January 8, 2014

OSCARLAND: Last Chance To Influence Oscar Voters


The polls close for Oscar nomination votes at 5PM today LA time, amid anecdotal reports of many last-minute ballots being cast in a season crowded with contenders.  There is much last-minute maneuvering going on, from the movie ads unusually swelling the LA Times’s Calendar section this midweek, to an insta-controversy about Meryl Streep’s speech at last night’s National Board of Review dinner presenting the Best Actress award to Emma Thompson while criticizing Walt Disney, who of course is at the heart of Thompson’s Saving Mr. Banks, a competitor to Streep’s own August: Osage County.  (Conspiracy theorists, though, might want to take a breath and note that Streep’s own next movie is Into the Woods–distributed by Disney.)

More substantively, a few organizations have gotten their nominations in under the wire.  The British Academy (known as BAFTA) favored Gravity with the most nominations, but that’s partly because it considered Gravity a “British” film (although written and directed by Mexican Alfonso Cuaron and starring the American Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, it was shot on British soundstages), which made it eligible for more awards.  Without that edge, it might have tied with fellow frontrunners American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave for the lead.  Also nominated for Best Picture:  Captain Phillips and the very British Philomena.  (BAFTA’s Best British Film category, apart from including Gravity and Philomena, found room for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Rush, Saving Mr. Banks and the low-budget The Selfish Giant.)  In the Best Director group, 4 of the 5 Picture nominees had their helmers named, with Martin Scorsese substituting for Philomena director Stephen Frears.  The acting categories were filled by the usual suspects (Ejiofor, Hanks, Blanchett, Dench, Bullock, etc), although (Britisher) Sally Hawkins made her way into Best Supporting Actress for Blue Jasmine and the fact that Behind the Candelabra was released theatrically in the UK gave Matt Damon a Supporting Actor nod.

The American Society of Cinemtographers chose 7 nominees, 5 of which were Oscar contenders 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Captain Phillips and Nebraska.  The other two were The Grandmaster (which is short-listed as a potential Foreign Film nominee), and Prisoners, which was photographed by the great Roger Deakins.  It may or may not be notable that American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street didn’t make this cut.

The Costume Designers Guild separates its film nominees as “Contemporary” and “Period,” and that Guild’s perspective is a bit different:  Contemporary nominees included Blue Jasmine and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty along with Nebraska, Her and Philomena, with Period honorees including The Great Gatsby with 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club and Saving Mr. Banks.  (The Guild also has a Fantasy category, which chose The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Oz: The Great and Powerful.)  

The main event arrives at roughly 5:35AM LA time on Thursday Jan 16, when the Oscar nominees will finally be unveiled.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."