academy awards

Portraits of lost silent film stars

Article: Portraits of lost silent film stars

In a reminder of the old becoming the new yet once again, as you all know unless you’ve been in a cave somewhere, the black-and-white silent film THE ARTIST won three golden dudes including Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. This film’s success makes relevant this lovely slideshow from The New Yorker of portraits of forgotten actors, such as Louise Brooks dramatically posed above, from that silent era to accompany David Denby’s piece on “the art of silent acting” in the magazine. Although I’m happy for everyone that was involved with the film and I particularly appreciated the aspirations of their intentions, I do ultimately agree with David’s review of the film:

Film intelligence: Second-rate ratings

Article: Film intelligence: Second-rate ratings

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week, Harvey Weinstein and the MPAA try to BULLY each other, we cap off our Oscar hangover and THE GODFATHER returns to theaters.

Photos: Indie A-List

Article: Photos: Indie A-List

Sundance Film Festival selections shone brightly in a madcap Oscars weekend. From lead-up nominee luncheons, the Spirit Awards to Oscars night, the indie A-list was out in full force. Check out the photos.

Indie A-List photos

Photos: Best/Worst Dressed at The Oscars

Article: Photos: Best/Worst Dressed at The Oscars

The movie industry’s biggest night went off with a bang on Sunday. With the Academy Awards ceremony to start and rollicking after-parties going late into the night, Hollywood was at their best and worst. Check out the photos.

Oscars: Best/Worst Dressed photos

Here are some free jokes for Billy Crystal

Article: Here are some free jokes for Billy Crystal

Last year’s Academy Awards telecast awkwardly tried for laughs, but most critics felt the only real joke was that the show got on the air at all. Well, it’s a whole new year, with fresh chances for button pushing and laugh grabbing. And bravely returning for his ninth hosting gig, Billy Crystal is just the man who can save the extravaganza from having to add a laugh track.

Billy’s always been a regular riot—but just in case he needs a little help with his material, I’m here to provide a bunch of topically hilarious one-liners completely gratis, to guarantee that he uncovers comic gold rather than step in tragic ick. All I ask in return is a gift bag and five tickets to the after party. All right, four.

At the Oscars, it's hip to be square

Article: At the Oscars, it's hip to be square

The Los Angeles Times just posted a massive investigation into the demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the 5,765 largely anonymous voters who every year decide who will receive the highly coveted and ultra-influential Oscars. Their findings, which will come as a shock to no one who has watched the Oscars at any point in the last 25 years, revealed a membership that is very old and very uncool. 94% of Academy voters are white; 77% are male. 54% are over the age of 60; just 2% are under the age of 40.

Film intelligence: Distributors keep on Sundancing

Article: Film intelligence: Distributors keep on Sundancing

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]).

Here's what the Oscars can learn from NYC nightlife pageants!

Article: Here's what the Oscars can learn from NYC nightlife pageants!

This year’s Oscar telecast (set for February 26) has been on a hopeful track ever since they announced that an actual comic was going to be the host.

But even Billy Crystal can only do so much. All the stuff around him needs to be spruced up pronto to ensure that the whole Oscar machine doesn’t become as obsolete as silent movies (except for THE ARTIST, of course).

And I know the answer.

For a lifeline, the producers need to venture into New York’s wildest nightclubs and learn some valuable lessons about how to put on a show.

Sundance '11 alumni score Academy Award nominations

Article: Sundance '11 alumni score Academy Award nominations

The Oscar nominations are in and, frankly, it was not Sundance’s best year at the Academy Awards. Though independent films made a very strong showing across the board, capturing some 60 total nominations, by and large Sundance alumni got lost in the shuffle. Films from the 2011 festival scored just four nominations. Et tu, Academy?

Film intelligence: Documenting the new Best Documentary Oscar rules

Article: Film intelligence: Documenting the new Best Documentary Oscar rules

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]).

1. Documenting Big Changes for the Best Documentary Oscar

Every year the movies that do and do not get nominated for the Best Documentary Academy Award become a huge source of contention. In 2011, popular and acclaimed documentaries THE INTERRUPTERS, SENNA, and BEING ELMO — and JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER, cried ten thousand beleaguered Beliebers — all missed the doc Oscar shortlist. To rectify the situation, the Academy announced this week they are overhauling the nomination process for the Best Documentary category: among the changes, films will now need a one-week commercial release in New York and Los Angeles and a review from the New York Times or Los Angeles Times. Hopefully these changes will help the best and most important docs get the recognition they deserve and we’ll never hear about Oscar documentary controversies again. On the other hand, you never say never. [Indiewire]

An open letter to Eddie Murphy from Steve Martin

Article: An open letter to Eddie Murphy from Steve Martin

In a sign that the Academy is taking itself slightly less seriously or that it’s really out of touch with the zeitgeist, Eddie Murphy was announced as the host of the 84th annual Oscars, which ABC will broadcast on February 26. The New York Times argued that “Mr. Murphy’s agreement to host the show marks the Academy’s apparent return to a formula that worked well a decade ago, when masters of live comedy — Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Martin among them — kept the crowd laughing as it watched often somber films…” It makes sense to select people who thrive onstage and are at their funniest commanding a live crowd, and it’s definitely a win-win for Eddie Murphy…

Bring on the Oscar movies! And the Oscar fatigue!

Article: Bring on the Oscar movies! And the Oscar fatigue!

The season of grossout comedies and screechy animated romps is spewing to an end as we brace ourselves for the period when actual quality films might come out of the darkness. And these films know they’re quality.

In fact, the releases from now till December 31 have been aggressively devised to win Oscars and will be prestigiously rammed down our throats until someone votes for them!

The top choices:

* Ages ago, George Clooney went from TV star to Oscar bait, and his new one will hardly stop his pedigree parade from marching on. It’s The Ides of March, directed by Clooney (who costars with Ryan Gosling), and seeing as it examines dirty politics from the inside, it couldn’t be any more tawdrily topical. Opens October 7

* Leonardo DiCaprio gets a star role—and hopefully some nice gowns—as FBI head J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar. It doesn’t take an investigator to smell Oscar potential here. October 21

The Franco Lure

Article: The Franco Lure

As we collectively come down from the Oscars, I am forced to reflect on the Franco-filled universe. I don’t want to reflect, believe me – but as you know, he’s EVERYWHERE. The New York Times this morning greeted me with a Franco cocktail. Entertainment Weekly Entertainer of the Year 2010? Check. Two oversaturation notifications on my husband’s Facebook page? (As in – check these out – it’s just too too too too too much. One of them, just to get you to click, is headlined “James Franco to Teach a Class About Himself.”) Check. And now, I am torturing myself even more … as I sit here and watch a screener of 127 HOURS. His arm just got stuck. Am I ready for all of this?

And the Nominees Are … Sundance Film Festival Veterans

Article: And the Nominees Are … Sundance Film Festival Veterans

About those Academy Award nominations announced this morning, Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan has noted a trend: If you add up the number of [Oscar] nominations [for films] from last year’s [Sundance Film] festival — 14 all told — it’s a more impressive total than the dozen for THE KING’S SPEECH. The two…

The Oscars are coming! Here's some advice!

Article: The Oscars are coming! Here's some advice!

On February 27, the annual Academy Awards telecast will attempt to make millions of people interested in movies they didn’t care enough to see in the first place.

They’ll do so with glitz, celebrity drop-ins, gushy tributes, high fashion, and the wonderful sight of four people being devastated in each category.

As an inveterate Oscar watcher despite it all, I have some handy ideas for pepping up the show and grabbing way higher ratings than they ever imagined.

Here goes, for free:

*Serve booze. The Golden Globes are always more fun than the Oscars because the guests are flat-out drunk and not that self-conscious about the evening’s high-pressure antics. The Oscars should serve tray upon tray of ratings-making cocktails. It’s a recipe for absolute hilarity!

IDIOT WITH A TRIPOD

Article: IDIOT WITH A TRIPOD

NYC auteur Jamie Stuart recorded the recent blizzard that hit our city and transformed it into “IDIOT WITH A TRIPOD,” an artsy gorgeous short film that had critic Roger Ebert proclaiming that it “deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject” for the following reasons: This film deserves to win the Academy…

Oscar thank yous

Article: Oscar thank yous

I’d like to thank whoever had enough time to kill to stitch together this 1 minute clip of “thank yous” from Oscar acceptance speeches over the years. The Weinsteins got as many shout outs as God.

The Six Worst Moments From Last Night’s Oscars

Article: The Six Worst Moments From Last Night’s Oscars

1) Starting the show with the 10 lead acting nominees having to take the stage and smile for the cameras. Doesn’t the rest of the evening torture them enough?

2) The clips for the 10, count ‘em 10, Best Picture nominees. Add them up and they were longer than some of the films themselves! Besides, way back in 1939, the 10 nominees were instant classics like Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, and The Wizard of Oz. But this year? The Blind Side and District 9! Let’s go back to just five. No, make it three!

3) The way the cameras kept zooming in on the front runners right after they lost. When THE HURT LOCKER won Best Original Screenplay, they closed in on a shaken Quentin Tarantino. After PRECIOUS bagged Best Adapted Screenplay, they cut to a sweaty Jason Reitman. Even when AVATAR lost some sound award, they cut to Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington. This practice totally appealed to the sadist in me, but for the sake of others with some heart, let’s only watch people squirm before they lose from now on.

Manly Kathryn (Bigelow)

Article: Manly Kathryn (Bigelow)

There’s been some chatter in the blogosphere of late regarding Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar nomination for Best Director (THE HURT LOCKER), some of it pointing toward a sort of remorse that for this ‘first,’ the film content wasn’t more reflectively ‘female.’

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. So all the parenting I witness around Manhattan and hippy-dippy Ohio (current locale) wherein moms/dads slyly push the tractors and robots toward the girls and praise toward the boys when they dare to don a pink tutu … is really all a fiction? We truly want girls to ‘behave like girls’ after all? Tears and love and princesses? Or to carry an obligation to represent on behalf of, you know, our rights??

Too much air up there

Article: Too much air up there

As we brace for awards season, I buckled up and went to see UP IN THE AIR, on the lips of many-a-critic as contender for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor. So why did I find it so … airy? As in, without much substance?

And I’ll readily admit, I like some smooth Clooney romance just as much as the other guy, and Vera Farmiga is a great partner for George in a little heated hub-bub. (Although nothing, but nothing, tops Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, in Soderbergh’s OUT OF SIGHT.) AIR does have some great elements – sharp dialogue, snappy performances, and an organic, surprising twist that plays beautifully – so what’s the problem?

The Olympic Sport of Oscar Predicting

Article: The Olympic Sport of Oscar Predicting

For years, Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby has been the cyber watercooler to gather around and catch the buzz about who’s a shoo-in to get nominated–unless their film tanks, they come out with a sex tape, or someone better comes along.

I happen to be one of the professional prognosticators who give their educated guesses to the site’s Buzzmeter section, and though I don’t actually know much of anything about the inner workings of Hollywood, neither do a lot of the Oscar voters, so that works out just perfectly!

This year, I’m betting my grandmother’s life on the fact that the supporting trophies will step to the dark side and go to Christoph Waltz for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and Mo’Nique for PRECIOUS, even if the latter seems to have actively campaigned to lose the award.

Other categories have been harder to predict because when Gold Derby first asked for our lists in November—ranked in order of likelihood, mind you–some of the films hadn’t even screened yet. But again, that totally works out. Some movies like NINE happen to have an Oscar glow around them (not to mention a huge push) from the second they’re announced, and that usually stays with them even after people see the finished product and deem it a three.

Animation Spotlight: Nicole Mitchell's ZOOLOGIC

Article: Animation Spotlight: Nicole Mitchell's ZOOLOGIC

Watch Nicole Mitchell’s amusing animated short ZOOLOGIC about a fussy zookeeper’s comeuppance. It won a gold medal in the animation category at this year’s Student Academy Awards, an annual competition held by the Academy for aspiring auteurs. Notable winners in the past include the unofficial mayor of NYC and the Knicks, Spike Lee; Robert Zemeckis…