The 88th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 28, 297 days from today.
Spotlight on Cannes
The 2015 Cannes Film Festival is beginning next week, and it will last from May 13 to May 24. It is dedicated to three-time Oscar-winner Ingrid Bergman. While it is a big deal from an arts perspective, it’s generally not so important in terms of the Academy Awards. Last year was a series of hits and misses. Best Director went to Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher, and Miller was later nominated for Best Director at the Oscars…but the prizes for film went to unheard-ofs, like Winter Sleep or The Wonders. Julianne Moore won Best Actress…but for Maps to the Stars, a film that only just came out in the United States. Whiplash was screened during the Directors’ Fortnight…but that was it. 
A Hollywood Reporter article has gone into the “snubs” this year, but most of them are films that I’ve never heard of, like Icon, “Stephen Frears’ biopic of Lance Armstrong starring Ben Foster as the now-disgraced cycling champion,” or Midnight Special, “a Warner Bros. film starring Joel Edgerton, Cannes best actress winner Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver.” Another snub was for the “filmmakers of Russia, Germany, Africa, Spain and South America, who together have a total of zero films in Cannes competition this year.” I say that I don’t watch Best Foreign Film nominees anyway, so I’m not crushed. (A Western Europe/United States focus is typical of Cannes — apparently, 70% of Palme d’Or winners have come from just 7 countries: USA, Italy, France, UK, Japan, Sweden and Denmark.) While another article asks, “Is Elitist Cannes Becoming More Democratic?” it seems to be more about the fact that Japanese director Naomi Kawase’s latest film was not included. 
Basically my take on this whole situation is that any attention a film gets in Cannes can help — but don’t expect anything major to happen for months.
Spotlight on Meryl Streep
The three-time Oscar winner made the news a fair amount over the last few weeks. On April 15, a teaser trailer was released for Suffragette, a movie starring Streep as women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst. From what we’ve seen of the role — a biographical, British-accented leader saying, “Never surrender. Never give up the fight.” — there’s a solid chance that next February Streep will be nominated for her third Academy Award in a row (after August: Osage County in 2013 and Into the Woods in 2014). 
A few days later, Variety reported that she contributed heavily toward a screenwriters lab for women writers over 40. Participants include Caroline Kaplan, a producer for Boyhood, and screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Jessica Bendinger, who wrote Legally Blonde and Bring It On, respectively. Streep has been an active voice for older women in Hollywood for a while, and this seems to be a promising way of “championing the female voice in narrative film.”
And, as if she were attempting to out-Streep herself, she wrote an introduction to a Monet-inspired cookbook. 
Spotlight on The Avengers
The latest Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, opened last weekend to $191.3 million in the United States and a total of $631 million worldwide, good for the second biggest opening weekend of all time…after the first Avengers. Critics say it was hurt by people watching Saturday night’s Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight. The film has received generally good reviews — it’s at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes — and is reasonably poised for at least an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. (The recent set of film’s from the Marvel cinematic universe, beginning with Iron Man, have earned 8 nominations, primarily for visual effects, but have never won. Last year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy were nominated for visual effects, but were beaten by Interstellar, and Guardians of the Galaxy lost to The Grand Budapest Hotel for Best Makeup.)
Other News
  • Unsurprising: Everyone knows that Furious 7 has been making bank at the box office. (Currently, the film has made more than $300 million domestically and $1.4 billion worldwide, putting it just behind The Avengers as the fourth highest-grossing film of all time.) The Hollywood Reporter argues that a lot of that profit has come from an ethnically diverse cast. 75% of audiences were non-Caucasian, and Hispanics, he most frequent moviegoers in the United States, made up 37% of the audience. According to Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, “There is literally someone within the cast that is relatable on some level to nearly every moviegoer around the world, and this has paid big dividends at the box office and also in terms of how casting decisions will be made in the future for these types of large-scale action epics.” But will Oscar follow?
  • Even more unsurprising: The Hollywood Reporter noted that Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 had a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. That means that out of the 22 original reviewers, none of them thought it was a good movie. But it is in good company. Apparently fellow-sequels Jaws: The Revenge and Mulan II also received 0% Rotten Tomatoes scores.
  • Women in Hollywood: The Make It Fair Project released a YouTube video called #MAKEITFAIR, criticizing the limited role of women in film and other industries. Though the tone was fairly smart-alecky, they make a very good point. Good thing Meryl Streep is opening up that lab, huh?
  • Tonys: Some of Hollywood’s best are up for the biggest award in theater this year (nominations were announced last week). Carey Mulligan and Helen Mirren were nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Play, Bradley Cooper was nominated for Best Leading Actor in a Play and Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for Best Actor Snubbed By The Oscars and The Tonys in One Year.

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