The Oscars live telecast #oscars

(posted at 9:14am March 3 Manila time, 5:19pm March 2 LA time): There’s a prompt in the WordPress box (Daily Post) on the Oscars predictions, “Hollywood’s biggest night”.

       If only for the fact that there are people who actually starve themselves for two weeks then get frozen-dried with botox injections, to look good (the movies stars walking the red carpet in slinky designer gowns reportedly did not eat for two weeks — euphemistically called a juice cleanse — to look their best) it’s probably worth a two-second look- see.

but …. before  that — a little bit of context: ” xxx  The Oscars were always as much about marketing as art, another way to keep movies in the forefront of the public imagination. Louis B. Mayer and his industry pals created the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in early 1927 to improve the industry’s image — then under fire because of labor disputes and boundary-pushing material — and honor its best work, Mason Wiley and Damien Bona write in their indispensable book “Inside Oscar.”

 ” xxx years later, with the studios now in the hands of large multimedia corporations, the awards haven’t changed much. Though the Hollywood studios would be pleased if mainstream blockbusters were nominated, they’re just as happy with the low-budget “indie” films that earn awards — since, for the most part, they all have their own “indie” branches, such as Fox Searchlight and Paramount Vantage, says Notre Dame film professor Jim Collins. (One of these indie branches, Warner Independent Pictures, is a unit of Time Warner, as is its parent Warner Bros. — and CNN.)

” “They see it as diversification,” Collins says. “It’s not like the Oscars have been taken over by a band of renegades. Virtually every studio has a summer popcorn movie and a fall prestige film. Each major studio developed an independent division to expand market share. 

“In the last three years, only four of the 15 best picture nominees have been from the major studios, he notes.

 “Audience tastes have changed as well. In the pre-“Star Wars” era, some of the biggest box office hits of all time were also best picture winners, including “The Godfather,” which — with its large, ethnic cast, rich dialogue, deliberate pacing, period setting and three-hour running time — would almost certainly be an indie film today. xxx ” – By Todd Leopold, CNN .

     And on to the best bets for the annual academy awards: To the credit of the motion pictures academy, an indie film, “Dallas Buyers Club”, is a shoo-in for at least two major awards (from its actors, McConaughey and Jared Leto);  then,  newcomer of Kenyan descent Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”),   a Yale drama graduate for best supporting actress; and a nomination for non-actor Somali Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”) for best supporting actor. 

And here are the predictions — from a WordPress site, Variety Magazine:  a toss-up between McConaughey (Dallas) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years) for best actor; Cate Blanchett (Jasmine) and Amy Adams (Hustle) for best actress;  “Gravity” for best picture, or “12 Years a Slave”.  Jared Leto (Dallas)  for best supporting actor and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o.

From Ramin Setoodeh, Film Editor, New York; Jenelle Riley, Associate Editor, Features:

“BEST ACTOR

“Jenelle: This category is the most competitive it’s ever been. You know it’s tough when Tom Hanks isn’t nominated for “Captain Phillips.” When I saw “Dallas Buyers Club” at the Toronto Film Festival last year, I tweeted that no one could beat Matthew McConaughey for best actor. My faith was shaken at times — it seemed like the film wasn’t building the buzz it needed at first, and Chiwetel Ejiofor was a formidable competitor. Then the Golden Globe and SAG Award wins seemed to push McConaughey to the lead, but I couldn’t shake the feeling Leonardo DiCaprio was breathing down his neck. It’s a bravura performance and DiCaprio is overdue — he should have won 20 years ago for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” DiCaprio has been campaigning like never before, even appearing on “Saturday Night Live” to poke fun at “Titanic.” Also, “Wolf of Wall Street” screened too late for SAG nominating committee to really consider it, so we were deprived of a DiCaprio vs. McConaughey showdown. But when DiCaprio failed to win the BAFTA award (McConaughey wasn’t nominated for BAFTA), my thoughts of a DiCaprio upset were greatly diminished. Plus, McConaughey is killing it on HBO’s “True Detective.” So it seems to be McConaughey’s year — which is great. His performance is transformative, fierce and heartbreaking.

   xxx

“BEST ACTRESS

“Ramin: I want to start with the best actress race, because every pundit agrees that Cate Blanchett is a shoo-in for “Blue Jasmine,” after sweeping all the precursors. I think she’s probably the safe bet. But with a late voting calendar, there’s been more time for voters to second-guess their choices, and I think Amy Adams could upset.

“Here are three reasons why: (1) Adams is the only non-winner. The rest of her opponents — Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Sandra Bullock and Blanchett — have all won Oscars before. The last time four winners went up against a non-winner in an acting category was in 2002, when Adrien Brody emerged with a surprise trophy for “The Pianist.” (2) “American Hustle” needs to be rewarded somewhere. The David O. Russell comedy became the 15th movie in history to have four actors nominated, and usually when that happens, one actor emerges victorious. (3) The Dylan Farrow letter in the New York Times. I don’t really want to go into specifics of the case (the Internet has already done that), other than to say some voters will understandably be discouraged from supporting a Woody Allen film.

“This is Adams’ fifth Oscar nomination. She’s worked with almost everybody in the industry, and her performance in “American Hustle” is a nimble tightrope walk that serves as the backbone of the movie. (The entire ensemble leans on her.) Blanchett is the frontrunner, but I’m going on a limb and predicting a late-night surprise win for Adams.

 “Jenelle: There was a time when I also thought either Adams or Bullock could upset. The Academy loves Adams and the world loves Bullock. And I think if Dench had been able to campaign this year, things might be different. But Blanchett is unstoppable. If she had lost even a single precursor award, I would think it could make a dent in the case for her, but she has swept everything. I think Jennifer Lawrence is a stronger bet than Adams for a “Hustle” win (we’ll get to that) and I also think “Hustle” is being underestimated in some below the line categories, so the thought of it going home empty-handed doesn’t worry me. As for the Woody Allen scandal, I don’t see it touching her. When she won the BAFTA Award, she chose to dedicate the award to Philip Seymour Hoffman. A classy, heartfelt move that also had the added benefit of her being able to deliver a powerful speech without having to mention anyone else—namely her controversial director. All that aside, she’s a phenomenal actress who never makes a false move in her front-and-center performance.

“Ramin’s Prediction: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Jenelle’s Prediction: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

xxx

“BEST PICTURE

“Ramin: The most suspenseful award of the night will be best picture. “12 Years a Slave” was knighted the best film of the year by many when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, only to stumble at the box office (it’s only made $50 million, despite all the critical acclaim). All throughout Oscar season, I’ve heard the Academy voters say they like, but don’t love, the Fox Searchlight drama. Even so, I still think “12 Years” would have had a good chance of winning best picture under the old system of counting ballots. But after the best picture race expanded in 2011, the votes in this category are tabulated differently — with a weighted ballot. You don’t need a plurality to win. You need a majority, and voters are asked to rank their favorite films in order of preference. I think the new math gives “Gravity” the edge. The movie that wins this award can’t polarize audiences (which “12 Years” does). It needs to be mostly consistently liked, and “Gravity,” which received 10 Oscar nominations, will receive a high ranking on most ballots. For that reason, I’m predicting it will win best picture.

“Jenelle: I was hoping the PGA Awards would provide some clarity to the “Gravity” vs. “12 Years a Slave” race, but then they went and tied. So it’s going to be down to the wire. I’ve heard “12 Years a Slave” described as an “eat your vegetables” movie — it’s good for you, it’s a classic “best picture,” and it will win. I think that’s selling the movie short, as it’s also a great film that many people are deeply passionate about. But like you said, the preferential ballot doesn’t reward passion, it rewards the consensus movie — the one that everyone can agree is a solid choice. For that reason, and because of all the below-the-line support, I also think “Gravity” will top “12 Years a Slave” in the end.

“Ramin and Jenelle’s Prediction: “Gravity”

xxx

“BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR AND ACTRESS

“Ramin: Can anybody beat Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o? I think Leto is a lock for “Dallas Buyers Club.” Supporting actress is less certain, even if Nyong’o is the favorite. If I’m wrong about Amy Adams, there could be a chance the Academy gives the trophy to Lawrence, who is Hollywood’s most valuable asset right now — between headlining the “Hunger Games,” winning the Oscar last year for “Silver Linings Playbook” and stealing every scene of “American Hustle,” the biggest hit of David O. Russell’s career. But I’ll go with Nyong’o, not only because of her emotionally devastating performance, but because “12 Years” has to win one of the major prizes.

xxx

“OTHER CATEGORIES

“Best Animated Feature: “Frozen” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Cinematography: “Gravity” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Costume Design: “The Great Gatsby” (R.S.), “American Hustle” (J.R.)

“Best Documentary: “The Act of Killing” (R.S.), “20 Feet From Stardom” (J.R.)

“Best Film Editing: “Gravity” (R.S.), “Captain Phillips” (J.R.)

“Best Foreign Film: “The Great Beauty” (R.S.), “The Broken Circle Breakdown” (J.R.)

“Best Makeup: “Dallas Buyers Club” (R.S.), “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” (J.R.)

“Best Original Score: “Gravity” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Original Song: “Frozen” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Production Design: “The Great Gatsby” (R.S.), “Gravity” (J.R.)

“Best Sound Editing: “Gravity” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Sound Mixing: “Gravity” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Visual Effects: “Gravity” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Adapted Screenplay: “12 Years a Slave” (R.S. and J.R.)

“Best Original Screenplay: “Her” (R.S.), “American Hustle” (J.R.) “