SILENCE IS GOLDEN
The 84th Academy Awards will be presented live at the Kodak Theatre on Sunday,
February 26th, but not without a tinge of controversy. As you may recall, in November, the Academy was left in a mad scramble
to cast a new team when former producer, Brett Ratner, resigned after discussing his sex life openly with Howard Stern and then
going on to use an anti-gay slur during an interview for his film, Tower Heist.
The film starred Eddie Murphy, who was also slated to participate as host in a highly anticipated Oscar ceremony, but subsequently
dropped out a day later over the loss of his creative partner.
So, enter Billy Crystal, entertainment extraordinaire and writer/actor whose credits include The Princess Bride, When Harry Met
Sally, City Slickers, and Monsters, Inc. Along with producing partner, Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13,
Cinderella Man), Crystal will help keep it clean and bring some of the razzle dazzle back to what has become a very tired and misguided affair.
Said Crystal, "Some of the best moments of my career have happened on the Oscar stage. I am thrilled to be back there." But
mostly, "I am doing this so that the young woman in my pharmacy will stop asking me my name when I pick up my prescriptions."
Remember last year's disaster when a distracted and dazed James Franco stumbled through the ceremony with his cell phone while his
partner, Anne Hathaway, was left to fend for herself? And then, created quite a rift on Twitter with Oscar writer, Bruce Vilanch,
over who was the bigger punch line.
Those types of shenanigans won't be happening this year. Not with a well respected, nine-time host who just so happened to steal the
spotlight during the same ceremony last year with a special tribute to another popular presenter, Bob Hope. Only Bob Hope has hosted
more Academy Award presentations with 19 ceremonies between 1940 and 1978.
This year's focus will "Celebrate the movies in all of us," a theme meant to evoke the emotional connection
to the movies. And will highlight eight films from eight different decades - Gone with the Wind (1939),
Casablanca (1943), Giant (1956), The Sound of Music (1965), The Godfather (1972),
Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Forrest Gump (1994), and Gladiator (2000).
Which movies created the biggest emotional connection this year? Let's take a look!
GOOD BYE, MR. POTTER
Daniel Radcliffe was disappointed. And so were we. With only 3 Oscar nominations, including
Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Part 2 was unquestionably sleighted. The film, which wrapped up the billion dollar
franchise and took home over $381 million, did so in spectacular fashion, with better
cinematography, production design, direction, and a cinematic score that hit all the high notes just
right. But for one reason or another, the year's highest grossing film failed to resonate with
voters the way The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King did.
Instead, the most nominations (11) went to Hugo, Martin
Scorsese's magical, visually stunning adventure that cleverly pays homage to the early pioneers of cinema while
simultaneously telling the story of a young orphan working in a Paris train station. Among its many kudos:
Best Picture, Best Director, and Visual Effects.
Following in the footsteps of the cinematic nostalgia trend, with 12 nominations, is The Artist,
the current front runner for Best Picture, having captured the PGA's prestigious Motion Picture Producer
of the Year Award. Plus, the Golden Globe, National Board of Review, BAFTA, and special recognition from
the American Film Institute. The Artist tells the tale of a silent film star attempting to adjust
to the era of talking pictures.
Moneyball and War Horse both earned 6 nods, but with 5 nominations, The Descendants
fulfills the spoiler role, having taken home the Best Drama prize at the Golden Globes and critical acclaim
for leading actor, George Clooney.
With two nods this year for Original Score, John Williams now ranks
second to Walt Disney as the most-nominated individual in Oscar history with 47. Among living persons, Woody Allen ranks
second to Williams with a total of 23.
Nominated for Best Cinematography, The Artist becomes only the tenth predominantly black-and-white film to be nominated for Cinematography since 1967, when
the category for black-and-white cinematography was eliminated. Previously nominated films were In Cold Blood (1967), The Last Picture Show (1971),
Lenny (1974), Raging Bull (1981), Zelig (1983), Schindler's List (1993), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Good Night, and
Good Luck (2005) and The White Ribbon (2009).
A Separation is the first screenplay written in Farsi to receive a Best Screenplay nomination.
Pina is the first 3D film nominated in the Documentary Feature category.
Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, both nominated for War Horse, share the record for most Best Picture nominations
for an individual producer (7). Kennedy's previous nominations: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The Color
Purple (1985), The Sixth Sense (1999), Seabiscuit (2003), Munich (2005) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Spielberg's
other Best Picture nominations were for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Color Purple, Schindler's List (1993), Saving
Private Ryan (1998), Munich and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006).
This year's balloting rules allowed for the possibility of between five and ten Best Picture nominees. To get
a Best Picture nod, a film would have to earn a minimum of 5% of the vote. So how then did Extremely
Loud & Incredibly Close get nominated? Currently, the film has a 46% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes with over 150
critical reviews. And it received a nomination for Best Picture over A Separation which earned a
99% positive rating, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at 96% positive, Take
Shelter, at 92%, and many more?
How did Tilda Swinton and Charlize
Theronget passed over for Best Actress? Swinton delivers the finest performance of her
career in We Need to Talk About Kevin while Charlize returns to Oscar-worthy form, playing a self destructive
bad girl in Young Adult, a terrific film that was snubbed across the board.
This year's race for Best Documentary omitted the Best Documentaries of the year: The
Interrupters and Into the Abyss.
And finally, what's up with the Best Original Song category? In a year that could have seen live performances
from Madonna, Elton John, Mary J. Blige, and more, the Academy's stiff new rules, which only allow songs
with an average score of 8.25 to be eligible, creates a standard that even some of the past Oscar winners (like "Say
You, Say Me," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," or "My Heart Will Go On") might not have been able to achieve.
ROLL OUT THE RED CARPET
The Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, February 26th at the Kodak Theatre and televised live on ABC Television at 5 p.m. PST.
Will Billy Crystal's return to the Oscars be triumphant?
Will a Man or Muppet win Best Original Song?
And how about the battle of Octogenarians? Christopher Plummer vs. Max von Sydow.
Will foreign imports, A Cat in Paris or Chico & Rita, rangle Rango?
And will silence be golden for The Artist?
These "final" answers and more are waiting for you in my ANNUAL OSCAR PREVIEW!
2012 Academy Awards Preview (CONTINUED)
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