84th Academy Awards

Crystal hosted the Oscars in 1990199119921993199719982000, and 2004, according to Wikipedia.

But  here he is making fun of Titanic.  And Ben and Matt! Matt! And Ben!  But you know, those days are mostly gone but it’s worth a click to see Minny Driver’s horrified face.

I hear a lot of complaining about Billy Crystal and about how these are going to be the lowest rated Oscars ever.  Well, yes and no.  Probably they will be after the first hour. The red carpet is sure to get a lot of viewers – Brad and Angelina, George and Stacy – it’s just like the prom!  ABC is doing what it can, showing Natalie Portman accepting her Oscar from last year and talking up the Brad Pitt angle.  Billy Crystal is seen here and there.  Here’s the thing people forget about Billy Crystal, though: he’s fucking funny.  I don’t care how old he is, the dude’s funny.  Moreover, Crystal’s schtick at the Oscars are the only things people even remember about the Oscars at all.

I’ve watched a lot of Oscar shows, by god.  I have always believed no one did it better than Billy in my lifetime anyway.  Although Steve Martin, David Letterman and Jon Stewart were all great, only Billy Crystal has the ability to be funny, to keep the whole thing moving, and to make the medicine go down a lot more easily.  I, for one, am glad to be able to see him again. I hope he kills it.


Gavin Polone describes himself as an “agent turned manager turned producer.” Today for NYMag’s Vulture he turns into Oscar analyst. His prognosis is Cinematic Psychosis as the Academy increasingly loses touch with reality.

As a kid I remember sitting in front of the TV with my family, like millions of others, in one of the largest non-sports audiences of the year, absorbing the drama and the gaudy clothing worn by beautiful people, and staying up past my bedtime to find out who won the big award: Miss America. But, over time, our changing values and the obvious irrelevance of the beauty pageant caused me and most Americans to dump the silly institution on the trash heap of cultural obsolescence. Soon, lying next to Miss America on that dump will be Oscar.

Whereas at one time Miss America represented the ideal for a woman in this country, the Academy Award may still be associated with the pinnacle in filmmaking achievement; but like Miss America, the Oscar has lost its relevance and value. Whether people realize it or not, it would be a benefit to the entertainment industry, as well as the moviegoing masses, if we just learned to ignore the Oscars.

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Best Picture

  • “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • “The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
  • “The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • “Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • “Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • “Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • “The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
  • “War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers


  • “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
  • “Hugo” Martin Scorsese
  • “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
  • “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

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The Live Stream is no more, so we’ve removed the embed. But there were 130 comments from eager beavers, so we’ll leave this post in place. It would add insult to injury if we destroyed all evidence that any of us were once excited.

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The Academy just sent out the following press release. I will snap any of the digital billboards I see. Many of the films they plan to highlight are those that didn’t win Best Picture.

Jonathan Erland

Beverly Hills, CA – In anticipation of the 84th Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences has launched “Celebrate the Movies,” a digital exhibition spotlighting iconic moments from 84 films.

Beginning today, January 23, the exhibition will appear on digital billboards in Los Angeles, and on ABC’s digital “SuperSign,” an electronic landmark in New York’s Times Square. It will also be showcased on an online gallery on Oscar.com, and extend toyoutube.com/Oscars, where fans can share their most memorable movie-going experiences through video or text.

Images will debut in groups of 20 within the next two weeks. The 84 films represented span eight decades, beginning with “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and culminating in “Avatar” (2009). Highlights from each decade include “Gone with the Wind” (1939), “Casablanca” (1942), “The Killers” (1946), “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “True Grit” (1969), “The Exorcist” (1973), “Saturday Night Fever” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Apollo 13” (1995), “Shrek” (2001), “Ray” (2004), and “The Dark Knight” (2008).  The exhibition highlights all of Hollywood’s major genres, as well as independent, animated, foreign-language, and documentary films.

Included in the first 20 images are the eight that were featured in the key art campaign, which was unveiled in late December.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, at 5:30 a.m. PST in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Love this chit chat with Tom O’Neil and Dave Karger, the latter whom acts very humble considering how TOLDJA he could be about the King’s Speech. He doesn’t do that – he acts very nice about it all.  He predicts only five movies for Best Pic, however, based on an incorrect assumption about the how the counting is going to go.  In Steve Pond’s article, if a film gets 455 (or so, magic number time) it is automatically a nominee. But any film that gets over 20% of the total vote triggers the surplus rule. Then you move to round two. At that point, films need around 50 or 60 number one votes to make it to the second round. After that, you want your movie to have more number 1s plus maybe number 2s and 3s.  A lot of people are getting this wrong – they think it has to be number ones all the way through – it doesn’t. Only in round one.  I am double checking with Steve but that is my understanding.

One of the biggest surprises this year is what number Best Picture will land on. There seem to be eight very strong films heading into the race:

The Artist
The Descendants
Midnight in Paris
The Help
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
War Horse

The only one that feels on shaky ground in War Horse and it might be supplanted by Bridesmaids, Tree of Life or the late-breaking Drive, which had such a strong showing at the BAFTA.

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Our contest is now closed!



It was hard not to notice Robin Wright at the Critics Choice awards, striding out onto the stage with her still impossibly youthful legs, and announcing that 2011 was the Year of the Woman.  She referenced Bridesmaids and Dragon Tattoos, probably because she couldn’t say housemaids.   Either way, Bridesmaids, The Help and The Girl with Dragon Tattoo have reinvented what defines a hit and what defines an “Oscar movie.”  All three have been underestimated for one reason or another and yet have managed to stay relevant, even if the majority of the other films are more traditional male-driven narratives.  But the year of the woman?  Could it really be?

Look a little closer and you see a lot of strong female characters — Chloe Moretz in Hugo is a writer and drives much of the action.  Shailene Woodley is the best and most forceful thing about the Descendants and in Midnight in Paris it is the women who show Owen Wilson the way. One pulls him in, one pushes him out.  And then there’s Gertrude Stein (who punched him in the mouth).  Finally, The Artist is about two different careers and in the end the one who emerges from the ashes, saves the protagonist from ruin is a woman.   Of course, in this year’s awards race, Bernice Bejo is stuffed into the supporting category (where she belongs, damnit!) but in fact, she really is a co-lead with Jean Dujardin.

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The best thing about today is that by the end of it, what’s done will be done.  There will no more positioning to be had, no more tinkering with perception – just a hard reality.  Maybe not a pretty one, but reality — she ain’t never pretty, is she? The votes are in, mostly, but for a few stragglers.   Steve Pond has written a great piece about possible shockers.  And us? Well, we do what we always do this time of year, we  throw out our For Your Consideration requests.

Some could argue that this site is a For Your Consideration 24/7.  And that would mean that, in a perfect world, Michael Fassbender, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lynne Ramsay, Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would all be nominees.  But this isn’t a perfect world — and in the end, we have to figure, it’s all in the game.  Once we start actually attaching deeper meaning to the Oscar race we are all lost.  It is a consensus vote, and as such, you have to confront the common denominator.

Nonetheless, the Oscar voters have to pick something.  How the guilds went might be a good indicator of at least some of the Oscar nominations to come.

So here’s one last chance to put it out there – a for your consideration to any voters who might reading this.  We will randomly choose from these entries and give out a special prize.

I thought this was new because I hadn’t seen it but apparently it’s been around for a while.

  • “Albert Nobbs”
  • “Anonymous”
  • “The Artist”
  • “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
  • “Hugo”
  • “The Iron Lady”

Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in competition in the Makeup category for the 84th Academy Awards®.

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I’m probably a stuffed-shirt when it comes to this kind of thing so perhaps I’ll reserve comment — I know that the horse in War Horse and Uggie from The Artist and various other animals this year are drawing attention, but when the UK Telegraph starts talking about how they had to warn BAFTA members not to send in write-in votes for Uggie you really have to wonder.

I know that animals are scene stealers and that Uggie is one of the best things about The Artist – you could make a very good case for Joey being the best thing about War Horse.  But aren’t these awards supposed to go to people?  Performance capture can’t get arrested and suddenly they’re talking Uggie maybe getting votes from the BAFTA?

I thought British people were supposed to be smarter than Americans.

Here are some pics of Joey and the royals at the UK preem of War Horse. Video above is Uggie on skateboard.


The Academy decided to hip it up a bit – diving right into their fears about none of the modern audiences being able to relate to something or someone that isn’t somehow connected to American Idol or Kim Kardashian. So they are collaborating with Funny or Die (the kids watch that, don’t they?) to help aid along those who might not get the Billy Crystal thing but have long since gotten the Megan Fox thing.

Thanks to Anthony Covino!

past is future

As I re-watched Avatar last night, or tried to, I was thinking about the future of cinema. I was thinking about how hard it is to sell dramas now to the general public. I was thinking about the Academy, and how difficult it must be for them to evolve out of the old way of presenting films to the new way they will be sold from now on. The only film that sort of addresses this changing of the guard is Hugo, which is traditional storytelling utilizing modern technology to ramp up the showmanship; the fresh enticement to get people out of their houses to buy tickets. We have to audiences a reason. An Avatar-like reason to shell out the dough. And with Hugo, the money is coming but it isn’t MI:4 money. It isn’t even Sherlock Holmes money or Twilight money or Harry Potter money or, alas, Bridesmaids or The Help money. And so people start talking about that like it actually matters. We can’t even count on our critics anymore to help us out here. They hard line it without considering the bigger picture, without seeing what’s coming next.

When it was down to Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker, most people knew by the end that the Academy would opt for the more nuts and bolts, traditional filmmaking –both as a way to silently protest the changing tide, but also to stem the tide for performance capture, 3-D technology and movies that cost a lot of money to make. That’s all fine and well if the nuts and bolts films make money and get good reviews. The Hurt Locker made no money but it was helped along by the critics. This year, you can mostly forget the critics. They’ve all but gone on vacation. Advocacy was never really their thing but it is even less their thing this year, after what happened last year.

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“It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.”

No, it doesn’t say that.  It says:

When you have reviewed the Reminder List, please write the title of your first choice on the first line of this ballot and list your alternate choices on the succeeding lines in order of your preference. Do not list the same title more than once; multiple votes for the same picture do not enhance its chances.

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Thanks to Anthony for the heads up.

What do all of those images have in a common? They all take place in a time far, far away. A different time, as in period piece.  We really really like looking back.  Deets after the cut.

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In an extraordinary move to investigate how the year might play out, The Wrap’s Steve Pond approached the Broadcast Film Critics to use their ballots to figure out how this year’s Oscar race might go.  Now, keep in mind that there were only 250 voting members of the BFCA, where there are upwards of 6,000 Oscar voters, give or take several hundred.  But, here’s the thing.  Each branch is divided up to find the nominees for every category except Best Picture.  It it therefore theoretically logical that this experiment could apply to each of the branches within the Academy and that there might not be that much of a difference in terms of how many films get through the first round.

A large majority of the Broadcast Film Critics’ more than 250 critics cast ballots, which asked them to rank their favorite movies, one through five. On those ballots, 33 different films received first-place votes.

Under the Oscar system, the race is immediately narrowed to those 33 films; every other movie is out of the running, no matter how many second- or third-place votes it received.

Once the initial count was made, the number of votes required to guarantee a nomination was determined. This is done by dividing the number of votes by 11, and then adding one (or if the result is not a whole number, adding whatever fraction is needed to make it one).

Example: If 250 members had voted, 23 votes would have guaranteed a nomination, because it would be impossible for more than 10 films to receive that many votes.

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The snowball starts rolling down the mountain next week.

  • Tuesday, December 27, 2011: Nominations ballots mailed
  • Friday, January 13, 2012: Nominations polls close 5 p.m. PT
  • Tuesday, January 24, 2012: Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2012: Final ballots mailed
  • Monday, February 6, 2012: Nominees Luncheon
  • Saturday, February 11, 2012: Scientific & Technical Awards presentation
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2012: Final polls close 5 p.m. PT
  • Sunday, February 26, 2012: 84th Academy Awards presentation

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