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Thursday, February 25, 2016

OSCAR WEEK 2016: My Picks

Behind the Scenes - Rehearsals continue at the Dolby Theatre.
If there's anything you can bank on, it's my Oscars picks. Since I started covering the Academy Awards five years ago, my picks have been scorchingly accurate in the major categories with 29 out of 35 correct selections. Last year I banked a little heavy on Boyhood and Birdman and it cost me. This year I have expanded my prognostications to nine categories from my usual six. Break a leg, Leo....and good luck to the rest:

Best Picture
The Revenant

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Brie Larson, Room

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Alicia Vikander, Danish Girl

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Animated Feature Film
Inside Out

Foreign Language Film
Son of Saul, Hungary

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Straight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff


I have to say that I'm addicted to the sidebars that the Academy hands out for news and liners columns. They're like Hershey's Kisses or Lay's potato chips, you just can't stop snacking on them:
  • In 2011, the balloting rules first allowed for the possibility of between five and ten nominees for Best Picture. For the first three years, there were nine nominees. For the past two years, there have been eight.
  • Steven Spielberg has set the record for the most Best Picture nominations for an individual producer with nine.
So combined, Spielberg and I have two Oscars...not bad!
  • In the Acting categories, eight individuals are first-time nominees (Bryan Cranston, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rachel McAdams and Alicia Vikander). Five of the nominees are previous Acting winners (Eddie Redmayne, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Winslet).
  • At age 25, Jennifer Lawrence is the youngest four-time Acting nominee.
  • Sylvester Stallone, who received his first Acting nomination in 1976 for Rocky, is the sixth person nominated for playing the same role in two different films. He follows Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley in Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945); Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986); Peter O'Toole as Henry II in Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter (1968); Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974); and Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I in Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). Of these, only Bing Crosby and Paul Newman won Oscars (in 1944 and 1986, respectively).
  • Roger Deakins has the most nominations for Cinematography of any living person with 13. Charles B. Lang, Jr. and Leon Shamroy share the all-time record with 18 nominations each
  • Sandy Powell now has the most nominations for Costume Design of any living person with 12. The overall record in the category belongs to Edith Head with 35 nominations.
  • John Williams extends his record number of music scoring nominations with 45. His overall total of 50 nominations (including five for Original Song) increases his record for the most Academy Award nominations of any living person (the only person with more is Walt Disney at 59).
  • Thomas Newman's nomination for Original Score for Bridge of Spies is his 13th and brings the total for members of the Newman family (Alfred, Lionel, Emil, Thomas, David and Randy) to 89, more than any other family.
  • Two Original Song nominations are from documentaries this year, a first: "Manta Ray" from Racing Extinction and "Til It Happens To You" from The Hunting Ground. Previous nominations were for "More" from Mondo Cane (1963); "I Need To Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth, which won an Oscar in 2006; "Before My Time" from Chasing Ice (2012); and "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell…I'll Be Me (2014).
  • With his two nominations for Sound Mixing (for Bridge of Spies and Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Andy Nelson has tied Kevin O'Connell's record for the most individual nominations in the category with 20.
  • Inside Out is the ninth animated feature to receive a Writing nomination. To date, none has won. With his fourth Writing nomination this year, Pete Docter has tied Andrew Stanton for the most writing nominations for animated films.
Forty years ago, Jack took home the gold for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
#TBT - The 48th Academy Awards

May Oscars 2016 Be as Nuts as the 1976 Academy Awards ... Brian Raftery's column on deserves a read. He writes:
FORTY YEARS AGO, Oscar voters were grappling with many of the same quandaries facing the Academy today. Should they reward the man-versus-nature tale with the famously troubled production, or the ripped-from-the-headlines true-tale drama? Will that unfairly overlooked smash-hit musical drama with the predominantly black cast get a trophy? And when Jack Nicholson keeps his sunglasses on for the entire ceremony, is he doing it for cool-cred reasons, or to simply hide the fact that he’s napping? 
As it turned out, the 48th annual Academy Awards ceremony—which featured such films as Jaws, Dog Day Afternoon, and Mahogany—wound up raising more questions than it answered. The event, now viewable on YouTube, took place halfway through a decade that had begun with a surge of personal, provocative, and rule-crooking new films, including some of that year’s clearly troubled nominees—not just Dog Day, but also contenders like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the way-darker-than-you-remember Shampoo. Meanwhile, the whole industry was in flux: New stars had taken over, old genres were falling out of favor, and technologies were on the way that would change movie-making (and movie-going) forever. Read more...


"We All Dream In Gold"

I try not to suck up too much, but the magic of the 2016 We All Dream In Gold commercial for the Oscars live telecast cannot be contained. Watch it and try to avoid getting the chills...simply impossible: