Tonight we will be liveblogging the 86th Academy Awards ceremony. Please join us for all the highlights winners and blunders as they happen.
The Academy Awards on February 26, 1942 were a different affair. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour the previous December, the Academy wanted to show support for the war effort. The guests at the Biltmore Hotel that evening all paid to attend and proceeds went to the Red Cross.
Guests were also asked not to wear formal dress and the statuette that year (and all following until the end of the war) was made of plaster as the government needed all the metal for the war effort. The 14th Academy Award winner for Best picture that year was John Fords How Green Was My Valley, and the first award for a documentary was given to Churchill’s Island.
In March 1926 Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden was shown to British Press. At the time, Alfred Hitchcock was a promising art director and writer. Critics were shocked by the film; journalist Cedric Belfrage who wrote for Picturegoer wrote that “Hitchcock has such a complete grasp of all the different branches of film technique that the is able to take far more control of his production than the average director of four times his experience”.
During shooting of The Pleasure Garden, cinematographer Gaetano di Ventimi hid the camera underneath Hitchcock’s bunk as they wanted to avoid Italian duties. When it was found the unexposed film was confiscated and the crew had to buy new film to shoot on location, increasing the films budget. The confiscated film was returned later. Hitchcock became engaged to Alma Reville while filming.
Arguably, the most recognised award in the world, the Oscar statuette has stood on the mantels of the greatest filmmakers since 1929.
Official Name – Academy Award® of Merit
Height – 13½ inches
Weight – 8½ pounds
Number Presented – 2,809
Designer – Cedric Gibbons, Chief Art Director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Manufacturing Time – 3-4 Weeks for 50 Statuettes
- Once presented with an Oscar, the recipient is encumbered by the requirement that they themselves or their heirs cannot sell the statue without first offering the Academy the option to buy it for US$1. If the recipient refuses this, the Academy keeps the statue.
So don’t expect to see Jennifer Lawrence’s statuette on ebay anytime soon.
- Director, screenwriter and actor, Emilio Fernandez posed nude to inspire the Oscar design.
- The Academy theorises that the Oscar nickname derived from academy librarian, Margaret Herrick, who in the 1930s said that award looked like her uncle named Oscar.
- Depending on the number of nominees and the maximum amount of Oscars that could be won, there are up to 50 statuettes created for each awards ceremony. Those that are left over at the end of the night are stored away in the Academy vault until next year’s ceremony,
- The Oscar statuette stands on a film reel with five spokes, representing the original branches of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences; Actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.
I would most definitely describe myself as a fan of the works of Tolkien. There isn’t a published novel, poem or essay of his that I haven’t read, and I am a true believer of the opinion of the Sunday Times, in that “ the English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and those who are going to read them”.
Back in 1997, Peter Jackson began work on The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of three attempts to convert the epic high fantasy novel of J. R. R. Tolkien into film. I loved these films, but I wish that there had been more. Three films (and yes, I have seen the extended versions) simply wasn’t enough. So much potential was missed out on. The entire chapter In the House of Tom Bombadil was missed, The Council of Elrond made too simple. So when it was announced that The Hobbit was to be given the “Jackson” treatment, I was over the moon. But did he go too far?
The Hobbit has always been intended as a children’s book. A little hard to read for today’s youngest readers perhaps, but nonetheless written for them. At just shy of 300 pages long, it is the perfect length to tell the tale of one Hobbit and his journey. Let’s not forget the true tale of the hobbit – don’t worry yourself with details of Elf/Dwarf love triangles – is Bilbo’s adventure to reclaim The Lonely Mountain, during which he discovers his inner courage. So when I learned that it was to become three films, a nine hour epic, I had one question. Why?
Now we have something entirely different. We have the original idea of Tolkien, which was to write a book called The Hobbit and have it entirely about said Hobbit. But Peter Jackson wanted more. He wanted a prequel to his Lord of the Rings, which is never a good idea in writing movies (ahem, Star Wars episodes 1-3).
Because of this, we now have multiple plot lines that feel splintered from the main effort – Gandalf’s fight against the Necromancer being a particularly unforgivable example. Here we have a fight that isn’t really built up to that doesn’t make sense if you haven’t seen The Lord of the Rings. This entire scene relies on cheap-feeling film clichés – Gandalf is awesome and Sauron is super evil, let’s make them fight in the ultimate showdown of light vs. dark. How unsubtle. Here’s a fantastic representation of the troll scene. Here’s Radagast playing with a hedgehog.
There were some additions that worked though. In the scene where Bilbo attacks the baby spider, then realises he did it because of the Ring, he is mortified. It is a perfectly-wordless moment where it shows more of the character. The interrogation scene between Tranduil and Thorin was another great moment. This was extended from the same scene in the book, however it gives the character of Thranduil more exposure and this sets up a very important character for the next film.
So, Peter. Yes I love The Lord of the Rings. Yes I love both of your Hobbit film, and yes I will love the next. But Tolkien kept the story of Sauron out of The Hobbit because it belongs in a different book. And yes it is a prelude to The Lord of the Rings, but it is very much its own story, its own entity, and it deserves that treatment.
The 16th Annual Costume Designers Guild (CDG) Awards were announced last night and saw films such as Blue Jasmine, 12 Years a Slave and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, walk away with awards.
The Guild which hands out competitive awards in seven categories honoured the five-time Oscar nominee, Amy Adams, with the Lacoste Spotlight Awards.
Suzy Benzinger, costume designer for Blue Jasmine, walked home with the Excellence in Contemporary Film. Relatively new to the business, Suzy has only worked on a few low-budget films.
When she was hired to work on the Woody Allen film, that sees Cate Blanchett grace the screen as the leading actress, Suzy could not believe the budget she had for the film.
She said, “When you do a Woody Allen film you have a very limited budget. How limited? The entire budget for this film was $35,000. Panic set in.”
Suzy explained that once she started name dropping ‘Woody Allen’ and ‘Cate Blanchett’ doors soon began to open.
Often undervalued, the CDG awards are one of the lesser known awards that takes place all over Hollywood in the run up to The Oscars.
Other winners of the night included 12 Years A Slave for Excellence in Period Film and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire for Excellence in Fantasy Film.
Surprisingly, only one of the winners of the night are nominated for an Academy Award on Sunday evening. Patricia Norris for 12 Years a Slave will go up for Best Costume Design against films such as American Hustle, The Great Gatsby and The Invisible Woman.
if you haven’t already, please check out our post-BAFTAs podcast.