Oscars 2021: The Good, The Nutty, The Surprises, The Gowns

Posted on April 26, 2021 at 10:47 am

Copyright APMAS 2021

Well, that was different. And for reasons that go beyond the pandemic. Last night’s Oscar broadcast merited adjectives never applied to the television-era Academy Awards before. It was small, it was intimate, and because it felt like it was organized for the industry, not the audience, it had the enticing air of eavesdropping on something more authentic. No splashy musical numbers. No dumb jokes by presenters, no “playing off” the awardees if they went over their allotted three minutes. The Academy’s efforts to expand its membership to lower the average age and include more diverse filmmakers, combined with many of the usual “awards-bait” films being postponed due to the pandemic, let to recognition for smaller independent films, made with more passion than money.

The bad news — the audience will likely shrink again. The good news — the people who watch because they really care about film and had seen most of the nominees were likely to find it far more satisfying.

What worked:

Instead of silly scripted banter, most of the presenters told us telling details about the backgrounds and influences of the nominees. Harrison Ford hilariously (and grumpily) read aloud the “notes” and complaints from early viewers of “Blade Runner.” Many of the acceptances speeches were more than recitations of names. Thomas Vinterberg’s dedication of his foreign language award for “Another Round” to his daughter who was killed in a car accident was vulnerable and touching. The intimacy of the setting, including Questlove as DJ instead of a full orchestra, made the three hours-plus seem less of a slog. And, even though it was clearly a set-up, Glenn Close’s detailed response to “Da Butt,” including a demonstration of the dance, was a delight.

I also enjoyed the commercials! Lots of reflections of the broadcast’s focus on diversity, some very intriguing looks at upcoming films, including the musicals “In the Heights” and “West Side Story.” Putting the nominated songs in the pre-show allowed for lovely, very professional performances, beautifully filmed. I was rooting for “Husavik, My Home,” performed last night in Husavick, with the children who live there. The pre-show questions focused on the films, not on the dress designers.

And it was wonderful, as always, to see the international filmmakers who come together to create the nominated films, especially the below-the-line people who do costumes, make-up, special effects, production design, and sound. The awards for the short narrative film, “Two Different Strangers” and “Collette” will bring more recognition to the problem of racially-motivated police violence and the heroism of those who stand up to the greatest evil and oppression. This was the most diverse group of nominees ever, and that made the awards for Daniel Kaluuya (Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah, also the first-ever Best Picture nominee with all-Black filmmakers), Chloé Zhao (Best Director, Best Picture, the second woman and first Asian woman to win the directing Oscar), and Yuh-Jung Youn (Best Supporting Actress for “Minari” and winner of my most charming acceptance speech award) especially welcome.

Surprises:

Copyright 2021 Film 4

The Screenwriting and Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins) awards for “The Father” were probably the biggest surprises. followed by the shut-out for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” The decision to end with the Best Actress and Best Actor awards instead of Best Picture, reportedly in expectation of a posthumous award for Chadwick Boseman, was not a good idea. One thing the movie industry should understand is how to build to a climax. This was not it.

But of course there were gowns to admire! Viola Davis was stunning in a white, lacy dress, Halle Berry in a lilac fantasia, the midriff-baring lovelies of Carrey Mulligan, Zendaya, Andra Day, and Angela Bassett’s stunning silhouette. And I loved seeing “Nomadland’s” Oscar-winning Zhao and McDormand apparently appearing without make-up, Zhao in sneakers! They didn’t look disrespectful; they looked real, very much in keeping with the tone of the evening.

Best Picture

“Nomadland”

Best Director

Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Best Supporting Actress

Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”

Original Screenplay

Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

Adapted Screenplay

Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, “The Father”

Animated Feature

“Soul”

Production Design

“Mank”

Costume Design

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Cinematography

Erik Messerschmidt, “Mank”

Editing

“Sound of Metal”

Makeup and Hairstyling

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Sound

“Sound of Metal”

Visual Effects

“Tenet”

Score

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, “Soul”

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Awards

Critics’ Oscar Wishes

Posted on February 25, 2017 at 8:00 am

Copyright A24 2016

Many thanks to my friends at Rogerebert.com for including me in their round-up of tributes to the people we’re rooting tomorrow night at the Oscars. I was thrilled to get a chance to write about Mahershala Ali’s performance in “Moonlight,” and I hope the Academy will recognize his superb performance. The all-star line-up writing about all-star filmmakers includes:

Best Documentary: “I Am Not Your Negro” — Essay by Omer Mozaffar
Best Foreign Language Film: “Toni Erdmann” — Essay by Matt Fagerholm
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Moonlight” — Essay by Peter Sobczynski
Best Original Screenplay: “Manchester by the Sea” — Essay by Scout Tafoya
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight” — Essay by Nell Minow
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for “Fences” — Essay by Christy Lemire
Best Actor: Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” — Essay by Patrick McGavin
Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert in “Elle”— Essay by Susan Wloszczyna
Best Director: Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight” — Essay by Brian Tallerico
Best Picture: “Moonlight” — Essay by Matt Zoller Seitz

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Awards Critics

Oscar Quiz

Posted on February 28, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Get ready for Oscar night with an Oscar trivia quiz!

1. What Oscar-winning director is the son and father of Oscar-winning performers and what was his connection to their award-winning films?

2. What was the first film to win all five top awards: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay? (Extra credit if you can name the only other two films to sweep these categories.)

Copyright 2015 AMPAS
Copyright 2015 AMPAS

3. Who tied for Best Actress in 1969?

4. Who was speaking when a streaker interrupted the Oscar broadcast in 1974?

5. Who mangled the name of singer/actress Idina Menzel in 2014?

6. Which Best Actor winner swept presenter Halle Berry off her feet with a passionate kiss?

7. Who is the only person named Oscar to actually win an Oscar?

8. What was special about the special Oscar awarded to Walt Disney for “Snow White?”

9. Who was the first (and so far, only) woman to win the Best Director Oscar?

10. What is unusual about two-time Best Editing Oscar nominee Roderick Jaynes?

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Awards Quiz

TCM 31 Days of Oscar 2016

Posted on January 29, 2016 at 3:20 pm

I look forward to Turner Classic Movies’ 31 Days of Oscar every year in the month before the Oscar telecast. It is so much fun to see the nominees and winners from past years, not just for the big acting, directing, and screenplay awards but also the nominees and winners for costume design, cinematography, editing, and more.

And they’ve made it even more special this year! This will be a lot of fun for movie nerds like me. Each movie will have a connection with the one that follows it by an actor in common. It will be a lot of fun to follow along and trace the careers of some of our favorite performers.

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Oscar Nominations 2016

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 9:23 am

The Oscar nominees for 2016 are out!

Copyright A24 2015

Best Motion Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Best Director
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Best Original Screenplay
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Best Animated Feature Film
Anomalisa
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Best Cinematography
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Best Documentary Feature
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Documentary Short Subject
Body Team 12
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom

Best Film Editing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul
Theeb
A War

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Original Song
“Earned It”
“Manta Ray”
“Simple Song No. 3”
“Till It Happens to You”
“Writing’s on the Wall”

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Costume Design
Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Live Action Short Film
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Shok
Stutterer

Best Animated Short Film
Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
Were Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sounds Mixing
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Awards
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