Awards Shows

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Awards Shows

The Evolution of the Oscar Gift Bag

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Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 3:40 AM
Some of this year's Oscar bag goodies. - KRISTINA ESTLUND/DISTINCTIVE ASSETS
  • Kristina Estlund/Distinctive Assets
  • Some of this year's Oscar bag goodies.

The Oscar gift bag began in 2001 as sort of a children's party favor for the nominees and presenters. You know, just a little $10,000 goodie bag filled with some candy and trinkets. It quickly morphed into a six-figure behemoth stuffed with mink eyelashes, silk kimonos, cashmere pajamas and $45,000 African safaris.

The 2004 bag included a gift certificate for a resort in Mexico that Gwyneth Paltrow, a presenter that year, used for her honeymoon with Coldplay singer Chris Martin, according to the Daily Beast. That year's $120,000 unwieldy satchel also included a 43-inch high-def TV. The following year's bag's value soared even higher, to $150,000.

That attracted the evil eye of the Internal Revenue Service, which asked for its piece of the swag pie in 2006, dubbing the goodies "income," the Huffington Post reported. That move put a serious damper on the gift bags, and their value plummeted (well, respectively). Last year's bag was the "cheapest" ever, containing items worth a mere $47,802, down about $10,000 from the 2012 bag.

However, "The reality is that movie stars don't really live their lives making decisions based on the tax implications," says Lash Fary, whose company Distinctive Assets has put together the Oscar gift bag since its inception. "Celebrities are accustomed to having their accountants handle that sort of thing."

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

  • Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Joaquin Phoenix in "Her"

Movie lovers, it's time to properly prepare for your Oscar viewing party. March 2 is just a little over a month away, so it's a case of so many films with so little time.

But, for the stalwart few who want to make informed decisions when making their picks, we are here to help you watch the films that have been nominated this year.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • Argo
See also:

*More L.A. Weekly film coverage

*How a $45,000 Oscar Gift Bag Is Born

Our report from the press room is adapted from tweets at @laweeklyarts and @zpincusroth -- follow us there too.

[Updated: 10:25 pm]

10:11 pm Anne Hathaway has press room's most sincere line of the night, on why she said "it happened" during her acceptance speech: "I had a dream & it came true & that can happen & that's wonderful"

10:10 pm David Arquette was apparently in the press room for Sirius radio

9:56 pm Anne Hathaway in Oscars press room, giving thoughts on her song: "All I can hear are the notes I didn't quite hit...maybe I'll get over it some day"

9:55 pm Anne Hathaway, inexplicably saying: "You're always looking for the next job. No matter what's happened before you think no one's going to hire me again"

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Grey
  • The Grey
See also:

*Previous "We'd Like to Help the Academy" columns

Perceived reality has a habit of becoming actual reality when it comes to the Academy Awards. It was with that in mind that we decided to funnel whatever influence we may have into "We'd Like to Help the Academy," an online column launched last month in order to highlight the outliers that should be nominated rather than wonder aloud about which front-runners will.

We first drew attention to a screenplay worthy of recognition -- Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt's Oslo, August 31st. About a recovering drug addict named Anders on what may prove to be the last day of his life, the film's observational approach reveals an ear for naturalistic dialogue and deft use of voice-over. Oslo is seeped in memory and loss, but it's so sensitively written that its beauty resonates as much as (if not more than) its sadness.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"You just gotta keep on strippin' man, S-T-R-I-P-P-I-N."
  • "You just gotta keep on strippin' man, S-T-R-I-P-P-I-N."
We'd Like to Help the Academy is our Oscar column highlighting the outliers that should be nominated (but probably won't be).

For a long time I thought of Matthew McConaughey as an actor whom I liked more than he deserved. He built some good faith with Dazed and Confused and other early roles, yes, but that had all but diminished by the time Fool's Gold, Failure to Launch, and others of their ilk cemented his status as the go-to guy for bland rom-coms.

But his bit part in the sporadically funny Tropic Thunder was a bright spot, not least because it was a reminder of how effective his natural charm and charisma can be when filtered through the proper channels. McConaughey next showed signs of life in last year's The Lincoln Lawyer before hitting the 2012 trifecta: Bernie, Killer Joe, and Magic Mike.

Finally, after years of me and a lot of others hoping he'd do it, the often shirtless Texan came into his own in a series of roles that both played to and transcended his strengths. (He was also in two movies that premiered at Cannes this year -- Lee Daniels's much-derided The Paperboy and Jeff Nichols's more warmly-received Mud -- but I've yet to see either.)

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Friday, November 30, 2012

For your consideration: Oslo, August 31st
  • For your consideration: Oslo, August 31st

Perceived reality has a habit of becoming actual reality when it comes to the Academy Awards. Once enough people started talking about how much Oscar momentum Silver Linings Playbook gained after winning the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival two months ago, for instance, their prognosticating had the effect of creating said momentum. In attempting to keep up with the echo chamber, a lot of pundits end up becoming part of it. Rather than play into that, we've decided to funnel whatever influence we may have into our new column We'd Like to Help the Academy, highlighting the outliers that should be nominated rather than wonder aloud about which frontrunners will.

And why not? The Oscars are, after all, a meritocracy whose goal (at least in theory) is to reward the most worthwhile films of the year. In practice, they're more often like the SAT -- they don't really measure anything other than how well a given movie conforms to their own established standards -- but they do come through every once in a while. We want to believe in you, old white men of the Academy; give us reason to.

As it's true enough that every film begins with words on a page, it seems pertinent to start the proceedings with a screenplay worthy of recognition: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt's Oslo, August 31st. Adapted from a novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle and directed by Trier, the film follows a recovering drug addict named Anders on what may prove to be the last day of his life.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dr. Mohammad Jawad treats a patient in Pakistan. - ASAD FARUQI
  • Asad Faruqi
  • Dr. Mohammad Jawad treats a patient in Pakistan.

"Where are the stars?"

Riffat Masood, the consul general of the Pakistani Consulate in Los Angeles, has hushed the crowd gathered in the living room of her palatial home in Beverly Hills. Now she just needs to find the guests of honor. "Where is the director? Where is the famous doctor?"

As the two make their way to her side, Masood explains what an honor it is to have them here this evening, the Friday before Oscar night. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is co-director and co-producer of Saving Face, the first Pakistani film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. The documentary explores the horrific acid attacks that disfigure hundreds of women in Pakistani villages each year, and its star is Dr. Mohammad Jawad, the plastic surgeon who labors to restore the victims to normalcy.

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Billy Crystal at the Oscars -  WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Ew, old people. They're so old! Especially that Billy Crystal. What is he, 105? Get off the stage! In your electric walker!

If you buy into the prevailing narrative of the post-Oscars Twitterverse, all Academy voters are elderly, with a quirky fondness for nostalgic moving pictures about moving pictures, such as The Artist and Hugo, which belong not at the Oscars but on the dusty VHS shelf at the Wheelchair-By-the-Sea Retirement Home. Last Sunday this band of old men conspired to send out their avatar, the ancient Billy Crystal, to perform the kind of offensive, Catskills-style vaudeville act that would make Al Jolson wince.

It's a narrative that has given everyone within 10 miles of Hollywood a license to try to prove how hip they are.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

To say that only Harvey Weinstein could land a Best Picture Oscar for a silent film, as he is expected to do Sunday for The Artist, is more than just a reflection of the mogul's resurgent power of persuasion over Academy members -- it's actually true. A silent film has not taken top honors since the very first Academy Awards, held in May 1929 and honoring movies released between Aug. 1, 1927, and July 31, 1928, and at that first ceremony, there was no prize called Best Picture. The prize won that night by William Wellman's silent war film Wings was called Best Production, while F.W. Murnau's silent Sunrise took home the Best Unique and Artistic Picture trophy, an award conceived by the Academy's founding body to be just as exalted as Best Production, but to specifically honor creative innovation. That art-over-commerce prize was dropped immediately.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

The 82nd Academy Awards were a referendum on what Oscar voters value, versus what moviegoers are willing to pay for.

Director Kathryn Bigelow accepts her Oscar for The Hurt Locker
  • Director Kathryn Bigelow accepts her Oscar for The Hurt Locker
The headline will be Kathryn Bigelow's stunning, groundbreaking achievement as the first woman to win Best Picture. But considering the Academy's concerted effort to expand the audience for this year's awards by opening up the Best Picture category to 10 nominees, maybe this broken record is more significant: The Hurt Locker is the lowest grossing movie in decades (possibly ever, if adjusted for inflation) to win Best Picture.

The Hurt Locker
  • The Hurt Locker
Two nights before the Oscars, I attended the Independent Spirit Awards, a less formal ceremony designed to honor lesser-known films, thereby bolstering the independent film community in the face of the Academy's total indifference to non-studio film. As the old joke goes, those who win at the Spirits are doomed to lose the same weekend at the Oscars. This year, it didn't quite go that way: winners at both events included Jeff Bridges, Mo'Nique and, maybe most surprisingly, Precious screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher.

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