As we predicted, Emmanuel Lubezki won the feature film award from the American Society of Cinematographers for "Gravity." It's his third award from the ASC, following victories for "Children of Men" (2006) and "The Tree of Life" (2011).
With an unprecedented seven nominees, the American Society of Cinematographers cited all five of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Cinematography -- Philippe Le Sourd ("The Grandmaster"), Bruno Delbonnel ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), Phedon Papamichael ("Nebraska"), and Roger Deakins ("Prisoners"), in addition to Lubezki. Rounding out ASC's list were Sean Bobbitt ("12 Years a Slave") and Barry Ackroyd ("Captain Phillips").
When the Oscars disqualified "Alone Yet Not Alone" as a nominee in the race for Best Original Song last Wednesday, it issued a statement denouncing its composer Bruce Broughton – a former Governor and current member of the music branch's executive committee -- for actions "inconsistent with the Academy's promotional regulations." Broughton had been caught campaigning to other academy members via email, triggering a controversy that continued to build after academy chiefs first addressed the matter.
Therefore the academy chose to issue a much longer statement of explanation over this weekend:
"The Board of Governors’ decision to rescind the Original Song nomination for 'Alone Yet Not Alone,' music by Bruce Broughton, was made thoughtfully and after careful consideration. The Academy takes very seriously anything that undermines the integrity of the Oscars® voting process. The Board regretfully concluded that Mr. Broughton’s actions did precisely that.
The 66th annual edition of the Writers Guild of America awardsfest, held simultaneously in LA and Gotham, were full of upsets: "Her" defeated "American Hustle" to win Best Original Screenplay, while "Captain Phillips" bested "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Before Midnight" for Adapted Screenplay. There was one expected winner among film awards: "Stories We Tell" claimed Documentary Screenplay.
The other original screenplay WGA nominees were: "Blue Jasmine," "Dallas Buyers Club," and "Nebraska." The five WGA nominees match the Oscar lineup, where "American Hustle" and "Her" are locked in a tight race. according to our racetrack odds.
The 66th annual edition of the Writers Guild of America Awards took place on both coasts simultaneously Saturday. A slew of prizes were handed out in categories that span film, television, radio and new media.
"Blue Jasmine," Woody Allen
"Dallas Buyers Club," Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
X - "Her," Spike Jonze
"Nebraska," Bob Nelson
"August: Osage County," screenplay by Tracy Letts based on his play
"Before Midnight," by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan
X - "Captain Phillips," by Billy Ray; based on the book "A Captain’s Duty" by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty
"Lone Survivor," by Peter Berg; based on the book by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
"The Wolf of Wall Street," by Terence Winter; based on the book by Jordan Belfort
In our webcam chat, Pharrell reveals how he kept "getting poked and prodded to get it right" by producers who weren't satisfied with his attempts: "It was like, 'This is good, but it's not great. This is great, but it ain't incredible. Ah, it's not quite incredible, but you know what, we also need undeniable.'"
Ultimately, his finished tune was so undeniably great that it reaped him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
Pharrell is no stranger to awards, having won seven Grammys over the years, including four just last week for Producer of the Year, Album of the Year as a featured artist on Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories," and Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Daft Punk for 2013 megahit "Get Lucky." And two years after his gig composing and producing the music for the 84th Academy Awards alongside composer Hans Zimmer, he returns to the Oscars this year as a first-time nominee.
How he got there is a compelling story he shares in our chat as he reveals the triumphant moment when he believed he got "Happy" just right and sent it off to be judged by the film's co-producer and Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Melandandri and Universal Pictures music chief Mike Knobloch.
"It was a Friday, I'll never forget," he says. "I told them listen to the song on the way home, but do me a favor, listen to it twice. Back to back. Don't hesitate. As soon as it's done, hit repeat. If you don't like it, then I won't hear from you. If you do like it, give yourself the weekend, and let me know what you think. And on Monday, I got an email from him that said, 'Not only do I love it, but me and my wife went and drove and listened to it in the car, and we listened to it over and over again, and the studio loves it. Congratulations, this is the record'."
"American Hustle" and "Her" are out front to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, according to the racetrack odds set by our Experts' predictions. But, beware: any one of the three remaining nominees are within striking distance of potential upset.
That's because all five contenders are also up for Best Picture, which is usually key to winning here. Over the past 10 years this category has been claimed by a Best Picture nominee nine times. The one exception: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" shot down "The Aviator" in 2004.
"American Hustle" may seem to have the edge because it, unlike "Her," has a serious chance to win Best Picture, but voters sometimes laugh off comedies. However, that didn't hurt past champs like "Midnight in Paris" and "Juno." All of those winners – plus "Eternal Sunshine" – have something in common with "Her": they're extremely daring, creatively speaking. That is, they're original screenplays of notable originality.
For much of this awards season we've been able to count on victories for "Dallas Buyers Club" stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, who won Best Actor and Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice Awards, and SAG Awards. And they're strong frontrunners to win at the Oscars too,
Their enviable track record makes it harder to figure out what will happen at the BAFTAs, where surprisingly neither was nominated.
While no one has won Best Actor at the Oscars without at least a BAFTA nod since 2001 (Denzel Washington, "Training Day"), and no one has done it in the Supporting Actor race since 2004 (Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby"), I don't think McConaughey or Leto need worry that much. They've built up so much momentum there may be no stopping them but BAFTA could indicate potential spoilers.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is our odds-on favorite for Best Actor. The "12 Years a Slave" star gets 1/5 odds in our predictions center, likely in large part because he's one of the only two British actors in the running – the other is Welshman Christian Bale ("American Hustle").
BAFTA often honors its hometown favorites, like recent multiple winners Colin Firth ("A Single Man" and "The King's Speech") and Daniel Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York," "There Will Be Blood," and "Lincoln").
But being British isn't a foolproof path to victory. In 2008, American Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") defeated Brit Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire"). And in 2006, American Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland") bested a trio of British actors: Daniel Craig ("Casino Royale"), Richard Griffiths ("The History Boys"), and Peter O'Toole ("Venus").
The prevailing wisdom is that Steven Price will win the Best Score Oscar for "Gravity." He has a strong lead in our racetrack odds, and I'm predicting him too, but I have a hunch about Alexandre Desplat's "Philomena" score and I've been thinking about switching.
My hunch has less to do with the relative merits of each score than with the mindset of a hypothetical Oscar voter. Yes, it's foolish enough to base an Oscar hunch only on anecdotal evidence, let alone a hypothetical anecdote, but bear with me.
Even if you're a voter in the "Gravity" camp, are you going to check it off in every single category? That's possible. Voters fawned over "Slumdog Millionaire," "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," and "Titanic" in most or all categories.
But if you'd like to spread the wealth, where would you do it? It's hard to imagine a voter looking elsewhere in the Cinematography, Visual Effects, or Sound categories. Editing is also probable for "Gravity," though I'd look out for "Captain Phillips." Production Design you might give to the more sets-heavy "The Great Gatsby" or "12 Years a Slave."
It had been an outstanding year for motion pictures, but the 1993 Academy Awards race seemed pretty clear by that December. The black and white holocaust drama “Schindler’s List” and its overdue director Steven Spielberg had virtually swept the critics’ awards and seemed unstoppable. Tom Hanks was coming off of the summer smash “Sleepless in Seattle” with the highly anticipated “Philadelphia,” in which he played a lawyer with AIDS fighting back against the firm which had fired him. Holly Hunter was racking up prizes for her role as a mute bride in 19th century New Zealand in “The Piano.” And Tommy Lee Jones was being touted his supporting role as US marshal trailing Harrison Ford in “The Fugitive.”
All of them cemented their frontrunner statuses when they won Golden Globes, and the Oscar presentation would almost seem like a mere formality.
The one race which did appear to be a bit tricky was that for Best Supporting Actress. The New York Film Critics selected Gong Li for her work in China’s “Farewell My Concubine.” The Los Angeles Film Critics declared a tie between newcomer Anna Paquin, who played Hunter’s precocious daughter in “The Piano,” and Rosie Perez as a plane crash survivor in “Fearless.” Further clouding the picture was the Golden Globes’ decision to honor Winona Ryder for her portrayal of an 1870’s New York socialite in “The Age of Innocence.”
When the Oscar nominations were announced in February, Paquin, Perez and Ryder were joined by Hunter (again) as Tom Cruise’s wacky secretary in “The Firm” and Emma Thompson as a human rights lawyer in “In the Name of the Father.” With Thompson also competing for Best Actress for the Merchant Ivory production “The Remains of the Day,” the women’s categories featured an unprecedented two double nominees.
Earliest Oscars Predictions Ever
Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.