made, it’s a miracle that magic can happen so often, if at all. My fondest hope is that we never forget that most all filmmakers have the best of intentions at heart, as they seek to move us, to entertain us, to teach us, to enlighten us. If they sometimes don’t succeed, it isn’t for lack of trying.
As we close out another year, one of the most torturous in living memory, let’s try to remember why we’re all here. We’re here because we love to be enthralled by flickering images on the big screen. That will always be an experience worth respecting, worth protecting. Thank you everyone hanging with us for another wild year. In the upcoming year we celebrate the Big 2-0. We’re expecting a lot of pomp. And god only knows how much circumstance.