BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — More than 5,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will soon get their official ballots for the 79th Academy Awards. The 5,830 ballots were mailed today and must be returned to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers by Feb. 20. The ballots list nominees in 19 categories.
Ballots for certain categories will not be sent until members have verified their attendance at mandatory screenings. These include best documentary feature, documentary short subject, foreign language film, animated short film and live action short film.
And, for a look at who handles and counts those ballots, and how it's done ...
With the massive bloodletting at the climax of ‘‘The Departed,’’ you’d think it might be hard to make a sequel. Well, a domestic take of $125.2 million is making Warner Bros. Pictures and director Martin Scorsese think not. ...
If the upcoming Oscar race actually were a race, Queen Elizabeth II would be haughtily sprinting neck and neck with the bickering internationals of ‘‘Babel’’ while the Boston mobsters of ‘‘The Departed’’ took running potshots at the Japanese soldiers of ‘‘Letters From Iwo Jima.’’ And then, seemingly out of nowhere, a dented yellow VW mini-bus would break through the front line, its broken horn bleating in triumph.
One year after it stormed the Sundance Film Festival and six months after it conquered the nation’s art houses, ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’ is starting to look like the film to beat for best picture. ...
LOS ANGELES — Part of the producing teams that helped launch the Academy Award-nominated films ‘‘The Departed’’ and ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’ will have to watch from their seats if either movie should win the best picture Oscar next month. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has ruled that only Graham King will get the credit for the crime drama ‘‘The Departed,’’ leaving Brad Pitt and Paramount Pictures studio chief Brad Grey out in the cold. Similarly — as reported in today's column by Bill Zwecker — the academy decided that Ron Yerxa and Chicago's Albert Berger did not meet its guidelines for inclusion as producers of ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine,’’ which has already won top honors from the Producers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. ...
MUMBAI, India — Oscar-nominated Canadian movie ‘‘Water’’ will be shown in India this spring, seven years after angry Hindu nationalists stormed the sets, forcing its Indian-born director to stop filming. This time, promoters say, they don’t foresee any trouble.
LOS ANGELES — Crews rigged up the lights, on-air ‘‘talent’’ went over last-minute changes and the carpet was rolled out, setting the stage for Hollywood’s biggest night. And we had front row seats.
OK, so the grand gala — the Academy Awards — was down the block. But our room overlooked the pool at the trendy Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where it appeared that preparations were underway for a posh aftershow. ...
Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated in Oscar's best actor category for his film "Blood Diamond," reacts to his nomination to StarPulse: "I am quite young. The Academy Awards don't necessarily go to good work. They are a nice bonus and a lot of people think they are some plateau you need to reach in your work. But you have no control over that. To determine how an audience or Academy members are going to feel about your performance is a losing battle."
CULVER CITY, Calif. — Spider-Man and Oscar have some things in common. Both are iconic figures: Spider-Man can climb buildings and spin webs; Oscar can make an actor’s asking price climb and also spin a web of excitement. Spidey and Oscar also share another thing: producer Laura Ziskin. ...
LOS ANGELES — This year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards appeared to be a dress rehearsal for the Academy Awards. Nominees in the four film-acting categories for tonight's 13th annual guild awards were virtually identical to contenders announced at the Oscar nominations last week, including front-runners Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson. With 19 of the 20 SAG nominees also earning Oscar slots, the guild awards are poised to give winners a chance to practice their academy thank-yous for Hollywood’s top prizes Feb. 25. ...
In a Q&A column in today's Sun-Times Home LIfe section, the answer involves a certain kind of metal with this factoid attached: "Today, one of the most visible uses of Britannia metal is in the Oscar statuettes handed out each year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Under all that gold, silver, copper and nickel plating, there is ordinary Britannia metal."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette rounded up these interesting Oscar factoids you can drop at parties or while buying popcorn at the multiplex, courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
This year’s host: First-timer Ellen DeGeneres
Most popular host: Bob Hope, 19 host appearances
Suggested length of acceptance speech: 45 seconds
Number of voting members: 5,830
Kodak seating capacity on Oscar night: 3,300
Seat fillers: Approximately 250
Ushers/ticket takers: 40
Outdoor bleacher seats: 612
People who work in the production office: Approximately 300
Production vehicles/trailers, including for press and catering: About 100
Cameras used during the show: 14 high-definition cameras for the pre-show, 20 for the show
Crew members: Roughly 130 during pre-show, 350 during telecast
Date of first televised show: March 19, 1953
Longest televised show: 74th Academy Awards, in 2002, at 4 hours, 23 minutes
Shortest televised show: 31st Academy Awards, in 1959, at 1 hour, 40 minutes
Latest telecast date in past 20 years: April 11, 1988
Earliest telecast date in past 20 years: Feb. 25, 2007
Speaking at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Tuesday night, Al Gore — whose documentary film, "An Inconvenient Truth," scored two Oscar nominations yesterday — said he won’t let the star treatment change him. He said his model will be Rin Tin Tin, because the dog was the same after his TV show as he was before it.
In a private meeting earlier with students from Augustana and area high schools, one asked Gore how it felt to be a movie star, of sorts.
PARK CITY, Utah — The nation’s top independent-cinema showcase has become a fertile starting point for the biggest night of the Hollywood establishment: the Academy Awards. As this year’s 11-day festival reached its midpoint this week, stars of Sundance 2006 were back in the spotlight at Tuesday’s Oscar nominations, including the makers of ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’ and its co-stars Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin, ‘‘Half Nelson’’ star Ryan Gosling and ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth’’ documentary subject Al Gore. ...
29 posts today, a helluva lotta news. Oscar season is officially under way. Gulp.
And coming in tomorrow's Sun-Times:
• EBERT! The Sun-Times film critic extraordinaire is watching from home, still recovering from various surgeries, and in Wednesday's paper he takes a look at the year's nominations: "This year’s Academy Award nominations contain a few titles that most moviegoers haven’t seen and some they haven’t heard of. That’s perhaps an indication that the academy voters, who once went mostly for big names, are doing their homework and seeing the pictures." (p.36)
• ROEPER! He files a series of Q&As from his post at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, including: "Q. Weren’t you the guy who went on 'The Tonight Show' and predicted 'Dreamgirls' would WIN best picture? A. No, that was Leonard Maltin. Actually, I did say that — but I was just voicing the conventional wisdom at the time. Although I’m surprised, I’m not disappointed about 'Dreamgirls' losing out on a best picture nomination. It wasn’t on my list of the year’s best movies." (.p37)
• ZWECKER! Our celebrity columnist rounds up more reaction from the nominees, including this choice bit from Helen Mirren: ‘‘I must say, since playing Her Majesty, I do look at our money a bit differently,’’ she said with a laugh. ‘‘Her portrait there just looks different to me now.’’ (p.38)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Usually the Oscar race seems pretty much firmed up long before anyone’s name is announced as a nominee at 7:38 a.m. Not so this year — there were some wonderful surprises and surprising snubs. Among them ...
HOLLYWOOD — ‘‘Jubilation. Pure unbelievable joy. This is a day of all days,’’ said Jackie Earle Haley, best supporting actor nominee for ‘‘Little Children.’’ The actor, who lives in San Antonio with his wife, said he was an emotional daze after getting a nom for his first work in 13 years; his previous movie was ‘‘Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence.’’
Haley was the child star of 1976’s ‘‘The Bad News Bears’’ and appeared in 1979’s ‘‘Breaking Away’’ and 1983’s ‘‘Losin’ It,’’ but he found the transition to adult roles difficult. ...
HOLLYWOOD — With Spain’s Penelope Cruz and Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, Adriana Barraza and Guillermo Arriaga all nabbing key Academy Award nominations, Oscar habla espanol this morning. Salma Hayek, who read off the nominations with Academy president, Sid Ganis, was clearly thrilled.
‘‘It has been a long time coming, especially since millions of people speak Spanish as their main language in this country,’’ said Cruz, who was singled out for her role in Pedro Almodovar’s Spanish-language ‘‘Volver.’’ ‘‘It’s great that it’s finally being reflected in movies.’’
NEW YORK — Wa Wa Wee Wah? Borat Sagdiyev himself might have exclaimed that catch phrase upon hearing that the largely improvised ‘‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’’ had been nominated today for a best adapted screenplay Oscar.
The majority of the movie, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat, is fueled by Cohen’s interactions with real people — most of whom weren’t reading from a script. Needless to say, if they had been supplied dialogue, many of the unwitting actors wouldn’t have sued (as they have) over their inclusion in the film. ...
A story at Dow Jones' MarketWatch site reports: "Academy officials said such a snub is a first since the group started handing out the awards in 1927. No film that received the most number of nominations has ever missed out on a best-picture nomination in the academy's history, a spokeswoman said."
NEW YORK — With her Academy Awards nomination for best supporting actress today, Abigail Breslin, the joyful 10-year-old actress at the heart of ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine,’’ entered a rich niche of trivia: Oscar-nominated child actors. ...
North American box-office performance for Oscar best-picture nominees:
• ‘‘Babel,’’ Paramount Vantage, seven nominations, released October, $23.7 million.
• ‘‘The Queen,’’ Miramax, six nominations, released September, $35.6 million.
• ‘‘The Departed,’’ Warner Bros., five nominations, released October, $121.7 million.
• ‘‘Letters From Iwo Jima,’’ Warner Bros., four nominations, released December, $2.4 million.
• ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine,’’ Fox Searchlight, four nominations, released July, $59.6 million.
So it's shaping up to be a down-to-the-wire contest in many categories. As this writer at Studio Daily put it, in his insights today about the nominations: "If your idea of a great Oscar night is one where none of the oddsmakers has any clear picture of who the frontrunners are, this could be a banner year."
Some other curious Oscar links from today's news, updated as we go...
We're crossing our fingers hoping this is the year Martin Scorsese thanks the Academy. Today, in light of his nomination for "The Departed," the acclaimed director says: “I am very pleased that 'The Departed' has been honored with five nominations for this year’s Academy Awards. I am particularly happy that the hard work of the entire cast and crew has been rewarded with a Best Picture nomination and that the specific contributions of Mark Wahlberg, our screenwriter William Monahan, and my longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker have been recognized with nominations, as well.” ...
NEW YORK — Former Vice President Al Gore may fare better when the Oscar ballots are counted than he did in the disputed 2000 presidential election when he lost to George W. Bush by several hundred votes in the pivotal Florida recount. "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore's film on the perils of global warming, scored two Oscar nominations today — for best documentary feature and best original song.
Despite a scene-stealing performance, Mark Wahlberg's nomination for best supporting actor was unanticipated considering he performed opposite such top-billed actors as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon. DiCaprio did earn a best-actor nomination for "Blood Diamond."
"I wasn't expecting it at all. I can't believe it. I was sound asleep. My agent called and was screaming," said Wahlberg, who plays a caustic, wisecracking cop. "I thought the house was on fire or something."
Jackie Earle Haley, the star of "Little Children," is having a big moment in his life. A long-shot for best supporting actor who was denied most critics prizes or even a Golden Globe nomination, he got a nice wake up call from Oscar. Haley says that his nomination in that category is a dream come true. "I feel like I'm dreaming. I almost can't believe what has been happening to me. I can't even believe I'm talking to the Chicago Sun-Times about being in this movie." ...
How the mighty have risen. Ryan Gosling, nominated for best actor for "Half Nelson," began his career on the "Mickey Mouse Club" and during that time even lived with Justin Timberlake and his mother. Don't laugh. He had to beat out 17,000 kids for the shot on the show.
You have to love "Little Miss Sunshine," who says that she was sleeping when the nominations came out. "My Mom woke me up," says Abigail Breslin, nominated for best supporting actress. When asked by the morning shows if an Oscar nomination was better than Christmas, she gave the honest answer of any kid. "Wellllll...." she hedged. "I guess so." By the way, she isn't the youngest ever to be nominated. Tatum O'Neal was six months younger when she got the nom for "Paper Moon."
Helen Mirren was on set in England when she received the good news of her Oscar nomination for "The Queen." When asked why playing queens has been very very good to her, the always lovely Mirren set the record straight. "Queens have been very good to me. I was also below the stairs as the housekeeper in 'Gosford Park.' I've been above the stairs and below the stairs."
Interesting analysis from Edward Copeland this morning: "This may well be the first time where four out of the 5 nominees for best actor are the only nominations for their films and no nominee comes from a best picture nominee."
True, none of the films in the best actor category are up for best picture:
Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond)
Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)
Peter O'Toole (Venus)
Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness)
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
ABC's interviewing Jennifer Hudson right now, via satellite — she's in London, where she just attended the British premiere of "Dreamgirls" — and she's fumbling for words, stumbling, speechless. She sounds a lot like Forrest Whitaker on Golden Globes night.
The absence of "Dreamgirls" from the big-picture category has everyone's mouths agape this morning. Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Good Morning America" said the show's studio audience gasped. Astonished headlines have run on Fox and CNN. The movie tops The Envelope's list of who got snubbed, just posted. Bloggers like Edward Copeland are musing: "Has there ever been a time when the nominations leader (Dreamgirls with 8) wasn't up for best picture?" The Carpetbagger just posted: "The absence of a best picture nod for 'Dreamgirls' had reporters in the auditorium leaning into each other and asking if they heard right. Everything old is suddenly new and the sprint to the finish line should be brutal."
Also noteworthy: Three of "Dreamgirls' " eight nominations came in a single category — for original song.
But at least our Chicago favorite, Jennifer Hudson, followed her Golden Globe win with an Oscar nomination for supporting actress.
AP also notes the other shut-out of the morning, this one only surprising now because of his Golden Globe win: "Prim Oscar voters maintained their track record of ignoring over-the-top comic performances, snubbing Sacha Baron Cohen for his Golden Globe-winning role in the raucous "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.""
With five blacks, two Hispanics and an Asian, it was the most ethnically diverse lineup ever among the 20 acting nominees. After decades in which the Oscars were a virtual whites-only club, with minority actors only occasionally breaking into the field, the awards have featured a much broader mix of nominees in the last few years.
Black actors in particular have come into their own, with Oscar wins by Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman, and three of the four acting front-runners this year.
Asians and Hispanics still lag behind, though nominations for Penelope Cruz, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi are signs that Hollywood is making strides toward greater diversity.
While Cruz's "Volver," from Spanish director and past Oscar darling Pedro Almodovar, was shut out for foreign-language picture, another Hispanic film scored well. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" had six nominations, including foreign-language film, screenplay, cinematography and score.
"If each one of them got nominated on their own, that would be great, but the fact that they all did ... that's just too much for one little girl this early in the morning," said Salma Hayek, an Oscar nominee for 2002's "Frida," who helped announced the nominees this morning.
Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu earned a best-director nomination for "Babel."
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The peppy "Dreamgirls" leads Academy Awards contenders announced this morning with eight nominations, but surprisingly was shut out in the best picture category after being considered a potential front-runner. The sweeping ensemble drama "Babel" was close behind with seven, including best picture and acting honors for two newcomers to U.S. audiences, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi. ...
A successful movie star is a full-time performance artist. George Clooney, for example, effortlessly navigates the media gauntlet, playing the genial, self-deprecating charmer who still is able to rise to a serious occasion. Tom Cruise, on the other hand, has struggled in recent years as the gung-ho boyishness he projects — which served him well earlier in his career — has come to look too forced. With awards season in full swing, the winning stars face one of the toughest challenges in their ongoing performances: the acceptance speech. ...
LOS ANGELES — The Golden Globes, trade unions, film critics and just about everyone else in Hollywood have weighed in on 2006’s best film achievements, helping to solidify the Academy Awards picture — and muddy it up a bit, too. With Oscar nominations due out Tuesday, a few clear front-runners and some intriguing wild cards have emerged, along with an unusually open race for the top prize. Still to come are honors by the Directors Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild, whose nominations came out earlier this month. Those awards should help sort out the much of the Oscar outlook, but unlike most years, when a solid favorite often emerges, the best-picture category could remain up for grabs right up to awards night Feb. 25. ...
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Nine foreign-language films are a step closer to Oscar. For the first time, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences unveiled a short list of potential nominees from 61 qualifying films in the category. The nine movies in the running: ‘‘Days of Glory’’ from Algeria, ‘‘Water’’ from Canada, ‘‘After the Wedding’’ from Denmark, ‘‘Avenue Montaigne’’ from France, ‘‘The Lives of Others’’ from Germany, ‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth’’ from Mexico, ‘‘Black Book’’ from the Netherlands, ‘‘Volver’’ from Spain and ‘‘Vitus’’ from Switzerland. From among the nine, a committee of voters in Los Angeles and New York will select the five Academy Award nominees. (One excluded director responds, plus The Envelope notes that Asian films were snubbed ... again.)
Some people probably are still partying in Beverly Hills after last night's Golden Globes hootenanny. Meanwhile, journalists and critics and Oscars soothsayers are already plugging the Globes data into their various oracles to see what's in store ...
LOS ANGELES — Oh, to be Helen Mirren this weekend. It started Friday morning, when Mirren got word that her film ‘‘The Queen’’ topped the list of nominees for the British Academy Film Awards, the British equivalent of the Academy Awards. On Friday afternoon, the American Film Institute honored another Mirren movie, ‘‘Elizabeth I,’’ as one of the year’s 10 best television productions. ...
NEW YORK — Peter Morgan’s Midas touch for portraying the intimate drama of the powerful has made the screenwriter — unknown to Hollywood a year ago — a sudden two-pronged Oscar candidate. The 43-year-old British writer stands an excellent chance for an Academy Award nomination not only for his original screenplay for ‘‘The Queen’’ but also for adapting ‘‘The Last King of Scotland’’ to the screen. (The stars of both films — Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin — are both widely considered the front-runners in the best actress and best actor categories.) ...
Pinpointing the five best picture nominees has become as much a sport for the industry as predicting weekend boxoffice grosses, but that doesn’t mean that entertainment’s well-heeled populace doesn’t enjoy a good mystery now and then. ...
He was the front-runner, the all-but-certain Oscar winner, the man widely acknowledged as America’s greatest living filmmaker, who mysteriously had never taken home a directing statuette. But somehow, Martin Scorsese lost his chance at a best director Oscar for the fifth time at the 77th Academy Awards. ...
LOS ANGELES — Academy Awards watchers like to turn Hollywood’s season of film honors into a showdown between two main contenders. Monday’s Golden Globes could play into that: The winner of the Globes for best drama and best musical or comedy might end up duking it out at the Oscars. ...
LOS ANGELES — One dress is not enough for Oscar producer Laura Ziskin. Even 30 of the most iconic dresses ever worn on Oscar’s red carpet are not enough. Ziskin wants more.
Not to wear, but to share.
Ziskin is transforming the annual Oscar fashion show, which typically forecasts what styles might grace the red carpet on the big night, into a retrospective of memorable outfits from the past five decades of Academy Award galas.
‘‘A Celebration of Oscar Fashion’’ will feature dozens of groundbreaking gowns for a private audience of press, stylists and stars on Jan. 30. But Ziskin and the show’s curator, Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, still hope to collect a few other pieces. ...
Here's a mythbuster from a story in Media Life: "It’s long been held that the Academy Awards are the Super Bowl for women, but that’s incorrect. The Super Bowl actually draws more female viewers than the Oscars, according to an analysis done by Horizon Media in 2005, and by a large margin."
The race for this year’s Oscar for best animated feature film just got significantly tighter. Although Luc Besson’s ‘‘Arthur and the Invisibles’’ had appeared on the list of 16 films competing for this year’s animated feature Oscar that was released Nov. 13, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has dropped the film from consideration. ...
Who said Saturday night was the best time to party? Three of the nation’s highest-profile events, the Super Bowl, the Grammy awards and the Oscars, are all scheduled to take place on Sunday nights in February, and each one provides a great excuse to throw a fabulous themed party. You can watch all three at home with friends, serve great food and drinks, and play games to guess the winners. Invite your guests to come dressed in a ball gown worthy of the red carpet, and put together some easy decorations or centerpieces, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a fun evening. Here are some tips for the Grammys and Oscars ...