Sylvester Stallone’s Dud-Laden Resume May Hurt His Chances at Oscar This Year ... Oscar Pool Picks: Best Documentary Short ... Steven Spielberg Supports Diversity in Academy, “Not 100 Percent Behind” Current Plan, Calls for Limits on Oscar Campaigning (Exclusive) ... Oscar Pool Picks: Best Animated Short ... Oscar Pool Picks: Best Live Action Short ... DGA Awards: Is ‘Revenant’ the New Oscar Frontrunner? (Analysis) ... Santa Barbara Film Fest: ‘Spotlight’ Honorees Argue That Movies Can Make a Difference ... ‘Awards Chatter’ Podcast — William Shatner (‘Star Trek’) ...
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

‘Awards Chatter’ Podcast — Adam McKay (‘The Big Short’)

The 47-year-old best director and best adapted screenplay nominee talks about his journey through the comedy world, how he shifted gears to tackle Michael Lewis' 2010 bestseller, why he's backing Bernie Sanders and reteaming with Will Ferrell.

By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

“It’s funny,” says Adam McKay — the Oscar-nominated co-writer and director of The Big Short who heretofore was known for the raunchy comedies he made with Will Ferrell, such as Anchorman and Talladega Nights — as we sit down in his guest house to record an episode of the ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast. “The whole time we were making the movie I never thought of it as, ‘I’m doing something different.’ You just chase the movie, is kind of all you do. But there’s no question we’re thrilled with the reaction it’s getting.”

(You can click above to listen to this episode or click here to access all of our episodes via iTunes. Past guests include Lady Gaga, Will Smith, Amy Schumer, Samuel L. Jackson, Kristen Stewart, J.J. Abrams, Brie Larson, Ridley Scott, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Sarah Silverman, Michael Moore, Olivia Wilde, Benicio Del Toro, Lily Tomlin andEddie Redmayne.)

As he shares in this conversation, McKay, 47, grew up in Pennsylvania, obsessed with comedy and movies. He dabbled in standup while a student at Temple University before dropping out and heading, with a friend, to Chicago, the home of long-form improvisation. There, he co-founded the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, an improvisational sketch comedy group that gravitated towards “more aggressive comedy” than the already-established The Second City. And while he remembers that as “an amazing time,” he also recalls “we weren’t making any real money,” so he eventually auditioned for — and landed — a gig as an understudy for the main cast of Second City, which at that time included Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Number of Big Names are Behind Some of this Year’s Oscar Nominees

By Patrick Shanley
Managing Editor

This year’s Oscar race features many familiar faces, such as last year’s best director Alejandro G. Inarritu or last year’s best actor Eddie Redmayne, both of whom are repeat nominees in the same category.

However, what may surprise many is the number of big names behind many of this year’s nominees.

Taking a look at some of this year’s executive producers (people not necessarily involved in the making of a film but helped to finance the production), a number of names that may be surprising were hard at work behind the scenes.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ADG Awards Offer Insight on Best Production Design Oscar Race

'Game of Thrones,' 'Homeland' and 'American Horror Story' also are among the winners.

By Patrick Shanley
Managing Editor

The 20th Annual Art Directors Guild Awards were held on Sunday and presented three awards to films in this year’s best picture race. Divided into genre categories (best period film, best fantasy film, best contemporary film), the Art Directors Guild awards those films’ whose production design they deem to be the most impressive, and this year’s winners were The Revenant for best period film, Mad Max: Fury Road for best fantasy, and The Martian for best contemporary.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

What Does the Best Ensemble SAG Award Win Mean for ‘Spotlight’ at the Oscars?

By Patrick Shanley
Managing Editor

Saturday evening’s 22nd Annual SAG Awards proved that we have a real race on our hands for best picture. The night’s biggest prize, the best ensemble award, which has been awarded to 10 of the last 20 best pic winners, went to Spotlight.

Director Tom McCarthy’s drama about Boston Globe reporters investigating the Catholic Church’s child molestation scandal is led by performances from best supporting actor Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, best supporting actress nom Rachel McAdams, and best actor nom last year, Michael Keaton.  The film previously won the Critics’ Choice award for best picture.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

SAG Awards: ‘Spotlight’ Victory Confirms We Have an Oscar Race, Folks! (Analysis)

THR's awards analyst explains why Saturday's wins for Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander bode very well for their prospects at the Oscars — and why best pic remains too close to call.

By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

As if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needed some more salt thrown into the gaping wound it suffered upon the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominations, the 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards produced the most diverse set of winners in the event’s history.

With Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs sitting in the audience, Idris Elba was awarded the best supporting actor prize for his performance in Beasts of No Nation — one that the Academy’s actors branch didn’t even nominate — and there were many other winners of color on the TV side, including Elba, again, forLuther; Uzo Aduba for Orange Is the New Black (which also won best comedy series); Queen Latifah for Bessie; and Viola Davis for How to Get Away With Murder. And in a nod toward gender diversity, Jeffrey Tambor won for his portrayal of a trans woman in Transparent.

It all was enough to make one wonder if the most effective way to reform the Academy might be to invite the thousands of guild members — including the 160,000 who belong to SAG-AFTRA, the largest union of actors in the world — to help pick the Oscar nominees, as they used to do decades ago.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Santa Barbara Film Fest: All 5 Oscar-Nominated Directors to Appear on Panel, Collect Awards

THR's Scott Feinberg will moderate the Feb. 11 sit-down with Lenny Abrahamson, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Tom McCarthy, Adam McKay and George Miller.

By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

The same five filmmakers who have been nominated for the best director Oscar — Room‘s Lenny Abrahamson, The Revenant‘s Alejandro G. Inarritu, Spotlight‘s Tom McCarthy, The Big Short‘s Adam McKay and Mad Max: Fury Road‘s George Miller — have been named Outstanding Directors of the Year by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. They will be celebrated, individually and then collectively, at Santa Barbara’s historic Arlington Theatre on Feb. 11, the fest announced Thursday.

“These directors have each made their mark on the film canon and have solidified their standing as some of the best directors of our time,” said SBIFF executive director Roger Durling. “The fact that these films come on the heels of already illustrious and established careers makes this honor even more special.”

This particular event — which I am very excited to moderate for the second year in a row — was borne out of the fest’s directors panel, a popular annual gathering that took place for many years on an afternoon during the middle weekend of the two-week fest. Last year, the concept was transformed, moved into primetime and celebrated Whiplash‘s Damien Chazelle, Boyhood‘s Richard Linklater, Foxcatcher‘s Bennett MillerCitizenfour‘s Laura Poitras and The Imitation Game‘s Morten Tyldum.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

A Best Ensemble Win for ‘The Big Short’ Could All but Ensure a Best Picture Win at Oscars

By Patrick Shanley
Managing Editor

With the SAG Awards taking place this Sunday, the homestretch of the Oscar race is finally in view. The SAG’s, an award show “for actors, by actors”, is a great indication of what direction the Academy may be leaning, considering the acting branch of the Academy is by far the largest of the 17 branches with over 1,000 members of the 6,000+ Academy members belonging to it.

While the SAG Awards may not have a best picture award, like other award shows, it does have its equivalent in the best ensemble prize. The award is a great indication of what films may go on to win best picture at the Oscars, such as last year’s winner of both awards, Birdman.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Best Original Song Nominees Lady Gaga & Diane Warren Tackle Social Issues, Follow in Footsteps of Previous Winners

By Patrick Shanley
Managing Editor

This year’s best original song front runner seems to be Lady Gaga and Diane Warren’s “Til It Happens To You” from the documentary, The Hunting Ground, which examines the prevalence of sexual assault cases on college campuses throughout the U.S. The song is very personal for both artists, as both recently opened up about their past experiences with sexual assault in a L.A. Times interview.

The song’s importance, and its resonance with audiences (the music video has over 24 million hits on Youtube) and Academy voters, lies in its social commentary. The four young women who are the subjects of the film (Annie E. Clark, Andrea L. Pino, Sofie Karasek and Kamilah Willingham) recently penned a letter to the songwriters thanking them and that “the release of your song will have an unparalleled impact on the culture of campuses nationwide,” as reported by Billboard.

The song features gut-wrenching lyrics that call for awareness for the issue, such as its chorus, “Till It happens to you, you don’t know how it feels, how it feels/ Until it happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real.”

Similarly, “Manta Ray”, from songwriters J. Ralph and Antony Hegarty for the documentary Racing Extinction, focuses on the problems with pollution and environmentalism and also earned a best original song nomination.

“Til It Happens To You” and “Manta Ray” are just the latest in a long line of Oscar nominated songs to tackle social issues, however. Last year’s winner, “Glory”, written and performed by John Legend and Common along with Che Smith, focused on civil rights issues and was the theme for the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic, and best picture nominated, Selma.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

‘Awards Chatter’ Podcast: THR Chief Janice Min Interviews Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson

Listen in as the president/CCO of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group sits down for an in-depth conversation with the leaders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Over the last few days, everyone in Hollywood has been talking about one thing: the actions undertaken by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the wake of a second consecutive Oscar nominations announcement without a single person of color among the 20 acting nominees. Among them: revoking voting privileges from members who are no longer “active” and creating new seats on its Board of Governors and committees for women and people of color.

Therefore, it is a big deal that Janice Min, the president and chief creative officer of The Hollywood ReporterBillboard Media Group, landed — exclusively — the first post-brouhaha interview with the Academy’s president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and CEO, Dawn Hudson, which is the cover story of this week’s issue of THR.

Episodes of THR‘s ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast usually are devoted to conversations with contenders for awards, but this week it is our privilege to be able to bring you Min’s provocative interview with the people behind the biggest awards of all, following a brief introductory conversation with Min herself. You can listen to it below…

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Best Picture Race Raises Gender Bias Questions

By Patrick Shanley
Managing Editor

Of this year’s eight best picture nominees, only two films could be considered traditionally female-skewing. Both Brooklyn and Room sport female leads (both of whom are nominated in the best actress category: Saoirse Ronan and Brie Larson, respectively), yet neither film is expected to win.

This could be due, in large part, to the vast majority of Academy voters being male. According to a 2013 Los Angeles Times study, the Academy is 76 percent male and 24 percent female, whereas, according to the 2013 U.S. Census, more than 50.8 percent of Americans are women. Whether Brooklyn or Room‘s darkhorse status as best pic contenders is because of, or in spite of, this fact is left to the individual.

Dividing films into gender lines is tricky, as arguments have been made for Mad Max: Fury Road’s feminist themes and strong female performances (Charlize Theron’s, in particular). However, the non-stop action of the film no doubt appealed to proportionately more male-heavy audience.

Brooklyn, on the other hand, follows a young woman (Ronan) immigrating from Ireland to New York City in the 1950’s and centers on her romance with a local (Emory Cohen). For better or worse, romance generally attracts larger female audiences than their male counterparts, and the film is centered on a young female protagonist.

Room similarly is focused on a young mother (Larson) who is held captive and later returns home to her mother. The film is a showcase for Larson’s talents and, once more, appeals largely to a female audience.

Female-skewing films rarely win best picture, though there have been a few examples, such as romantic musical Gigi in 1958, but in this century there have only been a handful of female-led films to earn best pic nominations.

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