As part of TCM’s annual 31 Days of Oscar® showcase in February 2014, the network will present the world premiere of Oscar, a brand-new documentary tracing the history of the Academy Awards. Produced by Telling Pictures, Inc., in association with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Academy) and Hollywood Newsreel, this fascinating special will take movie lovers on a journey through Hollywood history as it tells its story of the little statuette that became the industry’s most coveted prize.
Oscar is set to have its world television premiere on TCM Saturday, Feb. 1, the opening night of the 2014 edition of 31 Days of Oscar. With the new documentary as its centerpiece, 31 Days of Oscar will be themed around the history of the Academy Awards. Featuring more than 300 Oscar-winning and nominated films, the month-long showcase will take a deep look into the world’s oldest, most important and most prestigious film award. Each night’s lineup will feature a complete set of nominated films that faced each other in a particular category, beginning Feb. 1 with all 10 Best Picture nominees from 1939: Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Of Mice and Men, Ninotchka, Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dark Victory and Love Affair. READ MORE »
UPDATED WITH MORE DETAILS: The Academy Awards are important in and around Hollywood for primarily three reasons: the nominations which bring audiences into theaters as a movie marketing tool, the lucrative ‘For Your Consideration’ ads they generate, and the global telecast announcing winners so everybody can bask in their reflected glory. Now ABC is trying to corner the market on all with one move. Not only does the network broadcast the Oscars but its news division is guaranteeing data guru Nate Silver a role. How much of a Hollywood game-changer will this become? Not much of one judging from how little attention his movie awards prognostication has garnered in the past. Twice before, in 2009 and 2011, he sought to predict the Academy Award winners in 6 major categories based on a “mix of statistical factors”. His track record was 9 correct picks in 12 tries, for a 75% success rate. “Not bad, but also not good enough to suggest that there is any magic formula for this,” he wrote. For the 6 marquee categories he hadicapped in 2013, he was correct only for sure-things and missed the 2 that were more complex to predict. Meh.
I’ve been pondering this news scooped by Politico’s Mike Allen about all the inducements ESPN/ABC News gave the 35-year-old to leave The New York Times, including extensive air time, a digital empire, and inclusion in the Oscars. A lot of showbiz websites and blogs large and small, smart and smarmy, clued-in and clueless, depend on their Oscar prognostication to drive traffic and foot bills. But unless Silver allows for the myriad variables that go into Academy Award noms and wins – insider stuff that Deadline knows from covering movie awards season in-depth – he won’t become more accurate.
For instance: Who’s popular, deserving, and appropriately humble enough to get nominated? Which film’s director is considered a douchebag whom nobody wants to win? What studio did a lousy job campaigning for the Academy Awards? How badly is Harvey Weinstein badmouthing the competition? I’ve always said that most Oscar voters are not just geriatric and cranky but also jealous and vengeful. Whether Silver’s statistical model can take into account those indiosyncracies and also cover more Oscar categories than just 6 is yet to be seen. But I’ll bet on Deadline’s own awards columnist Pete Hammond to beat Silver’s prognostications in 2014.
Obviously, the annual Academy Awards process isn’t as big a deal as U.S. national election campaigns. But interesting to note that Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog was driving 20% of all traffic to the NYT as the last election electrified. That’s because in 2012 he correctly predicted the winners of all 50 states, in 2008 the winners of 49 out of 50 states, and the winners of all 35 U.S. Senate races that year as well. What ESPN/ABC offered was to return Silver to his flagship FiveThirtyEight.com and put him on air at ESPN and ABC, and develop verticals on a variety of new topics. And now he’ll work for the TV home of the Oscars. Odds are certain that Silver’s blog now will become one of the go-to places for Oscar dollars. But not for accuracy.
Can Silver truly become a trusted player in this showbiz space? Maybe. But he’ll have to do a lot better. Of course, if he’s wrong his first time out after being hyped way more than in the past, he’ll be laughed out of the biz. First, he has to stop relying on all the other film awards each year. They simply don’t matter. It might help if the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences hands Silver its list of voters. Considering that AMPAS and ABC are joined at the hip because their broadcast pact goes at least through 2020, that’s doable. Whether or not the membership will resent having their privacy violated or participating in any polling is an impending challenge. Certainly the Academy over the years has discouraged voters from cooperating with any prediction schemes.
So what methodology will Silver use? As best as I can understand it (and, please remember that I’m mathematically challenged), it’s a so-called ’educated and calculated estimation’ stemming from his reliance on statistics and study of performance, economics, and metrics. This guy first developed the Elo rating for Major League baseball, a system that calculates the relative skill levels of players. He then developed his PECOTA system for projecting performance and careers and sold it. His FiveThirtyEight is a self-created political polling aggregation website (which took its name from the number of electors in the U.S. Electoral College) using a calculated model. He needs to better adapt that to the Oscars instead of just relying on other awards shows.
Here’s what Silver wrote about his Oscar predictions in 2013:
This year, I have sought to simplify the method, making the link to the FiveThirtyEight election forecasts more explicit. This approach won’t be foolproof either, but it should make the philosophy behind the method more apparent. The Oscars, in which the voting franchise is limited to the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, are not exactly a democratic process. But they provide for plenty of parallels to political campaigns.
In each case, there are different constituencies, like the 15 branches of the Academy (like actors, producers and directors) that vote for the awards. There is plenty of lobbying from the studios, which invest millions in the hopes that an Oscar win will extend the life of their films at the box office. And there are precursors for how the elections will turn out: polls in the case of presidential races, and for the Oscars, the litany of other film awards that precede them.
So our method will now look solely at the other awards that were given out in the run-up to the Oscars: the closest equivalent to pre-election polls. These have always been the best predictors of Oscar success. In fact, I have grown wary that methods that seek to account for a more complex array of factors are picking up on a lot of spurious correlations and identifying more noise than signal. If a film is the cinematic equivalent of Tim Pawlenty — something that looks like a contender in the abstract, but which isn’t picking up much support from actual voters — we should be skeptical that it would suddenly turn things around.
Just as our election forecasts assign more weight to certain polls, we do not treat all awards equally.
I hate to say I TOLDJA but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences today announced its Oscar season schedule for 2014 and, predictably, with the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl taking every Sunday in February, the Academy moved the Oscar show to the first Sunday in March, the 2nd, as forecast here in a column on March 4th. I also predicted it would give them the opportunity to allow more time for seeing movies by moving the nominations back a week from where they were this year on January 10th (two weeks earlier than usual), and the Academy has done just that, moving the voting period back to where it has been in previous years with ballots going out December 27 and due back on January 8th (for 2013 ballots were mailed December 17 and came back January 4).
There were complaints from members that there just wasn’t enough time to see all the movies and then vote in that two week Holiday period, especially with so many other distractions of the season. This gives the Academy a lot more breathing room in making nominations but still allows for a six-week period between the announcement and the due date of February 25 for final ballots. This is important because it gives the public a lot more time to see the nominated movies and pleases exhibitors who have two extra weeks to exploit those nominations.
Are the Oscars moving even later into March next year? All signs say ‘yes’ and the Academy would be wise to announce this sooner than later.
Despite annual (and always wrong) media speculation (including a recent column in a well-known show biz trade) that the Academy Awards are planning to move a month earlier into January insiders have repeatedly told me the Academy’s Board has no taste for that, and as at least one former top officer in the organization told me over the weekend, contractually they can’t do it.
Though they haven’t yet announced any dates for the next Oscar race, the schedule of the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia February 7 through the 23rd puts a big crimp in any plans to keep the Oscars even on in its current berth on the last Sunday of February where it would run smack into the Closing Night ceremonies. In the past when this has come up the Academy has always moved the Oscar show to the first Sunday in March which would be on the 2nd next year. Quite frankly there is nowhere else for the show to go. Do the math.
With the Super Bowl already claiming Sunday February 2nd and the Olympics taking the remaining three Sundays, the earliest date available would be January 26th and every source with whom I have spoken tells me that is the date CBS is claiming for the Grammys next year (moving two weeks earlier than their February 10, 2013 date). Also getting the message are the major show biz Guilds which have all already staked out their 2014 dates and sprayed the territory.
The debate rages on about this year’s Oscars. Not about the movies that won or lost, but the host. Poor Seth MacFarlane just can’t seem to catch a break. If you believe what you read he is either a misogynist, a gay basher, an anti-Semite hiding behind a stuffed teddy bear, or someone who is just downright disrespectful to Abraham Lincoln. And you thought hosting the Oscars was going to be all fun and glamour?
Somewhere along the way we seem to be losing our sense of humor. It’s just an awards show, folks. Even if you don’t think he was funny — and apparently many don’t — it’s no reason to completely eviscerate the guy. For fronting a show that was alternately class (Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, musical numbers) and crass, he has been getting bashed from the right and the left for his Oscar-night performance where his routines, among many other charges, have been blasted as sexist (particularly for the musical number, “We Saw Your Boobs” which was meant to be a tasteless parody of a bad Oscar song number). For MacFarlane, who is known for edgy humor, this was relatively mild material. Yet critics like Amy Davidson in the New Yorker called it his “ugly, sexist, racist Oscars” and his performance, “a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane”. Ouch. The Anti-Defamation League joined the chorus earlier this week protesting the appearance of MacFarlane’s Ted and what they said was anti-Semitic humor. Yesterday a couple of California female legislators even filed a formal protest with the Academy over what they saw as offensive treatment of women.
It’s ironic that several women are now coming to MacFarlane’s defense, including Victoria A. Brownworth today at the Advocate.com, who said his humor was pointing out Hollywood hypocrisy against women and in fact gave his performance a ringing endorsement. The Academy itself got pro-active in sending press members positive statements about MacFarlane’s Oscar gig, offering a strong defense. All of this brings up the point that perhaps a “double standard” was at work here when compared to the media’s effusive praise for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the two female hosts of this year’s rival show the Golden Globes — even though some of their comedy bits dealt with some of the same subject matter as MacFarlane’s including women’s difficulties with issues of weight. So is there a real double standard at work? Fey and Poehler gets raves, MacFarlane gets vilified.
The Academy leadership may have felt pretty good about the Oscars’ boost in ratings over the 2012 and 2011 ceremonies, but plenty of other folks weren’t too happy with Seth MacFarlane’s hosting. California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, both Democrats who lead the Legislature’s women’s caucus, have written Academy President Hawk Koch and requested that the organization disavow MacFarlane’s behavior. “On Oscar night, when Hollywood seeks to honor its best, Seth MacFarlane’s monologue reduced our finest female actresses to caricatures and stereotypes, degrading women as a whole and the filmmaking industry itself,” the lawmakers wrote. “From topical jabs about domestic violence to singing about ‘boobs’ during a film’s rape scene, Seth MacFarlane crossed the line from humor to misogyny.” Author and award-winning creator of HBO’s Girls Lena Dunham wasn’t pleased either. In tweets she suggested that critics who claim Anne Hathaway hurt the feminist “cause” should save their “bad attitudes for the ones who aren’t advancing the cause” who “aren’t always, or mostly, women. Case in point: I saw your boobs“.
Related: Nikki Finke’s 2013 Oscars Live Snark
MacFarlane wasn’t the only source of complaints. The always closely watched “In Memorium” homage to people who have died over the past always leaves people out.
Watch the 85th Academy Awards red carpet parade right here on Deadline beginning at 2:30 PM Pacific via AP’s live feed. Later on we’ll post a full fashion report by Deadline contributor Monica Corcoran Harel. To watch click over to the jump. Autoplay is off for the stream, but the commercial plays when your browser refreshes. We’ll try to get that fixed.
Deadline Hollywood Columnist Pete Hammond talks with ENTV’s Brian Corsetti about who he thinks will capture Oscar’s biggest prizes: Best Picture and Best Director. One film has dominated the precursor awards, but its director/star can’t win for director, leaving a race between two frontrunners whose outcome could reprise a …
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with ENTV’s Brian Corsetti about his picks for likely winners in the four Oscar acting categories. All the precursor awards suggest that a favorite has largely locked up the win in two categories, Pete says. But the other two categories remain wide open, …
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with ENTV’s Brian Corsetti about his picks for the likely winners in the hotly contested Oscar races for Best Original and Best Adapted screenplays. With scripts for several highly regarded Best Picture nominees duking it out, Pete has a dark-horse candidate he …
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with ENTV’s Brian Corsetti about his pick to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Nominees include four powerful issue-oriented films and one that tracks a long-lost musical star. The winner, Pete says, likely will be not only the year’s best documentary but …
Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have completed their roster of presenters for Sunday’s show with a pair of Hollywood heavyweights. Three-time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson last presented a montage of previous Best Picture winners at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008. He’ll be back on stage this Sunday as will two-time winner Dustin Hoffman, who last handed out a prize in 2006. The official release follows:
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks about his picks for likely winners in several of the more technically oriented categories including cinematography, editing, sound design and sound mixing. For most of them, Pete says, he expects one film to scoop up several victories.
By all coventional signals, Warner Bros is sitting with a hot hand right now with Argo.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Seventeen of the 20 nominees in the acting categories will be among more than 160 Oscar nominees who will gather at noon on Monday, February 4, at the Beverly Hilton when the Academy honors this year’s
Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi has turned into a success story for 20th Century Fox which had the Yann Martel book in development for several years but could never crack the supposedly “unfilmable” property until Lee got involved five years ago and figured out a way to bring to the screen this epic story of a young man and a tiger trying to survive after a disastrous shipwreck. Earlier on Wednesday the film passed the half billion dollar mark worldwide for Fox and also just passed the $100 million milestone in America alone. Nevertheless this is a strong international smash and with 11 Academy Award nominations, a remarkable feat since none were for acting, it promises to keep growing the total and has emerged as a genuine threat at the Oscars. If anything Life of Pi stands as a testament to the art and science of motion pictures, a film the director says could not have been made even five years ago. Now it has thanks to the efforts of a group of dedicated craftsmen. Below Lee talks of the challenges as do the film’s Oscar nominees for Visual Effects, Cinematography and Music in a series of exclusive new featurettes premiering now on Deadline.