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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Awards Season

Awards season comes early: Directors Guild OKs movie screeners

May 7, 2012 |  1:08 pm

Michel Hazanavicius

Hollywood's award season might not kick off for another few months, but when it does, campaigners will have some new names to add to their movie screener mailing list: The Directors Guild of America has reversed a long-standing policy that prohibited its members from watching on screeners films in contention for the organization's annual awards.

The DGA will follow the actions of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, the Screen Actors Guild and other industry organizations, which allow their voting members to watch eligible films on DVD or online screeners.

"There's nothing better than watching a movie on the big screen, exactly as the director intended," DGA President Taylor Hackford said in a statement. "But it's not always possible for our members to get to the theater to see every film in awards contention. For that reason, the national board has decided to allow members to receive 'for your consideration' screeners."

The DGA was the last holdout in allowing members to view screeners (though, in truth, a certain percentage of its members, those who belong to other guilds or the film academy, likely had already been receiving the DVDs in the mail). The group crafted the policy to counter any potential bias in favor of larger studio films with more marketing means, fearing those movies would have an advantage over smaller, independently made films unable to spend the funds necessary to distribute DVDs.

The guild said it changed course to appease its membership, both those living outside metropolitan areas and others unable to attend theatrical screenings.

The DGA's national board made the decision at its meeting Saturday.

The guild said it would continue to operate its theatrical screening program in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London and Washington, D.C.

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--Nicole Sperling

 Photo: "The Artist's" Michel Hazanavicius won the DGA's top prize at the body's 2012 awards ceremony. Credit: Chris Pizello /Associated Press.


Oscars 2012: 20,000+ tweets per minute, Meryl Streep on top

March 5, 2012 | 11:00 am

Meryl streep oscars 2012

The 2007 Academy Awards were the first Oscars to be chronicled on Twitter in real time, by the Hollywood gossip blog Defamer. At the time, Twitter was a rather unknown novelty, but today it boasts millions of users and is an ever-updating reflection of the vox populi.

So many Twitter users have expressed opinions about this year’s Academy Awards race that it would be virtually impossible for someone to find and digest them all. That’s why The Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab created the Oscar Senti-meter, an online tool that can catalog a large number of Oscar-related tweets each day and uses language-recognition technology to analyze positive, negative and neutral opinions. It also counts the number of tweets.

Tweets captured by the Senti-meter on Feb. 26, the day of the awards ceremony, showed a massive increase in volume, as huge numbers of people took to Twitter to share their opinions about the show in real time. Check out this chart:

La-et-0305-oscars-sentimeter-620

The volume of Oscar-related tweets first spiked at 5:41 p.m., coinciding with the first award of the night, cinematography, which went to “Hugo.” The win, an upset over “The Tree of Life,” sparked chatter on Twitter at a rate approaching 10,000 tweets per minute. In the two months leading up to the Oscars, the film “Hugo” averaged just over 2,500 tweets per day.

One Twitter user wrote, “Best Cinematography goes to HUGO! Over Tree of Life -- very interesting #oscars.”

By the end of the night, “Hugo” would take home five awards and rack up 107,041 total tweets.
The 6-o’clock hour broke the barrier of 10,000 tweets per minute twice, peaking at 6:58 p.m., when Christopher Plummer won the award for supporting actor for his role in “Beginners.” The award capped a season sweep for Plummer, who also won BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe awards for his performance.

One Twitter user’s reaction: “Glad Plummer won. Beginners was better then some of the Best Picture nominees I saw. Looking at you Tree of Life & Moneyball. #Oscars.”

The highest spike of the night, and the only moment to break the barrier of 20,000 tweets per minute, was just after 8:24 p.m., when Meryl Streep won a lead-actress statuette for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” Many people had expected Viola Davis, of the Southern drama “The Help,” to win.

Twitter users reacted to Streep’s win with a mix of approval and disappointment. One user wrote, “I am so excited that Meryl Streep won Best Actress! I can't believe she only won 3 out of 17 times. She deserved so many more.”

Another user felt differently: “Streep is great; an icon; but her performance over Viola Davis in The Help? Really?”

According to the Senti-meter’s analysis, tweets about Davis were more likely to be positive than those about Streep.

All told, Streep was mentioned in 146,470 tweets on Feb. 26, more than 40 times her daily average in the two months leading up to the show, and Davis was mentioned in 27,036 tweets, more than the previous two months combined.

Overall, “The Help” and best-picture winner “The Artist” had the most positive sentiment among all movies.

One thing you can count on every year at the Oscars, no matter who wins, is that they’ll get people talking. Check out theinteractive Senti-meter tool, and read sample tweets, and track tweet volume for the entire awards season by clicking here.   

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Oscar Senti-meter: A BAFTA bounce for Dujardin, Oldman, Streep

Oscar Senti-meter: Russell Crowe and Miley Cyrus pump up the volume 

Oscars 2012: Meryl Streep and George Clooney top the Twitter charts, volume-wise

-- Oliver Gettell

Photo: Lead-actress winner Meryl Streep with her husband Don Gummer, outside the Governors Ball, following the 84th annual Academy Awards, at the Hollywood & Highland Center. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Week in Review: Billy Crystal, Oscar surprises [video]

March 2, 2012 |  4:15 pm

Since airing last Sunday, the Oscars have been the source of much debate. Did Billy Crystal restore some much-needed showmanship to the proceedings or set the event back with Catskills humor?  Should the telecast's flat rating among adults ages 18 to 49 be cause for alarm at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or celebrated as a victory of sorts?

And were there indeed any surprises on the podium, what with “The Artist” sweeping the biggest awards?

The Times’ Nicole Sperling and Steven Zeitchik look back at these questions and others from Hollywood’s biggest night.




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Oscars 2012: Full coverage

'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

Angelina Jolie's right leg and other odd Oscar moments

— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

 


Oscars 2012: ‘The Artist’ producer tops final Heat Meter rankings

February 29, 2012 |  2:25 pm

Tom Cruise and Thomas Langmann: Click for full Oscars coverage

Sure, “The Artist” won best picture at the Oscars on Sunday. But who was the hottest personality during the entirety of the award season just ended?

According to Heat Meter, The Times’ data desk's analysis of the race that used a sophisticated point system to rank contenders, it was "The Artist" producer Thomas Langmann, who topped all other personalities, including his own director, Michel Hazanavicius (who came in second). Langmann had 235 points to Hazanavicius’ 231.

The hottest non-“Artist” personality was Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady"), who with 207 points landed in third place and set a personal best, topping even the two previous seasons in which she also won Oscars. Alexander Payne, who at the Academy Awards picked up an adapted screenplay win and a director nomination, edged out Jean Dujardin for fourth place.
 
On the film side, "The Artist" trounced the competition with 715 points. Coming in a distant second was "The Descendants" with 409 points, followed by "The Help" with 370 points.

Not surprisingly , Weinstein Co. won the race for hottest studio. But more dramatic was the race for fourth place, which saw Paramount edge out its former corporate sibling, DreamWorks, by just one point, 355-354.

You can see the top five personalities, films and studios after the jump.

Continue reading »

Oscars 2012: What was Billy Crystal's lamest joke? [Poll]

February 27, 2012 |  9:45 am

 

Billy CrystalThe reviews of pinch-hit Oscar host Billy Crystal, who replaced Eddie Murphy when he bolted with producer Brett Ratner, were mixed. Detractors said a little Borscht Belt schtick went a long way, while supporters thought Crystal brought some sharp wit to the proceedings.

As The Times' Greg Braxton reported, the evening had its share of uncomfortable moments and instances of what appeared to be cultural insensitivity. And Crystal quickly came under fire in social media for a couple of his bits.

Among them:

Crystal appeared in blackface as Sammy Davis Jr. during the show’s opening film montage. Crystal as Davis Jr. — a throwback to his days on “Saturday Night Live” — parodied Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris" with Justin Bieber.

Crystal joked shortly after Octavia Spencer's supporting actress win for “The Help” that he loved the film so much he came out of the theater wanting to hug the first black woman he saw. “Which, from Beverly Hills," he quipped, "is about a 45-minute drive.”

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

Whatever your view, there were any number of Crystal jokes that landed with a thud. What was his biggest miss? Vote in our poll:

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Angelina Jolie's right leg and other odd Oscar moments

Photo: Billy Crystal hosting the 84th annual Academy Awards. Credit: Associated Press / Mark J. Terrill.


Oscars 2012: 'Separation' director says Iranians care about Oscars

February 27, 2012 |  9:15 am

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Though it was the middle of the night in Iran when “A Separation” was named the best foreign-language film of the year, Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi said he was confident many of the country’s people were awake to watch the telecast.

“People in Iran follow the Oscars a lot more than you think they do,” the filmmaker said through a translator backstage. “And perhaps the reason why they follow it this year so closely is because by every means it is a cultural event for them and they would like to hear the name of their country through culture.”

Farhadi said he hoped the prize would send a message to the Iranian people that “cultural activities are the most important factors that we need to stick to in Iran.” He was proud, he added, that the movie helped send a “clear” rather than a “vague image” to the rest of the world.

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

“What happens in this film is not specific to a region or geography, and perhaps this is the reason why this film is understandable to people around the world,” he added.

As for the Iranian government’s reaction to the film — about what happens after a couple files for divorce — the director said he was unsure of how they would respond to the award.

“The Iranian government is not unanimous at all,” he explained. "When this film was nominated, some were very happy and some were silent. To me, what matters is that the people of Iran are happy.”

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— Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Asghar Farhadi with his Oscar for best foreign-language film backstage at the 84th  Academy Awards. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times.


Odd moments at Oscars 2012, such as Angelina Jolie's right leg

February 27, 2012 |  6:01 am

JenniferlopezangelinajolieUnlike the Grammys, which all but throws open the doors for weirdness with its medleys and awkward collaborations, the Oscars is a staid affair, planned and managed to the minute.

With host Billy Crystal helming his ninth telecast, the 84th edition of the Hollywood Huzzahs was especially stiff and self-reverent, resembling a wake for an elderly uncle we never knew more than a celebration of film's passionate spirit.

The Oscars still managed to host its fair share of eye-rolling moments, Twitter mini-scandals involving certain body parts and a Big Upset that really wasn't much of a shocker at all. The highlights of the 2012 Uggies — oops, we mean Oscars:

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

1. Billy Crystal was brought in as a hasty replacement for Eddie Murphy, who was swept out as part of the Brett Ratner anti-gay slur meltdown of 2011. And although we understand the academy's desire to get someone experienced (read: safe) in there, wouldn't it be great if they had taken just a wee bit more of a risk with the host?

Last year everyone complained James Franco seemed stoned and that Anne Hathaway overcompensated, but at least it wasn't reheated jokes that played better in the Catskills, where the last standing comedy clubs were likely recording this on Beta tape for posterity. An early sketch had Crystal meeting with Justin Bieber to pull in the 18-24 crowd — and that's the last moment this age group or any person younger than 50 was seemingly thought about ever again.

2. Are the movies (all of them, everywhere) dying or going away somewhere? There was an oddly funereal vibe to the recorded segments that had actors recollecting their first cinematic memories or somberly intoning about the magic of cinema in general. With actors talking against a black background, we were just waiting for a procession of bagpipers to announce the Death of Film. By the time we got to the In Memoriam montage, things were so gloomy that Esperanza Spaulding rendered "It's a Wonderful World" dangerously close to a dirge rather than a poignant celebration of life.

3. So desperate for entertainment, some viewers of the Oscars manufactured a fake wardrobe malfunction a la Janet Jackson's flash at the Super Bowl. Shortly after Jennifer Lopez sat down from her presenter duties with Cameron Diaz, Twitter lit afire with rumors that Lopez's left nipple slipped out of her dress while she was turning around onstage. Videos of the supposed moment were quickly cut and posted on YouTube; Daily Beast created a poll, asking viewers if they'd indeed caught a view of JLo's assets; and Gawker wondered if we had a true nip slip on our hands or simply a shadow, perhaps from some clothing tape meant to prevent this kind of mishap from occurring in the first place.

Well, we're here to tell you that we have diligently studied the footage and it is our professional opinion that no such slippage happened at all. Sorry. But we thoroughly applaud the person who started the Twitter account called @JLosNipple.

4. Not to be outdone by anyone's nipple, there was Angelina Jolie's lithesome leg. Wearing a black dress with a slit nearly up to her waistline, Jolie thrust out her right gam and cunningly smiled at the resulting wolf whistles. Some said it was an overcooked attempt to generate steam while others said yowza, who cares?

The pose was so striking that when "Descendants" writer and comedian Jim Rash later came on stage to get his trophy for adapted screenplay, he mimicked the actress but with much more fabric involved (stupid tuxedos). Of course, Jolie's leg also has a Twitter account (@AngiesRightLeg), where it has excitedly tweeted sentiments like "I'm a leg, get a load of me!" Fifteen minutes of fame, meet your new competition: five seconds of Internet chuckles.

5. When the Big Upset of the night is Meryl Streep winning for best actress for playing a character from real life, a world leader mind you, this tells you everything you need to know about the surprise element of the show. The shocker is that one of the most lauded actresses of our time actually won?

Although Streep hasn't nabbed the Oscar in nearly 30 years, she has a record 17 nominations. Sooner or later, she was bound to get another one; the academy certainly wasn't about to stop nominating her. And though she looked genuinely surprised when her name was called, her face soon settled into that regal Streep visage that's about as manufactured as Taylor Swift's surprise face. What's next? A movie about movies wins for best picture? Oh, wait, that happened too.

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'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

— Margaret Wappler

Photos: Jennifer Lopez, with Cameron Diaz. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times. Angelina Jolie thrusts her leg on stage. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times


Oscars 2012: Octavia Spencer calls 'Help' ensemble a 'beautiful unit'

February 27, 2012 |  5:47 am

Christian Bale and Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer, who was named best supporting actress at the Oscars for her role as Southern maid Minny Jackson in the civil-rights-era drama "The Help," was not in the mood to appear in the press room after the Academy Awards telecast on Sunday night, asking that she not have to take too many questions.

Indeed Spencer, who cried onstage after her win, seemed exhausted and overwhelmed to the point of being edgy. When asked about her thoughts on the lack of diversity in the motion picture academy, which is largely white and male, the African American actress bristled just a bit.

“I don’t have any thoughts about it; it’s not something I’ve thought about. I wish I could be more eloquent — elegant in answering that question,” she said. “I can’t tell the academy what to do, honey. They just gave me an Oscar.”

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

A moment later, after she took another question, she seemed to feel bad about her answer.

“I didn’t mean to cut you off, ma’am,” she said to the reporter who asked the diversity question. “I just knew where you were going, and I didn’t want to get on that bus.”

The usually chipper actress’ mood brightened when she was asked about her experience working on “The Help.”

“It’s rare that you have the type of ensemble that we had,” she said. “We left our egos at the door and worked as one beautiful unit.”

But at the end of the day, Spencer said that she felt she was accepting the Oscar on the part of those who lived through the civil rights struggle.

“I’m a benefactor of all of the riches that the real-life Minnys, Aibileens and Celias basically reaped,” said Spencer. “I’m very humble because I get to stand here and accept this award, and I haven’t really done anything.”

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Oscars 2012: Full coverage

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'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

— Jessica Gelt

Photo: Octavia Spencer with presenter Christian Bale and her award for supporting actress for "The Help" backstage at the 84th Academy Awards.  Credit: Joel Ryan/Associated Press.


Oscars: Meryl Streep's 'Iron Lady' makeup was a low-budget affair

February 26, 2012 |  7:21 pm

Iron lady makeup
During his acceptance speech, makeup artist J. Roy Helland thanked Meryl Streep for continuing to work with him after 37 years — through films including "Sophie's Choice," "Out of Africa," "The Bridges of Madison County" and, in 2011, "The Iron Lady."

Backstage after claiming the gold statuette, he elaborated on his longstanding relationship with the two-time Oscar winner (who was up for her own Academy Award on Sunday night). He said he still finds it “fascinating” to watch the 62-year-old’s face change as she ages.

“It’s a great joy, and we have a really good time, which is why we like to do it, still,” Helland said. “It’s fascinating to make [her makeup] look different. A long, long time ago I probably got the best lesson in makeup, which was someone said, ‘Don’t paint what you see; paint what you want.’ So for us — Meryl and I — it’s all about not having it be her but having it be whoever the character is.”

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

Less fun, Helland said, were the budget constraints on the $14-million production of “The Iron Lady.” He said he was under pressure to work fast and felt grateful that Streep was willing to sit still for 2 1/2 hours each morning before heading to set.

“When they budgeted [the film], they didn’t consider that we would be doing that much old age for that amount of time,” he recalled. “I was allowed to have five wigs made, and they were rented, and that was it — covering over 40 years.”

It was the first Oscar for Helland and his co-winner, Mark Coulier.

For more Oscars breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.

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Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

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—-Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: The Oscar winners for makeup, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, address the audience onstage at the 84th Academy Awards. Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

 


Oscars 2012: 'Rango' wins for animated feature

February 26, 2012 |  6:49 pm

Rango
"Rango," starring Johnny Depp and directed by Gore Verbinski, took home the animated featured Oscar at the 84th Academy Awards.

"Rango," which follows the exploits of a city chameleon thrust into a life as a desert town's sheriff, also includes the voice talents of Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty and Alfred Molina.

The film beat out a diverse animated field that included "A Cat in Paris," "Chico & Rita," "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots."

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," winner of this year's Golden Globe for animated feature, was not among the nominees for the Oscar.

The Academy Awards are taking place Sunday night in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.

For more Oscar breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.

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Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

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— Jevon Phillips

Photo: "Rango." Credit: Paramount.


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