Well, another year is in the books, and I have to say — this was a damn good Oscar year. I don’t think they truly made that many mistakes. And in all, I actually agreed with just about every major category. Sure, I could quibble about some of the minor ones, but overall, I think they did a terrific job with this one.
I’ve also went and updated all my other articles, like the Rankings, the Viewer’s Guide, the Facts and Trivia, and all the little odds and ends articles (Ranking the Best Pictures, etc.) with the new results we now have.
That aside, let’s get into the recap of the big night: (more…)
The winners for the Oscars tonight were:
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help (more…)
For those who don’t want the bells and whistles, and all the explanations, here is an abbreviated list of all my picks for the show (which is set to get underway in just under an hour). I’m telling you what I’m picking, what I told you to pick (for your office pool. Since I’m not competing. I’m just having fun with it), and alternates for each one (just to show that I’ll be within the ballpark on at least 22 of them). I’m also going to do it in the order they’ve announced that the awards will be going out:
Best Art Direction
It’s that time again. Oscar night. My favorite night of the year. This is the first year I’m really out in the deep end. Before, I was the only one amongst my circles who knew anything about the Oscars. And last year, no one read this blog, so it didn’t matter. No one still reads the blog (relatively), but the drastic increase in views (what I had in total blog views last Oscars is what I get in less than a week now. In fact, the views from yesterday total more than 60% of what I had that entire month) means that my opinion will at least be out there slightly more.
I used to treat the Oscars as a game (as they should mostly be treated the night of the ceremony, since everything’s decided by then anyway). I told all my friends that if they could outguess me, I’d give them some sort of reward, just to get them somewhat as interested in the awards as I was (plus I knew they’d never be able to do it). Now that’s over with (and my picks are on the internet), I’m much more lax about stuff. I don’t try to guess everything like I used to. I’d still love to get as close to 24/24 as I can, but I’m willing to take more chances now, rather than going with the safe stuff just to “win.” Though generally I do like to hit at least 16. To me, that’s a passing grade. (Last year, I got 17/24, and that after trying to will it to happen and taking Social Network all the way through. Had I picked to win, I’d never have done that.) This year, I might take some wild bets (i.e. disregard the possibility of a sweep) just to make it interesting. I’d like to beat last year’s 17, but I’m very prepared to do horrible. (It’s how I treat everything: assume abject failure and everything turns out okay.) (more…)
I was looking back over last year’s articles and saw that I wrote one about how the Academy likes voting for a film that’s made money. Which is generally true. Though The Hurt Locker being one of (or maybe it’s the lowest, I forget) the lowest-grossing Best Picture winners of all time shows that it’s not always the case. But generally, I think I found (and you can read that article here) that most of the time, the film that won Best Picture was in the top half (or top 3, when there were 5 nominees) of the nominees in terms of gross. I didn’t actually read through that entire article, but I’m pretty sure that was the gist of it.
I mostly wanted to use that as an excuse to check in with how this year’s nominees are doing, box office-wise. I haven’t really done that in a while. I’m curious to see how they’re doing. So, according to Box Office Mojo (which has it plastered on the front page), here are the grosses of all the Best Picture nominees as of right this second: (more…)
This is always a fun thing to do. Guessing what clips they’re gonna show for each of the acting nominees. Seems pretty obvious. I’m very familiar with most of the performances, so I should be able to guess specifically for all but like, two of them:
Demián Bichir — almost definitely that speech he has at the end to his kid. Or one of the scenes with the kid in the truck, telling him how he works hard so he can have (insert title here).
George Clooney — him talking to his wife at the end and crying, right? Or do they want to mix it up and not have all tears?
Jean Dujardin — you’d think the clip of him on the stage, goofing around, but I’m really hoping one of their clips is the dance-off behind the screen. Or maybe it’ll be him quitting the studio. But honestly probably his first scene. (more…)
And our final Best Picture nominee, War Horse. An unfairly maligned film by most people (because it’s a film that seems like an obvious Oscar winner), it’s a film whose reputation, I feel, will grow in the coming years because it is actually quite good. It seems like Spielberg doing Spielberg while trying to do John Ford, and I say — what’s so wrong with that?
Here are my favorite moments from War Horse:
Our next Best Picture nominee is The Tree of Life. More visual poetry from the mind of Terrence Malick.
I don’t really have five moments for this film in the way the other films had moments. So I’m more going to post my favorite images from the film. Because this is a film you need to experience as a whole. It’s just beautiful from beginning to end. And there’s not really a set story, so I won’t structure this the way I structured the others. I’ll just link to my five favorite images from the film. Which is a hard enough task in itself.
Here are my five favorite images from The Tree of Life:
Our seventh Best Picture nominee is Moneyball. Here’s a film that not many people thought would be quite as good as it was. I think we all knew the talent involved would make it a good picture, but I don’t think we ever thought we’d get this. This is a top five or ten movie of the year. It took a subject most people wouldn’t think could be adapted for the screen and made a compelling sports movie out of it. And, it stayed almost completely off of the field! That’s a testament to the strength of this film.
Here are my favorite moments from Moneyball:
Our next Best Picture nominee is Midnight in Paris. A delightful film. One of my favorite of Woody Allen’s films. It’s a delightful little fantasy, and definitely one of Allen’s best films in recent years.
Here are my favorite moments from Midnight in Paris:
It’s so hard to pick just five of my favorite moments in our next Best Picture nominee. Every moment of this film felt so magical that I had to include it. Even the tiniest moments — a shot here, a line there — they were all so wonderful. But, I did my best, and managed to whittle my list down to just five. And I’ll tell you — the more I see this film, the more I see just how perfect it is, and just how much this should go down in history as one of the greatest love letters to cinema ever made.
Here are my favorite moments from Hugo:
And now we get to The Help. This is a film that, when I saw it in August, I didn’t like it very much. Hurt Locker-syndrome. I saw it, thought it was okay, and then everyone said it was amazing. A lot. Which made me want to not like it. But fortunately, I managed to see this film later in a purely objective state, and I saw just how good it really is. This film deserves to be a Best Picture nominee. It’s a terrific film, and one I feel bad for disliking purely because of other people.
Here are my five favorite moments from The Help:
We’ve reached our third Best Picture nominee: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Definitely the most divisive of the nominees this year. The one thing I learned from rewatching it was — no matter what your opinion may be in regards to the Oscars — a good film is a good film. And you can’t take that away no matter what anyone says.
Here are my five favorite moments from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:
Our second Best Picture nominee is The Descendants. A simple story of a man caring for his daughters in the wake of a tragedy. This is a film that I have the biggest split opinion on of all the nominees. It’s the one I’d want to win Best Picture perhaps least among the major contenders, yet, outside of the Oscars, it’s one of the films I liked the most. And I still can’t believe they didn’t nominate one of the best performances of the year from it.
Here are my five favorite moments from The Descendants:
Every hour, for the next 9 hours, I’m going to post my five favorite moments from each of the Best Picture nominees. It’s a nice way to take a break from all the Oscar stuff to remind myself (and all of us) that once you take away all the competition and the awards, what we’re left with is great cinema. That’s what it’s about.
We’ll start with The Artist…
Oscars 2011 Breakdown: Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary (Short Subject), Best Live-Action Short & Best Animated Short
And, the categories absolutely nobody cares about (and Best Documentary. Which only some people care about).
These are the categories that, every year, nobody knows how to pick, and everyone expects to get wrong. It is impossible to guess which shorts are going to win. So we basically just pick randomly and hope we get it right.
Also, for these categories (at least, everything but Best Animated Short), I only typed out the winners. No one really cares enough about these to go through all of them (and I don’t care about documentaries, so that’s why I didn’t type out that one).
Anyway, let’s just finish up these categories. Because this article will be so shorts (I’m hilarious), I’m going to post a bonus article in a bit. Mostly because I had it written and ran out of days. But the fact that nobody cares about these categories is also a good reason for me to get it up today.
We’ll start with Best Documentary. Let’s just get this over with. (more…)
Everybody’s favorite categories, I’m sure.
I thought, last year, I had sound mixing and sound editing down. Turns out — I was wrong. I misinterpreted the explanation I read. Here is, based on my new and improved (read: correct) understanding of the category, the difference between the two: sound editing is the creation of the sound mix, that is — getting all the sounds to put on the soundtrack. So dialogue, ADR, music, sound effects, all of it. Every piece of sound you hear, that’s sound editing. Sound mixing is the taking of all of that sound and layering it onto the soundtrack. So, sound mixers work with what the sound editors give them. So when you see an action scene, you hear the people talking, guns going off, tires screeching, explosions, and “Ready, Steady, Go” on the soundtrack — the sound editors compiled all of those effects. The sound mixer put them all together into what you hear when you watch the film. That’s the difference between the two.
Oh, and we’ll also be talking about Best Visual Effects, which is a self-explanatory category. Especially today. (Read: Best CGI.) Though there’s some interest with that one this year.
We’ll start with the sound categories, specifically Sound Mixing, and finish with Visual Effects. This will be longer than your average article, since I have a lot to say about Sound Mixing and Sound Editing and because no one really knows how to pick them. But trust me, once I get done with you, you’ll be a fucking pro. (Or at least you’ll sound really good talking about it. That’s all you need.) (more…)
Today, we look at Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Best Art Direction. Three categories most people couldn’t care less about.
I’ll agree with you on Makeup. It’s an essential piece of moviemaking, but it’s also not a particularly exciting Oscar category. Typically the category is boring, or you know who’s going to win as soon as it’s announced. Or both. You’ll see when you look at which films won the category — it’s obvious.
Best Costume Design is a category I do like. In theory. In practice — it’s too much of the “Best Period Piece” award. They always give it to whatever Victorian-era costumes are nominated. Which doesn’t lead to particularly interesting categories.
Best Art Direction, on the other hand, now there’s a category I like. Because Art Direction (in layman’s terms: sets. Every set, every prop, everything you see in a scene that’s not the actors or their clothes — that’s art direction. Hogwarts? Art Direction. The wands? Art Direction) is something that can be really interesting. Look at some of the nominees over the years and you’ll go, “Oooh…yeah.” I really gained respect for this category in 2002, when they showed sketches of all the sets of the nominees, from concept to execution, and they showed Dante Ferretti’s brilliant designs for Gangs of New York (which really should have won that year). Since then, I’ve paid much more attention to the art direction of a film, and now view this category as one of the top awards.
So that’s what we’re doing today. We’ll start with Costume Design and end on Art Direction. (more…)
Oscars 2011 Breakdown: Best Original Song, Best Original Score, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Animated Feature
Today we’re just grouping random things together. Normally I could spend a whole article just talking about Best Original Song and Best Original Score, but the music branch of the Academy has gotten so bad over the past decade that I can’t even bear to talk about how they make their decisions. I’d much rather look back in history at all the great stuff that’s come out of the categories. But since 2000, it’s been shit on top of shit on top of shit.
Then Best Foreign Langauge Film is a category I don’t much care about. I’m mostly interested in looking at what was nominated (since this is the first time I’m actually looking at the categories), just to see how many films I recognize. I’d wager that many of the films we know to be great foreign films didn’t even so much as make the nominees list, which is precisely why this category never meant anything to me. And Best Animated Feature — it’s a new category, created because of Pixar and Disney, and has basically been about rewarding Pixar and Disney. Except this year. I don’t really know what happened this year. It’ll take some time to figure that one out.
Anyway, those are the categories we’ll be dealing with today. I’ll try to contain my talk mostly to what’s nominated this year. What I’d actually like to say about these categories is too much for this one article. (more…)
Oscars 2011 Breakdown: Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing & Best Cinematography
I love these categories. Screenplay is self-explanatory. They are my trade of choice, therefore I am interested in these categories. I don’t really care so much what wins, just because no one is really reading the screenplays before they vote, but I am interested in the categories. And then, Cinematography I love because I love gorgeous-looking films. And Editing I love because it’s very influential in the Best Picture race. Plus, I love me a well-edited film. So basically, I like what these categories represent more than the actual categories. But you understand. (This might have been the worst paragraph I’ve ever written in my entire life. Is it clear I’m really just trying to get into the breakdowns and don’t care about this intro at all?)
There’s not much to say in the way of history. Quite often, the Best Picture winner wins one of the Screenplay categories, cinematography usually goes to the the nicest-looking film, and editing usually goes to either the Best Picture winner or a clear best effort. That’s just a general rubric.
This time, we’ll start with the Screenplay categories, then do Editing, then do Cinematography (because I love me some cinematography).
First, we’ll do Best Original Screenplay, which originated in 1940 (before that it was just Best Screenplay, one category): (more…)
And today we look at the Supporting categories. Not much to say here. Best Supporting Actor is typically a place where they reward great, flashy, scene-stealing performances, as well as the occasional veteran, and Best Supporting Actress is typically where they reward veterans and up-and-comers.
They’re pretty self-explanatory, and most of the time you can see where the winner came from. I also feel like they’re on quite a roll, these two categories. I haven’t disliked a Best Supporting Actor choice in almost a decade, and Best Supporting Actress has also been pretty strong, overall. And I think they’ve both been terrific over the past two years. This year, I feel, may break those trends, but the categories are kind of weak on the whole, so it’s not that big a deal. Plus, typically the Supporting categories aren’t the strongest, so in a way we’ve been spoiled by the past few years.
We’ll start with all the Best Supporting Actor winners. Remember, these two categories weren’t introduced until the 9th Academy Awards (1936). (more…)
There’s really not much history with these categories — it’s Best Actor and Best Actress. It’s supposed to be the best lead performances of the year, but there’s also politics and all that to take into account. They vote for the person over the performance, sometimes someone is overdue, sometimes it’s just “their time” — there’s a whole bunch of stuff.
All things considered, I only really disagree with a handful of the winners. Most of the time, the person who won did deserve a statue. I can quibble about the year and the performance, and this and that, but for the most part, most of them are okay, in the objective sense. So that’s nice. Still — the acting categories, above almost everything else, are prone to “right now” thinking. That is, they’ll give someone a statue because they feel as though it’s their time, and it’s almost inevitable that person ends up giving a better performance not long after that, creating a whole monkey wrench scenario. Almost never fails.
But, it’s Best Actor and Best Actress. We know the drill. This is by far the most situational of the categories. You can’t just look at the nominee and go, “This one.” You have to take into account all these logistics. Especially Best Actress. That one is just — it’s funny when you look at it on paper.
Anyway, let’s just get into them. We’ll start with Best Actor. (more…)
Just like last year, this is just a breakdown of the individual categories. We start from the top and work our way down.
Best Picture, is, of course, the one category from the Oscars most people know about. It’s pretty self-explanatory. The only qualifications that need to be made are with the pre-1934 years, which were the Academy was figuring itself out and getting its legs under itself. And that even continued, to an extent, until 1939. Not really until Gone With the Wind was everything set in stone. So, in a way, Best Picture is reflective of the state of the industry, since it really wasn’t until 1939 (thereabouts) where the industry really figured out how to do things and made it into a science.
I guess the thing to do now would be to list all the Best Picture winners. The great thing about this is how almost everyone has the exact same reactions to the same years. (more…)
…and that’s the sound of the Oscar race being over a month in advance.
The Artist, specifically Michel Hazanavicius, won the DGA Award for Best Director for a Feature Film just now, which all but assures that it’ll win Best Picture and Best Director come February 26th and the Oscars.
I’m not that upset, honestly, since I love the film. But, a PGA win puts the film at a big favorite to win the Oscars (at least 75%), and a DGA win puts it at a 90+% chance that Hazanavicius will also win Best Director for the film as well. Of 64 DGA awards, the winner has differed from the Oscar winner 6 times (it’ll be 7/64 if someone else wins this time). So it’s hovering at a 10% chance someone like Scorsese will win Best Director. Not only that, but 3 of the 6 times DGA and Oscar have differed, the person who won the DGA wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar. So, really, it’s like a 5% chance that Scorsese (because let’s be real, who else will beat him?) wins. Though, for renegades: the other three times the winners differed: Carol Reed won over Anthony Harvey, Bob Fosse won over Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Soderbergh won over Ang Lee. So, basically, more established names won over relative newcomers. (Coppola wasn’t known before The Godfather, and Ang Lee… well, actually, that one’s probably more about him being a foreigner than anything.) So it’s possible Scorsese stil wins. But still, 5% all time. Take your chances. And the worst thing that could happen now is if Hugo wins Best Picture, but Hazanavicius wins Best Director. Because if anything, it should be opposite. Even Hazanavicius says so.
Anyway, to wrap this up, the only other DGA award that matters (the rest were TV) is that Project Nim won the Best Director for a Documentary award, which means the Academy is once again out of touch with their nominations, since Project Nim wasn’t even nominated for Best Documentary. Good job once again, Academy. But at least the Documentary branch isn’t the Music branch. Right? (So yeah, The Artist is like a 90% odds-on winner next month. Isn’t it great that it’s all figured out so early? And the Academy thought bumping everything up would add more surprise to the race. Surprise, motherfuckers!)