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

by     Posted 23 hours 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.

Neil Patrick Harris to Host the 2015 Oscars

by     Posted 8 days ago

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The host for the 2015 Oscars has been chosen, and it’s a mighty fine choice.  Neil Patrick Harris has been tapped to host the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015, ensuring that there will likely be at least one highly enjoyable musical number during the telecast.  Harris has plenty of experience hosting these kinds of ceremonies, having hosted the Tony Awards numerous times and the Emmy Awards this past year.  Ellen Degeneres hosted this past Oscar ceremony to positive results, but apparently she was apprehensive about accepting the gig and didn’t want to return for the 2015 Oscars.

Harris is a fantastic showman and so I’m very pleased by this news.  Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are returning to produce for the third time in a row (sigh), but they’ve found themselves an excellent frontman.  Harris is extremely charismatic and funny, and he also might find himself appearing in one of the Best Picture nominees if Gone Girl takes off with the Academy.  Check out NPH’s video confirmation of the news after the jump.

Oscar Beat: The Best Picture Race at a Glance

by     Posted 8 days ago

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The awards race is off and running.  We’ve already been through the fall film festival circuit where a number of contenders emerged either as heavy hitters or non-players, and as November approaches we’re starting to get to the point where all of the big films have been seen.  As such, I thought now would be a good time to start taking a closer look at some of the big categories, seeing where things stand as far as what films and actors/actresses are most likely to be nominated.  Take a look at the Best Picture race at a glance in this week’s edition of Oscar Beat after the jump.

Julianne Moore Surges into Best Actress Race as STILL ALICE Gets Oscar-Qualifying Release from Sony Pictures Classics

by     Posted 27 days ago

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One of the big surprises of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was a film called Still Alice.  Not many people I talked to saw it, but those that did were raving about Julianne Moore’s performance as a linguistics professor who begins showing the signs of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  The consensus was that if a studio picked up the independent film and set it for release before the year was out, they would have very good odds of landing a Best Actress Oscar for Moore.  And that is just what Sony Pictures Classics has done.  The studio confirmed today that it will release co-directors and co-writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s adaptation of the Lisa Genova novel in New York and Los Angeles in December for a one-week awards qualifying run, officially entering Moore into this year’s Best Actress race.

Hit the jump for more on the Best Actress category as it stands now and Moore’s presumed frontrunner status for Still Alice.

Oscar Beat: Patricia Arquette Going Supporting for BOYHOOD While A MOST VIOLENT YEAR Enters Awards Race

by     Posted 35 days ago

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A couple of interesting developments have surfaced in the past 24 hours with regards to the current awards race.  While you may be saying, “Adam, it’s September, the awards race is still months away,” I’d counter by pointing out that the fall film festivals traditionally signal the start of the very long Oscar season—by this time last year, critics were already buzzing after the debuts of 12 Years a Slave and Gravity on the festival circuit.  I provided live Oscar Beat updates from TIFF just last week, but now we’ve got a couple of news-y bits of awards content to attend to.  Firstly, IFC Films has opted to submit Patricia Arquette in the Best Supporting Actress category for Boyhood instead of Best Actress, greatly increasing her chances of winning.

And secondly, A24 Films has officially set director J.C. Chandor’s highly anticipated All Is Lost follow-up A Most Violent Year for limited release on December 31st, crashing the awards race with an Oscar-qualifying run.  Much more after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: Reese Witherspoon Enters Frustratingly Thin Best Actress Race with WILD

by     Posted 41 days ago

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While the Toronto International Film Festival is a regular launching pad for awards season fare, this year’s fest lacked any one big breakout film like last year’s 12 Years a Slave and Gravity.  TIFF 2014, instead, was all about the performances.  I’ve already written about the awards prospects of the incredible work in Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything, not to mention a potential dark horse in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nightcrawler, and now it’s time to discuss Reese Witherspoon’s raw, naked lead performance in director Jean-Marc Vallée’s pleasantly surprising and refreshing drama Wild.

You can read my full review of the film right here, but in this TIFF 2014 edition of Oscar Beat, I consider Witherspoon’s chances in the frustratingly weak Best Actress race.  Read on after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones Shine in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

by     Posted 44 days ago

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As I said in yesterday’s Oscar Beat article focusing on The Imitation Game, the awards season is always prime time for biopics.  At the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival—which acts as a sort of launching pad for much of the season’s awards fare—there were two high-profile films based on the lives of historical figures that screened for audiences.  The Imitation Game took the non-traditional route, turning the life of Alan Turing into a sort of spy thriller, while the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything is pretty standard as far as the genre goes (read Phil’s review here).  However, director James Marsh’s drama is rendered highly emotional by two absolutely stellar lead performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, which will undoubtedly land them in the frontlines of the Oscar conversation.  More after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch Launches Into the Best Actor Race with THE IMITATION GAME

by     Posted 45 days ago

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The awards season is certainly prone to recognizing biopics, and luckily there are two high-profile films based on the lives of historical figures screening at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  I’ll have a full Oscar Beat report up on The Theory of Everything soon (for now read Phil’s review), but for now it’s time to focus on the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch might very well end up with a Best Actor nomination for his fantastic performance as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.  Moreover, the film itself has been receiving high praise, and I left the theater this afternoon thinking, “this feels like the kind of movie that wins Best Picture.”  More after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: FOXCATCHER Enters Awards Race with Tremendous Performances from Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo

by     Posted 45 days ago

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The terrific, immensely unsettling drama Foxcatcher is finally on the verge of release on November 14th, and the film comes with incredibly high expectations.  Not only does it carry a fascinating, true story premise (eccentric millionaire John du Pont’s quest to coach an Olympic wrestling team) but the movie hails from filmmaker Bennett Miller, who is two-for-two when it comes to directing Best Picture nominees and even landed a Best Director Oscar nomination for his narrative feature debut Capote.  Having finally gotten a chance to see Foxcatcher at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, I can confirm that it is indeed a major contender in the upcoming awards race, especially when it comes to the film’s jaw-dropping trio of performances from Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo.

In this TIFF 2014 edition of Oscar Beat, I run down Foxcatcher’s chances in the upcoming Oscar race, including a very tricky quandary when it comes to category placement for the performances.  Read on after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014 Edition: Part 1 – Jake Gyllenhaal, MR. TURNER, and the Return of Jason Reitman

by     Posted 46 days ago

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The first few days of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival are in the bag, but it’s an uncharacteristically slow start to what is usually a big awards season kickoff.  Due to a rule change this year, only films that have not previously premiered at other festivals (ie. Telluride) can be highlighted during the first four days of TIFF, which leaves potential heavy hitters like Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, and Wild on the bench until next week.  That said, these first couple of days have given us the debuts of Jason Reitman’s heavy drama Men, Women & Children, an unhinged Jake Gyllenhaal in the fantastic psychological thriller Nightcrawler, and the charming new Noah Baumbach feature While We’re Young, as well as the Canadian Premiere of the well-received Mr. Turner.

While major Oscar contenders have yet to surface, there are a few noticeable standouts from the aforementioned features that could pick up steam as the season rolls on.  More after the jump in this TIFF 2014 edition of Oscar Beat.

Oscar Beat: What Awards Prospects Does the First Half of 2014 Have to Offer?

by     Posted 107 days ago

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We’ve now passed the halfway point of 2014, and while we dusted off our awards column Oscar Beat to rundown the post-Cannes Film Festival atmosphere back in May, the Oscar season doesn’t begin in earnest until September.  That said, given that fall isn’t the only time of the year that’s considered eligible for awards notice, I thought it fitting to take a look back at the last six months to see what films might pop up in the Oscar conversation later this year.  Read on after the jump.

Oscars: Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Hutcherson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Clark Gregg, and More Added to Academy Voting Body

by     Posted 119 days ago

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its list of actors, filmmakers, and others involved in the moviemaking industry that have been invited to join the Academy’s membership.  271 artists made the cut this year, ranging from recent winners and nominees like Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender to more eclectic choices like Rob Riggle, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Josh Hutcherson, and even Jason StathamChris Rock also finally gets a ballot years after hosting the ceremony, and Clark Gregg will bring some Marvel pedigree into the fold.  On the filmmaking side, brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, David Gordon Green, Denis Villeneuve, and Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees) join the directors branch, while DP Sean Bobbitt (12 Years a Slave) has been added to the cinematographers group.  Eddie Vedder and Pharrell Williams (sans hat) are also now Academy members should they accept their invitations.  The full list is still disappointingly short on females, however.

Hit the jump to check out the complete list of 2014 invitees to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  The 2015 race will be here before you know it, folks.

Oscar Beat: Early Contenders Arise from Cannes Film Festival

by     Posted 150 days ago

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It seems like only yesterday we were closing out the lengthy and eventful awards season with my 2015 preview installment of Oscar Beat, but the next race is already starting to heat up.  The first awards barometer of each year arrives with the Cannes Film Festival, and the most recent fest is no different.  A number of potential contenders premiered on the Croisette over the past couple of weeks, and after all the standing ovations (and a fair amount of boos), some serious Oscar contenders have emerged.

Hit the jump as I take a look at the post-Cannes Oscar landscape, which includes contenders like Foxcatcher, Mr. TurnerMaps to the Stars, and even a possible Oscar nomination for Channing Tatum.

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

by     Posted 185 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.

Oscar Beat: 10 Films That Could End Up in the 2015 Awards Race

by     Posted 229 days ago

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With the recent 86th Academy Awards ceremony, the Oscar race has finally come to a close—for now.  We just spent the past five months here on Oscar Beat deconstructing every inch of the Oscar season, and while we still have quite a while to wait before the next race heats up, now seems like a fine opportunity to take a quick preview of what just might be on tap for next year’s ceremony.  Obviously it’s way too early to take the 2015 Oscar race seriously, but there are plenty of anticipated films slated for release this year that could turn out to be the serious contenders in the next awards race.  After the jump, I preview 10 of the films that might pop up in next year’s Oscar conversation.

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