Just a note that last week's examination of the Best Documentary Short Subject category indeed represented the beginning of this year's Oscar Guide, our annual analysis of each category's nominees with an eye toward guessing the outcome of the Academy Awards. As always, it's possible that we could go back to earlier installments and update this or that prediction, which we'll make note of, but Monday the daily stuff starts in earnest. We'll have at least one per day, sometimes two. So check back for that then.
I suppose it's a bit of a surprise that the George Lucas-produced "Red Tails" beat out some stiff Oscar competition in Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and Robert Zemeckis's "Flight," so there it is. But the wealth was spread, as Benh Zeitlin, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington all received prizes. In fact, Washington won three awards on the night, taking Best Actress in a Drama Series ("Scandal") and the President's Award for public service in addition to her supporting prize for "Django." Check out the full list of motion picture winners below, and as always, keep track of the season via The Circuit.
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
The shortlisting and ensuing "bakeoff" that results in the Oscar nominees for Best Visual Effects is a notably imperfect process -- all the more so when the Academy compressed its voting calendar by a couple of weeks. David S. Cohen looks into this year's race, and finds that "The Hobbit" made the Academy's 10-film shortlist despite the fact that most of the VFX committee hadn't seen it by November 28, the day they met to draw up the list. Chairman Craig Barron describes the sight-unseen inclusion as a no-brainer, but other members were less happy: "One interest is concerned with having an awards process that is conducted as promptly as possible, and that of course has to vie with the interest that is mainly preoccupied with ensuring the process maintains its integrity," says Jonathan Erland. "It's self-evident that there's a problem." What do you think? [Variety]
To say that comedies find difficulty being nominated for Best Film Editing would be quite the understatement. So the nomination of Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers for David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” is a testament to the esteem in which their colleagues hold them and their film.
The editing of "Silver Linings Playbook" is not as showy as some of the work from the duo's fellow nominees, such as “Argo" or "Zero Dark Thirty,” but they never felt the need to be excessively flashy with their craft. “The first obligation is to tell the story,” Cassidy says. “We have to just to go with the material and tell the story as [director] David [O. Russell] has conceived it.”
But there were still challenges. In particular, Cassidy notes the difficulty in balancing the comic and serious tones of the film. Even so, they knew what they were getting into. “The bipolar shifting back and forth was in the script," he says. "That part of the road map was very clearly articulated by David before we got involved.”
In what could be a rather smart campaign move in a tight race for Best Animated Short, Disney have decided to make their charming black-and-white romance "Paperman" -- previously shown in theaters ahead of "Wreck-It Ralph" -- available for all to view online for three weeks, starting today. Film critic Tim Robey, however, doesn't believe the film even needs such an advantage, claiming "the race looks pretty much over" -- on merit alone. "Paperman is the best thing Disney have done in years," he writes. "There are only seven minutes of it, but they’re perfect ... It may, in its modest way, point towards a new frontier in animation, where computer-generated visuals are brought face to face with old-style hand-drawing, because it uses both at once." I'm not entirely sure I agree, and I suspect underdog power will prevail in the Oscar race, but it's a popular point of view. [The Telegraph]
An accidental blessing it may be -- and one that has only come into effect since the Academy moved its calendar forward a few years ago -- but situating the Sundance Film Festival in the middle of Oscar season is a blessing nonetheless. A week of conversation about freshly unveiled, critically malleable films is a necessary tonic at a stage when the same small selection of Academy-approved contenders has been discussed, debated and designated for anything from two months to an entire year.
(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. New installments will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)
This year's Oscar nominees in the Best Documentary, Short Subject category are, as ever, a varied an eye-opening bunch. But emotion reigns throughout, always a key to capturing voters' hearts and securing support.
The doc shorts were not, however, part of the three categories newly opened to the entire membership. It will go at least one more year of providing select screenings of the contenders and therefore all voters will have to prove that they attended the screening in order to vote. Recent winners in the category have included "Saving Face," "Strangers No More," "Music by Prudence" and "Smile Pinki," and there's really no connective tissue there. Sometimes you have to just go with your gut on what might win the day.
The nominees are...
As strongly as "Lincoln" has been performing throughout the season, Steven Spielberg has yet to receive much in the way of individual recognition for the film. That could change on Oscar night, of course. Until then, however, the American Cinema Editors have taken it upon themselves to reward the director, naming him the recipient of their annual Golden Eddie Award for Filmmaker of the Year.
Harvey Weinstein has had enough success in the Oscar campaigning game -- including twin Best Picture bids this year for "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Django Unchained" -- that it can't pain him too much to admit to the odd miscalculation. Still, it's interesting to see him do so in an interview with Deadline's Mike Fleming. Weinstein blames Quentin Tarantino's absence from the Best Director category (hardly an easy race to crack this year, as Ben Affleck can tell you) on his own tardiness in sending out DVD screeners. He also claims he mismarketed Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master": "I think the audience had trouble with the movie and needed to be guided and eased into it ... My attachment to 'The Master' was not the Scientology or religion; it was that in WWII, people like my dad and other combat veterans came back and were just lost after the war. Maybe if I’d explained the movie in those terms, that it was more of a spiritual quest for a veteran who had seen action and got lost, people might have responded differently." [Deadline]