September 19, 2015
        “Inside Out”: Looking at potential Best Animated Feature Contenders                "Black Mass" could get Johnny Depp back in the Oscar game                J.J. Abrams and Denis Villeneuve: Ten potential first time writer/director nominees for Oscar in 2015                Roger Deakins offers up some of his very best cinematography in "Sicario"                "The Martian" launches itself as an awards hopeful at the Toronto Film Festival                "Steve Jobs": Oscar predictions for September                "Sleeping with Other People" is one of the most charming films of 2015                Sandra Bullock looks like a contender in the Trailer for "Our Brand is Crisis"                Sam Smith will sing the theme song for the upcoming 007 film "Spectre"                Richard Gere is an under the radar Best Actor contender for "Time Out of Mind"                Telluride and Venice launch festival debuts into the Oscar race                “The Hateful Eight”: Looking at potential Best Original Screenplay Contenders                David O. Russell and Ridley Scott: Which filmmaking contenders this year are most due for their first win?                Telluride Announces 2015 Lineup - Steve Jobs, Black Mass, Suffragette                “Sicario”: Ten Films to see in September        

Tag Archives: the Academy Awards

Why the Academy shouldn’t go back to five Best Picture nominees

One of the most fiercely debated subjects when it comes to the Oscars, aside from the actual films and performances in contention, is what the Academy should do with the size of their Best Picture slates. Recently, rumors have been swirling that AMPAS members have been considering again adjusting the potential lineup, perhaps even going back to having five nominees in Picture. I know there are plenty of fans out there who back that idea, while there are plenty more who want Oscar to go back to a straight ten. I certainly know which one I prefer, but I don’t agree that either idea beats the sliding scale that we currently have. Personally, I feel that going back to five would be a big mistake. In fact, I want them to do the exact opposite.
Why do I say that? Well, I truly believe that a bigger group of Best Picture nominees leads to better selections. There’s a ripple effect that I’ll discuss in the next paragraph, but when more films are in contention, it creates a better group overall. Especially when there was a guaranteed ten, you knew that voters were looking at their favorite movies of the year and keeping their minds open about what they traditionally thought a Best Picture nominee should be. That got us District 9 in a lineup, for example. I also reject the notion that it led to poor choices. If The Blind Side and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are the worst nominees in an expanded field, we’re still doing pretty well. They’re weaker nominees, but far from bad ones. The Academy has plenty of history with ten nominees, if not quite as much as it does with five. It’s just the sliding scale that’s new and not well liked. If Oscar goes back to five, it runs the risk of diluting the overall field, in a way I’m not sure they’re even considering.
For example, the biggest issue with going back to five is how much it would impact the smaller contenders. Look at just this past year and consider the case of Whiplash. If there were only five spots, I doubt it gets a big campaign coming out of Sundance like it did, leading to perhaps only J.K. Simmons getting in, if that. No nomination for Best Picture. It definitely doesn’t overcome category confusion to show up in Best Adapted Screenplay. The […]

Who should produce the next Academy Award ceremony?

If the rumors are to be believed, not only will the Oscars have a new host next year, but apparently also new producers as well. Yes, yesterday there was some buzz that Neil Meron and Craig Zadan would not be returning to produce the next Academy Award telecast. That comes on the heels of Neil Patrick Harris more or less affirming that he won’t host the show again, so now is really a nice opportunity to tweet the ceremony in a few ways. The question is…who should do it? Well, I have a suggestion that I think would really work, so let’s dive in and look at who I’ve tapped.
Quickly though, I do want to say that I’m on board with keeping two specific things from the Meron and Zadan years. Their Team Oscar idea is cute and harmless, so I’m cool with that remaining, but last year’s decision to televise every category’s nominations was a real winner to me. I’d want to expand on that (as you’ll see below), but I hope whomever is chosen by the Academy at least keeps the new status quo in that regard. I know I appreciated it, along with many Oscar pundits. Meron and Zadan didn’t make a ton of great decisions, but that was certainly one of them.
On that front, the one change I would make (no, not going back to five nominees for Best Picture, though I’m going to address that later on this week) besides my producer pick is to make the nominations a bigger deal. If, instead of announcing during the morning shows, they made it a prime time event, you could really get folks excited. Give us 90 minutes to announce all the categories, spreading out the Best Picture nominees so that each time one is announced, you’d get more clips and perhaps a bit of talking head discussion. You could do that for the Acting categories too, really hammering home the greatness of the year. It would massage the appetite for a wider viewing audience while also getting a double dip opportunity with advertisers. It seems like a no brainer to me, quite frankly.
So, who would I choose to produce the show? Judd Apatow, actually. Apatow is already an accomplished producer, in addition to being a top tier writer and director. He’s got stand up comedy roots, has worked with many of the funniest people in the […]

Ten candidates to host the 88th Academy Awards

As always seems to be the case immediately after the Oscars, a lot of chatter has turned to who should be the next host of the show following Neil Patrick Harris’ turn on Sunday. Honestly, the Academy Awards doesn’t actually need a host, but since they’re committed to the idea, it makes sense to really shoot for the moon next time out. I’ve never disliked any of the hosts (yes, I even found James Franco and Anne Hathaway to be fine), but I’ve also never really been over the moon for any of them. As such, I didn’t have to think too much in order to find a bunch of worthy names that I wish the Academy would consider. Below you’ll see ten of them, but trust me…there are plenty more than just these men and women.
Here are the ten individuals that I think could knock the 88th Oscars out of the park:
10. Billy Crystal – When in doubt, why not go back to what you know works? There are other options I could have listed here, like Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, or even Harris again (I’d easily be the most willing to give Seth MacFarlane another crack at it, even if it seems he’s one and done), but I have a feeling that we haven’t seen Crystal’s last turn at this gig. He wouldn’t be an exciting or sexy pick, but he’d do the job with a consistency that the Academy craves.

9. Sarah Silverman – Given the chance, I think Silverman could really do a great job with this big stage. Sure, she’s dirtier than most previous hosts, but she has a unique personality that could be well suited to a slight roast of Hollywood. I doubt she’d get the call, but I think it’s one that Oscar should make.

8. Kevin Smith – Hear me out. Quietly, the filmmaker has become an incredible interviewer on his many podcasts, someone who speaks with a genuine affection and love for cinema. For Hollywood’s biggest night/their prom, shouldn’t the MC be a big fan of the movies too? They’ll never even consider him, but they should.

7. Jimmy Kimmel – I think if it weren’t for the fact that Kimmel already hosts a post show special, he’d already have been given the gig. He’s a low risk choice that could wind up paying bigger dividends than expected. Of all the people on this […]

The Ten Best Moments from the 87th Academy Awards

As is always the case, there was plenty to complain about once the Oscars came to an end on Sunday night. That’s all well and good, but right now I want to focus on the positive take a quick look at the very best moments from the Academy Awards. They’ve done this 87 times now, and without fail, there’s at least a few things that you know you’ll remember from the ceremony. Below you’ll see the ten moments that I think were the very best from Oscar over the weekend, but they’re hardly the only ones. It was a bit of a mixed bag, but one with plenty of pleasures as well…
Here are the ten best moments from the Oscars on Sunday night:
10. Every nominated film for Best Picture took home an award – I’m a sucker for fairness, so seeing each of the eight nominees for Best Picture not go home empty handed pleased me. Sure, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Selma, and The Theory of Everything only won a single Oscar each, but Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Whiplash managed to become multiple Academy Award recipients. Some of the awards may have gone in different directions than hoped, but the love was sufficiently spread around.
9. Big Hero 6 wins Best Animated Feature – Once we knew The Lego Movie wouldn’t be in the race, it was then a matter of if the pseudo Marvel superhero cartoon Big Hero 6 could pull off the win. Many, including myself, predicted How to Train Your Dragon 2, but Big Hero 6 deservingly took it in the end. In my mind, the best movie won, so that’s always a plus.
8. The reaction to Patricia Arquette’s speech – There was just something about Meryl Streep pumping her fist while Arquette rightly pushed for gender equality. It was a political moment, for sure, but it’s hard to be against equal pay for equal work, regardless of the job. Sure, actors are well paid, but equality should be across the board. There, done with my little soapbox.
7. Keeping the suspense going almost all night – The way the categories were organized left everything up in the air until well past 11pm on the east coast. Once we got to Best Film Editing and Boyhood came up short to Whiplash, we had our first hint, but there was suspense for literally hours. That’s rare, […]

“Birdman” soars at the Spirit Awards and Oscar ceremony

Well, it happened folks. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) took Best Picture from Richard Linklater’s Boyhood last night at the Academy Awards. It also managed to win Iñárritu Best Director over Linklater, as well as Best Original Screenplay as well, beating back Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel there. After a brief tease the night before at the Independent Spirit Awards, where the two big films split (Birdman took Best Feature and Boyhood/Linklater took Best Director), it was basically down the line with Oscar. For once, my predictions turned out to be right. I was one of the few to avoid predicting a split, so even though I wound up having one of my worst statistical nights ever, going just 17 out of 24, I got it right when it counted.
So, why did Birdman win? Well, it comes down to two factors for me. One is that it’s a movie about actors/Hollywood/movies to some degree, and that’s catnip to the Academy. Second is that they just plain liked it best. For that first factor, you need only look at recent winners like Argo and The Artist, alongside something like Chicago, and you can see that it’s something Oscar voters did on. For that second factor, it’s pretty self explanatory. Yes, individual honors might have gone elsewhere, including a snub in the Best Film Editing category, both technical sound categories going elsewhere, and Michael Keaton losing Best Actor to The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne (not to mention both Supporting nominees Edward Norton and Emma Stone coming up short), but overall it turned out to be the favorite. Sure, The Grand Budapest Hotel got plenty of love too, but not in the major categories. Collectively, Birdman was the one most beloved, and that resulted in Picture/Director/Original Screenplay going its way, and thus the big crown for the year.
On that same front, why did Boyhood wind up losing? Simply put, voters weren’t quite as fond of it as critics were. During the precursors, the critics award anointed it the frontrunner, something that the Golden Globe Awards bought into as well. Then, when the guilds got involved, which consist of many members of the Academy, they opted to go in a different direction. I’m sure the vote totals in Best Picture were close, with the ones in Best Director probably as tight as ever, but in the end, […]

OSCARS 2015 : Final Predictions for the Academy Awards

It’s time folks. I can’t delay it any longer, even if I’d like to. I must put out my final Oscar predictions. There’s no more time to go back and forth on if Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or Richard Linklater’s Boyhood will win Best Picture, as well as if Iñárritu or Linklater will take Best Director. It’s just down to this. As such, I’m not going to be giving any more analysis or reasoning for my picks, except to say that I ultimately couldn’t bring myself to predict a split. Does that mean I went all in on Birdman or went back to Boyhood? You’ll see below, but I’ll be saving the discussion points for Monday when I look at what the Academy choose to do, and why. Oscar voters have made their choices, so I’ve made mine as well. The Academy Awards are on Sunday night, so all we have to do is wait. I know I’m super excited and nervous, and I’d imagine you all are as well. Suffice to say, this was a unique season. Anyway, here’s to the Oscars!
Without any further delay at all, here now are my up to date and very last set of Academy Award predictions:
1. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Boyhood
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
5. Whiplash
6. American Sniper
7. Selma
8. The Theory of Everything
1. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
3. Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
5. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
1. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
2. Michael Keaton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
4. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
5. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
1. Julianne Moore – Still Alice
2. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
3. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
4. Reese Witherspoon – Wild
5. Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
1. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
2. Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
3. Edward Norton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
4. Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
5. Robert Duvall – The Judge
1. Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
2. Laura Dern – Wild
3. Emma Stone – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
4. Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
5. Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Boyhood
4. Foxcatcher
5. Nightcrawler

Which nominee will wind up with the most Oscar wins?

With the Academy Awards creeping up on us and voting currently going on, I wanted to consider for a moment which one of the nominees is primed to do best on Oscar night. Usually, you can narrow it down to just one or two films that are in prime position to lead the way, in terms of wins, but this year isn’t that sort of a case. It makes sense too, considering how little of the season has gone by the book. Since just about anything can happen, that applies to Oscar night as well. The Academy could wind up going in numerous different directions here…
Basically, the way I narrowed down the list of movies that potentially could have the best Oscar night was to start with the Best Picture lineup. That gave me eight contenders to start with. From there, I eliminated Selma, of course, since it only had two nominations in total. Then, I opted to exclude American Sniper due to its controversies and decent probability of being totally shut out. That left me with six of the nominees, some of whom have a better shot at this honor than others. These are the most likely half dozen though, no doubt about that. It’ll be one of these when all is said and done. Ironically, most of the early contenders to really be heavily rewarded wound up snubbed, for the most part. Potential juggernauts like Gone Girl, Interstellar, Into the Woods, and Unbroken fell short in one way or another, so we only have some of the Best Picture nominees to cull from.
Here are the most likely films to lead the way in terms of Oscar night wins:
1. Birdman – Co-leading the field with nine nominations, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film has recently become the odds on favorite for some major awards, which could set it up to have the best total day of any contender. A slightly realistic perfect world evening for Birdman would see it take Best Picture, Best Director (for Iñárritu), Best Actor (for Michael Keaton), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and perhaps either Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing. That would give it a half dozen wins, and no other movie can contend with that, I don’t think. The awards will likely be split among many titles, but this one is in the pole position to wind up with the most overall.
2. Boyhood – […]

Will the Academy ever warm to “The Hunger Games” franchise?

Usually, a blockbuster science fiction series with an appeal across the board and strong critical reviews will show up at least somewhere at the Academy Awards. So far though, the two films in The Hunger Games franchise (with the third/next to last one out this weekend) have yet to receive a single Oscar nomination. That’s including Best Original Song, where they always have A list talent contributing music, and all of the technical categories. That’s insane to me. With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 hoping to reverse that trend, but probably unlikely, I got to thinking about the possibility that voters could be waiting for the franchise to end before they honor it…
What I mean by that above statement is that it’s possible they pull a version of what they did with The Lord of the Rings franchise. Essentially, instead of nominating the movies a bunch and just giving it all the wins, they could shut out all the prior versions and then go all in with some citations when things wrap up. It’s not an incredibly likely scenario, but if have closure does anything for them, it’ll help give that last installment a leg up on the other films in the series. At the very least, it’s an interesting theory to consider a bit.
If, for example, the voters decided to finally embrace one of these movies, they’d have a ton of places to consider it in. Best Picture obviously is a long shot, though I could make the case that Jennifer Lawrence usually deserves Best Actress consideration to go along with Elizabeth Banks in Best Supporting Actress. The techs though are where it could shine. Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Song, and Best Visual Effects are all places where it deserves consideration.
That being said, it’s very likely that the entire franchise could wind up shut out completely. For some reason, this gets lumped in for the most part with every other YA or Young Adult production. It’s the same affliction that could prevent Shailene Woodley from being cited for The Fault in Our Stars (or that script from truly competing for a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination). Voters don’t feel the need to go out of their way for this sci-fi blockbuster when there are multiple superhero films (mainly from Marvel), period war epics, and other […]

“Unbroken” by Angelina Jolie: A May Oscar Predictions Update

Now that we’re in the month of May, here I am again with some new and even more up to date Oscar predictions. They won’t be amazingly different from what I put up last month, but honestly, that’s kind of the point. We still have a very long way to go in the season and these new predictions will likely be almost entirely wrong anyway, but with each passing update I do feel a teensy bit more confident in backing these particular horses as opposed to the previous ones. If nothing else, this sort of shows where I’m coming from as the months pass and the race begins to evolve into something actually competitive, especially when precursor season begins.

Much like last time, you can see that films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar are the ones that I have pegged to be the big winners at this year’s ceremony, with Unbroken still dominating at this early point in the season. A lot can and likely will change, but if you’re looking for an early horse to bet on, that’s the one in my eyes. There are some small changes, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s still about Unbroken here for me.

I could go on about the tinkering that I’ve done, but I know at this point you mostly just want to see actual predictions, so here now is how I see the Academy Awards shaping up at this eearly juncture:
1. Unbroken
2. Foxcatcher
3. Men, Women, & Children
4. Big Eyes
5. Boyhood
6. Gone Girl
7. Rosewater
8. The Homesman
9. Interstellar
10. A Most Violent Year
1. Angelina Jolie- Unbroken
2. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
3. Jason Reitman – Men, Women, & Children
4. Tim Burton – Big Eyes
5. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
1. Jack O’Connell – Unbroken
2. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
3. Joaquin Phoenix – Inherent Vice
4. Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner
5. Ben Affleck – Gone Girl
1. Amy Adams – Big Eyes
2. Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
3. Michelle Williams – Suite française
4. Hilary Swank – The Homesman
5. Reese Witherspoon – Wild
1. Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
2. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
3. Christoph Waltz – Big Eyes
4. Robert Duvall – The Judge
5. Takamasa Ishihara – Unbroken
1. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
2. Jena Malone – Inherent Vice
3. Rosemarie DeWitt – Men, Women, & Children
4. Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
5. Hailee Steinfeld – The Homesman
1. Foxcatcher
2. Big Eyes
3. Interstellar
4. […]

Critics’ Choice: Joey Berlin from BFCA

Joey Berlin from the Broadcast Film Critics Association – Critics’ Choice Awards
In 1995, Joey Berlin and Rod Lurie, two entertainment reporters and film critics who had written for rival publications, joined forces to create the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.
While Lurie would go on to carve out a successful Hollywood career as a screenwriter and director with such films as “The Contender” and “The Last Castle,” Berlin hasn’t faired too badly, either, as the president of the BFCA.
Starting with 44 members the first year, the BFCA’s voting membership today hovers between 285 and 290 and the organization bills itself as the largest film critics group in the U.S. and Canada.
At the same time, the BFCA created the Critics’ Choice Awards, a glitzy tux-and-gown gala now televised on the CW Network that features red carpet celebrity arrivals, drawing worldwide media attention and plenty of Oscar buzz since the show coincides with the run-up to the Academy Awards.
But as the show has catapulted the broadcast critics into the Oscar conversation each movies awards season, tax records show that the nonprofit group Berlin leads has paid his privately-owned company, Berlin Entertainment, Inc., hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for production services.
Read prior Broadcast Film Critics Association story here at
IRS Form 990 filings list Berlin Entertainment, Inc., receiving a combined $992,270 from the nonprofit between fiscal 2009 and 2011.
Berlin notes that his members seem to be satisfied with the job he’s doing since he has been repeatedly re-elected president every two years.
The tax files show that Berlin’s base compensation and benefits were a combined $1,297,133 for the three-year period spanning fiscal 2009 to 2011. But his compensation is listed as coming from “related organizations” and not directly from the BFCA, according to the Form 990 documents, which all nonprofits are required to file with the IRS to qualify for tax-exempt status.
When asked about his sizeable compensation, Berlin told in a recent telephone interview: “I did this for five years for zero compensation, but this is what I do all day, every day. I’m really proud of what we’ve built and accomplished….
“My compensation has grown with the growth of the show,” he adds without apology. “The television show is an incredible benefit to the members.” He notes that these benefits include such things as access and awards screeners. “That seems a comfortable arrangement for everybody.”
One […]

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