Tag: oscars

Frontrunners Win, But Surprises Abound: Thoughts on the 94th Academy Awards

by Ken Bakely

I know what you want me to talk about here, and sure, I’ll get to it, but first, let me say this:

It’s actually hard for me to write about this show in total. At first, I felt I just had nothing to say. I suppose this is in part because the decision to eliminate categories from the broadcast represented the strange economics that defined the entire evening. The Academy, producers Will Packer and Shayla Cowan, and ABC held firm to the decision to cut eight categories from the broadcast, despite a chorus of Oscar fans and industry professionals virtually unanimous in their condemnation. They swore it was part of an initiative to keep the show focused, streamlined, and under three hours (and include more comedy bits and musical performances). So they did it, worked clips of the speeches from the affected awards into the broadcast, and what happened? The broadcast was the longest since 2018, and in every one of them in between, all categories got their moment in the sun. 

Bottom line: category-cutting was a failed experiment that should be swiftly written off as the bad idea it was. I say this not as a value judgment, but as a simple statement of fact. It did not meet its intended objective. It should not happen again.

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BLOG: 2022 Oscar Nomination Predictions

by Ken Bakely

With days remaining until this year’s Academy Award nominations, I’m continuing a tradition for the site and offering my predictions for what might get nominated in some major categories. After the nominations are announced on February 8, I’ll return to this post and tally up my scores with some additional comments, which will be marked in blue text.

The following predictions will be ranked by how likely I think each prospective nominee is to get in. I will also include one possible alternate for each category – except for the ten-candidate Best Picture race, where I will list two.

UPDATE (February 8): My reactions and scores follow in blue.

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An Unusual Show for an Unusual Year: Thoughts on the 93rd Academy Awards

by Ken Bakely

Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh had an unenviable task in producing the 2021 Oscars. With the traditional templates for devising a ceremony out of commission, even down to the venue, they had to figure out a way to keep the show as glossy as possible while working within the circumstances. Soderbergh said that he wanted the ceremony to be like a movie, and as the evening began, it felt like we were getting just that, as presenter Regina King led us in a tracking shot through Los Angeles’s Union Station as an opening credits sequence rolled in the show’s cinematic aspect ratio (video above). In the ceremony’s main venue – the station’s former ticket lobby – attendees were seated at rows of tables, and presenters freely traversed the space, giving the show an intimate, improvisational, and yet elegant feel. In short, it was everything the Golden Globes wish they could be. The on-screen talent were poised and charismatic; the location was well-appointed. The show’s best moments arguably came when the close-up format allowed the nominees and winners more of a chance to shine. I don’t think a single speech was played off, which is good, because many of the speeches were insightful and worthwhile.

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BLOG: 2021 Oscar Nomination Predictions

by Ken Bakely

Though arriving later than usual, and after a year that defies simple description, it’s still time for the Oscars, and thus, time for me to predict what will get nominated in the major categories. With a few notable exceptions, it seems as if we’re currently in a position where we have a set of sturdy frontrunners in key races that could all become complete runaways if a couple more precursors go in the anticipated direction (and some are closer to that than others). 

For each category, I will rank the contenders based on how likely I think each prospective nominee is to get in next week. I’ll also include one potential spoiler (or two for Best Picture). Next Monday, after the nominations are announced, I’ll come back and edit this post, scoring my predictions and offering some comments on how I did (those notes will be in blue).

UPDATE (March 15): I have added my reactions and tallied my scores.

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BLOG: 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions

by Ken Bakely

Off we go into another awards season. It seems like many of the categories at this year’s Oscars are defined by a set of heavy frontrunners, followed by one or two wild card positions, where any one of many contenders could sneak their way in on Monday morning. This makes it both fun and challenging to predict, as we try to read both the tea leaves offered to us by guild precursors, and intuition about where Academy voters’ tastes might lie, to make (at least somewhat) informed predictions of what this year’s nominations will look like. There are ample opportunities for excitement and surprise.

As always, I will be offering my nomination predictions in some of the top categories. For each category, I will rank the top contenders based on my perceived likelihood of the nomination, with one potential spoiler (or two for Best Picture, since there can be up to twice as many nominees there as in other categories). 

After the nominees are announced, I will go back and edit this column, tallying my scores and offering my thoughts. These additional notes will be listed in blue.

And with that, here we go.

UPDATE (January 13): My scores and reactions have now been added in blue.

Continue reading “BLOG: 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions”

A Host of Surprises: Thoughts on the 91st Academy Awards

by Ken Bakely

Throughout the tumultuous sprawl of this Oscar season – specifically in conjunction with the actual production of the Oscar ceremony itself – I’ve had a lot of changes of heart with past opinion. My belief that the show should be as short as possible was challenged when the Academy tried to grotesquely edit the program’s schedule to make that happen. The kind of time-cutting measures I once thought I wanted turned out to feel disastrous and unbecoming of an evening intended to celebrate all aspects of film production. But as reliably as the Academy introduced bad ideas, they seemed pretty consistent at walking them back after they incurred tremendous backlash. By the time Oscar Sunday rolled around, the only remaining question mark going in was the lack of a host. Countless jokes were made about the calamitous 1989 Oscars, the last to go without an emcee, and the embarrassing musical numbers used to fill up space that year. And as Sunday’s show began with an otherwise stirring performance by Queen and Adam Lambert – which ended up serving as an immediate reminder that Bohemian Rhapsody, an aggressively mediocre concert film directed by Bryan Singer, was nominated for five Academy Awards (and would go on to win four of them) – it felt like anything could happen.

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BLOG: 2019 Oscar Nomination Predictions

oscars statues

by Ken Bakely

Another year, another awards season. And this one has been particularly chaotic: from upset wins to wide arrays of controversies, it’s impossible to tell exactly who or what is in the lead for many of the big prizes in this year’s Oscar race. But tomorrow, the nominees will be announced and we’ll know who our finalists are. As with every year, I’ve compiled some predictions for the top categories. They’re ranked by my estimated likelihood of nomination. Listed are my predicted five (or ten for Best Picture), plus one possible contender that could upset (or two for Best Picture).

Without further ado, let’s get started.

UPDATE (January 23): Like last year, I have added my accuracy score and initial thoughts on the final nominees to each category. Continue reading “BLOG: 2019 Oscar Nomination Predictions”

BLOG: Get Out of the Water in Ebbing, Missouri – Thoughts on the 90th Academy Awards

Oscars 2018.jpg
Jimmy Kimmel hosts the Oscars, live from the stage of the upcoming Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Frozen

by Ken Bakely

Despite eventually revealing an interior set that looked like if the live action Beauty and the Beast threw up on Norma Desmond’s deathbed hallucinations, there was surprisingly little bombast in Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony, even more astonishing when one remembers that it was the 90th anniversary show. Though the producers are certainly thankful that the evening went without a replication of last year’s infamous gaffe, they surely weren’t pleased to wake up this morning and discover that last night’s show is the lowest rated Oscarcast in recorded history. Many will inevitably argue that the decline in ratings is attributable to the “politicization” of acceptance speeches, but this is unlikely. Ebbs and flows in ratings are more directly correlated with the box office performance of the nominated films. The Academy should pray that Black Panther lands big with their members in Year 91.

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BLOG: Appendix to 2018 Oscar Predictions

Oscars statuettes.jpg

by Ken Bakely

NOTE: This piece is meant to be read as a supplement to my 2018 Oscar predictions, now live at Film Pulse.

When taken as a whole, this year’s race for Best Picture is as wide open as I can ever remember. This late stage gravitation to a handful of major contenders only occurred well after the start of televised precursors in January. The race appears so evenly matched that through the convoluted process of tabulating Best Picture votes (an instant runoff procedure), could we really be surprised if anything not named, say, Darkest Hour walked home with the prize?

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