Tag Archives: Academy Awards

SAG Awards Results and What They Mean for the Oscars


This past weekend the Screen Actors Guild handed out their yearly awards for film and television acting. I have updated the Oscar Predictions page to reflect what we’ve learned.

But really, what have we learned? Well, Saturday’s winners went something like this:

Ensemble – Spotlight
Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Actress – Brie Larson, Room
Supporting Actor – Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Stunt Ensemble – Mad Max: Fury Road

Ensemble, Drama – Downton Abbey
Actress, Drama Series – Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Actor, Drama Series – Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Ensemble, Comedy Series – Orange is the New Black
Actress, Comedy Series – Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Actor, Comedy Series – Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Actress, TV Movie/Mini-Series – Queen Latifah, Bessie
Actor, TV Movie/Mini-Series – Idris Elba, Luther
Stunt Ensemble – Game of Thrones

This diverse list stands in stark – seemingly deliberate – contrast to the current list of Oscar nominees and the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has surrounded them. Those who defend the nominations by arguing that “maybe all of the best performances actually just happened to be from white actors this year” – yes, some people actually said that – were answered by Idris Elba’s not one but TWO trophies.

As for those Oscars and their eventual outcome, that Supporting Actor win interestingly gives us our biggest clue, despite Elba not being nominated. Historically, even when the nominees don’t line up exactly, SAG has always given it’s trophies to actors who were also nominated for Oscar. In this case that should’ve been Mark Rylance or Christian Bale. The fact that they lost tells us that their candidacies are not a strong as we once thought. Had either of them won, they would’ve been a strong threat to the current Oscar frontrunner, Sylvester Stallone. But since he doesn’t have to worry about competition from Elba, Sly actually gets a boost from this win.

Supporting Actress has been a pretty close race between Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara. Both are actually lead roles relegated the supporting category, a fact that helps nominees more often than not. (There’s a slight threat from Golden Globe winner Kate Winslet, but while her presence is more likely to pull votes away from the two leads, it’s not clear who actually benefits more from this.) But Vikander’s win this weekend, combined with actually giving two awards-worthy performances this year, gives her a solid lead above the rest.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larsen have been frontrunners in the lead categories most of this race. While Saoirse Ronan may have had a little bit of heat from the early season, SAG essentially just gave our leads a platform to practice their Oscar speeches.

The most interesting result was Spotlight.


The Ensemble award is SAG’s equivalent to Best Picture. Spotlight was the presumed frontrunner until The Big Short took the PGA a couple weeks ago. The two had pretty much the same precursors leading up to that, except for Spotlight curiously missing out on an ACE Eddie nomination. Still, it’s a far more universally well-liked movie. It has no drawbacks and offends absolutely no one. That’s the kind of thing that usually does win with the preferential balloting system used by exactly two groups: the PGA and the Oscars’ Best Picture.

Since the Oscars started using the preferential ballot for Best Picture 6 years ago, they have matched the PGA every single year. Since The Big Short came out ahead with the PGA, it moved pretty solidly into the lead. It’s a very strong statistic, and one that may yet hold, despite the latest development.

But Spotlight‘s SAG win does make things interesting. It clearly has a great deal of support, and would make a great winner. Honestly either one could still take Best Picture. So now we look to next week’s Director’s Guild Awards for a little clarity. The DGA have been a very reliable stat for the Best Picture Oscar (even moreso than Best Director) for a much longer time than the recent PGA matchups.

But if the DGA goes as I suspect it might, things could remain just as up in the air as they are now.

In terms of shear numbers, this year is dominated by two major epic films: The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. With 12 and 10 nominations respectively, they are going head to head in every viable category, except the the former’s two acting nods. Both are serious threats. Well, for director anyway. They are both unlikely to win Best Picture because of a surprisingly important stat: Since the SAG awards have existed, no film has won the Oscar for BP without at least a SAG Ensemble nomination. That’s something neither of these epics has. In fact, The Big Short and Spotlight are the only movies this year with this qualification.

The closest we’ve come to breaking that is when Gravity tied for the PGA and won the DGA and the Oscar for Directing. But even that eventually lost Picture to it’s PGA co-champ 12 Years a Slave.

But while The Revenant and Mad Max are unlikely to win the big prize they are still major threats for directing and for DGA. Or at least one of them is. Unfortunately for The Revenant, that director’s last film, Birdman, just swept the entire awards season, including the Oscars last year. While there’s a lot of passion for his new film, it doesn’t have that kind of inevitability it would need for Alejandro G. Iñarritu to win two years in a row.

That leaves George Miller and Mad Max.

Mad Max Fury Road sniper

In recent years visual and technical marvels Gravity and Life of Pi have had success in directing awards despite not winning Best Picture. I believe George Miller is in this camp, and I believe he’s got enough precursor wins to prove it. That’s why I think Mad Max: Fury Road will win the DGA and eventually the Oscar for Best Director.

But if he does win the DGA, it will only confuse the Best Picture race even further. If the 3 biggest and most important precursors go to 3 different films, who has the edge?

Hard to say. But for now I’m going with that PGA stat and sticking with The Big Short.

Once again, check the Oscar Predictions page for the most recent updates. You can also click the Oscar 2016 menu link at the top of the page for more Oscar information.

Oscar statues

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#OscarsSoWhite, But I Still Follow the Race

Image Credit: www.latimes.com

By now there’s been miles of editorial copy published on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, and by people far more insightful or influential than myself. There’s really no substantive argument I can add to the conversation. But as a liberal progressive affirmative-action feminist tree-hugging left-wing socialist hippie who also happens to love following the Oscars… I do feel a need to explain myself.

Unless you’ve bee living on Planet Nine for a while, you probably know the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite refers to the social media outcry over the lack of diversity in the Oscars as well as the film industry as a whole. Specifically, this is the second straight year without a single person of color among all 20 acting nominations. And the Best Picture nominees, as good as many of them are, are all focused primarily on white stories or casts.

Highly acclaimed movies that focused on the experiences of black people were mostly relegated to the sidelines. Straight Outta Compton did manage a screenplay nomination, But Creed‘s only nomination was for the old white guy (Sylvester Stallone), and Beasts of No Nation was left out entirely. It still seems black stories can only garner Best Picture attention if they’re about slavery (12 Years a Slave) or civil rights (Selma, The Help) or find other ways to keep their black characters subservient to whites (Driving Miss Daisy).

And lest you think it’s just a racial issue, let me assure you it’s sexist as well. No movie about a woman has won Best Picture since Million Dollar Baby 12 years ago, and despite having 2 categories no screenplay written by a woman has won since Juno 8 years ago. And in 88 years of Oscar history only 3 women have ever been nominated for Best Director, only ONE of which won (Kathryn Bigelow).

It’s not as if the movies aren’t there. Five of my Top 10 Films of 2015 focus on female protagonists, including all of my top three. And if you add BrooklynCarol, and The Danish Girl to the list, they actually managed a decent handful of nominations, including 3/8 of this year’s Best Picture race. But chances of winning are slim, save for some of the men involved. And Costume Design. ‘Cause we all know that’s a woman’s job.

Of course a big part of the problem, at least as far as the Oscars are concerned, is the membership of the Academy (of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or AMPAS – the group who votes on the Oscars), the vast majority of whom are male, white, and surprisingly old. People vote for stories and characters and values they can relate to. Are we really surprised that this group’s choices lack diversity when the group itself is just as monochrome?

Is it still racist or sexist, then? Well yes, of course it is, obviously. But it’s like the old offensive grandpa cliché – you’re not going to change his mind, but you don’t have to listen to him. Which is why the Academy immediately responded (though perhaps not immediately enough) with a new initiative to shake up its membership, drop the dead weight (no pun or ageism intended), and encourage  far more diversity in it recruitment.

The Academy is really just a symptom of the larger film industry, though. Of the top 25 box office earners of 2015, seven feature lead female protagonists, and only ONE focuses on black protagonists (Straight Outta Compton at #18). The unfortunate fact is circular: the public spends their money on mostly white male centric movies, because the industry produces mostly white male centric movies, because the public spends their money on… you see where this is going.

Which brings me back, finally, to explaining myself and why I’m still going to watch the Oscars and write about the race:

1. I love movies. It’s the one thing above all others I get all nerdy and annoying about. I love what the medium can do, and I love seeing what talented artists and visionaries do with it.

2. Most movies are shit. I want to see more good movies. I want spend my time and money on the kinds of quality filmmaking that I want to see move of. I want to encourage my friends and readers and everyone else to do the same. Let’s vote with our wallets.

3. Movie awards, like the Oscars, are a celebration of quality filmmaking. [record screeches…] WAIT, don’t walk away! Ok, ok… Am I saying that only good quality movies are nominated for Oscars? Or that all the best ones get trophies? Hell no, that would be stupid. And there’s endless evidence to the contrary. But regardless of what gets snubbed or improperly gilded each year, the point really is to celebrate and encourage filmmakers to take risks and aim higher and make better films.

4. Awards shows are about showcasing to the world what can and hopefully does happen when those filmmakers take risks and aim higher and make better films. Very few people watched the fantastic Winter’s Bone before it got 4 Oscar nominations in 2010, including Best Picture, Screenplay, and a brilliant but mostly unknown actress named Jennifer Lawrence. Since then she has become a straight-up silver screen ingenue, dubbed “J-Law” by the press, been nominated 4 times in 6 years, but perhaps most importantly she has become a positive role model to girls and women (and honestly the boys and everyone else too) by bringing complexity and humanity to one of the most badass film heroines of all time.

And oh yeah, I guarantee that a bunch of the die-hard fans she’s gained since then have gone back to watch her in that little indie triller from 2010. And each one of those viewers is more incentive for studios and investors to spend money to make more movies like Winter’s Bone.

5. The Oscars may not be the best film awards show, but they are by far the most visible and the most influential. The Independent Spirit Awards prove every year to be far more accurate (a subjective view), diverse, and by all accounts – since I never get to actually see them – enjoyable. But that’s the thing: nobody, outside of the industry or punditry, actually watches the other shows. If you’re going to discuss film awards and the merits or statistics thereof, it pretty much has to be framed within the Oscars.

6. And finally, you know what? I just like the Oscars. After all is said and done, it makes me happy when everything else in the news makes me anxious and depressed. Despite all the superficial glitz and glamour and meaningless celeb-stalking, in the face of a world with a shit-ton of more important things to be dealing with, this is my guilty pleasure.

And I do often feel guilty or at least a little silly about it. But I do love it, and I’m going to keep watching. So sue me.

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The Oscars’ Real, True, ACTUAL Start Time


The 87th Academy Awards begin tonight, Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 8:30pm Eastern Time (7:30pm Central, 6:30pm Mountain, 5:30pm Pacific).

For years, every time the Oscars come around I search online for the start time, plan my party around that, and then get annoyed with an extra 30-90 minutes of Red Carpet coverage that I could care less about. The Oscars’ OFFICIAL WEBSITE, for instance, lists the start time at “7e/4p.”

Last year I decided to dig a little deeper and discovered that the real answer is a full HOUR AND A HALF LATER than advertised. My blog post to that effect was subsequently the single most viewed post in the history of this blog – by several orders of magnitude!

In a brazen attempt to capture lightening in a bottle twice, I have done my research again and have returned to tell you that, yes, the real, true, actual start time is indeed 90 minutes later than advertised. In fact, the LA Times has a complete breakdown of the entire day’s broadcasting events and times. (Note: their times are all Pacific, so if you live in Central or Eastern, etc. just do the math.)

So once again, if you want to avoid all the Red Carpet nonsense, the Oscars REALLY start at 8:30pm EST/5:30pm PST.

Enjoy the show!

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Oscar Predictions 2015


The 87th Academy Awards presentation is tomorrow night: Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 8:30pm EST. Here, just in the nick of time, are The Screen Life’s official ranked predictions.

Several of these races are completely locked at this point. There should be no surprises when it comes to Supporting Actor, Lead AND Supporting Actress, Cinematography, and almost every craft category The Grand Budapest Hotel is eligible for.

On the other hand, many of the biggest races are an incredibly close toss-up between 2 or even 3 movies: Picture, Director, Actor, BOTH Screenplays, Editing, even VFX could all go a number of different ways. These rankings are intended to give you an idea of the closest challengers and dark horses.

While I’m probably bound to get a few of these wrong (I admit a bit of a bias toward Whiplash), I believe that sticking with these predictions are the best way to win your office Oscar pool.

Happy Oscaring!!!

Best Picture

  1. Birdman
  2. Boyhood
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. American Sniper
  5. Selma
  6. The Imitation Game
  7. Whiplash
  8. The Theory of Everything

Best Director

  1. Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
  2. Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  3. Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
  5. Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Actor

  1. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
  2. Michael Keaton, Birdman
  3. Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  4. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  5. Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Best Actress

  1. Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  2. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  3. Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  4. Reese Witherspoon, Wild
  5. Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night

Best Supporting Actor

  1. K. Simmons, Whiplash
  2. Edward Norton, Birdman
  3. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  4. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  5. Robert Duvall, The Judge

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  2. Emma Stone, Birdman
  3. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  4. Laura Dern, Wild
  5. Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Whiplash
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. American Sniper
  4. Inherent Vice
  5. The Theory of Everything

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Birdman
  3. Boyhood
  4. Foxcatcher
  5. Nightcrawler

Best Animated Feature

  1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. The Boxtrolls
  4. The Tale of Princess Kaguya
  5. Song of the Sea

Best Cinematography

  1. Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
  2. Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Roger Deakins, Unbroken
  4. Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida
  5. Dick Pope, Turner

Best Costume Design

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Inherent Vice
  3. Into the Woods
  4. Maleficent
  5. Turner

Best Film Editing

  1. Whiplash
  2. Boyhood
  3. American Sniper
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. The Imitation Game

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. Foxcatcher

Best Original Score

  1. Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything
  3. Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
  4. Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
  5. Gary Yershon, Turner

Best Original Song

  1. “Glory,” Selma
  2. “Everything is Awesome,” The LEGO Movie
  3. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
  4. “Lost Stars,” Begin Again
  5. “Grateful,” Beyond the Lights

Best Production Design

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. Interstellar
  4. Turner
  5. Into the Woods

Best Sound Editing

  1. American Sniper
  2. Birdman
  3. Interstellar
  4. Unbroken
  5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Whiplash
  2. American Sniper
  3. Birdman
  4. Interstellar
  5. Unbroken

Best Visual Effects

  1. Interstellar
  2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Foreign Language Film

  1. Ida
  2. Leviathan
  3. Tangerines
  4. Timbuktu
  5. Wild Tales

Best Documentary — Feature

  2. Virunga
  3. Last Days of Vietnam
  4. Finding Vivien Maier
  5. The Salt of the Earth

Best Documentary — Short

  1. The Reaper
  2. Joanna
  3. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
  4. Our Curse
  5. White Earth

Best Live Action Short

  1. Butter Lamp
  2. The Phone Call
  3. Boogaloo and Graham
  4. Parvaneh
  5. Aya

Best Animated Short

  1. Feast
  2. Me and My Moulton
  3. The Dam Keeper
  4. The Bigger Picture
  5. A Single Life

Total predicted wins per film:
Birdman – 3
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 5
Whiplash – 4
(everything else – 1 or 0)

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2015 Oscar Nominations

Oscar statues

Nominations for the 87th Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning.

Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead the way with 9 nods apiece. I find it interesting that the two films with the most nominations are both comedies. That’s a bit unusual, I think. We have 8 nominees for Best Picture this year. This is a slight change: ever since the new rule that allowed anywhere from 5-10 nominees depending on the voting, we’ve always ended up with 9. I’m sure there will be countles article on the various snubs and surprises, but for now the biggest surprise, in my opinion, is The LEGO Movie being left out of the Animated Feature race, where I think most people considered it the frontrunner.

Scroll to the bottom to see a breakdown of total nominations per film.

Best Picture
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Best Director
Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

Best Original Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Film Editing
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again
“Everything is Awesome,” The LEGO Movie
“Glory,” Selma
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights
I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Sound Editing
American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Best Documentary — Feature
Finding Vivien Maier
Last Days of Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Best Documentary—Short
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth 

Best Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Best Live Action Short
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
The Phone Call

Total nominations per film:
Birdman – 9
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 9
The Imitation Game – 8
American Sniper – 6
Boyhood – 6
Interstellar – 5
The Theory of Everything – 5
Whiplash – 5
Foxcatcher – 4
Mr. Turner – 4
Into the Woods – 3
Unbroken – 3
Guardians of the Galaxy – 2
Ida – 2
Inherent Vice – 2
Selma – 2
Wild – 2

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GrabBag – The Twitter Conference Call

The Oscars are over. They’ve been analyzed, re-analyzed, interpreted, and meme-ified. It’s time for a final wave goodbye in our rearview mirror. Today’s GrabBag has just a few last Oscar-related videos, and then moves on. What will we do with our time now?

  • The Impression Guys’ Academy Awards Special. Damn these guys are good!
  • Here’s a montage of every Academy Award Best Picture winner since Wings.
  • Apparently Captain Phillips’ Barkhad Abdi is broke. Here’s hoping his Oscar nomination (and BAFTA win) means more amazing roles to change that.
  • And of course, it seems I can’t have a GrabBag lately without another version of “Let It Go.” This time Idina Menzel joins Jimmy Fallon and The Roots on kids’ classroom instruments for a seriously awesome rendition.

Dane DeHaan as James Dean

  • Nicole Kidman plays actress-turned-Princess Grace Kelly in the new trailer for Grace of Monaco.
  • I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not very active on Twitter. I just haven’t found a lot of uses for it, personally, aside from sharing my blog posts. But it does have its purposes…

twitter conference call 1

twitter conference call 2

twitter conference call 3

  • Finally… It’s not at all “screen” related, but my beautiful fiancé defends her PhD dissertation this afternoon, and by tonight it’ll be official. Everybody wish her luck!!!

zoidberg - rich doctor

That’s it for today. Remember to join us every Friday for more GrabBag goodness!

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The 86th Academy Awards Winners


Compare the results to the complete list of nominees, and ranked predictions, on our Oscar Predictions page.

Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress – Cate Blanchette, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Adapted Screenplay – John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay – Spike Jonze, Her
Best Film Editing – Gravity
Best Music (Original Score) – Steven Price, Gravity
Best Music (Original Song) – “Let It Go” from Frozen
Best Sound Mixing – Gravity
Best Sound Editing – Gravity
Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Best Costume Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Dallas Buyers Club
Best Production Design – The Great Gatsby
Best Visual Effects – Gravity
Best Animated Feature – Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film – The Great Beauty
Best Documentary Feature – 20 Feet From Stardom
Best Short Film: Animated – Mr. Hublot
Best Short Film: Live Action – Helium
Best Short Film: Documentary – The Lady in #6: Music Saved My Life

Winners by the numbers:
7 –
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
2 –
The Great Gatsby
Blue Jasmine
The Great Beauty
Mr. Hublot
The Lady in #6: Music Saved My Life
20 Feet From Stardom

The Screen Life’s Predictions Score: 19/24

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“What Time Do the Oscars Start?” – The REAL Answer


UPDATE for 2016: Even though this article is two years old, the times listed below ARE correct for this year as well. Happy Viewing!

Tonight’s the big night: the 86th Annual Academy Awards!

According to Oscar.com, the show airs tonight on ABC at 6:00pm Central Time (7e/4p). But I’ve been burned by that before. Year after year I tune in at the time it tells me, only to get mired in Red Carpet coverage that seems to go on forever. I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, there’s like half an hour of this. That’s not bad.” But 30 minutes later, it’s still going on. Jeez, when do we actually get to the good stuff??

This year I did my research. After an extensive (2-minute) web search I found the REAL start time. According to the LA Times and TV Guide

The Oscars will begin at 8:30 Eastern/5:30 Pacific. For those of us here in the Central Time Zone, that’s 7:30pm… a whole 1.5 hours later than advertised!

Look, I get it. Obviously ABC (the actual company behind Oscar.com) wants you to watch their station and see their ads for as long as possible. That’s their whole business model. But it’s really disingenuous they way they go about it. It’s one thing to pad out an hour and a half of red carpet interviews – hell, there’s a lot of people who actually like, even prefer that part. But by saying simply “The Oscars start at 7” instead of “Red Carpet starts at 7; Oscars start at 8:30,” they’re essentially tricking the public into watching. It’s the kind of thing that turns off customers.

Of course, they can get away with it easily – I’m not about to not watch the Oscars just because ABC is being dirty and underhanded. But there are 364 other days in the year. ABC has to realize that the face of network television is changing. The old model is disappearing. They’re not doing themselves any favors by giving consumers another reason not to tune in.

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GrabBag – Oscar Weekend!


It’s Oscar Weekend, folks! I’ve spent the week focused on my 6-part Oscar Predictions series (now complete!), so today’s GrabBag may be a bit less thought-out than usual. Still, you need your weekend fix of internet links, so here we go…

  • Kids reenact Oscar nominees…
  • Fandor has a series of video essays on who “deserves” to win. (I haven’t had a chance to watch these yet, but they are high on my to-do list.)
  • In case you haven’t been paying attention to the season, check out In Contention’s 10 Things You Need to Know About the 2014 Oscars. While I may not agree describing last year’s show as “terrible,” these are the most important facts to keep in mind leading up to the big night.
  • Moving away from Oscar for a moment (I know, right?)… The real backstory of Andy’s mom make the Toy Story films that much more endearing.
  • Speaking of Disney, the folks behind Frozen release a Deleted Scene. (Good thing it was deleted.)
  • And speaking of Frozen (I’ve had a lot of Frozen-related links in these GrabBags recently, haven’t I?): My apologies to your eardrums, but this is pretty hilarious. “Let It Go” as sung by, who else, Mr. Freeze…

That’s all for today. Enjoy your Oscar Weekend! Oh, and Mardi Gras, too. Yeah that’s happening, apparently.

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3 Films ‘Hustle’ for the Lead – Oscar Nominations Breakdown

gravity 12 years hustle split

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts ad Sciences (AMPAS) gave us plenty of surprises – both good and bad – when they announced their 86th Annual Oscar nominations this morning.

The big story is American Hustle, which tied Gravity for the lead with 10 nods each, followed closely by 12 Years a Slave with 9. Any one of them could still win, but this proves it really is a 3-way race. All 3 got the crucial Picture/Director/Editing trifecta that is often necessary to go the distance.

All 9 of the Best Picture nominees got more nominations than any of the other films. A majority of the different branches seemed to be on the same page. I feel like this kind of symmetry is actually pretty rare. (Scroll to the bottom of my complete nominations list for a list of total nominations per film.)

I’m actually pretty proud of a decent showing in my own predictions. (Scroll down to see my brag list and how I did on each category.) But there were a fair number selections and snubs that few people saw coming – including at least one that NOBODY could’ve guessed.

The Good…

  • A much stronger-than-expected showing for The Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club was very heartening to see.
  • Philomena for Best Pic, expected but not guaranteed.
  • American Hustle got nods in all 4 acting categories (the best thing about the movie). This is extremely rare, and yet it’s 2 years in a row for a David O. Russell film.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor. I predicted it, but most pundits figuring he was in 6th place. Now that he’s in, I think he actually has a decent chance for the win, though it’s still a tight race.
  • Sally Hawkins was excellent in Blue Jasmine I’m happy to see her remembered here.
  • The Hobbit’s FX and dual Sound nods. Despite the series’ chronic bloating, it still continues to break new ground on the tech front.
  • Ernest & Celestine!!!
  • Get A Horse!

The Bad…

  • American Hustle‘s tied for the most nominations makes it even more likely to steal the ultimate win from Gravity and 12 Years a Slave (two vastly superior films).
  • Zero nominations for Rush, The Butler, Pacific Rim, or The Hunger Games.
  • Captain Phillips had a worse showing than expected, with both Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass missing out on nominations.
  • Part of the Rush shutout, Daniel Bruhl was passed over for one of the very best performances of the year.
  • Part of The Butler shutout, Oprah Winfrey (the best part of that film) was denied.
  • The Coen Bros. missed a screenplay nod for Inside Llewyn Davis. The film itself only managed 2 mentions.
  • 12 Years a Slave’s stunning cinematography was ignored.
  •  Part of The Hunger Games shutout, the amazing costumes were not mentioned, nor the memorable Makeup & Hairsyling
  • Speaking of M&H: the Academy seemed to love American Hustle, so how did it miss out here for those amazing hairdos?
  • No love for Hanz Zimmer’s excellent score for 12 Years a Slave, or Alex Ebert’s work on All Is Lost.
  • No Pacific Rim for visual effects is a travesty. If it weren’t for Gravity, I would’ve pegged it for the de facto winner.
  • Monster’s University is Pixar’s second ever miss for Animated Feature, after Cars 2.
  • Blackfish really deserved a nomination, and it could’ve used the extra publicity to help its valiant cause.
  • Stories We Tell was also widely expected to compete for the documentary win. While I haven’t seen it yet, everything I’ve read makes me disheartened that it was left out.

The WTF??!?!…

  • Best song. This category is notorious for providing some real head-scratchers year after year. (Last year they included a little-known documentary, and the year before that they only nominated TWO songs!) This year is no different, with an unexpected snub for Lana del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby.
  • But the real shot of crazy here is “Alone Yet Not Alone” from a film of the same name. A film which NOBODY has ever even heard of, let alone seen. It doesn’t appear on Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes, or Box Office Mojo. It turns out it’s a religious film with a fairly offensive sounding synopsis, made purely for the Christian market. So how the hell did it get nominated? Perhaps because one of the composers is head of the Academy’s music branch…

Brag List
79 (+ 9 alternates) correct out of 108 predictions
2 perfect categories (+ 6 with alternates)
14 categories missed only one
5 missed two
0 missed more than two
Plus I got the one animated short I predicted, Get A Horse!

My predictions, by the numbers…

Best Picture 9/9!!!
Out: Saving Mr. Banks; Blue Jasmine

Best Director 4/5 + alternate
In: Alexander Payne, Nebraska; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Out:  Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips; Spike Jonze, Her

Best Actor 4/5
In: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Out: Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips; Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Best Actress 4/5 + alternate
In: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Out: Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks

Best Supporting Actor 3/5 + alternate
In: Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Out: Daniel Bruhl, Rush; James Gandolfini, Enough Said

Best Supporting Actress 4/5
In: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Out: Oprah Winfrey, The Butler

Best Adapted Screenplay 5/5!!!

Best Original Screenplay 4/5 + alternate
In: Dallas Buyers Club
Out: Inside Llewyn Davis

Cinematography 4/5
In: The Grandmaster
Out: 12 Years a Slave

Costume Design 4/5
In: The Grandmaster
Out: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Editing 4/5
In: Dallas Buyers Club
Out: The Wolf of Wall Street; Rush

Makeup and Hairstyling 2/3
In: Dallas Buyers Club
Out: American Hustle; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Score 3/5 + alternate
In: Philomena; Saving Mr. Banks
Out: 12 Years a Slave; All is Lost

Song 3/5
In: Alone Yet Not Alone (Alone Yet Not Alone); “Happy (Despicable Me 2)
Out: Young and Beautiful (The Great Gatsby); So You Know What It’s Like (Short Term 12)

Production Design 4/5 + alternate
In: Her
Out: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Sound Editing 4/5
In: The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug
Out: Rush

Sound Mixing 4/5
In: The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug
Out: All Is Lost

Visual Effects 3/5 + alternate
In: The Lone Ranger; Star Trek Into Darkness
Out: Pacific Rim; Oblivion

Foreign Film 4/5 + alternate
In: The Missing Picture
Out: The Grandmaster

Animated Feature 4/5 + alternate
In: Ernest & Celestine; Despicable Me 2
Out: Monsters University

Documentary Feature 3/5
In: Cutie and the Boxer; Dirty Wars
Out: Blackfish; Stories We Tell

Animated Short 1/1

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