It's Oscar season! Prepare yourself for the red carpet, the awards, the speeches, and the inevitable tears with a selection of the best shorts, cinematography, and other news from this year's Academy Awards.
Feb 25, 2013
The Onion apologizes for vulgar Oscars tweet targeting nine-year-old actress
The Onion is publicly apologizing for a controversial Oscars tweet that immediately drew a hailstorm of criticism when it was posted last night. On the satire publication's website, CEO Steve Hannah issued a personal apology to nine-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, for what he deems a "crude and offensive" tweet. "No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire," he said. Hannah also apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for stirring controversy on Hollywood's biggest night.Read Article >
"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?," read the original text of the tweet, which Hannah says was removed from The Onion's timeline in under an hour. But instead of the desperate attempt at shock humor many thought the joke to be, it was actually a clumsy reference to one of host Seth MacFarlane's lines earlier in the Oscars telecast. Still, the questionable move resulted in an immediate outcry across Twitter — owing mainly to its young subject. Many thought The Onion had crossed the line, and today's unprecedented apology suggests its chief executive agrees. In closing, Hannah says "Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry."
Watch the Oscars in its entirety on Hulu and ABC
If you missed Sunday night's Oscars ceremony you're in luck, because the show will soon be available in its entirety online. In a press release issued late Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said the ceremony will be available for streaming in the US on Hulu, Hulu Plus, ABC.com, and the ABC Player app. It's scheduled to go live at 6AM ET Monday morning, and will remain online until midnight ET on Wednesday.Read Article >
How Disney's 'Paperman' turned old school animation into Oscar gold
Disney's Paperman won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film Sunday night, marking a triumph not only for the studio, but for hand-drawn animation — a medium that seemed to be nearing extinction thanks to the rise of Pixar CG marvels like Up and Wall-E. But as director John Kahrs explained in an interview with Fast Company, Paperman isn't just an homage to the animated films of yesteryear; it's a testament to how modern technology can breathe new life into analog formats.Read Article >
According to Kahrs, Paperman was originally conceived as "an urban fairy tale in a beautiful world of light and shadow" that would deploy global illumination and other cutting edge CG technologies. Things slightly changed, however, once Kahrs began working alongside Glen Keane, a renowned 2D animator whose previous credits include Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. It was Keane's influence that inspired Kahrs to turn Paperman into a hybrid of 2D and 3D animation — a blend that would appropriately reflect the film's nostalgic aesthetic. The only challenge? Finding the technology capable of pulling it off. Read the rest of the story at Fast Company.
Google search rankings correctly pick four out of six Oscar winners
With the 85th annual Academy Awards drawing to a close, one question remains — how good of a job did Google’s search popularity do at indicating which films would win? The answer is "pretty good." Of the six awards for which it hazarded a guess, Google correctly predicted four — Best Picture (Argo), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained), and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook). Following the show, Lawrence also took the "award" for Most-Googled Oscar Nominee Across All Categories.Read Article >
Protests as Oscar-winning 'Life of Pi' VFX studio faces bankruptcy
All eyes are on the Oscars tonight, as Hollywood’s biggest stars make their annual pilgrimage to the Dolby Theatre for a shot at recognition for a job well done. But nearby at Hollywood and Vine, nearly 500 VFX artists have gathered to protest unfair treatment as competitive pressures and international subsidies have lead to a string of studio closings. Reported by FXGuide, the protest is trying to draw more attention to the plight of workers at studios like Rhythm and Hues, the company behind the effects in Life of Pi, a heavy favorite to win the award for Best Visual Effects at today’s awards. Despite the film grossing over $500 million internationally at the box office, Rhythm and Hues filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month.Read Article >
Aside from just protesting in the streets, former employees are suing the company for failing to abide by California labor law. A recently-filed class action complaint against Rhythm and Hues contends that the studio fired some 250 people without the requisite 60 days’ advance written notice.
Feb 23, 2013
Samsung planning Oscars advertising blitz with six commercials, Tim Burton cameoRead Article >
After spending big on its star-studded Super Bowl commercial, Samsung is planning to dominate your TV during tomorrow night's Academy Awards. The company has purchased six commercial spots for the Oscars, though you won't be seeing a repeat of the Seth Rogen / Paul Rudd ad. Instead, Samsung intends to tell a running story throughout the evening, with each of the six commercials fitting in as its own piece of the narrative. According to Ad Age, the campaign will follow a video game publisher as it attempts to release a title called Unicorn Apocalypse. Legendary Hollywood director Tim Burton will reportedly be appearing in the final, 90-second ad — an appropriate fit given the occasion. Beyond that, we'll just have to wait and see what Samsung has in store for Oscar viewers (and its competitors) tomorrow night.
Oscar-nominated shorts pulled from YouTube in response to Hollywood pressure
The five films nominated for the Best Animated Short Film were pulled from the web this week, just days ahead of Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. The move was reportedly spurred by Carter Pilcher, CEO of distributor Shorts International. In a February 14th letter obtained by Deadline, Pilcher urged the Oscar nominees to remove their works from the internet, arguing that online streaming would result in "significant, if not irreparable damage" to their theatrical release.Read Article >
In the letter, Pilcher notes that this month's online release has already elicited "a very significant, adverse reaction from the independent theaters that are playing the films," adding that some were threatening to remove them because of plummeting audiences. But his commercial concerns were shaded with tones of Old Hollywood dogmatism, as well.
Watch this year's Oscar-nominated cinematography
With no runaway favorite in the running, this year's Academy Awards is shaping up to be among the most intriguing in recent memory. Sunday's event has already sparked plenty of debate over marquee categories like Best Picture and Best Director, but somewhat lost amid the buzz is an equally tight contest for Best Cinematography.Read Article >
Film critic Kevin B. Lee took a closer look at this category this week, in a video essay for Fandor. The nearly nine-minute clip is composed of two, 90-second scenes from each of the five nominees: Anna Karenina, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Skyfall. Lee says he chose these "standout" clips based on feedback he received on Twitter, noting that both Lincoln and Skyfall seemed to have the most enthusiastic support.
Feb 20, 2013
Google hypes Oscars, predicts winners according to their search popularity
Search popularity doesn't determine results at the Academy Awards, but if it did Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence would be in for a good night come this Sunday. That's according to Google's Oscars portal, which launched today in preparation for Hollywood's biggest night. As you'd expect from the search giant, the site offers a wealth of information about this year's biggest movies and all the stars who delivered unforgettable performances on the big screen. A Google Now-style widget offers summaries of all the nominees in popular categories, and Google has also ranked items based on search frequency. (Steven Spielberg would take home Best Director using this metric.)Read Article >
Of course, Google also uses the opportunity to promote its own tools including voice search, Hangouts, and Google Maps — which will offer visitors an indoor tour of Nokia Theatre in the coming days. And the company also reminds Android users that movie showtimes are always just a query away thanks to Google Now. You can check out Google's Oscar page at the link below.
Feb 10, 2013
Watch this year's Oscar contenders for best animated short (update)
2013’s Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short Film are out, and with the exception of Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare,’ they’re all available to watch for free online. You might have already seen a couple of the nominees, like stop-motion artist PES’s eccentric Fresh Guacamole and Disney’s heart-warming Paperman, but they’re up against some tough competition.Read Article >
Minkyu Lee’s Adam and Dog follows the title dog through a primeval forest, where a chance encounter forges a new friendship. There’s no dialog (unless you count barking), but the sound design sets a great stage for some striking imagery. Last but not least, Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly’s stop motion Head over Heels (below) looks at a couple, advanced in years, whose troublesome physics keep them apart. In an interview with Animation World Network, Reckart talks about the process and inspiration for the film — his graduate project at Britain's National Film and Television School, and the only student film in the pack of nominees.
Dec 23, 2012
Filmmakers head to Washington, DC as Oscar politics blur with the real worldRead Article >
Critics and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are typically the driving force behind a movie’s chance for winning an Oscar. This year, however, politicians in Washington may play a large role due to the detours of the campaigns for Oscar contenders. The New York Times looks at how the senators on Capitol Hill have become involved in discussions about political movies like Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Argo, and have drawn filmmakers like Steven Spielberg to Washington for screenings with lawmakers.