Os­car: 5 burn­ing ques­tions

It all boils down to how con­sci­en­tious vot­ers will be ... and if they can get past bad Grandpa’s open­ing scene.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By STEVE POND

MORE than a year af­ter four of the doc­u­men­tary nom­i­nees made their de­but at Sun­dance, al­most nine months af­ter the first of the Best Pic­ture nom­i­nees pre­miered in Cannes and five weeks af­ter nom­i­nat­ing bal­lots were turned in, fi­nal voting for the 86th Academy Awards has be­gun.

The 6,028 voting mem­bers of the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­tures Arts and Sci­ences have 11 days from Feb 14 to 25 in which to make their picks in 24 cat­e­gories.

The home stretch has fi­nally ar­rived in a long, tough, com­pet­i­tive year, one in which the four ma­jor Hol­ly­wood guilds have spread their top prizes among an un­prece­dented five films.

Grav­ity and 12 Years A Slave tied for the Pro­duc­ers Guild’s fea­ture-film award, 12 Years A Slave picked up the Bafta, Grav­ity di­rec­tor Al­fonso Cuaron won the Di­rec­tors Guild Award, Amer­i­can Hus­tle took the Screen Ac­tors Guild’s en­sem­ble prize, and Her and Cap­tain Phillips grabbed the Writ­ers Guild’s film awards. As voting be­gins, 12 Years A Slave,

Grav­ity and Amer­i­can Hus­tle seem to be locked in one of the tight­est races in years, though the guilds’ fail­ure to re­veal a fron­trun­ner, and the huge gap be­tween the close of nom­i­na­tions and the start of fi­nal voting, mean that any­thing can hap­pen.

So I have a few ques­tions. I don’t have an­swers to these ques­tions, but I want to ask them any­way.

1. Have vot­ers spent the last month watch­ing ev­ery­thing?

It has been 29 days since Os­car nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced.

That’s 696 hours in which Academy mem­bers could pre­sum­ably catch up with the films they had yet to see from the slate of nom­i­nees, which con­sists of 32 nar- ra­tive fea­tures, five doc­u­men­tary fea­tures, five for­eign-lan­guage films and 15 shorts.

If you fig­ure that most con­sci­en­tious vot­ers had al­ready seen a good num­ber of the nom­i­nees (if not, they wouldn’t have been nom­i­nated), those 29 days ought to have been plenty of time to catch up.

And the Academy has helped. There have been 87 Ampas mem­bers screen­ings in Los Angeles, 13 in New York and 13 in Lon­don. Vot­ers have screen­ers of most if not all of the nom­i­nated films, and their mem­ber­ship cards will get them in to many pub­lic screen­ings.

So there’s re­ally no ex­cuse for not see­ing ev­ery­thing ... ex­cept, I sup­pose, work and fam­ily and stuff like that.

2. What about BadGrandpa?

You’ve gotta love the Academy’s Makeup Artists and Hair­styl­ists Branch. Year af­ter year, they nom­i­nate movies that have great makeup, but aren’t ex­actly oc­cu­py­ing space on many year-end Top 10 lists. There was Nor­bit, The Wolf­man, The Time Ma­chine, Click and a num­ber of oth­ers. And this year there’s Jack­ass

Pre­sents Bad Grandpa, in which Johnny Knoxville is dis­guised as an old man to an­noy in­no­cent by­standers. The makeup not only looks good on­screen, it ap­par­ently fooled people in real life, mak­ing it em­i­nently wor­thy of a nom­i­na­tion in the cat­e­gory.

But are Os­car vot­ers re­ally go­ing to go to Bad Grandpa screen­ings, or pop in the DVD? I’m not sure, but I think they might.Be­sides, the film has a de­cent 61% favourable rat­ing on Rot­ten Toma­toes. It was co-writ­ten and pro­duced by Spike Jonze, who has three nom­i­na­tions for his work on Her. And its cast in­cludes Os­car nom­i­nee Cather­ine Keener.

But I do have a Bad Grandpa fol­low-up ques­tion: How many Academy vot­ers who start to watch the DVD will make it past the open­ing cred­its in which Knoxville’s char­ac­ter gets his pe­nis graph­i­cally stuck in a soda ma­chine?

3. How will the new rules af­fect the doc­u­men­tary and for­eign-lan­guage races?

Late last week, Academy mem­bers re­ceived boxes con­tain­ing all the nom­i­nated doc­u­men­tary fea­tures, for­eign-lan­guage films and an­i­mated, live-ac­tion and doc­u­men­tary shorts.

Some mem­bers grum­bled that they would have liked to re­ceive the box ear­lier, rather than get­ting it only a week be­fore voting started.

But it still gave them more than two weeks to see 10 films and three shorts pro­grammes. Will they?

In the past, mem­bers couldn’t cast bal­lots in the cat­e­gories un­less they’d seen all five nom­i­nees in a theatre – but now, they can vote re­gard­less, with view­ing on the same hon­our sys­tem that’s in place in ev­ery other cat­e­gory.

Over the years, the doc­u­men­tary and for­eign cat­e­gories have had a num­ber of sur­prise win­ners that can be di­rectly at­trib­uted to the fact that vot­ers had been forced to see all the nom­i­nees be­fore voting.

This year, many mem­bers and Os­car watch­ers fig­ure that the re­sults in the two cat­e­gories will show whether or not vot­ers have watched all the nom­i­nees. And the key test will be the doc­u­men­tary fea­ture cat­e­gory.

If 20 Feet From Star­dom, by far the best-known nom­i­nee, wins, it’ll be seen as a clear sign that vot­ers cast their bal­lots with­out see­ing ev­ery­thing; if The Act Of

Killing or The Square wins, it’ll be con­sid­ered proof that they were con­sci­en­tious.

4. Have vot­ers changed their minds in the last month?

Judg­ing by the nom­i­na­tions, Os­car vot­ers on Jan 16 – or, more ac­cu­rately, on Jan 8, when polls closed – liked Grav­ity and Amer­i­can Hus­tle best, fol­lowed by 12 Years A Slave. But those pref­er­ences re­flect the Academy mem­ber­ship of five weeks ago – maybe be­fore The

Wolf Of Wall Street surged, be­fore Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won ev­ery con­ceiv­able Best Ac­tor and Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor award.

Things could have changed since then; or vot­ers could have known what they liked in early Jan­uary, and they could still like it in midFe­bru­ary.

5. Is there still time to make a move?

This is re­ally part two of the last ques­tion. Whether or not vot­ers have changed their mind in the past month, are they still open to do­ing so? Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers’ Rick Rosas, who over­sees the Os­car vote-count­ing, said lots of Os­car vot­ers turn in their bal­lots as soon as voting opens, a trickle of bal­lots come in over the course of voting, and a sec­ond flood of bal­lots is turned in at the last minute. It’s that last-minute group that Os­car cam­paign­ers are now tar­get­ing.

Still, last-minute vot­ers aren’t nec­es­sar­ily sus­cep­ti­ble vot­ers, and favourites like Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey could be hang­ing on to com­fort­able leads, re­gard­less of how some avid cam­paign­ers and ex­citable pun­dits would like to pre­tend other­wise.

Re­mem­ber: last year had a big gap be­tween the nom­i­na­tions and the start of voting, too, with lots of time for vot­ers to change their mind. But with a few ex­cep­tions – sup­port­ing ac­tor Christoph Waltz, di­rec­tor Ang Lee – the favourites im­me­di­ately af­ter nom­i­na­tions were the win­ners six weeks later.

So, those are the ques­tions that hang in the air as voting be­gins. Some may be an­swered on March 2; oth­ers may never re­ally be an­swered.

Go for it, vot­ers. – Reuters

Dal­las win­ners’ club: With Matthew McConaughey (left) and Jared Leto re­cently win­ning ev­ery con­ceiv­able best ac­tor and best Sup­port­ing ac­tor award for dal­las buy­er­sClub, will the surge af­fect the ear­lier pref­er­ences of academy mem­bers? — aFP Photo

Cate blanchett with her bafta award for best ac­tress ... will she hold on to her com­fort­able Os­car lead as well? — aFP Photo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.