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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

Do Gotham Award nominations boost Oscar odds of 'Winter's Bone'?

October 18, 2010 |  3:38 pm

Winter's BoneOscar hopes run high now that "Winter's Bone" received three nominations from the Gotham Independent Film Awards. That's the same number as "The Hurt Locker" reaped last year before it romped at the Oscars.

"The Hurt Locker" won best picture at both awards, but that's the first time the  groups' champs aligned. Over the past several years, none of the Gotham Awards' winners were even nominated for best picture: in 2008 ("Frozen River"), 2007 ("Into the Wild") and 2006 ("Half Nelson"). The previous two Gotham victors did make the Oscar high five, however: "Capote" (2005), "Sideways" (2004).

Last year, it was extremely odd that the Gotham Awards, based in New York City as their name suggests, didn't nominate "Precious" for best picture even though it was the most praiseworthy indie shot in Manhattan. In 2007, they didn't nominate "Juno" in the top race, although Ellen Page won best breakthrough performer.

Nonetheless, the Gotham Awards can boost an indie's profile in trophy season in a significant way. While many Oscarologists have considered "Winter's Bone" star Jennifer Lawrence a serious contender to break into the academy's lead actress race, they felt the film had little hope of getting into Oscar's Top 10. That may change now, especially if the movie wins at the Nov. 29 event.

For a full list of nominees, see my colleague Susan King's earlier report here.

 Photo: "Winter's Bone" (Roadside Attractions).

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Oscars mystery: Whatever happened to Hattie McDaniel's Academy Award?

May 27, 2010 |  6:16 am

J. Freedom du Lac of the Washington Post has written a fascinating account of this unsolved mystery, tracing the Academy Award to the capital's Howard University, where it disappeared decades ago. Hattie McDaniel won the best supporting actress race at the 1939 Oscars for the role of Mammy in best picture champ "Gone With the Wind." She beat Edna May Oliver ("Drums Along the Mohawk"), Olivia de Havilland ("Gone With the Wind"), Maria Ouspenskaya ("Love Affair") and Geraldine Fitzgerald ("Wuthering Heights"). Upon her death in 1952, she bequeathed it to the historic African American college.

Seven decades after McDaniel's historic victory, Mo'Nique became the fourth African American woman to be honored in this category with her win for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." Mo'Nique referenced the pioneer in her heartfelt acceptance speech, saying, "I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to." She wore a royal blue dress and gardenia in her hair as McDaniel had back on Feb. 29, 1940, when she attended the 12th Academy Awards.

The newsreel footage of that night below cut out the time it took for McDaniel to get to the podium. She had been seated far in the back of the venue -- the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel. Note that McDaniel is presented with a plaque rather than the Oscar statue as were all supporting winners from the inception of these categories, in 1936, to 1942. Before announcing the name of the winner, Fay Bainter -- who had her own place in Oscar history as the first dual nominee with her 1938 bids for best actress ("White Banners") and supporting actress ("Jezebel"), winning the latter -- said, "It is a tribute to a country where people are free to honor noteworthy achievements regardless of creed, race or color." Bainter had not peeked into the envelope but been tipped by the Los Angeles Times, which had printed a list of the winners before the ceremony. The academy soon plugged the leak, instituting measures to ensure the secrecy of the results.

Mo'Nique has spoken of her desire to produce a biopic about McDaniel. Whoopi Goldberg -- only the second African American woman to win an Oscar -- took home a daytime Emmy Award in 2002 for producing the documentary "Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel." Goldberg -- one of only 10 people to sweep the grand slam of awards -- is also the only African American actress with two Oscar nods, losing lead actress for "The Color Purple" (1985) before winning the supporting award for "Ghost" (1990).

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'True Blood' goes graphic | 'Precious' talent updates | Carol Burnett reminisces

April 6, 2010 |  3:23 pm

True Blood title card • "True Blood" is gearing up for a third season on HBO beginning June 13. And in July, fans of the vampire drama starring Oscar champ Anna Paquin ("The Piano") will be able to buy the first installment of a graphic arts version of "True Blood." IDW is crafting a six-part miniseries in conjunction with the show's creator -- Oscar-winning scribe Alan Ball ("American Beauty") -- with artist David Messina handling interiors and covers and J. Scott Campbell doing variants. IGN

Valerie Harper garnered rave reviews for her performance as theatrical diva Talullah Bankhead in the new play "Looped." However, the New York critics were less kind to this new work by Matthew Lombardo ("Tea at Five") and the Broadway run is ending this Sunday. There is already talk of taking the show on the road and the four-time Emmy champ could still find herself in contention for best actress at the Tony Awards when nominations are announced May 4.

• Fans of the Tony Awards who find themselves on the other coast come June 13 can attend a viewing party hosted by Tony champ Brian Stokes Mitchell ("Kiss Me Kate"). The theater and TV vet serves as president of the Actors Fund, which is holding the fundraiser at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Capping off the evening will be the presentation of the Julie Harris lifetime achievement award, named for one of the theater greats who won a record five lead actress Tony Awards in her stellar career. ACTORS FUND

• The first kudos of the theater season are bestowed by the Outer Critics Circle. Nominations for these awards will be announced by Tony champ Sutton Foster ("Thoroughly Modern Millie") and her equally talented brother Hunter Foster ("Urinetown") on April 26. Winners will be named on May 17 with the prizes presented during a dinner at Sardi's on May 27.

Precious Poster 3Roger Friedman reports that Oscar-winning scribe Geoffrey Fletcher ("Precious") "will be directing a film from his own original script. 'Violet and Daisy' is the title of a movie that may get a start this summer with two Oscar nominated actresses in the lead roles. They would be Carey Mulligan, of 'An Education,' and Saoirse Ronan of 'The Lovely Bones.' " SHOWBIZ 411

• And we may get a chance to see whether talent runs in the family for Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious") with the news that her mother Alice Tan Ridley will sing for the judges on "America's Got Talent." In an e-mail Ridley wrote, "It’s a big break for me and I would like to follow in Susan Boyle’s footsteps and become a star in my own right. I love the judges, Sharon and Piers, and I’m really looking forward to trying and impress them although I have not decided what I will sing or wear yet." RADAR ONLINE

Andrew Lloyd Webber's new tuner "Love Never Dies" -- the sequel to 1988 Tony champ "The Phantom of the Opera" -- will delay its New York opening by six months. The show -- which premiered to mixed reviews in London in March -- is now slated for spring 2011. A statement from the producers explained that the original opening was scheduled prior to the composer being diagnosed with prostate cancer last fall. "Although the cancer has been eradicated, there have been post-operative problems. These have been aggravated by recent air travel and Lloyd Webber's doctors have requested that he does not take any further long-haul flights for the time being and until the problem has been investigated. This prevents him attending auditions and being part of the pre-production process in New York on the original schedule." PLAYBILL

Carol BurnettAndrea Reiher recaps Tuesday's TV appearances by six-time Emmy champ Carol Burnett who has penned a memoir titled "This Time Together." The TV legend "tells 'Today' about discovering Vicki Lawrence and tells Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on 'Live' the amazing story of how she came to New York to act." Back in 1986, Burnett recounted the story of her childhood and early days in show business in the best-selling "One More Time" which she and daughter Carrie Hamilton later adapted into the 2002 play "Hollywood Arms." This new volume -- which takes its title from a lyric in the theme song to her long-running variety series -- continues her fascinating story. ZAP 2 IT

• Writer-director Juan Jose Campanella will follow up his Oscar-winning foreign language film "El secreto de sus ojos" (The Secret in Their Eyes) with the first 3-D animated feature from his native Argentina. The plot of "Foosball" -- scripted by Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri (author of the book on which "Secret" is based), Gaston Gorali and Axel Kuschevatzky -- is derived from the popular table game. VARIETY

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Top photo: "True Blood" logo. Credit: HBO

Middle photo: "Precious" poster. Credit: Lionsgate

Bottom photo: "This Time Together" dust jacket. Credit: Random House

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Come Fly Away' to Broadway | 3-D or not 3-D | Katherine Heigl on Emmy uproar

March 26, 2010 |  4:09 pm

Come Fly AwayTwyla Tharp -- who picked up a Tony in 2003 for choreographing "Movin' Out," set to the songs of Billy Joel -- is back with another dancefest. "Come Fly Away" tells the story of four couples to the tunes of Frank Sinatra. The musical opened Thursday to mixed reviews from the Gotham critics. "Movin' Out" landed 10 Tony nominations, including best musical, but took home just two awards (orchestrations was the other). Among the five acting bids were a lead one for John Selya and a featured one for Ashley Tuttle, both of whom appear in "Come Fly Away."

• No surprise that the BAFTAs will be held on Sunday, Feb. 13. As with this year, that places these kudos two weeks before the just-announced date of the Oscars.

• And no surprise that Oscar winner Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") is skipping Saturday's Kids' Choice Awards where she contends for favorite movie actress against Miley Cyrus, Megan Fox and Zoe Saldana. Her rep told People she was never slated to attend.

• The father of the alleged other woman -- Michelle McGee -- says that his daughter decided to come forward after seeing Sandra Bullock and her husband Jesse James attending the Oscars as a happily married couple. THE 33

How To Train Your Dragon • Friday brought a marked increase in the cost of seeing 3-D films in both regular cinemas and Imax. Director Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight") and critic Roger Ebert offer up very different views on the 3-D explosion. For Nolan -- whose latest film, "Inception," is not in 3-D -- this resurgence is an "interesting development." However when reviewing "How to Train Your Dragon," Ebert opined, "The 3-D adds nothing but the opportunity to pay more to see a distracting and unnecessary additional dimension."

Oliver Stone explains to Claude Brodesser and Jada Yuan why the release date of "Wall Street 2" got bumped from April 24 to Sept. 23 despite high-profile cover stories for both Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf touting the earlier date. "'This is the flat-out truth: [Fox] said, 'We’d like this for April.' We’d finished shooting principal photography on December 9. That’s a tight squeeze, but I could have made it.' But then the possibility of Cannes arose, which Stone thought was a great platform; also contributing to the decision was the disturbingly close May 7 opening of the behemoth that will be 'Iron Man 2,' which 'gave Fox a bit of a shiver.' " NEW YORK

• Though the latest version of "Robin Hood" is slated to open the Cannes filmfest, it will be screening out of competition. The film -- which unspools on the Croisette two days before its U.S. and U.K. release -- marks the fifth collaboration for director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe, who plays the title role; their first pairing was on 2000 best picture champ "Gladiator" which won Crowe his Oscar. Another Oscar winner -- Cate Blanchett ("The Aviator") -- costars as Maid Marian.

Entertainment-heigl-cover_1801 • "Grey's Anatomy" star Katherine Heigl -- who won the supporting actress Emmy in 2007 -- declined to submit herself for consideration in 2008, telling Gold Derby, "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination." This week the actress apologized for the furor she caused, telling Michael Ausiello, "I could have more gracefully said that without going into a private work matter. It was between me and the writers. I ambushed them, and it wasn’t very nice or fair." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• Supporting actress champ Mo'Nique ("Precious") was all set to take her Academy Award out on the road as she tours the country with her comedy but she discovered, "Oscar's heavy, and I thought they would give me a hard time at the airport, so I left Oscar at home." However, she adds, "I'm going to bring him on some of the tour." CONTACT MUSIC

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Top Photo: "Come Fly Away" playbill. Credit: Marquis Theater

Middle Photo: "How to Train Your Dragon" poster. Credit: Paramount

Bottom Photo: Katherine Heigel on "Entertainment Weekly" cover. Credit: EW

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Gold Derby nuggets: Gabourey Sidibe's film future? | Exploring 'The Cove' | Steve Pond ponders Oscars

March 11, 2010 |  3:51 pm

Gabourey Sidibe Oscars Precious • In a provocative piece, Luchina Fisher asks, "Will Gabourey Sidibe's size limit her career?" Building off of Howard Stern's criticism Monday of the lead actress Oscar nominee for "Precious," Fisher interviewed, among others, New York casting director Bernard Telsey, who said Sidibe's size is both a plus and minus as well as Greg Kilday, film editor for The Hollywood Reporter, who said Hollywood will have to think creatively to find roles for Sidibe. By the by, Sidibe already has wrapped another film -- "Yelling to the Sky" -- and has just inked a deal to appear as a recurring character on the new Showtime series "The C Word."  ABC NEWS

• Five-time Emmy champ Kelsey Grammer is headlining the upcoming second Broadway revival of the 1984 top Tony tuner "La Cage Aux Folles." Initially Grammer will play the more sedate role of George opposite Douglas Hodge, who is recreating his Olivier-winning performance as the cross-dressing Albin. However, as Grammer told the New York Post, "In six months, I switch over to playing Albin. It really means I must memorize the whole show." PLAYBILL

• In a countdown of the top 10 Oscarcast jokes, this one by Jimmy Fallon topped the list: "Did everyone watch the Oscars last night? Or as I like to call it James Cameron’s own personal hurt locker." MEDIAITE

The Cove Oscars • On Tuesday, Louie Psihoyos, director of the Academy Award-winning documentary "The Cove" was interviewed by New York Times science scribe Andrew Revkin at the Asia Society in Gotham. The former National Geographic photographer "predicted that Japan would be more likely to shut down the seasonal capture and killing of thousands of dolphins because of the human health implications of eating dolphin meat -- which the film shows is laced with high levels of mercury -- than because of complaints about cruelty in the killing of the marine mammals." NEW YORK TIMES

• In anticipation of Betty White's guest-hosting appearance on the May 8 installment of "Saturday Night Live," the Daily Beast video crew has compiled 11 clips of the still sassy octogenarian in some of her most memorable TV moments, including two of the roles that won her Emmys: Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and Rose Nylund on "The Golden Girls." THE DAILY BEAST

Drew McWeeney is delighted that Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood ("Unforgiven," "Million Dollar Baby") has made a biopic of one-time FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover his next project. Dustin Lance Black -- who has penned the script -- won an Oscar last year for his original screenplay for "Milk," another true life story. HIT FIX

• In advance of Sunday's premiere of "The Pacific," HBO gathered 250 WWII vets in the nation's capital to salute their service. Among those praising their heroics were series producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg who wanted to make a companion piece to their 2001 Emmy-winning "Band of Brothers," which focused on the war in Europe. AP

OscarsSteve Pond shares nine lessons learned from this Oscar season, including this observation: "You can’t force populism on this batch of voters. If ever there was a year when the Academy was nudging voters to go for something popular, this was it. But the Best Picture winner hasn’t been a widely popular film since 'The Return of the King,' and voters refused to take the hints dropped by the expanded slate of nominees and the mass-appeal Oscar-show bookings. These voters like what they like, not what the public likes." THE ODDS

Amy Kaufman reviews the tweets of rookie Oscarcast producer Adam Shankman and discovers that he thinks the show was a rousing success. Among his recent tweets was this one -- "I'm spool tired stilli cnt believe I just produced 1 of the most successful Academy Awards of all time. Humbling." And on the subject of a return engagement as producer, Shankman tweeted: "I loved ths years #oscars. Best experience of my life. I'd just do things differently if I did them again 2 surprise ppl. dont wanna repeat." 24 FRAMES

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Top photo: Gabourey Sidibe at the 82nd annual Academy Awards. Credit: Mark Boster / LAT

Middle photo: "The Cove" poster. Credit: Lionsgate

Bottom photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

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Gold Derby nuggets: Banned 'Hurt Locker' producer's Oscars speech | Stone & Hammond on 'Avatar' loss | Alec Baldwin on Oscars gig

March 9, 2010 |  2:29 pm

The Hurt Locker posterEugene Hernandez does a crackerjack job reporting on how banned "Hurt Locker" producer Nicolas Chartier spent Oscar Sunday. He was feted by 300 people gathered at the Malibu home of reality TV/film producer Mike Fleiss,  who co-hosted with WME Global chief Graham Taylor and his producer wife Lynnette Howell ("Half Nelson"). As Eugene writes, "The crowd was clearly biased in favor of 'The Hurt Locker' and when the movie won the final award of the night, an uproar was unleashed. Chartier silenced the crowd to listen to the televised speeches and then stepped onto a footstool for his own acceptance. Someone handed him a small plastic statue that looked a bit like an Oscar." Eugene's thorough report also includes video of the "acceptance" speech, including this soundbite: "It’s about the movies. This is what we live for, to tell stories, to make people laugh and cry. To entertain and sometimes to make art." INDIE WIRE

• As Steve Krakauer reports, documentary short Oscar winner Roger Ross Williams ("Music for Prudence" got interrupted again on "Larry King Live" Monday night. After a brief interview in which he spoke about the film's producer -- Elinor Burkett -- who cut short his acceptance onstage at the Oscars Sunday, Williams was to give his complete speech but time ran out and he was pre-empted, this time by "Anderson Cooper 360."  MEDIAITE

David Letterman made merry with this "Kanye" moment on Monday's "Late Show." As Steve Itzkoff writes, "Mr. Letterman was performing a set of jokes about the unending Oscars telecast when he, too, was halted by a protester who demanded, 'Let the woman talk!' "  Video of these hijinks is included in the write-up. NEW YORK TIMES

Steven Zeitchik fills us in on what we can expect next from this year's crop of Oscar champs. Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") is shooting "True Grit" while Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") has "Green Hornet," in the can with both films due out in December. Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") has nothing lined up and Mo'Nique is busy with her BET talker. Two-time winner Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") turned down the Spider-Man reboot and "her next project will likely be her reteaming with Mark Boal on 'Triple Frontier.' The Paramount film is an adventure story set on the border of several South American counties." 24 FRAMES

Avatar PosterSasha Stone weighs in on why "Avatar" lost the best picture race at the Oscars. As Sasha says, "why not be happy with what 'Avatar' is, not what it isn’t. It isn’t an Oscar movie, not with that screenplay. It only had to be a little better, a little less cliched.  A little less 'Pocahontas' and 'Dances with Wolves' and a little more innovative in terms of STORY, not just in terms of effects. Most of the members of the Academy are actors, writers and directors. Is it that much of a surprise that they would pick A) the film that moved them the most, and B) the film they wanted to make the most?  How many of them really want their future to be wrapped up in 3-D technology, motion-capture actors?" AWARDS DAILY

• For Pete Hammond, "If ever there was a question in my mind as to why 'Avatar' probably had no realistic chance of taking the best picture Academy Award, it was answered at the Oscars viewing party, "Night Of 100 Stars," I covered Sunday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was the actors branch, dummy. With 1,205 members, three times as many as any other peer group in the academy, they are collectively a powerful voice and if you don't have them behind you, your best- picture chances are slim." NOTES ON A SEASON

• "Up in the Air" was shut out of Sunday's Oscars, despite six nominations including a best picture bid. One of the deleted scenes from the film has been released by Paramount to promote Tuesday's DVD release. In the scene, the inveterate traveler played by best actor nominee George Clooney dreams of wandering home in an astronaut suit as Ricky Nelson singing "Lonesome Town" plays in the background. ZAP2IT

Emma Rosenblum talks to the Emmy-winning Sherri Shepherd ("The View") about her gig Sunday as one of three hosts of the frenetic 30-minute Oscars pre-show. Reveals Sherri, "I love Taylor Lautner, but I couldn't ask him too many questions. We had a lot of red tape and protocol from ABC, and they told me I couldn't ask Taylor about the 'Twilight' sequel or his body. And I said, 'Then what am I going to talk to him about?!' He's a big boy, he could handle it." NEW YORK

Oscars Steve Martin Alec Baldwin • Oscars co-host Alec Baldwin penned a post with his thoughts on the gig. "Hosting the show is an odd experience because you're out there, but it isn't about you. Steve Martin and I worked rather hard, along with the writers and producers, to make sure our contribution did not detract from the primary purpose of the evening, honoring the highest achievements in film. We tell some jokes and show some clips, but the night belongs to the great talent in that room." HUFFINGTON POST

Brian Moylan solves 10 mysteries of the Oscars, including this one: "Why the hell was there street dancing at the Oscars?" As Brian writes, "a troupe of television dancers were given the stage to do strange hip-hop contortions to the classically-influenced music of the Best Score nominees. We solved how it happened -- director Adam Shankman who is a choreographer and TV dance show host -- but we will forever be asking why. Why, why, why?" GAWKER

• And if you are still in need of an Oscars fix, surf over to the telecast's official website for clips from the red carpet, backstage and VIP room, as well as speeches from the winners into the "thank you" cam. Best actor champ Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") had so many people to thank that his speech is split up into five parts. OSCARS

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Top photo: "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit

Middle photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

Bottom photo: 82nd Academy Awards poster. Credit: ABC

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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.

Continue reading »

Complete list of Oscar winners

March 7, 2010 |  9:19 pm

Here's a full list of the winners at the 82nd Academy Awards, which were bestowed Sunday night at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. The Oscars ceremony was telecast on ABC, hosted by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.

Oscars 3 Academy Awards winners news

BEST PICTURE: "The Hurt Locker"
LEAD ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
LEAD ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'Nique, "Precious"
DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
ANIMATED FEATURE: "Up"
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "El Secreto de Sus Ojos" (Argentina)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: "The Hurt Locker," Mark Boal
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: "Precious," Geoffrey Fletcher
ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE: "Up," Michael Giacchino
SONG: "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from "Crazy Heart"

Continue reading »

Poll: What film will win best picture at the Oscars?

March 7, 2010 | 10:22 am

For the first time since 1943, there are 10 nominees for best picture at the Academy Awards. Although "The Hurt Locker" has been the front-runner for the last several weeks, in the closing days of voting, the war drama faced attack on three fronts: 1) issues of accuracy, 2.) for perhaps being too accurate (an army sergeant claims the movie rips off his own story) and 3.) because its producer was banned from the ceremony for breaking campaign rules.

Traditionally, most voters completed their Oscar ballots as soon as they arrived. However, this year -- with the introduction of the preferential method for determining the best picture winner -- more than 1,500 out of 5,800 ballots remained outstanding in the final week, and more than 500 were submitted on the deadline day (Tuesday).

That late Oscar voting may help "Inglourious Basterds," which got a post-noms push from Quentin Tarantino's pals, who threw him bashes on both coasts to rally support. Most Oscar voters I've dished with say they ranked "Basterds" in one of their top three slots. That's not true of "Avatar," which has lots of No. 1-ranked votes -- probably more than "Basterds" -- but also lots of lower rankings, which pull down its overall prospects.

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'Precious' sweeps Indie Spirit Awards ... Oscars next? (Hey, where was 'The Hurt Locker'?)

March 5, 2010 | 11:50 pm

With winners like best actor Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") and Mo'Nique ("Precious"), the Independent Spirit Awards looked a lot like the Oscars. But that's not unusual. When Oscar front-runners compete at the Indie Spirits, they usually win. Recent examples: Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona"), Alan Arkin ("Little Miss Sunshine"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote"), Charlize Theron ("Monster").

Now and then there are rare exceptions – like last year when Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") beat Sean Penn ("Milk") – but that may have occurred in part due to griping that "Milk" wasn't really an indie since it was produced for more than $20 million.

Precious indie spirits independent spirit awards

Missing from the nominees this year was the most notable indie of 2009 — "The Hurt Locker" — but that's because it competed at last year's Indie Spirits where it fared poorly. It wasn't nominated for best film, director or screenplay, only for two acting spots (Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie). Both lost. Considering how solid "The Hurt Locker's" awards sweep has been since, it really makes you wonder how much of that is due to a bandwagon effect gathered as "The Hurt Locker" juggernaut crashed through, first, the film critics awards, then the guild prizes, then tying "Avatar" for the most Oscar nominations. Would other award groups weigh it as lowly as the Indie Spirits did last year if not affected by what other awards do?

However, with "The Hurt Locker" out of the way, "Precious" got its due. At the start of derby season, back in November, it was widely considered to be the standout indie of the year. Some Oscarologists even pegged it to win the Oscar for best picture. Now it reaped five impressive Indie Spirit victories, including best picture, director, screenplay, actress (Gabby Sidibe) and supporting actress. That's one short of the record (six) held by "Fargo," "Sideways" and "Stand and Deliver."

Meantime, "The Hurt Locker" still got its own separate due from the rival awards for indie film bestowed on the opposite American coast early this derby season, the Gotham Awards, which broke off from the Indie Spirit Awards in 2006.  Back on Nov. 30, it won trophies for best film and ensemble.

However, the Gothams chose to snub "Precious." Thus the curious game continues between these competing awards that, year after year, pick one of two top indies to the exclusion of another. Doesn't that make you wonder how they would vote if not influenced by other awards?


BEST FEATURE: "Precious"
BEST DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels, "Precious"
BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
BEST ACTRESS: Gabby Sidibe, "Precious"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo’Nique, "Precious"
BEST FIRST FEATURE: "Crazy Heart"
BEST SCREENPLAY: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, "(500) Days of Summer"
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Geoffrey Fletcher, "Precious"
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins, "A Serious Man"
BEST DOCUMENTARY: "Anvil!"
BEST FOREIGN FILM: "An Education"
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: "Humpday"
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Director and Cast of "A Serious Man"
PRODUCERS AWARD: Karen Chien ("The Exploding Girl," "Santa Mesa")
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, "Easier With Practice"
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD: Bill Ross, Turner Ross, "45365"

Photo: "Precious." Credit: Lionsgate

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Oscar predictions smackdown: Tom vs. Pete (the cliffhanger rematch)

March 5, 2010 | 10:58 pm

Over the years, my Envelope colleague and good friend Pete Hammond (Notes on a Season) has trounced me now and then at Academy Award predictions, but I've had a nice run lately. I beat him last year. Most recently, when predicting Oscar nominees, I edged him out. Has my luck finally run its course? Will Pete rally? Usually we disagree in just two or three categories, but this year we clash in seven contests. Who do you think has the most correct Oscar predictions?

Watch videos of me and Pete dishing the Oscars' bias against sci-fi films like "Avatar" and the question of whether or not Sandra Bullock really deserves to win best actress for "The Blind Side."


Oscars academy awards news

BEST PICTURE: "Inglourious Basterds" (Tom), "The Hurt Locker" (Pete)
BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart" (Tom, Pete)
BEST ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'Nique, "Precious" (Tom, Pete)
BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker" (Tom, Pete)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: "Up In The Air" (Tom, Pete)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: "Inglourious Basterds" (Tom, Pete)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Avatar" (Tom Pete)
BEST ART DIRECTION: "Avatar" (Tom, Pete)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: "The Young Victoria" (Tom, Pete)
BEST FILM EDITING: "The Hurt Locker" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SOUND MIXING: "Avatar" (Pete), "The Hurt Locker" (Tom)
BEST SOUND EDITING: "Avatar" (Pete), "The Hurt Locker" (Tom)
BEST MUSIC SCORE: "Up" (Pete, Tom)
BEST SONG: "Weary Kind," "Crazy Heart" (Tom, Pete)
BEST MAKEUP: "Star Trek" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: "Avatar" (Tom, Pete)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: "The Cove" (Tom, Pete)
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: "China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province" (Tom), "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant" (Pete)
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "The White Ribbon" (Tom), "The Secret in Their Eyes" (Pete)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: "Up"
BEST  ANIMATED SHORT: "A Matter of Loaf and Death" (Tom), "Logorama" (Pete)
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: "Kavi" (Tom), "The New Tenants" (Pete)

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Illustration by Tom O'Neil

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars selling out ads | Sasha Stone: 'Avatar' to win | 'The Hurt Locker' also top pick for top pic

March 1, 2010 |  4:21 pm

Oscars New Members movie news 1357986Anthony Crupi reports, "ABC heads into its 35th consecutive Oscars telecast with two or three remaining avails, as a roster of returning sponsors and an improving economy have aided the sales process. The three top spenders of a year ago (Hyundai, Coca-Cola and JCPenney) are back in the limelight, reversing a micro-trend that saw perennial high rollers General Motors and L’Oréal drop out of the Academy Awards altogether. Pricing for time in the 82nd Academy Awards is trending higher than last year’s event, when ad rates fell. ABC has written deals at $1.4 million to $1.5 million per spot, versus $1.3 million last year, sources said." To avoid running into the academy's stringent rules regarding nominees appearing in ads appearing on the Oscarcast, "Hyundai decided to shoot seven spots with other A-list voice-over talent. Jeff Bridges suggested a short list of colleagues, and last week Hyundai finished recording the final ad, with an assist from actress Kim Basinger. Other stars filling in for Bridges are Richard Dreyfuss, David Duchovny, Catherine Keener, Michael Madsen, Mandy Patinkin and Martin Sheen." BRAND WEEK

• On Friday, the academy announced five funny people -- Sacha Baron Cohen, Jason Bateman, Steve Carell, Tina Fey and Ben Stiller -- would be appearing on the Oscars. On Monday, the original "Funny Girl" Barbra Streisand was one of three lead actress winners -- along with Kathy Bates ("Misery") and Charlize Theron ("Monster") -- confirmed for the kudocast. Also added to the roster are past nominees Robert Downey Jr., Queen Latifah and John Travolta. AMPAS

• The ABC 30-minute Oscar pre-show will have three co-hosts: Entertainment Weekly editor Jess Cagle, model turned design mogul Kathy Ireland and Sherri Shepherd ("The View"). TV Guide just announced the addition of Vivica A. Fox to their red carpet lineup which already includes two ABC reality TV stars -- "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison and "Dancing With the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba.

• The offical academy YouTube channel showcases rookie Oscars producer Adam Shankman as he takes would-be dancers through their paces in advance of stepping onto the stage of the Kodak Theatere Sunday.  YOUTUBE

Avatar Poster • After a thorough analysis, Sasha Stone predicts "Avatar" will win best picture. Sasha says, in part, "Remember, ABC is inviting people to see the 'popular Oscars,' the 'So You Think You Can Dance' Oscars, the reality-tv Oscars. The 'you’ve never seen Oscars like this before.' So, if it goes 'Avatar''s way, the people will dance in a tribal circle and rejoice that the Academy have recognized them at long last. It just feels right to me that this is how it will turn out. I can’t explain it – and it makes no sense in terms of what I know about the Oscar race (nobody knows anything), and how the story has gone so far. And it will mean that the Academy agrees only with the Golden Globes for Best Picture of 2009. It will also mean that a Sci Fi pic has won. And it will also mean that a film with no writing or acting nominations has won – something that hasn’t happened since 1931. Now, to be fair, they did used to have three separate writing categories – there was one for original story and maybe 'Avatar' would have gotten one of those." AWARDS DAILY

Ramin Setoodeh researches what happens to the Oscar ballots after they are delivered to PriceWaterhouseCoopers no later than 5 p.m. PT Tuesday. On Wednesday, "All ballots are opened by four accountants overseen by two 'balloting leaders' in a room with one door and no windows. It takes three days to tabulate the 24 different Oscar categories. The ballots are counted by hand, with each accountant responsible for one fourth of the total. They are forbidden from sharing information, and only the balloting leaders tabulate the final results, which are then locked in a safe. They will remain the only two people in the world who know the names of the winners before they are announced." NEWSWEEK

Claudia Puig reviews the 10 animated and live-action shorts and gives top marks to "A Matter of Loaf and Death" -- "Oscar winner and claymation maven Nick Park can do no wrong when it comes to short films, and the latest entry into the Wallace and Gromit canon is no exception" -- and "The Doors" -- "The bleak terrain is evocative and the brief, but well-made, tale is deeply poignant."  USA TODAY

Melena Ryzik sits down with "Precious" casting directors Billy Hopkins and Jessica Kelly and discovers their difficulties in finding the right actress for the title role. "Mr. Hopkins and Ms. Kelly spent five months searching for the right person to play Precious, scouting the streets, subways and McDonald’s, before finding their eventual star (and Oscar nominee) through a connection with a drama teacher at Lehmann College, where Ms. Sidibe was a student." THE NEW YORK TIMES

The Hurt Locker poster • One of the top Oscarologists in the business, Tariq Khan, begins a week-long series in which he reveals his predictions for the top Academy Awards. As our good pal writes, "before this year’s nominations were even announced, I correctly predicted 19 of the 20 acting contenders -- including Maggie Gyllenhaal in 'Crazy Heart,' something other entertainment journalists described as 'shocking.' They were right." He then concedes, "True, I’m not always right. My love of danger causes Dr. Oscar to sometimes take risks, like calling for a surprise win by Amy Adams in 'Doubt' last year and a best picture nomination for 'The Hangover' this year. (Two things that didn’t happen.) Just remember that I described those as strong possibilities, yet far from certain. Yes, I hedged. I wasn't born yesterday." So says Tariq, "I’m giving both 'Avatar' and 'Inglourious Basterds' a 15 percent chance of winning. I’ll stand by my prediction that 'The Hurt Locker' will prevail." FOX NEWS

Lane Brown, one of those sassy vultures, offers up predictions in all 23 competitive categories at the Oscars. He sees "The Hurt Locker" winning three awards -- picture, director and editing -- while "Avatar" should take home five -- art direction, cinematography, sound, sound editing and visual effects. Lane is going with the four acting front-runners. NEW YORK

Tim Masters talks to Andy Serkis about a separate acting honor for performance capture. "'It's a very interesting debate,' Serkis told the BBC. 'The industry is going to be using performance capture more and more in films. Personally I've never believed there should be a separate category because the essence of the performance is pure acting.' Serkis is an expert in the field, having played Gollum and King Kong via a performance capture suit. He will be seen as Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's Tintin trilogy using the same technology." BBC

• The show that launched Susan Boyle -- "Britain's Got Talent" -- is contending for best entertainment program at the Royal Television Society annual kudos against "The X Factor" and "Newswipe With Charlie Booker." Among the other categories, "EastEnders," "The Bill" and "Casualty" have all been nominated for best soap/ continuing drama while "The Thick of It" -- from which the Oscar nominated "In the Loop" was spun off -- vies for comedy series against "Miranda" and "The Inbetweeners." Winners will be announced March 16 at London's Grosvenor Hotel.  THE STAGE

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Top photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

Middle photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

Bottom photo: "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit

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