Sunday, February 23, 2014

Oscar Ballots Due and Show Preparations

Six more days to go! Final Oscar ballots are due Tuesday February 25th at five pm Pacific Standard time.
While PricewaterhouseCooper prepares to count the ballots, let's take a look at what we know about this year's show.

If 12 Years A Slave does not win Best Picture, it would be due to the preferential voting system that the Academy uses for the Best Picture category. All nine nominees are ranked from 1st to 9th by the voter. The film to receive the most number 1 votes must also have been voted number 1 by a majority of the Academy. If it does not, then the counting moves on to the number 2 picks and so on. The buzz is that the Academy thinks it should select 12 Years A Slave as Best Picture but loves Gravity; they usually vote for what they like not what they should. However, I am sticking with 12 Years A Slave.
Two weeks ago I thought this could be my year to get more than 19 categories correct. After Jennifer Lawrence won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress, I began to wonder. Ultimately I did not change any of my picks. The BAFTAs did show us that the acting categories were a lot closer than previously thought. Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey were not nominated at the BAFTAs and their leads remain strong, especially Leto's. Lawrence has all but disappeared from the awards circuit in the last couple of weeks. Film journalists have started referring to this as her "anti-campaign" campaign. I think Lupita still has Best Supporting Actress. Cate Blanchett has had zero competition for Best Actress.
Some of the closest races are in four categories: Original Screenplay, Production Design, Foreign Film, and Documentary Feature. I'm going with narrow leads respectively for American Hustle, The Great Gatsby, The Great Beauty and 20 Feet From Stardom. There are always shockers and that keeps the show fresh and interesting. It would not be any fun to predict all 24 categories without any surprises.

Jennifer Lawrence will present Best Actor, as is tradition. The winner of the previous year presents to the opposite gendered actor in their category. Anne Hathaway in turn will present Best Supporting Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis Best Actress and Christoph Waltz to Best Supporting Actress (hopefully to Lupita). The Oscars like to have some surprise presenters for big categories, particularly Best Picture. Good Morning America anchors Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer and Editorial Director of People and Entertainment Weekly Jess Cagle will host the pre-Oscar Red Carpet coverage which begins at 4pm Pacific, 7pm Eastern. The Oscars are advertising those times as the start of the show, but the ceremony will start at 5:30pm Pacific time, 8:30pm Eastern.
All of the artists who performed the songs in movies nominated for Best Song will sing them live on the Oscar stage. U2 will perform their nominated song from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, "Ordinary Love." Pharrell Williams will be singing "Happy" from Despicable Me 2. Will he be wearing his signature hat? It is a formal event and that hat is hideous so hopefully not. Karen O will sing "Moon Song" from Her and Idina Menzel will be there to sing "Let It Go" from Frozen. Sometimes different artists perform the nominated songs. I prefer when the performers from the movies sing their songs at the ceremony. It has been announced that Bette Midler will perform for the first time on the Oscar stage.

The Academy will present the first ever live "Oscar Concert" celebrating the year’s nominated scores and songs on Thursday, February 27 in Los Angeles. An 80-piece orchestra will perform pieces from each of the nominated original scores. They include: William Butler and Owen Pallett for Her, Alexandre Desplat for Philomena, Thomas Newman for Saving Mr Banks, Steven Price for Gravity and John Williams for The Book Thief. Nominated songs will be performed by other artists. "Let It Go" from Frozen will be sung by its writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and "Happy" from Despicable Me 2 by Jill Scott.
The Oscars will celebrate movie heroes and will honor big-screen real-life heroes, super heroes, popular heroes and animated heroes, both past and present, as well as the filmmakers that brought them to life. The 75th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz will also be featured. Perhaps Bette Midler will be involved with music from the Wizard of Oz. 1939 is often known to be one of the greatest years in film history. The Oscars will be held Sunday, March 2nd at the Dolby Theater at Hollywood and Highland Center and televised live on ABC. The show is produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, hosted by Ellen Degeneres and will also be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide. If you are antsy for the awards show to arrive like me, check out the Oscar countdown on ABC Thursday, February 27th at 8pm.

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