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'The Hurt Locker' wins six Oscars, including history maker for director Kathryn Bigelow

March 7, 2010 |  9:38 pm

Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker Oscars 82nd Annual Academy Awards The 82nd Academy Awards followed the script set down by pundits, as the front-runners for all of the major Oscars won Sunday night. "The Hurt Locker" led with six Oscars, including best picture and best director for Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first woman to win this award. The Iraq war drama also picked up prizes for original screenplay (Mark Boal), editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

"Avatar" went into the night tied with "The Hurt Locker" with a leading nine nominations but had to settle for three Oscars for art direction, cinematography and visual effects (and a $2.4-billion and counting box-office take). See a complete list of all Oscar winners here.

Lead actor went to Jeff Bridges, a four-time also-ran at the Oscars, who finally won for his performance as a down-and-out country singer in "Crazy Heart." The theme song for that film, "The Weary Kind," won best original song for Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.

First-time nominee Sandra Bullock won lead actress for best picture nominee "The Blind Side," edging out, among others, Meryl Streep, who was contending for a record 13th time in this category. The lead acting nominees were introduced by performers with whom they have a connection before last year's winners, Sean Penn ("Milk") and Kate Winslet ("The Reader"), bestowed the Oscars. Last year, each of the four acting categories was handled by five past winners who each spoke about one of the nominees.

It was no surprise that the Academy Awards for supporting actor and actress went to Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") and Mo'Nique ("Precious"). The pair had picked up all of the precursor awards going into the Oscars. Waltz's win represented the only Oscar for that best picture nominee, which had eight nominations in total while "Precious" -- which had six nominations, including a best picture bid -- also won adapted screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher

The animated feature race was won by best picture nominee "Up," which edged out Gotham and L.A. critics choice "Fantastic Mr. Fox" among others. "Up" became the fifth Pixar picture -- after "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille" and "Wall-E" -- to win this category since it was introduced in 2001. "Up" also won best score.

Of the 10 best picture nominees, four were completely shut out -- "District 9" (with four noms), "An Education" (three noms), "A Serious Man" (two nominations) and "Up in the Air" (six). 

"El Secreto de Sus Ojos" became the second feature from Argentina to win best foreign-language film, and "The Cove" won the documentary feature Oscar. For her costume design for "The Young Victoria," Sandy Powell took home her third Oscar, following wins for "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Aviator." "Star Trek" won for makeup.

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Oscar nominations: Fascinating facts, figures and milestones

February 3, 2010 |  2:06 pm

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air Up With invaluable assistance from our many forum posters, here are interesting stats about this year's nominations for the Oscars.

Nine not so fine: "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" lead this year's derby with nine nominations each; "Nine" managed just four nominations. However, beginning with "The Life of Emile Zola" in 1937, there have been 77 films that have landed 10 or more Oscar nominations. Last year's big champ "Slumdog Millionaire" won eight of its 10 races, while "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" managed just three wins from 13 nominations.

Money matters: On nomination day, "Avatar" broke the domestic box office record of 1997 best picture champ "Titanic" when it reached $601 million in receipts. The foreign title -- also held by "Titanic" -- fell to "Avatar" last week. While "Avatar" would thus be the highest-grossing best picture champ, "The Hurt Locker" -- with domestic receipts of $12.6 million -- would be the lowest when adjusted for inflation. 

Take five: With double the number of entries in the best picture race, it is not so surprising that all five directing nominees helmed a contender. In the eight years from 1936 to 1943 when there were also 10 best picture nominees, the five directing nominees each year had a hand in one of those contenders save for 1936 and 1938. In 1936 Gregory LaCava ("My Man Godfrey") was the spoiler, while in 1938 it was Michael Curtiz ("Angels With Dirty Faces") who was the odd man out. Frank Capra took home the directing award in both those years, while Curtiz won his only Oscar in 1943 for helming "Casablanca" -- the last best picture champ to win over nine rivals. 

All in the family: Father and son Ivan and Jason Reitman are nominated for producing "Up in the Air." Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are double nominees for writing and producing "A Serious Man." Onetime married couple Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and James Cameron ("Avatar") are each nominated for best director.

Something old, something new: Supporting actor nominee Christopher Plummer is a first-time contender at age 80 for his 86th movie, "The Last Station," while Gabourey Sidibe landed a lead actress nomination for her film debut in "Precious." Plummer also lends his voice to best picture nominee "Up."

Batting 1.000: Animated short nominee Nick Park ("Wallace & Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death") has won all four of his previous Oscar races -- animated short (1990, 1993, 1996) and animated feature (2005). In 1990 he was a double nominee, winning for "Creature Comforts" over "A Grand Day Out with Wallace & Gromit." In 1993 he won for "Wallace & Gromit in the Wrong Trousers," in 1996 for "Wallace & Gromit in A Close Shave" and in 2005 for "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

Animated features: "Up" is the second animated feature after "Beauty and the Beast" to contend for best picture. While "Beauty" had five other nominations in 1991, including three song bids, score and sound, "Up" is contending in four other categories -- screenplay, score, sound editing and animated feature. That last category wasn't created till 2001, and this is only the second year -- after 2002, when "Spirited Away" won -- that there have been five rather than three nominees.

Only the lonely: The nominations for lead actor Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), lead actress Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") and supporting actor Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones") are the only Oscar nods for those films.

Return engagement: Only two of last year's acting nominees are back in the Oscar race this year -- lead actress nominee Meryl Streep and supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz ("Nine"). Cruz -- who won that same award last year for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" -- follows in the footsteps of supporting actress champs Estelle Parsons ("Bonnie & Clyde," 1967) and Lee Grant ("Shampoo," 1975), who both contended again the year after their victory; neither won. Bette Davis and Greer Garson share the record of most consecutive years nominated at five apiece in the lead actress category. Davis kicking off her reign in 1938 with a win for "Jezebel" while Garson began her run in 1941 with a nod for "Blossoms in the Dust."

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Videos: Tom and Pete dish those rascally Oscar nominations

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Oscar nominations predictions smackdown: Tom beats Pete

My fearless, peerless, 100% perfect Oscar nomination predictions

Poll: Will Megan Fox, Beyonce or Miley Cyrus 'win' Razzie for worst actress?

Photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

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Oscars guided by guild awards in nominations

February 2, 2010 | 10:01 am

Oscars New Members movie news 1357986 This year, 19 of the 20 SAG acting nominees are contending at the Academy Awards. The only one not to make the cut was SAG supporting actress contender Diane Kruger ("Inglourious Basterds"), who was replaced on the Oscars ballot by Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart").

Last year, 18 of the 19 SAG acting nominees repeated at the Academy Awards. As double SAG nominee Kate Winslet was bumped up by the Oscars from supporting to lead for "The Reader," she was denied a lead nod for "Revolutionary Road." However, that film's Michael Shannon managed to knock SAG nominee Dev Patel of "Slumdog Millionaire" out of the supporting race.

Two years ago, 15 of the 20 SAG nominees went on to compete at the Oscars. Three years ago, it was also 19 of the 20 with the one variation coming from the same film -- "The Departed" -- as SAG nominee Leonardo DiCaprio was replaced at Oscar time by Mark Wahlberg.

Four of the five SAG-nominated ensembles appear in Oscar-nominated best pictures with only "Nine" not making it into the top 10. Last year, four of the five SAG-nominated ensembles also did so, with SAG contender "Doubt" replaced by "The Reader." "Slumdog Millionaire" won both awards. Two years ago, only one SAG ensemble nominee -- "No Country for Old Men" -- made it into the best picture race, although that film won both prizes as well. Three years ago, it was three of five, with "Little Miss Sunshine" taking the SAG prize but losing the top Oscar to "The Departed."

Last year, all five of the lead actress nominees also competed for both awards. Two years ago, it was four of five as the only SAG nominee not needing a babysitter come Oscar night was Angelina Jolie ("A Mighty Heart"), whose spot went to "The Savages" star Laura Linney.

As with this year, last year's supporting actress race matched up only four to five as the promotion of Winslet for "The Reader" left room at the Oscars for the addition of Marisa Tomei ("The Wrestler"). Two years ago, this race was also four for five with SAG nominee Catherine Keener ("Into the Wild") replaced by Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement").

Last year, lead actor also matched up perfectly. Two years ago, it went three for five with the SAG nominees as relative newcomers Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild") and Ryan Gosling ("Lars and the Real Girl") were replaced at the Oscars by Hollywood vets Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd") and Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah").

Last year's supporting actor race was four for five with Shannon replacing Patel. Two years ago, SAG nominee Tommy Lee Jones ("No Country for Old Men") was replaced by Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War").

This year, the DGA lineup is repeated at the Oscars. Last year's DGA picks for best director matched up with four of the five academy choices as DGA nominee Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight") was edged out at the Oscars by Stephen Daldry ("The Reader"). Two years ago, DGA nominee Sean Penn ("Into the Wild") lost his Oscar slot to Jason Reitman, who helmed best pic nominee "Juno."

Of this year's 10 PGA nominees for best picture, eight of them earned Oscar nods. The exceptions: One box office champ -- "Star Trek" -- was replaced by another -- "The Blind Side" -- and one set of Oscar favorites -- Clint Eastwood and "Invictus" -- was replaced by another -- the Coen brothers and "A Serious Man."

Last year, the PGA went four for five with the Oscar contenders as "The Dark Knight" was bumped by "The Reader." Two years ago, it was also four for five with PGA nominee "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" replaced by "Atonement."

This year, only two of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay -- "The Hurt Locker" and "A Serious Man" -- are contending at the Oscars. Last year, just one of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay made it into the Oscar race -- eventual winner Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"). Two years ago, the WGA picks lined up with the Oscar nominees except for "Knocked Up," which was knocked out of the competition by the team that whipped up "Ratatouille."

The adapted screenplay Oscar race only includes two of the WGA nominees as well -- "Precious" and "Up in the Air." Last year, the Oscars went four for five with only the WGA nominees for "The Dark Knight" bumped by David Hare, who adapted "The Reader." Two years ago, Sean Penn, who wowed the WGA with his adaptation of "Into the Wild," was snubbed at the Oscars as was the scripter for "Zodiac." They were replaced by "Atonement" adapter Christopher Hampton and first time writer-director Sarah Polley.

The Oscar nominees for best cinematography line up with the American Society of Cinematographers choices with the exception of "Nine" lenser Dion Beebe, who was replaced by "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" shooter Bruno Delbonnel. Last year, ASC nominee Roger Deakins ("Revolutionary Road") was replaced at the Oscars by Tom Stern for "Changeling." Two years ago, the ASC went five for five.

This year, the Oscar nominees for editing include just three of the American Cinema Editors' picks as the cutters for "Inglourious Basterds" and "Precious" replace those for "Star Trek" and "Up in the Air." Last year, the nominees lined up, and two years ago, ACE nominee "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was replaced by "Michael Clayton."

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Gold Derby nuggets: Marc Shaiman added to Oscarcast team | Pete Hammond cheers 'Blind Side' | Sasha Stone on state of Oscars race

November 23, 2009 |  3:38 pm

Marc Shaiman • Five-time Oscar nominee Marc Shaiman is returning to the Oscarcast as musical director six years after conducting the orchestra for Billy Crystal's swan song as host. Shaiman earned three of his four Emmy nods for his work on the Oscars, sharing in the 1992 writing win for penning Crystal's opening medley to the 64th edition of the kudos. Shaiman has lost Oscar bids for both scores --  "The American President" (1995); "The First Wives Club" (1996) and "Patch Adams" (1998) -- and songs --  "A Wink and a Smile" from "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) and "Blame Canada" from "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" (1999). For that last losing nod, Shaiman played escort to co-writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone dressed a la Jennifer Lopez and Gywneth Paltrow. The talented musical maestro will be reuniting with Oscarcast producer Adam Shankman who helmed the 2007 film version of Shaiman's Tony-winning 2003 musical "Hairspray." AMPAS

Todd Martens judged the AMA performances and gave his top marks of A- to Rihanna -- "Ne-Yo told us that the R' in her 'Rated R' stands for either 'remarkable' or 'really, really sexy.' Not quite sure if it completely hit both of those notes, but it was definitely over too soon" -- and Whitney Houston -- "If her instrument isn't what it once was, it can still silence a room. Compared to Blige a few songs ago, Houston was perhaps a bit over the top, but she belted until she was nearly out of breath. It was a powerful moment." POP & HISS

Rick Porter reports that Sunday night's AMA Awards got the biggest audience for the Alphabet net's annual musicfest in seven years. However, even this was not enough to beat the Peacock's NFL game: "NBC averaged 12.94 million viewers and an 8.0 rating/13 share in households on Sunday, edging CBS (12.69 million, 7.8/12) and ABC (12.14 million, 7.3/12) for the lead." ZAP2IT

The Blind Side PosterPete Hammond continues to tout the Oscar potential of Sandra Bullock, star of "The Blind Side." Admits Pete, "I remain the only one of the 20 pundits predicting that Sandra Bullock will be one of the five Best Actress Oscar nominees. I stand by this more than ever now that the movie has opened with an over-performing $34.6 million (Bullock's best ever) and a very rare A + Cinemascore rating." Pete thinks, "It's a big star turn in the kind of real-life role that gets Oscars attention a la Julia Roberts in 'Erin Brockovich.'" However, as he notes, "Universal conducted a large-scale campaign for 'Brockovich' and also landed it a Best Picture nomination, something 'Blind Side' won't likely be able to do. There's also the fact that Bullock has always been a popular star actress as opposed to the kind of critical darling that usually wins the bigger film awards. This, however, is arguably the best performance of her career." NOTES ON A SEASON

Ryan Adams was wowed by Sunday's "60 Minutes" segment  on Oscar-winning helmer James Cameron ("Titanic") and his upcoming "Avatar." Said Ryan, "there’s an entirely different segment of the Academy elders who recognize the respect and prestige a '60 Minutes' profile can bestow. Having Morley Safer, the veteran CBS Yoda of culture and sophisticated taste give a movie his stamp of enthusiastic anticipation is a showcase more esteemed than money can buy. After some recent worries that 'Avatar' marketing was skewing for maximum youth appeal, many of us have been needing to see it validated as sincere grown-up sci-fi, hoping for a re-certification of maturity. Tonight on '60 Minutes' I think we got it."  AWARDS DAILY

• Following in the footsteps of James Cameron as this year's recipient of the Vanguard award from the Producers Guild of America is Joss Whedon. The award salutes achievements in new media and technology and the roster of previous recipients also includes George Lucas and John Lasseter. Whedon -- equally successful as a TV producer ("Buffy the Vamprie Slayer") and webcast wiz ("Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog") -- was cited by kudos co-chairs David Friendly and Laurence Mark for having, "mastered the art of melding the newest technology with inspired storytelling, truly exemplifying the spirit of the Vanguard Award." PGA

• The Santa Barbara filmfest also has a Vanguard award and this year is spreading the wealth around naming a quartet of talent -- Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Stanley Tucci and Christoph Waltz -- as winners. The kudo "was created in recognition of an actor who has forged his/her own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film. In previous years, this award was first bestowed on Ryan Gosling and last year to Kristin Scott Thomas." For fest director Roger Durling, “This group of supporting actors encompasses the best of the best; their roles have made us love them as well as hate them, sometimes all at the same time. I am so pleased to have all of them together, in one place to celebrate them and thank them for the cinematic treasures they have created." SBIFF

Up in the Air poster • For Sasha Stone, "There is more white noise than ever before the start of the actual season, but worse, there seems to be a gaping hole where movies should be." Says Sasha, "'Up in the Air' is the juggernaut everyone should fear. I suspect that it will have one or two challengers but for now, it seems to have a clear shot to victory. They aren’t upsetting the apple cart with too much buzz, noise or ads and they still have the film’s release to look forward to. We can only hope that these films, these Oscar movies, can somehow cross over into the public consciousness. Can Oscar and the public reach synergy? If anyone can do it, George Clooney and Jason Reitman can. Maybe Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman can. Maybe Rob Marshall can. Maybe Jim Cameron can. Maybe Nancy Myers, Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin can." Wonders Sasha, "Are there any surprises left to be played out?" AWARDS DAILY

Lane Brown sees the Oscar hopes of "Nine" as on the rise: "For a movie this well pedigreed not to get a nomination, something would have to have gone terribly wrong. A big response at a SAG screening seemingly indicates that that hasn't happened." And among actors, Lane says, "Just three weeks after entering the race, "Crazy Heart" star Jeff Bridges is already the prohibitive favorite. And a great-looking new trailer subtly reminds us that the four-time Academy Award nominee has never won." NEW YORK

Jeff Wells remains down on the best picture prospects of "Up." Says Jeff, "I sure didn't see 'Up' as a metaphor for anything in my life, I can tell you. It's just a high-strung animated story with a lot of gee-gosh stuff going on and some recognizable heart-and-spirit issues propelling the two main characters." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• And Anne Thompson was less than impressed with the American remake of "Brothers." As Anne writes, "David Benioff is a gifted writer ('The 25th Hour'). Jim Sheridan is a gifted director ('In America'). Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman are gifted actors. So what went wrong on the road to Relativity and Lionsgate’s American adaptation of Danish writer-director Susanne Bier’s extraordinary 2004 movie 'Brothers'?" THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Photos from top: Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Marc Shaiman at the 1999 Academy Awards ceremony (Los Angeles Times); "The Blind Side" poster (Warner Bros.); "Up in the Air" poster (Paramount)


Week in Review - Oscars Edition: Predictions for every race | Telecast details | Nominees cursed and blessed | Quizzes galore

February 22, 2009 |  2:26 am

OSCAR PREDICTIONS

Gold Derby's gutsy, 100% accurate Oscars predictions

Gold Derby odds on the top Oscars races

Experts predict who'll win the Oscars

Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke in a real heavyweight bout

Can Meryl Streep beat Kate Winslet at the Oscars?

Rookie pundit needs a new Oscars crystal ball

Derby_horses

OSCARS TELECAST

Will Rob Pattinson sing with Mary Poppins at the Oscars?

Will Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Zac Efron and Rob Pattinson wow Oscars' viewers?

'Twilight' star Robert Pattinson will be an Oscars presenter

Some Oscars TV ads still for sale — only $1.4 million a pop!

Oscars are the Emmys' biggest winner

OSCARS HOST: HUGH JACKMAN

Sneak Peek: See Hugh Jackman warming up his Oscar act

Can Hugh Jackman continue the Oscars' love affair with Emmys?

OSCAR NOMINEES

Heath Ledger's ultimate joke on the Oscars?

Heath Ledger's family plans to take his Oscar, which should go to Matilda if he wins!

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie could be latest couple cursed at the Oscars

Will Brad Pitt lose best actor due to Oscars' Slap the Stud Syndrome?

Will the Babe Factor help Kate Winslet in a close Oscars contest with Meryl Streep?

Watch out, Mickey Rourke: Indie Spirit is Oscar's consolation prize

Penelope Cruz: 'Whatever happens, I will probably have a few beers and I don't drink!'

No 'Doubt' Viola Davis could win at Oscars for portraying a long-suffering wife

OSCAR RACES

'Slumdog Millionaire' isn't doomed at the Oscars just because its actors got snubbed

The Oscars' best picture usually = big picture

Could 'Curious Case of Benjamin Button' suffer the worst shut-out in Oscars history?

No, there is no bias against foreigners at the Oscars

Here's why there will be an Oscars upset for best foreign film

OSCAR FLASHBACK

Did 'Ben-Hur' deserve to win best picture at the Oscars?

OSCAR QUIZZES

Quiz: Which actor had the most Oscar bids in a row?

Quiz: Which Bette Davis flick suffered the worst Oscars' shut-out?

Quiz: Who turned down Jodie Foster's Oscar-winning role in 'Lambs'?

Quiz: Who won an Oscar on her birthday?

Quiz: Which Oscar-winning role was not gay?

Quiz: How much does an Oscar cost to make?

Quiz: Which movies won for writing, directing and acting, but failed to win best picture?

Illustration by Ty Wilson

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Here's how our Oscar pundits scored

March 5, 2006 | 10:39 pm

The Envelope's odds scored fairly high, nailing 10 of the top 12 categories. Congrats to our own Steve Pond of The Envelope for achieving the highest score in all categories (19). Oh, if only I hadn't switched three predictions on Oscar morning, ditching the three eventual winners, I would've triumphed with a score of 20, but, alas…


19 — Steve Pond (The Envelope)

18 — Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)

17 — Tom O'Neil (The Envelope), Gene Seymour (Newsday), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)

16 — Mike Sragow (Baltimore Sun)

15 — Edward Douglas (Comingsoon.net)

14 — Ken Tucker (Entertainment Weekly)


Gene Seymour's revised Oscars predix

March 1, 2006 | 12:12 pm

A few weeks ago Newsday film critic Gene Seymour generously wrote out his Oscar predix for The Envelope. Looks like he's changed his mind in three categories since — supporting actor (dumping Paul Giamatti for Matt Dillon), musical score (goodbye "Brokeback," hello "Geisha") and song (now prefers "Pimp" to "Travelin' Through"). Below are Seymour's full predictions, as originally written, followed by his updates in each race.


BEST PICTURE
X - "Brokeback Mountain"
"Capote"
"Crash"
"Good Night, and Good Luck"
"Munich"

The only thing that could brake this juggernaut's momentum — and it’s by no means unlikely — is some manner of "Brokeback" fatigue; e.g., people hearing for so long how "great" the movie is and how it can't possibly match the hype and/or heightened expectations after so many months, blah blah blah. Right now, this minute, none of the other nominees has “Brokeback’s” heart-as-big-as-all-outdoors. And, as we've seen repeatedly over the decades, "heart" trumps every other consideration, especially in this category.

(Feb. 25) All the elements of an upset are swirling around this one. “Crash” is bearing down, harder than any movie has on a front-runner in recent memory. But there’s a lot of historical precedent to get by. I’m staying with “Brokeback,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong.


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Gene Seymour's early Oscar predix

February 10, 2006 | 12:12 am

Right now I'm very busy rounding up early Oscar predictions from our panel of experts so The Envelope can issue racetrack odds. All I'm asking each expert to do is to rank nominees from 1 to 5 in 12 categories, but Gene Seymour of Newsday went to town giving us detailed analysis of each category in extensive text format. So, since he offered these to us so generously, here are his noodlings for your kudos enlightenment and enjoyment.


BEST PICTURE
X - "Brokeback Mountain"
"Capote"
"Crash"
"Good Night, and Good Luck"
"Munich"

The only thing that could brake this juggernaut's momentum — and it’s by no means unlikely — is some manner of "Brokeback" fatigue; e.g., people hearing for so long how "great" the movie is and how it can't possibly match the hype and/or heightened expectations after so many months, blah blah blah. Right now, this minute, none of the other nominees has “Brokeback’s” heart-as-big-as-all-outdoors. And, as we've seen repeatedly over the decades, "heart" trumps every other consideration, especially in this category.


BEST DIRECTOR
X - Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"
Bennett Miller, "Capote"
Paul Haggis, "Crash"
George Clooney, "Good Night, and Good Luck"
Steven Spielberg, "Munich"

See above. Besides, they've been trying to give one of these to Ang Lee for years. If nothing else, this'll satisfy all those folks who wanted him to get it for "Crouching Possum, Hidden Mastiff" or whatever that thing was called.


BEST ACTOR
X - Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"
Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"
Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"
David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck"

Earlier in the day, I thought the aforementioned juggernaut was powerful enough to carry everything and everybody connected with it to the winners' circle. But has anyone really seen Heath Ledger out there campaigning for this thing? Possibly I've missed him, but I wonder. (Too many goddamn movies to review keep me in the dark, so to speak.) Philip Seymour Hoffman, meanwhile, is well-liked and highly admired among his peers, who’ve already given him a SAG Award. Pencil him in.


BEST ACTRESS
Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"
Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"
Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice"
Charlize Theron, "North Country"
X - Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"

I like Felicity Huffman and her hubby very much and I'm quite sure that, between them, there's an Oscar coming their way sometime in the coming years. But Huffman’s "Transamerica" turn is one of those situations where you’re more impressed with the performance's assembly process than with the performance itself. On the other hand, there's the all-powerful Reese-ster! A natural reaching the first of what will likely be many peaks. She cannot — and will not — be stopped.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
George Clooney, "Syriana"
Matt Dillon, "Crash"
X - Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"
William Hurt, "A History of Violence"

I'm going strictly by SAG on this right now, though I think this is the one category where things can easily change in the remaining couple weeks of balloting.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, "Junebug"
Catherine Keener, "Capote"
Frances McDormand, "North Country"
X - Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"
Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain"

Wide, wide open. But then, this category usually is. Once again, I’m going along with SAG for now. But Adams has been making herself more visible (as she should) and you know how much they love giving ingenues and newcomers this trophy.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
X - Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, "Crash"
George Clooney and Grant Heslov, "Good Night, and Good Luck"
Woody Allen, "Match Point"
Noah Baumbach, "The Squid and the Whale"
Steven Gaghan, "Syriana"

No way is this movie coming away empty-handed. Not after one of the most remarkable, attention-getting campaigns in recent memory.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
X - Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, "Brokeback Mountain"
Dan Futterman, "Capote"
Jeffrey Caine, "The Constant Gardener"
Josh Olson, "A History of Violence"
Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, "Munich"

Book it in bronze, baby, though there are some who really go for Futterman’s fine work here.


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"Don't Tell" (Italy)
"Joyeux Noël" (France)
"Paradise Now" (Palestine)
"Sophie Scholl - The Final Days" (Germany)
X - "Tsotsi" (South Africa)

My lone "oh-what-the-hell" pick of this round. I’ve nothing to go on except the swoons it generated towards the end of last fall’s Toronto Film Festival.


BEST ANIMATED FILM
"Howl's Moving Castle," Hayao Miyazaki
"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
X - "Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit," Nick Park and Steve Box

It's not their best, but after the W&G boys' consistent wins in the animated shorts competition, it'd be hard to imagine them losing their first time up for features.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
X - "Brokeback Mountain," Gustavo Santaolalla
"The Constant Gardener," Alberto Iglesias
"Memoirs of a Geisha," John Williams
"Munich," John Williams
"Pride & Prejudice," Dario Marianelli

Even though John Williams could very well hear his name announced. Yet again.


BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"In the Deep" from "Crash," Music by Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; Lyrics by Kathleen "Bird" York
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow," Music and Lyrics by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard
X - "Travelin' Thru" from "Transamerica," Music and Lyric by Dolly Parton

The "Hustle & Flow" theme was catchier than a hundred butterfly nets. Still, the songwriters who vote in this category sometimes react badly to things that are too hip-hop. I'd have to listen again to Dolly's tune to see if it’s just catchy enough to steal the statue.


Dueling early Oscar predictions

February 2, 2006 |  8:09 am

Don't miss the face-off between me and my fellow Enveloper, Oscar Beat columnist Steve Pond, over sizing up the Oscar nominees' early chances to win! Which one of us is correct about best actress? Steve (Reese) or me (Felicity)?

Our rundowns were published yesterday in The Envelope's print edition of The Times. I especially hope that every paranoid "Brokeback Mountain" fan checks this out, so I can finally dash those ridiculous Internet rumors that I'm plotting against its shot at best picture.


'Crash' hits WGA and PGA noms at 100 m.p.h.

January 4, 2006 |  2:56 pm

Crash

Since no film has won the Oscar for best picture after being snubbed by the Producers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America, today's nominations by those groups reveal that the winner of the next top Academy Award will be "Brokeback Mountain," "Crash," "Capote" or "Good Night, and Good Luck" — the only films appearing on both new lists.

The guild nominations hit Hollywood like a head-on collision. Wiped out were four films that began this year's gold derby as front-runners: "King Kong," "Match Point," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Munich."

What's happened since then is truly strange since two of those films had received rave reviews and were directed by showbiz gods: Peter Jackson ("King Kong") and Woody Allen ("Match Point"). Some reviewers were disappointed in "Munich," sure, but it got thumbs-up from Roger Ebert, the Hollywood Reporter and other major media.

What happened? In the case of "Match Point," it's possible that Hollywood couldn't forgive Woody for going to the U.K. to make his big comeback film. Or perhaps they just won't forgive his personal scandals.

In the cases of "Munich" and "King Kong," timing may be to blame. The filmmakers delivered their movies so late in the year that DVD screeners couldn't be shipped to voters till the end of December and some groups, like PGA and BAFTA, didn't get them at all.

Obviously, Hollywood — the world capital of storytelling — had forgotten that classic tale of a hare demonstrating too much hubris in a race: he lost to a tortoise. That's "Crash." The durable film turtle never ceased to plod forward since its release last May, crashing through all obstacles that usually halt award contenders released that early in a calendar year.

Photo: A little $6.5 million indie had big impact on Hollywood today.
(Lionsgate)

Continue reading »

'Kong' might grab the most Oscar noms

January 2, 2006 |  1:53 am

Why, oh, why do all of our trustiest crystal balls reveal different views of the Oscars' best picture race?

King Kong

Usually, the winner of the top Academy Award is one of the two film champs at the Globes: best drama picture (this year "Brokeback Mountain," of course) or comedy/musical picture ("Walk the Line," "Pride & Prejudice" or "The Squid and the Whale"). In the 62 years of the Globes' existence, one of its best picture picks has bagged the top Oscar 45 times. Of the four current films, the only one that has the might and cool factor to win the best picture Oscar is "Brokeback Mountain." So that means "Brokeback" is a cinch to go all the way, right?

Wait! I recently talked myself into predicting that George Clooney will win DGA. For the past 25 years, the movie saluted by the directors' guild won the best picture Oscar 19 times. So that means "Good Night, and Good Luck" will triumph, correct?

Not if you refer to another Oscar indicator that's usually dependable: the fact that the winner is often the movie that gets the most nominations. That's been true 17 out of 20 years.

So . . . what movie will that be this year? Maybe "Brokeback," but it's not a lock. "Pete Hammond.

"'Kong' is a definite contender in at least nine categories, which would be nine more noms than the 1933 original ever got," he adds. "It's possible, but a longer shot in the picture category which, if it is dissed there, could trigger this new academy record."

But "Kong" could also score noms for best picture and director, thus becoming one of those blockbusters that gets swept into the top race on a wave of support in the tech and crafts branches.

If it fails to reach such lofty categories, however, it might still be challenged by "Brokeback," which looks like a strong contender in these nine categories: best picture, director, actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, adapted screenplay, musical score, cinematography and editing. It also has long shot potential for costumes. One nomination it can't get is for best song. "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" was decreed ineligible because not enough of it can be heard when it plays on a car radio in the background of a scene.

My guess is that these are the nine categories that Hammond meant as likely competitions for "Kong": cinematography, art direction, costumes, score, editing, sound mixing, sound editing, visual effects and makeup. "Kong" could also be recognized in the races for picture, director, actress and adapted screenplay.

Meantime, "Good Night, and Good Luck" can probably count on at least five bids: picture, director, screenplay, cinematography, editing. It's also a contender for actor, supporting actor, costumes and art direction. It's not eligible in the visual effects category.

Hammond suspects "Walk the Line" can get "between 7 and 10 maybe": picture, actor, actress, adapted screenplay, costumes, art direction, editing, sound. The big maybes: direction, cinematography.

Here are opinions of some of our savvy forums posters: "Cederick" gives seven solid noms to "Good Night," 9 to "Brokeback." "Moviefan9" insists "'King Kong' is easily in the lead." Join our debate in our forums.

Photo: "Kong's" mighty special effects guarantee lots of crafts bids.
(Universal Pictures)


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