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Entries in Oscars (6)

Wednesday
Jan242018

OSCAR SPLASHES OUT: THE SHAPE OF WATER, DUNKIRK LEAD 2018 NOMINATIONS

Nine films will vie for the Best Picture Oscar at the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony, to be held March 4 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Guillermo Del Toro’s love letter to the Hollywood horror films of yore, The Shape of Water firmed as favourite to take home the top honour on the back of its 13 nominations.

Other nominees in the race for Best Picture are Dunkirk (8 nominations), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (7), Darkest Hour (6), Phantom Thread (6), Lady Bird (5), Get Out (4), Call Me By Your Name (4) and The Post (2). Award season contenders that failed to make the Best Picture shortlist include The Florida Project, The Disaster Artist and Mudbound.

A late season surge by Paul Thomas Anderson’s dressmaker drama Phantom Thread (pictured, right), which had trouble finding traction early in the awards race, appears to have scuppered the chances of several films who were once considered ‘sure things’. Both director Steven Spielberg and star Tom Hanks were overlooked for The Post (it’s only other nomination was for perennial Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep, her 21st); actor/director James Franco and his tribute to ‘never-say-die’ filmmaking, The Disaster Artist were shunted, earning just a single nod for Adapted Screenplay.

The Hollywood men’s club that was the Best Cinematography category is no more, with Mudbound DOP Rachel Morrison becoming the first woman to be nominated in the category; it was one of four nominations for director Dee Rees’ slave story and represents the first non-documentary showing for streaming giant Netflix.

Greta Gerwig became the fifth woman to be nominated for Best Director for her coming-of-age drama Lady Bird, while first-time nominees in the major categories include Margot Robbie (Best Actress) and Allison Janney (Best Supporting Actress) for I, Tonya; Christopher Nolan for his direction on Dunkirk; Jordan Peele (Best Director) and Daniel Kaluuya (Best Actor) for Get Out; and legendary French New Wave figure Agnes Varda, who earns here first nomination at the age of 89 for her documentary Faces Places (pictured, below; Varda with Faces Places co-director, JR). While nothing came the way of Hugh Jackman for either Logan or The Greatest Showman, Margot Robbie's Best Actress mention and the nomination of director Derin Seale and star and co-writer Josh Lawson for their short The Eleven O'Clock meant Australian talent gets a look-in once again on the world of film's biggest night.   

Spielberg, Hanks and Franco were not the only high-profile talent to go home empty-handed. The blockbuster Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, failed to earn a single nomination; also on the no-show list, Battle of The Sexes, for which last year's Academy darling Emma Stone seemed destined for re-recognition; despite seven nominations in total, Three Billboards… director Martin McDonagh missed a Best Director slot (though did earn an Original Screenplay nod); Bret Morgan’s Jane, a profile of the great scientist Jane Goodall, seemed a certainty for the Best Documentary category; scene stealers Tiffany Haddisch (Girls Trip) and Holly Hunter (The Big Sick) in the Supporting Actress race; and, Fatih Akin’s In The Fade, which earned a Golden Globe for Foreign Language film and a Cannes trophy for leading lady, Diane Kruger.

The full list of nominees for the 90th Academy Awards are:

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET,Call Me by Your Name; DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, Phantom Thread; DANIEL KALUUYA, Get Out; GARY OLDMAN, Darkest Hour; DENZEL WASHINGTON, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: WILLEM DAFOE, The Florida Project; WOODY HARRELSON, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri; RICHARD JENKINS, The Shape of Water; CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, All the Money in the World; SAM ROCKWELL, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: SALLY HAWKINS, The Shape of Water; FRANCES MCDORMAND, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri; MARGOT ROBBIE, I, Tonya; SAOIRSE RONAN, Lady Bird; MERYL STREEP, The Post

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: MARY J. BLIGE, Mudbound; ALLISON JANNEY, I, Tonya; LESLEY MANVILLE, Phantom Thread; LAURIE METCALF, Lady Bird; OCTAVIA SPENCER, The Shape of Water

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: THE BOSS BABY; THE BREADWINNER; COCO; FERDINAND; LOVING VINCENT

CINEMATOGRAPHY: BLADE RUNNER 2049, Roger A. Deakins; DARKEST HOUR,Bruno Delbonnel; DUNKIRK, Hoyte van Hoytema; MUDBOUND, Rachel Morrison; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Dan Laustsen

COSTUME DESIGN: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Jacqueline Durran; DARKEST HOUR, Jacqueline Durran; PHANTOM THREAD, Mark Bridges; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Luis Sequeira; VICTORIA & ABDUL, Consolata Boyle

DIRECTING: DUNKIRK, Christopher Nolan; GET OUT, Jordan Peele; LADY BIRD, Greta Gerwig; PHANTOM THREAD, Paul Thomas Anderson; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Guillermo del Toro

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE): ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL; FACES PLACES; ICARUS; LAST MEN IN ALEPPO; STRONG ISLAND

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT): EDITH+EDDIE; HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405; HEROIN(E); KNIFE SKILLS; TRAFFIC STOP

FILM EDITING: BABY DRIVER, Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos; DUNKIRK, Lee Smith; I, TONYA, Tatiana S. Riegel; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Sidney Wolinsky; THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, Jon Gregory

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: A FANTASTIC WOMAN, Chile; THE INSULT, Lebanon; LOVELESS, Russia; ON BODY AND SOUL, Hungary; THE SQUARE, Sweden

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: DARKEST HOUR, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick; VICTORIA & ABDUL, Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard; WONDER, Arjen Tuiten

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE): DUNKIRK, Hans Zimmer; PHANTOM THREAD, Jonny Greenwood; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Alexandre Desplat; STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, John Williams; THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, Carter Burwell

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG): MIGHTY RIVER from Mudbound;; MYSTERY OF LOVE from Call Me by Your Name; REMEMBER ME from Coco; STAND UP FOR SOMETHING from Marshall; THIS IS ME from The Greatest Showman

BEST PICTURE: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito, Producers; DARKEST HOUR, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urbanski, Producers; DUNKIRK, Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers; GET OUT, Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Jordan Peele, Producers; LADY BIRD, Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O'Neill, Producers; PHANTOM THREAD, JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi, Producers; THE POST, Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale, Producers; THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, Producers

PRODUCTION DESIGN: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST; BLADE RUNNER 2049; DARKEST HOUR; DUNKIRK; THE SHAPE OF WATER

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED): DEAR BASKETBALL; GARDEN PARTY; LOU; NEGATIVE SPACE; REVOLTING RHYMES

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION): DEKALB ELEMENTARY; THE ELEVEN O'CLOCK; MY NEPHEW EMMETT; THE SILENT CHILD; WATU WOTE/ALL OF US

SOUND EDITING: BABY DRIVER, Julian Slater; BLADE RUNNER 2049, Mark Mangini and Theo Green; DUNKIRK, Richard King and Alex Gibson; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira; STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce

SOUND MIXING: BABY DRIVER, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis; BLADE RUNNER 2049, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth; DUNKIRK, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier; STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson

VISUAL EFFECTS: BLADE RUNNER 2049; GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2; KONG: SKULL ISLAND; STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI; WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY): CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, Screenplay by James Ivory; THE DISASTER ARTIST, Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; LOGAN, Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green, Story by James Mangold; MOLLY'S GAME, Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin; MUDBOUND, Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY): THE BIG SICK, Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani; GET OUT, Written by Jordan Peele; LADY BIRD, Written by Greta Gerwig; THE SHAPE OF WATER, Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, Story by Guillermo del Toro; THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, Written by Martin McDonagh

Friday
May202016

CAN THE QUEEN OF CANNES CONQUER THE WORLD…AGAIN?

Becoming the biggest teenage movie star in the world came at a price for Kristen Stewart. As the star of the most succesful YA franchise in film history, her every movement, every word and every romance (notably with co-star Robert Pattinson) was media fodder. Her often surly public persona masked a general distaste for the level of celebrity she had obtained. So, when planning a post-Twilight career, fame and fortune were inconsequential; instead, the indie world and international cinema beckoned.

Her potential for greatness was glimpsed in commercial non-starters shot between Twilight chapters (Adventureland; The Runaways, On The Road). Early Oscar buzz for Peter Sattler’s 2014 Guantanamo Bay drama Camp X-Ray failed to bolster the  box office for the Sundance hit, though praise was unamnimous for the leading lady (“Stewart is riveting,” said Variety). It would be her performance in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria that firmed her as a world class talent; as Juliette Binoche’s wise PA, Stewart won the Cesar for Best Supporting Actress – the first time an American actress has taken home a ‘French Oscar’. She shared some intense scenes opposite Julianne Moore in Still Alice and shone in a quality ensemble (Corey Stoll, Sam Waterson, Glenn Close, Gretchen Moll) in Tim Blake Nelson’s little-seen campus crime drama, Anesthesia.

2016 may prove to be the defining year in the re-emergence of Kristen Stewart. She hasn’t opened a film since the 2012 global hit Snow White and The Huntsman, and has suffered the ignominy of a box office bomb with American Ultra. But she wowed opening night audiences at  Cannes 2016 opposite Jesse Eisenberg in Woody Allen’s Café Society. It was the first of five diverse films that will snake out globally in the months ahead, each with the potential to strengthen her crown as the #1 International Movie Star of her generation. (Pictured, right; Stewart and Eisenberg in Cafe Society)

EQUALS (Dir: Drake Doremus / U.S.A.; 101 mins)
Stewart plays Nia opposite Nicholas Hoult’s Silas, two lovers in a Utopian future metropolis whose secret feelings for each other fly in the face of the repressed, emotion-free world of tomorrow. Romance and genre have been kind to the actress, though early buzz suggest some style-over-substance issues affect indie-kid Doremus’ first major work. Each generation have their own Logan’s Run or Gattaca, films that don’t usually break box office records but tend to develop an adoring fanbase. Launches May 26 in the U.S.

PERSONAL SHOPPER (Dir: Olivier Assayas / France, Belgium; 101 mins)
Reteaming with her Clouds of Sils Maria director, Stewart appears in almost every frame of Olivier Assayas’ strange, startling supernatural drama/stalker thriller. As the PA to a spoilt-brat super model who shops for her employer by day and channels the spirit of her dead twin by night, Stewart is fearless on-screen, energising a character arc that takes in such extremes as horror, grief and sexuality. The recent Cannes premiere got wildly diverse reactions from the world’s press, though none questioned Stewart’s ability to plumb emotional depths. French season starts October 9; will test Stewart’s pulling power outside the director’s homeland.

CERTAIN WOMEN (Dir: Kelly Reichardt / U.S.A.; 107 mins)
Stewart joins Michelle Williams and Laura Dern in Kelly Reichardt’s three-hander about tough, independent women in smalltown America. Arthouse audiences and festival crowds know Kelly Reichardt’s name, but she is a determinedly non-commercial filmmaker; despite critical raves, Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff and Night Moves stayed firmly niche. Working with Reichardt means Stewart is furthering her craft and credibility which, if positive press and award season support come the film’s way, may breakout and further strengthen her box office status. She also gets to play a gay character for the first time, reflecting an aspect of her private life about which much has been speculated and which she neither confirms nor denies.

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (Dir: Ang Lee / U.S.A.; tbc)
Landing in time for serious Oscar consideration is Ang Lee’s latest, a stunning anti-war work taken from the best-selling novel. Some left-field casting (Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker) and a hi-tech frame-rate will be talking points, but all eyes will be on Stewart. As the sister of returning soldier Billy Lynn, she will be carrying intense scenes with newbie Joe Alwyn in his debut film. If she nails a part that is crucial to the narrative’s emotional impact, her Cesar may have an Oscar be its side. Opens November 11 Stateside.

Sunday
Feb282016

SENTIMENTAL FAVES TO DOMINATE OSCAR 2016

The ‘sentimental narrative’ is being bandied about with shameless abandon in most prognostications over the 2016 Academy Awards. Key categories are not being discussed on merit, but more so as if nominees are nearing death; those “Oh, it’s his time,” and “Wouldn’t it be fitting if…” kind of comments. SCREEN-SPACE can play that game as well as the best of them so, just over 24 hours out from host Chris Rock’s highly-anticipated opening monologue, here are our winners and why…

BEST PICTURE
Bridge of Spies is the best film amongst the eight nominees, but Spielberg was bumped from the director category and its Cold War setting (and, yes, Tom Hanks’ casting) makes it feel like a throwback to a bygone Hollywood era. Room will earn kudos elsewhere; The Martian and Brooklyn will have been shutout across the board by this time of the night. With no nomination in the script categories, it would go against the grain for The Revenant to pick up the trophy, but that is likely to happen. The upside is that the absence of Innaritu and co-writer Mark L Smith from the writing honours list means Spotlight and The Big Short won’t go home empty-handed. But could Mad Max Fury Road steal the Best Picture spotlight….?
Who will win: THE REVENANT.
Who should win: INSIDE OUT.

BEST DIRECTOR
…No, but the sentimental narrative will help its director George Miller to a surprise Best Director trophy. If the Academy rank-&-file are in a ‘body of work’ mindset, no one would be more deserving than the Aussie filmmaker; he has one trophy already, for Best Animated Film winner Happy Feet, and is high on the AMPAS membership radar after Babe (7 noms), The Witches of Eastwick (2 noms) and Lorenzo’s Oil (2 noms). Industry types know that the journey he undertook on the action franchise reboot was every bit as fraught with hardship as anything Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu and his team undertook on The Revenant. Adam McKay’s giddy, fresh vision for The Big Short could be the bolter; Tom McCarthy’s work on Spotlight was solid; Lenny Abrahamson for Room is this category’s ‘reward enough to be nominated’ guy.
Who will win: GEORGE MILLER for MAD MAX FURY ROAD (pictured, above; on-set with star Tom Hardy)
Who should win: GEORGE MILLER for MAD MAX FURY ROAD

BEST ACTRESS
45 Years star Charlotte Rampling had the sentimentalists on her side until she laid into the Academy over the diversity issue. Jennifer Lawrence’s industry pull and not her performance in Joy got her a spot on the ballot, but she’s doing no campaigning for the prize. It’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ for Saoirse Ronan, but the current is running against her for Brooklyn. And the frontrunner a few months back, Cate Blanchett in Todd Haynes’ lesbian romantic drama Carol, has found no awards season favour come trophy time (Ed: fine with that, it’s a hammy performance). When the terrific Ms Larson is cradling the little gold guy back stage, will any of the pap gallery have the verve to call out, “Hey Brie, say ‘cheese’?”
Who will win: BRIE LARSON for ROOM.
Who should win: CHARLIZE THERON for MAD MAX FURY ROAD

BEST ACTOR
Just how the sentimental narrative surrounding Leonardo DiCaprio’s bare Oscar cabinet emerged is a mystery. He’s been “snubbed for this” and “denied for that” over the years, according to page after page of fawning editorial (in all fairness, he perhaps should have won for The Aviator…or Revolutionary Road…or The Wolf of Wolf Street). But his cause quickly became the catchcry of the modern American film industry, the shrill shrieking reminiscent of Oscar matriarch Shirley Maclaine’s “Give my daughter the stuff!” meltdown in Terms of Endearment. Fassbender is fantastic as Steve Jobs; the buzz on Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl was hotter than the technically proficient but chilly performance that finally emerged; Trumbo was undersen, so Cranston remained an outsider. Damon’s space dude from The Martian? Puh-leeze.
Who will win: LEONARDO DICAPRIO from THE REVENANT.
Who should win:  GEZA ROHRIG from SON OF SAUL.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
No one begrudges Rachel McAdams’ nod for her fine work in Spotlight but she didn’t have the big showy moment that usually gets noticed amongst support players. Rooney Mara is the warm heart and soul in the otherwise overpraised Carol, but it’s a lead performance, surely? Winslet has a Lead Actress statue (and 6 other noms), which should be enough to discount her in a close race. If the 2016 Oscars fully commit to the sentimental, industry veteran Jennifer Jason Leigh could win for The Hateful Eight. Likely, though, that Alicia Vikander will top off a breakthrough year with the crown for The Danish Girl (also essentially a lead performance). If the male winners seem steeped in gooey sentimentality, the actress categories seem to be looking to the future of the industry.
Who will win: ALICIA VIKANDER for THE DANISH GIRL (pictured, above)
Who should win: KRISTEN STEWART for CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
No category pulses soloudly with a sentimental heartbeat as the Supporting Actor contest. Mark’s Ruffalo and Rylance (for Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, respectively) can feel hard done by; in any other year they would have been duking it out (pardon the boxing analogy, but it’s fitting). Christian Bale is in peak form at present; his role in The Big Short represents an actor mature enough to back his instincts and deliver. Tom Hardy had a great year and bad guys, such as the creep he played in The Revenant, often win this category. But does the potential for overflowing goodwill and a minutes-long standing ovation (if the broadcaster allows it) exist anywhere else in the Oscar schedule than with the feting of Sylvester Stallone? No, it doesn’t and he will win and win big.
Who will win: SYLVESTER STALLONE for CREED
Who should win: Well, take your pick – JACOB TREMBLAY for ROOM; PAUL DANO for LOVE & MERCY; MICHAEL SHANNON for 99 ROOMS.

OF THE REST…
As stated, Adapted Screenplay honours will go to Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short, while Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer will win Original Screenplay honours for Spotlight (both earned WGA gongs); Emmanuel Lubezki will win for lensing The Revenant, though John Seale could take this slot if the night turns in Fury Road’s favour; Mad Max will sweep the tech categories, including Editing, Makeup/Hair Styling, Production Design and the Sound categories; Inside Out is a cert for Animated Film; harrowing Holocaust drama Son of Saul for Foreign Film; the sentimental favourite for Original Score will be the legendary Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight, earning him his first Oscar; box office dominance will be rewarded with a VFX win for Star Wars The Force Awakens; doco honours for Amy; costuming to Sandy Powell for Cinderella; remarkably, the years forgotten hit Fifty Shades of Grey will earn Oscar bragging rights with a  Best Song win, for ‘Earned It’ by The Weeknd.

Monday
Feb232015

LIVE! THE SCREEN-SPACE 2015 OSCAR BLOG

America's favourite go-to awards MC, Neil Patrick Harris (pictured, below) will usher in the 87th annual Academy Awards in a matter of moments. From the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and North Highland Avenue, the 2015 Oscars have weathered their fair share of controversy, but all that counts for for little more than monologue fodder come the big night. As the celebration unfolds, SCREEN-SPACE will be live-blogging all the evening's key moments as they happen - every award, every presenter, all the spontaneous craziness that comes when tense celebrities meet free booze. Bookmark and refresh the page for all the latest Oscar moments...

LIVE FROM LOS ANGELES' DOLBY THEATRE, THE 87TH ACADEMY AWARDS...

An uncharacteristically rainy LA welcomes the celebs. Red carpet chit-chat turns from the tension of the evening to how the downpour will affect the hair and dresses.

Harris' strengths as a showman launch into an ol'-fashioned song-and-dance number about the magic of cinema. He 'Crystals' things up by putting himself in the frame with classic film scenes of yore.

Anna Kendrick and Jack Black weigh in with some self-deprecating humour, that actually works. Then some dancing storm-troopers...wait, what?

Solid opening that gets the show of to a high-gloss, upbeat start. Uh-oh, now he's talking...

First presenter, Lupita Nyong'o, introduces the nominees for Best Supporting Actor.

WINNER: JK SIMMONS, WHIPLASH

As expected, journeyman actor JK Simmons (pictured, below right) proves a popular choice for Whiplash. Co-star Miles Teller is clearly happy for on-screen tormentor. Wife Michelle leads the thank yous, followed by his kids,followed bya plea to "call your parents." Nice touch. No industry acknowledgements in speech! Is that a first?

Silly diversion about Price Waterhouse Cooper and NPH's predictions. Move on.

Liam Neeson introduces the Best Pic nominee clips, for The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper respectively. Full black tux-&-tie ensemble very dashing.

Dakota Johnson introduces 'Lost Stars,' Best Song nominee from Begin Again, performed by Maroon 5, fronted by the music-biz pic co-star, Adam Levine. Tight set.

Show yet to spark. Slick but lacking...

The actress from Anaconda and Captain Kirk step up for Best Costume Design announcement.

WINNER: MILENA CANONERO, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Presenter Reese Witherspoon weathers an awful pun and condescending hillbilly play-on to present Best Makeup & Hairstyling.

WINNER: MARK COULIER and FRANCES HANNON, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Coulier honours the late Dick Smith, revered makeup artist, in his speech.

Channing Tatum steps up to introduce winners of the Team Oscar search, young filmmakers whose 60 second films were chosen from hundreds of entrants.

NPH has a Travolta moment introducing Chiwetel Ejiofor who, with Nicole Kidman, present the Foreign Film nominees.

WINNER: IDA (Poland).

First Oscar trophy for Polish film industry from 10 nominations. Director Pawel Palikowska (pictured, below) blows off orchestra play-off to deliver first memorable moment of the night, thanking all his drunk Polish friends and honouring his deceased wife and parents.

Shirley Maclaine struggles a bit talking up next three Best Picture nominees, Boyhood, Birdman and The Theory of Everything.

The old 'crowd-walk' bit is saved by Steve Carrell's quick wit.

Marion Cotillard who, we are reminded by some twee play-on music, is French, introduces the next Best Song nominee, The Lego Movie anthem Everyting is Awesome. Andy Samberg and co mash-up song-styles to garish, gaudy excess. This is more like it!

Kerry Washington and 'the most well-adjusted former child star in the room', Jason Bateman, present Live Action Short Film contenders.

WINNER: THE PHONE CALL, Matt Kirby and James Lucas.

...and straight into Best Documentary Short.

WINNER: CRISIS HOTLINE VETERANS PRESS 1.

Viola Davis introduces the recipients of the 2015 Governor's Awards, presented prior to the ceremony. They were Maureen O'Hara, Hayao Miyazaki, Jean-Claude Carriere and Harry Belafonte.

Another crowd-walk, in which David Oyelowo is put on the spot. Ouch.

Gwyneth Paltrow introduces Tim McGraw, who gives moving rendition of Best Song nominee, I'm Not Gonna Miss You. The nominated artist, the great Glen Campbell, in the grips of late-stage Atlzheimers, is in the audience.

NPH, perhaps realising the show is a bit staid, drops trousers for Birdman bit before introducing Margot Robbie and Miles Teller, who present clip package of AMPAS Technical Awards evening. Looked like fun.

Star eye-candy continues with Chris Evans and Sienna Miller onstage for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories. First, the Mixers...

WINNER: WHIPLASH, Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, and Thomas Curley.

..then, the Editors...

WINNER: AMERICAN SNIPER, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman.

Winners know where their bread is buttered, and thank Mr Eastwood first off.

A freshly clothed NPH introduces Jared Leto in silver-blue tux (yikes), who wins points for Meryl Streep gag (Her nomination is a condition of a California State Law, apparently). The Oscar goes to...

WINNER: PATRICIA ARQUETTE, BOYHOOD.

Arquette rips into a speech certain to cause much post-ceremony commentary, as she demands wage equality across the US for women and justice for the hard-working middle-class moms, such as her character in Boyhood. Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez and co-star Ethan Hawke rise to scream support. A powerful moment.

Best Song nominee Grateful, word and lyrics by Dianne Warren, from Beyond the Lights, stakes a solid claim for the trophy with a soaring rendition by Rita Ora.

Ansell Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz front for Visual Effects category.

WINNER: INTERSTELLAR, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher.

Kevin Hart and Anna Kendrick do some 'short person' schtick ahead of Best Animated Short announcement. 

WINNER: FEAST, Patrick Osborne and Christina Reid.

Zoe Saldana and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnstone pony up for Animated Feature award; NPH says what everyones thinking, "Where's The Lego Movie?"

WINNER: BIG HERO 6, Don Hall, Chris Williams, and Roy Conli.

AMPAS president Sheryl Boone-Isaacs speaks loud and proud for freedom of creative speech and expression. "We honour the courage of filmmakers who cross borders and expand boundaries," she says.

New Hollywood gets a look in with 2014's breakout stars Chris Pratt and Felicity Jones, who step up for Best Production Design announcement.

WINNER: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock.

Some one needs to stop Adam Levine's gf from being on-camera...

Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain present Best Cinematography award. This will be telling. Another Budapest trophy could put a stop to Birdman's night...

WINNER: Emmanuel Lubezki, BIRDMAN.

Meryl Streep (pictured, below right) introduces the much-loved In Memoriam montage. She is clearly moved...

Mickey Rooney, Paul Mazursky lead the artfully rendered presentation. HR Giger, Anita Ekberg, Louis Jourdan, Gordon Willis, Richard Attenborough, Ruby Dee. A young Robin Williams...

Jennifer Hudson sings a tribute to the many we've lost. Not necessary, given the emotion of the montage, but fitting.

Naomi Watts and Benedict Cumberbatch remind us just how white the night is. They present the Best Editor honour to...

WINNER: Tom Cross, WHIPLASH.

Is the playing field changing re the Best Picture race? Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel are building unexpected momentum. We'll see...

Terence Howard stumbles awkwardly (autocue problems; banging the mic stand) while announcing the remaining Best Picture nominees, Whiplash, Selma and The Imitation Game.

Best Documentary Feature category give David Oyelowo and Jennifer Aniston the stage time they deserved. And the Oscar goes to...

WINNER: CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, and Dirk Wilutzky.

Not for the first time tonight, NPH undercuts a serious moment with a stupid joke. After CitizenFour director Laura Poitras gives a poignant speech, the host smugly guffaws, "Edward Snowden couldn't be her tonight, for some treason." Geddit? Terrible. Is he ad-libbing?

Octavia Spencer intoduces John Legend and Common (pictured, left) to sing the Best Song nominee, Glory, one of only two categories in which Selma features. Rousing, heartfelt rendition; crowd rises for prolonged SO.

John Travolta and Idina Menzel get big laughs reliving last years 'Adele Dazeem' moment. John's a bit touchy-feely! They have the honour of awarding the Best Song to...

WINNER: 'GLORY' from SELMA, Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn.

Common rips into the night's best speech, uniting the world through the fight against injustice in countries everywhere. John Legend backs it up with his own impassioned words.

Scarlett Johansson, elaborately attired, fronts for what seems to be a tribute to The Sound of Music 50th anniversary. And they say the Academy is an anchronistic institute for old white people!

The job falls to Lady Gaga to make it relevant. This show DOES NOT need a Sound of Music medley tribute right now... In fairness, Gaga nailed it. 'The incomparable' Julie Andrews materialises and recalls the impact of the film. Seems the production number was a primer for the Best Original Score category (wasn't The Sound of Music based upon a stage production?).

WINNER: Alexandre Desplat, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.

Great funnyman Eddie Murphy kicks off the Screenplay categories with Original work nominees.

WINNER: BIRDMAN, Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo

Alejandro takes centre stage, likely aware Linklater has firmed as favourite for the Director award.

Oprah Winfrey glides onstage, to deliver Adapted Screenplay trophy.

WINNER: THE IMITATION GAME, Written by Graham Moore.

Moore uses the platform to encourage tolerance, truth and self-belief, opening up about his teen suicide attempt.

Shrugging off NPH's vaguely racist intro, Ben Affleck steps up for Best Director announcement.

WINNER: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, BIRDMAN

Genuine cries of shock as Iñárritu pips Linklater at the post. The Mexican is humbled before his peers, acknowledging the fellow nominees. Linklater's expression is one of "Oh, well..." SCREEN-SPACE has been open about its ambivalence to Boyhood, but it is a shame that Linklater may go home empty-handed.

Cate Blanchett primes the crowd for the Best Actor award. Keaton, Redmayne or Cooper in a shock..?

WINNER: Eddie Redmayne, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

Suddenly, I want to watch Tropic Thunder.

Matthew McConnaughey steps up to reveal Best Actress winner. Getting the feeling it will be the Year of the Afflicted in the lead acting categories...

WINNER: Julianne Moore, STILL ALICE.

Deserving and popular choice.

NPH returns to a running gag about his predictions, locked in box the whole show. It seemed silly four hours ago; now, with the big award pending and everyone's arse numb... well. Turns out its a bit, that doesn't really make sense. Best forgotten.

Sean Penn to announce the Best Picture. Can Boyhood salvage something...?

WINNER: BIRDMAN, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers.

Cast and crew take the stage, each making sure Michael Keaton gets some moment in the spotlight. Given the mike, he says, "Look, it's great to be here, who am I kidding. This is great fun."

Sunday
Feb222015

"AND THE OSCAR GOES TO...": PREDICTING THE 2015 WINNERS.

Call us a little bit cynical, but the modern Oscars circus is little more than an extension of the studio marketing arms. Each year, the bestowed-upon contenders are probably not the ‘best’ movies of the year, but certainly are the ones that serve the image and integrity of Hollywood’s corporate masters most succinctly. That said, the Oscars are still a blast, not least for us ‘industry analysis’ types. We indulge in long ruminations about who is going to win and why, as if we are privy to the back room dealings and long lunches that draw those left-field votes from the Academy members. We aren’t that inside, of course, but that never stops us from conjuring wildly hypothetical scenarios to support our prognostications. To wit, the 2015 SCREEN-SPACE Oscar Predictions… 

BEST ACTRESS:
Julianne Moore will take home this statue. It is impossible to recall when a category seemed like such a lock and will present the defining moment of the entire evening if she misses out (see also, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette in the supporting player categories). On merit alone, it should be a much closer contest - Marion Cotillard gives the performance of the year in Two Days One Night, but no one saw it; Reese Witherspoon hit a new career-high in Wild; Felicity Jones was the Tom Cruise to Eddie Redmayne’s ‘Rainman’ and deserves any acting kudos far more than her co-star. Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike’s inclusion at the expense of Jenny Slate (Obvious Child), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year; Miss Julie), Jennifer Aniston (Cake) or Essie Davis (The Babadook) now seems daft. 

BEST ACTOR:
Like Moore, sentimental favourite Michael Keaton seemed a similar ‘sure thing’ a few months back. But the race has tightened. American Sniper’s enormous success has seen Bradley Cooper surge; with no Best Director nomination and the adapted screenplay sparking credibility debates, this category may be the only opportunity to reward the surprise hit. Redmayne’s impersonation of Stephen Hawking pales next to the likes of Daniel Day Lewis (who won for My Left Foot) and Tom Cruise (nominated for Born on The Fourth of July), but he has the BAFTA and SAG trophies already in his cabinet. No Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) or Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) undermines this category, for sure. Hollywood will reward it’s own and give Keaton the gong. 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY and BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Pundits will get some idea if The Grand Budapest Hotel is going to contend for a Best Picture win if it bumps Boyhood and Birdman in the Original Screenplay category. It will have certainly picked up some below-the-line honours by this stage, but will need this nod to maintain momentum; the recent BAFTA crown is a good sign. Foxcatcher is firming as the evening’s also-ran; Nigtcrawler should win, but won’t. Wes Anderson by a hipster’s whisker.
Adapted Screenplay is most likely the last big category The Imitation Game can win, but that seems unlikely against American Sniper and The Theory of Everything. Inherent Vice is (fittingly) the rank outsider; would’ve been nice to see James Gunn’s smart, sweet reworking of the comic book source Guardians of the Galaxy get recognition here. The 2015 surprise may be Damien Chazelle (pictured, left) taking the gold for Whiplash. With five nominations, the film has a lot of love amongst AMPAS members; JK Simmons didn’t just make up those vicious, tyrannical rants. Whiplash in an upset. 

BEST DIRECTOR
Morten Tyldum’s understated, workmanlike job on The Imitation Game was fine, but not one of the year’s five best. Foxcatcher auteur Bennet Miller’s rigid, austere eye was much admired, but did anyone come out of that film exclaiming, “God, I loved it”? Wes Anderson will be rewarded with the Original Screenplay gong. That leaves arguably the night’s toughest split decision – Alejandro Inarritu’s giddy, bewildering, technically dazzling spin on the artist-as-a-tortured-soul, or Richard Linklater’s warm celebration of every-home Americana. For its widely publicised production schedule and his intensely personal conviction, Linklater will probably claim it. No, I’m not that enamoured with the meandering mediocrity of Boyhood or its mopey leading man, but everyone else seems to love it and Linklater has certainly paid his dues, so good luck to him. 

BEST FILM:
In such a tight year, it is inconceivable that any kind of ‘clean sweep’ will emerge. If Boyhood wins here, it will have three of the top slots (Director, Supporting Actress). Boyhood won’t be ‘that’ film. If Redmayne surprises in the Best Actor category, Linklater takes the directing honours and The Grand Budapest Hotel nabs tech awards, the highly-touted pre-ceremony frontrunner Birdman may be shutout. Frankly, I can’t see that happening. Both the critics and the creative community adored Inarritu’s vision; that warmth will carry it to Best Picture glory in one of the tightest races in recent memory.

For what it’s worth…
Ida for Best Foreign Film; Big Hero 6 for Animated Feature; CitizenFour for Doco, and; ‘Glory’ from Selma for Best Song.