Runoff election required for Writers Branch

LOS ANGELES, CA (press release) – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced its newly elected 2015–16 Board of Governors. A runoff election is required for the Writers Branch.

“I’m excited to welcome our four new governors to the Board and congratulate those who have been reelected,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Our Board is made up of some of the most experienced and respected professionals in our industry, and we look forward to working with them on our ongoing goals of increasing member engagement and expanding the Academy’s outreach to our global film community.”

Those elected to the Board for the first time are Lois Burwell, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch; Michael Giacchino, Music Branch; Rory Kennedy, Documentary Branch; and Daryn Okada, Cinematographers Branch.

Incumbent governors reelected to the Board include Jim Bissell, Designers Branch; Tom Hanks, Actors Branch; Kathleen Kennedy, Producers Branch; John Knoll, Visual Effects Branch; Bill Kroyer, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch; Michael Mann, Directors Branch; Scott Millan, Sound Branch; Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Costume Designers Branch; and Bernard Telsey, Casting Directors Branch.

Returning to the Board after a hiatus are governors Jim Gianopulos, Executives Branch; Marvin Levy, Public Relations Branch; and Carol Littleton, Film Editors Branch.

The balloting in the Academy’s Writers Branch produced a tie between candidates Larry Karaszewski and Billy Ray, necessitating a second polling of that branch. Voting for the runoff election via online and paper ballots will begin Thursday, July 16, and end Wednesday, July 22. The Academy last held a runoff election in 2009 for the Directors Branch.

The Academy’s 17 branches are each represented by three governors, who may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. The Board of Governors directs the Academy’s strategic vision, preserves the organization’s financial health, and assures the fulfillment of its mission.

For a full list of Academy governors, click here.

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

The Academy has released its list of new member invitees.  Niki Caro finally gets an invite!  Gugu Mbatha-Raw is in the house!

The 2015 invitees are:

Elizabeth Banks – “Love & Mercy,” “The Hunger Games”
Choi Min-sik– “Lucy,” “Oldboy”
Benedict Cumberbatch – “The Imitation Game,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”
Martin Freeman – “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Hot Fuzz”
Heather Graham – “The Hangover,” “Boogie Nights”
Tom Hardy – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Inception”
Kevin Hart – “The Wedding Ringer,” “Ride Along”
Felicity Jones – “The Theory of Everything,” “Like Crazy”
Stephen Lang – “Avatar,” “The Men Who Stare at Goats”
Jodi Long – “A Picture of You,” “Beginners”
John Carroll Lynch – “Shutter Island,” “Zodiac”
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – “Beyond the Lights,” “Belle”
Denis O’Hare – “Milk,” “Michael Clayton”
Michael O’Neill – “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Transformers”
David Oyelowo – “Selma,” “A Most Violent Year”
Dev Patel – “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Slumdog Millionaire”
Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl,” “Pride & Prejudice”
Chris Pine – “Into the Woods,” “Star Trek”
Daniel Radcliffe – “Kill Your Darlings,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
Eddie Redmayne – “The Theory of Everything,” “Les Misérables”
Jason Segel – “The Five-Year Engagement,” “The Muppets”
J.K. Simmons – “Whiplash,” “Juno”
Sonny Skyhawk – “Geronimo: An American Legend,” “Young Guns II”
Song Kang-ho – “Snowpiercer,” “The Host”
Emma Stone – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “The Help”

Casting Directors
Lucy Bevan – “Cinderella,” “The Hundred-Foot Journey”
Victoria Burrows – “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “King Kong”
Aisha Coley – “Selma,” “Beyond the Lights”
Patricia DiCerto – “Blue Jasmine,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Mary Hidalgo – “The Lego Movie,” “The Incredibles”
Roger Mussenden – “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Get Smart”
Lucie Robitaille – “Incendies,” “The Barbarian Invasions”
Luis San Narciso – “The Skin I Live In,” “The Sea Inside”
April Webster – “Tomorrowland,” “Star Trek”
Tricia Wood – “Woman in Gold,” “The Lincoln Lawyer”

Christopher Blauvelt – “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “The Bling Ring”
Adriano Goldman – “August: Osage County,” “Jane Eyre”
Ben Kasulke – “Laggies,” “Safety Not Guaranteed”
Ryszard Lenczewski – “Ida,” “Margaret”
Jody Lee Lipes – “Ballet 422,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Sharone Meir – “Whiplash,” “Mean Creek”
Rachel Morrison – “Cake,” “Fruitvale Station”
Tristan Oliver – “ParaNorman,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
Hoyte Van Hoytema – “Interstellar,” “Her”
Roman Vasyanov – “Fury,” “End of Watch”
Łukasz Żal – “Ida,” “Joanna”

Costume Designers
Kasia Walicka Maimone – “Foxcatcher,” “Moonrise Kingdom”
Francesca Livia Sartori – “Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy,” “When the Night”
Jany Temime – “Gravity,” “Skyfall”

Ramsey Avery – “Tomorrowland,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”
Gae Buckley – “The Book of Eli,” “He’s Just Not That into You”
Keith Brian Burns – “The Best Man Holiday,” “2 Fast 2 Furious”
Lester W. Cohen – “Fading Gigolo,” “Cop Land”
Suzie Davies – “Mr. Turner,” “The Children”
John F. Fenner – “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”
Darren Gilford – “Oblivion,” “Tron: Legacy”
Derek R. Hill – “Southpaw,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”
Bryn Imagire – “Cars 2,” “Up”
Dina Lipton – “Baggage Claim,” “Love Hurts”
Tatiana Macdonald – “The Imitation Game,” “The Invisible Woman”
Dominic Masters – “Woman in Gold,” “Casino Royale”
Doug Meerdink – “Jurassic World,” “Ocean’s Thirteen”
Chris Spellman – “Paper Towns,” “This Is the End”
Patrick Tatopoulos – “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Total Recall”
Charlotte Watts – “Mr. Holmes,” “Mr. Turner”

Michael Binder – “Black or White,” “Reign over Me”
Bong Joon-ho – “Snowpiercer,” “Mother”
Niki Caro – “North Country,” “Whale Rider”
Damien Chazelle* – “Whiplash,” “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench”
Simon Curtis – “Woman in Gold,” “My Week with Marilyn”
François Girard – “Silk,” “The Red Violin”
F. Gary Gray – “The Italian Job,” “Friday”
James Gunn – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Super”
Im Kwon-taek – “Chi-Hwa-Seon (Painted Fire),” “Chunhyang”
Stan Lathan – “Beat Street,” “Amazing Grace”
Malcolm D. Lee* – “The Best Man Holiday,” “The Best Man”
Justin Lin – “Fast & Furious 6,” “Better Luck Tomorrow”
François Ozon – “Young & Beautiful,” “Swimming Pool”
Paweł Pawlikowski* – “Ida,” “My Summer of Love”
Kelly Reichardt – “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Wendy and Lucy”
Ira Sachs – “Love Is Strange,” “Keep the Lights On”
Lynn Shelton – “Laggies,” “Your Sister’s Sister”
Abderrahmane Sissako* – “Timbuktu,” “Bamako”
Damián Szifron* – “Wild Tales,” “On Probation”
Fernando Trueba – “Chico & Rita,” “Belle Epoque”
Morten Tyldum – “The Imitation Game,” “Headhunters”
Zaza Urushadze – “Tangerines,” “The Guardian”
Wayne Wang – “Anywhere but Here,” “The Joy Luck Club”
Edgar Wright – “The World’s End,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”
Joe Wright – “Anna Karenina,” “Atonement”
Andrey Zvyagintsev* – “Leviathan,” “Elena”

Richard Berge – “The Island President,” “The Rape of Europa”
Mathilde Bonnefoy* – “CitizenFour,” “The Invisibles”
Emad Burnat – “5 Broken Cameras”
Guy Davidi – “5 Broken Cameras,” “Interrupted Streams”
Geralyn Dreyfous – “The Square,” “The Invisible War”
Lewis Erskine – “Free Angela: And All Political Prisoners,” “Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple”
Shana Hagan – “Misconception,” “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”
Tony Hardmon – “Detropia,” “Semper Fi: Always Faithful”
Leonard Retel Helmrich – “Position among the Stars,” “Shape of the Moon”
Pirjo Honkasalo – “The 3 Rooms of Melancholia,” “Atman”
Judy Irving – “Pelican Dreams,” “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill”
Robert Kenner – “Merchants of Doubt,” “Food, Inc.”
Marc Levin – “Mr. Untouchable,” “The Last Party”
Jesse Moss – “The Overnighters,” “Full Battle Rattle”
Pratibha Parmar – “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth,” “A Place of Rage”
Paula DuPre’ Pesmen – “Keep On Keepin’ On,” “The Cove”
Gordon Quinn – “Life Itself,” “Hoop Dreams”
Kim Roberts – “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” “Lost Boys of Sudan”
Richard Rowley – “Dirty Wars,” “The Fourth World War”
João Moreira Salles – “Santiago,” “Entreatos (Intermissions)”
Ondi Timoner – “We Live in Public,” “Dig!”

Carolyn Blackwood
Robbie Brenner
Lia Buman
Steve Burke
David Fenkel
Mellody Hobson
Brian Keane
Steven Paul O’Dell
Jim Orr
Mark Rachesky
Ted Sarandos
Jeff Shell

Film Editors
Craig Alpert – “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Pineapple Express”
Mick Audsley – “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” “Dirty Pretty Things”
Pablo Barbieri – “Wild Tales,” “La Antena (The Aerial)”
Nadia Ben Rachid – “Timbuktu,” “Bamako”
Kristina Boden – “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “Cake”
Mathilde Bonnefoy* – “CitizenFour,” “Run Lola Run”
Julian Clarke – “Chappie,” “District 9”
Douglas Crise – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Babel”
Tom Cross – “Whiplash,” “Any Day Now”
Jinx Godfrey – “The Theory of Everything,” “Man on Wire”
Robert Grahamjones – “Brave,” “Ratatouille”
Masahiro Hirakubo – “Virunga,” “The Duchess”
Jarosław Kamiński – “Ida,” “Aftermath (Pokłosie)”
William Kerr – “Bridesmaids,” “I Love You, Man”
Nico Leunen – “Lost River,” “The Broken Circle Breakdown”
Mike McCusker – “Get On Up,” “3:10 to Yuma”
Tim Mertens – “Big Hero 6,” “Wreck-It Ralph”
Barney Pilling – “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “An Education”
David Rennie – “22 Jump Street,” “Office Space”
Gary D. Roach – “American Sniper,” “Prisoners”
Michael L. Sale – “We’re the Millers,” “Bridesmaids”
Stephen Schaffer – “Cars 2,” “WALL-E”
Job ter Burg – “Borgman,” “Winter in Wartime”
Peter Teschner – “St. Vincent,” “Horrible Bosses”
Tara Timpone – “Friends with Kids,” “Bad Teacher”

Makeup Artists and Hairstylists
Frida S. Aradottir – “August: Osage County,” “A Serious Man”
Victoria Down – “Big Eyes,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Frances Hannon – “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The King’s Speech”
Todd Kleitsch – “Run All Night,” “Black Swan”
Dennis Liddiard – “Foxcatcher,” “Jobs”
Jerry Popolis – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Noah”
Janine Rath-Thompson – “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Bridesmaids”
Johnny Villanueva – “The Gambler,” “The Fighter”
David White – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “La Vie en Rose”
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “An Education”

Andy Armstrong
Wayne Billheimer
Kevin Brownlow
Simon Crane
Debbie Denise
Jeff Habberstad
Andy Hendrickson
Elissa M. Rashkin Loparco
Guido Quaroni
Nicole Scalise
Steven J. Scott
Leon D. Silverman
Gregg Smrz
Lynda Ellenshaw Thompson
Steve Venezia

Tyler Bates – “John Wick,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Alex Gibson – “Interstellar,” “The Dark Knight”
Jonny Greenwood – “Inherent Vice,” “The Master”
Dave Grusin – “Skating to New York,” “The Firm”
Alex Heffes – “Love and Honor,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Lisa Jaime – “Annie,” “Rock of Ages”
Jóhann Jóhannsson – “The Theory of Everything,” “Prisoners”
Laura Karpman – “States of Grace,” “Black Nativity”
Christopher Lennertz – “The Wedding Ringer,” “Horrible Bosses”
Lonnie Lynn – “Selma,” “Freedom Writers”
Chris McGeary – “Jersey Boys,” “RoboCop”
Sergio Mendes – “Rio 2,” “Rio”
Daniel Pinder – “Big Hero 6,” “Captain Phillips”
Trent Reznor – “Gone Girl,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Atticus Ross – “Love & Mercy,” “The Social Network”
John Stephens – “Selma,” “Django Unchained”
Marc Streitenfeld – “Poltergeist,” “Prometheus”
Erica Weis – “Spy,” “The Heat”
Gary Yershon – “Mr. Turner,” “Another Year”

Caroline Baron – “Capote,” “Monsoon Wedding”
Effie T. Brown – “Dear White People,” “Real Women Have Curves”
Terence Chang – “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” “Face/Off”
Wyck Godfrey – “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Twilight”
Jeremy Kleiner – “Selma,” “12 Years a Slave”
Pamela Koffler – “Still Alice,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Gina Kwon – “Camp X-Ray,” “Me and You and Everyone We Know”
Dan Lin – “The Lego Movie,” “Sherlock Holmes”
Eric Newman – “RoboCop,” “Children of Men”
Bruna Papandrea – “Wild,” “All Good Things”
Lydia Dean Pilcher – “Cutie and the Boxer,” “The Darjeeling Limited”
Rebecca Yeldham – “On the Road,” “The Kite Runner”

Public Relations
Jennifer Allen
Asad Ayaz
Dawn Baillie
Andrew Bernstein
Liz Biber
Mara Buxbaum
Lee Ginsberg
R. Jeff Hill
Michelle Hooper
Chris Libby
Susan Norget
Lewis Oberlander
Gordon Paddison
Elias Plishner
David Pollick
Weiman Seid
LeeAnne Stables
Ryan Stankevich
Bonnie Voland

Short Films and Feature Animation
Alan Barillaro – “Brave,” “WALL-E”
Kristine Belson – “The Croods,” “How to Train Your Dragon”
Darlie Brewster – “Curious George,” “The Prince of Egypt”
Roy Conli – “Big Hero 6,” “Tangled”
Ronnie Del Carmen – “Up,” “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”
Paul A. Felix – “Big Hero 6,” “Lilo & Stitch”
Michael Fukushima – “Me and My Moulton,” “Dimanche/Sunday”
Don Hall – “Big Hero 6,” “Winnie the Pooh”
Talkhon Hamzavi – “Parvaneh,” “Taub”
Hu Wei – “Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak),” “Le Propriétaire”
Jin Kim – “Big Hero 6,” “Bolt”
Mat Kirkby – “The Phone Call,” “Hard to Swallow”
David Kneupper – “Alex and Sylvia,” “The Civil War in 4 Minutes”
Michael Lennox – “Boogaloo and Graham,” “The Back of Beyond”
Fabio Lignini – “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Puss in Boots”
James Lucas – “The Phone Call”
Patrick Osborne – “Feast,” “Paperman”
Jerome Ranft – “Toy Story 3,” “Ratatouille”
Jim Reardon – “Wreck-It Ralph,” “WALL-E”
Kristina Reed – “Feast,” “Paperman”
Jason Reisig – “Home,” “Shrek Forever After”
Nicolas Schmerkin – “Habana,” “Logorama”
Anthony Stacchi – “The Boxtrolls,” “Open Season”
Isao Takahata – “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” “Grave of the Fireflies”
Michael Thurmeier – “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “No Time for Nuts”
Marlon West – “Frozen,” “The Princess and the Frog”

Ray Beckett – “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Hurt Locker”
Odin Benitez – “Frozen,” “Silver Linings Playbook”
Ron Bochar – “Mortdecai,” “Moneyball”
Jason Canovas – “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” “World War Z”
Thomas Curley – “Whiplash,” “The Spectacular Now”
Michael Dressel – “American Sniper,” “Interstellar”
Mary H. Ellis – “Vacation,” “Prisoners”
Stephanie Flack – “Jupiter Ascending,” “Ender’s Game”
Martín Hernández – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Biutiful”
Dean Humphreys – “Taken 3,” “The Pianist”
William Johnston – Vice President of Engineering, Formosa Group
Shawn Jones – “Iron Man 3,” “Drive”
Daniel Laurie – “Inside Out,” “Big Hero 6”
David Lee – “Unbroken,” “The Matrix”
Craig Mann – “Dope,” “Whiplash”
Kyrsten Mate – “Tomorrowland,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Shannon J. Mills – “Inside Out,” “Big Hero 6”
Bryan K. Pennington – “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Promised Land”
Juan P. Peralta – “Tomorrowland,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
John Ross – “Danny Collins,” “American Hustle”
Peter Staubli – “San Andreas,” “Skyfall”
Mark Taylor – “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Captain Phillips”
Addison Teague – “Big Hero 6,” “The Amazing Spider-Man”
Jon Title – “San Andreas,” “The Divergent Series: Insurgent”
Thomas Varga – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “The Immigrant”
Ben Wilkins – “Whiplash,” “Star Trek”

Visual Effects
Nicolas Aithadi – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “X-Men: First Class”
Daniel Barrett – “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
Stephane Ceretti – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Cloud Atlas”
Paul Corbould – “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Tim Crosbie – “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “The Wolverine”
Dan DeLeeuw – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Iron Man 3”
Sean Faden – “Fast & Furious 6,” “Let Me In”
Joe Farrell – “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Hereafter”
Scott R. Fisher – “Interstellar,” “The Dark Knight Rises”
Chris Harvey – “Chappie,” “Fast & Furious 6”
Alex Jaeger – “Tomorrowland,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”
Matt Kutcher – “Focus,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
Andrew Lockley – “Interstellar,” “Inception”
Gray Marshall – “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: The First Avenger”
Carl Miller – “Jurassic World,” “Elysium”
David Nakabayashi – “Tomorrowland,” “Avatar”
Rocco Passionino – “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Spider-Man 2”
Lou Pecora – “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”
Cary Phillips – “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Ellen Poon – “Frozen,” “Inception”
Edwin Rivera – “22 Jump Street,” “Moneyball”
Cameron Waldbauer – “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Elysium”
Erik Winquist – “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Avatar”

Armando Bo – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Biutiful”
Damien Chazelle* – “Whiplash,” “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench”
Álex de la Iglesia – “El Crimen Perfecto,” “The Day of the Beast”
Rick Famuyiwa – “Dope,” “The Wood”
Maya Forbes – “Infinitely Polar Bear,” “Monsters vs Aliens”
E. Max Frye – “Foxcatcher,” “Something Wild”
Nicolás Giacobone – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Biutiful”
Dan Gilroy – “Nightcrawler,” “The Bourne Legacy”
Jorge Guerricaechevarría – “Cell 211,” “The Day of the Beast”
Rita Hsiao – “Toy Story 2,” “Mulan”
Simon Kinberg – “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Sherlock Holmes”
Malcolm D. Lee* – “The Best Man Holiday,” “The Best Man”
Christopher Markus – “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The First Avenger”
Stephen McFeely – “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The First Avenger”
Graham Moore – “The Imitation Game”
Paweł Pawlikowski* – “Ida,” “My Summer of Love”
Abderrahmane Sissako* – “Timbuktu,” “Bamako”
Damián Szifron* – “Wild Tales,” “On Probation”
Kessen Tall – “Timbuktu”
Tyger Williams – “The Perfect Guy,” “Menace II Society”
Andrey Zvyagintsev* – “Leviathan,” “Elena”

Victoria Belfrage
Josh Braun
Wayne Fitterman
Sharon Jackson
Patricia Keighley
Cliff Roberts
Elyse Scherz
James Toth
Bart Walker

Pixar Post - Inside Out Madness TV Spot2

And here we are again. There are two films that were screened in Cannes that will very likely be named by many authorities as two of the best films of the year but are also two that don’t fit the Academy’s formula for what defines a Best Picture contender. Why? Because one is an animated film and the other a genre movie. While it’s true that Gravity and Life of Pi managed to make the cut in previous years, they are both heavy on emotion and character, while depending heavily on visual effects.

Quick primer on how Best Picture works for those who don’t know the history (it is confusing to many). In 2009, the Academy expanded their Best Picture lineup from five nomination slots and five nominees to ten nomination slots and ten nominees. In those magical years the wide array of films that were selected prove that the Academy members can expand beyond their comfort zone if given enough room.

In 2009 and 2010 voters were given ten nomination slots and ten Best Pictures. There were two films per year directed by women. There were several films nominated about women. There were animated films (Up and Toy Story 3) and genre films (District 9, Avatar, Inception). Sure, the male hero feelgood drama still dominated but there was room for more than just that.

Beginning in 2011 and up to present, the Academy has done away with the ten nomination slots and shrunk it back down to five. They still allow for more than five Best Picture nominees (an even 9 except last year). Voters had to stick to five nominating slots, making it nearly impossible for an animated film, no matter how good it is, to get a Best Picture nod.

This is the single reason that Inside Out can’t be considered a likely Best Picture nominee. The chances of it making the top five lists of enough voters is slim to none. Not only that, but it has to compete with Pixar’s other movie coming out this year, the Good Dinosaur which will feature state-of-the-art visuals as well, and will be more traditionally about your misfit male hero. Pixar against Pixar.

Once again, it would behoove the Academy to open up the Best Picture race and make it a REAL race again. While it’s true that ten sort of obliterates the unification of Best Picture and Best Director or any film ever sweeping the Oscars again, it does help address the way Hollywood has changed.

Devin Faraci wrote a nice piece about Inside Out where he says how much more meaningful the story is because the stakes are higher:

As the two emotions try to make their way back to Headquarters they are shocked to discover that Riley’s Islands of Personality – the emotional epicenters of who she is, and the things that define her as a person – are unstable. More than unstable, some of them begin to completely fail, falling away into the Memory Hole, from which nothing returns. Joy and Sadness have to get back to Riley’s Headquarters before all of the Islands collapse, changing her into someone unrecognizable.

These stakes are enormous. The world isn’t going to end, no one is going to die and the future of the human race aren’t on the line here, but the film firmly establishes that what’s going on inside Riley’s head is important. The film established that Riley is a good kid, and that Riley deserves something as basic as a smile on her face. Watching the movie – often through a film of tears – I cared more about whether Riley would keep playing hockey than I cared about whether Chris Pratt would escape the dinosaurs at my previous night’s screening.

Stakes come when we care about characters, and the biggest stakes are how things will impact those characters. We all know that Sadness and Joy will eventually make it back to Headquarters, but will they get there in time to help Riley maintain the things that make her her? And how the heck will they manage to make the journey in time? As each Island of Personality crumbled and collapsed I felt more tension and concern than I did seeing a hundred CGI cities laid waste over the last few years.

When a film cuts this deeply it’s worth considering it as one of the year’s best, whether it is animated or not.


It’s an interesting thing, awards season. It is never to be taken all that seriously, we get that. It does, by no means, declare anything or mean anything except to take a snapshot of who these people are at any point in time. It doesn’t reflect what the ticket-buyers think is best and it doesn’t reflect what the critics or the British film industry thinks is best. It represents the Hollywood film industry, those people who either once made movies and now spend their retirement in judgement of the people who do, or those who are trying to make movies and get slapped down by either the executives in Hollywood or the critics.

I’ve heard, from a source I will not disclose, that several Academy members recently said they weren’t voting for Boyhood because “did not speak” to them. What does that mean exactly? It means that they could never imagine living a normal life full of ordinary struggles in finding their way.

Drilling down more deeply into what they meant by “it did not speak to them,” one elderly female Academy member, the same one who reacted violently to Wolf of Wall Street of Wall Street said she was not voting for Boyhood because, and I quote, “it was about people who were ‘garbage’ and ‘losers’.”

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. At first people thought it was that the critics lavished so much praise upon the film the industry snickered at their choice and said, “that’s not how you make a movie, THIS is how you make a movie.” But now, another dimension has been uncovered. It’s a film about people who are struggling with every day problems. Funnily enough, Boyhood is a movie for ordinary people who don’t yet know it even exists. It is a film I would recommend to everyone I know, even though some might think it inaccessible and snooty. Most people I know would relate and do relate to what they see on screen. They don’t dwell in the 1%, or aspire to dwell there in that rarefied air, forever gazing at the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.

So now we must factor in “garbage” or “trash” when thinking about what “they” will do. Boy, they’ve come a long way since Midnight Cowboy won Best Picture, huh?

Boyhood spoke to me because much of my life was lived as a real life, raising a daughter on my own being the most fulfilling part of that life. I went through the abusive boyfriend who was my daughter’s father figure with the nice house in the Hollywood Hills, the 50K Mercedes and the hardcore drinking problem. I did it because I wanted to give her a better life than apartments with one bedroom and no natural sunlight. I figured it out at some point that being rich doesn’t make you a better person or more worthy in anyone’s eyes that matter. That doesn’t make me trash — it makes me human, yearning for a better life and struggling to get there.  Let any of those pampered, entitled voters stand up and tell me they never made any mistakes in their lives with the people they chose.

Only one member in the group stood up for Boyhood and bravely said, “I think it’s better than all of the other nominees.”

My friend concluded with his own observations about how people were talking about the Boyhood, “There is great glee in knocking that film down. They don’t want it at the party,” adding, “they aren’t passionate about Birdman, particularly, but most just want to be on the winning side.”


There is something very wrong with the system the Academy has now put in place to choose Best Picture. Relying on Oscar voters to pick their five favorites of the year should result in five genuinely Best Picture nominees. But what they are saying, more and more, is that these are the five films already chosen for us by studios and their publicists, and from that pre-selected collection these are the ones we like best. In other words, these are the movies specifically made to cater to our tastes that we like best. The overall range of excellence is nowhere near the selections the voters used to give us when their best picture lineup better represented what most people would think of as the best films of the year.

The Academy voters are so isolated, insular and protected that they’ve mostly lost touch with what’s happening in everyday America – both in terms of culture and in terms of cinema. If they were asked to choose ten films, rather than five, perhaps they would then they would be forced to expand their ideas about what defines “best.”

An Academy voter wrote me recently to tell me that I had no business telling them that ten slots were better than five. “It would just invite more mediocrity,” said this voter, a costume designer who has been an Academy member for many decades. He told me that he doesn’t pay any attention to the news, the trades, the ads, the critics, the public – nothing. He looks at the movies put in front of him and he chooses the best among them. He claims that he and people like him are the only ones qualified to make that choice. He said, in so many words, he knows a good movie when he sees one because he is in the business of making movies.

I wrote back to tell him that regardless of how much power he thinks he has, his choices are shaped by the studios and the publicists who choose for him long before those films ever get to his doorstep. In fact, the Oscar race is predictable because the Oscar voters are predictable. They are part of a massive consensus whose particular tastes are specifically pandered to every year. The bloggers who write and predict the Oscars must continually soften the sharper edges of film selections, remove any extra spice or flair, in order to stay true to what they know “they” will like. Think of it as if you’re inviting that one guest to the party who will only eat a certain kind of food – they only like mashed potatoes on their plate. They have a sensitive stomach; that’s all they can digest. No matter what else you try to serve them it will go uneaten. But those mashed potatoes? They’ll gobble them up.

The only two viable options the Academy has at this point is to go back to five or expand to ten. Five would keep them snuggled up all nicely in their beds with nothing to really disrupt their tradition. It would guarantee that they marginalize themselves from the rest of the industry, the culture and the world as everything else evolves around them. At least then the five movies could be celebrated properly, with sweeps and no Ralph Naders to mess things up too much. Five is how they got themselves into this mess in the first place, though, when they couldn’t make room for the Dark Knight and went with The Reader instead. Would the Dark Knight have made it in with ten? Maybe. Would TDK have been a Best Picture nominee when voters were asked to chose 10 titles? Very likely. Would it have made it in with the way they vote and tabulate ballots now? Not a chance in hell.

Though I think it’s better for the Academy and better for the industry if they go back to ten – that would allow for films directed by women, genre movies and animated films — five would be better than the overly-manipulated system they have in place now. It is a failure on every level.

If the Best Picture race was down to five this year, the likely nominees would be Birdman, Boyhood, the Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and American Sniper. The sixth would have likely been The Theory of Everything because it also had the SAG ensemble nomination. Whiplash might have come close. Without the preferential ballot, Selma would probably not have had a chance. The preferential ballot offered voters the opportunity to put Selma at the top of their ballot in order to get it in the running. But with only a song nomination it has no chance to win. Shouldn’t the other nominees have a chance to win?

The other good thing about five, as opposed to an expanded race, is the way it gives more power to the director. Without the dual unification of director and picture nominations there is less of a focus on the director and more of a focus on the producer where Best Picture is concerned. I guess this is good and bad, depending on your perspective.

If they aren’t going to expand their thinking to include different types of films what is the point of expanding at all? More of what they like doesn’t solve their problem of exclusion. It merely echoes their tastes over and over and over. Twice as much of the same old same old. When they were required to stretch and name ten films each year, they were forced to think outside the box, something they would never have otherwise done, and have rarely been known to do.

It’s not often that I get a direct message from an Academy member who’s angry about something I wrote. But this member’s letter was very telling. Perhaps he only represents a small percentage of that kind of voter but his email is definitely a good reminder of how stuck in the past some of the voters still are, how they seem to have no clue about how the Oscar race works or about their place in the growing, global film community.

In a year like last year, when so many rules were broken and with so many good films to choose from, the results of the process did not seem so bad. Other than Inside Llewyn Davis being left off the Best Picture list, the other nine were great films. It isn’t that the Academy on the whole has terrible taste collectively. It’s that their taste is so limited to one kind of film and that kind of film hardly gets made anymore.

The Oscar Movie is its own genre now. It’s always great when that definition can expand its embrace to includes films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood and Birdman. But if I were an employee in the business of films now I would wonder why the “Oscar Movie” is such a shrinking pile and what the future might look like if that pile keeps shrinking.

As we head out of the final phase of this year’s Oscar race, it has felt more like a whimper than a bang, with some of the year’s most exciting films selected out, like Nightcrawler, Foxcatcher, Gone Girl, A Most Violent Year — and the ones that were chosen, like Selma or Whiplash appear in the race as lame duck contenders, with fragile down-ballot support that severely cripples any shot at winning Best Picture. That has to mean, ultimately, that if they aren’t going to go back to ten that they should go back to the way it was done for sixty years and limit their blinkered vision to five Oscar Movies once again.

Florida Approves Voting Reform Bill

In case you haven’t been studying at the Oscar race for Best Picture for the last 16 years as I have, you might not remember why the Academy changed their rules in the first place. It was to cure the problem of so many genre movies with so few Best Picture categories. It came after the avalanche of fury that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, at that time the second highest grossing film of all time, did not make the Best Picture cut, with the Weinstein Co’s The Reader getting in instead. Not only was The Dark Knight hugely popular with regular moviegoers world-wide, 16 critics on Metacritic gave it a perfect score of 100. The Dark Knight represented that elusive gold-plated brass ring Hollywood always dreams about: a billion dollar blockbuster with all the thrills to thrill a mass audience and all the brains and style to earn respect and critical acclaim.

In order to be sure to embrace the next Dark Knight, the Academy expanded its reach for the first time in 60 years, opened Best Picture to an even ten, giving their members ten slots for nominating instead of five. But the voting members chafed against this new change. They didn’t like having to come up with ten. It was too confusing and too stressful to see that many movies. Five was what they’d been used to since the 1940s. Several fascinating things happened in those now lost two years where there were ten and not five. Both years had genre movies like District 9, animated films like Toy Story 3, films directed by women, like The Kids are All Right and Winter’s Bone. Big movies, little movies, a variety of films represented. They were great years for the Best Picture race for those of us “out here.”

But the Academy relented to voter complaints and once again gave voters only five slots to fill out for Best Picture. The Academy, though, has a special method for counting that allows for more than five nominees. With this method, they tested one decade and came up with a variety of numbers for each year. They had one with 6 and with 7 and with 8 and with 9. They never did get a 10. We all went into what I call the “herding cats” method of finding Best Picture assuming it might turn out that way. Since they implemented the plan there has been a solid 9 each time. This year, though, several pundits are toying with the idea that there might be less than 9, maybe like 8 or 7 or even 6, or, gasp, 5.

What would make something like that happen, you might ask? The only thing I can come up with is that if there was a hard consensus around just a few movies and that there weren’t stragglers. The pundits theorize that because there are only a few “Oscar movies” that it’s a “weak year.” Here’s why I don’t agree with them and think it will reflexively slip back to 9 once again. The internet and Oscar publicity has changed everything.

The reason I think there will once again be nine goes back to how I use the ad software on my site – it’s a stupid explanation, I know, but stay with me. In order to get the ads to run as often as possible I push them up to higher than the allotted amount to evenly divide them. They push to extremes because they can. Publicists in this race, critics and advocates push to the extreme so that in a year like this one there might be more diversity in the favorites and less agreement about the hard consensus – that is likely to once again trigger 9 rather than a lesser number.

But I could be completely wrong about this – we’re making it up as we go. There is a surprise element for those of us in the game – most people aren’t paying enough close attention to understand why there are more than 5 anyway. All they’re thinking is: just more movies I haven’t seen, don’t want to see, and will never see, but what is Reese Witherspoon wearing?

Paul Sheehan over at Gold Derby is kind of killing it lately with articles about the Oscars and especially Oscar math. Check out his article here – and see below, the Infograms I made using his data.

Ryan also sent me the link to James Schamus’ guest post at Variety explaining it too.

I enlisted the help of The Wrap’s Steve Pond to help me figure out in what instances they would allow for less than 9. He explained it this way:

You set a magic number (the number of votes, divided by 11, rounded up to the next whole number), and then count up all the first place votes. Any movie with more than the magic number is an automatic nominee. Any movie with 10% more votes than it needs falls under the surplus rule and has a portion of its vote allocated to the #2 choice on that ballot.

Then you take all the movies that got less than 1% of the vote (under the Gold Derby example, any movie with fewer than 54 first place votes), and reallocate those votes to the #2 choice on each ballot, or the top-ranked film that’s still in the running.

In every category except Best Picture, you keep eliminating the lowest-scoring films and redistributing their ballots until you wind up with exactly how many nominees you want. But in Best Pic, you stop after this single round of redistribution. At this point, any movie with more than 5% of the vote (272 votes, using GD’s example) is a nominee. Any movie with less than that is not.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, this will always result in between 5 and 10 nominees. They tested it by going back over 10 years of voting, and doing recounts using the system. It gave them years of 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 nominees. (Never a year of 10.) But for some reason, in the three years it’s actually been used, it has always produced 9. Go figure.

Did you get the part where he said there isn’t a continual counting of rounds for Best Picture only? Yeah, that part!

You won’t be counted unless you have a significant number of #1 votes and preferably in the first round. You want a goodly amount of number ones on first round, say at least 200 or 300, and then pick up some extras on the ballots that triggered the surplus vote. Think about it, though, in a year with a smaller number of really popular films, most of them are likely to trigger the surplus rule. That leads me to think, again, that it will go to 9. Let’s say movies that will hypothetically trigger the surplus vote:

The Imitation Game
Theory of Everything

Next, you have movies that will get number one votes but may not trigger the surplus.

Grand Budapest
Gone Girl

Then you have those that might get in because they are passionately loved, though too divisive to WIN:

American Sniper

Whatever films on this list pick up 2s and 3s are going to add to their pile, thus ensuring a place. That’s the best way I can see. Unless the majority of the Academy, all 6,000 of them, only go for the core films, which is likely not to happen being that many of the voters are publicists who will vote for their films whether the rest of the Academy likes them or not. Then you have actors and what movie they might ram through – I’m thinking maybe Unbroken since it’s one of their own in the driver’s seat. Actors and that weird group of voters that make up the biggest block – those who have NO CATEGORY — members-at-large, producers, publicists, casting directors.

Using Sheehan’s article, I made an infogram to illustrate the number game where the voters are concerned:


Here are the invitees. Interesting to note that they’re inviting only one female director is invited. But the diversity is once again remarkable.

The 2014 invitees are:

Hany Abu-Assad – “Omar,” “Paradise Now”
Jay Duplass – “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” “Cyrus”
Mark Duplass – “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” “Cyrus”
David Gordon Green – “Joe,” “Pineapple Express”
Gavin O’Connor – “Warrior,” “Miracle”
Gina Prince-Bythewood – “The Secret Life of Bees,” “Love and Basketball”
Paolo Sorrentino – “The Great Beauty,” “This Must Be the Place”
Jean-Marc Vallée – “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Young Victoria”
Felix van Groeningen – “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” “The Misfortunates”
Denis Villeneuve – “Prisoners,” “Incendies”
Thomas Vinterberg – “The Hunt,” “The Celebration”

Barkhad Abdi – “Captain Phillips”
Clancy Brown – “The Hurricane,” “The Shawshank Redeption”
Paul Dano – “12 Years a Slave,” “Prisoners”
Michael Fassbender – “12 Years a Slave,” “Shame”
Ben Foster – “Lone Survivor,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
Beth Grant – “The Artist,” “No Country for Old Men”
Clark Gregg – “Much Ado about Nothing,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”
Sally Hawkins – “Blue Jasmine,” “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Josh Hutcherson – “The Hunger Games,” “The Kids Are All Right”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Enough Said,” “Planes”
Kelly Macdonald – “Brave,” “No Country for Old Men”
Mads Mikkelsen – “The Hunt,” “Casino Royale”
Joel McKinnon Miller – “Super 8,” “The Truman Show”
Cillian Murphy – “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Inception”
Lupita Nyong’o – “Non-Stop,” “12 Years a Slave”
Rob Riggle – “21 Jump Street,” “The Hangover”
Chris Rock – “Grown Ups 2,” “Madagascar”
June Squibb – “Nebraska,” “About Schmidt”
Jason Statham – “Parker,” “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”
David Strathairn – “Lincoln,” “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
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Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 7.55.14 AM

I’m not sure what this is ultimately going to turn out to be but for now it’s being teased by the Academy as something coming up. Documentaries? Profiles?


The Academy has just posted this reminder that And the Winner Is will show tonight on TCM. Here is how they describe it:

TCM presents the premiere of “And the Oscar Goes To…” (2014), a new documentary tracing the history of the Academy Awards. Airing Saturday night (February 1st at 8pm), the doc tells the story of the iconic gold-plated statuette that became the film industry’s most coveted prize. It delves into the history of the Academy itself, which began in 1927 when Louis B. Mayer, then head of MGM, led other prominent members of the industry to form this professional honorary organization. More here:

I don’t know about you but I’ve been having way too much fun poring over the videos the Academy has put up online. For instance, here is 1967 – all of the Redgraves are in attendance. Lady Redgrave. Lynn and Vanessa. Ronald Reagan too. The camera identifies Walter Matthau but not Mike Nichols sitting in front of him.

It still makes my stomach hurt that Emma Thompson was shut out of this year’s Oscar race all because, what, silliness. As usual, the wrong people get punished when the hysteria machine goes into overdrive. But this second video was the Mary Poppins year.

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84th Academy Awards Final Oscar Ballot Mailing

“To the entertainment community,

With broken hearts we want to share with you the news that Tom Sherak passed away today after a long 12 year battle with prostate cancer. He died at home surrounded by his family giving him hugs, kisses, and love.

Tom is, was, and always will be, our loving husband, daddy, papa, brother, friend, and “Go to Guy.” He blessed this earth for 68 incredible years, and he will be missed every single day.

Tom lived his life as an open book. He opened his heart and let the world in, and anyone who was lucky enough to know him knew first hand the power of his love. He gave everything he had to help others, regardless of whether or not he knew them. Tom is a true hero in our lives who has a star on the sidewalk and wings to fly.

We love him so very much.”

Not a lot of fanfare back then. I thought I could get a glimpse of Hattie McDaniel taking forever to get to the stage but that has been edited out. They all say something very meaningful before reading out the winner’s name.


On Facebook and Twitter today, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences posted this photo:


A potent reminder during awards season.


It is once again time for our For Your Consideration post to the members of the Academy.  Online voting begins December 27th. The Academy has fortified its methods this year, making it easier for members to vote.

This is your chance to make the best case for contenders you think might not otherwise get recognized.   I am going to make my case right now for one contender in each major category.  These are contenders I feel passionately about. I’m going to skip Best Actress because it is my hope that all five of the leading contenders — Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson and the frontrunner, Cate Blanchett are all nominated because they fucking deserve it.

But other than that, here we go. Dear Academy, hear my plea!

Best Picture
#2 JC Chandor’s All is Lost.  The spirit of cinema is about reinventing it year after year. How can do that when there is nothing new under the sun? You do i thy taking a leap of faith.  Chandor could have done anything after he gained an Oscar nod and notoriety for Margin Call. He could have easily failed upwards by selling out, by doing what most young talented up and coming directors in Hollywood do – they go for the big paycheck. But he did the opposite. He made a moving meditation, a cinematic poem about life. Our time here is so limited.  Life is an endurance test, as are most things worthwhile – love, parenting, artistic ambition. All is Lost gives you an hour and a half of silent contemplation, watching Robert Redford do what’s necessary to survive.  It will stay with me long after this year has come to a close. It deserves to be named as one of the year’s best.

Best Director
Martin Scorsese for the Wolf of Wall Street – it’s not for everyone. It is weird and wild and deliberately offensive. It is also bravura filmmaking of the first order.  It is absolutely deserving of being recognized, as the AFI and Critics Choice and HFPA already have done.  At 71 years old, Martin Scorsese should be slowing down, mellowing out and losing his fire. He has proven what a schooled director can REALLY do. It’s astonishing.  In many ways movie are never about the darker aspects of human nature. They are about idealized versions of ourselves.  Scorsese will always stand out for his refusal to adhere to something that easy. His films are about cockroaches. They are about failures, damaged souls, flawed antiheroes. Those stories are worth telling too, especially when you have his ability to really go there.

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Steve Pond over at The Wrap has done a handy cheat sheet to figure out how many votes per branch in the Academy a film needs to reach the “magic number.” In total, a film only needs about 300 number one votes to be nominated for Best Picture.  Read Pond’s piece, which is very detailed but I’ve boiled down the numbers with the magic number for each in parenthesis:

Best Picture explained:

The entire Academy votes to nominate for this award – including the Executive, Producers and Public Relations branches and Members-at-Large, none of whom nominate in any other categories. That means 6,028 potential voters. In this category, there are two different magic numbers: the one required to clinch a nomination after the first round of counting, which is about 8.9 percent of the ballots cast, and the five-percent threshold that will secure a nomination after the redistribution rounds are complete. If every eligible voter casts a ballot, the first-round number will be 549 votes, while the ultimate number to shoot for is only 301.

The magic number reached is approximate, obviously, since who knows how many will ultimately vote. This is based on the total number in each branch.  Some of the voting procedures are different for each category – more about this in Pond’s piece.

Actors – 1,176 – (max of 197 votes needed to secure a nod)
Sound – 418 (70 is the magic number)
Writers – 378 (63 is the magic number but other writers can vote sometimes so it could be higher)
Directors – 377 (63 votes is the magic number)
Animation – 366 (would be 61, but open to other members if they see 13 animated features)
Visual Effects – 323 (specialized)
Music – 240 (41 is the magic number)
Editing – 230 (39 is the magic number)
Cinematographers – 228 (39 is the magic number)
Documentary – 210 (35 is the magic number)
Makeup & Hairstyle – 135 (specialized)
Costume Designers – 108 (only about 18 votes needed to secure a nod)
Casting – 54 <–no category yet

A little touch of Illuminati for the Oscar’s new triangular spotlight logo.   I’m hearing a visual echo of other things too…


American Hustle
Dallas Buyers Club
The Great Gatsby
Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters
The Hunger Games
Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger



The press release from AMPAS:

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present Honorary Awards to Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin and Piero Tosi, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Angelina Jolie. All four awards will be presented at the Academy’s 5th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 16, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

“The Governors Awards pay tribute to individuals who’ve made indelible contributions in their respective fields,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.  “We couldn’t be more excited for this year’s honorees and look forward to bringing their peers and colleagues together to celebrate their extraordinary achievements.”

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Juliet Taylor


I was just thinking a couple of days ago how lucky Woody Allen has been to have had the assistance of Juliet Taylor for the past 4 decades. Allen pays Taylor due respect by usually giving her first screen credit right after the names of the brilliant ensembles she helps him assemble.


BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the creation of the Casting Directors Branch. Casting directors began to be invited to Academy membership more than 30 years ago, many of them admitted as Members-at-Large.

The decision was approved at the regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, July 30.

“Casting directors play an essential role in the filmmaking process,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said. “Their inclusion on our board will only broaden our perspective and help ensure that the Academy continues to accurately reflect the state of filmmaking today.”

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