Don't believe false pundits on upsets that won't happen
At 5:00 PM PST today, the 2011-2012 Oscar season will effectively be over.
Of course, the actual awards will be handed out on Sunday during the 84th Academy Awards broadcast, but technically speaking 5:00 PM is the deadline for all Academy member ballots to arrive at the swanky downtown LA offices of AMPAS accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers. What the last decade has shown us, however, is that that small influx of last minute votes doesn't sway many races. While all studios campaign up to the last minute to try and convince Academy members to vote for their nominees, almost half of the ballots are mailed in right away. And that's why when "controversies" arise a week or two before ballots are due over say a nominated movie producer breaking Academy rules regarding contacting members or when a nominee just can't stop talking about her bizarre personal for your consideration ads they really don't affect the outcome of the races.
New report is fuel for Academy's critics
This has not been a good year for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak.
Less than a year ago the Academy put on one of the most critically lambasted Oscar shows in memory. That was followed by the controversial decision to change the best picture rules after only two years of a 10 nominees system. Next came the eyebrow raising decision to hire industry infant terrible Brett Ratner as the co-executive producer of the this year's 84th Academy Awards along with the bizarre return of previous producer Don Misher. Things actually got worse after Ratner's resignation following insensitive comments at a public screening. At that point, having initially agreed to host way to quickly (at least in his own mind), Eddie Murphy saw the out he'd been looking for and ran out of Dodge. Things seemed to have calmed down once Brian Grazer replaced Ratner and old favorite Billy Crystal agreed to host the big show for the ninth time. Unfortunately, rumblings started about AMPAS opting out of their Kodak Theater contract which would find them leaving Hollywood for the more generic confines of the Nokia Theater at LA Live (shudder). Today Sherak and the Academy found themselves the subject of a major investigative article from the Los Angeles Times breaking down the organization's usually private membership details. Sherak and the Academy spoke to the paper about the findings, but this isn't the sort of story they'd like spreading through the media the week before the big show. Yep, it's been one of those years.
However, the Muppets won't be performing best original song nominee
All those Twitter campaigns and pleads to the Academy to choose The Muppets as the hosts of this year's Oscar telecast have paid off, sort of. The Muppets may not be hosting the Oscars (it's still Billy Crystal), but Hollywood's premier power couple -- Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy -- will appear onstage together to present an award.
They join the company of such previously announced presenters as Tom Cruise, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Emma Stone, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Bradley Cooper and the cast of "Bridesmaids."
Stars of the original "Muppet Show" and multiple films, Kermit and Piggy's careers were rejuvenated this year with the commercial and critical favorite "The Muppets," co-starring Amy Adams, Chris Cooper and co-writer Jason Segel ("How I Met Your Mother").
The film has one Oscar nomination, in the Original Song category -- and since there are only two nominees (the other is "Real in Rio" from "Rio"), it has a good chance of winning. However, we won't be seeing the gang sing "Man or Muppet" this year, as the show no longer features performances of the nominated songs. Which is a great shame, as it would have been pretty awesome to see the Muppets perform the tune with songwriter/"Flight of the Conchords" star Bret McKenzie.
The Academy Awards air live Sunday, February 26 on ABC.
Could this foreign language film nominee upset 'A Separation'?
When I first spoke to Michael Roskam six weeks ago, an Oscar nomination for his feature film debut was still nothing more than a fleeting dream. The filmmaker's thriller "Bullhead" had played some notable festivals since debuting at the Berlin Film Festival in February of 2011, but a best foreign language film nomination? Even after being selected to represent his native Belgium in this year's competition, it seemed during our conversation like Roskam was just enjoying the ride and hardly expected anything more. That all changed on January 24 when "Bullhead" became the first Belgian film nominated since "Everybody Famous!" in 2001 and the seventh overall since 1971.
Actor will soon be seen in 'The Words' and 'The Silver Linings Playbook'
Bradley Cooper will get over his "Hangover" on Oscar night by acting as a presenter at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony,
He'll be in good company, joining such previously announced Oscar presenters as Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Milla Jovovich, Emma Stone and Jennifer Lopez.
The hilarious cast of "Bridesmaids," including Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne and Wendy McLendon-Covey, will also present together. The telecast produced Brian Grazer and Don Mischer.
Besides the two “Hangover” films, Cooper has recently been seen in “Limitless,” and “Valentine’s Day.” He'll next appear in the Sundance competitor “The Words," “The Place Beyond the Pines, "Serena” and David O. Russell's “The Silver Linings Playbook.”
The Academy Awards will air live Sunday, February 26 from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
But where's Heidi?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their hosting team for the 84th Academy Awards' pre-show this year and the red carpet extravaganza has gotten a second "Project Runway" infusion. Tim Gunn has appeared three times as an interviewer and fashion commentator, but 2012 will find "Runway" judge and Marie Claire fashion director (whatever that means) Nina Garcia joining the fun. We have to assume Heidi Klum's recent divorce is the only reason she isn't along for the live hour long special. (And warning ladies: if you're wearing anything designed by Mondo expect Nina to hate it.)
Another new face this year on the pre-show will be Louise Roe. Best know for her show "Plain Jane" on MTV International, the Glamour magazine editor-at-large also received high marks for co-hosting E!'s coverage of the 2011 Royal Wedding and has been a regular for red carpet coverage for the Video Music Awards and European Music Awards.
Can Meryl Streep really beat Viola Davis for best actress?
If you're hoping for any surprises or upsets at this year's Academy Awards the chances of that occurring are getting less and less likely.
"The Artist" pretty much dominated the 2012 BAFTA Film Awards Sunday evening winning best picture, best director (Michel Hazanavicius), best actor (Jean Dujardin), best original screenplay (Hazanavicius), best music (Ludovic Bource) and best costume design (Mark Bridges). Considering the film's wins with the PGA and the DGA as well as Dujardin's SAG win for best actor, it's hard seeing anyone yelling over "The Artist's" winning song.
It's somewhat remarkable because the Brits chose The Weinstein Company release over "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," a massive box office and critical hit in the UK. "Tinker" did win best british film and best adapted screenplay (Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan), but a possible win for Gary Oldman over Dujardin didn't materialize and the Frenchman has become the clear cut favorite. Is it Roberto Benigni pt. 2 all over again? Well, that's a bit insulting to the fine work Dujardin had accomplished throughout his career, but we'd argue others are more worthy. Of course, those are the Oscar breaks.
In other categories, Meryl Streep took home just her second BAFTA for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Including her Golden Globe honor last month that was the second head to head win for Streep over "The Help's" Viola Davis. Even with Streep's win, its still expected Davis will take the Oscar after winning the comparable SAG Award just two weeks ago. BAFTA did show love for "The Help" bestowing the best supporting actress honor to Octavia Spencer.
And, somewhat comfortingly, Christopher Plummer took home the BAFTA for "Beginners," the first nomination and first win for the 82-year-old Canadian. Some suspect Max Von Sydow could upset Plummer on Oscar Sunday, but that would really be shocking at this point. Especially since Plummer has pretty much run the table this year.
Will that leave any suspense for the big show just two weeks from today? The Academy always surprises somewhere. This year it just might be in foreign language film, visual effects (perhaps a first statue for the "Transformers" franchise?), documentary or those cagey sound editing and sound mixing categories. Yes, hold back your enthusiasm. It's gonna be one of those shows.
So, if you're filling out your office Oscar pool or participating in HitFix's own awards pool, go with "The Artist" and take some time guessing just how long this year's telecast will be. There's gonna be a lot of tiebreakers this year.
Do you think "The Artist" has it all wrapped up? Share your thoughts below.
Oscar nominee Bret McKenzie jokes Miss Piggy might pull a 'Kanye' if Sergio Mendes wins best original song
Plus: Flight of the Conchords Touring news
In many ways, Bret McKenzie is a lucky man. There aren't many Oscar nominees who can say they have a 50/50 chance of winning an Academy Award. Sure, for many years there only three nominees in the visual effects category and there can also just be three in the animated feature field, but the songwriter of "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" only has one other contender to worry about this year. McKenzie, who is best known as one half of comedy music group Flight of the Conchords, will face off against Sergio Mendes, Carinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett's "Real in Rio" from the animated adventure "Rio."
Updated: 'Moneyball' and 'Hugo' are still out there too
The history of Oscar campaigning is almost akin to man's evolution from the apes. What primarily started out as For Your Consideration ads in the local trades (Variety, The Hollywood Reporter) morphed into local cable TV buys (usually talent spouting off talking points about their movie) to traditional outdoor (primarily strategically placed billboards and bus shelter ads) to print ads in the newspaper keeping the LA Times afloat (Academy members are old and read the paper, duh) to the current wash of online advertising and, hilariously, online websites -- that will go unnamed -- publishing Academy specific print "magazines" (don't get me started on that one). Practically, the online ads have been the biggest game changer by significantly cutting into trades sales revenues, but the past few years have seen a new tool used to reach both Oscar and Emmy voters: the electronic billboard.
Which of the best actor nominees would let go of the Oscar first?
The Oscar nominations featured surprises that both enraged and excited film lovers around the world, but one nod that had Hollywood and moviegoers jumping for joy was the inclusion of Gary Oldman amongst the best actor field. It's the first Academy Award nomination for an actor who should have found himself invited to the Kodak Theater long ago after stellar performances in films such as "The Contender," "JFK," "The Professional" and "Prick Up Your Ears." I've been a fan of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" since screening it in September and if the film couldn't crack the best picture field Oldman's recognition was the next best thing.