EMMYS Q&A: Bill Hader

By | Friday August 30, 2013 @ 12:11pm PDT

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.

If there are large shoes being left behind on Saturday Night Live this coming season, they belong to Bill Hader. For seven seasons, he’s been the impersonator extraordinaire, hitting high notes with his take on Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood and Vincent Price to name a few, but also with his non-celeb eccentrics such as Italian TV host/motor mouth Vinny Vedecci and, of course, effeminate “Weekend Update” New York City correspondent Stefon (whose Anderson Cooper wedding send-off was actually planned a year in advance by Hader). Unlike some SNL alums who overstay their tenure on the show and segue to limited opportunities, Hader is departing in his prime and looking at blue skies. Similar to Steve Carell in the wake of The Daily Show, Hader is delicately balancing the comedic persona he carved on SNL with dramatic feature roles in The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His And Her and with Kristen Wiig in The Skeleton Twins as well as voice-over fare in the Hulu series The Awesomes and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2. He already has a 2009 Emmy win for best animated program (under 30 minutes) under his belt as a producer on South Park; however, his recent Emmy nomination for best supporting comedy actor comes as his second in a row for SNL. Hader spoke with us about his departure from the show, its comedic mechanics and what lies ahead.

Related: EMMYS: Comedy Lead Acting Handicap Read More »

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EMMYS: AwardsLine’s Pre-Nom Profiles

By | Friday June 28, 2013 @ 5:06pm PDT

There are five AwardsLine Emmy issues scheduled for this year — three have come out ahead of today’s 5 PM PT deadline to submit nominations ballots for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, and two more are due in August after the nominations are announced July 18. Here are links to AwardsLine’s stories we’ve posted to keep you satisfied until nomination day.

Drama
Drama Series Overview

At a glance, this list of probable contenders for the drama Emmy will look a lot like last year’s. AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad are back. So are PBS’ Downton Abbey, HBO’s Game Of Thrones and, of course, 2012’s winner, Showtime’s Homeland. But also included among the frontrunners this year — as if the broadcast networks didn’t have a hard enough time getting any noms! — is Netflix’s first entry, House Of Cards. How will the wildcard fare against the cablers?

Profiles
Kurt Sutter On ‘Sons Of Anarchy’
David Benioff & D.B. Wiess On ‘Game Of Thrones’

Andrew Lincoln On ‘The Walking Dead’
Monica Potter On ‘Parenthood’
Julian Fellowes On ‘Downton Abbey’
Robin Wright On ‘House Of Cards’
Corey Stoll On ‘House Of Cards’

Vera Farmiga on ‘Bates Motel’
Kevin Bacon on ‘The Following’
Kerry Washington on ‘Scandal’
Read More »

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OSCARS: Governors Ball Preview

By | Saturday February 23, 2013 @ 9:00pm PST

Cari Lynn is an AwardsLine contributor

After the elation (or heartbreak) of Hollywood’s most coveted awards ceremony, 1,500 guests will flock to the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the top level of the Hollywood & Highland complex to let it all … Read More »

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OSCARS: Red Carpet Is Fashion’s Runway

By | Friday February 22, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST

Monica Corcoran Harel is an AwardsLine contributor

If all roads once led to Rome, then most fashion runways now merge into the Red Carpet. For the past decade or so, celebrity stylists have cherry-picked the fashion runways for the very … Read More »

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OSCARS: Hammond’s Down-To-The-Wire Predictions For 2013 Winners & Losers

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 7:45pm PST
Pete Hammond

Can’t we just end all this suspense about winners or losers and call it one massive tie this year? The 2012 crop of Oscar nominees, and films in general, is so impressively dense with quality it seems a shame the Academy has to pick just one winner in each category. But that’s the name of the game we play this time of year, and with ballots going out just as I had to turn this piece in, it is still a fluid situation as to just what the final results will be. With so many movies spread across many categories that are genuine contenders, a split vote resulting in some surprising twists and turns is possible, even though the various guild awards give strong clues about industry sentiment. If the past is any indication, I am aware some readers might take these predictions as gospel and bet the farm on it in their Oscar pools, so I offer a disclaimer before we begin. I am not responsible for any monetary loss you might incur, nor do I expect 10% of any winnings. I am just trying to read the winds of Oscar after several months of analyzing every tea leaf. Here is where I have a hunch it stands, but please note I have made a few tweaks since the original version of these predictions were published in last week’s print edition of AwardsLine (I switched in production design and makeup/hairstyling). Results at BAFTA, WGA, and several other guild award shows have now been taken into account since then, but it is all still a crap shoot in one of the craziest Oscar years in memory.

BEST PICTURE

All season long, this has been about as wide open a race, and as competitive a field of contenders, as we have seen in many years. With nine nominees, the same number as last year, it has taken a while to figure out a surefire winner. But with key awards from the PGA, DGA, WGA, BAFTA and SAG, in addition to best picture honors at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, Argo has clearly emerged as the frontrunner, a remarkable turn of events considering its director, Ben Affleck, was snubbed by the Academy’s directing branch Jan. 10. Oh, what a difference a few weeks makes. The big question is, can the Warner Bros. juggernaut maintain momentum and win Oscar’s top prize, even without that directing nomination? If so, it would be only the second film to win without a directing nom, following Driving Miss Daisy’s feat at the 1990 ceremony. With the best picture category holding the strongest possibility for success among Argo’s seven nominations, could it actually win here and nowhere else? Not likely, but it’s possible, especially in a year in which I think the Academy will be spreading the wealth. Lincoln, with a leading 12 nominations (a good, if not always correct, indicator), Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi are probably still in the mix here as well but…

The Winner: Argo

The Competition: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

BEST DIRECTOR

With the quirky director’s branch going out of their way to snub DGA nominees Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, and DGA winner Ben Affleck, we know for sure we can’t count on the usual spot-on correlation between the DGA winner and the eventual victor in this category. Affleck actually would have been my prediction to win here, but, alas, he’s not even nominated, which means voters might very well be splitting their vote for director and picture this year — certainly not unheard of in recent years but increasingly rare. As directors of the two films with the most nominations, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln and Ang Lee for Life of Pi, are the likely frontrunners, with Silver Linings Playbook’s David O. Russell coming up on the outside. If initial frontrunner Lincoln has been eclipsed in the Best Picture race, this is the place voters could come to kneel at the Spielberg-ian altar. Or not. Lee’s triumph in even managing to bring the “unfilmable” Pi to the screen just screams “directing”, and that could play very well here.

The Winner: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

The Competition: Michael Haneke, Amour; Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ACTOR

This is Daniel Day-Lewis’ to lose at this point. Playing such a well-known biographical figure is, of course, a big plus. But Day-Lewis brought a lot to the table and remains the guy to beat in an impossibly fine field of contenders. Day-Lewis’ biggest drawback is that he has already won this prize twice, and a third would be unprecedented for lead actors in Oscar history. Also no actor has ever won an Oscar for playing a U.S. president, another potential first. The Academy might want to reward equally deserving newcomers to the category like Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper instead, but judging from the pile of precursor awards Day-Lewis has already won, it looks like you can bet a very large pile of $5 bills that he will make Oscar history with honest Abe.

The Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

The Competition: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Denzel Washington, Flight

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Actor/Best Actress Race Handicap

BEST ACTRESS

I got this one wrong last year when Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) beat Viola Davis (The Help), and this is another tough one. The race for lead actress is hotly competitive, with both Silver Linings Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain claiming other early awards and also impressing with strong performances (Naomi Watts is magnificent in The Impossible, but that film got no other nominations, putting it at a disadvantage here against four other actress nominees from Best Picture contenders). Plus, never underestimate the so-called “babe factor” (thanks to the Academy’s dominant male membership) that this category often, but not always, favors. A win here for either one could be a chance to give either of their movies an important award, while shutting them out elsewhere. The real wild card in this race is 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, whose performance in the foreign language film Amour has been widely praised and admired, particularly by her fellow actors, who comprise the Academy’s largest voting block. As the oldest Best Actress nominee ever (she actually turns 86 on Oscar Sunday), she could trigger a sentimental factor and a feeling that the others will have another shot someday. SAG champ Lawrence probably has the edge and is where the smart money’s going, but a split in this very fluid category could provide one of the evening’s most interesting stories. So going way out on a limb…

The Winner: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

The Competition: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Read More »

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OSCARS: The Original Screenplay Nominees

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 6:31pm PST

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine. Paul Brownfield and David Mermelstein are AwardsLine contributors.

Amour

Auteurs wouldn’t be auteurs if they weren’t enigmatic, especially when it comes to deconstructing details of their oeuvre. “Let the film speak for itself” is often … Read More »

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OSCARS: The Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Chris Terrio | Argo

Chris Terrio had a trove of primary and secondary material to consult in writing the screenplay for Argo, most notably the memoir Master of Disguise, by former CIA agent Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 … Read More »

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OSCARS: Directing Nominees On The Process

Michael Haneke | Amour

Oscar pedigree: He has two nominations this year for screenwriting and direction. Previously, 2009’s The White Ribbon received two noms for best foreign language film and cinematography.

Birds Read More »

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OSCARS: Nominated Film Editors Break Down Key Scenes

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 5:00am PST

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor

The film editing race is both diverse and expected. All five nominated films are also up for best picture, and the individual editors range from three-time Oscar winner Michael Kahn to several first-time nominees and one nominee, William Goldenberg, nominated for work on two separate films. We talked with the nominated editors and asked them to run through a key scene from their films—one that was crucial to making the picture work, either from a tone perspective or a more technical one. The results were as diverse as the nominated films themselves.

WILLIAM GOLDENBERG | ARGO

Goldenberg says Argo’s incongruous quality was epitomized in an often bizarre sequence that cuts from the elaborate table-read of the fake screenplay at the Beverly Hills Hotel to the houseguests trying to entertain themselves in their long isolation to Iranian forces frightening hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran with a mock execution.

“When I read the script, I thought this was a scene where if we can make this work tonally, the movie will work”, says Goldenberg. “Because it’s all these different tones colliding together, and if all these expositions can work as a scene, then I think what we’re trying to do with the movie will be successful”. Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Tim Burton

By | Sunday February 17, 2013 @ 1:04pm PST

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine

In the final stretch before the Oscar ballot deadline, there’s still hope that voters remain undecided in the animation category. Though Disney has cornered the Oscar slot with three titles, its Frankenweenie, directed by Tim Burton, stands as an island against the epic Brave and the existential crisis comedy of Wreck-It Ralph. The film is an auteur’s youthful dream short, once buried by the studio that has resuscitated it as a 3D stopmotion feature — the first in black and white. This Frankenstein homage about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life is signature Tim Burton. Many will argue Burton is overdue for an Oscar. He was nominated in the animated category for 2005’s Corpse Bride. His 1994 absurdist biopic Ed Wood garnered a supporting actor win for Martin Landau (as Bela Lugosi) and best makeup, while 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street won best art direction and earned noms for Johnny Depp as best actor and for Colleen Atwood’s costumes. Another appealing Burton attribute for Oscar voters is that he remains an iconoclast among big-studio directors working today — he’s a visual artist with a spooky canon that appears alienating with its deep subtext but lures the masses with its fanciful spins on children’s tales such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. AwardsLine recently spoke to Burton about his career and Frankenweenie’s place in it.

AwardsLine: Why was this the best time to make Frankenweenie as a stopmotion feature. You could have conceivably made it in 1993 instead of Nightmare Before Christmas.
Tim Burton: All these projects take a long time. I remember when I first designed Nightmare, it took about 10 years to get that in place because nobody really wanted to do stopmotion, and in a way, there weren’t a lot of facilities that were doing it. We did the Frankenweenie short many years ago, and I never really planned on it being anything else. Over the years, I just kept kind of thinking about the relationship with my dog, but also other monster movies, the kids and teachers from my school, and even the downtown places in Burbank. A lot more thoughts came into Frankenweenie, Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Les Mis’ Production Design

By | Saturday February 16, 2013 @ 2:04pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor

The set for an empty street—easy, right? Not when you’re working on the movie version of the hit stage musical Les Misérables for director Tom Hooper (2010’s Academy Award winner for The King’s Speech). Production designer Eve Stewart says Hooper was such a stickler for authenticity in re-creating 1832 Paris that, for the first few days, “there was an awful lot of horse poo about—real horse poo”. To avoid a rebellion on the part of cast and crew, real horse droppings were quickly replaced with fakes. By phone from London, Stewart talked about this and other challenges in creating just the right look for Rue de la Chanvrerie as described in Victor Hugo’s classic novel. 1) Buildings in 1832 Paris, the year of the June Rebellion depicted in the film, “were still very medieval, not like the Paris you see now”, says Stewart, who was able to find historic newspaper pictures to use as guides. Tall buildings lined streets so narrow that people could throw furniture out upper windows and quickly create a barricade. These buildings, constructed at London’s Pinewood Studios, are 40 to 50 feet high. “It was actually cheaper to build them that height than to do it by computer”, Stewart says. More modern Parisian streets were made wider, says Stewart, so revolutionaries could no longer block passage “with a couple of armchairs”. Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Hobbit’ Production Design

By | Saturday February 16, 2013 @ 2:00pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor

Production designer Dan Hennah—nominated for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with set decorators Ra Vincent and Simon Bright—says that this set for hobbit Bilbo Baggins’ comfy parlor is one of few that did not require a CGI extension to accommodate both fantasy elements and the movie’s large band of characters, who tend to appear together in many scenes. And even the simplest of sets required finetuning to meet the demands of 3D. By phone from New Zealand, Hennah talked about this scene in which Bilbo (Martin Freeman) talks with Dwalin (Graham McTavish) as the dwarf slurps his way through Bilbo’s carefully hoarded food supply. 1) Bilbo’s parlor had to be built twice: Once in “hobbit scale” and once in a .76 “wizard scale” for Gandalf (Ian McKellen), so Gandalf would appear to be too tall for his surroundings, whereas for the hobbits it would be, as Goldilocks might have observed, “just right”. Hennah says the less dramatic difference in size between hobbits and dwarves was taken care of by casting: Most actors portraying dwarves are taller than Freeman. Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Anna Karenina’ Production Design

By | Saturday February 16, 2013 @ 1:58pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor

The Anna Karenina design team had to switch gears fast when director Joe Wright decided to set Anna’s oppressive high-society world inside a theater instead of shooting on location in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Money talked; location shooting would have blasted the film’s modest $31 million budget. Production designers had only 12 weeks to create interior and exterior “locations” that could exist within the confines of a theater set. In this stylized approach, the movie audience is aware of the theater, but the movie characters are not. The walls around Anna become literal, not figurative. “A Rubik’s Cube is often how we described this film: You’d twist it and then, suddenly, you’d twist it again, and it would just fall apart in your mind”, says production designer Sarah Greenwood. “You’re not just making pretty pictures here; you are telling a very big story”. Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer talk about putting together the puzzle of the living room set for the Moscow home of Oblonsky, Anna’s brother. 1) This scale model of the Oblonsky house stands inside the larger Oblonsky living room set, which in turn stands inside the larger theater set. Designers liken the layers of interiors (and meaning) to Russian nesting dolls. Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Lincoln’ Production Design

By | Saturday February 16, 2013 @ 1:54pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor

Veteran set decorator Jim Erickson, nominated with production designer Rick Carter for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, has a thing about authenticity. He once hunted down a collector of vintage candy wrappers to find just the right wrapper to reproduce for the movie Love Field (well, almost: He wanted a 1964 Butterfinger from Texas, but settled for a 1964 model found in Arkansas). Erickson took pleasure in creating authentic White House interiors because Lincoln was the first U.S. president whose life was well documented in photographs. Erickson talked to AwardsLine about the detailed work that went into re-creating Lincoln’s office. 1) Lincoln was shot in Virginia using many real-life historic sites, but the Lincoln office was re-created on a set using photos as the guide. “We scaled off the pattern of the wallpaper and had it all designed and silk-screened. We worked up a pattern that was as close as we could actually get without having a real piece of it in front of us”, Erickson says. Erickson was able to find Carter & Company, a Richmond business with a staff of four that provides wallpaper for museums and historic homes and could do reproductions at a reasonable price. “Silkscreen is how they did wallpaper back then. It can create metallics and glazes a computer can’t do. The computer can give you images, but not the texture”. Read More »

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OSCARS: Academy’s First Foray Into Online Voting Had Rocky Start

By | Friday February 15, 2013 @ 9:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

This year the big question hasn’t been exactly who Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members are going to vote for, it has been instead whether they can figure out how to vote at all. With the advent of online voting for the first time in Academy history, the path during the nomination balloting hasn’t been a smooth one for many voters. Some found that the Academy’s security steps, necessary to avoid hackers, have also kept voters out, forcing them to make repeated attempts at getting their ballot completed.

Although all the guilds and other voting groups have moved full force into the world of online voting, the Academy went through a slow, methodical process before finally settling on Everyone Counts, a company known for working with the U.S. government in a similar capacity. Unlike most industry groups, the Academy is a prime target for infiltration by cyber terrorists who Read More »

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OSCARS: Show’s Producers Want To Uphold Tradition But Also Modernize

By | Friday February 15, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron know their stuff when it comes to putting on a show. With huge musical successes in movies (Chicago, Hairspray, Footloose), TV (The Music Man, Cinderella), and Broadway (Promises Promises, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying), they have the chops to pull off the film industry’s biggest night of the year, though it has sometimes proved a pitfall for other producers. It can be challenging when the Academy mandates that valuable airtime goes to all 24 categories, including sound mixers, makeup and hairstylists, and producers of documentary short subjects, to name a few. But that doesn’t faze this veteran producing pair who say they started assembling the show’s elements from the day they got the job in late August.

Related: OSCARS: New James Bond Promo Ad

“We certainly are going to be celebrating the nominees and winners like a regular Oscar show, but they are fitting into the design of the show that we’ve created, so there’s going to be an enormous amount of entertainment”, Zadan says, pointing to the 50 years of James Bond tribute they have announced, which won’t be a reunion Read More »

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OSCARS: Sound Editing and Sound Mixing Noms Often Overlap

By | Thursday February 14, 2013 @ 9:06pm PST

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor

Few categories offer as much confusion in Oscar pools as best sound editing and best sound mixing. Unlike the more esoteric categories where few have seen the nominated films, most of the nominees … Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

Pete Hammond

As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 1

For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it. Read More »

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OSCARS: Moments In Oscar History, Part 2: Actors & Actresses

By | Wednesday February 13, 2013 @ 9:00pm PST

In honor of the 85th Academy Awards, AwardsLine is spotlighting memorable moments and winners from the last eight decades. Part 1 was The Producers. This is Part 2: Actors & Actresses. Part 3 will be The Directors.

Sidney Poitier, 1964: Academy Award winner Jack Lemmon hosted the 36th Academy Awards, which took place April 13, 1964, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Though the Academy still rarely awards comedies, best picture and director honors went to Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones. Hud claimed two of the acting trophies, for lead actress Patricia Neal and supporting actor Melvyn Douglas, while Sidney Poitier was best actor for Lilies of the Field and Margaret Rutherford was supporting actress for The V.I.P.s. Among the acting winners, only Poitier was on hand to accept his statuette at the ceremony.

“Because it is a long journey to this moment, I am naturally indebted to countless numbers of people, principally among whom are Ralph Nelson, James Poe, William Barrett, Martin Baum, and of course, the members of the Academy. For all of them, all I can say is a very special thank you.”—Sidney Poitier (pictured with Sidney Skolsky) accepting his first Oscar for Lilies of the Field. He won a second honorary Oscar in 2001.

Barbra Streisand, 1969: The 41st Academy Awards took place April 14, 1969, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with a group of 10 hosts that included Ingrid Bergman, Sidney Poitier, and Burt Lancaster. The best picture Oscar went to Oliver!, and its director Carol Reed also took home a statuette. Cliff Robertson won the lead actor trophy for Charly, but the actress category was a tie—the second in Oscar history—between Katharine Hepburn for Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl. It was the first Oscar for Streisand, and Hepburn’s third— director Anthony Harvey accepted for Hepburn, who was not in attendance.
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