How meaningful is a Best Picture Oscar in the grand scheme of things? Well, obviously that’s going to depend on the point of view of each individual person considering the question. For the purposes of this article we’re going to assume that it’s a pretty big deal within the context of the awards themselves, but we’re going to have a look at the history of voting patterns in relation to other Oscars given out each year, its importance within the film business, and how these relate to long term relevance.
Let’s see how much I can find to say on this subject, shall we?
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As I covered during last year’s warm up to the Oscars ceremony, the change the Academy made in 2009 by expanding the list of nominations in the Best Picture category from the traditional five to as many as ten has significantly altered the conversation. This is what it was meant to do, but perhaps the conversation has not quite changed the way it was intended to. If you look at the list of Best Picture nominees from this year’s awards there are definitely a couple that we’re happy to see included which might not have been in previous years, even the sic-fi picture Arrival is not exactly a mainstream style popcorn flick, but represents the sort of focus on art which is the standard for Oscars material. For the most part it really appears that the voters have adapted to the new rules and have pretty much resumed with its promotion of “Oscar-bait” films. Despite some genre fans holding out hope that favorites like Deadpool or Zootopia could grab at the big prize, that didn’t happen. But we do have some pretty interesting nominees and how they interact when considered against one another gets the old brain hummin’ too.
In most years, the Best Actor category is one of the major flash points of Oscars evening. Last year’s win for Leonardo DiCaprio was seen by some as the rightful end to a long-standing wrong (I wasn’t one of those people, but we’re not talking about me here). Both 2009 and 2010 featured Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth as top nominees with each man eventually taking home one statuette. Longtime favorites, unexpected darkhorses, and actual movie stars have made the walk to the stage to be honored over the years and there’s usually a lot of suspense or anticipation over a tight race or a coronation. Despite some uncertainty over who the actual winner will be, I’m not quite getting the same sense of excitement over this race as I have in many other years. No matter who wins, that performance will be seen by most as deserving, but I’m not sure there are a ton of people outside of the productions themselves who are emotionally invested in the outcome. Join me below as i discuss each nominee and maybe offer some hints as to why people might feel this way. Then help us vote for our own favorite to take home Oscar gold in this category!
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While there have definitely been years in which the Academy appeared to be having trouble filling out this category, this was definitely not one of them. Probably the most talked-about exclusion of the Oscar year was Amy Adams’ lead performance in Arrival, which managed to grab eight other nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and in several technical categories without likewise honoring Adams. It has been suggested that perhaps she split the vote with her equally fine work in Tom Ford’s entrancing Nocturnal Animals. Still more onlookers favored Annette Bening’s turn in 20th Century Women or Taraji P Henson as mathematician Katherine Goble Johnson in Hidden Figures. Clearly none of these women would have looked out of place on the final list of nominees. This is a good sign for actresses in general, but maybe not a great one for those hoping to take home an Oscar. The competition appears to be getting even more fierce.
That could also be demonstrated by how much trouble I had deciding on my own rankings in this category.
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Hello again! I’m Allison, and I love writing and costuming. So I’m thrilled to be back on Le Blog for a second year of discussing the Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design, especially as I recently wrapped my consistent blogging project, Lizzie McGuire Reviewed.
We’ve got an interesting crop of films this year. They’re almost all period pieces (with the exception of La La Land, which wants to be) and none are particularly over-the-top; we certainly don’t see any costuming as downright bonkers as last year’s winner, Mad Max: Fury Road, but this year’s list also lacks the bright, fantastical design of Disney flicks like Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland that usually appear in this category. Most critics are calling a toss-up between Jackie and La La Land for the award. I’d be fine with the former. We’ll….get into the latter.
Does anything about that top image look slightly off to you? If so, it’s probably because there are only four films nominated in the Best Original Song category instead of five. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t five nominated songs. It’s just that one of these movies has two. No points for guessing which one.
This is actually not that uncommon. In fact, the Best Original Song category has a history of wonky nomination counts for a variety of reasons. Back in 2013 one of the songs had its nomination revoked. Prior to that, a series of rules changes designed to reduce any perception of the category being “filled out” with unworthy nominees sometimes resulted in fields of three or four. A nomination process that required voters to rate each song, with only those rated higher than a set target gaining a place on the Oscars stage produced a situation in 2011 in which only two songs were nominated (prompting one high-profile singer to accuse the Academy of being “mean”). Over the first eleven years of the category’s existence voters were permitted to nominated as many songs as they liked…and boy did they like! Throughout the early forties no less than nine songs were nominated every single year, topping off at a whopping FOURTEEN in 1945. Obviously that was an out of control situation. People love being honored and they certainly love seeing their projects get free promotion. With no television show to keep on time, why not pile up as many nominations as possible if you can?
For a good long time after that, the Academy put a cap of five nominations on the category and as far as I can tell that was working pretty well. There were a few times when there were a small number of songs which the Academy considered to be qualified, and they would automatically reduce the number of nominated songs to three. This happened in 1988 when Carl Simon’s song from Working Girl took home the gold over Phil Collins’ retro bit of fluff from his otherwise unknown starring vehicle Buster. Considering the well-publicized demographics of the Academy it’s a little hard to swallow when they proclaim that only two or three songs deserve nominations. I’m going to stop short of criticizing them for nominating more than one song from a single movie, though. I personally think it’s pretty great if a particular musical is really that good that they can shower it with praise. Disney’s Beauty & the Beast really is that good, and a lot of people felt the same way about The Lion King. Besides, if they were limited to one song per film, my favorite movie song of the year probably wouldn’t have been nominated this time around.
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It’s Oscar season, and despite how much we all know it doesn’t actually recognize many of the best movies of the year, this is as close as cinema junkies get to a Super Bowl. So, while we may not have a dog in the race, we still watch (or at least read about it, because watching it is excruciatingly dull). And in much-needed good news the influx of voters has actually had the effect of increasing the representation of nominees. We have not only people of color nominated for every acting category, but for directing, writing, editing, and cinematography. This is a great win for everyone.
Here’s my analysis and picks for this year’s Oscars. These picks are guaranteed to be correct. If there is a discrepancy between the winners and this list, it is the Oscars who are wrong. And they should be ashamed.
Have you fallen a little behind on your cinema-going last year as you were in too much of an existential crisis watching your heroes (Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Muhammad Ali, and Alan Rickman and MORE) being seemingly unfairly taken away as the rest of the world burned around you? Or maybe you’re in the market for a new Blu-Ray for your home viewing pleasure, but don’t know which movie is one of the movies that are good? Don’t worry LeBloggians, my best movies of 2016 list won’t stop this mother from burning down, or bring back any of our heroes in some sort of Faustian pact, but it will let you know what the movies that are good are.