My Starbucks was surprisingly busy for a chilly Tuesday morning at the otherwise ungodly hours I tend to keep. Either a bunch of other people had the same overly spicy soup I did last night, or they were grabbing something to keep them awake as the ritual of yet another pre-dawn award nomination announcement ceremony was about to occur.
I’m not sure East Coast commuters and housewives fully understand exactly what we Left Coasters have to sacrifice to accommodate their viewing patterns. Morning news shows still matter, and breaking news spikes ratings. There is still enough juice in the Academy Awards for them to matter, even as the ritual of actual moviegoing is diminishing and the relevance of them to an increasingly business-obsessed Hollytech community open to debate.
Ironically, it is the tech companies, relative neophytes to the process, that have been more focused on award-worthy content of late. Judging by the volume of advertising in digital, print and even billboards, Netflix has had a particular obsession with awards. And it paid off: they led this year’s class with 23 noms, bringing their all-time total to 155 in just its 11th year. Apple doesn’t quite have the volume, though it clearly has strong chances for victories with the talent involved in KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. Lily Gladstone has already emerged as the early favorite for Best Actress, and also will carry a sentimental mantle as the first-ever Native American nominee for an acting award. Director Martin Scorsese also is a record-setter, the first octogenarian ever to receive a nomination for Best Director.
And this year, the Academy should be able to reap the benefits of the summer of BARBENHEIMER, which led the box office surge of the summer of ’23, with more than enough nominations to make them relevant (OPPENHEIMER was the most-honored single film title, with 13). It assures there will be enough interest in watching beyond the coastal elites, and in BARBIE’s cases will provide a mood for hope and optimism that the industry will sorely be in need of by the time March 10th rolls around, especially given the dearth of new titles that will be released before then (thank you, strikes).
THE WRAP’s Joe McGovern quickly compiled a list of firsts and intriguing storylines that could also lead to increased viewership for ABC:
◦ With his 13th nomination, Steven Spielberg has extended his record as the most nominated producer ever for “Maestro.” It marks Spielberg’s 25th nomination overall.
◦ A record three producers of Best Picture nominees (Emma Stone, Margot Robbie, Bradley Cooper) were also nominated for acting. The only person to ever win for producing and acting in the same year is Frances McDormand for 2020’s “Nomadland.”
◦ The 29 year gap between nominations for Jodie Foster (“Nyad”) ties Angela Bassett (1993-2022) as the third longest among actresses. Helen Hayes (39 years) and Lynn Redgrave (32 years) lead the list among is the 20th actor to direct himself to a nomination. And the first since himself for 2018’s “A Star is Born.”
◦ Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”) is the 20th actor to direct himself to a nomination. And the first since himself for 2018’s “A Star is Born.”
◦ John Williams, 91, is oldest nominee ever in any category (“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”), his 49th Best Score nom and 54th nom overall. He was 35 when he received his first nomination in 1968.
And while there will be more populist fare, to be sure, artistes will have rooting interests, too. POOR THINGS and AMERICAN FICTION have received a number of key nominations. ANATOMY OF A FALL will bring to the festivities only the eighth female director nominee in Oscar history, all the more notable in a year where Greta Gerwig somehow got snubbed.
I’ll probably get around to catching up with some of these nominations in the next few weeks, and I’d offer that the traditional studios might be well-advised to extend or reignite the theatrical runs of these titles to help fill the theatres, too. Sure, one can see them at home, and plenty of people believe that they have more than sufficient entertainment systems to properly enjoy a film. But given the ambitiousness of many of this year’s nominees, not just the ones which, like OPPENHEIMER, strongly benefit from IMAX but the other ones in addition to it that opted for at least partial black-and-white cinematography, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to help educate the masses of what does make a movie worth seeing.
Even Bing is chipper about all of this. Prompt it, I dare you— this is the tribute it will spit out:
The Oscars are coming, the Oscars are near, The stars are all prepping, the red carpet’s here. The nominees are waiting, with bated breath, To hear their names called, and avoid certain death.
The critics have spoken, the buzz is all in, The predictions are out, and the race can begin. Who will take home the gold, who will be snubbed, Who will be the talk of the town, who will be dubbed?
The night is electric, the tension is high, The speeches are heartfelt, the tears start to fly. The winners are gracious, the losers are kind, The Oscars are over, but stay in our mind.
So let’s raise a glass, to the movies we love, To the actors and actresses, who rise above. The Oscars are coming, the Oscars are here, Let’s celebrate the magic, and give a big cheer!
Studio execs: if you ever needed proof you still need to invest in humans, I present Exhibit A.
Now go get some sleep.
Until next time…