82nd Academy Awards

This is one reason Harvey Weinstein is good for the movie business — he gets the bigger picture. This is also why he’s great at Oscar campaigning — when he has a horse that can win — he knows what they want in the end. You have to take your hat off to him for what he did for Inglourious Basterds last year: that is one of the weirdest films to ever get so far in the Oscar race. My only argument with him about last year would be this: yes, the independents almost always dominate the Oscar race, or have certainly, in the recent past. BUT last year, the studio system put out the year’s best films. The Social Network was the best film released last year, in my opinion and in the unanimous opinion of the critics. Coming in a close second was Inception. Clearly audiences enjoy The King’s Speech best. So great – it’s an audience’s movie, not a critics movie. Movies are made for audiences, not critics. So everybody wins, right?

Here’s Weinstein speaking to The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman during The Grill at Tribeca entertainment conference:

We will be announcing the prizes in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, if you are so inclined to predict them, you may enter our month-long Predict the Oscars Contest!

Thanks to Afrika for the tip. Extra TV has pics of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin and some little naked gold guy. For your amusement.

More after the cut.

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Pic from @petertravers

Pete Hammond is floating an idea that Academy members can’t come up with ten movies to put on their ballots. In fact, usually voters send in their ballots early but not this year:

However, as the 5 p.m. Saturday deadline for turning in ballots listing those 10 choices looms for voters, there are a remarkable number of academy members who have yet to make up their minds and actually send them in to the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants.

Hammond continues:

In countless conversations with academy voters over the past two weeks it’s apparent that not everyone is able to come up with¬†10 movies.¬†¬†In fact it’s an epidemic. According to the overwhelming majority of members to whom I have spoken, they get to five or six and give up on the other slots. One voter went so far as to actually send me an e-mail asking me to suggest seven other movies to augment their own three choices. Of course I obliged.

“I can barely find five movies to nominate. I have no idea what to do for 10,” one exasperated member told me this week. When prodded for more information it was apparent they had only¬†just a few of the¬†real contenders and many in their pile of DVD screeners had so far gone unopened.

Let’s help them out, shall we Awards Daily readers? Here some advice on how to approach these last few desperate days. In the end, it will still come down to a majority vote. Therefore, we will probably see convention playing out, with maybe one or two surprises here or there.¬† At any rate, here is Awards Daily’s foolproof guide to diving into the pile.

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In recent years, the Golden Globes have proved themselves not good predictor of Oscar’s Best Picture, drama. If you subtract last year’s steamroller, Slumdog Millionaire, you will see that the Globes don’t always “influence” Oscar the way one might thing. They are a group of about 100 dubious members of the “foreign press,” whose identities are largely unknown listed on their website. What we do know about them, though, is that they are forthcoming with their polling. The day before the Globes a friend told me that two publicists he knew had polled enough members of the HFPA to know that they “loved Avatar” with a passion and that they would be voting for Jim Cameron for Director, and the film in large numbers. Surely this can’t be so, I said. But Kathryn Bigelow–his response was “they hated The Hurt Locker.” Hearing that, I was not that surprised (although a bit gutted) to watch Kathryn Bigelow’s masterpiece go home empty-handed last night. Anyway, instead of laying out criticisms of the HFPA, we can file them in the category of “it doesn’t matter what they think except in terms of how they influence the race, if at all.”

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Tom O’Neil and Patrick Day over that The Envelope’s Buzzmeter have assembled a large group of folks, including Pete Travers and Michael Musto (I hope that Musto and O’Neil do some Oscar videos this year – they were funny and insightful together). He says that they’ll be updating them more as time goes on but this is a prelim count – so far:

20 ‚Äì “Up in the Air,” “The Hurt Locker” ‚Äì received votes from all of our pundits.
19 ‚Äì “Precious” ‚Äì Jeff Wells is a holdout
19 ‚Äì “Invictus” ‚Äì Snubbed by Erik Davis
16 ‚Äì “Nine”
15 ‚Äì “Up”
14 ‚Äì “An Education,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “A Serious Man”

17 ‚Äì Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
16 ‚Äì George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
14 ‚Äì Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”
11 ‚Äì Daniel Day-Lewis, “Nine”
10 ‚Äì Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
7 ‚Äì Viggo Mortensen, “The Road”

18 ‚Äì Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
17 ‚Äì Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”; Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
14 ‚Äì Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”
9 ‚Ä쬆 Abby Cornish, “Bright Star”

round table

It’s always illuminating to hear from various smart folks around the web and I feel grateful that they indulge my needling questions week after week; after all, it isn’t like any of the have any time to spare. I figure, the more intelligence we can bring to the table the better. This week we’re pondering the Governors Awards, the bad economy on the Oscar race and getting a sneak peek into what might make a few of our contributors’ top ten lists.

The participants (in random order):

Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today
Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema
Damien Bona, Inside Oscar
Ryan Adams, Awards Daily
Pete Howell, The Toronto Star
Scott Foundas, Film Comment
(and newly appointed Associate Programmer, The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Kristopher Tapley, In Contention
Anne Thompson, Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire
Steve Pond, The Odds at The Wrap
Nathaniel Rogers, The Film Experience
Edward Douglas, Oscar Warrior at Coming Soon
Gregory Ellwood, Hitfix
Tom O’Neil, The Envelope
Scott Feinberg, And the Winner Is…

1. The Governors Awards are over. We’re now looking at an Oscars broadcast without them. How big of a mistake do you think this was, or do you think it is a good idea and that it will streamline a bloated telecast? On the other hand, The Oscars are now competing with shows like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Is this the first sign of the “dumb and dumber” Oscars soon to come?

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It’s probably a no-brainer that Avatar is take that title home so perhaps it isn’t worth doing an actual contest on this, but I really like the way Loyal has laid it all out at the Corner Cinema, showing that the lowest grossing of the nominated five has won in a long while. But the highest grossing only sometimes wins.

Of the possibilities, which do you think will crack $100 mil? Obviously cracking that number means different things to different productions. A film like Precious getting anywhere near that would be extraordinary circumstances. But these films, I expected, will do at least $100:

1. Avatar
2. Sherlock Holmes
3. The Lovely Bones
4. Nine
5. Invictus
6. Up in the Air (or very close to it)

Which films have already gotten there? (according to Box Office Mojo)

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $300 mil
2. Up, a staggering $293 mil
3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs $121 mil
4. Inglourious Basterds $119 mil
5. District 9 $115 mil

And then the squeakers:

1. Public Enemies $97 mil
2. Julie & Julia $93 mil
3. Coraline $75 mil
4. Where the Wild Things Are $69


It’s Complicated stars Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin named co-hosts of the 82nd Academy Awards. Now all they need is Meryl!

Beverly Hills, CA (November 3, 2009) — Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will serve as co-hosts of the 82nd Academy Awards®, Oscar telecast producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman announced today.

“We think the team of Steve and Alec are the perfect pair of hosts for the Oscars,” said Shankman and Mechanic. “Steve will bring the experience of having hosted the show in the past and Alec will be a completely fresh personality for this event.”

“I am happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin,” said Martin.

“I don’t play the banjo but I’m thrilled to be hosting the Oscars – it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Baldwin.

Steve Pond at the Wrap does some nice investigative reporting to come up with a tiny little mystery in the world of Oscar watching – the idea that one animated movie could make the difference between three and five nominees. This was touched upon in the comments section of this post back on October 10 here at AD but perhaps it had not yet been confirmed:

But in the world of animation, “The Missing Lynx: Paws on the Run” could prove to be one of the year’s most significant releases.

The director of the Spanish movie, Raul Garcia, confirmed to theWrap on Saturday that the company had submitted the paperwork required to enter the film in the Oscar animated-feature race.

The news is crucial because for the last couple of weeks, the number of entries in the category appeared to have stalled at 15. If 15 movies qualify, the category will have three nominees; if 16 do so, it’ll jump to five.

With a number of high-profile, well-reviewed films in the running, and with “Up” and “Coraline” seemingly heavy favorites for the first two slots, a slate of three nominees would have resulted in a dogfight for the final spot between the likes of “Ponyo,” Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog,” the buzzed-about “Mary and Max,” Sony’s “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” Wes Anderson’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “9,” and the boxoffice hit “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” among others.

Focus gets the party started – thanks to Dora for sending in:


“Someone asked me, ‘Is she a muse for you?,’ ” said Mr. Almodóvar, whose long-term collaborations with actresses, beginning with Carmen Maura through the 1980s, have been famously fruitful and sometimes just as famously volatile. “Well, yes. She is a muse for me in the sense that a muse is someone who makes you better than you are. I think I am a better director with her, because she believes that I am better than I am, and that blind faith gives me a lot of strength.”

“No, no,” replied Ms. Cruz, shaking her head and smiling calmly. “I know exactly how good you are.”

From Mark Harris’ great interview with the creatively fertile pair.


Things aren’t anywhere near as quiet as they should be right about now. There hasn’t been a No Country for Old Men stretching its legs for the long haul; there probably isn’t a Slumdog Millionaire poised to eat up every available award known to man. That might be Up in the Air. Is there a showdown between a scrappy underdog and a Big Hollywood Movie ready to emerge? If so, there are little to no indicators. This is going to be a last-minute scramble.

And yet, there is much ruminating online about the race, such as it is. A recent New York Observer piece lamented the absence of Oscar movies. Erik Childress has launched his seasonal series, the Oscar Eye and has started to look at the movies but refuses to count in those that haven’t yet been seen. Tom O’Neil recently polled a few to find out their take. Childress has a list of films he thinks are the frontrunners right now but he also has ten images at the top of his site, and those ten seem to be close to what the ultimate ten might look like, give or take a film or two. Remember, the votes are being counted in order of preference. The list will still show films that are passionately loved by many in the Academy.

Keep reading to delve into Deep Background of Academy history when there were ten nominees for Best Pic.

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Defamer’s Richard Rushfield pokes some good fun at the efforts to help boost the ratings of the telecast — I kind of agree with this first one. Let’s face it, “fixing” the Oscars has never really worked. I have long believed that it isn’t the show but the films and the star power that matters. Bigger stars, more popular films is probably the way to go. And by popular films that doesn’t necessarily mean not-as-good-as-their-indie-brethren. It just means films many Americans have actually seen before the broadcast airs. Here is Rushfield:

Oscar is never, ever going to win over these kids today, so go with your strength. Lead with the stodgy; you’ll play well to your base and once every decade and a half, catch a retro wave. These days the Hollywood establishment is the aging Baby Boom generation, who are bound to actually become cool one of these days.
Host: Billy Crystal
Producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg
Ideal Best Picture Winner: Braveheart
Opening Number: A Rockettes lead a musical tribute to the films of screenwriter Ron Bass, high-stepping to the greatest moments from Rain Man, Snow Falling on Cedars and Dangerous Minds.
Clips Reel: A complete recap of The Today Show reporting the weekend grosses every Monday morning of the past year.
Log Line: This IS your grandfather’s Oscars.

It’s funny but I’m telling you, it’s true.

The reason why the Golden Globes have held their own against the declining Oscars is liquor. The dinner setting of the Globes show has traditionally meant well-lubricated winners making some of the more free-wheeling, demented speeches of awards season. Well, two can play at that game. Mandatory tequila shots and forced picks from the mystery wheel of amphetamines for all attendees.
Host: Jack Nicholson
Producer: Ben Silverman
Ideal Best Picture Winner: Couples Retreat
Opening Number: Stars careen to their seats on a giant Slip ‘n Slide placed down the aisle.
Clips Reel: The best moments of buddy comedies, guys who love to laugh with each other.
Log Line: Come and Get It!

Yes, again, funny. Here’s the thing about the Globes, though – they have TV stars and all of America can play along because they have seen the shows. They like the movie stuff but they tune in for the TV stuff. Am I wrong? Please tell me I’m wrong.

The comments are worth reading as well. Okay, so we might as well play the game too, although unless Ryan starts posting this isn’t going to be very funny. I don’t do funny. I do sloppy and I do tired but I don’t do funny. I’m just not funny. Anyway, here goes, after the cut.

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The news came earlier that Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman will be the new Oscar telecast producers – should be interesting – you can find out all about them in the full press release after the cut.

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Steve Pond talks to Bruce Davis about the Academy’s crisis point, about the Best Picture ten, about the success of last year’s show:

Is it accurate to suggest that the Oscars have reached something of a crisis point?
Yes. Clearly, it’s tricky when an organization has essentially one source of income, which happens on one day a year. And in recent years we’ve been threatened both by world political situations and by the Guild negotiations. If we had a down year like the Golden Globes did (in 2008), that would be a nightmare for us, a complete disaster. So yeah, we need to be feeling our way very carefully to see if there’s still a way to run an operation this complex and this worthwhile in a new kind of environment.

And then he kind of admits what we’ve all known for a while now – that the Foreign Language and Animated, and maybe Documentary really are in the category ghetto (the switch-up should fix this, he concludes):

Did the recommendation to move to 10 Best Picture nominees come from this year’s Oscar show producers, Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, or had it been discussed before that?
They certainly recommended it, but there had been other groups talking about it. We got a lot of suggestions that we should sub-divide the Best Picture category, as other awards shows do. Once you start doing that, you could have dramas and comedies and musicals and science fiction films and whatnot.

But what we didn’t like about that is that as soon as you subdivide it, you’re not really committing to a Best Picture anymore. You’re saying, “Okay, this was the best of that subsection, and this is the best of this subsection.” We’d like to continue to say, “Out of all the different kinds of movies, this one we think was the very best.”

The 10 nominees give us a way to do that, and at the same time it allows a broadening of the playing field. It seems reasonable that we ought to get the best of the action films, the best animated films, maybe even a doc will sneak in there. Maybe you will begin to see a more representative spectrum of the good work being done.

It widens the possibilities significantly but the real results of it will probably seen in full next year. Still, interesting to hear old Bruce Davis give talk on the record. I think Steve Pond must have an uncle who knows some guy.

Thing is, I don’t often go for these kinds of things because they are just too iffy – who are these people, what cut of the film did they see, are they really shills in disguise, etc. Nonetheless, because it is so hotly anticipated here at AD, why not give the people what they want. Nat over at the Film Experience has a lengthy report on two people who saw Nine.

After screening last night in Venice, a few reviews of John Hillcoat’s adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, The Road. The first is good — Geoffrey McNab writing for the Independent:

In the event, John Hillcoat has made a film of power and sensitivity that works remarkably well on the big screen. It plays like a Dystopian version of Huck Finn. “Tattered gods slouching in their rags across the waste,” was how McCarthy described the father and son on their grim odyssey south across America toward the coast.

The film captures well the strange mix of heroism and seeming futility that characterises the journey. What is most impressive is the restraint the filmmakers bring to their material. The look of the film is muted and grey other than in the flashbacks to the pre-apocalyptic moments that the man (Viggo Mortensen) enjoyed with his wife (Charlize Theron) before the world ground to a halt.

The music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is likewise understated. We don’t hear Cave wailing out murder ballads. Instead, the score is used in ominous but understated fashion to accentuate the feeling of loss and foreboding that runs throughout the film.

Next, Variety’s Todd McCarthy is having none of it. He finds it a disappointment:

This “Road” leads nowhere. If you’re going to adapt a book like Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 bestseller, you’re pretty much obliged to make a terrific film or it’s not worth doing — first because expectations are high, and second, because the picture needs to make it worth people’s while to sit through something so grim. Except for the physical aspects of this bleak odyssey by a father and son through a post-apocalyptic landscape, this long-delayed production falls dispiritingly short on every front. Showing clear signs of being test-screened and futzed with to death, the Dimension release may receive a measure of respect in some quarters but is very, very far from the film it should have been, spelling moderate to tepid B.O. prospects after big fest preems.

Finally, Lee Marshall for the Evening Standard comes down somewhere in the middle:

McCarthy’s novel worked partly because of what it left to the imagination. The film leaves nothing to the imagination — not even a cellarful of desperate human cattle who are being kept alive for slaughter. So although Joe Penhall’s script is remarkably faithful to the original, it doesn’t feel quite right. The film is bleak and visionary, but it leaves a faintly nasty taste in the mouth, as if it wanted to rope in the horror fans under its arthouse cloak

I think I just don’t have any room left in my brain’s hard drive to tackle this thing, that must explain why I choose not to think about it. Good thing others are. The folks over at Film School Rejects have worked it all out – thanks to reader Loyal who brought it to our attention. They’ve clarified in a way a dolt like me almost understands. Starting with:

The Problem

The reason for the new system is fairly simple. With 10 Best Picture nominees, and (for the sake of simplification) 6,000 votes, it would technically only take 601 votes for a movie to win Best Picture (if one film got 599 votes, and the eight others all got 600). That movie would have a clear plurality which is all that was required to win under the old system. The problem with this is fairly obvious and two-fold:

  • A movie earning just over 10% of the Academy‚Äôs favor winning is absurd. And, in my even-more-absurd example, the film wins with just one vote. Not exactly a huge margin of meaningful victory.

We know it’s happened before. We just know it. They continue:

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Thanks to Craig over at LiC for the tip-off that first, Steve Pond (Oscar guy who wrote for The Envelope – often has the inside scoop on the goings on within the Academy, and almost always pro-Academy, in my opinion, not that there’s anything wrong with that) has written that there will be a change in Oscar’s final vote for Best Pic — it all makes my girly head spin but why don’t you give it a shot:

Instead of just voting for one nominee, the way Academy members have almost always done on the final ballot, voters will be asked to rank all 10 nominees in order of preference — and the results will be tallied using the complicated preferential system, which has been used for decades during the nominating process but almost never on the final ballot.

As a result, a film could be the first choice of the largest number of voters, but find itself nudged out of the top prize by another movie that got fewer number one votes but more twos and threes.

It sounds crazy, but there’s good reason to make the change at a time when dividing the vote among an expanded slate of 10 nominees could otherwise allow a film to win with fewer than 1,000 votes (out of the nearly 6,000 voting members).


Voters will be asked to rank the 10 best picture nominees in order of preference, one through 10. Davis says that the category will be listed on a special section of the Oscar ballot, detachable from the rest so that a separate team of PricewaterhouseCoopers staffers can undertake the more complicated tabulation process.

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