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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Oscars, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 73
1. 10 Films Shortlisted for VFX Oscar Race

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this afternoon the 10 films that have ben shortlisted for the visual effects Oscar.

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2. Latvia Selects ‘Rocks in My Pockets’ As Foreign-Language Oscar Entry

The country of Latvia has selected Signe Baumane's "Rocks in My Pockets" as its entry for the best foreign-language category of the Oscars.

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3. The 86th Annual Academy Awards Wins for Diversity

The glitz, fashion, and the glamorous parties are over, but we at LEE & LOW BOOKS are still thinking about the 86th Annual Academy Awards. We were excited to see our infographic on the diversity gap in the Academy Awards shared in several places, including the New York Times Carpetbagger blog, MSNBC’s The Grio, and Colorlines. Even Ellen started off the night with a joke about diversity (“Possibility number one, 12 Years a Slave could win. Possibility number two, you’re all racists. Now please welcome our first white presenter…”). But the highlight of this year’s ceremony was seeing some big wins in diversity:

lupita nyong'o and cate blanchett

2014 Oscar winners Lupita Nyong’o and Cate Blanchett

Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slave”: Lupita Nyong’o's touching acceptance speech reminded every aspiring actor and actress that “no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

Cate Blanchett, Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine”: Cate Blanchett’s empowering speech was an inspiration for women everywhere, as she addressed the stereotype that “female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”

Steven McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron

Directors Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuarón

Alfonso Cuarón, Best Director for “Gravity”: Alfonso Cuarón became the first Latino director to ever win an Oscar, and in response to a backstage interview with the world press, he said he would “love if that same support is given to some other films that are coming out of there with Mexican filmmakers, shot in Mexico, and with Mexican subject matters.”

Best Picture for “12 Years a Slave”: This film set in pre-Civil War America follows Solomon Northup, a free black man who is abducted and sold into slavery. This is the first time a film directed by a black filmmaker has won Best Picture. Director Steve McQueen dedicated the win to “all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”

Congratulations are also due to Robert Lopez, the first Filipino-American ever to win an Oscar for his song “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen,” and John Ridley for his Oscar for the “Twelve Years a Slave” screenplay, marking only the second time that a black screenwriter has won the award.

It was also a breath of fresh air to see new Academy Director Cheryl Boone Isaacs walk out onstage to introduce herself.

While the wins will certainly change the bleak numbers we reported last week, one year alone is not enough. Here’s hoping this year’s big wins mean more people of color in front of and behind the cameras in the future!


Filed under: Diversity Links, Musings & Ponderings, The Diversity Gap Tagged: 2014 Academy Awards, Academy Awards, diversity, diversity gap, inspiration, Lupita Nyong, Oscars

2 Comments on The 86th Annual Academy Awards Wins for Diversity, last added: 3/6/2014
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4. A Look at Rhythm & Hues’ Oscar-Winning Technology Voodoo

The Oscars just did a little segment on their Scientific and Technical Awards. Among the the winners of the Technical Achievement Award this year was Rhythm & Hues for its proprietary Voodoo software.

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5. Definitive Proof That Academy Voters Are Ignorant About Animation

Those of us in animation always gripe that the rest of Hollywood doesn't care or know the first thing about animated films. There are tons of anecdotal stories to support this position, but finally, we've got some definitive proof. And if you think Hollywood doesn't understand animation, it's even worse than you could imagine.

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6. Lee & Low Likes… Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Since the diversity pieces out there today can be rather disheartening (like our Diversity Gap in the Oscars infographic), we decided to take a look at things that are a bit more positive. And as the 86th Academy Awards are on Sunday, this “Lee & Low Likes” honors Cheryl Boone Issacs, the first African-American president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s important to note that she’s just the third woman to be elected; Bette Davis served for just two month in 1941 and screenwriter Fay Kanin held the position for four years in 1979-1983. Sadly, it’s been 30 years since a woman has held the president position in the Academy.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs picture

Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Isaacs has had a long and illustrious career in Hollywood. She has worked on many Oscar winning movies: as a consultant for The Artist and The King’s Speech and on publicity for Braveheart and Forrest Gump. She was also a president of marketing at New Line Cinema and an executive vice president at Paramount Pictures.

In an interview with Variety, Isaacs talks about how the Academy should be a place that recognizes all of the voices out there: “I think what’s important is … equal opportunity, not holding people back because of their gender, their race, nationality. We are about self-expression and are still the holder of dreams.”

It’s a long road to a more diverse Hollywood, but Cheryl Boone Isaacs is a huge step in the right direction and we very much look forward to seeing the changes she brings during her tenure.

 


Filed under: Lee & Low Likes, The Diversity Gap Tagged: 2014 Academy Awards, Academy Awards, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, diversity, Oscars, Women of Color in Hollywood, Women President

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7. Best Original Score: Who will win (and who should!)

By Kathryn Kalinak


This year’s slate of contenders includes established pros (John Williams, Thomas Newman, Alexandre Desplat) along with some newcomers (William Butler and Owen Pallett, Steven Price). This used to be a category where you had to pay your dues, but no longer. The last three winners had never been nominated before. So the real surprise winner in this category would be Williams.

William Butler and Owen Pallett: Her

Click here to view the embedded video.

Butler and Pallett already have a pocketful of awards and this is just the kind of “outsider” score (Butler and Pallett’s first nomination) that Academy voters love: remember Reznor and Ross winning for The Social Network? A win for Butler and Pallett makes the Academy seem hip and edgy and cool, not unimportant to an aging votership. Gravity is the favorite to win here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the statuette goes to Her. Its use of acoustic instruments (that piano!) brings coziness to the sterile interiors and even the electronic instruments radiate warmth. The score is crucial in helping us to understand the characters in the film and feel for them. This wouldn’t be the same film without the score.

Alexandre Desplat: Philomena

Click here to view the embedded video.

Desplat has done some remarkable work in the last few years (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, The King’s Speech, The Queen, Harry Potter, Fantastic Mr. Fox—a personal favorite) and he’s the go-to composer for films about England and now Ireland. But he’s perennially overlooked by Academy voters (he’s lost five times in the last seven years and for some amazing work—come on, Academy)! I don’t think this is his year. Philomena doesn’t have a high enough profile in the Oscar race. I would LOVE to be wrong about this. Desplat deserves an Oscar for something and why not for Philomena—it’s a heartfelt film with an equally heartfelt score.

Thomas Newman: Saving Mr. Banks

Click here to view the embedded video.

Newman has twelve nominations and no wins but I don’t think this year is going to change that. Saving Mr. Banks was almost completely overlooked by the Academy (this is its only nomination) and Newman’s style of big symphonic scoring hasn’t found favor in recent years with Academy voters. (See John Williams below).

Steven Price: Gravity
*clip from film includes “Debris” from the soundtrack

Click here to view the embedded video.

Gravity is the front runner here. The trailer’s tag line reads “At 372 miles above the earth, there is nothing to carry sound.” Except the soundtrack…which is filled with the score. Big, noticeable, dare I say it—intrusive, this is the kind of score you can’t fail to notice…even if you try. John Williams meets Hans Zimmer.

John Williams: The Book Thief

Click here to view the embedded video.

This is Williams’ forty-ninth nomination—but The Book Thief doesn’t have the visibility of other films in this category and Academy voters of late have failed to embrace the kind of big symphonic scores, like this one, that routinely won Oscars back in the twentieth century. Lush, melodic, memorable—vintage Williams. Like Newman for Saving Mr. Banks, Williams would be an upset.

Will win: Steven Price for Gravity

Should win: William Butler and Owen Pallett for Her

Kathryn Kalinak is Professor of English and Film Studies at Rhode Island College. Her extensive writing on film music includes numerous articles as well as the books Settling the Score: Music in the Classical Hollywood Film and How the West was Sung: Music in the Westerns of John Ford. She is author of Film Music: A Very Short Introduction.

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday, subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS, and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.

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8. Art and industry in film

With the Oscars round the corner, we’re delving into Film: A Very Short Introduction. Here’s an extract from Chapter 3 of Michael Wood’s book. In this extract he looks at the industry and the role of the moviegoer.

Film began as a very small business, a dramatic invention but a tiny piece of the world of entertainment. It was an act among others in a variety show. Very soon, though, there were shows composed only of films, and there were special places for their showing. A cinema called the Nickleodeon opened in Pittsburgh in 1905, and by 1907 there were 4,000 such places in the United States. Something resembling an industry developed in France, Italy, England, and Germany too, and audiences grew and grew across the world. Studios were born. Pathé and Gaumont in France; UFA in Germany; Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount in the USA. Hollywood itself, a small Californian town surrounded by orange groves, became a movie settlement because of its steady weather (and because California was thought to be far enough away from the lawsuits that rained down on experimenters and investors in New York). Something like the contours of later patterns of film-making began to form. Stars began to glitter. And above all, money began to gleam.

A whole support system blossomed: publicity machinery, fan magazines, prizes, record-kepping. Box-office results became the equivalent of sporting scores, or world championship boxing.

Avatar (2009) is the largest grossing picture ever made, unless we adjust for inflation, in which case the title goes to Gone with the Wind (1939), and Avatar moves to fourteenth place. The American Academy of Moton Pictures awarded its first Oscars in 1929, and has awarded them every year since. Programmes developed from sets of short films to single feature films plus supporting entries; and from there to the two film diet that was standard fare for so long. By 1929, 90 million cinema tickets were sold each week in America, with figures proportionally similar elsewhere. There were ups and downs during the Depression and the Second World War, but the figure had reached one hundred million by 1946. By 1955, however, the number was down to 46 million, not a whole lot more than the 40 million or so of 1922. Movie-houses, of which a little more later, rose and fell, naturally enough, to the same rhythm: there were 20,000 in America in 1947 and 11,000 in 1959.

Programmes often changed midweek, and shows were continuous, so you could come in at the middle of a film and stay till you got the middle again. Hence the now almost unintelligible phrase “This is where we came in”. There is a remarkable piece by the humorist Robert Benchley about a game he liked to play. Arriving, say, twenty minutes into a film, he would give himself five minutes to reconstruct the plot so far. Then he would interpret everything that followed in the light of his reconstruction. He would stay on to see how close he was – or pretend to see. He claimed many movies were improved by his method.

Theories of the Seventh Art arose, as well as plenty of attacks of the mindlessness of moviegoers. It was in reaction to one such attack that Walter Benjamin devloped an important piece of the argument of his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” (various versions between 1935 and 1939). The French novelist George Duhamel had included an onslaught on cinema in his witty and gloomy book on America, Scénes de la vie future (1930). The relevant chapter is titled ‘cinematographic interlude or the entertainment of the free citizen’, and within the text, the cinema is called, in the same mode of a grand irony, a sanctury, a temple, an abyss of forgetfulness, and the cave of the monster. Duhamel says that film ‘requires no kind of effort’ and ‘presupposes no capacity for consecutive thought’, ‘aucune suite dans les idées.’ Benjamin agrees that film audiences are distracted but claims that there are forms of distraction that may function as localized, medium-specific attention. ‘Even the distracted person’ he says, thinking of the moviegoer, ‘can form habits. ‘The audience’ he adds, ‘is an examiner, but a distracted one’.

Michael Wood is Charles Barnwell Start Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University and the author of Film: A Very Short Introduction. You can see Michael talking about film.

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday! Subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via emailor RSS.

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Image credit: By Coyau. CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0. via Wikimedia Commons

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9. Want to Win Your Oscar Pool And Be The Envy of Millions? Try These Tips!

OSCAR_2002

Yes, Alex Ross designed the official ABC Oscar poster in 2002!

[No comics content here.  This falls under "pop culture" and general geekery. ]

So, your waistline (and gastrointestinal tract) has recovered from the Super Bowl.  You’re sick and tired of the weather.  You seek another diversion.  Well, next Sunday, Hollywood holds their soiree, handing out Oscar statuettes (“Academy Awards of Merit”, according to the rule book).

Situated right before March Madness, the Oscars allow for a warm-up to the office pools which proliferate during the NCAA tournament, and give the sports widows something to watch before hubby disappears into his mancave.

But… how to pick the winners?  The Academy has frequently been criticized for ignoring blockbusters, as most geeks realize when their favorite movies are relegated to the special effects category.  Sure, there is the glitz, the celebrity star power, but overall, the Oscars are a bit boring.  (But, then, so is football.)

So, unless you live in a major metropolitan area, the following nominees are probably the first time you’ve heard, let alone seen, of them.  ABSCAM?  Retroviral drugs?  Navy SEALs?  Nebraska?  And those are the Best Picture nominees!  Take a look at the foreign films!

Here’s the technique I use, and my picks.  I don’t know what Nate Silver likes, and I’m not a cinema geek, so take the following with whatever disdain and cynicism you use when reading online.  Of course, feel free to share your comments below!

Consideration #1:  Is the award voted by the entire AMPAS membership, or it limited?

Consideration #2:  Did Oscar snub a particular film which was later lauded by a guild?

Consideration #3: Which did the guilds select as winners?

Consideration #4:  What’s the buzz?  What did BAFTA and others pick?

—–

BEST PICTURE 

[Rule Sixteen  Everyone votes for this one.  Pick this last.  Sometimes, a movie will sweep the show.  The results from the other categories will give some indication.  Any controversy can also effect voting.  Sometimes, a film can earn the technical awards, but lose this award.  Sometimes, the Oscars split awards between three good films, as happened at the 73rd Academy Awards.  So, Gravity... mid-year, some nitpicking on the scientific liberties, not great acting.  12 Years a Slave is trending online.  Does the Academy use a preferential voting system like they did in 2009, when there were ten nominees, allowing a second-favorite to pull ahead of the media darling?  There is nothing stated in the current rules.]

“12 Years a Slave” (unusual, in that it might only win two awards)
“American Hustle”  [SAG ensemble award]
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

BEST DIRECTOR

[Rule Ten  All members vote.  The Directors Guild of America is usually a good indicator, only missing seven winners.]

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

[Rule Six  All members vote.  The Screen Actors Guild Awards are the barometer.]

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club” [Want to win an acting Oscar?  Cross-dress, preferably in a movie with a strong message.]

[Rule Twenty-Three  Everyone votes.  The Writers Guild of America is the barometer for these two categories.  Sometimes, a great movie which is too ... innovative for the Academy will get a screenplay Oscar as a consolation prize.  Consider: "Pulp Fiction".]

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“American Hustle” – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” – Written by Woody Allen
“Her” – Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” – Written by Bob Nelson
“Dallas Buyers Club” – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Before Midnight” – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” – Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” – Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – Screenplay by Terence Winter

BEST ANIMATED FILM

[Rule Seven  Everyone votes.  There is no animation guild, although ASIFA does laud many animated films.  My gut choice is below.]

“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
“Frozen” [Best Edited Film, GRA: Best editing of Music in a Musical Feature, CAS: Animated Feature, numerous VES visual effects awards]
“The Wind Rises”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

[Rule Eight  Everyone votes.  The American Society of Cinematographers is the predictive guild.

“The Grandmaster”
“Gravity”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Nebraska”
“Prisoners”

---

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

[Rule Nine  Everyone votes.  The Costume Designers Guild awards achievement.  Blue Jasmine won a CDG for contemporary design.  Factor that into Best Picture.  For you geeks, Hunger Games: Catching Fire won the fantasy award.]

Michael Wilkinson, “American Hustle”
William Chang Suk Ping, “The Grandmaster”
Catherine Martin, “The Great Gatsby”
Michael O’Connor, “The Invisible Woman”
Patricia Norris, “12 Years a Slave”  [GDG Period]

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

[Rule Eleven  Everyone who has watched all nominated films may vote.  For both documentary categories, you can scan other awards, as well as guess which is the most politically correct or reflects the spirit of the times.]

“The Act of Killing”Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
“Cutie and the Boxer” Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
“Dirty Wars” Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill  [Best Sound Editing of a documentary]
“The Square” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer [Directors Guild Award]
“20 Feet from Stardom” Nominees to be determined [best edited documentary]

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

“CaveDigger” Jeffrey Karoff
“Facing Fear” Jason Cohen
“Karama Has No Walls” Sara Ishaq
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” Edgar Barens

[I'm going with "Prison hospice" as part of the HIV zeitgeist.]

BEST FILM EDITING

[Rule Twelve  Everyone votes.  American Cinema Editors hand out the Eddies.

“American Hustle” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten (comedy or musical)
“Captain Phillips” Christopher Rouse  (drama)
“Dallas Buyers Club” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave” Joe Walker

---

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

[Rule Thirteen  Voting open to everyone who has seen all five nominated films.  If a movie is nominated for Foreign Film and Best Picture, it will most likely win BFLF and not BP.  Same goes for Best Animated Feature.  These films are the official selection of each country's film society.  Best strategy: consider other Oscar nominations, then check Rotten Tomatoes and online buzz.]

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” Belgium (RT: 79/74%)
“The Great Beauty” Italy  (RT’s pick, 92/93%) (BAFTA winner)
“The Hunt” Denmark (93/92%)
“The Missing Picture” Cambodia (97/100%, 30 reviews)
“Omar” Palestine (89/96%)

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

[Rule Fourteen  Everyone votes.  The Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild gives out awards.

“Dallas Buyers Club” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews (best period/character makeup
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” Stephen Prouty (special makeup effects)
“The Lone Ranger” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny  (Johnny Depp received a special award.  Which goes without saying... McFarlane Toys should do a Johnny Depp line of figurines.)

---

[Rule Fifteen   Everyone votes.  Hey, there's a Best Musical Award (15.I.C)!  There is a union for musicians, and some sort of composers guild, but neither seems to give out awards.  My suggestion?  Check online reviewers for buzz.  John Williams is the record holder for Oscar nominations.]

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

John Williams, “The Book Thief” [11 more nominations and he passes Walt Disney as the record holder.  Disney gets an asterisk...he produced many of the films which won.]
Steven Price, “Gravity”
William Butler and Owen Pallett, “Her”
Alexandre Desplat, “Philomena”
Thomas Newman, “Saving Mr. Banks”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

[Of note: each film can nominate three songs.  Disney choose to nominate only one song from Frozen, possibly to avoid splitting the vote.  Idina Menzel will perform the song at the Oscars.  It may be the highlight of the show, along with U2.]

“The Moon Song” from “Her”
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

[Rule Seventeen   Everyone votes.  The Art Directors Guild honors achievement in this field.]

“American Hustle”
Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler

“Gravity”
Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard [fantasy film]

“The Great Gatsby”
Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn [period film]

“Her”
Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena [contemporary film]

“12 Years a Slave”
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

[Rule Nineteen  Everyone votes who has watched all of the nominated films.  Check online for critics picks.]

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Feral” Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
“Get a Horse!” Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
“Mr. Hublot” Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
“Possessions” Shuhei Morita
“Room on the Broom” Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” Esteban Crespo
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)” Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
“Helium” Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)” Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
“The Voorman Problem” Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

BEST SOUND EDITING

[Rule Twenty  Everyone votes.  The Motion Picture Sound Editors give out the Golden Reel Awards.  There's also the Cinema Audio Society which honors sound mixing.]

“All Is Lost” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips” Oliver Tarney [GRA: dialogue and ADR]
“Gravity” Glenn Freemantle  [GRA: sound effects]
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor” Wylie Stateman

BEST SOUND MIXING

[Rule Twenty-One  Everyone votes.]

“Captain Phillips” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
“Gravity” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro [GRA:sound effects, CAS:Motion Picture]
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
“Inside Llewyn Davis” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

[Rule Twenty-Two  Everyone votes.  The Visual Effects Society (winner of this year's best industry logo) gives out accolades.]

“Gravity” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould (Visual Effects feature, plus numerous others)
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds  (Best Feature Film character)
“Iron Man 3” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier (regular feature)
“Star Trek Into Darkness” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

My picks for the Razzies?  Movie 43 for every category.  I watched this on NetFlix with friends (yeah, we were drunk), and I wished I’d hadn’t.

Just in case anyone from ABC or AMPAS is reading…

Please schedule the Oscars so that the ceremony starts at 7PM EST/4 PM PST.  Run the red carpet pregame show from 5-7 PM.  The show itself usually runs under four hours, giving ABC plenty of time to stage the show.  If it ends early, then ABC can fill the remaining time with post-game interviews and commentary.  The extra time can be filled with stuff that keeps the viewers watching… and might even allow more names to be added to the always controversial “In Memoriam” segment.

Yes, I know it’s unlikely, but at least they moved it from Monday, when ABC would routinely waste an hour of prime time with a forgettable Barbara Walters interview special.  They will also finally start streaming the Oscars live this year!  (That’s what you get when your membership is old, white, and male.)

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10. Using Infographics in the Classroom to Teach Visual Literacy

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Infographics’ format and economy of words make infographics engaging and accessible to children, reluctant readers, visual learners, and English Language Learners. As infographics contain multiple layers of information, they are a challenging medium for students to practice inferences and interpretation. Lee & Low Books’ infographic series on the diversity gap in major spheres of influence is a valuable vehicle to build students’ visual literacy skills and understanding of diversity. The following discussion questions and suggested activities were created based on the Diversity Gap in the Academy Awards infographic, but these can be applied to the rest of the series.

Infographic: The Diversity Gap in the Academy Awards

Infographic: The Diversity Gap in the Academy Awards (click to enlarge)

Discussion questions to consider with your students:

  1. What patterns do you see? What trends do you see? How are the different charts related?
  2. What is the central idea of this infographic? How do the words, phrases, and visuals interact to affirm the central idea?
  3. Based on the infographic, what does “diversity gap” mean in terms of the Academy Awards?
  4. What might the author’s purpose be in choosing this medium to convey the central idea (to shame, inspire, shock, etc.)?
  5. Does the infographic make the central idea clear and obvious? How does the infographic use an economy of words, language, typography, pie charts, bar graphs, negative space, and title to communicate the central idea?
  6. What type of infographic is this (flow chart, web, map, graph, diagram, table, timeline)? What might the author’s purpose be in choosing this type of infographic? How effective is this format of infographic at organizing and displaying data compared to just text?
  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the infographic as a form of communication as compared to text alone. Is this the most effective and convincing way to convey information about a lack of diversity at the Academy Awards? Why or why not?
  8. Why might the creators have assembled this information about the Academy Awards and race at all?
  9. Who is the intended audience (moviegoers, actors, directors, writers, producers, movie studios, general public, government officials)? What might the creators of this infographic want them to do with this information?
  10. What is the context of this infographic? What major events in the United States were taking place when this infographic was created? Why is it important to understand the context of the infographic?
  11. Is this infographic’s argument and presentation persuasive or compelling? Why or why not? Analyze this infographic’s effectiveness in inspiring activism.
  12. Based on the information presented, what can you predict future trends will be for award winners, actors, directors, producers, and writers?
  13. Can you determine causes for the lack of diversity in this infographic? Why or why not? How might researchers go about figuring out the cause(s) for the historical and current lack of diversity in the Academy Awards?
  14. What is the impact of a lack of diversity amongst writers, actors, producers, directors, and award winners? What does it mean to be a young child growing up and consuming this form of media (movies)? What will they see? What will they not see? Tell me more about the possible effects of this situation and current trends.

Suggested activities:

  1. Challenge students to translate this infographic’s central idea into a written argument. Students should use key details and evidence from the infographic to assert the central idea.
  2. Have students revise or add on to make the infographic more effective. Students should consider format, adding or deleting information, and more. What would make the infographic stronger, more persuasive, or more memorable?
  3. Encourage students to investigate how these percentages compare to the general public. Students can use the United States Census data for demographics.
  4. Have students investigate possible causes for the lack of diversity in the Academy Awards. Urge students to propose ways to change these trends.
  5. If possible, ask students to research the percent of moviegoers who are people of color. Check industry publications or major news periodicals. How do these numbers compare to the information in the infographic?
  6. Permit students to interview their grade, class, or school on questions, including: Do you go to the movies? How often? What kinds of movies do you see? Who are your favorite actor and actress in Hollywood today? Who is a director/actor/actress of color that you have seen in a movie recently? Why do you think there aren’t more movies by and with people of color? Students can organize and display data in graphs and present findings to the class. Reflect on this information’s relationship to the infographic’s central idea.
  7. Dig deeper—investigate the artists that were nominated each year. How many were people of color over those 85 years? What roles did these artists play in the movies they were nominated for? What genres of movies were they in for this nomination? Explore the people of color who did win best actress or best actor. What roles did they play and what kind of movies were they in when they won for best acting?
  8. Compare this to other Lee & Low Books’ infographics in the series: The Tony Awards,  The Emmy Awards, Children’s Book Publishing, The NY Times Top 10 Bestsellers List, and American Politics. Consider central idea, evidence, format, and audience.
  9. Update the information to include the 2013 and 2014 Academy Awards results. What changed? What did not change?

For further reading on teaching visual literacy and diversity in the classroom, check out these fantastic resources:

How are you building visual literacy skills in the classroom? Let us know below!


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: Academy Awards, CCSS, common core standards, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, History, infographics, Oscars, Race issues, reading comprehension, teaching about race, visual literacy

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11. Oscar Focus: Grant Orchard Talks About “A Morning Stroll”

BREWMASTERS NOTE: This week Cartoon Brew takes a closer look at the five Academy Award nominated animated shorts. Each day at 10am EST/7am PST we will post an exclusive interview with the director(s) of one of the films. Today, we discuss Studio AKA’s A Morning Stroll with its writer/director Grant Orchard:

Grant Orchard

Amid Amidi: At Pixar, when artists pitch their short film ideas to John Lasseter, if Lasseter really likes the idea, he hugs you at the end of the presentation. Did you get any hugs at Studio AKA when you pitched A Morning Stroll, and if so, who hugged you?

Grant Orchard: Not really, some curious questions and then an – ‘OK, we trust you, give it a go’. I bet you think we’re all very Downtown Abbey over here. All arch and stiff, but no, it’s all free hugs and love man. In fact it sounds like Mr. Lasseter is holding back a little, he should share it around a bit more.

A Morning Stroll

Amid: More seriously, how did you convince Studio AKA, which is the studio that reps you commercially, to make this film?

Grant: I did pitch it as a brief, diverting 3 minute film. Ultimately it doubled in length to a very brief, diverting 7 minute film. So maybe the partners at Studio AKA (Sue Goffe, Philip Hunt, Marc Craste & Pam Dennis) initially thought it might not be that much of a risk; but it was still a risk as we had no outside funding and had to find a way of making it without affecting the commercial work that was coming through the studio. Also they’ve had significant success with their previous shorts, so it would have been easy for them to have rejected the idea, because it’s not the type of film that you can be sure its going to work until it’s pretty much made. Due to its structure I don’t think I could have conveyed it to them any other way than to actually make it. But they’re all filmmakers and have gone through the same commercial demands as me over the years. People won’t trust us (or acknowledge our experience, skills etc.) to develop a project as it progresses – we usually have to deliver absolutes & fully resolved ideas as part of a pitch. So when it comes to self-initiated work, the partners like to show a bit of faith. Which I think is great.

So in a nutshell, we didn’t make the film with an aim to make it profound or thought provoking – rather the point of it was to be a bit playful in our process – and I think everyone was of the same mind; that we make a really fun, interesting film that people would get a kick out of at festivals.

A Morning Stroll

Amid: I read the original story on which your film is based, and it’s less a story than a six-sentence memory capturing a moment in time. When you read that, did you instantly see a film in it, or did the idea evolve over time?

Grant: It definitely evolved over time. Reading that extract just got me thinking of that scenario in lots of different ways. It felt like an urban myth, and urban myths always get exaggerated and pulled in different directions with each re-telling. Originally I was going to animate three different versions of the story alongside each other. All would have the same shot compositions and length, but would vary in quite subtle ways. Then I guess I had the idea of setting each section 50 years on from each other, and that’s when the chronological three-act structure took shape.

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12. Ypulse Essentials: Microsoft Goes After Millennials With msnNow, The Benefits Of Social Networks, The Muppets To Present At The Oscars

Despite having grown up with the Internet at their fingertips (college students aren’t very good at using Google to find information they need. Ethnographic research shows they have trouble refining their results and they aren’t making the best... Read the rest of this post

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13. The 54th Academy Awards


The only Oscars ceremony that had a specific effect on my life happened thirty years ago, when I was six years old. It was the 54th Academy Awards, and On Golden Pond was our local hero, having mostly been filmed about ten miles away from my house. Everybody I knew seemed to have at least a little connection to it somehow, or claimed to. At six years old, I didn't really understand what any of it meant, but I knew how much the adults seemed to care, and how special the moment seemed to them. The movie immediately became an indelible part of my life.

If that had been it, I'd look back on the 1982 Oscar ceremony with the sort of gauzy nostalgia that fills the movie. But Ernest Thompson won an Oscar that night for adapting his play into a screenplay, and I've known Ernest now for an amount of years neither of us will admit to, and worked with him on numerous local projects. We have really different aesthetics, and I love that — he's been at times the ideal teacher, editor, and director for me because he would never approach a story the way I do, and vice versa. He's intimidatingly smart and articulate, and so better than anybody I've ever met at steering me away from self-indulgent flourishes. (Ernest's commentary track on the anniversary edition DVD of On Golden Pond is a gem, and gives a good sense of his tell-it-like-it-is personality.)

Golden Pond is as close to a part of my DNA as a movie can be, and it's a film that is sacred to folks around here, because Squam Lake still looks quite a bit like it did in the movie, and plenty of people remember seeing Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Dabney Coleman around town.

I hadn't paid much attention to what the other nominees were that year until recently. If I remembered anything, it was that Chariots of Fire won for Best Picture and Ernest beat Harold Pinter for Best Adapted Screenplay (Pinter's adaptation of The French Lieutenant's Woman verges on genius, finding cinematic/dramatic ways to replicate the novel's very novelistic complexities of narrative and structure, making an "unfilmable book" into a generally interesting film. I'm glad Ernest won, though.) But though 1981 was hardly an annus miribilis for cinema, there was some interesting work released that year. Among the movies not getting major notice from the Academy, there was Fassbinder's Lola and Lili Marleen; Blow OutCoup de Torchon; Escape from New York 2 Comments on The 54th Academy Awards, last added: 2/27/2012
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14. 2012 Oscar Talkback


We’re going to be open all night long to discuss the Oscars. We’re still waiting to hear the winners, but here are the results of Cartoon Brew’s Oscar Survey. Will ILM’s Rango and Pixar’s La Luna win the Feature and Short categories as our readers predicted, or will there be upsets in those categories.

While we’re waiting to hear the results, take some time to read our interviews with the five nominees of the Best Animated Short category:

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis (Wild Life)

Enrico Casarosa (La Luna)

Grant Orchard (A Morning Stroll)

Patrick Doyon (Sunday)

Bill Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore)


Cartoon Brew: Leading the Animation Conversation | Permalink | No comment | Post tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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15. Olympic Bookshop Hop, Day 26 - St Andrews to Edinburgh


70 days
8,000 runners
8,000 miles
800 bookshops

Today, day 26 of the Olympic torch relay, the flame travelled 145 miles from St Andrews to Edinburgh and visits Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument and Edinburgh Castle on the way.


Early in the morning, the torch was carried along West Beach in St Andrews by a group of children to re-enact the famous scene in Chariots of Fire where the British Olympic team (decked all in white) ran along the sand at Broadstairs in Kent.  The scene for the 1981 Oscar winning film was actually filmed on West Beach and the athletes portrayed in the film were training for the 1924 Olympics (although none of them were carrying an Olympic torch as part of their training regime).

After its cameo on the coast, the torch continued on its route through Dunblane and Cumbernauld before it was transferred to a boat when it reached the Falkirk Wheel - which was opened by the Queen 10 years ago as part her Golden Jubilee celebrations.



It then was carried over the Forth Road bridge on a bike by record holding long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont.  

Iain Morrison, enterprise manager at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh described how the torch arrived in the city at about 5pm and rested there overnight. Edinburgh Castle was the focal point for the celebrations, which is straight up the hill from The Fruitmarket Gallery. Iain Morrison, enterprise manager at the Gallery, headed up there after it had closed, hoping to catch sight of the flame:
‘There were lots of rumours among the crowd as to which direction the torch would take and people were running this way and that after it as though on some huge treasure hunt. I was fortunate and I caught up with it outside the Old Bank of Scotland, where the changeover took place.’


The town was ‘jam-packed’ with tourists and locals all jostling to see the torch, said Iain. ‘You couldn’t cross the Royal Mile and had to take a two-mile detour – it was just a solid wall of people. I’ve never seen Edinburgh like that. Even during the Festival, when the city is full, people are walking in different directions to different events. Here everyone was walking in one direction – towards the torch.’

Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us wit

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16. Seth MacFarlane Is Hosting The Oscars

Seth MacFarlane is hosting the Oscars next year. I watched his performance on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, and thought he was fantastically entertaining. His recent turn as a performer is enough to almost make me forgive him for his lack of vision as an animation creator.

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17. ‘And the Oscar went to …’

In his acceptance speech at the 1981 Oscars (best original screenplay, Chariots of Fire), Colin Welland offered the now famous prediction that ‘The British are coming!’ There have since been some notable British Oscar successes: Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy (1989); director Anthony Minghella for The English Patient (1996); Helen Mirren (in The Queen, 2006); and — maintaining the royal theme — awards for best director, actor, and film for The King’s Speech in 2011.

But looking at all British Oscar winners — since the first Academy Awards in 1929 — presents a different story. Less the ‘British are coming!’, more the ‘British have been!’ A full list of Oscar winners with entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (currently 79 individuals) lists 70 recipients between 1929 (Charlie Chaplin, The Circus) and 1980 (Alec Guinness, honorary award), and just 9 winners since Colin Welland’s rousing prediction. The Oxford DNB’s selection criteria — that all people included are deceased in or before 2009 — means this imbalance isn’t really a revelation, nor should it come as a surprise. Quite simply, and happily, most post-1981 British winners remain in good, creative health.

But the ODNB’s Oscar list is nonetheless an interesting reminder of outstanding talent, and outstanding films, from the history of British cinema. Here, of course, you’ll find the great names: Vivien Leigh (twice best actress for Gone with the Wind, 1940, and A Street Car Named Desire, 1952), Laurence Olivier (special award for Henry V, 1947 and best actor, Hamlet, 1949), or the lovely Audrey Hepburn (best actress, Roman Holiday, 1954). Also notable is that some of the most successful figures in British cinema have worked behind the camera, including the directors Carol Reed and David Lean who were both double winners.

The Oxford DNB’s list also reminds us of the perhaps forgotten successes: Jack Clayton whose The Bespoke Overcoat won ‘best short (two-reel) film’ in 1957 or Elizabeth Haffenden, winner, in 1960, of the best costume (colour) Oscar for the often scantily-clad Ben-Hur. Then there are the surprises: did you know that George Bernard Shaw won a statuette in 1939 for his adapted screenplay of Pygmalion, or that the dramatist John Osborne collected the same award for Tom Jones in 1964?

Finally, there are the ones who almost got away. It seems extraordinary that Stanley Kubrick (he lived in Britain, so he’s in the ODNB) won only once — and this for ‘best special effects’ in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Or that Cary Grant (born in Bristol) had to make do with an ‘honorary award’ in 1970. Perhaps most surprising is that the giant of twentieth-century film, both in the UK and US, only reached the stage once, to receive the Irving G. Thalberg memorial award in 1968. He, of course, is Alfred Hitchcock whose life is recreated in an eponymous film out this month — and possibly on next year’s Oscar shortlist.

In addition to the Oxford DNB biographies above, the life stories of Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant are also available as episodes in the ODNB’s free biography podcast.

Now, from podcast to a pop quiz from Who’s Who, we’ll test you not only on what you know about the BAFTAs and Oscars, but who you know.

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography  is the national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. In addition to 58,500 life stories, the ODNB offers a free, twice monthly biography podcastwith over 175 life stories now available. You can also sign up for Life of the Day, a topical biography delivered to your inbox, or follow @odnb on Twitter for people in the news. The Oxford DNB is freely available via public libraries across the UK. Libraries offer ‘remote access’ allowing members to log-on to the complete dictionary, for free, from home (or any other computer) twenty-four hours a day.

Who’s Who is the essential directory of the noteworthy and influential in every area of public life, published worldwide, and written by the entrants themselves. Who’s Who 2013  includes autobiographical information on over 33,000 influential people from all walks of life. The 165th edition includes a foreword by Arianna Huffington on ways technology is rapidly transforming the media.

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Image credit: CHICAGO – JANUARY 23: Oscar statuettes are displayed during an unveiling of the 50 Oscar statuettes to be awarded at the 76th Academy Awards ceremony January 23, 2004 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. The statuettes are made in Chicago by R.S. Owens and Company. (Photo by Tim Boyle) EdStock via iStockphoto.

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18. The Beat’s Annual Guide to Winning the Oscar® Pool: Best Animated Shorts 2013

TweetSo, once again, Hollywood confabulates and celebrates the best of motion picture arts and sciences tonight, at the 85th Academy Awards.  Among the many awards will be two showcasing the best in animation: Animated Feature Film and Short Film Animated.  Many people have seen the feature films (or had a chance to…dunno how many actually [...]

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19. Disney Sweeps Animation Oscars with “Paperman” and “Brave”;

Disney swept the Oscars this year with wins for both animated short and feature. Congrats to John Kahrs and Walt Disney Feature Animation for taking home the Animated Short Oscar for Paperman. Congrats to Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and the Pixar crew for winning the Animated Feature Oscar for Brave.

The Oscar for Visual Effects was awarded to Life of Pi. Congrats to Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott, and the crews of Rhythm & Hues and Moving Picture Company. Unbelievably, as the Life of Pi winners tried to comment on the recent situation in the VFX community, the Academy cut off their speech mid-sentence. Not classy, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

For the record, Paperman is quite an accomplishment for Disney. The last time the studio won the Oscar for Best Animated Short was 1969 and the winner was this guy:

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20. Rate Seth MacFarlane’s Performance Tonight

Love him or hate him, Seth MacFarlane is making history tonight as the first (and probably last) animator to ever host an Academy Awards ceremony. Let’s document this unique moment in cartoon history. Does his performance match up to previous Oscar hosts? Better than Billy Crystal? Steve Martin? Carson? Hope? Which of Seth’s routines killed and which fell flat? Did he make references to his animation career in a positive or negative way? Share your thoughts with the animation community as you’re watching the ceremony tonight.

(Note: Any comments not directly related to Seth’s performance will be deleted. Seriously, don’t even try.)

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21. Hear This Uninterrupted Statement from “Life of Pi” VFX Winner

Last night during the Oscars, the Academy organizers interrupted Life of Pi winner Bill Westenhofer’s speech just as he was about to address the crisis in the visusal effects community. The timing of the cut-off may not have been coincidental, as Variety’s David S. Cohen pointed out on Twitter:

Hollywood’s desire to silence the animation/vfx community is made more poignant by the VFX industry demonstrations that happened earlier on Sunday in Hollywood. Westenhofer supervised the visual effects of Life of Pi at Rhythm & Hues, which has already declared bankruptcy and is among the studios hit hardest by the recent industry turmoil.

Westenhofer spoke backstage at the ceremony with animation journalist Bill Desowitz, where he explained the message he wanted to deliver to Hollywood:

“At a time when visual effects movies are dominating the box office, [the] visual effects companies are struggling. And I wanted to point out that we aren’t technicians. Visual effects is not just a commodity that’s being done by people pushing buttons. We’re artists, and if we don’t find a way to fix the business model, we start to loses the artistry. If anything, Life of Pi shows that we’re artists and not just technicians.”

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22. Using the Oscars: Why I Love Them and Watch Them

by TimShoesUntied flickr.com

by TimShoesUntied flickr.com

Yesterday when I posted on Facebook for WOW! and on my Editor 911 page about The Oscars, we got fewer responses than I figured we would, and many of them were negative. It turns out everyone doesn’t love this night as much as I do–I confess I like the Hollywood glam, I like to see the people we see on the silver screen interacting with other people, and I like the emotion of the winners. I do realize that these people are being awarded for pretending to be other people and for a life that is already rich and full of rewards. But I still love it.

When I realized I wanted to write about The Academy Awards on my blog today, instead of a book, I realized that you can use the awards with kids/teens/other adults, just like you can a book. You can use some of the stories from last night to inspire others to follow their dreams, to reach for the stars, and to persevere through anything. There are two stories/award winners in particular that I feel share this theme, and their stories are below.

  • Winner of Best Documentary: The winner of the Best Documentary category last night (Feb. 24, 2013) was Searching for Sugar Man about a Detroit singer-songwriter, Rodriguez, who was popular in South Africa in the 1970s (never popular in the U. S.). The singer has a strange but true story–I won’t get into that here–but what’s interesting about this film is that the director, Malik Bendjelloul, ran out of money before he finished shooting the documentary. So, instead of trying to borrow more or do a Kickstarter campaign, he downloaded a $1.99 app on to his smartphone and shot the scenes he needed on his phone! Now that’s resourceful! That’s persevering; and last night, his spirit paid off because THE MOVIE WON AN OSCAR! To read the full story and share with your middle school/high school/college students and or children, go to this link: http://news.doddleme.com/equipment/director-runs-out-of-money-turns-to-iphone-to-finish-oscar-film/
  • Best Documentary Short: This moment brought tears to my eyes last night, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one! The filmmakers who won this category for the documentary, “Inocente,” brought the subject, a 19-year-old Latino girl, of their film on stage with them. The woman (whom I believe was one of the directors) who accepted the award also had tears in her eyes and said that the girl was homeless a year ago, and now she was here in front of all of these people because of her art. That caught my interest–how about you? Art is powerful, just like music, and this girl’s passion is obviously going to change her life. On Huffington Post.com, an article states: “The documentary follows the life of Mexican-born, 15-year-old Inocente Izucar, an artist living San Diego, California, who with brilliant colors and unique pieces uses art to rise from her challenging reality and pursue her dreams of becoming a professional painter.” Now Inocente is 19 and has been given a chance to display her art and make an income. The website Nonprofit Quarterly has more of the story because of the nonprofit organization, Shine Global, which is dedicated to end abuse and exploitation of children around the world through film, made the documentary. For more info on this important subject and to see why the arts are important and we should encourage our children to do them, go to this link: http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/21847-nonprofit-produced-film-inocente-wins-oscar.html

Sure, it was fun last night to see Ben Affleck and George Clooney on stage accepting for Argo (an excellent film in my opinion) and to see one of my favorite, beautiful actresses, Jennifer Lawrence, win best actress. I thought Seth MacFarlane was funny most of the time, and of course, loved to see Jennifer Hudson belting out her famous song from Dreamgirls.

However, the stories that will stick with me from here on out are the two I mentioned above. I hope they touch you, too; and I hope you can find a way to share them with the young people in your life!

Don’t forget the middle-grade novel I am holding a contest to giveaway until March 1. Check out the super easy contest here.

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23. Do the Oscars snub films without redemptive messages?

By Elijah Siegler


Last night at the Oscars, the Academy awarded a golden statuette to a film about a flawed hero who we the audience empathize with, who departs their normal life, enters a strange world, but returns triumphantly. Did I just describe Best Picture Winner Argo?

Yes, but also best animated short winner, Paperman, best animated feature winner, Brave, and best live action short winner, Curfew.

So whether the hero is a CIA operative, an besotted office worker, an Scottish princess or a suicidal man, and whether the journey is to revolutionary Iran, to a world of sentient paper airplanes, to a dark forest, or to a magical bowling alley, these films, and it’s safe to say, most of their fellow nominees, have spiritually uplifting themes, and generally follow a pattern of a mythic journey to redemption. (Indeed as my colleague’s S. Brent Plate pointed out, religion permeates all nine best picture nominees and the ceremonies themselves.)

Academy members, and audiences in general, like and expect movies to be heroic journeys of redemption. One 2012 film, Cosmopolis, is about a journey that’s anything but heroic and redemptive. Indeed, the film, based on a short novel by Don DeLillo, charts a billionaire’s limo ride across Manhattan to get a haircut as ironic, pointless and even destructive. Unsurprisingly, Cosmopolis received precisely zero Oscar nominations. Now, I’m not here to argue that this film was better than any of the nine nominated films.

One reason that the film’s director and screenwriter, David Cronenberg, despite being widely regarded as one of the world’s best living filmmakers, has never been nominated for, let alone won, an Academy Award, is because all his films explicitly reject themes of “redemption” and “spiritual uplift.”

Cronenberg is known not only an originator of the body horror subgenre (Shivers, Rabid, The Brood), and for adapting difficult works of literature (Naked Lunch, Crash, Cosmopolis), but for being one of the few filmmakers who explicitly identifies as atheist, and whose work ignores all religious themes. Cronenberg’s public atheism is all the more notable considering his association with horror, a genre often analyzed as fundamentally religious. Think about all the horror films that include one of more of the following: the dead displaced, satanic cults, covens, possession, exorcism, ghosts, and curses. Or think how often religious symbols a church or a crucifix, become sites of terror. So it is significant that none of Cronenberg’s films have any religious or supernatural elements. And this is not coincidence, but his conscious choice. More succinctly, he told me when I interviewed him at his home in Toronto, he does not “want to promote supernatural thinking.”

More significantly, both his earlier horror films and his later more literary films eschew the thematic underpinning virtually every Hollywood film ever: the battle between good and evil. Cronenberg’s films do not provide the visual and aural clues that conventional Hollywood cinema uses to denote good and evil. His heroes are not particularly altruistic or, indeed, heroic. The protagonists of several of his films [SPOILER ALERT], including Videodrome, The Fly and Dead Ringers die—but their deaths are neither redemptive nor sacrificial, nor do they result in any kind of triumphant return, symbolic or otherwise.

Many of his films do not have traditional villains. Even his seemingly conventional antagonists, from the sex parasites in Shivers to the multinational corporation Spectacular Optical in Videodrome to Naked Lunch’s Dr. Benway, are sinister and scary, but function as necessary agents of change.

When Cronenberg does use religious imagery to suggest evil, it is neither supernatural nor transcendent. Rather, his religious imagery evokes authoritarian institutions. Dead Ringers, based on a true story of twin gynecologists’ descent into madness and addiction, includes examination scenes set in the Mantle Clinic, their medical practice. The clinic functions as a kind of quasi-religious institution and the scenes are terrifying (even though this is not at all a traditional horror film), inasmuch as they show the power that doctors have over patients, and that men have over women (see Image).

In both his personal philosophy and his films, David Cronenberg sees no need for transcendence, or for the fulfillment of the hero’s quest, or for cosmic reward and punishment. And yet his films wrestle with the same questions of meaning that our favorite “religious” films do (questions of sex and death, power and desire, family and society, identity and transformation) but that do so in a uniquely nonreligious way. The Oscars may never give Cronenberg his due, but anyone interested in religion, film and their relationship, needs to.

Elijah Siegler is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston. His article “David Cronenberg: The secular auteur as critic of religion” was recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

The Journal of the American Academy of Religion is generally considered to be the top academic journal in the field of religious studies. This international quarterly journal publishes top scholarly articles that cover the full range of world religious traditions together with provocative studies of the methodologies by which these traditions are explored.

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The post Do the Oscars snub films without redemptive messages? appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. Cartoon Brew Launches New Animation Oscar Tracker

Among the most popular features on CartoonBrew.com is our annual coverage of the Academy Awards. Our 2013 Oscar coverage recorded the highest traffic ever in the site’s history, hitting a single-day record for pageviews on Monday, February 25.

The animation community’s interest in the awards is justified for many reasons. Foremost, the Oscars serve as a barometer of the general public’s attitudes toward animation. The films that are nominated (as well as those that aren’t) tell us a lot about how animation is evolving as an art form and its acceptance into the mainstream.

The Oscar’s animation categories, however, have long been marginalized in the entertainment media, and lacked the informed coverage and analysis that accompanies the live-action categories. Cartoon Brew sets out to change that with its new ANIMATION OSCAR TRACKER, which is the animation industry’s first and only resource devoted to year-round coverage of contending films.

Our broad focus on both mainstream and independent films will help the film community parse through the ever-growing number of feature and short entries. We aim to provide Academy voters with an indispensable tool for making informed decisions when it comes time to nominate films and select winners for these prestigious animation honors.

The new ANIMATION OSCAR TRACKER, which is readily accessible through Cartoon Brew’s top navigation bar, will be updated regularly with lists of films in contention. More features will be added in the weeks and months to come including Oscar predictions, interviews with filmmakers, and coverage of other animation-related Academy Award categories like visual effects.

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25. At Least 13 Films Are Vying For Animated Feature Oscar This Year

We’re getting close to that time of year again: awards season. Our Animation Oscar Tracker has been updated with a list of films that we understand will be submitted for the Best Animated Feature category of the Academy Awards. The current total stands at 13 films:

  1. Escape from Planet Earth (Weinstein Co.) 2/15/13
  2. The Croods (DreamWorks Animation) 3/22/13
  3. Epic (Blue Sky) 5/24/13
  4. Monsters University (Disney-Pixar) 6/21/13
  5. Despicable Me 2 (Illumination) 7/3/13
  6. Turbo (DreamWorks Animation) 7/17/13
  7. Planes (Disney) 8/9/13
  8. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony Pictures Animation) 9/27/13
  9. Ernest and Celestine (GKIDS) Fall 2013
  10. A Letter to Momo (GKIDS) Fall 2013
  11. Free Birds (Reel FX/Relativity Media) 11/1/13
  12. The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli/Touchstone Pictures) 11/8/13
  13. Frozen (Disney) 11/27/13

To be clear, we can’t guarantee that these films will qualify for the category, and can only say that they are being submitted for consideration to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. For there to be a maximum of five nominees, a total of 16 animated features must qualify for the category. If between 13 to 15 films qualify for the category, then there can be a maximum of four nominees.

The good news is that there will very likely be more films submitted for the category besides the ones listed above. For example, I expect that the South African studio Triggerfish will qualify their latest effort Khumba, especially since last year they qualified their first feature Adventures in Zambezia. If your studio is planning to qualify a feature film, please 0 Comments on At Least 13 Films Are Vying For Animated Feature Oscar This Year as of 9/19/2013 3:10:00 AM

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