January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: academy award

The late breaking major Oscar contenders of 2014

As the final days of 2014 tick away and we get set to begin anew with 2015, I’ve been thinking about how the precursor season, especially in the past few weeks, has changed the Oscar race slightly. Notably, a few contenders that weren’t on everyone’s mind for one reason or another have doubled back as the year comes to a close. Some were long shots that became contenders, while others were already viable Academy Award players that have seen their stock shoot up. There are a half dozen that I’m going to cite below, but they’re hardly the only ones. It goes both ways too…perhaps later this week or next (which is technically next year) I’ll do the inverse of this and look at a few of the contenders that have stumbled during this same time period.
Here now are the six best examples among the 2014 releases vying for Oscar attention:
1. Jake Gyleenhaal in Best Actor for Nightcrawler – Up until the most recent precursors began citing him, Gyllehnaal was thought to be a too cool for school long shot for Nightcrawler. Now, he’s clearly in the top seven for Best Actor, if not the top six or arguably already in the nominated group of five. That category is clearly going to be a bloodbath, so Gyllenhaal has only made things harder. The performance is top notch though, so it just makes for an embarrassment of riches for the Academy to sort through. Don’t sleep on Gyllenhaal, as he could certainly pop up in Best Actor.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel in Best Picture – Even though I’m citing this film as a late breaking major player in Best Picture, it could easily be mentioned for Wes Anderson in Best Director and Best Original Screenplay as well (the two categories I’m missing here from having the big eight all represented). The Grand Budapest Hotel now is looking like a top seven contender in each of those categories, something I wouldn’t have believed going into the precursor season. I’m not sure it ultimately makes the Director lineup, but Picture and Original Screenplay nominations seem locked in with Oscar.
3. Jennifer Aniston in Best Actress for Cake – I’ve said it a few times already, but there are folks who need to eat some crow on this one. A nomination for Cake on the part of Aniston was almost a joke during the fall, […]

Oscars: 9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar® Race

Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 87th Academy Awards®. Eighty-three films had originally been considered in the category.
The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:
Argentina, “Wild Tales,” Damián Szifrón, director;
Estonia, “Tangerines,” Zaza Urushadze, director;
Georgia, “Corn Island,” George Ovashvili, director;
Mauritania, “Timbuktu,” Abderrahmane Sissako, director;
Netherlands, “Accused,” Paula van der Oest, director;
Poland, “Ida,” Pawe? Pawlikowski, director;
Russia, “Leviathan,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, director;
Sweden, “Force Majeure,” Ruben Östlund, director;
Venezuela, “The Liberator,” Alberto Arvelo, director.
Foreign Language Film nominations for 2014 are being determined in two phases.
The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 15. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.
The shortlist will be winnowed down to the category’s five nominees by specially invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and, for the first time, London. They will spend Friday, January 9, through Sunday, January 11, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.
The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
# # #
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners — the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.
FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

323 Feature Films in Contention for 2014 Best Picture OSCAR®

Three hundred twenty-three feature films are eligible for the 2014 Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.
To be eligible for 87th Academy Awards consideration, feature films must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days.
Under Academy rules, a feature-length motion picture must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying digital format.
Feature films that receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release are not eligible for Academy Awards in any category. The “Reminder List of Productions Eligible for the 87th Academy Awards” is available at http://www.oscars.org/oscars/rules-eligibility.
The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
# # #
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners — the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.
FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

Spotlight on the Stars: Reese Witherspoon

For this week’s brand new spotlight piece, I wanted to cite an A-lister who is having one really good 2014, to say the least. It’s Reese Witherspoon, an Academy Award winning actress who only this year is finally solidifying her status not just as a star, but as a supremely talented actress as well. It’s high time too, as she’s given more top quality performances than a lot of people realize. From some of her early work to the performance that won her the Oscar, Witherspoon has become a deserving member of the A-list, though someone who doesn’t always get the credit that she truly deserves. As such, it’s only appropriate today to put the spotlight on her. Here we go…
Witherspoon got her start with a few head turning roles in smaller films, starting with The Man in the Moon, followed by A Far Off Place and Freeway, among others. Those parts began to get her noticed, something that would continue up until she broke through with the thriller Fear. Witherspoon was now a young up and coming actress that had the attention of the industry. That would lead to a role in Overnight Delivery as well as a really well regarded part in the film Pleasantville. Particularly with that last role, it set her up to have her first brush with prestige fare. With the black comedy Election, Witherspoon was fully on the cusp of stardom, along with being embraced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which bestowed her first Golden Globe nomination upon her. Between this highly praised independent film and the pop culture drama Cruel Intentions, a star was born.
She then appeared in films like American Psycho, Best Laid Plans, The Importance of Being Earnest, Legally Blonde (which got her a second Golden Globe nomination), Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Little Nicky, Sweet Home Alabama, and Vanity Fair. They cultivated her status as a growing romantic comedy star in Hollywood as well as an A-list actress, but they didn’t quite challenge her in the way that she was deserving of. Then, a biopic offer came in and changed all that.
Her greatest acclaim at the time would come when she took the role of June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Not only did it score her tons of terrific reviews, she would also go on to both receive her first Academy […]

Documentaries at the Oscars: Short List

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 87th Oscars®. One hundred thirty-four films were originally submitted in the category.
The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
“Art and Craft,” Purple Parrot Films
“The Case against 8,” Day in Court
“Citizen Koch,” Elsewhere Films
“CitizenFour,” Praxis Films
“Finding Vivian Maier,” Ravine Pictures
“The Internet’s Own Boy,” Luminant Media
“Jodorowsky’s Dune,” City Film
“Keep On Keepin’ On,” Absolute Clay Productions
“The Kill Team,” f/8 filmworks
“Last Days in Vietnam,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“Life Itself,” Kartemquin Films and Film Rites
“The Overnighters,” Mile End Films West
“The Salt of the Earth,” Decia Films
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” Lafayette Film
“Virunga,” Grain Media
The Academy’s Documentary Branch determined the shortlist in a preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles.
The 87th Academy Awards® nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
# # #
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners — the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.
FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

Shailene Woodley: On her way to an Oscar?

Is Shailene Woodley on her way to be nominated for a Oscar?
As you know Shailene received the “Hollywood Breakout Performance Award” last November 14, at the Hollywood Film Awards, the TV show that launches the awards season.
To read more about 2014 Hollywood Film Awards Winners.

Shailene Woodley:
“For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s best young women. Without question, there are few better out there than Shailene Woodley, a rising star who literally only has the sky as her sole limit. She’s impressed pretty much from the very start, moving quickly up the industry food chain from a young supporting player to a franchise lead. During that time, she’s also managed to become a bit of a lifestyle icon and a genuine person who stands out in the crowd. All those things and more make her a real A-lister and one well worth this sort of tribute today.
Woodley got her start on television with various guest starring roles. Programs like Crosing Jordan, The District, Everybody Loves Raymond, Jack & Bobby, The O.C., Without a Trace, and others gave her a beginning, which of course any young actor or actress needs. Luckily for her, she’d only need a few years before landing a starring role on the show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Besides raising her profile, it also caught the attention of filmmaker Alexander Payne. The rest, as they say, is history.
Her introduction to film came in Payne’s movie The Descendants, where she announced her presence with quite a bit of authority. Playing George Clooney’s troubled teenage daughter, Woodley immediately received awards attention, leading to speculation that she’d receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. While that didn’t come to pass (which was considered a mild surprise and a snub), she did get a Golden Globe nomination, cementing her as someone to watch out for. She was officially on her way to the A-list with just one theatrical credit to her name. That’s really something…” by Joey Madgison
to read more about Shailene Woodley – Spotlight on the Stars.

Oscar Isaac – The biggest snubs from this week’s Spirit Award nominations

First of all, Happy Turkey Day to you all! With a Thanksgiving mention out of the way, let’s talk movies. Whenever there is a big precursor announcement that isn’t just a winners list, there’s going to be some glaring omissions. Such was the case with the 30th annual Independent Spirit Awards, which made some excellent picks but also some head scratchers as well. That’s always the name of the game, but this year there especially was some unexpected shut outs. As such, I’m going to be running down ten of the most egregious ones that I noticed. A few will be personal surprises, but the others will be ones that were clearly noticed by others. The Spirit Awards do a solid job, but like any other precursor, they’re far from perfect.
Here now are the ten biggest snubs from the Spirit Award nominations:
1. Oscar Isaac for A Most Violent Year – Voters apparently liked the film, but they didn’t like what I felt was the best part in Isaac’s performance. Strange, to say the least. Isaac is the lead and a huge reason why the movie works. His co-star Jessica Chastain was cited, but not him. For me, it was the biggest omission and one of the bigger head scratchers as well. It just makes no sense.

2. The Skeleton Twins – If ever there was an under the radar title in need of a Spirit boost, it’s this one. Not just the film itself, but even more so the lead performances of Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, both of whom could have at least stayed in the Oscar conversation had they turned a nomination into a surprise win. That didn’t happen though, so this contender is now pretty much DOA.
3. Bill Murray in St. Vincent – I’m sure The Weinstein Company was hoping that Murray popped up here in order to further their Oscar hopes for him. Considering all of the frontrunners are first time nominees (if they even get nominated), had Murray gotten nominated here and won, that could have helped fuel a potential Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, which in turn would have made him a likely Oscar nominee. That narrative is gone now though, so it’s the Globes or bust for Murray.
4. The Imitation Game – Easily the most surprising shut out, TWC saw their first chink in the armor for this big time […]

Hollywood Film Awards: “Why It Mattered”

“This was a great opportunity for a studio and its talent, especially now that the show is on CBS (regardless of the ratings – 4.1 million) – essentially, a free ad for a movie that is about to be released. (The telecast itself told viewers right at the beginning that they would be getting a look at “the highly anticipated movies you are going to want to see” and that it would serve as “a guide to films that are going to be coming to theaters”)” according to the Hollywood Reporter.THR.COM

“For movies that have not yet been seen by the vast majority of moviegoers – i.e. Unbroken,Still Alice, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, etc. – the motivations and benefits of a HFA appearance are even clearer.” THR.COM

Winners: Hollywood Film Awards 2014
“I think that the holier-than-thou crowd could use a reality check: Even the Oscars, that oldest and most revered of awards season institutions, was created as a promotional vehicle for the movies made by the studios whose leaders founded the Academy. (Moreover, over its first few years, the winners of the Oscars were determined by a Central Board of Judges of five people, overseen by Louis B. Mayer.) In short, it’s a tale as old as time. This is show business,” from

Could ‘Interstellar’ be an Oscar winner?

Last week, I was one of the lucky first members of the press to lay eyes on Christopher Nolan’s new opus Interstellar. Now that the embargo has lifted, I can say without hesitation that it’s his best work to date, an absolutely enthralling and deeply moving science fiction drama that makes both your heart and your mind soar. More important than my thoughts though (which I’ll get into more below), is how its debut could impact the Oscar race. I know that only a few of my fellow pundits love it as much as I do and some aren’t even fans of it at all, but this is a legitimate contender folks. The only question is to what extent…
For those somehow in the dark about this, Interstellar is a sci-fi movie set in the future from Christopher Nolan. It details a dying Earth and the last ditch attempt to save it by going in search of a new planet to colonize. Matthew McConaughey stars as the pilot turned farmer/single dad turned hero, with an incredible supporting cast that includes Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Bill Irwin, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, David Gyasi, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, and David Oyelowo. Nolan directs and co-writes with his brother Jonathan Nolan.
Even with high expectations, I was floored by this film. It’s visually stunning, powerful, and surprisingly emotional. Nolan has never been one to move me to tears, but on more than one occasion I got choked up. Particularly in terms of how he deals with relationships between fathers and daughters (McConaughey and Chastain/Foye, as well as Caine and Hathaway), it’s actually quite beautiful and sad. That’s really something special and unique, compounded by how intelligent the science fiction is here. The details about black holes and the Theory of Relativity is handled with the sort of faith that assumed the audience will come on this journey without turning off their brains. If they/you do, you’ll be in for something amazing.
So how can it impact the Oscar race? Well, it’ll depend on how the precursors and guilds take to it, but there’s a potential narrative where it could become one of the top contenders for Best Picture as well as Best Director. If all goes perfectly for Interstellar from this point on, it could be in line for up to a dozen Academy Award nominations. Pie in […]

The Telluride Film Festival launched some Oscar contenders

Happy Labor Day everyone, and welcome to September as well. Over the past week or so, the Telluride Film Festival has unspooled a number of Academy Award contenders, in effect launching the Oscar race ahead of the start of the New York Film Festival as well as Toronto Film Festival. Those other two festivals will screen titles over the months of September and October, but with Telluride in the books, it’s one fest that we can analyze a bit to see what’s what. With their unique format (they never announce what films are playing in advance, so you never know what will screen), Telluride is always an X factor, but this year especially they’ve had no shortage of Oscar hopeful movies in their lineup. Some flicks upped their stock, while some need to be downgraded, but overall it’s a fest well worth discussing.
First off, here’s what the highest profile films at the festival were: Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, Sophie Barthes’ Madame Bovary, Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, Martin Scorsese’s The 50 Year Argument, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Jean-Marc Valleé’s Wild, and Andrey Zvgagintsev’s Leviathan. Those 14 were the big ones of note, but with Foxcatcher, The Homesman, Leviathan, Mommy, Mr. Turner, and Two Days, One Night having already played at the Cannes Film Festival, those movies didn’t see their statures change much. The flicks to really discuss are of course 99 Homes, Birdman, The Imitation Game, Madame Bovary, Rosewater, and Wild. Those six are what matters, to differing degrees.
First up is 99 Homes, which hopes to be a player for Andrew Garfield and especially Michael Shannon. The drama is without U.S. distribution right now, which could keep it from even coming out this year, but with mostly positive reviews from what I’ve seen, I’m sure someone will pick it up. Shannon would be in the conversation if that happens, so keep him in mind.
Next is Birdman (also known as Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which easily was the biggest success story at Telluride, even if the reviews weren’t quite as rapturous as they were a few days prior at the Venice Film Festival (even if both places threw around the “Masterpiece” word more than I […]

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