Tag Archives: The Academy Awards

‘Celluloid Heroes’: My Playlist for Your Academy Awards Parties

I feel very honored to be one of the writers for The 83rd Annual Academy Awards hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco on ABC this Sunday night. So rather than watching the show with my wife, my kids and my friends at our usual Oscar party, I will gladly be somewhere backstage in a tux — no doubt sweating profusely and laughing loudly, as I tend to do in these situations. Having been sworn to secrecy, I will now tell you precisely nothing about the show that’s being produced this year by Don Mischer and Bruce Cohen. That said, I will throw caution to the wind and reveal exactly this much: The show’s going to be great. You’re invited. You should watch.

So, until the red carpet opens, here’s my suggested playlist for all your Oscar parties this year. As usual, I reached out to all the beautiful people who follow me on Twitter at @wildaboutmusic, and asked for their favorite songs related to the movies and Hollywood. And as always, they delivered the goods. My favorite tweet of all came from @mannweil — also known as the great songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil who were Oscar nominated for Best Original Song, “Somewhere Out There,” from An American Tail. They reminded me about “Saturday Night at the Movies” by The Drifters — a soulful pop masterpiece that they not only suggested, but also wrote.

Please add your own suggestions here — and no, you don’t have to actually have written the song — but it couldn’t hurt.

And enjoy the show.
CELLULOID HEROES – The Kinks
EVERYONE’S GONE TO THE MOVIES – Steely Dan
BABY I’M A STAR – Prince & The Revolution
TAKE YOUR GIRLIE TO THE MOVIES – Dean Martin
HOLLYWOOD MECCA OF THE MOVIES – T-Bone Burnett
AT THE MOTION PICTURE BALL – Bobby Short
HOLLYWOOD KIDS – The Thrills
PICTURE SHOW – John Prine
LOVE LIKE THE MOVIES – The Avett Brothers
IT’S ALL IN THE MOVIES – Merle Haggard
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES – The Drifters
THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE MOVIES – Paul Simon
HOLLYWOOD – Chaka Khan & Rufus
HOLLYWOOD – The Runaways
HOLLYWEIRD – Poison
I LOVE L.A. – Randy Newman
IMITATION OF LIFE – REM
CELEBRITY – Brad Paisley
LOST IN HOLLYWOOD – Neil Diamond
VOGUE – Madonna
GONE HOLLYWOOD – Supertramp
DEEPER INTO THE MOVIES – Yo La Tengo
MY HUSBAND MAKES MOVIES – Karen Akers
MORE LIKE THE MOVIES – Dr. Hook
SHINING STAR – Earth, Wind & Fire
STAR – The Roots & Sly & The Family Stone
CINEMA – Yes
MRS. POTTER’S LULLABY – Counting Crows
MATINEE IDOL – Rufus Wainwright
CELEBRITY SKIN – Hole
LIKE DYLAN IN THE MOVIES – Belle & Sebastian
NOT LIKE THE MOVIES – Katy Perry
HOLLYWOOD – Michael Buble

Oscar Picks and Predictions: A Year of Few Surprises

It’s official — I’m clairvoyant.

Early this morning, on NBC affiliate KWQC-TV, yours truly successfully identified all 10 Best Picture nominees.

Before I get too puffed up with pride, I have to acknowledge that it was not too difficult to come up with this list, which is sort of a sad statement. Truth be told, I’d have liked to be wrong on one or two of these picks. I’d have been intrigued to see a “wild card” selection.

Perhaps this presages a year of few surprises at the Oscars, after a year of mostly lackluster movies.

I was never a fan of broadening the field of Best Picture nominees to 10 titles: at a time when many will acknowledge that fewer outstanding movies are seeing the light of day, it seems downright counterintuitive.

Although Oscar history offers plenty of examples of inferior movies getting the top prize, this field of 10 really illustrates how movies that would once have been judged solid or even just serviceable, are now, in a sort of perverse creative inflation, praised to the skies.

To my mind, the Best Picture nominees that meet the historical standard (discounting those glaring instances when Oscar gets it wrong) number five: The King’s Speech, The Social Network, 127 Hours, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone.

The other five may be wildly successful commercially (some even critically), but hardly Best Picture calibre.

Black Swan may be the most overrated of the bunch, in my view — a psycho-sexual thriller which offers only cheap thrills — though admittedly Natalie Portman executes a demanding role effectively.

The Fighter is a solid, highly diverting boxing picture, but let’s face it — no Raging Bull. Toy Story 3 is fun, but it’s a franchise that’s getting milked, with diminishing returns for the viewer.

Inception is a visually impressive but otherwise pretentious and incomprehensible sci-fi entry, while The Kids Are All Right is a smart, hip comedy — admittedly a rarity these days — but hardly in the realm of the few comedies that have taken Best Picture in the past (think 1934’s It Happened One Night or 1977’s Annie Hall.)

Some thoughts on the acting nominations:

Colin Firth should win Best Actor, and I think he will. As runner-up and potential dark horse, I would favor James Franco (his fearless turn in 127 Hours will make him a BIG star, I predict), over Jesse Eisenberg. Jeff Bridges certainly deserves the nod, but I doubt he’ll get it a second time.

For Best Actress, I vote for Annette Bening, whose heartfelt, pitch-perfect performance elevates Kids to a movie worth seeing. She will get heavy competition from Portman, who’s obviously blazingly talented. (I myself have yet to come down with the Portman bug, though I hear it’s catching.)

For Supporting Actor, I dearly hope Geoffrey Rush gets it — he underplays so beautifully next to Firth’s more showy portrayal of King George VI. Still, I think Christian Bale will likely take it for The Fighter, a role in which I thought he was miscast ( you see folks — as good as he was, I could feel him acting).

For Supporting Actress, I’m rooting hard for Melissa Leo — she did for The Fighter just what Bening did for Kids.

For Best Screenplay, I think either The King’s Speech or The Social Network will prevail, and you can bet Inception will clean up on awards relating to visual effects and sound.

And what about Best Picture? Personally, I hope it’s The King’s Speech, but I believe The Social Network will take it. It powerfully captures the Zeitgeist of our times, while Speech will inevitably strike some voters as a first-rate but somewhat dusty period drama. I do hope I’m wrong.

I’ve enjoyed being clairvoyant for this short period. Now that I’ve raised the stakes on myself, I fear I’ll be brought back down to earth very soon — because in the end, no one can totally understand the mysterious ways of Oscar.

But it sure is fun trying.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-farr/oscar-nominations-few-surprises_b_813604.html

Random thoughts on Oscar Nomination

Is Chris Nolan the new Steven Spielberg? Inception received eight nominations, including Best Picture, but Nolan failed to receive a directing nod this morning. That is arguably the biggest surprise in the otherwise predictable batch of Oscar nominations today. Even as someone who doesn’t think it was the greatest genre entry of all-time, it IS a director’s picture through-and-through. Of course, since we now have ten Best Picture nominees and only five Best Director slots, there are arguably five other directors who might be a little annoyed this morning. I’m personally saddened (as much as one can be ‘saddened’ by stuff like this) by the omission of Debra Granik for her direction of Best Picture nominee Winter’s Bone. I know we all like the Coen Brothers, but True Grit is a pretty normal western. If True Grit is Oscar-worthy, then so was 3:10 to Yuma and Open Range. There will be much handwringing over Lisa Cholodenko not getting a Best Director nomination for The Kids Are All Right. But since I kinda hate the film, I’m not too personally annoyed by the omission. At least Mark Ruffalo pulled out a Best Supporting Actor nod out of the deal, since he was the best thing about the film (of course, Ruffalo is usually the best thing about every film he’s in).

 

The actual ten Best Picture nominees were pretty much as predicted a couple months ago (eight of the ten films made either my Best of 2010 or Overrated of 2010 lists). You have two mainstream blockbusters (Inception and Toy Story 3), two mid-summer arthouse favorites (The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone), the one Oscar-bait critical darling that didn’t quite catch fire at the box office (127 Hours), the presumptive front-runner (The Social Network), and the four uber-popular, audience-pleasing bits of late-year Oscar bait (Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, and True Grit). It’s a solid cross-section of nominees and proof that the ten-nominee gimmick is a pretty great idea. Not only did the best damn film of the year get in (Toy Story 3), but five of the ten films were released prior to the official Novemeber/December Oscar-bait season. I’m still pulling for a Pixar upset, but right now the four front runners (the films with Picture, Director, Acting, and Editing nods) are The Social Network, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, and The Fighter.

I could spend a column whining about what shouldn’t have been nominated (everything about True Grit save Halee Steinfield), and I won’t mention that I see not a single minority in any of the major nominees lists. But I will only make mention of the fact that Helen Bonham Carter, having spent the last two decades playing all manner of weird and unique characters, gets an Oscar nom for playing the cliched ‘supportive, nurturing, stand-by-your-man wife’, a character with little to do and almost no dialogue. But let’s move on to positive developments. Melissa Leo is now a two-time Oscar nominee and I can’t wait to be able to type the sentence: “Melissa Leo is an Oscar-winning actress”. Christian Bale received his first (!) Oscar nomination for The Fighter, and he’s still the front-runner (only Geoffrey Rush can beat him). Natalie Portman of course was nominated for Best Actress for Black Swan, and at this point she still seems unbeatable (barring a ‘career-award’ upset from Annette Bening).

John Hawkes pulled off a somewhat surprising (and completely pleasing) Best Supporting Actor nomination for Winter’s Bone. Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence justifiably got most of the media buzz, but Hawkes’s supporting turn truly dominates the third act of the terrific little drama. Jackie Weaver snagged a Best Supporting Actress nod for Animal Kingdom, which means the DVD I have from Blockbuster is will probably be watched this evening. Javier Bardem got a somewhat surprising Best Actor nod for Best Foreign film nominee Biutiful and Michelle Williams snuck in for Blue Valentine. Nicole Kidman got a deserved nod for Rabbit Hole, as it’s nice to see people talking about her acting instead of her alleged botox treatments, and/or the shocking fact that films like Rabbit Hole don’t play like Happy Feet or Batman Forever. Whatever my issues about The Social Network (its truthfulness, its alleged cultural impact), Jesse Eisenberg gives a genuinely brilliant performance, so I’m happy he was not lost amidst the press given to director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin.

The Illusionist made the cut in the Best Animated Film Category joining Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon while beating out more mainstream releases like Despicable Me and Tangled. I sincerely hope that the voting block doesn’t engage in Pixar-backlash and deny Toy Story 3 the Best Animated Film win that it so clearly deserves, but that’s certainly possible. There were few surprises in the various technical categories, although I’m somewhat happily surprised that Tron: Legacy missed out in the Best Visual category. Good on the terrific action picture Unstoppable getting a deserved Best Sound Editing nomination, and yay for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I getting notice for its often-invisible Visual Effects and its moody Art Direction.

That’s all I have for the moment. I’ll offer my predictions for who or what will win in what categories when time permits, but that’s enough ranting for now. Who do you think got robbed and/or undeservedly nominated? Which nominations made you happiest? Feel free to check in. Oh, and full nomination list is below.

Scott Mendelson

Scource: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-mendelson/oscar-nominations-mostly-good-news_b_813620.html

Oscars 2011 Nominations List: Academy Awards Nominees

 

The British monarchy saga “The King’s Speech” leads the Academy Awards with 12 nominations, including best picture and acting honors for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.

“This story has struck such a rich resonant chord with audiences of all ages, which is very exciting – to have your work honored by your industry peers is even better,” Rush said in a statement.

Also nominated for best picture Tuesday were the psychosexual thriller “Black Swan”; the boxing drama “The Fighter”; the sci-fi blockbuster “Inception”; the lesbian-family tale “The Kids Are All Right“; the survival story “127 Hours”; the Facebook chronicle “The Social Network“; the animated smash “Toy Story 3”; the Western “True Grit”; and the Ozarks crime thriller “Winter’s Bone.”

“True Grit” ran second with 10 nominations, including acting honors for Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld.

The Feb. 27 Oscars set up a best-picture showdown between two favorites, “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.” “The Social Network” won best drama at the Golden Globes and was picked as the year’s best by key critics groups, while “The King’s Speech” pulled an upset last weekend by winning the Producers Guild of America Awards top prize, whose recipient often goes to claim best picture at the Oscars.

The favorites in the male-acting categories both were nominated, Globe winners Firth as best actor for “The King’s Speech” and Christian Bale as supporting actor for “The Fighter.”

The best-actress field shapes up as a two-woman race between Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” who won the Globe for actress in a musical or comedy, and Natalie Portman for “Black Swan,” who received the Globe for dramatic actress.

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The favorites in the male-acting categories both were nominated, Globe winners Firth as best actor for “The King’s Speech” and Christian Bale as supporting actor for “The Fighter.”

The best-actress field shapes up as a two-woman race between Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” who won the Globe for actress in a musical or comedy, and Natalie Portman for “Black Swan,” who received the Globe for dramatic actress.

“The Social Network” casts Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who’s depicted as an interpersonal lout in one-on-one relations but a genius for the masses, creating an online hangout where half a billion people now keep connected with friends.

“The King’s Speech” stars Firth as Queen Elizabeth II’s father, the stammering George VI, who reluctantly came to the throne after his brother abdicated in 1936, a terrible time for a stuttering monarch as British subjects looked to their ruler for inspiration via radio as World War II approached.

The two films represent a showdown between classy, traditional Oscar bait and edgy, youthful, up-to-the-minute drama.

With its aristocrats, statesmen and perilous times, “The King’s Speech” is a throwback to the majestic, eye-filling costume pageants that dominated film awards in Hollywood’s earlier decades. Its nominations also include best director for Tom Hooper and supporting-acting slots for Bonham Carter as the king’s devoted wife and Rush as his wily speech therapist.

“The Social Network” is an immediate story, set not in palaces but college dorm rooms, cluttered start-up space and anonymous legal offices where Zuckerberg battles former associates over the proceeds of his invention.

David Fincher is the best-directing favorite for “The Social Network” after winning that prize at the Globes.

Along with Firth and Eisenberg, best-actor contenders are Javier Bardem as a dying father in the Spanish-language drama “Biutiful,” which also is up for best foreign-language film; Bridges as boozy lawman Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” a role that earned John Wayne an Oscar for the 1969 adaptation of the Western novel; and James Franco in the real-life tale of a climber trapped in a crevasse after a boulder crushes his arm in “127 Hours.”

Bening was nominated for best actress as a lesbian mom whose family is thrown into turmoil after her teenage children seek out their sperm-donor father in “The Kids Are All Right.” Portman was nominated as a ballerina losing her grip on reality in “Black Swan.”

Other best-actress nominees are Nicole Kidman as a grieving mother in “Rabbit Hole”; Jennifer Lawrence as a teen trying to find her missing father amid the Ozark Mountains‘ criminal underbelly in “Winter’s Bone”; and Michelle Williams as a wife in a failing marriage in “Blue Valentine.”

Joining Fincher among best-director picks are Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan”; Joel and Ethan Coen for “True Grit”; Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech”; and David O. Russell for “The Fighter.”

The directing category is back to an all-male lineup after Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win that prize last year for “The Hurt Locker,” which also claimed best picture.

The Oscar ceremony will be televised live on ABC from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.

THE LIST:

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
127 Hours
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale (The Fighter)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are All Right)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Best Documentary Short Subject
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Best Short Film (Animated)
Day & Night Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
Let’s Pollute Geefwee Boedoe
The Lost Thing Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) Bastien Dubois

Best Short Film (Live Action)
The Confession Tanel Toom
The Crush Michael Creagh
God of Love Luke Matheny
Na Wewe Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143 Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Achievement in Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King’s Speech
True Grit

Achievement in Cinematography
Black Swan (Matthew Libatique)
Inception (Wally Pfister)
The King’s Speech (Danny Cohen)
The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth)
True Grit (Roger Deakins)
Achievement in Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood)
I Am Love (Antonella Cannarozzi)
The King’s Speech (Jenny Beaven)
The Tempest (Sandy Powell)
True Grit (Mary Zophres)

Achievement in Directing
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David O. Russell (The Fighter)
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)

Best Documentary Feature
Exit through the Gift Shop Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)
Gasland Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC)
Inside Job Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures)
Restrepo Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films)
Waste Land Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)

Achievement in Makeup
Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Achievement in Film Editing
Black Swan (Andrew Weisblum)
The Fighter (Pamela Martin)
The King’s Speech (Tariq Anwar)
127 Hours (Jon Harris)
The Social Network (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Hors la Loi (Algeria)

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
Inception (Hans Zimmer)
The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat)
127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)
The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
“Coming Home” from Country Strong Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from Tangled Music and Lyric by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from 127 Hours Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Achievement in Sound Editing
Inception
Toy Story 3
TRON: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

Achievement in Sound Mixing
Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

Achievement in Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours (Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle)
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt, story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini)

Original Screenplay
Another Year (Mike Leigh)
The Fighter (Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colich, Eric Johnson, Scott Silverand Paul Tamasy)
Inception (Christopher Nolan)
The Kids are All Right (Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko)
The King’s Speech (David Seidler)

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/25/oscars-2011-nominees-list-academy-awards-nominations_n_813399.html

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