Oscar Preview: Weekend of April 13-15, 2012

There were no new releases this week that have a chance at Oscar, not even among the limited releases (at least those films that aren’t already Oscar nominated like Monsieur Lazhar or Oscar eligible last year like The Lady. As such, I would normally fit in some measure of article looking at the upcoming year Oscar forecast, but unfortunately, I’m not prepared to give further opinions on this one, so I’ll just reveal what I know about the upcoming ceremonies (from what’s been released so far by the Academy (or not).

Although the full timetable hasn’t been announced yet, we do know that the Oscar Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 15, 2013; and the Academy Awards ceremony will be held Sunday, February 24, 2013

Looking at the potential releases, we could have five nominees in Best Animated Feature again and the Best Original Song category still remains a mystery. The Academy’s various branches will meet to discuss their awards and submit recommendations to the Board of Governors who will have a series of votes to formulate the official rules for the upcoming Awards. Any number of changes could occur. There are a few that we’ll be looking for:

  • Best Stunt Coordination: once again, the Academy is being pressured by stunt coordinators for a recognition of their talents and efforts for the film industry. This among several other new or altered categories will be discussed. My gut feeling is that they will deny their push once again. If anything, the Academy’s Board of Governors have a tendency to reject any kind of pressure to make certain changes.
  • Best Picture Status: At the 82nd Oscars, the Academy agreed to increase the number of Best Picture nominees to ten. This lasted two years. After the second year resulted in a weaker slate of Best Picture nominees than the first year, they decided to inject some suspense into the proceedings creating a bizarre method of selection Best Picture nominees that could result in anywhere from five to ten nominations. Of course, with the inclusion of the critically maligned Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, there may be further efforts to restrict the potential Best Picture nominees. I’m guessing they’ll stick with the new method for at least one more year. The Academy never likes to admit when its wrong, so expect another confusing year.
  • Best Original Song: Will the category finally be deep-sixed? After the rather pathetic lineup of nominees this year, the music branch will be struggling to find a way to make the category relevant. Of course, what made it great once upon a time was an industry that wanted to give its films great songs. Lately, however, the twisted and arcane rules the Academy has put forth have made a quality raft of nominees virtually impossible. In a system rife with the potential to load ballots and sink potential successful nominees, they’ve created a system where the least objectionable songs have made it into the mix. This slippery slope began when they required clips of the songs be forwarded with the segment of the film from which it was featured. This caused a lot of perfectly lovely closing-credits songs to be axed in favor of the more colorful and possibly less engaging nominees to come forward. I don’t think they’ll kill off one of their oldest categories. A further tweak of the rule may go into effect, but it won’t be the silver bullet that fixes things the way everyone wants.
  • Honorary Oscar Recipients: They’ve been trying to come up with three honorees each year, spreading it between performance and technical work. This year, they sneaked around the one-actor rule by selecting one actor (James Earl Jones) and then choosing another to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (which isn’t as impressive as an Honorary Oscar, but…). Oprah Winfrey inexplicably won this prize, so it’s almost any guess what they’ll do this year. There are dozens of notable names out there who deserve recognition by the Academy and since they’ve selected to male actors the last two years, they’ll probably go with another woman. I know there are many they could choose, but I think Angela Lansbury would be the perfect recipient. Of course, that’s the personal choice I’ve floated every year and has, to my chagrin, never been the one selected. Of course, they could go international and choose someone like last year’s Supporting Actor nominee Max von Sydow, but it may be too soon after his nomination for them to give him an award and they would immediately recognize that it would look like they thought giving it to Christopher Plummer was a mistake. Of course, Liv Ullmann’s also a possibility. As for the techs or directors that could be recognized, there are any number of them and I wouldn’t even be able to choose who they could pick.

What do you think? Are there going to be any major changes or shakeups? I’m not expecting there to be, but we might get something interesting out of the ordeal. None of this is likely to be decided until the end of the Summer, so we’ll have plenty of time for speculation.

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