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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Academy Awards, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 42
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. 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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4. Steve McQueen’s low-tech triumph: Looking at this year’s Oscar winners

By James Tweedie


The annual Academy Awards ceremony draws weeks of media attention, hours of live television coverage beginning with stars strolling down the red carpet, and around 40 million viewers nationwide on Oscar night. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences relegates the awards for technical achievement to a separate ceremony a couple of weeks before, a sedate affair in a hotel ballroom rather the spectacular setting of the Dolby Theater. While this division between the arts and sciences is clear in awards season, that boundary has almost disappeared in the movies themselves, as computer-generated imagery and digital 3-D now occupy a prominent position in most major studio productions.

oscar

Academy Award for Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Photo by Loren Javier. CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr.

For almost a century popular American cinema has been primarily a storytelling medium, with the motion picture sciences playing a more secondary role, but the distinction between the popular arts of Hollywood and the engineering of Silicon Valley is blurring. The movie business is being incorporated into a TED world where technology and design are the cornerstones of most big-budget entertainment.

For the first three hours of Sunday’s broadcast, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity seemed to be soaring toward a Best Picture Oscar, a victory that would have marked a new stage in this transformation of the American movie industry. A tour de force of technological innovation, Gravity won a total of seven Academy Awards, including the bellwether prizes for Best Editing and Best Director, and the voters appeared on the verge of bestowing their top honor on one of the first films to utilize the full potential of 3-D, a film that creates an almost visceral, stomach-dropping sensation of weightlessness as the camera and bodies appear to bob and drift through space. At other times the camera hurtles forward and the storyline rushes us from one space vehicle to another, propelled by an accidental explosion or the blast of a strategically deployed fire extinguisher. In those moments the weakness of Gravity is as unmistakable as its technical prowess: its virtuoso, gravity-defying feats are accompanied by an almost absurdly insubstantial and implausible plot, even by the standards of Hollywood, where happy endings have been arriving on cue for decades and most cars seem to have a magical sixth gear that allows them to fly over rising drawbridges. The narrative seems almost like an afterthought in Gravity, a pretext to link together one floating space platform and the next and to celebrate cinematic technology in itself, untethering it from earthly concerns like the plot.

Vertigomovie_restoration

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

But the Academy voters obviously had a different narrative in mind when they submitted their ballots, and in keeping with a long tradition of last-minute plot twists, they managed to compose a far more heartening conclusion to the year in film. In your average year, the Academy Awards are, to borrow the title of one of this year’s Best Picture contenders, an “American hustle.” Every March, we anticipate the canonization of a new Citizen Kane or Vertigo, half-forgetting that these films, among the most revered American movies ever made, won a grand total of one Oscar (Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles, for the screenplay for Citizen Kane). Kane was nominated in nine categories and lost eight of them, and Hitchcock and the other makers of Vertigo left the Pantages Theater empty-handed in 1959.

The list of regrettable Academy Award decisions and omissions (for example, Hitchcock’s career-long snub in the Best Director category or the single statuette given to Stanley Kubrick in his lifetime, for visual effects in 2001) is at least as long as Oscar’s triumphs. While viewers tune in for the glitz, glamor, comedy, fashion, and, on occasion, a genuinely moving acceptance speech (or a train wreck taking place at the podium), the ceremony also promises to provide an annual assessment of the state of American cinema. The opulent spectacle arrives each year without fail, but the Academy almost habitually overlooks the truly vibrant pictures and artists working in the film industry in the United States. What does Oscar reward instead?

The recipients of the major awards are usually not the most lucrative blockbusters (which have already received their rewards at the box office) nor are they the type of formally innovative and idiosyncratic pictures that enter the canon retrospectively. The films that tend to be overrated by the Academy are well-meaning films that appear to address an important social issue, while discovering some heroes and reasons for hope in an otherwise trying situation (Slumdog Millionaire, Crash, and Million Dollar Baby, to name three of the last eight Best Picture winners). Films by recognized American auteurs like Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers, or Kathryn Bigelow have also fared well (see, for example, The Departed in 2006, No Country for Old Men in the following year, and The Hurt Locker in 2009), as have historical films that depict a triumph over hardship, with the formula for contemporary cinema—adversity, heroism, survival, and even a measure of vindication—retooled for use in the past. (See The King’s Speech in 2010 for the most recent example, but note also the run of five consecutive awards beginning in 1993 for Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, The English Patient, and Titanic, which together established the historical film as a one of the surest paths to the podium.) What matters at Oscar time is the appearance of importance and a willingness to return to historical tragedies or to glance at contemporary social ills.

Viewed in retrospect, the Academy Awards perform something of a bait and switch, as instead of recognizing the best films created in the previous year they provide a barometer of the social and historical problems that continue to haunt us, including (to focus on this year’s nominees) political corruption, the excesses of Wall Street, uneven development, slavery and racism, the AIDS crisis, and the persistence of homophobia. This year’s Best Picture nominees have been justly scrutinized precisely because they seem so intimately linked with the problems they address. Four of the nine nominees are based on actual events drawn from the very recent past, another (Philomena) recounts a true story spanning a 50-year period from the middle of the twentieth century to the present, and 12 Years a Slave retells the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free African-American from New York who was kidnapped and sold into bondage in Louisiana. Add Gravity to this strong group of films, and oddsmakers were predicting the tightest contest in recent memory, with these many returns to history pitted against an immersive, high-tech cinematic experience of the future.

In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, a real-life financial scam artist played by Leonardo DiCaprio, finds himself unable to drive home after an overdose of Quaaludes that leaves him prostrate on the front steps of his country club. Summoning all his strength, he manages to slither across the driveway, hoist himself into his gull-winged sports car, and steer through a series of obstacles unscathed. Or at least that’s how the events unfold the first time, in what appears to be Jordan’s experience of reality. Immediately after that sequence, we see the police arrive and Scorsese presents us with a revisionist version, with a wreckage of cars and signposts left flattened in his wake. Hollywood’s approach to the past often resembles the first, more delusional of these scenes, with the heroic figure emerging triumphant from history.

In 12 Years a Slave the historical devastation caused by slavery is more frightening because the damage is all pervasive, because nothing is left uncorrupted by the system that frames every interaction through the lens of property. Screenwriter John Ridley and director McQueen had the courage to let Solomon Northup’s story remain largely unchanged from the original autobiography and to frame the most searing images in the simplest, most direct way, as in the agonizingly long take where a near lynching unfolds almost in slow motion. And in the best tradition of classical Hollywood cinema, McQueen manages to combine a compelling narrative with a series of subtle character portraits, as Northup travels through a looking glass from his prior existence as an accomplished musician and family man in New York to what seems like an alternative universe, where survival depends on the stripping away of those markers of identity and humanity. Rather than present slavery as an incomprehensible evil from another time, the film also chronicles the everyday rationalizations that allow the master to accept depravity as a way of life and the foundation of an economic order.

In most years the Oscars ceremony performs a bait and switch, as we await the announcement of the year’s best films and hear the name of a soon-to-be-forgotten film. But the Academy Awards also remind us why we continue to care about movies and ascribe to them a social significance and power all out of proportion with the relatively modest ambitions of even the Best Picture nominees, let alone the more standard studio fare. The Oscars are an advertisement for the potential of cinema to engage with traumatic historical and contemporary realities, even if we usually have to look elsewhere for the films that address those issues in all of their complexity. 12 Years a Slave, one of the few masterpieces also to win the award for Best Picture, reminds us that sometimes those films can come straight from Hollywood.

James Tweedie is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and a member of the Cinema Studies faculty at the University of Washington. He is the author of The Age of New Waves: Art Cinema and the Staging of Globalization.

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5. 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

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6. Academy Reveals 21 Contenders for 2014 Sci-Tech Oscars

Last Friday the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a list of 21 scientific and technical achievements in 16 different areas, which have been selected for further awards consideration.

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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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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15. Oscar Focus: William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg Talk About “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”

BREWMASTERS NOTE: This week Cartoon Brew takes a closer look at each of 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 begin with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is the first film from William Joyce’s Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana. Co-directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg spoke with Cartoon Brew on January 25th.

Jerry: First things first. Your studio is in Shreveport, Louisana. Why there?

Bill Joyce: That’s where I grew up, it’s a great little Southern Shangri-la. Not that far from Dallas, about 2-3 hrs away. Brandon was working at Reel EFX and started contacting me about working together, and then Lampton (Enochs, co-partner in Moonbot) moved out here after Hurricane Katrina. The movie industry is actually pretty big in Louisiana. In this weird way, Shreveport has become this film making mecca. (laughter) That sounds too kind of ludicrous to say, but it’s sort of true.

Jerry: It IS true, you can make movies anywhere, everywhere today. Now, I’m a little fuzzy on the whole origin of this project. I’m under the impression that it started as an app, or designed to be something else other than a film?

Bill: It started out as a book that I wrote a few years ago in response to my mentor at Harper Collins. His name was Bill Morris and he had been there since they were called Harper Brothers, since 1949. He was just a great old publishing titan, and a real gentleman… but he was dying and I was really bummed out about it. One of the ways I deal with the good things and the crummy things in my life is I write a story. I was flying up to see him and on the way this title just kind of tumbled into my head, called “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.” It was a play on both Bill’s name and his actual physical stature… he was a diminutive guy, though a giant in the industry. And he loved books and everything about publishing. So I got to read him the story which was really sweet. He was a kind of crusty old guy but he would respond to outreaches of emotion in his crusty old way. I was going to make it into a book but then Brandon and I started working together in animation, and we wanted to create a short film around same time I was working on the book. It was then Lamptin suggested we form a company.

Jerry: I love how the film combines CG with hand drawn and miniatures…

Bill: Well, we kind of decided early on we wanted to play with all different kinds of animation, and it seemed that just to think of it in terms of computer animation seemed too limiting. Brandon and I were just so stoked about building miniatures and having CG characters, and doing 2D for some of it, and just doing everything we loved. It just seemed to apply to the story.

Brandon Oldenburg: And we love those old Popeyes, man. You know, we just wanted to just see if it would work. We had gotten a taste of building sets back in 1998 on a test film that we did called The Man In The Moon, where we built miniatures and took them down to New Orleans to an old vaudevillian theater that had been converted into a sound stage. And you know, that short test piece actually evolved into the upcoming Dreamworks project, The Rise of the Guardians.

Jerry: It seems you really put what you wanted into this film and you weren’t aiming for it being a 6 minute short, a 12 minute film, or a 22 minute TV special.

Bill: Going in, we were all “OK. We can’t afford anything over 7 minutes. We have to make this work for 7 minutes.” (laughter) And then we made an animatic completely disregarding time frame. “OK, how long does it time out? Oh! Oh crap! It’s 16 minutes!

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16. A Case for Eliminating the Best Animated Feature Oscar

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Animated Feature category in the Oscars, but I play along because that’s what all the cool kids do. This piece by Mark Harris on Grantland is a compelling argument though for why the animated feature category is, statistically speaking, silly and unnecessary. It’s such a thoughtful piece that I’m even willing to overlook Harris’s identification of animation as a genre, which we all know is incorrect..

At the very least, the Academy should consider Harris’s suggestion to cap the number of animated feature nominees at three. To date, there has not been a single year where more than three films have been worthy of the award. And it makes little sense to select five nominees out of a field of eighteen, when the Foreign Language category selects five from over sixty films. And those 60 films are already whittled down from a long list of contenders in each country. The dozen-and-a-half contenders in the feature animation category aren’t even preselected from a larger pool; films that nobody would ever think of rewarding like Mars Needs Moms and Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil are what make the category possible. Are animated films really that much better than live-action that every third film made is Oscar-worthy? As much as I like animation, even I’m not that deluded.

(Thanks, Chris)


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17. Academy Awards: Movies Inspired by Books (Part 1)

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 18, 2012

Many children’s books that have been adapted for film have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Hugo based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick and War Horse adapted from the children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo have both been nominated for Best Picture this year. Take a look back at some of the books that have inspired memorable films and been honored as nominees for Best Picture by the academy over the years.

All Quiet on the Western Front* | Universal | (1929/30) | (3rd ceremony)

Little Women | RKO Radio 3rd place | (1932/33) | (6th ceremony)

David Copperfield | MGM | (1935) | (8th ceremony) as introduced by Lionel Barrymore

A Tale of Two Cities | MGM | 1936 | (9th ceremony)

Captains Courageous | MGM | 1937 | (10th ceremony)

The Adventures of Robin Hood | Warner Brothers | 1938 | (11th ceremony)

Gone with the Wind* | Selznick International Pictures | 1939 | (12th ceremony)

The Wizard of Oz | MGM | 1939

Wuthering Heights | Samuel Goldwyn | 1939

The Grapes of Wrath | Twentieth Century Fox | 1940 | (13th ceremony)

The Yearling | MGM | 1946 | (19th ceremony)

Great Expectations | J. Arthur Rank-Cineguild | 1947 | (20th ceremony)

Ivanhoe | Pandro S. Berman | 1952 | (25th ceremony)

Around the World in 80 Days* | Michael Todd | 1956 | (29th ceremony)

The King and I | Charles Brackett | 1956

The Diary of Anne Frank | Henry Blanke | 1959 | (32nd ceremony)

To Kill a Mockingbird | Alan J. Pakula | 1962 | (35th ceremony)

Mary Poppins | Walt Disney and Bill Walsh | 1964 | (37th ceremony)

Doctor Dolittle | Arthur P. Jacobs | 1967 | (40th ceremony)

Beauty and the Beast | Don Hahn | 1991 | (64th ceremony)

Babe | George Miller, Doug Mitchell and Bill Miller | 1995 | (68th ceremony)

Sense and Sensibility | Lindsay Doran | 1995

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring | Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Barrie M. Osborne | 2001 | (74th ceremony)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers | Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Barrie M. Osborne | 2002 | (75th ceremony)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King* | Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Barrie M. Osborne | 2003 | (76th ceremony)

Finding Neverland | Richard N. Gladstein and Nellie Bellflower | 2004 | (77th ceremony)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button | Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Cean Chaffin | 2008 | (81st ceremony)

What are some of your favorite books that have been adapted for the big screen?

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18. 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)


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19. 2012 Student Academy Award Nominees

Thirty-five students from 20 U.S. colleges and universities have been selected as finalists in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 39th Annual Student Academy Awards competition. The complete list of nominees is posted here. Below are links or embeded trailers for the nine Animation category nominees and two from the Alternative category. The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 9th, at 6 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Chocolate Milk by Eliza Kinkz, University of California, Los Angeles


Eyrie by David Wolter, California Institute of the Arts


The Jockstrap Raiders by Mark Nelson, University of California, Los Angeles


La Lune et le Coq by Raymond McCarthy Bergeron, Rochester Institute of Technology


The Reality Clock by Amanda Tasse, University of Southern California (nominated as Alternative Film)


Terra Cotta Warrior by Bin Li, Richester Institute of Technology (nominated as Alternative Film)


The rest of the nominees are:

Cowboy, Clone, Dust by Matthew Christensen, New York University

Lizard and the Ladder by Aaron Bristow, Utah Valley University

My Little Friend by Eric Prah, Ringling College of Art and Design

Reviving Redwood by Matt Sullivan, Ringling College of Art and Design

Shinobi Blues by Yue Liu, School of Visual Arts


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20. 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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21. Academy Considering Twenty-One Animated Features

Who? Who will win the Oscar this year, at the 85th Academy Awards? Hey Krishna? The Mystical Laws? Walter & Tandoori’s Christmas?

Maybe – or maybe Pixar’s Brave, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania, or Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph will be among the five nominees. Today, the Academy announced the twenty-one features which have been have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category.

Listed in alphabetical order by title (click on highlighted title to see trailer), they are:

Adventures in Zambezia
“Brave”
Delhi Safari
“Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”
“Frankenweenie”
From Up on Poppy Hill
Hey Krishna
“Hotel Transylvania”
“Ice Age Continental Drift”
A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman
“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
The Mystical Laws
The Painting
“ParaNorman”
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
The Rabbi’s Cat
“Rise of the Guardians”
Secret of the Wings
Walter & Tandoori’s Christmas
“Wreck-It Ralph”
Zarafa

Several of the films listed have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying runs. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process. The nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 10th, 2013, at 8:30am EST/5:30am PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The winners will be announced on Sunday, February 24th, 2013.

Which ones do you think will be nominated?

(Thanks, Janet Hoffman)

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22. 10 Animated Shorts Selected For Oscar Shortlist

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has shortlisted ten films for the Best Animated Short category. From these ten selections, five nominees will be selected:

Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee, director (Lodge Films)

Combustible, Katsuhiro Otomo, director (Sunrise Inc.)

Dripped, Léo Verrier, director (ChezEddy)

The Eagleman Stag, Mikey Please, director, and Benedict Please, music scores and sound design (Royal College of Art)

The Fall of the House of Usher, Raul Garcia, director, and Stephan Roelants, producer (Melusine Productions, R&R Communications Inc., Les Armateurs, The Big Farm)

Fresh Guacamole, PES, director (PES)

Head over Heels, Timothy Reckart, director, and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, producer (National Film and Television School)

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, David Silverman, director (Gracie Films)

Paperman, John Kahrs, director (Disney Animation Studios)

Tram, Michaela Pavlátová, director, and Ron Dyens, producer (Sacrebleu Productions)

For the record, I tweeted a few days ago about the four films from this year’s qualifying animated shorts that I felt were truly Oscar-worthy. Not a single one was selected for the shortlist, but don’t let that stop you from seeking them out. They are all fantastic shorts that engage and challenge the viewer in a meaningful way:

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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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