The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26, 296 days from today.


Cannes preview and early favorites

The 69th Cannes Film Festival is set to begin May 11. The festival will include a wide variety of films, from the big (the Disney-Spielberg giant The BFG) to the small (lots of things in French). (Here’s a full lineup.) Cannes has always had a weird relationship with Oscar. There are occasional movies that have buzzy openings at Cannes and continue with some measure of success throughout the rest of the season, like Mad Max, Carol and Inside Out last year and The Artist and Foxcatcher in years past. The issue is that the festival is crowded (hard to get your name out there) and early (hard to maintain the momentum). Later film fests, like Venice, Toronto and especially Telluride, have had more success at launching Academy-friendly films. (This article describes the differences in the various Oscar season film festivals, if you’re interested.)

What is there to look forward to this year? One of the biggest unknowns is Loving, “a drama about the landmark 1967 civil rights case Loving v. Virginia, which resulted in the legalization of interracial marriages in America.” It is directed by Jeff Nichols, whose Mud garnered some critical acclaim (and to some extent started the McConaissance). It seems like the type of film that could earn a fair amount of nominations, both for the picture and the actors involved (Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga and Michael Shannon). Woody Allen’s Cafe Society is opening the fest, which the Oscar-nominated Midnight in Paris did in 2011. Other possibilities suffer a bit by genre, whether because they are for kids (The BFG), horror (The Neon Demon), conspiracy thriller (Money Monster) or foreign (Julieta, The Unknown Girl,  It’s Only the End of the World, etc.)

Outside of Cannes, there hasn’t been much to talk about. Richard Linklater and the Coen brothers have had exclamation-point-titled movies come out (Everybody Wants Some!! and Hail, Caesar!, respectively), and there have been a few buzzy performances (like Tom Hiddleston in I Saw the Light, John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane and Sally Field in Hello, My Name Is Doris), but it’s unlikely that any of them will go the distance. The one possible exception is Zootopia, which has made a ton of money and currently has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, but box office and critical success does not always translate to Oscar love (*cough* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 *cough*).

Spotlight on the Academy

The Academy is beginning to review its membership. On April 25, members of the public relations and members-at-large branches were contacted by the organization and asked to (basically) submit their resumes for the Academy to look over. The note mentioned that as members in those branches “do not typically receive traditional on-screen film credits,” this could be a helpful way to ensue they “receive full credit for all of their achievements.” Members will find out their voting statuses by the end of July.

The BAFTA is also planning on changing its membership eligibility requirements, and it seems like the Academy may be a model. As Scott Feinberg writes, “under the Academy’s new procedure, members can lose their voting rights if they have been inactive for a period of 10 years (as opposed to the five years stipulated in the BAFTA plan) — unless they have previously received an Oscar nomination or been active within three separate 10-year periods (a requirement that can be filled with 21 years of work, just like the BAFTA plan’s).” Unlike the Academy, however, no one seems that upset about it.

Other News

  • Best Actress 2016: AwardsDaily takes an early look at the race, which may include It Girls of right now (like Emily Blunt, Alicia Vikander, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone) as well as Viola Davis, who would be poised to be the second African American woman to ever win Best Actress (for Fences).
  • Pip pip: According to the Hollywood Reporter, Prince Charles and Camilla hosted a reception for British Oscar winners yesterday at the St. James’s Palace State Apartments in London. Expected attendees include Michael Caine, Judi Dench, Colin Firth and Emma Thompson. More than 300 Brits have taken home Oscars over the years, including 10 at last year’s ceremony.
  • Meryl Streep: A new biography of Meryl is out, but an excerpt was recently published in Vanity Fair describing her rough relationship with Dustin Hoffman on the set of Kramer vs. Kramer in a role that would ultimately win her her first Oscar.
  • Patty Duke: At the end of March, Patty Duke, who won an Oscar playing Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, passed away. At the time of her victory, she was the youngest person to win an Oscar for supporting actress. Obits from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times linked.
  • Four Avatars: James Cameron announced that he plans on making three sequels to the hit 2009 film. The first one is due out in 2018.
  • Film dialogue analysis: This website breaks down over 2,000 screenplays by gender and age. (Really cool. The Harry Potter films are generally more than 80% male.)
  • Jacob Tremblay got a new puppy and named her Rey: Yes, there are pictures.

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