Faye Dunaway Speaks on Oscar’s Best Picture Fiasco

Actress Faye Dunaway says she thought co-presenter Warren Beatty was joking when he paused before showing her the envelope that should have contained the Oscar’s best picture winner.

Dunaway tells Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News she thought Beatty was stalling for effect.

Dunaway read “La La Land” as best picture winner rather than “Moonlight” after PwC partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed them the back-up envelope for Actress in a Leading Role instead of the envelope for Best Picture.

She says she read the movie’s title on the card but didn’t notice Emma Stone’s name.

Dunaway says she felt “completely stunned” and later felt guilty because she thought she could have done something to prevent the debacle.

Holt’s interview with Dunaway will air Tuesday on the “Today” show. (AP)


4 Rules to Win Your Oscar Pool

NYT Times’ Nate Silver is providing awards-season insight for Carpetbagger leading up to the 83rd Academy Awards on Feb. 27. Mr. Silver is the author of The Times’s FiveThirtyEight blog, which is devoted to the analysis of statistics and data in politics and other areas.

Oscar shaped chocolate statuettes are seen at ... AP



Two years ago, I tried to predict the Oscar winners for New York Magazine by crunching data from the last 30 years of awards history. The project was a mixed success. I got 4 out of 6 categories right, an acceptable score on paper. But several of the choices (like “Slumdog Millionaire” for Best Picture) were giveaways and conversely, the system’s longshot pick — Taraji P. Henson for her role in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — was a total flop.

Okay, so the system isn’t exactly Watson (not that Watson doesn’t make mistakes too). Nor, really, could any system be when trying to predict the behavior of the relatively fickle group of human beings who make up the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

But I’ve dusted off the database (literally: it was on an old desktop that had begun to gather moss) and aimed to simplify it — boiling it down to a few core factors that have been especially reliable predictors in the past. The idea is to focus on those variables that have some logical meaning rather than being statistical artifacts. Here, then, are the rules-of-thumb for predicting the Oscars:

1. By far the best predictors are the winners of other major awards, like the Golden Globes. That isn’t rocket science, I know. But there is some utility in knowing which awards have the best track records in which categories. In the best picture category, for instance, awards given out by ‘outsiders’ like critics tend to be far less reliable predictors than those given out by professionals like directors and producers.

2. A nomination for best picture is a boon in the other cateogries. If one nominee for best actress appears in an Oscar-nominated film and another does not, the one in the nominated film is more likely to win. Unfortunately, now that 10 rather than five movies are nominated for Best Picture, this state of affairs is less likely to happen.

3. The Academy — which can take itself very seriously — is relatively unfriendly toward comedies. If two candidates otherwise seem tied, lean toward the more dramatic film. The exception is in the supporting actor and actress categories, where the Academy likes to have a bit more fun and playing comedic or otherwise quirky and offbeat roles may actually be an advantage.

4. Hollywood has some tendency to “spread the wealth” — generally, it hurts a nominee’s chances if she’s won in her category before. The converse is also somewhat true — if someone has been nominated a lot but has not won, they may build up some sympathy points. This is not absolute, however — otherwise, Meryl Streep would not have been shut out in her last 11 best actress nominations.

That is pretty much what we have to work with. By contrast, other variables like release dates, Rotten Tomatoes scores and box office grosses (otherwise, how could “Avatar” have been upset last year?) don’t seem to matter, at least not once you’ve accounted for these other factors.

Of course, there might also be all sorts of intangible dimensions to voter psychology that are fun to speculate about, but are hard to quantify. And the Academy can go through different moods — recall for instance, its tendency to favor glossy but somewhat vapid films like “Terms of Endearment” during parts of the 1980s. So while our database goes back to 1979, we put more weight on more recent winners.

Here is how the system handicaps the odds in the six major cateogies:

BEST PICTURE As I’ve noted, although “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” have won a roughly equal number of awards, “The King’s Speech” has won those that matter most, like the awards from the directors’ and producers’ guilds. The statistical case for “The Social Network” rests on its victory at the Golden Globes, which does have some predictive power; the psychological one probably depends on it now having become the underdog since “The King’s Speech” has been on such a winning streak. Nevertheless — although we’re retiring the pretense of decimal-point precision this year in favor of a softer, gentler approach — “The King’s Speech” is overwhelmingly more likely to win.

BEST DIRECTOR Often the most boring award since it so closely tracks to best picture, but this year is a potential exception. Betting markets, even though they have “The King’s Speech” heavily favored for best picture, have “The Social Network’s” David Fincher slightly favored for best director. And our system likes Mr. Fincher, too.

The most formidable piece of evidence is that the awards were split in exactly this fashion at the Baftas (the British equivalent of the Oscars), with “The King’s Speech” winning best film but Mr. Fincher best director. Also, when there has been a split between the two categories, it is sometimes the more adventurous film (think “Brokeback Mountain” to “Crash”) that wins best director while the other wins the big prize; this can be observed, for instance, in the fact that awards given out by critics (almost all of which were won by “The Social Network”) do have some predictive power for Best Director, which they do not for best picture.

Another factor is that if it does not win best director, “The Social Network” may be entirely shut out of the major awards; just one of its actors (Jesse Eisenberg) was nominated and he is unlikely to win. Finally, going by the sympathy points theory, Mr. Fincher has been nominated before (for “Benjamin Button”, which was also shut out) while the director of “The King’s Speech,” Tom Hooper, has not.

Are you persuaded? It’s a tentative case — and notably, Mr. Hooper won the Directors Guild of America award, which is the single best predictor of the lot. But you have to take a few risks to win an Oscar pool, and predicting the split here is a pretty decent one.

BEST ACTOR No need to get fancy here: Colin Firth has swept every major award and is the overwhelming favorite.

BEST ACTRESS. Annette Bening won the Golden Globe for her role as Nic in “The Kids Are All Right”, but Natalie Portman has won the majority of awards and — recalling our rule-of-thumb from above — the Academy tends to prefer serious roles to comedic ones when the choice is otherwise close. Plus, everyone seems either to have loved “The Black Swan” or thought it so terrible that Ms. Portman deserves some empathy for having competently played such a ridiculous character (guess which group I’m in?). A small factor helping Ms. Bening is that she has twice been nominated before without winning (for “American Beauty” and “Being Julia”), but this is Ms. Portman’s award to lose.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. Geoffrey Rush made this mildly more interesting by winning the Bafta. But despite one recent coup — the Baftas rightly picked Alan Arkin for “Little Miss Sunshine” when most other awards did not — the Brits have a fairly poor track record in this category and the weight of the evidence points toward Christian Bale for his performance as a crack-addicted former boxer in “The Fighter.” If you wanted to pick a long-shot, in fact, you might do just as well to go with Mark Ruffalo from “The Kids Are All Right,” since his was the only comedic performance nominated and since that’s actually an advantage in this category.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Here too, the Baftas split from the other awards by picking Helena Bonham Carter rather than Melissa Leo. But the victory was a bit tainted since neither Ms. Leo nor the lovely Hailee Steinfeld (whom the Baftas quite rightly considered a leading actress for her role in “True Grit”) was nominated.

So could Ms. Steinfeld win instead? She could; this is among the hardest categories to predict, and we did adjust the system some for the fact that there is some confusion over her role. Nevertheless, Ms. Leo won both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards in direct competition with her, and so the case for Ms. Steinfeld is more sentimental than statistical.

New York Times

248 Films Eligible for Best Picture Oscar

Best motion picture winners Boal, Bigelow and ... Reuters

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says 248 feature films are eligible for Hollywood’s 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture.

It has nothing to do with a film’s quality. It has everything to do with following certain rules. The feature films must open in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days. They have to be more than 40 minutes long and be on a certain film or digital format.

Movies that get their first public showing or distribution other than as a theatrical motion picture release are not eligible for Academy Awards in any category.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations are to be announced live Jan. 25 in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 are to be presented Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.

The 2009 Oscar for Best Picture went to the war movie “The Hurt Locker.”

 (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Oscars Doubling Best-Picture Nominees to 10

The Academy Awards are doubling the number of best-picture nominees from five to 10.

Academy President Sid Ganis said at a news conference that the academy’s board of governors made the decision to expand the slate. Ganis said the decision will open the field up to more worthy films for the top prize at Hollywood’s biggest party.

The change takes effect with next year’ Oscars on March 7.

The move is a return to Oscar traditions of the 1930s and ’40s, when 10 nominees were common.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Oscar statuettes displayed on Times Square Studios in New York. ...

Studios Push Box Office Winners as Oscar Contenders

October 28, 2008



LOS ANGELES — Walt Disney is in. This week the studio will break new ground by starting a campaign that boldly offers its “Wall-E” as a contender for the best picture Oscar, an honor never yet won by an animated film.

Warner Brothers is in, too. That studio recently telegraphed plans for a multifront Oscar campaign for its Batman blockbuster “The Dark Knight” by sending awards voters a query about their preferred format for promotional DVDs.

Not to be outdone, Paramount may join the party. Along with Marvel Enterprises, it is weighing an Oscar push for “Iron Man” and its lead actor, Robert Downey Jr., even while promoting Mr. Downey as best supporting actor for his role in the DreamWorks comedy hit “Tropic Thunder.”

Welcome to the pop Oscars.

After years of giving plenty of running room to independent film companies or studio art house divisions that set the pace with critic-friendly but limited-audience films like last year’s “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood,” this year the major studios are pushing some of their biggest crowd-pleasers into the thick of the awards race.

Their approaching multimillion-dollar campaigns come at a time when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose 6,000-plus members award the Oscars, is planning to give its annual show a more commercially popular flavor. In part the academy’s producers will do that by including glimpses of the year’s box office favorites, whether or not they are nominated for prizes.

The shift is coming about partly because companies in the last year have either folded specialty divisions like Warner Independent Films, which in 2006 had a best picture nominee in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” or downsized them, as Paramount did with Paramount Vantage, which in 2007 had a nominee in “Babel.”

Shrinkage in the small-film business has left more room for big studios to play the Oscar game. Awaiting awards pushes are films like Universal’s “Frost/Nixon,” directed by Ron Howard; Paramount’s “Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a David Fincher film starring Brad Pitt; and 20th Century Fox’s “Australia,” a Baz Luhrmann epic starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

(“Australia,” still unseen by critics, does not arrive until December but was screened in unfinished form for Oprah Winfrey, who is expected to feature it with star interviews on her show next week, kicking off the studio’s campaign.)

At the same time Hollywood’s blockbusters, rich in effects and increasingly complex in their themes, appear to have become more award-worthy of late.

“Wall-E,” from Disney’s Pixar unit, emerged as a darling of the critics for its adult sensibility, in addition to its heavily detailed computer animation. The film, the story of a lovesick robot, tackles a serious topic (environmentalism) while taking huge risks (for instance, a 45-minute stretch with nearly no dialogue).

As early as midsummer Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal’s film critic, was arguing that “Wall-E” should be considered for best picture. “The time to start the drumbeat is now,” he wrote in a July 12 essay, noting the extreme difficulty animated films, while hugely popular, have faced in vying for the most prestigious Oscar. Only one, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” released in 1991, has ever been nominated for best picture.

From the New York Times

Kellene’s Oscar Picks 2008: The Official List

I didn’t do too bad with my picks. I only missed like at most five in the major categories. Maybe I do have a gift for this! I still stand behind my original winner predictions though.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the official list, here you go:

Complete Oscar nomination list
Media General News Service
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The following is the complete list of 80th annual Academy Award nominations, announced this morning:1. Best Picture: “Atonement,” “Juno,” “Michael Clayton,” “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood.”2. Actor: George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”; Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”; Johnny Depp, “Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street”; Tommy Lee Jones, “In the Valley of Elah”; Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises.”3. Actress: Cate Blanchett, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”; Julie Christie, “Away From Her”; Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en Rose”; Laura Linney, “The Savages”; Ellen Page, “Juno.”4. Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”; Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”; Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton.”

5. Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”; Ruby Dee, “American Gangster”; Saoirse Ronan, “Atonement”; Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”; Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton.”

6. Director: Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”; Jason Reitman, “Juno”; Tony Gilroy, “Michael Clayton”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood.”

7. Foreign Film: “Beaufort,” Israel; “The Counterfeiters,” Austria; “Katyn,” Poland; “Mongol,” Kazakhstan; “12,” Russia.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton, “Atonement”; Sarah Polley, “Away from Her”; Ronald Harwood, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”; Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood.”

9. Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, “Juno”; Nancy Oliver, “Lars and the Real Girl”; Tony Gilroy, “Michael Clayton”; Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, “Ratatouille”; Tamara Jenkins, “The Savages.”

10. Animated Feature Film: “Persepolis”; “Ratatouille”; “Surf’s Up.”

11. Art Direction: “American Gangster,” “Atonement,” “The Golden Compass,” “Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “There Will Be Blood.”

12. Cinematography: “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” “Atonement,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood.”

13. Sound Mixing: “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Ratatouille,” “3:10 to Yuma,” “Transformers.”

14. Sound Editing: “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Ratatouille,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Transformers.”

15. Original Score: “Atonement,” Dario Marianelli; “The Kite Runner,” Alberto Iglesias; “Michael Clayton,” James Newton Howard; “Ratatouille,” Michael Giacchino; “3:10 to Yuma,” Marco Beltrami.

16. Original Song: “Falling Slowly” from “Once,” Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova; “Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted,” Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; “Raise It Up” from “August Rush,” Nominees to be determined; “So Close” from “Enchanted,” Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; “That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted,” Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.

17. Costume: “Across the Universe,” “Atonement,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “La Vie en Rose,” “Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

18. Documentary Feature: “No End in Sight,” “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience,” “Sicko,” “Taxi to the Dark Side,” “War/Dance.”

19. Documentary (short subject): “Freeheld,” “La Corona (The Crown),” “Salim Baba,” “Sari’s Mother.”

20. Film Editing: “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “Into the Wild,” “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood.”

21. Makeup: “La Vie en Rose,” “Norbit,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”

22. Animated Short Film: “I Met the Walrus,” “Madame Tutli-Putli,” “Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven),” “My Love (Moya Lyubov),” “Peter & the Wolf.”

23. Live Action Short Film: “At Night,” “Il Supplente (The Substitute),” “Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets),” “Tanghi Argentini,” “The Tonto Woman.”

24. Visual Effects: “The Golden Compass,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Transformers.”