Oscars do Emily Litella impression: ‘Never mind!’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have pulled an Emily Litella. “Never mind!”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has retreated from a plan of awarding four Oscars during commercial breaks, according to reports from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline: Hollywood.

As Emily Litella (a 1970s reference you can find on Google) might say, “Never mind!”

Originally, the academy planned that Oscars for cinematography, editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling be given out during commercials, with edited versions being shown later.

This didn’t go over well from academy members of the affected categories, especially cinematography and editing, two crucial parts of movie making.

Had the rule been in effect last year, the broadcast would haven’t included live coverage of director of photography Roger Deakins finally winning after after a long string of nominations. One of Deakins’ nominations was for the 2012 007 film Skyfall, and many Bond fans were pulling for him to finally win in 2018.

Here’s an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter story:

In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Academy stated that it “has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards – Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling.” The statement continued: “All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format. We look forward to Oscar Sunday, February 24.”

The move came just nine days before this year’s Oscar telecast. The academy and ABC, which airs the awards show, have been trying to keep the program to three hours.

UPDATE (9:40 p.m., New York time): The statement is on the academy’s website.

The Oscars step in it again

Oscars logo

So the Oscars show on Feb. 24 is relegating cinematography, film editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling will be given out during commercials and not shown live, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The news came after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to its members today, according to THR.

The move comes as academy is trying to keep the Oscars broadcast under three hours. The group previous removed honorary Oscars and awards such as the Thalberg (honoring a producer’s career) to a separate event in November.

However, no matter what the academy does to slim down the broadcast, it finds other material and the broadcast stays around four hours. The show insists on doing including skits airing after 10 pm. eastern time when the audience is more than ready to get to find out the winners of major awards such as acting and Best Film.

Had the new rules been in effect last year, the TV audience wouldn’t have seen cinematographer Roger Deakins win an Oscar live after numerous nominations. One of those nominations was for 2012’s Skyfall.

Directors certainly think a lot of their directors of photography. In the documentary Inside You Only Live Twice, Lewis Gilbert called Freddie Young one of the great artists of British cinema. Young had photographed, among other films, Lawrence of Arabia.

Also, a number of directors leaned on their editors. Verna Fields (1918-1982) edited Steven Spielberg’s first theatrical, film, The Sugarland Express, and his first big hit, Jaws. Anne Bauchens (1882-1967) edited a number of movies for Cecil B. DeMille, including The Ten Commandments. Editors are vital to helping a director achieve his or her vision.

Well, as they say, there’s no business like show business.

Daniel Craig to be a presenter at 2019 Oscars

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Daniel Craig will be a presenter at this year’s Oscars show, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement on its website.

The academy also released the names of presenters in a series of tweets this morning. Besides the James Bond star, other presenters include Chris Evans, Jennifer Lopez and Charlize Theron. The academy said it will be making additional announcements of talent that will participate in the Oscars show.

Craig’s wife, Rachel Weisz, is a nominee for Best Supporting Actress. The Oscars ceremony is Feb. 24, shortly before Bond 25 is scheduled to begin principal photography on March 4.

Here we go again: Academy tries to streamline the Oscars

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If at first you don’t succeed…

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is — again — trying to streamline its Oscar telecast and find a place for more popular movies.

The academy sent a written message to members (this Hollywood Reporter story has the full text). Among the changes: 1) Keeping the telecast to three hours (honest!). 2) Adding a category for “outstanding achievement in popular film.”

To stick to the new time limit, the TV broadcast will show some of the 24 Oscar winners on an edited, tape-delayed basis. Which ones are seen live by the TV audience and which get the edited treatment are to be determined.

Lots of luck, academy.

The Oscars have already stripped away honorary Oscar awards and the Thalberg career award for producers from the main broadcast.

Examples of honorary Oscar moments: The dying Gary Cooper receiving an honorary award, with James Stewart accepting it on his behalf; Charlie Chaplin receiving a standing ovation while receiving his honorary award; Barbara Stanwyck likewise getting big applause when she got her honorary award.

Albert R. Broccoli , Thalberg award winner (Illustration by Paul Baack)

As for the Thalberg award, 007 fans remember Roger Moore presenting the award to Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli. Related to that award, that Oscars show included a big James Bond musical number.

Today, however, honorary Oscars and the Thalberg (when it’s given; the last time was 2010) are now part of a separate event. Taped highlights from that are briefly shown during the main Oscars telecast. That’s show biz.

Those moves were done in the name of making the Oscars telecast shorter. Well, the telecast still goes past midnight. Various skits and such take up the time that supposedly was freed up.

Meanwhile, the academy expanded the number of best picture nominees to as many as 10. The idea was to get more popular movies into the show. It hasn’t worked out that way.

So now, potential future Oscar winners are wondering if they’ll be on TV live or an afterthought on tape delay. Will a winning cinematographer be live or taped delay? Composer? Best original screenplay? Best adapted screenplay? No way to know right now.

As for the new popular film category (or whatever it’s eventually called), it’s being criticized.

For example, here’s the take from Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: The new category “feels like a panicked move by an Academy that’s worried Black Panther won’t be nominated for Best Picture, an echo of when they expanded the Best Picture category to 10 nominees in 2009 in response to The Dark Knight and Wall-E being snubbed in that category.”

Our modest proposals for the Oscars telecast

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Oscars logo

“It’s just an awards show,” Oscars telecast host Jimmy Kimmel said (as quoted by Deadline: Hollywood and other outlets) about the annual telecast by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

He’s right. With that in mind, here are some modest proposals to make the telecast better. It’s just an awards show, not rocket science or God’s work.

Cut back the lame jokes: A little humor goes a long way. Did we need “mean tweets” (a bit from Kimmel’s ABC late night show)? Did we need the tour bus skit, a bit that went on for what seemed like a long time.

And do we need any skits once it hits 11 p.m. in the Eastern time zone? By that point, the show had been going on for two-and-a-half hours. Yes, the show is being done in California where it’s three hours earlier. But people in the eastern time zone are starting to hit the sack (if they haven’t done so already) by 11 p.m. Time to cut to the chase and get the major awards made.

Maybe lengthen In Memoriam by a whole two minutes: It’s really hard to present all the major actors, directors, writers, etc. in less than three minutes. This year’s edition squeezed in 45 in 2:48.

If the segment were, say, five minutes, you’d still get fans upset about a favorite performer or director being left off. But the audience — it’s just an awards show, remember — really are invested emotionally. Maybe you should throw them a bone.

You remember the audience, don’t you academy? In case you forgot, they are the ones who buy the movie tickets and home video releases that keep your members employed.

With all of the montages and skits, this year’s telecast could easily have filled up five minutes for In Memoriam. If it had been five minutes, you might have been able to note, say, the passing of the director of Goldfinger, or the last surviving star of The Magnificent Seven.

Keep the envelopes with the winners organized: That’s a Mr. Obvious observation but on Monday morning the show — sorry, the “just an awards show” — was mostly being discussed for announcing the wrong Best Picture. Not the kind of publicity one wants, right PricewaterhouseCoopers?

Drop the claim that 1 billion people worldwide watch the Oscars: One, it’s not true. Two, it comes across as particularly silly with all the news accounts about the show’s declining ratings.

Ken Adam makes In Memoriam; Robert Vaughn doesn’t

Ken Adam (1921-2016)

Ken Adam (1921-2016)

Ken Adam, production designer on seven James Bond movies, was included in the “In Memoriam” segment of the Oscars telecast Sunday night.

Adam also designed the sets of 1964’s Dr. Strangelove and won Oscars for Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George.

Also referenced in the segment was film editor Jim Clark, whose credits included 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.

Not making the segment was actor Robert Vaughn. While best known for television’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vaughn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for 1959’s The Young Philadelphians. He was also the last survivor of the actors who played The Magnificent Seven in the 1960 film.

Also not making the segment was Guy Hamilton, director of four James Bond films, including Goldfinger.

UPDATE (Feb. 27): I re-watched the In Memoriam segment. There were about 45 people shown in 2:48.

Writing’s On The Wall’s Oscar triumph

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

By Nicolás Suszczyk, Guest Writer

Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes got the Oscar award for Best Original Song in 2016 Academy Awards edition. It was the second triumph for the James Bond series had in that category.

In the 20th century, Bond songs were beaten by the likes of “The Way We Were” (winning over Live And Let Die) or “You Light up My Life” (winning over Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me) and “Arthur’s Theme (The Best You Can Do),” which won over For Your Eyes Only. For that matter, 007 classic songs such as Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever weren’t even nominated.

The spell was broken three years ago when Skyfall received the academy’s nod over songs like the solid “Suddenly,” from Les Miserables.

In September 2015, when Sam Smith introduced his performance of the song “Writing’s On The Wall” for SPECTRE, it divided the Bond fans between the ones showing appreciation and the ones turning a big thumb down – not to mention a great deal of bullying towards the 23-year-old singer for his falsetto voice, hidden under the shadows of the social networks.

“It’s the quickest song I’ve ever written,” Smith said, claiming he and Napier finished the job in just 20 minutes. (Later Eon Productions co-boss although Barbara Broccoli said it took much more time than that.)

Despite Smith’s vocal register, “Writing’s On The Wall” featured an unmistakable Bondian sound reminiscent to “Thunderball” with a touch of the recent “Skyfall.” A melody so accurate that it looks like composer Thomas Newman barely retouched the original instrumental for the scene where James Bond and his love interest Madeleine Swann get steamy on a train going through the Moroccan desert.

The song that supposedly took Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes less than half an hour to write described a vulnerable state of the rebooted James Bond. Bond lives with the memory of his beloved Vesper (Eva Green’s character in Casino Royale) and his boss-turned-mother figure M (Judi Dench, who bid farewell at the end of Skyfall).

It takes a lot for a man to admit his weakness – particularly a man like James Bond– and this song achieves to do it in a powerful way, as Daniel Kleinman’s main title visuals show our hero naked, wrapped around octopus tentacles coming out of the villain’s back while kissed by beautiful women.

While the artist voice sounds fragile, the seven main notes of the tune explode in power. A power expressing enough strength that the instrumental intermezzo (around the three minutes of the full version of the song) wasn’t cropped out during the usual editing to make a four minute composition fit into a short main title sequence. It was masterfully used to emphasize the artistic visuals.

Sam Smith had the coveted Oscar statue on his hand and dedicated it to the LGBT community he is part of. Among other contenders, he triumphed over Lady Gaga’s “Till It Happens to You,” introduced by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the ceremony.

Some people may not agree, not even Bond fans, about this recognition. But it is truly deserved because the song isn’t focused in the victorious figure of agent 007, but in the depths of the hidden soul of James Bond: his fears, his vulnerability and his overdue need for love.

And this was done with a melody that synthetizes the film, twisting like the sinuous octopus tentacles that symbolize the effect of SPECTRE wrapping into the soul of the man behind the spy, and a voice that shouts what the spy covering the human being will never openly tell.

The emotional complexity of the lyrics, the music and the voice is something that a spectator with an artistic eye can appreciate and enjoy while listening to “Writing’s on The Wall.” When accompanied by Kleinman’s ravishing main title sequence, it’s the way the song was meant to be appreciated.