Debbie Reynolds Reveals Another Family Connection to ‘Star Wars’ ... The Top 25 Oscar Documentary Snubs of the Past 30 Years ... Few No. 1 Billboard Hits Win Big at the Oscars ... Oscars: Should ‘Selma’ and ‘American Sniper’ Be Penalized for Taking Liberties With the Truth? (Opinion) ... Sundance: How the Fest’s Quirky Indies Have Won Over the Academy ... Acting Oscar Nominations for Foreign-Language Performances ... Santa Barbara Film Fest: Five Oscar Nominees Tapped for First Directors of the Year Award ... BAFTA New York Chief Stepping Down (Exclusive) ...
Countdown to Oscars

Friday, January 23, 2015

Debbie Reynolds Reveals Another Family Connection to ‘Star Wars’


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Announcing Debbie Reynolds as this year’s recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award, SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard saluted her as “a tremendously talented performer with a diverse body of screen and stage work, live performances and several hit records.” But that’s something of an understatement. Reynolds, 82, has been performing since age 16, when she won the title of Miss Burbank. That led to a contract at Warner Bros., where she spent two years before she was scooped up by MGM, the mecca of musicals. On Jan. 22, Turner Classic Movies will salute her by airing five of her films, and Jan. 25, it’s a safe bet her fellow actors will rise to their feet to applaud her, and her longevity, at the SAG Awards.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Top 25 Oscar Documentary Snubs of the Past 30 Years


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor 

After narrowing the Oscar documentary feature shortlist to five at the 87th Academy Award nominations Jan. 15, a number of notable exclusions were featured, particularly Al HicksKeep on Keepin’ On, which documents the mentorship and friendship of a jazz legend and a blind piano prodigy, and Steve JamesLife Itself, about the life and career of famed film critic Roger Ebert. (James is no stranger to snubs and the exclusion of his 1994 film Hoop Dreams led to rule reform within the documentary category.)  Both films hold 97 percent positive ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.

Some films surprised when they didn’t even land a spot on the shortlist, such as Red Army, which examines the rise and fall of the Soviet Union’s hockey team from the perspective of its coach. That film holds a 100 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In light of these best documentary feature snubs, here are the top 25 shocking omissions by the Academy’s documentary branch over the past 30 years:

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Few No. 1 Billboard Hits Win Big at the Oscars


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor 

From the 79 original songs on the Oscar shortlist, five were nominated a week ago on Jan. 15: “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, “Glory” from Selma, “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me and “Lost Stars” from Begin Again.

Following a recent trend, none of the nominees have made it to the top of the BIllboard Hot 100 chart, which tracks the success of  singles by looking at radio play, online streaming and sales.

Following the announcement of the nominations, “Glory” made its debut at No. 25 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart dated Jan. 31 and is currently No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100.

When “Everything Was Awesome” debuted in January 2014, the song debuted at No. 7 on the Dance/Electronic Songs chart and peaked at No. 57 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Lost Stars” didn’t hit the Billboard charts until Adam Levine performed the song live on The Voice with his team member Matt McAndrew. Following this performance, the song peaked at No. 83 on the Hot 100.

Glen Campbell’s final song made it to No. 90 on the Hot 100, which marked his first Hot 100 song since 1981. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” also jumped from No. 50 to No. 21 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in October, which made it his highest-ranking song in 25 years.

Songwriter Diane Warren received her seventh Oscar nomination for her song “Grateful” from Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights. The film’s soundtrack peaked at No. 11 on Billboard’s Top Soundtracks, but the song didn’t break onto the charts.

While nominees in the early ‘80s were successful on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, few No. 1 singles have been nominated in recent years and only seven have won in the past 30 years.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oscars: Should ‘Selma’ and ‘American Sniper’ Be Penalized for Taking Liberties With the Truth? (Opinion)


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Is it okay to like Ava DuVernay’s Selma even though by some accounts it misrepresents the role that President Lyndon Johnson played in the Civil Rights movement, portraying him as more an impediment than a facilitator of progress? And is it okay to like Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper even though it basically disregards overwhelming evidence that Chris Kyle was not quite as upstanding he appears in the movie?

I hope so because, in both cases, I do.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sundance: How the Fest’s Quirky Indies Have Won Over the Academy


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Films that are first screened in January are often forgotten by awards season later that year — unless they screen at Sundance, which for the past 25 years has served as a springboard for small but accomplished films, helping them to find distributors which, in turn, help those films find Oscar buzz toward year’s end.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Acting Oscar Nominations for Foreign-Language Performances


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor 

With the addition of Marion Cotillard’s lead actress nomination for the Belgian film Two Days, One Night, 32 actors and actresses have been nominated for their performances in foreign-language films. Cotillard was nominated for her role as a young mother and wife struggling to salvage her job in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes’ film, which was chosen as Belgium’s submission to the foreign-language category but failed to secure a spot on the Oscar shortist.

Though her performance did land a Critics’ Choice Award nomination, the Oscar nomination did come as a surprise for many pundits.

Cotillard was previously nominated for the French foreign-language film La Vie En Rose (2007) and won. She is one of six actors or actresses to win for a non-English role and is also the most recent winner.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Santa Barbara Film Fest: Five Oscar Nominees Tapped for First Directors of the Year Award


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Five Oscar-nominated filmmakers — Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle, Boyhood’s Richard Linklater, Foxcatcher’s Bennett Miller, Citizenfour’s Laura Poitras and The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum — will become the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s first-ever recipients of the fest’s newly-created Outstanding Directors of the Year Award, SBIFF announced on Tuesday.

The honor was borne out of the fest’s directors panel, a popular annual gathering that has taken place for years on an afternoon during the middle weekend of the 12-day fest. Now — for fest’s 30th edition, which will run from Jan. 27 through Feb. 7 — it is being moved into primetime: conversations with each filmmaker individually, followed by a group discussion, will take place on the evening of Feb. 4 at the Arlington Theatre.

I am very pleased to report that I will serve as the moderator for the evening.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BAFTA New York Chief Stepping Down (Exclusive)


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Christina Thomas, a founding member of the New York branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts who has served in its leadership for the past two decades, helping to grow its membership to more than 800 people and introducing a variety of educational and philanthropic programs for its members, will step down from her current role of chief executive on July 1, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Thomas, who has been BAFTA New York’s chief executive since 2007, and previously served as its first chairman from 1996 through 2006, will stay on in the newly created position of development consultant, in which she will be responsible “for expanding the nonprofit’s funding resources by overseeing and implementing new approaches to fundraising that will increase revenues,” BAFTA said in a statement.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Traditionally Animated Films at the Oscars


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor 

When the 87th Oscar nominations for best animated feature were announced Jan. 15 and excluded The LEGO Movie, the Internet exploded with confusion and disbelief. The film, which was largely expected by many pundits to win the Oscar, was a critical (holding a 96 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes) and commercial hit (earning $257.7 million stateside). It also earned Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations and won the Critics’ Choice Award for best animated film. It seemingly had everything going in its favor, so what went wrong?

One sentiment is that the animation branch of the Academy, which chooses the nominations, admire hand-drawn traditional animation and want to celebrate and preserve a fading craft rather than nominate solely computer animated and digital films.

The first computer animated film was Toy Story, which was released in 1995 and was nominated for original screenplay, original song and original score. Director John Lasseter received a Special Achievement Award “for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film.”

Animated films weren’t officially recognized by the Academy in their own category until the 74th Academy Awards in 2002. Of the 54 animated nominees since the inception of the category, 53.7 percent (29 of 54) were computer animated, 14.8 percent (8 of 54) were stop-motion and 31.5 percent (17 of 54) were traditionally animated. This year’s five nominees include two computer animated films (Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2), one stop-motion film (The Boxtrolls) and two traditionally animated films (Song of the Sea and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya).

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Oscar Noms: The 5 Biggest Snubs (Video)


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

By now we’ve all had a few days to process the announcement of the 87th Oscar nominations that came last Thursday. With the benefit of a little bit of distance and perspective, here are what I regard as the five biggest “snubs” — or, if you prefer a different word, exclusions — of the day.

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