15 Documentaries Advance in Oscar Race; List Includes LIFE ITSELF and CITIZENFOUR

by     Posted 19 days ago

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The Best Documentary Feature Oscar race is off and running, and the contenders aren’t lacking in quality non-fiction filmmaking.  Out of 134 submissions, 15 films have advanced in the category and will be competing for a nomination in the 87th Academy Awards race.  Notable inclusions range from the moving Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, to the controversial and critically acclaimed Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour.  I’m also happy to see the excellent Aaron Swartz documentary The Internet’s Own Boy make the cut, and the well-received Jodorowsky’s Dune was also shortlisted.  As far as snubs go, the biggest surprises are the Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth and the festival favorite Soviet hockey film Red Army not advancing.

Check out the full Best Documentary Oscar list after the jump.  The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced on January 15, 2015 in advance of the ceremony on February 22, 2015.  For more on this year’s Oscar race, check out my recent Oscar Beat columns.

Oscar Beat: The Best Director Race at a Glance

by     Posted 23 days ago

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As we head out of the Thanksgiving holiday, studios have been scrambling to get screeners out to critics and voters before early December deadlines, and some of the year’s later releases are finally starting to be seen, which means the Oscar race is becoming much clearer.  We already have one potentially huge game-changer in the form of Selma, which has enjoyed enthusiastically positive response from its initial screenings, but that film also throws a curious prospect into the mix: for the first time in history, could we actually have two female directors nominated for the Best Director Oscar?

After the jump, I consider this question as I take a look at the current state of the rather crowded Best Director race in this edition of Oscar Beat.

Oscar Beat: The Best Actress Race at a Glance

by     Posted 38 days ago

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Every year it seems like Oscars’ Best Actor category is crowded, while the number of contenders for the Best Actress trophy feels relatively thin.  It’s a result of the sad fact that there just aren’t as many interesting lead roles for women in Hollywood as there are for men; many times the “female lead” is relegated to existing only in relation to the film’s male lead.  It’s disappointing to be sure, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t any noteworthy female roles out there, and this year’s Best Actress race is an excellent showcase of both talent and range, from brilliant sociopaths to Alzheimer’s patients.

After the jump, I take a look at the current state of the Best Actress Oscar category in this new edition of Oscar Beat.

Oscars: 20 Films Submitted for Best Animated Feature Consideration

by     Posted 47 days ago

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A total of 20 films have been submitted for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, with titles ranging from The LEGO Movie to The Boxtrolls to The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.  This is an odd year in that there’s really no clear frontrunner yet.  Pixar didn’t release anything, and response to Walt Disney Animation’s sole offering, Big Hero 6, isn’t coming close to the near universal praise of Frozen last year.  DreamWorks Animation has a strong film in How to Train Your Dragon 2, but the sequel suffered a somewhat disappointing box office performance domestically.  Princess Kaguya comes from the revered folks at Studio Ghibli and studio co-founder Isao Takahata, so it could be a formidable force in the race, and I’d say The LEGO Movie is a strong contender to take home the trophy as well given its wildly positive response from critics and audiences alike.

Check out the full list and more commentary on the contenders after the jump.

Chris Rock and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Turned Down the Offer to Host This Year’s Oscars

by     Posted 60 days ago

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It was announced last week that the excellent Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting this coming February’s Oscar ceremony, but it turns out that NPH wasn’t the Academy’s first choice.  THR reports that producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron—who have produced the last two ceremonies in a row—first “begged” Ellen Degeneres to return as Oscar for this year’s ceremony.  She firmly declined the offer, and then they next approached Chris Rock, who hosted in 2005.  He turned down the offer as well, and so Zadan and Meron then went to Julia Louis-Dreyfus who, shocker, said “no”.  They then finally landed on Harris, who graciously agreed to take on the gig.  More after the jump.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron Returning to Produce 2015 Oscars for Third Straight Year

by     Posted 244 days ago

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The Academy seems intent on playing things safe for the foreseeable future.  It was announced today that Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will return to produce the 2015 Oscars ceremony, marking the duo’s third-straight telecast.  The 2014 Academy Awards ceremony pulled in 43.7 million total viewers, marking the most-watched telecast since 2000, so the Academy presumably didn’t feel the need to shake things up.  Ellen Degeneres did a fine job of hosting this year, but I thought the structure of the ceremony itself was unremarkable so I’m not exactly over-the-moon about the news of Zadan and Meron coming back.  After all, this is the same duo that put together a “tribute to movie musicals” during the 2013 ceremony that was essentially a celebration of Chicago—a film that they themselves produced.

Regardless, the overall enjoyment factor of the ceremony will come down to the host, so now we await that announcement later this year.  Personally, I’m in favor of just having Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host everything.  Read the full press release after the jump, and sound off in the comments with who you think should host the 87th Oscars on February 22, 2015.

FROZEN Songwriter Robert Lopez Becomes Youngest Person to EGOT

by     Posted 293 days ago

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Last night, Robert Lopez took home an Academy Award for co-writing “Let It Go” from Frozen, and became the youngest person to “EGOT”, i.e. win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.  Lopez previously won the Grammys and Tonys for The Book of Mormon, and received Daytime Emmy Awards for music direction and composition for the kids TV series The Wonder Pets.

Per Variety, other “EGOT” members include Whoopi Goldberg, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, and Scott Rudin.  So if you need a bit a trivia about last night’s ceremony, you can point at Lopez’ win.

12 YEARS A SLAVE Wins Best Picture; GRAVITY Wins Seven Oscars Including Best Director

by     Posted 294 days ago

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For the first time in at least six year, we have a Best Picture winner that will stand the test of time.  Cynics thought the Academy’s highest honor would go to American Hustle, the numbers were pointing slightly towards Gravity, but the Oscar ultimately went to 12 Years a Slave, the definitive major motion picture about slavery.  The ceremony itself was an absolute chore, but it was wonderful to see Steve McQueen’s harrowing drama pick up the win at the end.  Additionally, Gravity–another great movie–received plenty of love by earning seven Oscars including Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director.  Among the acting categories, there were no surprises: Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor, Cate Blanchett for Best Actress, Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor, and Lupita Nyong’o for Best Supporting Actress.  It was not a shocking night, and the biggest “upset” was Mr. Hublot beating out Get a Horse! for Best Animated Short Film.  Personally, I’m pretty satisfied with this year’s winners, especially since Spike Jonze took home Best Original Screenplay for Her.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of this year’s Oscar winners, and click here for my live-blog.

Matt Live-Blogs the 86th Academy Awards

by     Posted 294 days ago

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This year, our awards coverage was more extensive than ever, and Adam, our Oscar expert, laid his predictions out over three articles.  However, the humble task of sitting through the ceremony and poking fun at it for over three hours falls to me.  To be fair, there are a few exciting races this year, especially Best Picture.  But when it comes to the actual program, I think we’re going to be rolling our eyes together as the Academy salutes “heroes”, whatever the hell that means.

My live-blogging will kick in around 8:00pm (EST) and then just keep refreshing the page for my latest thoughts on the 86th Academy Awards.  I’ll also be tweeting (why only mock the Oscars on one platform?), and you can follow me on Twitter at @MattGoldberg.  The 2014 awards race is almost over.  Let’s pull each other across the finish line with jokes, faux-outrage, and perhaps, if we’re lucky, genuine happiness towards a deserving winner.  The ceremony begins at 8:30pm (EST)

Adam Predicts the Oscars Part 3: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and More

by     Posted 296 days ago

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After running down predictions for the Oscars in a number of categories over the past two days, we’ve now come to the big ones.  As I’ve said many times before over the course of this awards season, this is quite possibly the closest Best Picture race in history; a coin flip would not be unwarranted.  And while some of the acting categories are pretty sewn up, Supporting Actress remains a bit tricky and there’s some intense competition in the race for Best Original Screenplay.  I’ve had a lot of fun covering this year’s awards race over the last five months with Oscar Beat and I look forward to doing it all over again this fall, but for now here’s the culmination of this season’s coverage.

After the jump you’ll find my predictions for the final categories ahead of this weekend’s Academy Awards ceremony as well as my full predictions list for the ceremony, and if you missed Part 1 or Part 2 be sure to check them out.  The 86th Academy Awards will air on Sunday, March 2nd on ABC, during which time our own Matt Goldberg will be live-blogging the ceremony right here on Collider.

Adam Predicts the Oscars Part 2: Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup, and Short Categories

by     Posted 297 days ago

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Continuing on with predictions for this Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, today we take a look at the rest of the technical categories and the shorts—aka where Oscar ballots are made or lost.  I surmised that Gravity would clean up in most of yesterday’s categories, but the love will have to be spread around when it comes to Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, and possibly Production Design.  After the jump, I run through these categories as well as the contenders for Best Animated Short, Live-Action Short, and Documentary Short in Part 2 of my Oscar predictions.

THE COLLISION: Episode 78 – The 86th Academy Awards

by     Posted 301 days ago

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This week on The Collision, we look back at the road to the 86th Academy Awards, the films that dropped off, the films that surged, and the films that persevered.  We then go through all 24 categories giving our predictions on who will win and who we think deserves to win.  If you need help on your Oscar ballot, it’s better to listen to Adam than me.

Click here to listen to the new episode of The Collision, click here for the previous episode (“RoboCop“), click here to add the podcast to your RSS, and click here to find us on iTunes. To keep up to date with The Collision, you can follow us on Twitter at @MattGoldberg and @AdamChitwood.

Academy Exercises Common Sense; Idina Menzel to Perform “Let It Go” at the Oscars

by     Posted 313 days ago

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The Oscars are all about pageantry, but oddly they don’t feature musical performances of the Best Original Song nominees every year.  Part of that is for a show that’s always worried about running long on time, but perhaps it’s better to cut one of the 18 self-congratulatory tributes rather than the live performances.  Thankfully, the Academy will be embracing their Best Song category this year.  Pharrell Williams was already announced to perform “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, and now the show will also feature Idina Menzel performing one of the biggest hits of the year, “Let It Go” from Frozen.  Since Williams was already tapped to perform, it’s not surprising that the Oscars would also go after a singer for another nominated song, and it’s certainly not surprising for “Let It Go”, which is the clear frontrunner in the category.  It also helps that the album is the longest-running #1 soundtrack since 2003, and Disney has held sing-along screenings.

In case you need to hear the amazing song again, hit the jump to watch the scene from Frozen.  The 86th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 2nd.

Academy Rescinds Best Original Song Nomination for ALONE YET NOT ALONE Citing Insider Campaigning

by     Posted 326 days ago

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In an odd bit of pre-Oscars drama, one of the Academy’s nominations has been rescinded citing insider campaigning.  Now before you point fingers in the direction of the closest Weinstein, let me tell you that the nomination that has been yanked out of contention is the Best Original Song nod for Alone Yet Not Alone’s title song.  Bruce Broughton, a former Academy member who wrote the music for the song, made the mistake of emailing Academy members to bring his song to their attention.  That little bit of insider campaigning explains how this little-talked-about picture landed a nomination, and why it’s been pulled (which might end up bringing more attention to the film anyway).

Hit the jump for the full press release explaining the mess.

2014 Oscar Nominations Announced; AMERICAN HUSTLE and GRAVITY Lead with 10 Nominations Each [Updated with Commentary]

by     Posted 339 days ago

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The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. American Hustle and Gravity lead with 10 nominations each, while 12 Years a Slave isn’t too far behind with 9 nominations.  Looking over my predictions, there weren’t actually too many surprises this morning–at least no genuine “snubs” on the scale of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow last year.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale made the Best Actor cut over Robert Redford and Tom HanksHer, Dallas Buyers Club, and Philomena all got Best Picture nominations over Saving Mr. Banks, and Sally Hawkins landed a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in Blue Jasmine, seemingly taking Oprah Winfrey‘s spot from Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  Also, the Academy apparently did not take a liking to Saving Mr. Banks, as the film missed out on a Best Picture nomination and a Best Actress nomination for Emma Thompson.

Hit the jump to take a look at the full nominations list.  The 86th Oscars will be broadcast March 2nd on ABC. [Update: I've added my commentary on some of the categories after the jump.]

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