87th Academy Awards

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Ah man, if there was another disappointment from last year it was Michael Keaton not winning for Best Actor. It’s one of those things you just won’t believe years from now – even though Eddie Redmayne was fantastic in The Theory of Everything.  But still, Keaton’s work, to me, was the whole movie of Birdman – if you’re going to give that movie Picture and Director, why not give it to the one person who made it so great? Yeah well. Anyway, interesting exchange:

Keaton: They have a luncheon before the awards. When you’re in the room, it’s really something. Everyone in the world is there. You really feel like you’re in the real world for what I do for a living. So I was walking back, kinda walking to my table. There was a gentleman sitting at the table. Really nicely-dressed man. Probably around 70’s. He’s sitting by himself, looks up at me. I look at him. He calls me over. Says “Just wanna tell you… That’s maybe the best performance I’ve ever seen in any movie.” He’s been in the Academy for over 50 years. “Not only did I go back and see the film in theaters 3 times which I never do… Your performance will go down in history…” When he finished, I thought to myself “Pfft… I am a LOCK.”
Letterman: Yeah! I would think so.
Keaton: This guy… He’s been around forever, he knew everyone at the Academy. And I thought “That’s about it. That’s all I need!” So we’re talking and I say “That is very nice of you, sir. Thank you.” And as I get up, he says “Just remember, Michael… When it comes to winning an Academy Award… Illness always wins.” [exaggerated laughter] I know! I know!
[Weak laughter from crowd]
Keaton: And I thought… “I am so fucked right now.” It’s over! I went from “This is a done deal” to “I’m done.”

Source: ONTD

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I have to mostly agree with this in light of how Patricia Arquette was needlessly attacked after the Oscars, and how Richard Linklater and Boyhood were attacked and how Frozen has been attacked, etc. Words like “offensive” and such should be reserved to truly offensive things like the racist chants at the frat or how our congress treats our president. I see a lot of wasted energy putting people on trial for things that are really a matter of interpretation. Some will be offended by the “green card” joke, others will shrug it off. I can tell you there is a world of difference between saying that joke to Inarritu and saying it someone who has been the victim of oppression in this country for having immigrated as a Mexican-American. Penn clearly meant no offense by it and is one of the relics from my generation where we didn’t police every word that came out of our mouths. I think – you should target the real racists, bigots and sexists so that your cause can have power and be taken seriously. Wasting time on nonsense though? It really is just a chance to feel like you’re doing some real good in the world. Channel it in a different direction – look at the bigger picture.

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“I don’t know that my family nor my soul could take it,” Neil Patrick Harris told The Huffington Post about hosting the Oscars. “It’s a beast. It was fun to check off the list, but for the amount of time spent and the understandable opinionated response, I don’t know that it’s a delightful balance to do every year or even again.”

Neil Patrick Harris is the latest casualty tossed to the hungry beast – the wonderful modern invention of having a whole bunch of people tucked neatly behind their computer screens given the opportunity to have their collective opinions known. This has become an annual tradition that only a few hosts have managed to escape from unscathed. It is not too far off from how the Romans used to entertain the crowds in that each time some poor soul is tossed in the ring and subsequently savaged by a hate-united choir.

Some celebrities enter the ring willingly, lapping up every drop of attention, negative or otherwise. The Kardashians come to mind. They really don’t seem to mind that people are saying nasty things about them continually – as long as they are being talked about. I’d put all of the contestants of The Bachelor in that category. Keep the hate coming, folks. Gwyneth Paltrow has become the object of united hatred for being — um — successful at her job and maintaining her body to the tune of two hours of hard core exercise a day. The only upside to being the object of scorn? At least people don’t feel sorry for you. Once that happens, the hate-choir ceases and the defense pieces begin, as I guess I’m doing right this minute with Neil Patrick Harris.

Ellen DeGeneres did not too badly last year with her hosting. Part of that was the ratings jump. She was funny and the show was an exciting one. With a boring show like this year’s where the winners are so ho-hum you have nothing left to do but start attacking the host. DeGeneres’ biggest crime, apparently, was her willing endorsement of some phone product creating the Selfie of the Year, giving rise to a slew of those kinds of selfies. The horror, the horror.

Remember poor old whatshis name, Seth MacFarlane who incurred so much scorn that I’m pretty sure it also sunk his pretty funny A Million Ways to Die in the West. The worm had turned on MacFarlane after the Oscars.

I’m also fairly certain that the Anne Hathaway hate began around the time she hosted the Oscars. James Franco, the pink dress, the tunes – it was kind of a catastrophe as I recall but it’s hard to remember back that far.

Hugh Jackman did okay in one of the better received Oscars — at least I don’t remember any vicious hate spewing his way after that. Who ever knows why the worm turns and the crowd starts throwing tomatoes. Is it that people secretly hate and resent celebrities anyway? Is it that we all wish they would fail miserably like the rest of us? Is it that we can’t wait for them to get fat and get old and be unfunny and embarrass themselves because then that means we’re a little bit better off. With their fancy cars and their fancy houses and the parties and the pretty clothes and the money and the yachts and the supermodels and the …you get the picture. We love them. We hate them. We throw them away. We hold on to them desperately. We shame them. We celebrate them.

I don’t know who has the stones anymore to be next year’s Oscar host. Who would want to risk that kind of embarrassment in front of a judgmental, cruel, nit-picky, hungry beast? Harris will emerge fine from it all, I hope, I think. So far no one’s career has really been totally ruined. They just have to stand there while the apes and the monkeys fling the shit for a while until they feel better.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a tad dramatic. Maybe it doesn’t read as so horrible from the inside out. Harris did say this about the telecast:

I didn’t keep up with it obsessively, but it was interesting to see just what people thought landed and didn’t. It’s so difficult for one who’s simply watching the show to realize just how much time and concession and compromise and explanation has gone into almost every single thing. Every joke. Wording of joke. Placement of joke. Canceling of joke. Embellishment for just one line. And I’m not saying that to defend everything I said as if it was the absolute best choice, but it’s also an award show, and you’re powering through 14 acts filled with 20 plus awards. So my job was to try and keep things as light and specific to this year’s set of films as possible. And if people are critical of that, it’s a big giant platform, so I would assume that they would be.

I was glad we got through it, and I thought that those in the audience at the Dolby [Theatre] seemed to be enjoying themselves more as the show went on, when I was told that the opposite would be true. I was told that as the room fills, with you know it’s four-fifths of the room didn’t win, and you get further into the award giving they get less enthusiastic and less excited. And I felt while we were doing it that people were enjoying themselves more and more, so for that I’m happy.

Winner

Actually our contest produced TWO WINNERS in the Oscar contest. Jason Simpson, who missed only editing and director, and Lorenzo Cusano who missed original screenplay and animated feature. The new tallys are below.

Previously: Unfortunately, there were virtually no surprises except Best Animated Feature. How closely you aligned yourself with the general consensus the better you did. The short categories, the doc category and the foreign language film category will no longer offer surprises because you don’t have to see all of the nominees anymore. Thus, those categories should be similar to the other categories — mostly predictable.

When voters were required to see all five nominees in those select categories, you really did have to watch them to predict them and in those years many surprises would often emerge.

Big Hero 6 topping How to Train Your Dragon 2 was the big shocker of the night. I am qualified to say what happened there or how those votes were generated and by whom. It could be resistance to voting for a sequel – which no one in the Academy likes to do.

Otherwise, it was general consensus all the way plus Birdman. If you were a Birdman fan and you went with general consensus you did very well. In Contention’s Kris Tapley has the highest score I can find of the predictors — he went with Birdman in the top categories and the general consensus everywhere else, missing only four.

Right behind with 21 are the runners-up:
Patrick Stumpe
ale mendoza
Renard Bansale
Maria Carvalho
Drew Winser
Viroj Suttisima
Jordan Holland
Ednardo Santos
Carsten Kurpanek
Chris Schleicher
Paulo Matos
Philip Gallegos

And the winners with 20 are:
Rodney Worshm
William Bearden
Viktor Kovács
Patricia de Carvalho
Daniela Diaconu
Corina Sirca
Stephen Coloritos
Michael Dalton
Victor Garcia
Sarp E
Bohdan Kozar
David DiMiele
Jeremy Eggleston
Barry Callahan
Arturo Madrigal Verduzco
Zach Macias
Ankur Verma
Chris Esser
Justin VALENTINI
Gautam Anand
Jason Park
Robert Dimitri
Alex Rodman
Vincent Moreno
Leandro Martins
Gustavo Martins
Pat Kelley
Cristina Molina
Renard Bansale
Drew Winser
Kamila Azevedo
Chris Pastor
David Webb
Amir Siregar
Carsten Kurpanek
Joe Stemme
Charles Trotter
Alan Michaels
Trish Mistric
Catherine Stebbins
Hector Delgado Jr.
Kevin Reed
Steven Short
Steven Brown
Dave Yen
George Geanopulos
William Fath
Shane Slater
Roberto Moreno
Ralph Moscato
Joe Hiegel
Craig Stoll
Christopher Calla
Diane Stepanek
FABIEN PAUL
Oliver Davidson
Margaret Zadouri
Michele Innocenti
Lane Richins
Tom M
Anita E
pete heighway
Rosana P
Mike Cersosimo
Greg Feasel
Sefa Emekli
Natália de Paula do Nascimento
Ian Boyd
Peter Chumo
Peter Chumo
Kim Pedersen
L Hagens
Parth Majmudar
Filipe Eleuterio
Sean Aminali
Matthew Toomey

The winner of the Spirit Award contest with 15 is:

Andres Arteaga

For the winners of both contests (Lorenzo Cusano, Jason Simpson and Andres Arteaga only), please send an email to awardsdaily@gmail.com

gone-girl-4

The Oscar race is over, thank merciful Jared Leto. We’re all still trying to get over it, and hopefully will soon. I just want to give a shout out to those who made this year so much better. In truth, you readers have always been the real reason this site endures, for better or worse. Your enthusiasm for the writing here and our efforts, the letters we receive, the engagement in our ideas is just exceptional. So first, thanks you regulars like Al and Bryce and Wayman and Bob, Claudiu, steve50 and daveinprogress … too many to mention.

To Marshall for bringing back Statsgasm, building the prediction charts when we were down to the wire and for having AwardsDaily’s back when we were unfairly maligned.

To Dora who once again flew in and saved our ass in the FYC gallery, putting it back together again each and every time we change servers. What a mensch.

To Rob Y for the great tweets that help to salve the wounds on occasion but also for the site’s most requested feature, the simulated ballot.

To our writers new and old Jazz Tangcay, Ryan C. Showers, Jordan Ruimy, Brian Whisenant. The awesome Paddy Mulholland who shares our pain.

To the Academy for extending a ticket to the big show for the first time.

To Ginsberg/Libby for the Spirit Awards invites.

To all of the great publicists we’ve worked with all year long for whom these Oscars should be partly shared. Trust me on this. No winner you saw up there on stage was there by accident. Each win represents the hard work all season long by publicists who have to deal with assholes on a regular basis, who fight hard for each of their contenders, who make sure those names show up where they’re supposed to.

To Craig Kennedy and Ryan Adams for participating in the podcast as often as possible and for being great friends all around.

To Ryan again for being the main reason AwardsDaily runs smoothly – the best proofreader, the best advocate, the kindest person in the world.

The new season starts way too soon.

B-kcQQBUsAAVaks

The Oscars exist in an insular bubble and the voters have no interest in changing because that would mean they’d have to stay on top of current news and not have their movie choices hand delivered to them by publicists, choosing only what they feel like watching in their screener pile. This year, we all knew the ratings would drop significantly. There was very little general buzz heading into the race.

The #oscarssowhite tag hurt the Oscar brand this year, especially with the younger generations who are politically activist enough to know that they have the power not to watch.

Here are some films that earned high box office, great reviews and became part of the cultural dialogue:

1. Gone Girl – no further explanation necessary.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy – could be included if they had a flat ten nominees.
3. Interstellar – mixed reviews, perhaps, but still a movie that might have been included.

And to make the Oscars MORE INTERESTING at least:

4. Foxcatcher
5. Nightcrawler

Just a thought.

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I’m sorry, everyone knows me as a pretty hard core feminist. What I’m not, though? Is one of those who erupts over chosen words. A recent article in Slate, and a really repugnant “story” has been floating around the web this morning nitpicking Patricia Arquette’s call for unification to fight for equal pay. Way to totally kill an important moment, Amanda Marcotte.

Having interviewed Arquette at length I can tell you that she speaks broadly and abstractly about a lot of different issues. When I talked to her much of the time I knew WHAT SHE MEANT. Why, because I have a brain that actually works. See, this? This is my brain thinking for itself. Wow, how did I just do that? I don’t know, I just did! Therefore, I knew what she meant when she said this:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

But Marcotte needs to be upset about SOMETHING. She needs to make this a thing. Why? To divide, not unite. To do that great thing only we women know how to do: attack each other rather than support each other. Does she really think Patricia Arquette meant: support us white women people of color and trans because you don’t count.

Is it really too difficult to take the next logical step and think about what she means? She means she has stood up for civil rights (which usually applies to African American oppression in this country of men and women but more or less based on skin color) and every other important cause that has dropped on her doorstep. If you follow her on Twitter you’ll know how deeply involved she is. What she’s saying is that we can’t have pay equality unless we all stand together behind that particular cause:

But when Arquette was asked to elaborate backstage, she gave a lengthy answer that included this statement: “And it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

Where to begin? Perhaps with pointing out that “gay people” and “people of color” are both categories that include women.

Does she say they aren’t? She is speaking about causes – the uproar over diversity, which also includes women. Where does she ever say “white women”?

Indeed, when it comes to wage inequality, race is as much a factor as gender. The American Association of University Women analyzed census data on the wage gap and found that although white women make 78 cents to a white man’s dollar in the United States, black women make a mere 64 cents, and Latina women make a paltry 54 cents. Similarly, being gay or transgender often means taking a hit in income. The Center for American Progress finds that same-sex couples raising children make about 20 percent less than straight couples in the same situation. Transgender people have a poverty rate that is four times that of the general population. It is definitely not time for “all the gay people” and “all the people of color” to set aside their own battle for equality in order to fight for straight, white women now.

Right, so sticking up for equal pay for women of color would fall under Arquette’s umbrella — but she means the cause of pay equality. But hey, don’t let a little bit of truth fog up the mirror for you. It’s necessary to shame women, to smack them down especially when they get out of line. No matter what she’d said unless it was a polite thank you would have gotten some kind of criticism from someone. How depressing that this time it has to come from women. For shame.

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“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”
― Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

“Boyhood winning a single Oscar is awesome. We stopped it! We can go to bed now.” ― Academy member in the editors branch, sent to a friend this morning.

To understand that last sentiment, we can peel away the paradox that revolves around this line spoken by Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge. “You want me to be good, just not better than you.”

The Oscars in the modern era are about an industry feeling defensive against the increasing dominance of film critics as deciders of which film is best. Critics, unlike the insular Hollywood community of film-award voters, do not align themselves so religiously with the familiar major studios. A company like IFC Films or CBS Films can break through with critics awards, no problem. But they will be stopped when and if they try to break into the Oscars. They might slip in with the more populist PGA and DGA. They might charm the Golden Globes and they certainly fooled BAFTA.  But they aren’t going to fool the Academy. Those industry VIPs know where their bread is buttered.

This defensiveness against film critics was the head of the monster that helped make Birdman such an Oscar-race juggernaut. The body of the beast was the industry’s pointless, symbolic rejection of how Hollywood has changed since the 1970s. Birdman did two things: it sought to viciously shame the critics (the original script had Riggan actually shooting the critic, far less self-pitying way to turn the story); and it meant to lay waste, at least in sentiment, to superhero movies, the younger generation’s dependence upon perceived trivialities like viral videos, youtube and Twitter — in short, everything that makes them feel irrelevant.

Spend enough time with entertainment people and you’ll see a group of folks who really are used to being treated like they’re the center of the universe. The Academy was kind enough to extend an invite to me to attend the show for the first time in 16 years of Oscar coverage.  I needed a costume. I had three dresses to choose from. One was “The Norman Bates’ mother look” (and by that, I mean, the corpse in the chair, not Vera Farmiga). The second was Divine in Pink Flamingos, and the third was Joan Collins in Dynasty. I ended up discarding all of them, heading to Macy’s and buying a tight-fitting, curve-hugging dress that made each of my breasts look like bowling balls affixed to a Buddha. I did my makeup, bought some high heels, curled my hair (which the rain promptly uncurled), gathered my tickets and phone charger, stuffing them into my “fancy handbag” and disappeared into the cold and rainy afternoon. The next day, incidentally, the sun would return as if to say, “we just wanted to try to ruin the Oscars. It was worth a shot.”

One thing you can’t criticize the Academy for is not knowing precisely what they’re doing. There were check points and American snipers up and down Hollywood Boulevard. They searched my “Valley-mom SUV” and made me roll my windows down “until you get to the red carpet.” I thought it would be self-park but alas, I had to make some poor valet driver actually get into my messy car and park it. I stepped out onto the boulevard, juggling my fancy bag, my tickets, my ID and my phone. There were tourists lining the boulevard in the rain waiting to see a somebody. They looked at me, a giant boobed nobody and quickly looked away.

If I were a decent person and a good Oscarwatcher I would have lingered longer on the red carpet — which is kind of terrifying. It makes Stardust Memories and 8 1/2 seem like child’s play. This is harsh bright lighting, people screaming on cue in the bleachers, women as thin as matchsticks everywhere you looked, dresses so pretty they seem to be laughing silently at the dress you hastily put on. Okay, the dress I hastily put on. Okay, they weren’t really laughing. I haven’t actually lost my mind. Only pretend insanity.

Once you leave the madness of the red carpet you walk up lots of stairs. At one point I felt myself tip back and I wondered just how dramatic it would be if I’d tumbled all the way back, hitting my head on the marble staircase, calling in the ambulance and shutting down all of the fun. I steadied myself and kept walking, following lots of long dresses, women who smelled like expensive hairspray (not Aquanet). Where was John Waters when you needed him?

Once upstairs, at each checkpoint is a smiling, unformed person directing the flood of people through to the tiered lobbies where a bar was set up, with endlessly flowing champagne and mixed drinks. Caterers glided through each lobby with the same trays of hors d’ourvres. One plump shrimp in cocktail sauce, bacon quiche, the teeny tiniest bagel and lox, beaded caper salad on toothpicks, sliced vegetable sticks in paper cups, with bags of potato chips nearby.

If I’d been a good Oscarwatcher I would have used my press pass to lobby-hop to the main floor and middle lobbies where the beautiful people congregate. I didn’t but I can imagine what it was like, can’t you? Famous people eating and drinking and talking and laughing. I’ve seen so many of them already up close. I propped myself up at the bar upstairs where there were only scattered numbers of people, and caught my breath.

John Savage was the only recognizable person up on our floor. He was escorting a tall drink of water in a showstopper of a dress on an endless search for an electrical outlet to charge her phone.

At some point the television monitors came on to blare the official pre-show. Most stared up at it moon-faced, watching Julianne Moore up close talking about Alzheimer’s.

“Please take your seat. The Oscars will begin in 30 minutes.” I felt a pressing need to get to my seat and sit there for a half an hour. I grabbed my cocktail and headed in. Once inside, I was so high up I felt like I might get height sickness from looking down. The stage was so small and far away that appeared to me like an ornate tiny dollhouse ready to be filled with prettily dressed figurines. And so it was.

I was seated next to a nominee. I didn’t find this out until they called out the Sound Mixing category.  I said “American Sniper” out loud and the guy next to me said “No.” Then Whiplash was announced.  I heard his wife pat his arm. “Aw, we didn’t win. Next time.” They’d been arguing about Facebook the entire time they were sitting there. “Get your log-in and sign out, then sign back in and write down your password.” “I don’t know how to do it,” she said.  “I’m telling you how to do it.” I didn’t expect to be sitting next to a nominee, way up at the back of the house. I’d heard smatterings of applause when they read out the shorts categories so I assumed those nominees were all upstairs too.  I’ve never sat next to someone who didn’t hear their name called. They stayed a little bit longer and then left.  “Next time,” she said again, soothingly.  Turns out he was one of the sound guys on Interstellar.

On my other side was a journalist from Forbes. His favorite film was Whiplash. He also had enough courage to talk to John Savage, who ended up talking his ear off for about half an hour.  It was fun to compare notes with another first-timer. We were figuring out the ins and outs of the whole thing. He was far more professional than I was. He wasn’t taking Boyhood’s loss personally. Even when The Imitation Game beat Whiplash for Adapted Screenplay he was disappointed but not about to rage against the machine.

You saw the same show I saw, but it quickly becomes clear that the ceremony is designed for the TV cameras, not an audience. I’m sure the people in the seats front and center feel the excitement in real time, perhaps the speeches were genuinely moving to them, down there, but I got the feeling it was all a tad put-on. The speeches, the audience interactions, the tears, the gratitude. It was entertainment in and of itself, or meant to be, to keep people believing in the magic of the movies, and that the Oscars really are still a celebration of that magic. PR for that magic.

The best part for me was watching the crew change the sets, or the steady-cam operator glide around behind a contender. Somewhere, the director was dictating which camera feed goes into the live feed. Simple things like knowing where a winner’s spouse is sitting to cut to their face, or how Neil Patrick Harris spent time in the audience while the stage sets were transformed. The show, like the organization, like any efficient business, is slick and extremely well organized. How it reads on TV is really out of their hands.

When they read the nominees, the house lights go down to pitch black. The lights come up just before they announce the winner. Off and on, off an on, all night long it went. The sound was as you’d expect, though it must be said that the singing performances were far better live. You simply can’t get the same experience hearing them filtered through the airwaves.

Once Inarritu and his team won screenplay and director, the truth began to emerge like a flame catching a corner of paper just before it devours the whole thing. The changing landscape of the film industry is a done deal. Birdman was meant to be their rallying cry, uniting them in solidarity against their increasing feelings of futility. By the end of the night, when humanitarian and two-time Oscar winning actor Sean Penn, took the stage to hand the top prize to his friend, Alejandro, he could toss his head back self-righteously and proclaim, “movies aren’t about box office.”

Inarritu made his speech about Mexican immigrants, ironic since both he and Alfonso Cuaron have had to focus singularly on white American stories with white American stars to finally win their Oscars. But still, “two Mexican Best Directors in a row” has got to fill Mexico with some kind of pride, a record breaking twofer, unimaginable even ten years ago.

All in all, the Academy did spread the wealth, as the saying goes, with each Best Picture contender winning at least one Oscar.

Birdman – Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography
Grand Budapest – Costumes, Production Design, Score, Makeup
Whiplash – Sound, Editing, Supporting Actor
Imitation Game – Adapted Screenplay
Theory of Everything – Best Actor
American Sniper – Sound Editing
Boyhood – Supporting Actress
Selma – Song

A few thoughts about the industry crowded inside my head as I tried to shut out the lingering echoes of applause and laughter. Where the Oscar race used to seem, to me, like the last refuge for those out there still trying to do good work amidst a fast-changing economic reality, they really are the solution. If ticket buyers want fewer choices, branded movies aimed at the masses, earning them all the money they could ever want and then some, that makes Hollywood look like a bunch of greedy, artless capitalists.

But the Oscars? They can give Birdman their highest honor and they believe it will make them look like they still care about art. They care about it enough to sympathize with an actor who has discarded his superhero outfit to try to flail around with a Raymond Carver play. If only the rest of the world would notice how good it is. Not the critic who will never give it a pass because it’s too “Hollywood.” Not the irrelevant worker bees “out there” in the world because they don’t get it – they only get Twitter and viral videos. The industry has one night (or several since the big guilds really decide the Oscars now) to tell the rest of the world who they are.

We’ve all fallen for the act that the heart of Hollywood wants to turn back the clock on the tent poles. That’s all you heard about this year. Superhero movies and tent poles coming along to shit all over everything while the rich get richer and the poor help them do it. The truth of it is, and it became all too clear to me last night, no one really wants things to change. They need to make that kind of money. They like to make that kind of money.

It’s sort of like McDonald’s trying to hipster-up with coffee and healthy-up with salads. They’re still McDonald’s, the scourge of the planet, poisoning people, killing massive amounts of livestock, sucking up the earth’s resources to give people high cholesterol and heart disease. But hey, they sell salad so they must be great, they must care about us, right?

The Academy managed to stop Boyhood, thus invalidating what the critics, the HFPA and the British film industry thought was best. They have that card to play and they play it every year, whether it ultimately makes them look worse in retrospect or not.

As for me, a Cinderella for the night, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Leaving early meant I got a jump on the valet parking, though I suspect no one stood in line very long anywhere at the Academy. Entitlement wafted through the air vents — most of them don’t really know anything else other than being given special treatment. That isn’t the world I live in. It isn’t the world I see outside. It isn’t the world anywhere except behind the red rope.

If I could say one positive thing about the experience it would be this: it’s a marvel to watch such an adept organization put on a show like that. It probably reads really slow and clumsy to you all at home but from my seat I saw an expert balancing act that left no room for mistakes.

Even my car was delivered to me swiftly and efficiently. I lifted my shiny dress and sunk myself back into my cozy beater SUV, which smelled once again like real life. I pulled out of the parking garage and headed down Hollywood Boulevard to La Brea, to Franklin and onward to the 101 which would take me to the 170 and back to the valley where I belonged. The last bits of rain sprinkled on my windshield. My Cinderella dress already felt too tight. That bra had to come off. I was greeted by a dog who needed to be walked and a daughter with a high fever. I made her a cold cloth for her forehead but she was really warm.

“That guy who made that speech about the Imitation Game made me cry for like twenty minutes,” she said. “Oh yeah? Did you like the show,” I asked? “It was too long,” she said. Too long, an Oscar tradition achieved at last.

oscars2015winners

In case you missed the Oscars last night. Here are the speeches from Hollywood’s biggest night.

 

Patricia Arquette won Best Supporting Actress. Her speech about equality led to a standing ovation:

 

http://youtu.be/XbrMKmlPFmo

 

 

 

Julianne Moore picked up the Oscar for Best Actress.

 

 

 

Eddie Redmanye took home the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything

 

 

The Producers and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu  Birdman accepting Best Picture:

 

 

 

J.K Simmons won Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash and told everyone to call their parents:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7qWaNA_KvI

 

 

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu won the Best Director for Birdman

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oKNWLlmUks

 

Common and John Legend took home the Oscar for Best Original Song for Glory from Selma.

Their speech talked about incarceration and equality:

 

 

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The 87th Annual Academy Awards have been handed out. JK Simmons took home the first big win of the night for Best Supporting Actor. Patricia Arquette earned a standing ovation from the crowd for her speech on equality. “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.” She said as Meryl Streep and the crowd rose to their feet, applauding her. See her speech in full here:

http://youtu.be/42moH4LobBQ

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu took home the oscar for Best Director. Birdman took home Best Picture. Julianne Moore won her first Oscar for her role in Still Alice and Eddie Redmayne took home Best Actor for The Theory of Everything.
The Grand Budapest Hotel nabbed Oscars for Best Original Score, Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, and Production Design. Selma won in the Best Original Song category for Glory. Singers, Common and John Legend gave speeches about equality and incarceration in America.
Big Hero 6 took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, giving Disney a win for the second year in a row. Frozen won last year.

The Full List of Winners is below:

Best Picture:

Birdman
Best Director:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman

Best Actor:

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything 

Best Actress:

Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor:

JK Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Best Animated Feature:

Big Hero 6

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Graham Moore – The Imitation Game

Best Original Screenplay:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo – Birdman

Best Cinematography:

Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman

Best Costume:

Milena  Canonero- The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Documentary Feature:

CitizenFour

Best Documentary Short Subject:

Ellen Goosenberg Kent & Dana Perry – Crisis Hotline 1 

Best Film Editing:

Tom Cross – Whiplash 

Best Foreign Language Film:

IDA 

Best Make Up and Hairstyling

Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier- The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Score:

Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel 

Best Original Song:

Glory – Selma 

Best Production Design:

Adam Stockhausen (production design) and Anna Pinnock (set decoration) – The Grand Budapest Hotel 

Best Animated Short Film:

FEAST

Best Live Action Short Film:

Matt Kirkby & James Lucas – The Phone Call

Best Sound Editing:

 Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman – American Sniper 

Best Sound Mixing:

 Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley – Whiplash 

Best Visual Effects:

 Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher – Interstellar 

Until next year. We’ll leave you with this reaction from Meryl Streep.

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I was hoping by this hour that some sneak from somewhere would have leaked the Oscar broadcast itinerary — with an rundown of the evening’s main events and estimated time when they will occur. That’s happened before. But so far this afternoon, nothing yet. In previous years, at the 11th hour, we begin to feel our instincts kicking us in the gut, forcing us to face the looming inevitable realities — but again, speaking for myself, nothing yet.

What sort of tips then, to include on a tip sheet?

Here’s all we really know for certain:
The host? Neil Patrick Harris
Going home with Oscars? Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette, JK Simmons

Beyond that, I’d like to at least think: “Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy night!” might be good advice.

But what if our friend Zach Heltzel is right? Couple of days ago I tweeted: “Oscars teeter on the brink. So many categories a toss-up. Razor thin margins. Could all come down to how many voters misplaced their ballots.” har-har.

Zach replied: “Or Sunday comes, everything happens as the precursors dictated and it was all a no-brainer.”

Cue sad trombone. Wah waaaah. Gotta say, in any awards season as potentially grim as this, I really do pray for a bit of chaos, hoping for anything to shake up the evening. Or else it’s going to feel like a slow New Orleans funeral march — snazzy but tragic (for me).

So I’m going to open this thread and let you guys give me tips. Tell me some good signs to look for, and some bad signs to cringe about. (Like, for example, what if Birdman doesn’twin for cinematography? Would that be a meaningful sign of vulnerability?)

If any of you have some good advice to help guide us through Oscar Night, I’ll take your suggestion out of the comments and feature it here in the post.

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We will be giving away the official Oscar poster – I think this is the poster. I got it at the Academy’s headquarters but have yet opened it — to the lucky winner of our contest, along with 5 choices of the 8 nominated Best Pictures, or 5 of the ones that weren’t nominated on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Good luck!

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If you listen to the muggles out there in the world there is only one movie they’re talking about and it’s American Sniper. Granted, it’s probably the only movie nominated that most have seen. To date, Sniper has made $300 million. It does kind of feel like American Sniper is the film that should be winning Best Picture, doesn’t it? When I hear the polls taken by people on ABC News by George Pennacchio by theater goers in Los Angeles and they all say they think Sniper is going to win, or talk to anyone on the street who knows very little about how the race works, they’ll say the same thing. That’s all I keep hearing about – Sniper, Sniper, Sniper. Even the brutally honest Academy voter was talking about Sniper.

But. They don’t know what we know. It has no Best Director nomination.

That didn’t stop Argo but Argo had the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, just like Birdman has. Sniper came too late in the game, just like Selma did, but manages to land its nominations before any of its controversy hit. It flew so under the radar no one really saw it as a threat. Certainly most Americans are unaware of the controversy, which is twofold. On the one hand, the controversy revolves around Clint Eastwood’s decision not to clarify the reasons Chris Kyle went to war. In the film he goes because he saw the towers downed. We know that isn’t why our country invaded Iraq. The character saw it that way but the film leaves it at that. It also shows sympathy only for the sniper and none for his victims. To add insult to injury, Kyle himself was outed for having told some outrageous lies. No one really knows who he killed over in Iraq because his ability to tell the truth has been called into question. Film critics had no problem separating fact from fiction, willing to defend the film as a film which should not be held accountable for the real Chris Kyle’s life story.

All the same, it’s hard not to notice a distinctly American film made by one of the town’s most legendary directors. The ways I agree with the elderly “brutally honest Academy voter” is that I do think the Oscars should recognize films that resonate with the public and the critics. There should be wide spectrum. What you have now is the “Oscar movie,” films that are made specifically for them and win awards because of that. American Sniper is a film that serves all purposes – popular with the public, did well with critics and the public. Gone Girl should have also been included as it did exactly the same thing.

An American Sniper win now would be completely off the charts, stats wise, and a total improbability. The Oscar race isn’t so hard to predict. The only thing that gets in your way is your own heart. The stats really can figure out the race for you. The big guilds decide the race now. That’s just the way it is.

But it’s odd the way everyone is talking about the movie and makes me think, with a little more time, Sniper could have stolen this whole season. Nowadays, the way the Oscar race goes, you need more time for a controversy to hit then die down before the voting takes place. If Sniper had been rolled around in September I think it would have been a force to be reckoned with.

Can it still win on Sunday as so many tuning in are going to hope for? There is probably a 5% chance of that happening, as much of a chance as Selma has.

What other big shocks might happen on Sunday?

Anything but Birdman
The only big surprise that happened at the BAFTAs was that Birdman was not popular with them so you could say that a Birdman near-shut-out would be a huge surprise. Even though people are predicting Boyhood to win, Birdman has the edge stats-wise, with all of the guilds unanimous in their support. Any other film winning would be a huge shock, even Boyhood.

The last time a film won without any of the guilds was before the guilds were really put into motion. The voting happens all at once since the Academy changed their date, which makes it harder for big surprises to happen anymore. Given another month another film might pop up and take its place. Braveheart and Mel Gibson would be your last example of a film that didn’t win any major guild before winning the Oscar. Even Shakespeare in Love had the SAG ensemble vote.

Wes Anderson surprising in Best Director
It won’t happen, of course, but there is so much love for The Grand Budapest Hotel that it winning screenplay (if it does, as many are predicting) could be combined with Anderson winning. It’s not unheard of for a surprise director to emerge in a tight year, as when Steven Soderbergh won for Traffic up against Ridley Scott and Ang Lee.

Everything is Awesome beating Glory for Selma
That brutally honest Academy voter put her vote with that song as a nod towards the snubbed Lego Movie. Glory is such a brilliant song and fit so well with Selma only a truly awful bunch of people would deny it this one award. But you know, voting is done anonymously. Like trolls in a comment section, they do whatever they want to do.

Finding Vivian Maier or Virunga or Last Days in Vietnam beating CitizenFour
I doubt anything will beat CitizenFour but with the Academy you have to watch all five docs to vote on them. You can’t simply vote on the most popular – that’s why some weird shit happens in this category when it comes to picking a winner. Never mind.  You don’t have to watch all of the nominees – so CitizenFour probably has it.  BUT if you did have to watch all five….CitizenFour is slow and plodding and not all that great of a film on its own. It’s really more about the time and place, what it captured, how history making it was that makes it so powerful. All four of the other documentaries are better films, cinematically. Virunga is an absolute tearjerker, features much of the same uncovering of deadly secrets on in this case it’s about saving the mountain gorillas. Vivian Maier is just delightful from start to finish, a true masterpiece. Last Days in Vietnam is so good it’s almost better than all of the Best Picture contenders. The docs and the foreign language films really wipe up the floor with (most of) the features this year.

The Dam Keeper beating Feast in animated short
Feast is the more popular for sure – it’s definitely more widely seen. But the Dam Keeper is really moving, just an astonishing work from start to finish. While it doesn’t leave you with as much exhilaration as Feast, I think it might be hard for voters to turn away from the Dam Keeper. It’s a long shot prediction, to be sure, but one I think might occur.

What other surprises do you think might happen on Sunday?

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The Hollywood Reporter polled “hundreds” of Oscar voters to find out their screening habits. I’m not surprised that the film most saw in the theater was Boyhood – because the kick-ass publicity team behind the film made sure they did, knowing that if given the chance many might skip it on screener.  Also not surprised that most watched American Sniper on screener – that’s really how the film did so well with voters – skipping much of the potentially bad press and showing them just the film worked very well, also the movie was widely distributed, and distributed early.  Roughly 6% of the members did not watch the nominated films.

Oscar voters number in the thousands – but these polls were taken in the hundreds so it’s not necessarily indicative of all Academy members.

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They also asked them if they would cast their ballots differently today – and many would choose All the President’s Men over Rocky, Saving Private Ryan over Shakespeare in Love, etc.

An absolutely brilliant Infographic How to Build an Oscar contender has been posted. Definitely check it out. It’s a handy reference guide for research.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 11.16.00 AM

 

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The Top 24 users on Gold Derby are more evenly split with many more choosing Boyhood over Birdman than the experts. I love looking at the users scores because they are often better at predicting than anyone else.   For some reason, the experts have Birdman to win but their handicapping odds still has Boyhood at 1/1. Funny. Hollywood-Elsewhere.com‘s Jeff Wells is the only person in the predicting game who had Birdman at the top. His Oscar charts that he built were roundly ridiculed for being all about advocacy and not about the race – he did not see a distinction between wanting something to win and it winning though by some miracle the “movie godz” have shined upon him and everything came into shape for the first time since Crash in 2005 where he was one of the few who predicted it to win early where everyone else had Brokeback Mountain.

 

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The AMPAS’s sound categories—Achievement Sound Mixing and Achievement in Sound Editing—are often trivialized afterthoughts to viewers at home, and even to some Academy voters who may not be primed in the specific mechanics of cinematic sound.

The Hollywood Reporter disclosed an anonymous Academy member’s ballot earlier this week. The voter abstained from discussing the sound categories, saying, “I never vote for these categories because I have no idea what’s good sound or bad sound — and believe me, I’m not alone among Academy members.”

More recently, the Academy has been known for rewarding the same film in both categories, which is usually the standout genre film of the year that earned an abundance of nominations. Two of Gravity’s seven technical Oscars were the sound awards. The Hurt Locker’s winning streak stretched to both categories. Inception and Hugo also scooped up both sound awards. The only recent year where the Academy voted for different films in each category was 2012: Les Miserables won Sound Mixing, and Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty tied for Sound Editing.

This year’s races in the sound categories are not extremely predictable. Each nominee is juggling several favorable and detrimental variables.

SOUND MIXING
American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash

SOUND EDITING
American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

After being recognized with six mentions from the Academy this year, American Sniper emerged as consensus prediction for both sound categories. A double American Sniper outcome appeared to be the most logical, seeing as it is a popular action film with a great deal of noisy gunfire. Even more than being just a spectacle with its war action, the sound design was extensively manipulated to engulf the viewer in Chris Kyle’s tension-filled decisions of whether or not to pull the trigger on Iraqi citizens. American Sniper fits the profile of a “Sound Awards Sweep” film, but it does not appear to have the undeniable winner momentum that a film like Gravity had. Sound Editing is the strong bet for American Sniper, even if Sound Mixing is awarded to another film.

Interstellar was predicted for the longest time to be the Inception of 2014, and steal away the sound categories, visual effects and maybe cinematography. Now, it’s best labeled as a wild card. The film did well with nominations considering how conflicting the reviews were, but that critical backlash cannot be ignored, no matter how much of a technical marvel the film may be. There are Best Picture nominees with just as impressive sound designs in the race, so Interstellar is probably not the average voter’s default pick. One of the many controversies surrounding Interstellar was the wobbly sound mix. Some found the dialogue difficult to discern amongst the thundering score and rocketing action. However, that negative response to the mix did not prevent Interstellar from receiving a nomination from the Academy’s sound branch.

Birdman won the Cinema Audio Society guild award for sound mixing in a motion picture amongst nominees Interstellar, American Sniper, Guardians of the Galaxy and Unbroken. CAS is typically a reliable source in foreshadowing which film will take home the Oscar for Sound Mixing. (The most recent film to win CAS but not the Oscar was True Grit in 2010. Inception won the Academy Award.) Birdman could duplicate its CAS success at the Oscars because of its Best Picture frontrunner status. Modern-day Best Picture winners garner at least three awards total, and a problem pundits are having in predicting Birdman for Best Picture is projecting other categories it could win besides the big prize and cinematography. If they are placing Birdman high in their Best Picture ranking, the Academy could vote in its favor for the sound awards.

The audio strengths of Birdman lie in the sound mix, not necessarily the sound effects. Birdman only has one scene—the fantasy climax—of stereotypical sound awards bait, but the rest of the film is accented with a vibrant jazz score. (In a few self-referential moments, Birdman pokes fun at its audacious score by literally displaying the drummer on screen.) Other advantages of its sound mix include scenes where characters exuberantly yell at one another and many sequences obviously feature stage performance action and dialogue. Winning Sound Mixing seems likely, but the forecast for it also snatching Sound Editing is not as probable unless the Academy goes on a Birdman-voting-binge.

The BAFTAs went in a completely different direction by rewarding Whiplash for Best Sound. What started out as a little vehicle for J.K. Simmons has seemed to fervently impact industry voters. The buzz around Whiplash is so strong that some think it could win all four of the Oscar categories in which it’s nominated, with the exception of Best Picture. This could be a problem for it winning Sound Mixing, because four wins feels excessive for a film of its size without winning subsequently Best Picture. If it wins Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing in addition to Supporting Actor, voters may look elsewhere for their Sound Mixing pick.

Like CAS, the BAFTA’s winner typically aligns with the Oscar winner too. The last instance where the two didn’t match was in 2006, when BAFTA recognized Casino Royale while the AMPAS awarded Dreamgirls. In a similar way as past winners like Les Miserables and Dreamgirls, Whiplash also benefits from its plot being immersed in reverberating music for the majority of the film.

Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s full-length directorially debut, was debunked by critics as average after misleading trailers created unearned pre-release buzz. The film only scored three nominations, all technical, so a win in either sound category would be odd, as would a victory for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The commotion of the final Middle Earth chapter will probably not draw too many voters away from the bigger, more respected films.

Since Whiplash is only nominated in Sound Mixing, this year could be following 2012’s pattern where a music-dependent movie wins Sound Mixing and allows a war film, American Sniper, to win Sound Editing. A similar outcome occurred in 2006, with Dreamgirls winning Sound Mixing, and Letters from Iwo Jima taking Sound Editing. But I have a feeling Birdman could rise to the occasion and collect the Sound Mixing Oscar, especially if it flies to a Best Picture trophy later in the ceremony.

PROJECTED SOUND MIXING RESULTS
1. Birdman
2. Whiplash
3. American Sniper
4. Interstellar
5. Unbroken

PROJECTED SOUND EDITING RESULTS
1. American Sniper
2. Birdman
3. Interstellar
4. Unbroken
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

let them eat cake

let them eat cakeScott Feinberg talks to an Academy voter who reveals her true opinions. As someone on the receiving end of a letter by an Academy voter, these two sound like they sit at the same table. Entitled, pampered, wealthy Hollywood business people. To this voter, money is more important than just about anything, which makes me think she’s an old-school Academy voter. She praises American Sniper for being a film that made a lot of money and praises Grand Budapest Hotel for the same reason. She is applauding success as defined by those in the club who see Hollywood the way it used to be and the way many Academy veterans are determined to see it stay. They do not realize that they look like dinosaurs. She seems to be engaged and smart, and to kind of sort of care, but she sounds like Marie Antoinette to me (or the rumored version of the French queen) – just clueless as to what people are really talking about in the rest of the film community.

First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?

I’ve heard these same complaints, but typically from elderly or white middle-aged males – but you don’t often hear it from younger people or anyone engaged in the evolving culture here in this country and in the independent film community. If you don’t care about civil rights you aren’t going to care about Selma. It’s really as simple as that. You either feel the pulse of its urgency or you don’t. If you spend all of your free time deciding which day to wash your hair or which car pick-up company to use to take you to which event you’re certainly going to be far, far removed from the urgency a film like Selma brings.

She does have a point when she says:

Birdman is a great job by Fox Searchlight — it’s a weird, quirky movie that they did a really good job of selling. I never thought that it would make it all the way to the finish line like it has — but then I remember that it’s about a tortured actor, and when you think about who is doing the voting, at SAG and the Academy, it’s a lot of other tortured actors. I just don’t know how much it’s resonating out in the world. I mean, American Sniper made more in its third weekend in wide release than Birdman has made in its entirety.

Unfortunately she doesn’t take the thought further to analyze exactly why Birdman is resonating with the film industry as a whole. Doesn’t take rocket science. It won with producers, actors and directors. But it won nowhere else.

And here she shows just how out of touch the voters really are:

On paper, The Imitation Game seemed to be the one to me. It’s a great story, well-crafted, [Benedict Cumberbatch] is really good and it’s been a big success. It’s what you call “prestige filmmaking.” So why isn’t it receiving more recognition? I’d like to believe it’s karma for Harvey [Weinstein]. But I’m going to hold my nose and vote for it anyway because when you vote for best picture, what you should try to do is vote for the movie that, years from now, people will still watch and talk about. For some years, it’s like, “Huh?! Around the World in 80 Days [the winner for 1956] won best picture? Are you kidding me?” So I try to vote in a way so that, in 50 years, people aren’t going to go, “Huh?!” MY VOTE: (1) The Imitation Game; (2) Birdman; (3) American Sniper; (4) Boyhood; (5) The Grand Budapest Hotel

Of all of the movies in the lineup she picks The Imitation Game as the one that will stand the test of time? By the logic of her other remarks, she should have picked American Sniper.

I don’t like this way of thinking but I’m afraid this is how a very large number of Academy members think. This is very representative of who they are, sadly. Sure, there is a smaller percentage of younger, more diverse voters but this kind of mindset — traditional Hollywood – impedes progress.

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When I look at how Oscar race 2014 turned out I see the worst case scenario, almost, all the way down the line. Every bad thing that could happen did happen.

What I see when I look at this year’s race is nothing but limitations. The legendary Patti Smith shut out of Best Song, Gillian Flynn shut out of making history as a female writer, Gone Girl itself — from the score to the directing to the writing  — shut out all because they didn’t like the characters and the distibutor did very little publicity. And Selma, all of the doors that slammed shut as that film stepped up to the plate.

I look at the race and I see a much better race that might have been. I see a more reasonable embrace of films that depict characters both dark and uplifting. I see a directors lineup that might have confirmed a desire to make history. Instead, I see a case to be made for skipping the Oscars altogether.

It isn’t that these eight Best Picture nominees are bad.  It’s that they are not representative of the year in film. I get that Oscar voters don’t pay attention to the noise. They brag about it even. We like what we like and it’s as simple as that.

Their protest vote, their unification, their rallying cry comes in the form of Birdman which says the artist who just wants to tell good stories is dying out to make room for the modern era of tent poles, superhero movies and stupid things like viral videos. Birdman makes them feel alive, both in its storytelling — a vibrant and exciting trick pulled off — the best acting of the year and the most important thing: its movie stars.

Birdman is a confirmation of all that Hollywood wishes it was. And hey, there is nothing wrong with that. From where I sit, though, I mark this year as the year I look to other awards shows that did really pay attention to what was actually happening.

The HFPA completely redeemed itself when it didn’t go for the star-powered Unbroken just to have Angie at their show. No one thought they would pass up that chance.  Moreover, they decided to make history instead with the nomination of Ava DuVernay. I look to the Spirit Awards which has no choice but to be up-to-the minute since the people who vote on it are not elitists in a club that is by invite only, but rather, any film-lover with $99 who wants to join can become a voice with a ballot. It isn’t the People’s Choice awards but an expression of an engaged film community with their finger on the pulse of the changing landscape of Hollywood.

What we have our hand on this year, with the Oscars, is a dead shark. A shark has to continually be moving forward, as Alvy tells Annie, or else it dies. At the same time, it surely isn’t the end of everything. It’s a great year for documentarians and makers of short films. It’s a great year for international filmmakers who keep making movies the voters eat up. It isn’t that it’s so bad as it just feels like something went very wrong with the voting.

You could not really sit down with an average voter and have a conversation about film. You would find it to be a very limiting conversation, put it that way. Here we are on the last day and there isn’t much to talk about, really, is there?  In the adapted race it’s one forgettable script versus another forgettable script. The best one in the category won’t win. And we have Alejandro G. Inarritu’s shining moment up on stage, his Oscar won at last. It’s too bad Keaton won’t be standing alongside him.

At this rate I will personally be overjoyed if Boyhood wins anything beyond Supporting Actress. I won’t care that much if Birdman wins. All in all it just feels like we’re all making a meal out what got left over in the fridge after a celebration weekend.

I know my own year in film will be defined by the films that mostly got ignored, namely David Fincher’s culture-quake Gone Girl, Dan Gilroy’s fantastic Nightcrawler, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, and a couple of the films voters did pick. When I look back on this year I will see it as another year where Hollywood hugged itself, for better or worse.

Next to final but not final predictions

Best Picture
Boyhood
*you should pick Birdman for your office pool

Director
Richard Linklater
play it safe and pick Inarritu?

Actor
Eddie Redmayne

Actress
Julianne Moore

Supporting Actor
JK Simmons

Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette

Editing
Whiplash

Original Screenplay
Birdman

Adapted Screenplay
Whiplash

Cinematography
Birdman

Production Design, Makeup, Costumes
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Documentary
CitizenFour

Foreign Language
Wild Tales

Short, Live Action
Parvaneh
*The Phone Call

Animated Short
The Feast

Doc Short
Joanna

Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon 2

Visual Effects
Interstellar
Apes

Sound
Birdman

Sound Editing
American Sniper

Song
Selma

(Apologies for the brevity of this piece as I am a tad under the weather.)

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

On Saturday I will attend the Spirit Awards. The next day I’m going to the Oscars. I think I have a dress. I have earrings and I’m watching lots of makeup tutorials on Youtube. Oh, for the days before “mature skin.” I am grateful for the invite for the Academy. None of the complaints I have against the voters relates in any way to the well oiled machine that is the Academy itself. It’s a worthy and valuable institution. Everything they do speaks to diversity, evolution and preservation. It’s a shame their voters aren’t as up to the minute as the Academy itself. Either way, I know how fantastic the whole enterprise will be, given the Academy’s usual expertise in this area.

I will be seeing all of the stars in the galaxy. I am sure I will see lots of nervous people. I am specifically wondering how different the show will be from the way it’s seen on TV. I will be reporting from the inside. I do not know if I am allowed to use my phone, or tweet. With my luck I will get seated next to the costume designer who wrote me that angry letter. Good times.

My point in writing this is not to brag. Well, of course it’s to brag. But really, I’d like to hear from you readers – what would you most like to know about the event itself?

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The end has come at last. The ballots are due on Tuesday though most voters have likely turned in their ballots. There is no turning around now. As we all know, many voters simply abstain from certain categories. Why? Because they can. Some of them abstain because they simply don’t care enough to do the research. Some abstain because they don’t bother with “lesser” categories. Some just put their favorite movie across the board. Herewith, give or take, the AwardsDaily primer of what is considered “Best” in each category but what would be an interesting choice.

Best Picture
Voters will likely pick: Birdman
AD’s pick: The higher achievement, the more difficult, the more impressive: Boyhood
Please note: You can pick movies like Selma, Whiplash, American Sniper and the rest. Just know that those votes will probably be tossed and your vote will count only for one of the two most popular choices. That’s the preferential ballot at work

Best Director
Voters will likely pick: Alejandro G. Inarritu, making it the fifth straight year a non-American born director gets chosen. It’s a good choice but–
AD’s pick: The higher achievement, the more difficult, the more impressive? Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Best Actor
Voters will likely pick: Eddie Redmayne – he’s deserving for sure.
AD’s pick: The less predictable choice is: Michael Keaton for Birdman – if you want to award that film but can’t sacrifice Boyhood? Keaton’s the way to go.

Best Actress
Voters will likely pick: the very very overdue Julianne Moore. A very good choice.
AD’s pick: Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl for reasons that should be self-evident.

Supporting Actor
Voters will pick and AD’s pick: JK Simmons for Whiplash

Supporting Actress
Voters will pick and AD’s pick: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Original Screenplay
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick The Grand Budapest Hotel, a good choice.

Adapted Screenplay
Voters will likely pick: no one knows for sure. It’s anyone’s game.
AD’s pick: Whiplash in lieu of the best choice for this category, Gone Girl

Editing
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: Boyhood

Cinematography
Voters will likely pick: Birdman
AD’s pick: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Costume Design
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Production Design
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Makeup
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Original Score
Voters will likely pick: The Grand Budapest Hotel
AD’s pick: Interstellar

Visual Effects
Voters will likely pick: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a great choice
AD’s pick: Interstellar

Animated Feature
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Foreign Language
Voters will likely pick: Wild Tales
AD’s pick: Ida

Documentary Feature
Voters will likely pick: CitizenFour
AD’s pick: Virunga or Last Days in Vietnam

Live Action Short
Voters will likely pick: The Phone Call, a great choice
AD’s pick: Parvaneh

Animated Short
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: Feast

Documentary Short
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: Joanna

Song
Voters will likely pick and AD’s pick: Glory from Selma

Academy voters will not be reading this any time soon. That is the only thing we know for sure.

Your turn, readers.

lady_gaga_wallpaper-1024x768

They are bringing out the stars for sure for the 87th Academy Awards, partly because they’re worried no one will watch and partly because they always do! Lady Gaga has just been announced, along with Anna Kendrick, Jack Black and Jennifer Hudson who are also performing.

Up to date presenters list:

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chris Evans
Dakota Johnson
Jennifer Lopez
Chloe Grace Moretz
Eddie Murphy
Margot Robbie
Ben Affleck
Jessica Chastain
Viola Davis
Kevin Hart
Shirley MacLaine
Chris Pine
Miles Teller
Naomi Watts
Jennifer Aniston
Sienna Miller
David Oyelowo
Chris Pratt
John Travolta
Kerry Washington
Josh Hutcherson
Scarlett Johansson
Zoe Saldana
Octavia Spencer
Marion Cotillard
Benedict Cumberbatch
Meryl Streep
Oprah Winfrey
Reese Witherspoon
Cate Blanchett
Lupita Nyong’o
Jared Leto
Matthew McConaughey

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