Entertainment behind the scenes
Back in June, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it would expand its list of best film Oscar contenders to 10 from five, then Academy President Sid Ganis told reporters doing so would “cast our net wider, and it casting that net wider, who knows what will turn up.” (Read about that here). Essentially, what that meant was the Academy wanted more populist fare among its nominees after years of seeing its membership favor low-budget adult dramas over box office hits like Batman movie, “The Dark Knight.”
Why is that important? The Academy knows that nominating popular movies helps boost the audience size for the Oscar telecast. Last year, when “Slumdog Millionaire” was on a roll at box offices ($141 million), more than 38 million people tuned in to the Oscars compared with 32 million the previous year when gritty drama “No Country For Old Men” ($74 million) won best film.
Luckily for the Academy, this year it has a box office smash and a critical hit on its hands in “Avatar” — the highest grossing movie of all time. But the film that pundits say is right behind is low-budget, art house flick “The Hurt Locker.” And heading into Tuesday’s Oscar nominations (read about them here), if you asked Oscar pundits who the top five films would have been, the would have said: “Inglourious Basterds,” “Up in the Air” and ”Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” The fifth slot may have been a toss-up. Then again, it generally always is.
The point is, all five of those films were nominated, and likely only the two — “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” — stand a chance at winning, pundits say. So, having 10 nominees may not have changed a thing. But that is what insiders think. You are the fans. What do you think? Did the 10 matter, and does it make for a more exciting show? Put another way, is having “District 9″ among the nominees, for instance, really going to change the thinking among the 6,000 or so Academy members? Maybe not. But how about “The Blind Side”? And do movies like those make you any more, or less, willing to tune in to the show on March 7?
So far , the movies with the biggest momentum behind them seem to be “Up in the Air”, with George Clooney, harrowing urban tale “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, Quentin Tarantino’s summer box office hit war fantasy “Inglourious Basterds”, the much-talked about sci-fi epic “Avatar”, glittering musical “Nine”, Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker” and British coming of age movie “An Education”.
Old-school Hollywood types would be aghast, but think of the boffo ratings if teen starlets Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus nabbed Oscar nominations next year.
The duo are part of the way there, having co-written songs that made the shortlist for Oscar consideration. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday unveiled 63 original song contenders that will be winnowed down to a maximum of five nominees.
Honesty from actors tends to be in short supply around Hollywood’s awards season. Most respond to questions about possible Oscar or Golden Globe nominations with the standard line about “the honor” of simply being nominated.
So it was refreshing when British actor Colin Firth — still perhaps best known as the deliciously wet-shirted Mr Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice” fame – admitted that he used to boycott award ceremonies. Until he did just that and lost out to a rival.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is giving the Oscars a makeover for 2009, doubling the number of Best Picture nominees to ten and relegating its honorary Governors Awards to a separate non-televised ceremony that took place Saturday night.
Part of the idea behind separating the Governors Awards, generally given for career and industry achievement, from the gala Oscars that will take place in March is to cut a slow-moving segment from the broadcast during which many viewers get up from the couch to use the bathroom, make popcorn or turn off the show altogether. The Academy’s Governors say it’s also about dedicating more time to the honorees rather than rushing them through the show in a few minutes — especially when, as with Lauren Bacall on Saturday, it’s a case of a movie legend getting a long-awaited first Oscar.
They aren’t exactly Laurel and Hardy, or Hope and Crosby, or Lewis and Martin (that’s singer Dean) or even Rowan and Martin (as in Laugh-in’s Dick Martin). So when Oscar organizers on Tuesday named Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as the co-hosts of the upcoming Academy Awards, it left more than a few Hollywood watchers scratching their heads. You can read the story here.
After all, their only two pull quotes from the press release issued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ranged from Martin’s mildly funny “I am happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin,” to a decidedly mixed statement from Baldwin, “I don’t play the banjo but I’m thrilled to be hosting the Oscars — it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”
”I’m trying to find something because I definitely want to come back here in the next couple of years,” Rush told reporters backstage after winning the best actor in a play Tony Award on Sunday for his Broadway debut in “Exit The King.”
from AxisMundi Jerusalem:
In one of the biggest surprises on Oscar night, the animated Israeli documentary Waltz with Bashir did not walk away as many expected with the famed statuette in the Foreign Film category, which instead went to Japanese film Departures.
Even the star of Departures acknowledged he was expecting Waltz with Bashir to win the Academy Award.
Hugh Jackman brought his singing and dancing act to the Oscar awards ceremony and “Slumdog Millionaire” walked off with a leading 8 Oscars.
***Veteran showman Hugh Jackman pulled out all the stops in his first stint as Oscar host, gamely singing and dancing his way through the night’s five best picture nominees with rarely seen Broadway flair.
In the musical number that traditionally kicks off the awards ceremony, Jackman — deadpanning that the Academy had cut back on the glitz this year because of the recession — pranced between cut-outs illustrating the reverse-aging of Benjamin Button; sat at a bare-bones set of the fictional quiz show in “Slumdog Millionaire”; roped in an ostensibly bemused Anne Hathaway to recreate the “Frost/Nixon” interview; stood on a “soapbox” Milk-crate; and, finally, stood on the top ropes of a make-shift wrestling rink as paper Oscars unfurled on either side.