The Academy‘s fifth annual Governors Awards kick off tonight at 8 PM at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, hosted by Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson and the Academy’s Board of Governors. Receiving honorary Oscars tonight are three-time Oscar nominee Angela Lansbury, three-time Oscars host Steve Martin, and costume designer Piero Tosi (The Leopard, Death in Venice), a five-time Oscar nominee. (Tosi will not be in attendance.) The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award will be awarded to Angelina Jolie. Paula Wagner is producing tonight’s event. Hit the jump for the photo gallery and check back tonight for Pete Hammond’s coverage.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently opened up first-round Oscar voting to the entire documentary branch and abandoned the previous system of allowing a small committee to determine the short list of eligible films. This radically curtails the influence of the documentary branch governors. Interesting, because last month an accusation of political bias in the documentary branch was lodged against the Academy – specifically, in an April 16th letter from Gerald Molen who produced the controversial right-wing documentary 2016: Obama’s America (as well as the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List). Molen’s missive was sent to Academy President Hawk Koch and documentary branch governors Rob Epstein, Michael Apted, and Michael Moore who is also a member of the AMPAS Board Of Governors. Molen questions why 2016: Obama’s America was ignored for an Academy Award nomination even though it was last year’s second highest grossing political documentary (behind only Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.) Molen wrote:
“I find myself wondering if it was excluded for ‘other’ reasons…”
“I have tremendous respect for Michael Apted as a creative and talented filmmaker but putting him with Rob Epstein and Michael Moore as the gatekeepers in charge of which films get nominated in the documentary category seems patently absurd…
“While Mr. Moore is a distinguished filmmaker, he holds a strong partisan view representing what Gallup tells us is only 21 percent of the population. Even if he were able to keep his personal philosophy out of the equation, you can certainly understand why the larger American constituency (pegged at 40%) would question the exclusion of a well-made and popular film that fails to reflect his views. Even if only in perception, this assumed bias will serve (in my opinion) only to injure the Academy…
“All up and coming filmmakers deserve to be recognized for their creative sensibilities and should not be punished because the messages of their films fail to fit the dogma of what some believe is politically correct.”
Hawk replied on behalf of the Academy:
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.