Academy Awards

88th Academy Awards

OscarsLast night, this year’s movie awards season finally came to an end at the glitzy and glamorous Academy Awards. The proceedings were kicked off by a powerful, yet still funny opening monologue by second-time host Chris Rock, that addressed the diversity controversy that has shrouded this year’s Oscar nominees. His comments were insightful and set the tone of the rest of the ceremony.

Although perhaps not the most exciting of Oscar ceremonies, there were plenty of surprise wins to balance out the foregone conclusions. The Revenant did take home two of the top prizes with wins for actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. DiCaprio’s win, his first after previously being nominated 5 other times, made the Internet explode with glee, while Iñárritu’s win makes him the first director to win back to back Oscars since John Mankiewicz 65 years ago. However, in the end The Revenant couldn’t clinch the best picture win. That Oscar went to Spotlight, the highly-praised ensemble drama about the Boston Globe reporters who investigated reports of abuse within the Catholic Church.

Other surprises of the evening included Mark Rylance winning Supporting Actor over Stallone, the sentimental favorite; the visual effects team for the fairly low-budget Ex Machina winning over blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road; and, in a musical upset, Sam Smith’s song for the newest Bond film winning over Lady Gaga’s documentary anthem, an earlier performance of which had prompted a standing ovation.

The big winner of the evening, taking home the most statues, was the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road, with six wins in technical categories. Highly rated by critics and audiences alike, it was nice to see the Academy voters honor such a high energy, big budget summer movie. I was disappointed that George Miller did not take home the Oscar for best director or picture, but it was lovely to see how much respect the winners in the technical categories had for Miller’s artistic vision.  

If you missed the ceremony last night, the official Oscars website has a complete list of winners, as well as videos of most of the acceptance speeches. There are also videos of Chris Rock’s opening monologue, performances of three of the nominated songs, and the In Memoriam accompanied by Dave Grohl singing “Blackbird.”

2016 Oscar Nominations: Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor

oscar statueWe are only two weeks away from the Academy Awards live telecast, which means it is time to take a closer look at the ten men nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Although there appears to be a clear front runner in each category, there could be surprises in store. I have not yet had a chance to see all of the nominated movies, but I still have my favorites. Who would you like to see win in each category?

This year, only three of the ten nominated actors (Matt Damon, Eddie Redmayne and Christian Bale) have previously won an Academy Award, and only two of those (Redmayne and Bale) in acting categories. This is also the first Oscar nomination for three of the actors (Bryan Cranston, Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance). Interestingly enough, all but two of the ten actors (Damon and Stallone) are nominated for portraying real people.

Most of the nominated films are still in theaters so not yet available in HCPL’s catalog, but make sure to check out previous works by the actors!

Best Actor:

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo): Although this is Cranston’s first Academy Award nomination, he is no stranger to the awards circuit with multiple wins and nominations for his television work (most notably for Breaking Bad), and a Tony win for Best Actor in a Play. In the biographical movie Trumbo, Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, a famous screenwriter and one of the Hollywood 10, a group of 10 screenwriters who refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Matt Damon (The Martian): In The Martian, based on the book of the same title by Andy Weir, Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut presumed dead and stranded alone on Mars. A talented actor, Damon’s career spans genres with roles in critically-acclaimed movies (Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, Syriana) and box office hits (The Bourne Trilogy, Ocean’s 11). This is Damon’s third acting nomination at the Academy Awards, with previous nominations for actor in Good Will Hunting and supporting actor in Invictus. He previously won an Oscar, shared with Ben Affleck, for original screenplay for the movie Good Will Hunting.

A Comparative Look at the 2016 Movie Awards Season

academy awardThis morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards. Honoring achievements in film, the Oscars are the culmination of the film awards season, following on the heels of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA Awards), the Critics Choice Awards, and the various guild awards (Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, and Directors Guild).

One of my favorite things about movie awards seasons, is trying to predict who will win the Academy Award in each category. Because the Academy Awards are the last of the major movie awards telecasts, predictions are often made based on the winners at the other shows. The winners don’t always match up (sometimes the nominees don’t even match up!), but there generally seem to be frontrunners in most categories. This year, the category with the most stability in nominees across the board is that of lead actor. By contrast, the lead actress nominees have skewed wildly from one award to another. It will be interesting to see how the wins line up over the few weeks leading up to the Academy Awards.

For a look at the entire list of nominations for each award show, visit the Academy Award website, the BAFTA Awards website, the Critics' Choice Awards website, the Producers Guild Awards website, the Directors Guild Awards website, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards website.

87th Academy Awards

academy awardLast night, the movie award season came to a satisfying conclusion at the 87th Academy Awards, the biggest night of the year for Hollywood. Like always, the live telecast brought the glitz and the glam, the laughs and the tears. First time Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris kicked off the night with an appropriately musical tribute to movie magic. Joined by Anna Kendrick and Jack Black, Harris’ song reminded audiences at home and in the Dolby Theatre why movies are so captivating. It was a charming beginning to a fun night of one-liners, bits, and one show-long magic trick.

Emotions were high throughout the ceremony as winners took to the stage with speeches that ran the gamut of funny (when one of the screenwriters for Birdman thanked his dog Larry), heartfelt (when The Imitation Game screenwriter, Graham Moore, told kids to “stay weird”) and impassioned (the many speeches that mentioned social and political activism). My personal favorite speech of the night was given by supporting actor winner J.K. Simmons, when, after saying his thanks, he closed his speech by strongly advising everyone listening to call their parents, if possible.

2015 Oscar Nominations: Best Actress & Best Supporting Actress

It’s finally here!  Of all the awards given out every year for movies, this is the big one.  The one we place bets on.  The one where we compete against friends and family to see if our choices match those of the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Oscar Snubs in Movie History

north by northwest minimalist posterThe goal of the Academy Awards is to honor the best of the best in film and, the majority of the time, they do just that. But sometimes they might get it a little bit wrong. In retrospect, maybe the best picture winner wasn’t quite as outstanding as it seemed. Maybe one of the other nominated films has proven itself an enduring classic, a movie worth re-watching time and again. And sometimes, the best film of the year, the one that reaches classic movie status, wasn’t even nominated.

As happens every year, this year’s Oscar nominees have been met with mixed feelings. There can only be so many nominees in the best picture category and, each year, there are wonderful movies that are left off of the final ballot. This year’s favorite movies not up for a best picture nomination include, among others, a bestselling book made into a film (Gone Girl), a beloved stage musical made into a film (Into the Woods), an inspiring biographical account (Unbroken), and a science fiction epic (Interstellar). But perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of this year’s Oscars is, of course, the absence of The LEGO Movie from the best animated feature nominees. Maybe everything isn’t as awesome as it should be at the Oscars?

If you are suffering from awards season burnout, check out one of these classic films instead! They may not have received a best picture nomination, but they are more than worthy of a second (or third, or fourth…) look!

2015 Oscar Nominations: Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor

academy awardIn just a few short weeks, the winners of this year’s Academy Awards will be announced in a live telecast. Of the ten actor nominees this year, half have previously received Academy Award nominations, but only one, Robert Duvall has won an Oscar. Also of note, half of the actors are nominated for their portrayal of real people, proving, yet again, that the Academy loves a biopic.

Some years the acting awards seem like a lock, with one person sweeping their category. This year J.K. Simmons seems like a sure bet for the supporting actor win, but there voting seems divided in the best actor category. It will be interesting to see who will take home the award at the end of the month. I have yet to see all of the nominated films, but I already have my favorites. Who would you like to see take home the Oscar this year?

Most of the nominated films are still in theaters so not yet available in HCPL’s catalog, but make sure to check out previous works by the actors!

Best Actor:

Animated Films at the Oscars

snow white academy awardHistorically, animated feature films never quite received the recognition they deserved at the Academy Awards. Occasionally, animated films that broke technological barriers, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the 1930s, and Toy Story in the 1990s, were given special awards in recognition of their achievements. But it wasn’t until Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in 1992, that an animated feature film was nominated for best picture.  Since then, only two other animated feature films, Up and Toy Story 3, have been nominated for best picture, both after the category was expanded to a possible ten nominees. It seemed that, no matter how beloved the movie and how outstanding the reviews, animated films simply did not receive the same level of critical acclaim during awards season as live-action films.

In 2001, however, all of that changed. Aided, in part, by the increasingly diverse selection of animated films released in theaters each year and the overwhelming popularity of some of these films, the Academy added the Best Animated Feature category. The very first Oscar in this category was awarded to the DreamWorks Pictures film Shrek in 2002 at the 64th Academy Awards. Since then, a diverse group of animated films have been recognized for their contribution to film.

Some of the current Oscar nominees in this category are not yet available on DVD, but I have included all of the previous winners at the end of this post. Remember: you’re never too old to love an animated film!

A Comparative Look at the 2015 Movie Awards Season

academy awardLast Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards. Honoring achievements in film, the Oscars are highly anticipated by Hollywood and movie goers alike. This announcement was the last for the movie awards season, coming after nomination announcements for the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA Awards), the Critics Choice Awards, and the various guild awards (Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, and Directors Guild).

Every year, I find it interesting to compare the lists of nominees in the major categories at these awards shows. Sometimes the nominations are strikingly similar (as with this year’s nominees for lead actress and supporting actor), and sometimes they are completely different (as with this year’s nominees for best film and best director). Below, I have listed all the nominees for film, director and the four major acting awards, along with the awards for which they were nominated. 

86th Academy Awards

OscarsThis past Sunday, the 86th Academy Awards were held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The culmination of awards season, the Academy Awards are an exciting night full of glitz, glam, tears and lots of golden statues. This year, host Ellen DeGeneres brought laughs to audiences watching in the theater and at home with a long-running pizza bit that resulted in pizza actually being delivered to the celebrities in attendance, and a star-studded selfie that broke Twitter. Movie montages of the heroes, both real and imaginary, that have come from movies, a celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, and a moving In Memoriam helped round out the celebration of film.

Although the big winners at this year’s Oscar ceremony weren’t overly surprising, some of them were momentous. With his win as part of the husband-wife team behind Frozen’s hit song “Let It Go,” Robert Lopez became the twelfth and youngest (at 38 years old) member of the EGOT club. His previous wins include a Grammy and Tonys for the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, as well as Emmys for the children’s cartoon, The Wonder Pets.

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