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Hammond At The Oscars & Governors Ball

Pete Hammond

Before I focus on last night’s 83rd Academy Award winners, let me describe my conversations with the “losers”, only some of whom seemed to take the news in stride. Clearly, The Social Network filmmakers were licking their wounds. To the point that hands-on producer Scott Rudin didn’t even make the trip west for the awards. Clearly, they think they were robbed. In fact, as I traversed the Grand Ballroom of the Governor’s Ball, I kept hearing that precise phrase — “You were robbed” — said a few times to everyone involved. Executive Producer Kevin Spacey told me with bitterness, “Yes, I am very disappointed  about Best Picture. But I am just stunned that David Fincher didn’t win, just absolutely stunned. This just proves it is all about campaigning and nothing else. It’s just a popularity contest.” He used some other language, too, that could give Melissa Leo a run for her money. Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal, who really invested herself in Oscar season this year, hugged Best Picture presenter Steven Spielberg and thanked him profusely for the consoling words he said before announcing The King’s Speech as the winner. (“If you are one of the other nine movies that don’t win, you will be in the company of The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, The Graduate, and Raging Bull”, Spielberg reminded everyone.) To add insult to injury, Social Network producer Dana Brunetti told me that the Governors Ball … Read More »

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Deadline’s Pete Hammond Wins Gold Derby

Deadline’s awards columnist Pete Hammond led all of The Gold Derby’s awards experts with 19 of 24 correct Oscars predictions for the highest score. Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil congratulated Hammond “for kicking all of our Oscars pundits’ butts”. Over the past several months, Gold Derby has been polling top awards experts for their predictions in all 24 categories at this year’s Oscars. Of the 28 pundits, Hammond was the clear winner thanks to his dead-on predictions in many of the technical categories.

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OSCARS: Nervous Anticipation To The End

Pete Hammond

There’s no question this was Hollywood’s biggest week of the year. But now it’s all coming to a close tonight — and not a moment too soon for a lot of nominees at the end of a looooong campaign trail. “Thank God,”  said The King’s Speech’s 73-year-old screenwriter David Seidler when I asked him Saturday night at The Weinstein Co bash at Soho House how he felt about nearing the end. After tonight, he plans to spend a month fishing. At the same party I caught up with the ultimate class act, Colin Firth, who between last year’s A Single Man and this year’s The King’s Speech has been on the awards circuit for the better part of two seasons. I asked him about being heavily favored to take Best Actor, and he replied, “I’m told I am”. He’s next making lighter fare: a Coen Brothers-penned version of the 1966 movie Gambit that starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. He said the film, to be directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station), is not a remake and that there’s barely a line of dialogue in common between the two films. Cameron Diaz will co-star. The Weinstein party filled up fast and brought out the entire King’s Speech crowd except for Geoffrey Rush who was on stage in New York for Diary Of A Madman but will be at tonight’s Oscars.

At a Society Of Lyricists And Composers reception Saturday afternoon, many-times nominated and Inception Best Music Score nominee Hans Zimmer told me he’s been too … Read More »

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OSCAR SPOILERS: He’ll Present First Oscar

Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned 2-time Oscar winner and Academy favorite Tom Hanks will be the first presenter and name winners in both the Art Direction and Cinematography categories right off the bat. Best Picture frontrunner The King’s Speech is up for both, so the world will quickly get an idea whether that Best Picture nominee is able to mount a sweep right in the first few minutes of Sunday’s Oscar show. Two other Best Picture pics are also nominated in both categories, True Grit and Inception, with the Christopher Nolan written and directed movie having taken awards at both the Art Directors and Cinematographer Guild awards earlier this month. The King’s Speech also won at Art Directors. The show’s theme exploring the past, present and future of movies will start right here and then wend its way throughout the evening. The producers wanted to have a big star kick it off and set the tone.

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OSCAR: Closest Races Down To The Wire

Pete Hammond

Get those ballots in, stragglers. Forget that many professional pundits and even casual observers of this year’s Oscar race have already called it. (…The King’s Speech wins Best Picture… Best Actor for Colin Firth… Natalie Portman gets Best Actress… The Fighter‘s Christian Bale and Melissa Leo win supporting… The Social Network‘s David Fincher picks up Director… and Aaron Sorkin snags Adapted Screenplay…) But if these are such sure shots, then why are people seemingly  getting so nervous? Ballots are due Tuesday at 5 PM at the offices of PriceWaterhouseCoopers  in downtown Los Angeles. With Monday a postal holiday due to President’s Day, the only way a vote will count now is if it is walked into the accountants before the deadline. Usually a few hundred are. By my informal surveys, a surprising number of  voters waited until the last minute to mail in their ballots. Those who didn’t perhaps thought their vote wouldn’t matter in a race that looks like it’s going to be a King’s ransom. But consultants working with The King’s Speech say they are taking nothing for granted. Which is why director and DGA winner Tom Hooper is across town tonight at the Cinema Audio Society Awards to present a special honor to DGA president Taylor Hackford.

The fact is, based on ever-shifting momentum and my own voter conversations this week, some of those last-minute votes could make a difference in several close races. The campaigns seem to realize this: that’s why the usually slow final days of balloting … Read More »

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OSCAR: Hammond Analyzes BAFTA Impact

Pete Hammond

Ever since the British Academy of Film and Television Arts several years ago moved their honors ceremony to coincide with Hollywood’s awards season, it’s been hit and miss as a predictor of the Oscars. Even though there is probably a crossover of about 600 members in both organizations. This year’s results giving a near-sweep, but very significantly not complete sweep, to hometown favorite The King’s Speech did little to change the status of that film’s Oscar chances in certain key categories. It already is the frontrunner for Best Picture, and for Colin Firth as Best Actor, and for David Seidler’s Best Original Screenplay. So tonight’s BAFTA wins just add to the pile of its big Hollywood Guild wins here.

In the Supporting categories winner, Helena Bonham Carter did not have to contend with Oscar frontrunners Melissa Leo and Hailee Steinfeld who weren’t nominated by BAFTA. (Steinfeld was competing in lead while Leo was snubbed.) And the absent Geoffrey Rush’s triumph over Oscar frontrunner Christian Bale also was not surprising since The Fighter found little support in overall BAFTA nominations.

But DGA winner Tom Hooper’s loss here to The Social Network’s David Fincher is intriguing. It could mean voters may be thinking about a split ballot. The facebook origins film also won Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin as well as defeated The King’s Speech in the ever-significant Film Editing category, too. That means both films collected exactly half of their BAFTA nomination total with TKS garnering 7 out … Read More »

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OSCAR: Javier Bardem Q&A

Pete Hammond

Javier Bardem’s first acting job was at the age of six, but his career has heated up since the mid-1980s not only in a number of notable films in his native Spain for such directors as Pedro Almodovar but now as a full-fledged international star. Nominated twice for Oscars, first in 2000 for Before Night Falls and then winning Best Supporting Actor in 2007 for No Country For Old Men, Bardem has an impressive list of credits including The Sea Inside, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and earlier this year in Eat Pray Love. But his most challenging role to date is as a man whose life is in freefall in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful and now has earned him Best Actor nominations for Spain’s Goya, England’s BAFTA, and his third nod for an Oscar. It returns him to Spanish languageIt returns him to Spanish language filmmaking and won him Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Although the film’s uncompromisingly depressing subject matter scared off potential distributors at first, Roadside Attractions eventually picked up the movie for the U.S. market and released it on January 29:

DEADLINE: This is the first time you worked with Alejandro and it is a challenging role in every way imaginable. What was it that made you want to get involved?
JAVIER BARDEM: First of all, I am a very huge fan of his prior films. But I read it like three times in a row before I said yes. … Read More »

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OSCAR: Hammond Polls Academy Voters

Pete Hammond

With ballots out and not due back until 5 PM on February 22nd, I decided to talk to a sampling of Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voters directly to see how they’re picking their winners. By doing this very unscientific survey in the past, I could gauge if an upset was coming. For instance, in 1992, I found that voters I spoke with were almost unanimously choosing long shot Marisa Tomei. Bingo. I won the Oscar pool with that prediction. In 2005, I found an overwhelming surge for Crash among all but one voter I canvassed. Similarly, just days before the 2007 Oscars, I found a groundswell of support for Marion Cotillard. For this Oscar year, I conducted my informal poll by phone or in person. So here are my findings to date: I am picking up some interesting trends. Not just the expected strong support for The King’s Speech (it’s real), but also a surprising amount of backing for The Fighter. It has been the most mentioned movie after The Social Network and could figure significantly by drawing mostly first- and second-place votes. The Social Network also drew many mentions. Although some of the people I spoke with have already cast their ballots, most have not (at least when I talked to them). Members are supposed to be discreet about revealing their voting, but many were generous in sharing their thought process at this point as long as they remain anonymous.

Here are some snapshots from the conversations:

Golden Globe-winning producer/director/actor: “I am … Read More »

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Hammond: Inside Oscar Nominees Lunch

Pete Hammond

As he walked into the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton hotel earlier this afternoon, The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper looked around and said, “Now I guess it’s really happening. I really am a nominee.” This was a sentiment shared by more than a few who may have thought Oscar night came three weeks early as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences hauled out the giant Oscar statues and threw their 30th Annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon today. Clearly proud of the turnout (some nominees came from around the world to be there), Academy President Tom Sherak said a record 151 out of the 190 favored few showed up to lunch with fellow awardees and Academy officials as well as to receive their official certificate of nomination and the traditional sweatshirt with an Oscar logo on it. Sherak told the crowd that, after enduring months of pre-Oscar events and other awards shows, “the hardest thing you will have to do here is step on a riser and have your picture taken.” It’s definitely the feel-good event of the awards season. Everyone leaves still a winner with  none of the tension of Oscar night.

Shortly after the lunch started, the Academy’s Ric Robertson called on every nominee to go to the risers at the side of the room and line up for the class photo. Then he called out each one’s name to receive their certificate and take another photo with Sherak. Christopher Nolan interrupted his day of … Read More »

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OSCAR: Now Every Campaign Enters Crucial Final Stretch

Pete Hammond

The Oscar ballots went into the mail today and should be in every one of the 5,755 voting members’ hands by tomorrow, or at least by the weekend depending on how long it takes some of them to travel to snowbound or far-flung places. The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has set a due date of February 22nd, which could be a lifetime considering the ever-changing twists and turns of this surprising awards season. That’s why no major Academy Awards campaign seems willing to give up the hunt for gold quite yet.

For this second phase of Oscar campaigning, studios have tweaked, or in some cases completely retooled, their advertising to incorporate catch phrases and/or images they hope the Academy will notice. Warner Bros has noticeably increased its Inception buys on TV and in print and online. With its 10 nominations, True Grit is now suddenly “the most honored American movie of the year” (a not-so-subtle dig at the very British King’s Speech). While Paramount’s other contender, The Fighter, has new fighting words saying that “Nothing can stop an underdog whose time has come”.  Disney wants voters to know “the most successful animated film in history” (Toy Story 3 in case you live in a cave) is now nominated for Best Picture. While  Fox Searchlight has changed up their Black Swan poster with a highly dramatic … Read More »

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OSCAR: Oh, They Coulda Been Contenders

Pete Hammond

You know the oft-repeated phrase heard this time of year, “It’s an honor just to be nominated”? That was never more true for some who might have actually won the Academy Award but tripped on their way to the Kodak stage by failing to get to first base with a nomination this past Tuesday. This year, presumed frontrunners in different categories weren’t moved forward in the Oscar race because of their own peer group. In case you’re not aware, peer groups pick the individual nominees in their categories. In the final vote, the entire Academy votes for the winners. The membership at large, thought not to be as technically judgmental as the formidable peer groups (or, in some situations, as swayed by petty jealousies), usually tend to select the more obvious choices. But what should be an anomaly happens a lot when it comes to Oscar. In 1989, Driving Miss Daisy was the big winner with four Oscars including Best Picture. Its director Bruce Beresford almost certainly would have made it five except for one small thing: the Director’s branch didn’t nominate him so the Academy at large couldn’t vote for him. It was the first time since Grand Hotel (1931-1932) that a director was not nommed for a movie that won Best Picture. (Instead, Oliver Stone won for Born On The Fouth Of July.) Most famously, Hollywood was shocked when the actors branch didn’t nominate Bette Davis for 1934’s Of Human Bondage even though it was considered one of the greatest female performances ever and its omission  caused  such a stir that the Academy augmented their rules to allow a write-in vote. (The write-in didn’t work, and Claudette Colbert triumphed.) Out of embarrassment, the Academy tried to make amends and gave Davis the Oscar the next year for the much-lesser Dangerous.

For instance, this year in the Best Make Up category, Alice In Wonderland was considered the frontrunner among the seven finalists – but shockingly failed to even be nominated. Instead, the final three nominees were Barney’s Version, The Way Back, and Universal’s early 2010 dud The Wolfman, forcing Academy voters to choose from these far more obscure entries. Which is why I have to ask: Was Paul Giamatti’s disheveled hair in Barney’s Version really better than the Make Up artistry on the Red Queen or the Mad Hatter? It’s all a very closed club, and the answer may not lie in the work itself but in who did the work and who is a member of the club.

For instance, the critically drubbed The Tempest‘s Sandy Powell, a 3-time winner in Oscar’s Costumes category, can get nominated for just about anything she does because she is one of Costume branch’s inner circle. The same is true for the Music branch and John Williams who doesn’t score for movies as much anymore. But any time he does, he’s likely to get a nomination because he’s an icon among musicians.

Regarding the Best Documentary nominations this year, I heard that one Governor of the Academy’s Documentary branch told a consultant that if Waiting For ‘Superman’, Davis Guggenheim’s widely favored education doc from Paramount, received a nomination it would win Best Feature Documentary with the membership at large. But he wasn’t voting for it and neither were some other branch members he knew due to questions they had about the way some of the documentary was conducted. Specifically, objections were raised about one scene recreated for the camera after it happened in real life. The result is that Guggenheim won’t be getting that second Oscar this time around (he won for An Inconvenient Truth) since his documentary didn’t make the cut with his branch.

Christopher Nolan was now infamously passed over in the Best Director category, first for The Dark Knight and this time for Inception. Would he have won this time out for staying true to his passion project? We’ll never know. My guess is there’s a certain level of jealousy because he pretty much can do whatever he wants and wherever he wants. (I often say he could go in and pitch a remake of Howard The Duck and studios would say yes.) Steven Speilberg was famously not nominated as Best Director for the Best Picture nominee Jaws. (Worse, a TV show following around Spielberg that day the Oscar nods were announced showed him anxiously anticipating a nomination that never came.)

Lee Smith’s dazzling Editing for Inception was thought to be an easy winner in that category once it got to the general vote. Problem is, the editors themselves dissed it. No Oscar for Lee this year.

Diane Warren won a Golden Globe this month for the anthem she wrote for Cher in Burlesque called “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me”. And she was considered a likely Academy Award winner this time after 6 previous Oscar nominations. Plus, Cher was expected to perform it on the telecast. Unfortunately, the Academy’s grumpy Music branch decided we had seen the last of Warren this awards season and nominated only four tunes, none of them from the critically reviled Burlesque. Talk about a backlash. (A publicist connected with Warren’s campaign even wanted to ask for a recount but knew the Academy would never allow it.) The same Music branch disqualified Clint Mansell’s soaring blend of original music and Tchaikovsky in Black Swan which almost certainly could have triumphed with the general Academy membership when voting starts on February 2nd. Read More »

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OSCAR: Hammond Analyzes Nominations: Where Does The Race Head Now?

Pete Hammond

Has The King’s Speech, fresh off that Producers Guild win and now leading with 12 Oscar nominations, just gone to the front of the class? My guess is this one could be a squeaker. Presumed Academy Awards co-frontrunner and critics favorite The Social Network trailed with only 8 nominations but they were the right ones: an Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Best Picture winner might expect to have Cinematography and Editing and Sound Mixing and Music plus acting, writing, and directing. And The Fighter also is still in there strongly in key categories (7 noms overall) as well as film editing, an important one since as all pundits know it’s difficult to win Best Picture without at least also gaining an editing nod. The last movie to do that was Ordinary People some 30 years ago. That’s bad news for Best Pic nominees True Grit, which other than its editing snub did spectacularly well with 10 nominations, and most surprisingly Inception which, despite 8 other nominations, also sported an even bigger snub in addition to no editing honor with director Christopher Nolan again being passed over on the Directors honor roll.

It’s déjà vu for Chris who was nominated for a DGA award for The Dark Knight two years ago but found himself left out in the cold by Oscar not only for Director but also Screenplay and Picture. At least Nolan received the latter two nominations today. But with the popularity and critical acclaim he received for Inception, Read More »

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Hammond On ‘King’s Speech’ Win At PGA

Pete Hammond

If The Social Network had been able to pull off a Best Picture win at the Producers Guild Awards Saturday night, as most everyone had expected, it might have been on an unstoppable path to doing the same at the Academy Awards. But it didn’t. The King’s Speech won. Now the race is on. For the second straight year, the PGA did the unexpected  and may have a major impact on the Oscar contest as it moves into its final phase. Last year Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time, came into the PGA ceremony with a head a steam and expectations of a win. Instead the PGA, which was always thought to favor box office winners, stunned the room by choosing The Hurt Locker, the lowest grossing movie nominated. And the rest is history.

Preferential balloting played a part in both victories. The PGA, like the Academy, instituted that system where voters must rank their choices from one to 10 with the most weight given to their top films. It favors consensus choices. At the very least it’s a game changer that opens up the field again just as The Social Network had hoped to close it. As Mark Wahlberg, star and producer of the nominated film The Fighter said to me as he exited the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom, “This is very good for us,” meaning the presumed frontrunner’s momentum has stalled – at least this … Read More »

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OSCAR: Hammond On State Of The Race

Pete Hammond

As President Obama busily prepares his State Of The Union address to be delivered on Tuesday night – the same day that the Academy Award nominations are announced — I think it’s only fitting that I deliver The State Of The Oscar Race as it stands now. Needless to say, all of Hollywood is primed for the big reveal at 5:38 AM Tuesday morning. At this point we’ve had all of the critics groups weighing in, all of the Guild nominations, all of the BAFTA nominations, and all of the Golden Globes results. Collectively these precursors have set the scene for what we can expect. But, first, a word of caution: there are always surprises with Oscar. But here’s where I see the race for Best Picture heading now.

Best indicator for this Best 10 horse race has been the consistency of what the various Guilds, above and below the line, have been offering up in their nominations. Since there is a heavy overlap of Academy members  who also vote in these Guild contests  they are key indicators. Or, as Harvey Weinstein told me Sunday night after the Golden Globes, “the real voters that matter”. The same 5 or 6 films seem to keep coming up over and over, making them the most solid bets. The Social Network, scoring with key noms everywhere except Visual Effects, is now the undisputed frontrunner in this race, particularly when its overwhelming lead in critics groups Best Pic winners is added in to the mix along with … Read More »

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OSCAR: Best Supporting Actor & Actress – Nothing Secondary About These Races

Pete Hammond

Category placement is always a delicate dance come Oscar time. In 1966, Walter Matthau won the Supporting Actor Oscar for The Fortune Cookie even though he was on equal footing with co-star Jack Lemmon. In 1981, Susan Sarandon admitted to voting for herself in Supporting for Atlantic City only to surprisingly land in lead. Patricia Neal took Best Actress for Hud in 1963 even though she was really playing a supporting role. Anthony Hopkins could have gone for support in 1991’s Silence Of The Lambs but was campaigned instead for lead and won. George Clooney was originally going for lead in 2005’s Syriana, where he almost certainly would have lost to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote, but strategically dropped to support where he also became an Oscar winner. And, in the most complex of scenarios possible, Catherine Zeta Jones  went strategically for  support in Chicago while her equal co-star Renee Zellweger had Best Actress to herself but lost to Nicole Kidman, who won for The Hours in a role that could have been classified as supporting but that’s where her co-star Julianne Moore competed so as to avoid cannibalizing her own chances for lead actress in Far From Heaven.

Get the picture?

Until 1936 in Academy Awards history, featured actors either competed alongside stars or not at all. Since then, the Supporting actor and actress categories have tried to make distinctions between themselves and lead, although it seems every year the line gets blurred. It was no exception in 2010 with so-called leading roles being campaigned for Supporting in some instances to give them a better shot at a nomination or avoid competing with co-stars. Which is perefectly acceptable since the Academy actors branch leaves it up to voting members to determine the appropriate category for each performance. Sometimes this results in split votes. Often in surprises. So here are this year’s prime contenders by alphabetical order:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christian Bale, The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) – Bale’s dynamic turn as crack addicted Dicky Ward has drawn top reviews and made him a heavyweight contender not just for a nomination, but also the win. His dramatic weight loss and surprising performance is just the kind that attracts Oscar.

Jim Broadbent, Another Year (Sony Pictures Classics) – This previous Supporting Actor winner (Iris) retains his usual class and dignity, delivering another quietly effective performance for frequent director Mike Leigh. But that may not be enough to overcome flashier competition.

Pierce Brosnan, The Ghost Writer (Summit Entertainment) – Brosnan gets a real chance to stretch his image and show his chops under the direction of Roman Polanski. The film’s February release doesn’t help being remembered against a tough field of contenders.

Vincent Cassel, Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) – This French star gets a juicy, hard-edged role in an American film and runs with it. The fact that he is also being campaigned in the lead category for his mesmerizing two-part Cesar award -inning portrayal in Mesrine won’t hurt his chances.

Matt Damon, True Grit (Paramount) – Damon is an Academy favorite. Under the guidance of the Coen Brothers, he gets right the role singer Glen Campbell screwed up in the 1969 version. But he’s playing second fiddle to Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges more likely to earn nods.

Michael Douglas, Wall Street Money Never Sleeps (20th Century Fox) – Douglas revisits the Gordon Gekko role 23 years later and has the industry rooting for him to overcome his bout with cancer.  He could become the first actor to win two Oscars for playing the same character.

Andrew Garfield, The Social Network (Sony Pictures) – Garfield was impressive in two distinct dramas this fall, the other being the little-seen Never Let Me Go. Plus he’s the new Spider-Man. But his role here is earning Oscar talk with Golden Globe and CCMA nominations.

Ed Harris, The Way Back (Newmarket) – A four-time Oscar nominee, this well-liked veteran is overdue,  and his physically challenging role is first-rate work which his peers expect from him.   But the film’s year-end qualifying run and lack of marketing funds may dim his chances.

John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone (Roadside Attractions) – Although Jennifer Lawrence seems to get all the attention, nominations for this journeyman actor’s authentic backwoods portrayal from the Spirit Awards and SAG are beginning to make a longshot Oscar nod far more realistic.

Bill Murray, Get Low (Sony Pictures Classics) – Many feel Murray was robbed of the Best Actor Oscar for Lost in Translation and the actors branch might just want to make it up to him by recognizing this nicely-etched performance which scored an Indie Spirit nomination.

Sean Penn, Fair Game (Summit Entertainment) – Penn steals this entertaining true-life political thriller. The role would seem to belong in lead but Summit is hoping the two-time Best Actor might stand a better chance in supporting. Though the movie has faded without much buzz.

Jeremy Renner, The Town (Warner Bros) – With a triple-play of supporting nods from SAG, Golden Globes and CCMAs, Renner has emerged as a very good bet to grab his second consecutive Oscar nomination after first being named last year in the leading actor category.

Sam Rockwell, Conviction (Fox Searchlight) – Rockwell is popular with his fellow actors and long underrated. He won early buzz for his performance but has so far not shown up in many pre-Oscar contests. With lack of recognition by SAG, he is suddenly in an uphill climb.

Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right (Focus Features) – Ruffalo worked just six days on this indie dramedy but he obviously did something right to earn SAG, CCMA, and New York Film Critics attention. This lively supporting turn should result in his first career Oscar nomination.

Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co) – Rush hits it out of the park and gives this very accessible period drama its heart and soul. A former lead actor winner for Shine, Rush is one of the frontrunners to hold Oscars for both lead and supporting roles.

Justin Timberlake, The Social Network (Sony Pictures) – Pop star Justin Timberlake has displayed acting talent  before in films like Alpha Dog and his SNL hosting gigs but he is suddenly in the Oscar conversation despite fierce competition from even his own movie.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) – Adams has already landed two Oscar nominations and seems certain for a third in this change-of-pace role as the expletive spewing, tough-as-nails bartender girlfriend of Micky Ward. Voters love to see actors go against type and expertly so. Read More »

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WGA Script Awards Disconnect With Oscars

By | Wednesday December 29, 2010 @ 9:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

UPDATE: PETE HAMMOND RESPONDS — Some commenters to my post seem to believe it was written with an anti-WGA agenda on my part. I didn’t point out in the story – and perhaps I should have – that I am a longtime and proud WGA member and also represented the interests of writers, rather vehemently at times, as one of two TV Academy writing Governors for four years. I would hope my reporting on this particular story is not taken as any personal position on my part against the Writers Guild as some commenters seem to think. I do however find it sad that some of the best screenplays, year in and year out, are ruled ineligible by the WGA. Awards should honor the absolute best, not an incomplete list, but that’s the Guild’s prerogative to protect their interests as a union and their right to conduct the contest the way they see fit. 

Realistically, however, the media are going to view the WGA awards — just as with SAG, DGA, PGA, and even the Oscars – as being a significant part of the season because, it is peer group voting. That’s a fact, no matter which scripts turn out to be eligible or not.

PREVIOUS 8:30 AM: Here they go again. Every year the disconnect between the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences seem to grow wider in the movie script categories. This year looks no different. … Read More »

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Hammond Analyzes B’cast Critics Awards

Pete Hammond

With a record 12 nominations including Best Picture , Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan led the list of nominations for the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s 16th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards announced early Today. The Weinstein Company’s The King’s Speech and Paramount’s True Grit followed closely with 11 nods each. Warners’ Inception managed 10 noms without a single acting mention, while Sony Pictures’s critics group darling, The Social Network was named 9 times. The winners will be announced in a live ceremony from the Hollywood Palladium on January 14 on VH1 which recently reupped its deal to carry the event after airing it for the past three years. MTV Music Awards Executive Producer Jesse Ignjatovic of the Den of Thieves production company will serve as the show’s new Executive Producer.

The BFCA has an emerging reputation as a strong precursor of Academy Award nominations and wins. Last year, the group was the first televised movie awards show of the season to name The Hurt Locker as Best Picture and Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director as well as and gave all four eventual Oscar acting winners Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Monique and Christoph Waltz first chance to try out their acceptance speeches. In fact, in their 15 year history, the BFCA managed to mirror the Oscar choice for Best Picture 9 out of 15 times including the last four years in a row. Last year 8 of their 10 nominees for Best Pic went on to … Read More »

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OSCAR: Is ‘The Fighter’ A Heavyweight?

Pete Hammond

It has been common wisdom as this awards race moves into full gallop that Best Picture Oscar may come down to The Social Network and The King’s Speech. But, after this week, I believe we may be adding a new heavyweight contender if mounting buzz is any indication. Academy members who are starting to see Paramount/Relativity’s The Fighter, particularly after Monday  night’s premiere, are starting to talk in ways that make Oscar consultants for rival films nervous.  “It’s a great movie, it really is,” one major writer/director told me last night. An exec close to the film’s campaign says the studios are starting to hear this a lot and points out one director branch member who came up after the film and told her, “I think I’ve just seen the Best Picture of the year.”  This exec says , “I know I should be drinking coffee but I am starting to drink my own Kool Aid. I think this thing is really starting to take off.”

At the premiere, stars Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale came on the Chinese Theatre stage after closing credits to introduce the real life inspirations for the film, Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, and the venue erupted into a big standing ovation. The exec estimates there were about 200 Academy members in attendance which helps make up for the disappointingly low turnout at last Saturday night’s “official” Academy screening. DVD screeners sent to various awards organizations arrived  in the mail on Wednesday.

Now this morning I’ve also exclusively  learned that the Palm Springs International Film Festival … Read More »

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OSCAR: The Awards Race Starts December

Pete Hammond

The controversial 38th International Animated Film Society’s Annie Awards announced their nominees for Best Animated Feature today:  Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me, DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Illusionist, and Disney’s Tangled and Toy Story 3. What the official press release didn’t mention is that Disney/Pixar is boycotting the awards and refusing to participate due to complaints they have about the voting process among other things. Though the Annies nominated two Disney films in the top category as well as directing and writing for Toy Story 3 (how could they avoid it and maintain cred?), the group gave Disney and Pixar only 7 mentions. But the Annies showered 15 nominations on DWA’s Dragon and 39 nods overall that included films like Megamind and Shrek Forever After. It’s interesting that there was no mention of vote totals in the ASIFA-Hollywood release. Hmm. Something’s wrong in Toonville, and both Disney/Pixar and the Annies have some explaining to do.

“Hosted” screenings by notables not directly connected to the movies in contention for awards seem to be rampant these days. For instance, at the DGA in Hollywood, Sean Penn moderated a Q&A Sunday with his 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Javier Bardem (who received a standing ovation) after a screening of Biutiful. Similar screenings for that film have been moderated by the likes of Werner Herzog and Robert Benton with upcoming unspoolings hosted by Michael Mann and Alfonso Cuaron. The DGA has a long tradition of inviting other directors to interview contenders. Joel Coen recently talked up Sofia Coppola after Somewhere screened in NYC while Alexander … Read More »

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