So I know the Oscars are never a ‘fun’ show to watch. They’re always overlong and tedious and full of bad jokes and filler. But man, this year just felt so tedious, the way they did it. Which is weird, because I was into Soderbergh being one of the producers and loved how they set it up at the beginning. It started off so relaxed and seemed like it was gonna be something different and fun. Everyone hanging out at a cocktail hour beforehand outside and then going into that room and trying to do a different type of ceremony…
Then we had those overlong presenter intros that took way too long and didn’t translate as well in person as they maybe seemed when they thought them up. And then it felt almost like they were rushing through stuff rather than focusing on the right parts of the night. Somehow they avoided filler until right near the end, when they did that one bit with Glenn Close (which I didn’t hate, just because I know they have to do stuff to go viral nowadays, but you’d think they’d have done it an hour earlier, and not when we were all looking at the time like, “Okay, let’s wrap this up, guys”).
And then there was that ending, where you had three hours of Black presenters and Black winners and Black music, and an Asian woman winning and all sorts of diversity… and then the two older white people won to end the night. Honestly, how fitting. How ironically fitting, the Academy trying to go, “Look at us! We’ve changed!” and then the older white contingency still going, “…not so fast.”
It was the absolute perfect unintentional metaphor to end that ceremony, especially after you take into account how truly meaningless a lot of this is anyway. (more…)
Once more, unto the breach, dear friends.
It’s Oscar night, and we all know what that means: I get all analytical about what’s gonna win (and why) and nobody cares and only reads the picks. It’s okay. I don’t take it personally.
The goal this year has been brevity… so here’s my pick for Best Animated Short.
I really have tried to skip the rigamarole though, given all we’ve gone through this past year. I’m still gonna give you all the information you need to pick a ballot. I’m just gonna do it as succinctly as I can. Of course, last year I said that and still wrote 30,000 words. So we’ll see how it goes. (more…)
We continue our category breakdowns with Best International Feature. They’ve been tweaking this one a bunch in recent years and all of the changes seem to be impacting this category for the better.
On top of changing the name of the category to be more inclusive, they increased the shortlist from 9 to 10 last year and this year increased it from 10 to 15. I’m not sure that change was meant to be permanent but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be. It eliminates all of the nonsense they had to implement about ‘executive committee saves’ and all that. Because, if you remember, after I believe 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days didn’t make the shortlist despite being one of the consensus best films of that year, they implemented a system whereby the top six vote-getters would automatically make the shortlist but reserved three spots for ‘saves’, which allowed the heads of the branch to basically pick three other movies to automatically make the shortlist no matter how many votes they got. Which kept a lot of higher profile films in competition and also seemingly allowed them to get a lot of newer countries into the fray, rather than having the category just be France, Germany, Italy and Russia every year. But now, making the shortlist 15 allows all those higher profile films to make the shortlist and allows for more countries to make it on.
This year, I think the only negative about the expanded shortlist was that there were about 3-4 spots that clearly were just people voting for directors they respected rather than simply quality of film. But other than that, it feels like this is as close to improvement this category’s seen in a long time (since people not watching more than a small handful of films is an Academy-wide problem. So you can’t expect this category to be the outlier). (more…)
Today is Best International Feature. Because I kidded myself that I was gonna be able to find and see all 15 of these by the time this article went up. And honestly, I had other categories I was more focused on and I really only need to see as many as I can for nominations and not for this. So I’m just gonna do what I did with Live Action Short and Doc Short and just guess my way through it and see everything later.
Here’s your International Feature shortlist:
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
The Mole Agent (Chile)
Charlatan (Czech Republic)
Another Round (Denmark)
Two of Us (France)
La Llorona (Guatemala)
Better Days (Hong Kong)
Sun Children (Iran)
Night of the Kings (Ivory Coast)
I’m No Longer Here (Mexico)
Dear Comrades! (Russia)
A Sun (Taiwan)
The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia) (more…)
And now International Feature. There are 93 countries that submitted films, which is the same as last year, only this time two countries haven’t been disqualified. So technically this year is the record. Last year was really only 91. But anyway, we’ll do what we normally do — go over each film and see what it’s about and get acquainted with all the choices.
Last year, they upped the shortlist from 9 to 10. This year, it’s now 15. How it used to work was, they’d do preliminary voting, and then the PriceWaterhouseCooper people would tell the results behind closed doors to the branch executive committee, who would then argue it out like it’s the NFL Hall of Fame. If I remember correctly, how it worked was six films would get on naturally and then they’d allow three ‘saves’, films that they felt belonged on the shortlist that didn’t get enough votes through the branch. Which is something they started pretty recently, when “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” generally regarded as the best foreign film of that year, didn’t make the shortlist. So now they can save some of the better, beloved or higher profile films for the shortlist. Though I feel like a lot of the time the stuff does make the shortlist and a lot of times gets left off the final list.
They don’t ever tell you what the saves were (but curiously a lot of first time countries always seemed to curiously make shortlists a lot of the time this past decade), but that was the norm for over a decade. Now, they’ve done away with it and it’s just top 15. Which I assume means they’ve done the math and looked at past voting and figured if they just go to 15 like Doc Feature everything people feel should get on will get on. Though there are some lower profile but great films that might not be saved, since I’m sure there’s no way a lot of people are gonna watch all the choices and will just vote for the handful they know about. But we’ll see. It’s the first year of this.
Anyway, here are the 93 submissions for Best International Feature: (more…)