Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

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Re: Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby Greg » Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:06 pm

The Original BJ wrote:Somebody a few years back -- I think it was Eric -- asked the question, which will happen first: a movie like Terms of Endearment becoming a blockbuster again, or a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel getting a Best Picture nomination? I think you could make the argument that the latter has come to pass in the ten nominations and six wins for Mad Max: Fury Road.


The last movie like Terms of Endearment, regarding genre and regardless of quality, that became a blockbuster is The Blind Side; unless, you really want to stretch it, and count American Sniper
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Re: Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:53 pm

Somebody a few years back -- I think it was Eric -- asked the question, which will happen first: a movie like Terms of Endearment becoming a blockbuster again, or a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel getting a Best Picture nomination? I think you could make the argument that the latter has come to pass in the ten nominations and six wins for Mad Max: Fury Road. I'm not really interested in relitigating the discussion on Mad Max's quality -- even a non-fan like myself would acknowledge the technical dazzle far exceeded your standard run-of-the-mill blockbuster -- so much as intrigued by what this attention means going forward. Is this a one-off, a case when the best-of-the-year level raves helped voters overcome any qualms they might have had about voting for an action franchise movie? Or will the conversation shift going forward, so that popular genre efforts will more often be looked at as potential awards vehicles?

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Re: Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby Greg » Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:05 pm

Sabin wrote:Last year, Birdman won Best Picture despite not having an editing nomination for one reason: an editing nomination did not matter for Birdman. Like, fundamentally. It's one shot.


But it is several shots edited to look like one shot, which could be seen as highlighting its editing.
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Re: Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby Greg » Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:03 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I The Stallone loss/Rylance win is being treated as Lauren Bacall redux (“I guess they didn’t like him so much after all”), but could it maybe just suggest a tendency of voters these days to largely stick to the best picture category in making their choices? With as many as ten films to see just for that top category, voters may have less time to spend their time on films without major nominations. This year‘s supporting actress category would be an exception because four of the five films represented were orphans – but even there, Danish Girl was a film with four nods, including two acting nods. Had Stallone won, he’d have been among very few winners representing his film’s sole nomination.


Visual Effects this year is the only category won by a film not nominated for Best Picture where the category contained more than one film nominated for Best Picture. The only categories won by films with just one nomination were categories where all the nominees had just one nomination.
Last edited by Greg on Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby Okri » Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:37 am

My thoughts here are a jumble from other threads, hence the random asides...

After 2004, I just stopped thinking to predict splits. Trying to gerrymander Scorsese and Eastwood onto the stage was too challenging and that, of course, was the first year where we saw AMPAS match the DGA in best picture/director, the WGA in the screenplay awards, and the SAG for performaces 100%. Splits happen, but are surprises. But 2012 and 2013 saw the most widely predicted outcome be a split (and of course it worked) and this year I saw a lot of people go for Miller over Innaritu (presuming that he was personally going to lose out while The Revenant won). For all the talk of how they didn’t quite want to honour Innaritu with a double-double, that they went for the personal double suggests to me that that it didn’t really enter the collective mind. That said, I find BJ’s thought process intriguing – the years that could have been split but weren’t suggests to me that more often than not, picture and director will still go hand in hand. The 48-52 stretch was followed by a high level of congruity. I'm curious what will happen next.

One other thing not really being discussed is the way the acting categories have changed. Take any random stretch before 2010 and count the number of first time nominees vs repeat nominees. You can go back to the 50's and what you'll see is around 5-8 performers on their second nomination, with odd years seeing it peak at 10 or 12. Now take a look at the last six year stretch. The bottom is now 10 people, with some really "veteran" years like 2012, with 16 of the 20 acting nominees on their second+ acting nomination. That's insane.

The box office question is fascinating. I've just stopped being able to understand why certain films gross what they do vs other ones. I have no idea why Brooklyn will struggle to reach 40 million or why Spotlight needed the best picture win to surpass it. The year of Argo is interesting, because even that year had a much bigger hit (Lincoln) that at one point seemed likely to win.

The "Stallone must win" is just bloggers who think AMPAS lives-and-dies by oscar season narrative (ditto "Lady Gaga"). That said, as strong as best song has been for a few years with actual deserving songs winning, they need to jettison that category entirely.

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Re: Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:45 pm

Stallone was not nominated for a SAG Award, arguably because the film wasn't released in time, but as I've said a couple of times, I think that had he died at the end of Creed he would have been a more sentimental favorite. The fact that he lives means he could show up in five or six more sequels before he finally throws in the towel. I don't think there are too many AMPAS members who are looking forward to that.

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Re: Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby Sabin » Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:35 pm

The last thoughts I had on the Oscar ceremony happened before it happened. I started to think of Birdman. Last year, Birdman won Best Picture despite not having an editing nomination for one reason: an editing nomination did not matter for Birdman. Like, fundamentally. It's one shot. When Brokeback Mountain lost Best Picture, the signs were there. Hours before the show, I began to think that the odds in favor of The Revenant and Stallone were being heavily inflated.

An Oscar for The Revenant started to make less and less sense for me. This is a movie without a SAG Ensemble nomination or a writing nomination. Missing out on a SAG nomination makes some kind of sense although films have won SAG Ensemble nominations with just as much cast power in the past (though none spring to mind outright). But the writing nomination leaps out. The question we should have asked ourselves is what film does The Revenant have more in common with? Gravity or Titanic? Titanic didn't score a writing nomination because it was badly written. The dialogue wasn't good and the film was so old fashioned that it didn't seem original. But that didn't matter because it was an emotional experience. Gravity missed out on a writing nomination not because it was badly written (although it was) but because it didn't seem written. The writing was secondary. It was a spectacle, and I think at the end of the day that's what happened with The Revenant. It didn't move anyone, and it came away looking like a Best Picture front-runner because it won the Golden Globe (which doesn't matter), it won the Director's Guild Award (which does), and because it's a hit -- which no longer matters. I thought The Big Short and Spotlight were too similar for one to step over the other's chances (they really are flips of each other), but what I forgot was that doesn't matter. What matters is how the ballot preference works. Spotlight hung around near the top and won it.

More math: Sylvester Stallone won a lot of awards from groups that had zero Academy crossover appeal. Every group that had Academy crossover, he wasn't nominated. Let me know if I'm mistaken. He wasn't nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild Award OR a BAFTA. If that didn't immediately put him out of the running, the fact that he was the only nominated actor in his category that was a sole nominee from his film should have. Because Idris Elba won the SAG Award, I mistakenly thought that lack of enthusiasm for any of the nominees would point to a Stallone victory. There's no basis for assuming that.

We (most of us) predicted The Revenant and Stallone because we thought "Eh, that other stuff doesn't really matter." But it does. I'm not sure if the math was there for Spotlight or Mark Rylance wins, but the math was there for The Revenant and Stallone losses. There is no explaining Ex Machina's victory for Best Visual Effects...and even though it wouldn't be my choice, I was very happy for those guys.

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Last Thoughts About This Year's Oscars

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Mar 13, 2016 9:34 pm

I assume everyone’s moved on from this year’s Oscars – Magilla’s kicked off the relaunch of the screenplay races elsewhere – but I had a few late thoughts I wanted to put in the record before we permanently shut the door on this reasonably entertaining season.

Spotlight’s last-minute win over The Revenant kept alive a few traditions that would otherwise have gone astray. For the 20th straight year, the winning film has had a SAG Ensemble nomination (something The Revenant’s supporters didn’t give much attention). Also, a screenplay nomination remains sine qua non for all but true box-office colossi like The Sound of Music or Titanic. And, once again, the worst-reviewed of the best picture slate (which was The Revenant) didn’t triumph -- in fact, in choosing Spotlight, voters went with the film that had the highest Metacritic score of the eight nominated.

The Revenant’s shortfall also kept going a string of recent best picture winners falling in mid-range gross territory: Spotlight will end somewhere between 40 and 50 million, the same place The Artist and Birdman fell, with 12 Years a Slave just a bit higher. Argo and The King’s Speech are the only winners since the expansion to do truly major business and, in their years, the great majority of nominees and all major contenders grossed over $90 million, so it was impossible to have a winner in this lower range. The remarkable thing is, voters have been choosing these middling-popular films over viable alternatives with far greater public support: Gravity and American Hustle both well outpaced 12 Years a Slave; The Revenant and even The Big Short drew substantially bigger audiences than Spotlight; and Moneyball or The Descendants were more widely seen than The Artist. The expansion of the best picture list put more substantial hits in the mix, so the Board of Governors succeeded to that degree…but it’s not getting Academy members to consistently vote for them.

It’s also worth noting this year’s best picture list was one of the most sleeper-filled in recent times. Back in the slate-of-five years, it always seemed we got a mix: 1 or 2 movies that were on everyone’s A-list; another 1 or 2 that were moderately intriguing but not blue chip prospects; and 1 or 2 that came from nowhere. (For example, the 1972 group: The Godfather was hugely anticipated; Cabaret and Deliverance had decent source material but turned out far bigger films than anticipated; and The Emigrants and Sounder came from essentially nowhere.) Since the expansion, though, perhaps because some are straining to find as many as ten contenders, there’s been more default to pre-season favorites: the line-ups in 2012 and 2013 were chock-full of movies IndieWire had in their Spring prediction list. Even in a year like 2014, with Boyhood and Grand Budapest Hotel surprising us, a solid half of the nominees – Birdman, The Imitation Game, American Sniper, The Theory of Everything – made that IndieWire list. This year, though, only Bridge of Spies and The Revenant could be put in blue-chip territory. Spotlight, Brooklyn, Room and The Big Short, though some of them had decent source material, could as easily have slipped through unnoticed without critical/festival support, and The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road were the sorts of movies no one would predict for the best picture list. Years like 2012 or 2013, with big names producing major film, make for great Oscar vintages, but, if off-years come, I’d much rather see voters dig up stuff like The Martian or The Big Short than settle for War Horse and Extremely Loud.

I mentioned this in my morning-after recap, but I think it’s worth repeating: best picture and best director are no longer automatically connected. Some of us thought this might happen when best picture was expanded to ten and subjected to preferential balloting, but when it didn’t come about in the first couple of years (especially 2009, where The Hurt Locker felt like a classic director/not picture candidate), it seemed the categories were just too welded together. Now, though…between a tendency to go a bit auteur-y under directing and the consensus balloting for picture, we’ve seen three splits in the past four years (and, if you want to go back, 7 in the past 17 years, after only 4 in the 41 preceding).

Spotlight is of course the first best picture winner since 1952 with only one other prize. That a film could still be alive for the final win after such a night suggests more suspenseful contests in the years ahead. However…if you’re looking for guidance in the best director category, the DGA is still your best bet. Discounting the Affleck omission that made 2012 an impossibility, the DGA choice has matched the Oscar every year since 2002. Even with all the discarded precedents of recent years, it remains a golden precursor.

One more thing: in years where SAG/PGA/DGA have split, SAG has had a woeful record of late – forecasting Little Miss Sunshine, Inglourious Basterds, The Help, and America Hustle, while its sister guilds have pointed the way to the best picture victor. This is the first time SAG has earned bragging rights since Crash (and, yes, I’m sorry to remind you of that).

The Stallone loss/Rylance win is being treated as Lauren Bacall redux (“I guess they didn’t like him so much after all”), but could it maybe just suggest a tendency of voters these days to largely stick to the best picture category in making their choices? With as many as ten films to see just for that top category, voters may have less time to spend their time on films without major nominations. This year‘s supporting actress category would be an exception because four of the five films represented were orphans – but even there, Danish Girl was a film with four nods, including two acting nods. Had Stallone won, he’d have been among very few winners representing his film’s sole nomination.

Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I’m annoyed I fell for the “everybody wants Lady Gaga’s song to win” routine. The best song category is almost never completely divorced from the prominence of the movie in which the song appears. Look back over recent decades – best song winners come from films that are commercial hits (whether broad, like 8 Mile or Toy Story 3, or at indie level, like Once or An Inconvenient Truth) or that show up in other Oscar categories (Wonder Boys, Hustle and Flow – even The Motorcycle Diaries had the screenplay nomination). The Hunting Ground was a movie very few ever heard of, let alone saw. Had it made the final documentary five, it might have given the song enough exposure to win. As it was, the song was out there contending on its own -- which didn’t do any favors for such losers as “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?”, “The Prayer”, or all those songs that lost to “If I Didn’t Have You” in 2001. In retrospect, the song from the $200 million grossing Spectre is a fairly logical choice.

Anybody else with any lingering thoughts about this year’s pack?


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