Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My thoughts on today's Oscar nominations

The Academy Award nominations were announced today. No real surprises actually. Films that sent out the most screeners were nominated. Films that gave you a code to stream didn’t fare as well.

There has been lots of grumbling in the past about lack of diversity so there’s a lot of diversity.

What there is not a lot of is suspense. LA LA LAND figures to run the table.  Sorry... SPOILER ALERT (even though the ceremony is a month away). 

For all that diversity, they snubbed Taraji P. Henson, who was fantastic and I’m sorry but way more deserving than Meryl Streep this year.

If Meryl Streep wins it’s only so she could rip Trump again in her acceptance speech.

Mel Gibson received a Best Director nomination meaning either Hollywood forgives, Hollywood is less concerned about anti-Semitism these days, Scorsese's film was just unwatchable, or he made a wonderful movie and deserves it. It makes no difference because Damien Chazelle is going to win for LA LA LAND.

Yes, Martin Scorsese was snubbed. Hey Marty, make movies people – anybody – wants to watch.

I think the “In Memoriam” section will be an hour this year.   Fifteen minutes alone for Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

What’s interesting about LA LA LAND is that not everybody loved it. I didn’t. Since when is it okay to do a musical where the stars can’t sing?

Of the list of Best Picture candidates I’d vote for HELL OR HIGH WATER. But it has no shot. I’d also vote for HIDDEN FIGURES. No shot either.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is probably the top runner-up, but it’s a downer and LA LA LAND is an upper. If only MANCHESTER had some songs.

The only categories I don’t think LA LA LAND will triumph are Best Actor and Actress. Casey Affleck and Natalie Portman might prevail.  Both can sing.

SULLY was snubbed. Okay, Clint Eastwood – staunch Republican – I can see where Hollywood kicked him to the curb, but Tom Hanks? Hey, what did he ever do?  I hope the Academy is not holding VOLUNTEERS against him.

How did ARRIVAL get all these nominations and none for Amy Adams? Unless voters confused this with her performance in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (my sort-of review of that comes tomorrow).

There was speculation that DEADPOOL would get a Best Picture nod – it being a film that people actually SAW. But it was not to be. If Deadpool was mourning the loss of a family member that would put it over the top.  Might be food for thought for the sequel.

Nate Parker is learning that the Academy frowns on sexual assault charges. BIRTH OF A NATION was DOA.

Boy, the Academy loves Nicole Kidman, don’t they?

This might be the first award show ever that Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn’t win.

It’ll be interesting to see who wins the Consolation Oscar (which this year is Best Original Screenplay). Kenneth Lonergan for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA or  Taylor Sheridan for HELL OR HIGH WATER?

But congratulations to all the nominees. Enjoy the next few weeks.  The big night is February 26.  The NFL won't still be playing, will it?

As always I will be filing my bitchy Oscar review the morning after the ceremony. But this year I’m doing something different. I am not posting it on my blog. I am delivering it on my podcast. There will be a new episode that Monday morning. It’ll give me a chance to really riff. So if you want to hear it, please subscribe. Click on the button under the masthead. Hopefully I’ll be funnier unleashed.

Here's a full list of the nominees.

44 comments :

benson said...

Their egos would never allow it, but I read this idea somewhere at the end of the year.

Three hour "In Memoriam" segment, 15-20 minutes for all the awards.

Again, I know it will never happen, but I guarantee you, this would get monster numbers for ABC. And it sure beats a three hour bash fest of Trump and three minutes of a Debbie/Carrie and some other people tribute, which is what we're facing now.

Peter said...

Can't wait for your Oscars podcast!

Every year the In Memoriam section causes controversy over who was left out. No one expects every single person who passed away to be included, but there would be less consternation if the producers just cut some of the flotsam from the show, like unfunny gimmicky skits and those painfully overlong preambles where an actor or actress tells us why editing is so important and how cinema would be nothing without the cinematographer, and have a longer In Memoriam that honours more of the people who will be missed.

Steve said...

Ken,
Lin-Manuel WAS nominated!

Ken Levine said...

He was nominated might not actually win.

ScottyB said...

Ken Levine: I’ve been watching ‘Cheers’ episodes back to back off and on over the past week or two, so not surprisingly, I have some Friday Questions for you that I don’t recall being addressed in your past blog posts, even after doing a search:

One of the things I noticed right off is that you and David Isaacs were regular writers from the very first regular-season episode after the pilot, which was written by Charles & Charles. How did that association for the show begin?

Some of my favorite (and to me funniest) elements of the show were the side stories. (One of my favorites is where Diane gets stuck in the HVAC vent under the floor.) This may be a broad question, but how do these ideas generally materialize (do they just “come up” during writing meetings, stream-of-consciousness bullshtting about nothing in particular, alcohol?) and how difficult is it to be consistent? In that respect, I totally appreciate the bitch it must’ve been to come up with the short openings all those years.

For me, the most enjoyable part of ‘Cheers’ was the incredible casting even of occasional bit characters, such as Harry Anderson’s Harry The Hat. My all-time favorite, tho, was Dan Hedaya’s Nick Tortelli. How much of a pain in the ass was the casting process for that Tortellii character, especially given that Hedaya so totally nailed the part of knuckle-dragging ne’er-do-well so incredibly well, both in terms of looks and delivery of his lines? Was there a general mental picture in mind at the outset of first writing his character, or did Hedaya just come in one day, do his thing with his Nick look, and everybody went “Holy shit — THAT’S Nick!!”?

Not question but an observation about binge-watching, as opposed to watching a weekly show live: How kind of sad it is to see the physical effects on actors who have become ill during a show’s run but still do the job — especially now in hindsight when we now know they were afflicted with something major that led to their death. All that time during the original run, I just thought Nick Colasanto was just eating better or doing something to get into better shape. Makes it all the more poignant now.

Last one: I was disappointed to see ‘Cheers’ and ‘Frasier’ — undeniably two of the most intelligent and bright modern sitcoms — end, but I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like for you to see it end because, well, you were *living* something incredibly special. How did/do you go about getting on with things (especially emotionally) once the lights go out on something really fucking awesome? Have there been writers in similar TV-writing positions who weren’t really able to come back from something like that?

Bill Avena said...

Looking forward to an impromptu "Werd" from Colbert.

wallymarcel1 said...

I'd love to see Denzel win. Phenomenal in "Fences."

Chris said...

I truly believe that Meryl Streep will go down in history as the greatest actress of her generation (and beyond). And I would lead the cheering section for her. But I'm not so foolish as to think her nomination is anything but a reward for her Golden Globes speech and a big middle finger to the president. I would think she's smart enough to know that, so now the fun begins as we watch and see just how seriously she (and Hollywood) takes this. Will she fool herself into thinking otherwise? And, should she win--and don't think that's not a real possibility--will the win be taken seriously? I know I don't and won't take it seriously, and I'm someone who thinks she should already have four Oscars.

Zach said...

The organization that gave Roman Polanski Best Director after years on the run as a child rapist is very concerned with the optics of nominating a black man with an acquittal. Very nice of them.

Smilodon said...

Sully was pretty bad. The whole reason for it was an event that took five minutes in real life. They recreated it twice in the film just because. Being a hit piece on the FAA (because ensuring aircraft safety is a horrible thing and you should never question pilots decisions [*cough* Tenerife *cough*])probably doesn't make it look any better.

Irv Goldstein said...

What did Tom Hanks do to merit the Best Actor snub? He said he hopes Trump does so well that "I vote for his re-election."

That'll do it.

Juli said...

Possible Friday Question- This morning, a couple local DJs were talking about not having seen a lot of the nominated movies. They thought it would be great if some of the independent theaters would host an "Oscar Weekend," where they could screen all the nominated movies. The DJs thought it would be a great way for the producers to build relationships with the independent theaters, for the theaters to get some more customers , for the films to get more viewers, for the Oscars to get more buzz, for people to get to see these movies on the big screen, - in short, win/win/win/win/win.

I can't believe that no one else ever thought of this, so there's a reason it isn't happening. Do you know what that reason is?

Juli in St Paul (not Minneapolis)

blinky said...

No mention of Nicole Kidman looking like a plastic blow up doll? I can remember when she was naturally pretty. Now she is going all Michael and Janet Jackson.

Richard John Marcej said...

I'm glad The Lobster got a nom. (for original screenplay) since IMO it was the best movie I saw last year (followed by Manchester By The Sea, Loving, Arrival & Hidden Figures)

Phil said...

Hope Kevin O'Connell wins this time after being snubbed 20 times.

More people are gonna say what you said Ken, that Meryl doesn't deserve this nomination. Should have stopped after winning Iron Lady on a high.

Doesn't matter, Emma's gonna wing it all the way. So will Andrew.

Linda said...

"Academy frowns on sexual assault charges"!? Then how come Roman Polanski and Woody Allen were "honored"? And now that anti-Semite is being nominated?

Amy Adams was cheated of a nomination, Natalie didn't deserve it. Wish Denzel wins.

VP81955 said...

If only Amy Adams had gone to Harvard.

DBA said...

Ken, I think Lin still has a pretty decent chance because there are two La La Land songs nominated and they might cancel each other out. Unless you were favoring Justin Timberlake for this one?

Jahn Ghalt said...


For some time (decades?) the rumor has been that studio executives will most likely ask the security guard for Oscar picks. For a longer time film buffs have tended to disregard Oscar winners (maybe they started that rumor?) For those reasons and others the subtext about Steep being rewarded for her Golden Globe disgression is pretty much a yawner - but thanks for the warning - the award show can be enjoyed for lovely actresses dressed to the nines and the sound off.

Thanks anyway for the link to the nominee list. I was greeted by Lithgow's Churchill (which he rocks) and his royal counterpart QE II. I thought this a happy reminder that I have a few episodes left of The Royals (plus rewatches) - not to mention it was picked up for a second season. A refresh give me Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black - another happy reminder of a whole season on deck.

Oh yeah - there was a list of Oscar nominees.

One more thank you - for the Scorsese reference - that looks like a terrific film - which got an AFI 2016 top ten!

Jahn Ghalt said...

BTW, I look forward to your Oscar recap podcast. And an idea for 2018 - if you have a likely sidekick - why not do a Siskel and Ebert for the next one? Could be fun.

Michael said...

Friday question: Do you think the cast of FRASIER would have any interest in a limited-series revival like WILL AND GRACE and GILMORE GIRLS are doing?

Jahn Ghalt said...

Thanks to Irv Goldstein for the soundbite of Tom Hanks who wondered "what the hell just happened" (pretty much like I did).

Here's some context (a longer quote) according to The Hollywood Reporter:

"We are going to be all right because we constantly get to tell the world who we are. We constantly get to define ourselves as American. We do have the greatest country in the world. We move at a slow pace. We have the greatest country in the world because we are always moving towards a more perfect union. That journey never ceases, it never stops. Sometimes, to quote a Springsteen song, it’s “one step forward, two steps back,” but we still aggregately move forward. We, who are a week into wondering what the hell just happened, will continue to move forward. We have to choose to do so, but we will move forward because if we do not move forward, what is to be said of us?

This is the United States of America. We’ll go on. There’s great like-minded people out there who are Americans first and Republicans or Democrats second,” Hanks told The Hollywood Reporter. “I hope the president-elect does such a great job that I vote for his re-election in four years.”

Dixon Steele said...

"As always I will be filing my bitchy Oscar review the morning after the ceremony."

You just did...

Stephen Marks said...

Excellent Ken, as always. One bone to pick however:

"Since when is it okay to do a musical where the stars can't sing?" Since Mama Mia!

Meryl Streep: Can't sing, can't dance, can act a little. Put all of Streep's Oscar statuettes in a dryer along with the false teeth she wore playing Maggie Thatcher and that sound you hear is Meryl singing "Dancing Queen"

Pierce Brosnan: James Bombed. Which idiot from MI5 told this guy he could sing? His fucking voice was shaken, not stirred. Damn Pierce, listening to you singing "Does Your Mother Know" was excruciating. Next time shoot for a higher Octavepussy. Nice guy though.

Christine Baranski: Sang for no other reason than to punish Cybill Shepard's ear drums, the rest of us were just collateral damage.

Colin Firth: Sang like he was auditioning for "The King's Speech", stuttering and stammering through "Knowing Me Knowing You". Shit, Actually. He was the Ringo Starr of the bunch. Also plays guitar like he sings. Nice guy though.

Amanda Seyfried: Pitch perfect. Wonderful. Beautiful. Talented. I'm in love with Amanda and I don't care what you people say about her singing. She sings like Julie Andrews.

Johnny Walker said...

I think of anyone believes the nominations for the Academy Awards represent anything other than a) people voting for a movie they liked or b) people voting for a movie they didn't see but which a friend is in, they're deluding themselves. There's no politics at play. That's why an infamous anti-Semite can get a nomination.

Anyways, I liked Silence :)

Anonymous said...

Ooooo, oooooo! Michael's question! Michael's question please!

What would be the chances of a limited one time farcical engagement of the FRASIER troupe on Netflix, or Amazon, etc.? Ken! Ken tell us pleeeaaasse! (Dissolves in a servile begging wreck on the floor) PLEEAAAAAAAAASSSSE!





But seriously, that would be a hoot and a half!

Sean

Todd Everett said...

What did Tom Hanks do to merit the Best Actor snub? He said he hopes Trump does so well that "I vote for his re-election."

That'll do it.


So you're saying most of the Academy voters also missed his point?

Terrence Moss said...

Me too. I saw "Manchester" and Affleck was really good, but Denzel was amazing to me -- especially upon second viewing.

Terrence Moss said...

Nope. JUST three. And note that she had already been nominated for a Globe and a SAG Award before her speech.

Terrence Moss said...

Hollywood doesn't think in terms of wins for all as much as wins for THEM -- which is a shame since this makes more sense to bolster ratings than 10 nominees and Seth McFarlane.

sanford said...

How did Viggo Mortensen get nominated. The movie did get an 85 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but made less than 6 million at the box office

Kaleberg said...

I thought not being able to sing was a movie musical tradition. Listen to Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady.

Steve B. said...

Ken, just to clarify - "Manchester" and "Hell" were both nominated for Original Screenplay.

Arthur Mee said...

In reference to the Frasier question above, I've long thought Cheers would be a great series to have a limited edition new season. Not a reunion special ... just a few new episodes as if we're somewhere in season 35.

This sort of thing happens a lot in the UK. A series will go away for a while, maybe even several years or more. Then when everybody's ready to do 6 more episodes, everyone assembles and off they go...

Wouldn't Cheers be a natural for this? Sam would still be there, and so would Norm, Cliff, and probably Carla. It's a bar, so others can drop in without a whole lot of tedious set up needed. Frasier would be the hardest, but it's not impossible that he moved back to Boston, or is a visiting lecturer at a university there for a semester. (I think there's a university or two somewhere in the Greater Boston area?)

Yes, fine, alright...I suppose the chances of this happening approach zero -- from beneath. Ken, you can probably confirm this is never gonna happen, and dash my dreams. *I'd* certainly watch a new mini-season of Cheers, but it is just too complicated financially, or schedule-wise, or personality-wise, or getting-the-cast-interested-wise?

Johnny Walker said...

Just listened to episode 3: Wow. I could have happily listened to another 20 on Paddy C! I guess there's nothing left of that project today? :(

Johnny Walker said...

Can someone with historical Hollywood knowledge explain to me what Venessa Redgrave is referring to in her Oscar acceptance speech?

Here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IAcOsK9gRLk

Was history on her side? Was she wrong to bring up whatever she's referring to? I would have thought that Hollywood would have been VERY anti-McCarthy?

Barry Traylor said...

None of the films nominated sound like something I'd actually watch.

thirteen said...

"Since when is it okay to do a musical where the stars can’t sing?" Since Mamma Mia, I guess.

B Smith said...

Hope there's a musical tribute to Florence Foster Jenkins on the night.

Diane D said...

johnny Walker
What she said that was offensive to Hollywood and most of the country was calling the Jewish protestors outside the theatre "Zionist Hoodlums". Her sympathies were with the Palestinians, and she was in favor of a Palestinian State, which was not favored by most people at the time, and certainly not the Jews. That has changed over the years and most people in the US are now in favor of a 2 state solution. The protestors outside were protesting her presence in this country because she had funded a documentary about the issue that was considered anti-Semitic. Her other references were to make herself look better after using the term "Zionist Hoodlums".

Jahn Ghalt said...


A comment on the Paddy Chayefsky pilot interview and your future interviews:

I appreciate the discipline and consideration shown by keeping the interview short and sweet, but I second Johnny Walker that another 20 minutes would have been fine - and even preferable.
Reading this blog for about a year my impression is that the commenters, at the very least, do not have "MTV attention spans". The form allows the interviewer to "stretch out". I'd have been happy to hear about the writer's other projects - anecdotes about the biz and the like.

Jahn Ghaly said...

Here's 4,000 words by David Pollock on that Chayefsky pilot:

Between The Hospital and Network: Pilot-Writing with Paddy Chayefsky

http://backwing.com/film-tv/between-the-hospital-and-network-pilot-writing-with-paddy-chayefsky

Johnny Walker said...

Thanks Diane. That helped me do more research into the subject and see what it was about. The reason it came up was because Paddy C followed her and criticised her for using the Oscars to push political agendas.

You're right that her comment about "hoodlums" was probably directed at the Rabbi who was burning an effigy of her outside the theatre. I think I'd read she'd had death threats, too.

Most shockingly of all, two months later a bomb exploded at a cinema that was about to show her documentary in Los Angeles. A member of the "Jewish Defense League" was responsible. If you're prepared to commit murder to protest a documentary you're worse than a hoodlum, you're a terrorist.

As much as I think the Oscars shouldn't involve politics, I guess history has sided with her. Also, I suppose it's another example of how the Academy is able to look past politics while voting.

Johnny Walker said...

That's for sharing that, Jahn!