It won’t exactly be on a par with Oscars nominations morning, but Monday will be one of the biggest December days in the history of the Academy Awards.
That’s because for the first time, the Academy isn’t systematically doling out the short lists of films that remain in contention. Instead, they’re dropping all the lists at once in a single press release that will trim the fields in Best Documentary Feature, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Song and six other categories.
One drop, nine categories, a total of 101 films that’ll get good news and far more that’ll be disappointed.
The strategy of dumping all the Oscars short lists at once has not been greeted with universal approval. For one thing, contenders in the different categories were used to having their individual moments in the spotlight. Music Branch voters, who are facing a pair of short lists for the first time, now have far less time to listen and decide than they used to. And pundits will need to whip up instant analysis in nine categories simultaneously.
But that’s the new rule, and all the lists will be out on the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 17.
(By the way, we hear that the news will come out in the afternoon because the procrastinators on the Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee aren’t getting together until Monday morning to decide which three songs they’ll be adding to the six-film short list chosen by Oscars voters.)
Here’s the category-by-category breakdown of what will be coming on Monday.
Best Foreign Language Film
Three films seem guaranteed to land a spot: Mexico’s “Roma,” Poland’s “Cold War” and Lebanon’s “Capernaum.” Belgium’s “Girl” isn’t far behind, and voters reportedly adored Germany’s “Never Look Away.” Denmark’s “The Guilty” is a satisfying film that impressed voters, Sweden’s “Border” a twisted one that did the same.
The executive committee that adds three films to the shortlist may be hard-pressed not to take one or both of the two Asian standouts, South Korea’s “Burning” and Japan’s Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters.” And watch out for the Paraguayan film, “The Heiresses,” which has strong support in both the general and executive committees.
Other possibilities include Iceland’s “Woman at War,” Norway’s “What Will People Say,” Colombia’s “Birds of Passage,” Hungary’s “Sunset” and Romania’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians.”
Best Documentary Feature
The four box-office hits that made this one of the best years ever for nonfiction filmmaking should all land on the list: “Free Solo,” “RBG,” “Three Identical Strangers” and the de facto frontrunner, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (On the other hand, it’d be uncharacteristic of the Academy not to leave at least one of them off the final list of five nominees, and not entirely surprising if one of them doesn’t make the short list.)
Ever since the doc-branch rules were changed to do away with special screening committees in this category, voters have gravitated toward the films that have gotten the most buzz and received the most nominations for the IDA Awards, the Cinema Eye Honors and the like. That should mean that critical and awards favorites like “Minding the Gap,” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” “Crime + Punishment,” “Bisbee ’17,” “Dark Money,” “Of Fathers and Sons” and “Shirkers” will all be in contention. And watch out for the Spanish film “The Silence of Others,” a potential sleeper.
We also shouldn’t rule out documentary legend Frederick Wiseman for “Monrovia, Indiana,” or other well-received docs like “On Her Shoulders,” “The Bleeding Edge” and “United Skates.” On the showbiz doc front, movies like “Hal,” “Filmworker” and “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache” have a shot, as does the released-at-last Aretha Franklin movie “Amazing Grace” and the Quincy Jones doc “Quincy,” whose subject has been highly visible on the campaign circuit lately. And I refuse to abandon hope that voters will recognize Eugene Jarecki’s sharp Elvis-and-America meditation “The King.”
Finally, Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” the followup to the top-grossing nonfiction film of all time, has been bypassed by nearly all the precursor awards and may well be left off of this one as well. But Moore could still find a way in — after all, he was the prime mover on the changes that led to the current method of picking the short list, and he’s still a strong voice in the doc world.
Best Original Song
The two music categories are introducing short lists for the first time ever, presumably in order to give all the members of the music branch to hear and consider the 15 semi-finalists before voting for nominations. But that means they have less time to consider all the contenders, which this year number more than 70 in the song category.
Yes, we know that “Shallow,” the one song entered from “A Star Is Born,” will make it. And probably at least one of the two songs entered from “Mary Poppins Returns.” The Music Branch’s taste for hip-hop might be tested by “All the Stars” from “Black Panther,” but why wouldn’t they want Kendrick Lamar at the Oscars?
They also have to consider songs from luminaries like Dolly Parton (“Girl in the Movies” from “Dumplin'”), Annie Lennox (“Requiem for a Private War” from “A Private War”), plus two competitive songs from movies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “I’ll Fight” from “RBG” (written by nine-time nominee Diane Warren) and “Here Comes the Change” from “On the Basis of Sex.” “Revelation” from “Boy Erased” has a real shot, as does “Gravity” from “Free Solo.” And if they want to get truly adventurous, how about the Coup’s “OYAHYTT” from “Sorry to Bother You,” or Thom Yorke’s “Suspirium” from “Suspiria”? (Would the Radiohead frontman show up at the Oscars?)
The branch is well known for taking care of its own, which can’t hurt past winner Carole Bayer Sager’s “Living in the Moment” from “Book Club.” They also tend to like songs that are performed onscreen — which, in addition to being one more reason “Shallow” will get in, could help the songs from “Hearts Beat Loud,” the quintessential but twisted Disney-princess anthem from “Ralph Breaks the Internet” or the fatalistic cowboy tune “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”
And then there are songs from Patti Smith and Robyn Hitchcock and Elton John and Arlissa and Quincy Jones and Post Malone and Kendra Smith and Aoife O’Donovan and Imagine Dragons and Sade and David Crosby … It’s a deep list, not a shallow one. (Sorry.)
Best Original Score
As usual, more than 100 scores are in contention, with early awards singling out a group that includes “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “A Quiet Place,” “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Green Book.” Most and perhaps all of those should make the list, with other contenders including “BlacKkKlansman,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “On the Basis of Sex,” “The Hate U Give,” “Hereditary,” “Bad Times at the El Royale,” “Red Sparrow,” “The Predator” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
This is a category that’ll likely have three nominees, and one known for nominating films that won’t show up in any other category. This year, that could mean a “Suspiria” appearance on the short list. “Black Panther” and “The Avengers: Infinity War” will certainly be in play — and since makeup designed to make actors look like other people is usually a mainstay in the category, look for “Vice” and “Stan & Ollie” to show up as well. “Mary Queen of Scots” could make the cut too. And will Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury teeth from “Bohemian Rhapsody” be enough to land that film a spot?
If a foreign film gets in, as one sometimes does (“A Man Called Ove,” “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”), it could be “Border,” which turned a couple of actors into trolls.
Best Visual Effects
A committee from the Visual Effects Branch has already narrowed the field to 20 films, so now it’s just a matter of cutting that number in half. The elaborate visions of “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Black Panther,” “Ready Player One” and perhaps “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” are clearly contenders, with the subtler effects of “First Man” and the more retro charms of “Mary Poppins Returns” definitely in the mix as well.
Dark horses could include “Christopher Robin” and “Paddington 2” for their blend of live action and CG figures, and the stop-motion “Isle of Dogs,” which would be following in the footsteps of recent nominee “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Several late-breaking films have a shot as well, including “Aquaman,” “Bumblebee” and “Welcome to Marwen.”
Best Documentary Short
The shorts categories are hard to predict because most of the films haven’t been widely seen. But Academy volunteers have been watching them to compile the three lists, and it’s possible to pick up some buzz from festival screenings and awards campaigns.
Netflix has been a major player in doc shorts recently (it won its first Oscar for “The White Helmets”), and this year it has “Zion,” “Out of Many, One,” “End Game” and “Lessons From a School Shooting: Notes From Dunblane,” at least two of which should end up on the list. The New York Times Op-Docs series has “Dulce,” “Earthrise,” “We Became Fragments” and the wry and well-liked “My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes,” the only short nominated by both the IDA Awards and Cinema Eye Honors.
Other IDA and Cinema Eye nominees include “Black Sheep,” “Baby Brother,” “Concussion Protocol,” “Fear Us Women,” “Lifeboat,” “Los Comandos,” “Mosul,” “Sidelined,” “Skip Day,” “The Girl and the Picture,” “Volte” and “We Are Not Done Yet.” The DOC NYC short list also singled out “’63 Boycott,” “The Head & the Hand,” “RX Early Detection” and “Take Back the Harbor,” while “Lotte That Silhouette Girl” tells the story of a woman animation pioneer from the pre-Disney days and could be attractive to the Academy.
Best Animated Short
The Annie Awards, the top prize given to animated films, singled out “Grandpa Walrus,” “Lost & Found,” “Solar Walk,” “Untravel” and “Weekends.” Pixar’s big short this year is “Bao,” and Pixar’s big short usually gets nominated. DreamWorks Animation, which has less consistent success in the category, is represented by “Bilby” and “Bird Karma.”
Other possibilities include “La Noria,” “Animal Behavior,” “Crow: The Legend” and “Age of Sail,” a Google Spotlight VR short made by John Kahrs, who won an Oscar for “Paperman.” “Raccoon and the Light,” “Daisy,” “The Green Bird” and “Re-Gifted” qualified by winning Student Academy Awards, while “The Driver Is Red” won the industry prize at theWrap’s ShortList Film Festival.
Best Live-Action Short
In a category where it’s almost impossible to get an overview of the field unless you’re a festival shorts programmer, standouts include “Fauve,” “Wren Boys,” “Skin” and “Bonbone,” as well as “Souls of Totality,” featuring Tatiana Maslany, and “Dear Chickens,” with Philip Baker Hall.
Timely films about the refugee crisis in Europe include “Bismillah” and “Magic Alps,” and Student Academy Award qualifiers are “Spring Flower,” “Lalo’s House,” “This Is Your Cuba,” “Get Ready With Me,” “Almost Everything” and “A Siege”; if history is any guide, at least one of them will make the list.
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www.thewrap.com | 12/14/18
Here’s a list of what the Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson says is missing from his new film “Woman at War”: “No misery, no violence, no death, not even a gun, and no sex.”
Despite the absence of those mainstays, he said “Woman at War” is an action thriller with lessons for Hollywood films. It’s a tense, topical film of espionage, sabotage and personal demons about a lone eco-terrorist (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) being hunted by the Icelandic government and a massive corporation doing harm to the environment.
And because this is an Icelandic film, its hero has a trio of musicians who follow her across hill sides, rooftops and into her home providing the film’s brisk, invigorating score as she goes. At one point, a drummer seemingly tips her off to the danger awaiting her.
“I wish they would do more of this,” Erlingsson told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at a post-screening Q&A on Wednesday. “Imagine Tom Cruise with a band, saving the world.”
“Woman at War,” Iceland’s submission to the 2019 Foreign Language Oscars race, screened as part of TheWrap’s Awards and Foreign Screening series at the Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles.
While it has a peculiar sense of humor courtesy of its onscreen band, Erlingsson doesn’t consider his film a comedy, and he strived to make a film that tackles complex subjects like global warming in a way that could still be considered “accessible.”
“Everything you do really has to have some meaning. You have to have something to say. This subject is really complicated, and there are a lot of gray areas, and it touches many ideas,” Erlingsson said. “So the challenge was to really make an accessible, mainstream blockbuster film about this. An art-house blockbuster on a very complicated issue. Is that possible, in a feel-good film?”
In that spirit, Erlingsson offered an optimistic perspective on the climate change crisis — based on his experience as an activist who once chained himself to a whaling boat to keep it from sailing out to hunt. (If you want to know how to take down an electricity pylon as the lead character Halla does in the film, he encouraged anyone to talk to him after the screening.)
These days, he has changed his lifestyle to become more environmentally friendly — and encourages aspiring politicians to share a similar message: “Vote for me, and I will fight that you will get less of everything. This is the challenge.
“If I was a publicist, you will get less of everything, but what you will get will last longer,” he said. “You will get a better lifestyle. More meat, more movement. The lifestyle change ahead of us is not so drastic. And you can throw in, ‘And I will give you more games, I will give you more films, love, sex, poetry, theater.”
“Woman at War” also takes an unexpected turn away from politics, exploring how Halla juggles her guerrilla activism with the prospect of being a mom when a four-year-old adoption application suddenly comes through.
The character’s dilemma should be very relatable to a politically-minded American audience, Erlingsson said. “How am I going to change the world? Is it not to change myself? Should I save myself, or should I take action?” he asked. “This is an element we are all struggling with, and we have to do both.”
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www.thewrap.com | 10/25/18
Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, known for his celebrated work on “Sicario,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Arrival,” was found dead in his Berlin apartment. He was 48.
“I’m so very sad. Today, I lost my friend who was one of the most talented musicians and intelligent people I knew. We came a long way together,” Jóhannsson’s manager, Tim Husom, said in a statement on Saturday. The composer was found Friday, and his cause of his death is unknown.
Known for compositions that blended electronics with classical orchestrations, Jóhannsson was one of the most in-demand film composers of his generation. The Icelandic composed music for theater, dance, TV and films. “Sicario” and “The Theory of Everything” earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score, and the latter won him a Golden Globe.
Most recently, he was the music and sound consultant for “mother!” His work will also be heard in the upcoming Rooney Mara film, “Mary Magdalene.”
Jóhannsson began his musical career in Reykjavík, Iceland, where he played guitar in indie rock bands while studying languages and literature. In 1999, he co-founded the think tank and music label, “Kitchen Motors,” which encouraged collaboration between artists from different genres.
He released his first solo album, “Englabörn,” in 2002, which was followed by “Virðulegu Forsetar.” “Fordlândia,” “IBM 1401 – A User’s Manual,” “The Miners’ Hymns” and “Orphée.”
His representative at Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency said in a statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our client and dear friend Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose great talent, humility and kindness enriched our lives immeasurably. His music has inspired many new generations of filmmakers and composers. He will be so greatly missed by his Gorfaine/Schwartz family as well as the entire film music community.”
Jóhannsson is survived by his parents, sisters and daughter.
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www.thewrap.com | 2/10/18
Oh no. This is so tragic. Icelandic musician / composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has passed away, according to multiple reports online (see: THR) that confirm the news with his manager. According to the reports, Jóhannsson died at age 48 in Berlin, where he was living, though no other details about what happened are known yet. This hits really hard, because Jóhannsson was on his way to starting an awesome career as a very talented, very unique composer for films as well as theatre, dance and TV. His most recent work includes the score for Darren Aronofsky's mother! (not in the final cut), the Danish film In the Blood, and Colin Firth's The Mercy. He also earned two Oscar nominations for his scores for The Theory of Everything and Sicario. Jóhann was born and raised in Reykjavík, Iceland in 1969, where he later went on to study languages and literature at university. He started his musical career as a guitarist playing in indie ...
www.firstshowing.net | 2/10/18
On Jan. 2., the last night of Blaze Bernstein’s life, he was as happy as his parents had ever seen him.
“He had a glow about him,” his mother, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein tells PEOPLE. “He was in a good place. He was really happy. He was shining.”
Blaze was so ebullient because he loved his life as a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was planning to study pre-med, she says. While he enjoyed spending time with his family in Lake Forest, California, for winter break, whipping up gourmet meals for his parents and taking part in frequent rounds of Balderdash on the family’s many game nights, “he couldn’t wait to get back,” she says. “He got a new apartment. He had so much to look forward to when he got there.”
Blaze would never make it back to school. Later that night, he met a former classmate from high school – Samuel Woodward, 20, – and never returned home, say police.
Six days after his parents reported him missing, his lifeless body was found on Jan. 9 in a shallow grave at nearby Borrego Park. On Friday, Woodward was arrested on suspicion of homicide. On Wednesday, he was charged with murder and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.
RELATED: PEOPLE Explains: UPenn Student Blaze Bernstein’s Killing as New Details Emerge After Friend’s Arrest
Blaze’s death has left his family devastated. “We are all sad,” says his mother. “We are all crying. The whole world is crying right now.”
While authorities have not revealed much about why Blaze met Woodward the night of Jan. 2 or what led to the alleged stabbing, a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Orange County Register, which has since been sealed, Woodward alleges that Blaze tried to kiss him and Woodward subsequently away.
Blaze’s parents say they knew their son was gay and accepted that. “We told him we are all God’s children,” his father, Gideon Bernstein tells PEOPLE. “We told him, ‘We love you and want you to have a good life and be happy.’
“His sexual identity was no different than his other identities – being Jewish or male or a poet or a writer or a chef,” he says. “He didn’t want one to be overriding the other. That is what he communicated to us.”
“Everybody knew but he really didn’t like talking about it.”
RELATED VIDEO: Parents of Missing UPenn Student, 19, Found Dead Tearfully Mourn Son: ‘Our Family Is Devastated’
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The Bernsteins remember their son as a “Renaissance man” who loved traveling to far-flung locales including Iceland, Israel, and Italy with his family.
His interests were wide. He loved writing, cooking, and photography. “I bought him this book on interior decorating and he was so excited to have it,” she says.
“He was a scholar in all things,” says Jeanne. “Art, literature, and science.”
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She also marveled at watching him grow into a man, she says. “I knew he was becoming an adult when he stopped tattling on (his younger sister) and started to enjoy her,” says Jeanne. “That started to happen about the time he left for college. If he didn’t like something she was doing, he wouldn’t come to me and complain. He would go to her and ask her nicely to stop doing it. It finally clicked with him. He was an adult. He could relate to her.”
On Monday, hundreds of mourners attended a service for Blaze.
The family has asked that contributions be made to the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County to help children and families in need.
people.com | 1/18/18
The culture of Iceland is rich and varied as well as being known for its literary heritage which stems from authors from the 12th to 14th centuries. Other Icelandic traditional arts include weaving, silversmithing, and wood carving. The Reykjavík area has several professional theatres, a symphony orchestra, an opera, and a large amount of art galleries, bookstores, cinemas, and museums. There are also four active folk dance ensemble in Iceland. Iceland's literacy rate is among the highest in the world, and a love of literature, art, chess, and other intellectual pursuits is widespread.