Inside Movies and Pop Culture with Gregory Ellwood
With three 'Wizard of Oz' remakes in the works 'Wicked' producers needs to watch out
Original "Wicked" star and Tony Award winner Idina Menzel as Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West.
Credit: Universal Pictures
The most intriguing result of the massive success of "Alice in Wonderland" is the ripple effect it's had on other projects in Hollywood. The movie industry is ruled by trends and after "Alice" and "Avatar's" success, 3-D four-quadrant visual extravaganzas are a priority for every studio in town. One classic tale with cues to "Alice" that two companies are already jumping on is none other than "The Wizard of Oz. "
Just a decade ago it would have been blasphemy to suggest remaking an "Oz" similar in tone and title to the 1939 Judy Garland classic. Sure, there was the African-American musical "The Wiz" (which bombed in theaters) and 1985's "Return to Oz" (another bomb), but no one has truly remade the signature L. Frank Baum story onscreen. That may soon change as both Disney and Warner Bros. have numerous "Oz" projects at their disposal.
What excuse, er, explination could Awards Campaign have for picking "Avatar"?
Awards Campaign correctly predicted "The Hurt Locker's" Mark Boal win for Best Original Screenplay, but like many others, was stunned to see Geoffrey Fletcher of "Precious" upset "Up in the Air's Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
After a few days to take in all the Oscar madness and find our bearings, this pundit is ready to face the music on his 82nd Academy Award predictions.
To be honest, this wasn't a great year. 16 out of 24 isn't horrible, but it's this Oscar watcher's worse record in sometime. However, among the more prominent categories only Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay (a shocker for almost every Academy Award expert out there) provided unexpected results. Why? Quite frankly, it was the shorts and sound that did me in.
Predicting the short-form contenders is never easy, but usually foreshadowing two out of the three has been something I pride myself in. Not this year. And sound? Well, if you went with the theory that "Avatar" was going to be justly rewarded by the Academy in the technical categories it just made sense. Instead, the industry showed just how much it respected and loved Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" instead.
Most important: It pays to stay humble
A memorable moment from the 82nd Oscars: stars Jeremy Renner, Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie hug while director and producer Kathryn Bigelow goes to speak after "The Hurt Locker" wins best picture with screenwriter and co-producer Mark Boal at her side.
Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Another awards season has come to a close and boy has it been a long one. As we soak in "The Hurt Locker's" David vs. Goliath win over "Avatar," one of the more disjointed award shows in recent memory and Sandra Bullock's ascension to Oscar-winning actress, it's time to circle back and review some of the major lessons learned over the past seven months on the awards circuit.
Awards bait movies can make money without a Best Picture nod or big wins
It's a rich tradition for studio heads to publicly complain about the expenses of an Oscar campaign and how unprofitable prestige pictures can be. Well, like NBA or MLB owners who are at fault for overpaying players within their sport's own rules, studio moguls have long had themselves to blame for overspending when a campaign is out of reach or indulging in extravagant budgets for pictures that could be made at half the price. With the new economic realities hitting Hollywood over the past two years, that's all starting to change. Now, Sony Pictures Classics has worked this successful model for years on a small scale, but this year five other contenders played the game and all came way with the green if not gold. Paramount's "Up in the Air" got snubbed at the Oscars, but the $25 million dramedy is already in the black with $153 million worldwide. Fox Searchlight's "Crazy Heart" was made for an amazing $7 million and should pass the $30 million mark this week. Lionsgate's "Precious" was picked up for around $10 million and has grossed $47 million before hitting DVD. Apparition had two profitable pick ups with both "Bright Star" and "The Young Victoria" which grossed $4 million and $10 million respectively. Now, there are always going to be some roadkill along the way ("Nine," "Invictus," "Amelia," "The Lovely Bones") but you can still succeed with prestige if you do it right.
Will 'Avatar' or 'Hurt Locker' dominate the night? A blow by blow account of Hollywood's Super Bowl.
The best presenters of the Oscars so far? Tina Fey and Robert Downey, jr. Hands down.
Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
It's time, after all the drama, all the intrigue, all the scheming, the millions spent, the 82nd Academy Awards are finally here. Will "Avatar" or "The Hurt Locker" rule the night? Can someone upset Sandra Bullock for Best Actress? Let's sit back and enjoy the wonders of when Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic produce the Oscars.
Some quick thoughts before the award season Super Bowl begins
Oscar statues outside the 82nd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA.
Credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta
It's finally here, Oscar Sunday. The current award season technically stars each August with a kick off during the Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals, but this one seemed a bit longer with all the players from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the mix. And considering "Hurt Locker's" impressive June debut and "Avatar's" amazing journey which hit a bump during last July's Comic-Con, it's been almost non-stop. Plus, the extra weeks because of the Olympics didn't necessarily provide anyone with any relief. In fact, running into some of Awards Campaigns talented peers Friday night at the Independent Spirit Awards including Kris Tapley (In Contention), Pete Hammond (The Envelope), Anne Thompson (Thompson On Hollywood) and David Poland (Movie City News) there was certainly a sense of utter exhaustion (such troubles, I know).
Oh, and those pesky Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories
The battle between "The Hurt Locker" and "Avatar" for Best Picture will finally end on Oscar Sunday.
Credit: Summit Entertainment/20th Century Fox
It's hard to believe that at one time during this extended awards season "Nine" was the frontrunner for Best Picture (especially after everyone finally saw it). And then it was a seemingly invincible run for Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air," but even that bubble burst before had barely started. And now? The 82nd Academy Awards will feature a long night of back and forth wins as "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" line up for an epic David vs. Goliath showdown for Best Picture.
Predictions for Live Action Short, Documentary Short and Animated Short
Nick Park's "Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'" is the frontrunner for Best Animated Short.
We're guessing if you are a hardcore Oscar fan, when you come in second or third place in your Oscar pool to that intern who just lucikly "guessed" the best to win the big pot you wanted to pull your hair out. Awards Campaign is also pretty sure it was the Animated, Live Action and Documentary Short categories that ruined your predictions. Well, never fear, if there is anything this pundit usually gets right it's the short categories. Sound Editing and Mixing? We'll that's another issue entirely...
Meryl Streep will lose again, America's fortysomething sweetheart still has competition
Sandra Bullock has fun at the annual Oscar luncheon for the 82nd Academy Awards nominees.
Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Meryl Streep is a loser. Yes, it's true. America's greatest living actress is a certifiable loser and no, it's not at the box office where she's become a powerhouse in the 21st Century, but at the annual event that should be her shrine: the Academy Awards.
After this year, the two-time winner will have lost at the Oscars 12 straight times since 1984. That's a horribly depressing stat considering her performances in films such as "Silkwood," "Out of Africa, "The Bridges of Madison County," "Adaptation" and "Doubt" are in that mix. And still, no third Oscar for the beloved Streep on Sunday night. Instead, it appears Sandra Bullock's comeback year will be capped off with a stunning win for her role in the unexpected blockbuster "The Blind Side." How is this possible? Well, it's complicated.
'Crazy Heart' legend should easily win Best Actor
Jeff Bridges at the world premiere of "Crazy Heart."
Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles
There is a long list of acclaimed actors and actresses who have received multiple nominations, but are still awaiting their first Academy Award. Many of those names might surprise you: Glenn Close, Signourney Weaver, Peter O'Toole, Joan Allen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ed Harris, Albert Finney and Annette Bening just to name a few. This year, that list is going to get significantly shorter after Jeff Bridges wins Best Actor.
The early contender for this year's honor was George Clooney for his great performance in "Up in the Air." However, once Fox Searchlight moved the drama "Crazy Heart" into the mix at the last minute, everything changed. Bridges turned the race upside down as he received the LA Film Critics, Golden Globe, Critic's Choice and, most importantly, SAG Award for Best Actor. That may have partially been because Clooney, a former Best Supporting Actor winner for "Syriana," hardly campaigned for it out of respect for the longtime industry veteran (and his "Men Who Stare At Goats" co-star). And if you look over Bridges career, the mantra "it's time" is hard to argue.
Predictions for Cinematography, Art Direction, Make Up and Costumes
All the hours Eric Bana spent getting made up for "Star Trek" may win someone an Oscar.
Credit: Paramount Pictures
The craft awards often don't get enough attention from the media, but this year a number of the races deserve the spotlight, mostly because they are just too close to place money on. Two exceptions, however, are art direction and make up where it will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the nominations list already that those statues are already earmarked for "Avatar" and "Star Trek" respectively. As for cinematography and costume design? That's another matter entirely.
A tough one. Through year-end critics' awards and Oscar precursor shows, not one single film has dominated the cinematography race even though the nominees themselves have been amazingly consistent. Christian Berger's work on "The White Ribbon" won the American Society of Cinematographer's Award, but Barry Ackroyd and "The Hurt Locker" won the BAFTA while Maurice Fiore's "Avatar" was honored with the Critics' Choice Award. Now, you can easily debate who should win this category on merits alone. Purists will say "Ribbon" or "Locker" deserve it for the intricate skill in their lighting and camerawork, but there is a strong contingent who believe Fiore's contributions were integral to allow director James Cameron to create the world of "Avatar." Fiore is lucky here, because the entire Academy can vote for this one and the drumbeat for "Avatar" is so strong they will easily check the film off as they go down their ballot. It may seem surprising to simplify a vote that way, but sometimes it really is that easy. However, if "Locker" ends up winning this early award, it could also mean Best Picture is in its sight as well. So, happily, this one actually means something to more than the D.P's in question.