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Oscar Back Tomorrow

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The Academy Awards are tomorrow night – are you “grippped by award fever” as this BBC story suggests? I didn’t think so.

However, after taking many years off in my young adulthood, I do find myself interested in the results, to a certain extent, but moreso of the awards shows themselves: they function as an official roundup of who and what is considered important and “happening” in the field they are awarding, without having to pay all that much attention the rest of the year.

This is especially true for film, because with four kids – two of them very young – and a 60-70-hour work week, I just don’t see many movies in theatrical release.

So anyway, here’s the BBC’s report:

    The final instalment of Peter Jackson’s film trilogy has been favourite to win best picture for the last five weeks.

    There is now speculation over whether the film, based on the book by JRR Tolkien, may sweep the awards.

    The last time this happened was with Titanic, which won all 11 awards at the 1998 ceremony.

    The Return of the King battles the historical adventure Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – starring Russell Crowe – in many categories.

    Crowe’s film, directed by Australian Peter Weir, has 10 nominations, the second-highest this year next to The Lord of the Ring’s 11.

    Oscar historian Robert Osborne, the author of 75 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards said a clean sweep of awards was a modern phenomenon.

    ….South African actress Charlize Theron leads the race for best actress for her role in the serial killer drama Monster, while Sean Penn, Johnny Depp and Bill Murray are in the race for best actor.

    Depp and Murray have been surprise choices for the category because of nominations for comedy roles – Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and Murray for Lost in Translation.

    Best supporting actor is expected to be won by Tim Robbins for his part in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River.

    Cold Mountain star Renee Zellweger, up for best supporting actress, was thought to be a clear winner, but now has stiff competition from Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo from House of Sand and Fog.

    ….The pre-Oscars events on Saturday will include the Razzies – an anti-Oscars given out to the year’s worst films and performances – which is expected to be dominated by the Jennifer Lopez flop Gigli.

    The more informal Independent Spirit Awards, which honour indie films, will be hosted by cult film director John Waters on Saturday.

WHO exactly is making these predictions and what are they based upon? Chicken entrails, some kind of polling procedure, odds makers? These prognosticators are never identified.

Meanwhile, a report from the scene of the crime:

    All activity is centred on the arrival of the 76th Academy Awards as streets are closed down, pavements are scrubbed and the red carpet already placed in position.

    ….The final touches are being made to the surroundings of the home of the Oscars, the Kodak Theatre, transforming it from shopping mall to award ceremony splendour.

    The bleachers have been erected, where 500 lucky fans will be seated to watch the arrivals from the best vantage point.

    ….The stars themselves do not set foot in Hollywood until the big day, but the area is already heaving with news crews from around the world, as they experiment with angles and shots trying to second guess what could happen and where on the night.

    ….On average 62m Americans watch the live telecast, which this year will have a five-second delay in case of any Janet Jackson Super Bowl-type mishaps occur.

    ….Pop artist Burton Morris will be attending for the first time, but it will be his work that will be taking centre stage.

    The American was commissioned to design the official poster for the 76th Academy Awards, with his creation adorning every street corner in Hollywood. One covers entire side of a huge building.

    ….The 2003 awards were dominated by the war in Iraq, while the previous year the attention focussed on the 11 September tragedies.

    This year the movie industry can once again get back to putting on a full-blown celebration, with the movies and the actors once more at the top of the bill. [BBC]

Best of all: Michael Moore isn’t nominated for anything.

Once again, the nominees:

    Actor in a leading role

    Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”
    (Buena Vista)

    Ben Kingsley in “House of Sand and Fog” (DreamWorks in association with Cobalt Media Group)

    Jude Law in “Cold Mountain” (Miramax)

    Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation” (Focus Features)

    Sean Penn in “Mystic River” (Warner Bros.)

    Actor in a supporting role

    Alec Baldwin in “The Cooler” (Lions Gate)

    Benicio Del Toro in “21 Grams” (Focus Features)

    Djimon Hounsou in “In America” (Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox)

    Tim Robbins in “Mystic River” (Warner Bros.)

    Ken Watanabe in “The Last Samurai” (Warner Bros.)

    Actress in a leading role

    Keisha Castle-Hughes in “Whale Rider” (NewMarket Films)

    Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give” (Sony Pictures Releasing)

    Samantha Morton in “In America” (Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox)

    Charlize Theron in “Monster” (Newmarket Films)

    Naomi Watts in “21 Grams” (Focus Features)

    Actress in a supporting role

    Shohreh Aghdashloo in “House of Sand and Fog” (DreamWorks in association with Cobalt Media Group)

    Patricia Clarkson in “Pieces of April” (MGM)

    Marcia Gay Harden in “Mystic River” (Warner Bros.)

    Holly Hunter in “Thirteen” (Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox)

    Renee Zellweger in “Cold Mountain” (Miramax)

    Animated feature film

    “Brother Bear” (Buena Vista)

    “Finding Nemo” (Buena Vista)

    “The Triplets of Belleville” (Sony Pictures Classics)

    Art direction

    “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (Lions Gate)
    Art Direction: Ben Van Os
    Set Decoration: Cecile Heideman

    “The Last Samurai” (Warner Bros.)
    Art Direction: Lilly Kilvert
    Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line)
    Art Direction: Grant Major
    Set Decoration: Dan Hennah and Alan Lee

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox)
    Art Direction: William Sandell
    Set Decoration: Robert Gould

    “Seabiscuit” (Universal/DreamWorks/Spyglass)
    Art Direction: Jeannine Oppewall
    Set Decoration: Leslie Pope

    Cinematography

    “City of God” (Miramax) Cesar Charlone

    “Cold Mountain” (Miramax) John Seale

    “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (Lions Gate) Eduardo Serra

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Russell Boyd

    “Seabiscuit” (Universal/DreamWorks/Spyglass) John Schwartzman

    Costume design

    “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (Lions Gate) Dien van Straalen

    “The Last Samurai” (Warner Bros.) Ngila Dickson

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line) Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Wendy Stites

    “Seabiscuit” (Universal/DreamWorks/Spyglass) Judianna Makovsky

    Directing

    “City of God” (Miramax) Fernando Meirelles

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line) Peter Jackson

    “Lost in Translation” (Focus Features) Sofia Coppola

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Peter Weir

    “Mystic River” (Warner Bros.) Clint Eastwood

    Documentary feature

    “Balseros” (Seventh Art Releasing)
    A Bausan Films S.L. Production
    Carlos Bosch and Josep Maria Domenech

    “Capturing the Friedmans” (Magnolia Pictures)
    A Hit The Ground Running Production
    Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling

    “The Fog of War” (Sony Pictures Classics)
    A Globe Department Store Production
    Errol Morris and Michael Williams

    “My Architect” (New Yorker)
    A Louis Kahn Project, Inc. Production
    Nathaniel Kahn and Susan R. Behr

    “The Weather Underground” (Shadow Distribution)
    A Free History Project Production
    Sam Green and Bill Siegel

    Documentary short subject

    “Asylum”
    A Constant Communication & Make-do Production
    Sandy McLeod and Gini Reticker

    “Chernobyl Heart”
    A Downtown TV Documentaries Production
    Maryann DeLeo

    “Ferry Tales”
    A Penelope Pictures Production
    Katja Esson

    Film editing

    “City of God” (Miramax) Daniel Rezende

    “Cold Mountain” (Miramax) Walter Murch

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line) Jamie Selkirk

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Lee Smith

    “Seabiscuit” (Universal/DreamWorks/Spyglass) William Goldenberg

    Foreign language film

    “The Barbarian Invasions”
    A Cinemaginaire Inc. Production
    Canada

    “Evil”
    A Moviola Film & Television Production
    Sweden

    “The Twilight Samurai”
    A Shochiku/Nippon Television Network/Sumitomo/Hakuhodo/Nippon Shuppan Hanbai/Eisei Gekijo Production
    Japan

    “Twin Sisters”
    An IdtV Film Production
    The Netherlands

    “Zelary”
    A Total HelpArt T.H.A./Barrandov Studio Production
    Czech Republic

    Makeup

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line)
    Richard Taylor and Peter King

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Edouard Henriques III and Yolanda Toussieng

    “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (Buena Vista)
    Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

    Music (original score)

    “Big Fish” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Danny Elfman

    “Cold Mountain” (Miramax) Gabriel Yared

    “Finding Nemo” (Buena Vista) Thomas Newman

    “House of Sand and Fog” (DreamWorks in association with Cobalt Media Group) James Horner

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line) Howard Shore

    Music (original song)

    “Into the West” from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line)
    Music and Lyric by Fran Walsh and Howard Shore and Annie Lennox

    “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” from “A Mighty Wind” (Warner Bros.)
    Music and Lyric by Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole

    “Scarlet Tide” from “Cold Mountain” (Miramax)
    Music and Lyric by T Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello

    “Belleville Rendez-vous” from “The Triplets of Belleville” (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Music by Benoit Charest
    Lyric by Sylvain Chomet

    “You Will Be My Ain True Love” from “Cold Mountain” (Miramax)
    Music and Lyric by Sting

    Best picture

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line)
    A Wingnut Films Production
    Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Producers

    “Lost in Translation” (Focus Features)
    An American Zoetrope/Elemental Films Production
    Ross Katz and Sofia Coppola, Producers

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox)
    A 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures and Miramax Films Production
    Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., Peter Weir and Duncan Henderson, Producers

    “Mystic River” (Warner Bros.)
    A Warner Bros. Pictures Production
    Robert Lorenz, Judie G. Hoyt and Clint Eastwood, Producers

    “Seabiscuit” (Universal/DreamWorks/Spyglass)
    A Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/Spyglass Entertainment Production
    Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Gary Ross, Producers

    Short film (animated)

    “Boundin'”
    A Pixar Animation Studios Production
    Bud Luckey

    “Destino” (Buena Vista)
    A Walt Disney Pictures Production
    Dominique Monfery and Roy Edward Disney

    “Gone Nutty” (20th Century Fox)
    A Blue Sky Studios Production
    Carlos Saldanha and John C. Donkin

    “Harvie Krumpet”
    A Melodrama Pictures Production
    Adam Elliot

    “Nibbles”
    An Acme Filmworks Production
    Chris Hinton

    Short film (live action)

    “Die Rote Jacke (The Red Jacket)”
    A Hamburger Filmwerkstatt Production
    Florian Baxmeyer

    “Most (The Bridge)”
    An Eastwind Films Production
    Bobby Garabedian and William Zabka

    “Squash”
    A Tetramedia Production
    Lionel Bailliu

    “(A) Torzija [(A) Torsion]”
    A Studio Arkadena Production
    Stefan Arsenijevic

    “Two Soldiers”
    A Shoe Clerk Picture Company Production
    Aaron Schneider and Andrew J. Sacks

    Sound editing

    “Finding Nemo” (Buena Vista) Gary Rydstrom and Michael Silvers

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Richard King

    “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (Buena Vista) Christopher Boyes and George Watters II

    Sound mixing

    “The Last Samurai” (Warner Bros.) Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Jeff Wexler

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line) Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Paul Massey, D.M. Hemphill and Arthur Rochester

    “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ” (Buena Vista) Christopher Boyes, David Parker, David Campbell and Lee Orloff

    “Seabiscuit” (Universal/DreamWorks/Spyglass) Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Tod A. Maitland

    Visual effects

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line) Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke

    “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (20th Century Fox) Dan Sudick, Stefen Fangmeier, Nathan McGuinness and Robert Stromberg

    “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (Buena Vista) John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Terry Frazee

    Adapted Screenplay

    “American Splendor” (HBO Films in association with Fine Line Features) Written by Robert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman

    “City of God” (Miramax) Screenplay by Braulio Mantovani

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (New Line) Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson

    “Mystic River” (Warner Bros.) Screenplay by Brian Helgeland

    “Seabiscuit” (Universal/DreamWorks/Spyglass) Written for the Screen by Gary Ross

    Original Screenplay

    “The Barbarian Invasions” (Miramax) Written by Denys Arcand

    “Dirty Pretty Things” (Miramax and BBC Films) Written by Steven Knight

    “Finding Nemo” (Buena Vista) Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson
    and David Reynolds Original Story by Andrew Stanton

    “In America” (Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox) Written by Jim Sheridan & Naomi Sheridan & Kirsten Sheridan

    “Lost in Translation” (Focus Features) Written by Sofia Coppola

USA Today has a pretty cool look at preparations for the show itself:

    this year’s Academy Awards are a matter of mathematics: 500 feet of red carpet; 300 construction workers and technicians; 36 nominated movies; 24 statuettes; five musical numbers; three honorary awards.

    And one massive ratings slide. Over the past six years, television viewers have been tuning out the Oscars by the millions. From 1998 to 2003, the U.S. television audience plummeted from 55.3 million to 33 million – a 40% drop. Last year’s show was particularly hard hit by the war in Iraq, which drew viewers to competing news stations.

    On Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences launches its experiment to lure audiences back and steal the thunder from other award shows. The academy moved its gala up nearly a month. Sunday’s show is the first Oscars to be held in February.

    ….viewers can expect a few wrinkles from shows in the past:

    – More ad-libbing. Roth says he wants to allow stars to play off one another at the podium. “People love these stars for their creativity. We want that to show on stage.”

    – MTV-friendly presenters. To reach out to male audiences, Roth booked stars such as Jack Black and Will Ferrell, who appeal to younger viewers.

    – More comedy. The past two years have been overshadowed by real-world events that have given the awards a somber tone. The show’s producers hope to lighten up the tenor of this year’s Oscars.

    ….We Shall Overcome.

    It could be the mantra of the 300-some-odd crewmembers working under a tighter deadline than ever since the academy decided to move the show from late March to late February. “The house,” as the Kodak auditorium is known to production staff, has looked like a renovation project since the end of January.

    Cables crisscross the floor. Ropes, hooks and ladders dangle from balconies. Laptops are everywhere as art designers look at computer models of what the stage should be.

    Horvitz doesn’t need a computer. He has a 2-foot model of the Kodak Theatre that he has spent literally hundreds of hours staring at for inspiration.

    When Horvitz, who is directing his eighth Oscars, received the plastic and cardboard model two months ago, he sealed himself in a room for four days and simply stared at it. He jotted a few notes and moved a few plastic pieces around. But mainly, he stared.

    “It helps me get a feel for a show,” he says. “That way I know where I want cameras to sit, where I want stars to walk. But you can go a little crazy, staring at a thing like that for four days.”

    That kind of insanity can’t help but tickle set designer Roy Christopher. This year’s stage look – which resembles an art deco scene taken from the futuristic classic Metropolis- was born out of frenetic drawings Christopher made while sitting in his favorite living room chair watching Sex and the City and Discovery Channel crime documentaries.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://halfbakered.blogspot.com mike hollihan

    Ahhhh…the Oscars. So that’s why Fox is showing “The Phantom Menace” Sunday night. I had wondered about that.

  • Chris Kent

    I have looked into the crystal ball and I predict with all confidence that Seabsicuit will sweep the Academy Awards. How could anyone think otherwise?!

    Personally, I believe they should create a new category for best non-human actor, as Seabiscuit has the greatest performance ever by a horse. And yes, I AM taking National Velvet into consideration…..