The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26, 50 days from today.


ACE Eddie and WGA

Oscar voting is underway! Starting yesterday, and running through Friday, January 13, members of the Academy will choose who they think deserves a nomination. That means that the Golden Globes (happening this weekend) may, at least partly, influence their thinking, as well as BAFTA nominations (Tuesday), PGA nominations (Tuesday) and DGA nominations (Thursday). Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 24.

There were two relatively small events that happened this week that have reasonable implications on the Oscars race.

First, the American Cinema Editors released their ACE Eddie awards. For drama, nominations went to Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight; for comedy, they went to Deadpool, Hail, Caesar!, The Jungle Book, La La Land and The Lobster. The editing race is important and almost always tied to Best Picture. Some statistics to cite: Birdman was the first film in 34 years to win Best Picture at the Oscars without a Best Editing nomination and, aside from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, every film nominated for Best Editing since 2009 has been a Best Picture nominee. Last year, Spotlight won Best Picture without an ACE Eddie nomination; the last time that happened was with Driving Miss Daisy.


Later in the week, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) released its best screenplay nominations. For original screenplay, that’s Hell or High Water, La La Land, Loving, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight; for adapted, it’s Arrival, Deadpool, Fences, Hidden Figures and Nocturnal Animals. This will probably not be a complete reflection of what happens at the Oscars, as Loving and Moonlight are considered “adapted” rather than “original” and as the WGA does not consider non-US films like Lion.

Lots of people got excited about Deadpool making the list, beating out heavyweights like Silence, Hacksaw Ridge and Sully. Worth noting, though, that The Dark Knight and Guardians of the Galaxy picked up nominations at the WGA that were not repeated at the Academy Awards.

Spotlight on my senior thesis
In the article “Oscars: Why Actors Score Big by Keeping It ‘Real,'” the Hollywood Reporter argues that “truth-based performances — thanks to their perceived difficulty and (with luck) the campaign support of the figures they portray — confer an advantage to stars that doesn’t always extend to the films they inhabit.” The article mentions a number of people that have won an Oscar for playing a real-life figure, including Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

Well, according to “The Hunt for Oscar Gold: What It Takes to Win an Academy Award,” a Yale economics senior thesis by Mason Kroll, playing a historical character only improves your chances of a win in a statistically significant way if you are an actress or supporting actress nominee: “For actresses, a one-unit relative gain was associated with a 0.1829-unit increase in winning chance (with a p-value of 0.031), whereas for supporting actresses, a one-unit relative gain was associated with a 0.1341-unit increase in winning chance (with a p-value of 0.144). One reason why this phenomenon occurs may be due to the lack of juicy female roles in Hollywood movies. When writers are unwilling or unable to imagine strong female characters, they may look to history and true stories as inspiration.”

Well said, Mason.
Funny quote of the week

– On Adam Driver: “If you, in 2012, watched Adam Driver on Girls — an unhinged, distasteful walking id, as magnetic as he was bizarre — and said to yourself, “This guy is going to be the cast’s biggest star,” you should probably start betting on horses.”

Other News

  • RIP Uggie: The true star of The Artist, the dog Uggie, died. This is a national tragedy.
  • Deadpool: The superhero movie was this year’s most torrented movie, followed by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America Civil War and (bizarrely, in tenth place) The Revenant.
  • No way: One newspaper devoted an entire article to telling us that “Johnny Depp’s Oscar Nomination Highly Unlikely,” even though he starred in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Thank you, Inquisitr.
  • You can sit with us: The Academy expanded its membership by more than 600 people since last year in an attempt to decrease the proportion of old white people, which means that 6,687 members will be voting on this year’s awards. As always, the actors branch is the largest, with 1,158 members.
  • La La Land has stupid advertising! A new trailer designed to make the movie appeal to more people is backed by the song used in the movie to show that one of the characters is selling out.
  • La La Land is about Hollywood! La La Land Has an Oscars Edge: Its Hollywoodness” writes the New York Times as though that wasn’t obvious to everyone since August. “Films about Hollywood have been, some would say, disproportionately awarded by … Hollywood,” said one guy in the Academy. “Not to say they have not been good films, but clearly they have a leg up in being considered by the various members of the academy.”
  • La La Land is racist! Ryan Gosling is white and Black people made jazz so therefore Gosling is whitesplaining it and La La Land is racist.
  • For your consideration: Variety names some top performances and films it thinks should be honored this year at the Oscars, including Kate McKinnon in Ghostbusters, Hailee Steinfeld in The Edge of Seventeen and Jake Gyllenhaal in Nocturnal Animals.

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