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78th Annual Academy Awards


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Documentaries Heat Up Oscar Race

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'Mad Hot Ballroom'

The long march to the Oscars began in earnest this month as feature films with Academy Award aspirations began popping up across the festival circuit from Venice to Telluride to Toronto. But even though the contenders are all jostling for position, there are still plenty of twists and turns in the road ahead. At this point last year, the eventual best picture Oscar winner "Million Dollar Baby" was only a tiny blip on the radar.

By contrast, the race to capture the prize for best documentary feature is already well under way. Documentary filmmakers hoping to compete in the short-subject and feature-length categories were required to submit entry forms, exhibition plans and 20 VHS tapes or DVDs to the Academy by September 1 so that the screening committees could begin their work.

One indication of some of the films that could stake a bid for their spot in the limelight came Wednesday, September 21 when the International Documentary Association (IDA) announced its finalists for its Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards, which will be handed out in Los Angeles on December 9.

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Former Enron CFO Andy Fastow from Magnolia Pictures'

'Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.'

The IDA nominated 13 feature film nominees. Some of the better-known titles in its lineup include: (see full list of nominees below)

  • Michele Ohayon's "Cowboy del Amor"

A documentary about a man who finds Mexican wives for U.S. men.

Alex Gibney's "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"

This movie is about the infamous financial scandal.

Barbara Frank's "The Last Campaign"

A look at Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential bid.

Marilyn Agrelo's "Mad Hot Ballroom"

A ballroom dance competition for New York kids is at the center of this film.

Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's "Murderball"

A touching documentary about rugby-playing quadriplegics.

Eugene Jarecki's "Why We Fight"

A look at American foreign policy.

But the IDA list isn't necessarily an indication of which pics the Academy will choose. Last year, the IDA nominated just one film, Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's "Born Into Brothels," that also made the Academy's list of nominees. ('Brothels' ultimately took home the feature-length documentary Oscar.)

In fact, the IDA list omits two of the year's most-talked-about documentaries, which have both qualified for Academy consideration: Luc Jacquet's "March of the Penguins" and Paul Provenza's "The Aristocrats."

In fact, 'Penguins' is so popular, with ticket sales of $70 million and counting, that it also could figure in such other categories as cinematography and score. And, though a longshot, it could even make a play for best picture consideration.

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'March of the Penguins'

This year, the Academy has relaxed its complicated rules regarding TV airings. Although TV and Internet airings are still prohibited before a film's Oscar-qualifying run, if a film meets certain criteria. A documentary must play a minimum of 25 commercial public exhibitions for at least two consecutive days in at least 15 states.

Only then is a documentary free to air on TV or the Internet. (Otherwise, a film can't appear on TV for six months after the beginning of its qualifying run, which requires a week's engagement in L.A. or New York as well as two-day engagements in at least four other cities.)

Under the complex rules, 'Enron' -- whose release by Magnolia Pictures on April 22 was accompanied by a one-day day-and-date screening on 2929 Prods.' HDNet -- qualifies for consideration this year thanks to qualifying runs that quietly took place in advance of its official opening.

However, "Why We Fight," which Sony Pictures Classics plans to release early next year, has been ruled ineligible because it has had at least three TV airings in Norway, Sweden and Finland. And so the nonfiction battle begins.

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The 21st Annual International Documentary Association

Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards

Competition Nominees

Feature Documentaries

"The Boys of Baraka"

"Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady

"Loki Films, ITVS, PBS

"Cowboy del Amor"

"Mich

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This Just In: Jon Stewart New Host for Oscar

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Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart is ready to get up close and personal with Oscar. "The Daily Show" fake newsman has been tapped to host the 78th Academy Awards on March 5, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed Thursday, January 5.

"As a performer, I'm truly honored to be hosting the show," Stewart said in a statement. "Although, as an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can't help but be a little disappointed with the choice. It appears to be another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal."

It will be Stewart's first encounter with the pomp and circumstance surrounding the venerable Hollywood awards ceremony, though he previously served as host of the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002. Stewart's designation as Oscar host comes after last year's host Chris Rock was not asked back.

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Grammy Host Jon Stewart performs a comedy skit

Eight-time host Billy Crystal pleaded a packed schedule that would not allow him to prepare his usual schtick for this year's Oscar show. Published reports claimed that negotiations were underway with Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg; however, nothing was ever confirmed with the Academy.

Stewart was reportedly approached shortly before Christmas and wrapped up the deal a day or two before the holiday. The award-winning funnyman will reportedly take a week off from his "Daily Show" duties to prepare and will use some of the Comedy Central show's writers to assist in crafting his delivery.

Though Stewart is one of the hottest names in television, his big-screen body of work is limited, making him a somewhat unusual pick for Oscar producer Gil Cates. Cates generally veers towards silver screen vets when it comes to selecting his host, but was swayed by his appreciation for Stewart's work on "The Daily Show."

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Jon Stewart and Adam Sandler in 'Big Daddy'

"My wife and I watch him every night," Cates said in a statement. "Jon is the epitome of a perfect host--smart, engaging, irreverent and funny." Stewart's film experience includes screen gems such as "Death to Smoochy" and "Big Daddy"--projects that never registered on the Academy's radar, in other words.

However, in a year marked by Oscar frontrunners chock full of politically and socially charged themes, including "Good Night, and Good Luck.," "Syriana," "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crash," Stewart's brand of barbed humor will likely be a good fit.

Nominations for the 78th Annual Academy Awards will be announced on January 31 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

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Billy Crystal Passes Oscar Host Torch

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Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal said he passed on the Oscar hosting job that went to Jon Stewart because his one-man stage show is consuming his attention. Academy Awards producer Gil Cates repeatedly asked, "please do the show," calling as late as just before Christmas, Crystal said. But his Tony Award-winning "700 Sundays" was his first priority.

"I'm so tired at the end of '700 Sundays,'" Crystal told the Los Angeles Daily News. "I didn't want to go from that into a meeting where I'm saying, 'Give me "Brokeback Mountain" jokes.' It seemed so not what I wanted to do." "700 Sundays," currently playing in Los Angeles, concludes its limited engagement February 18. It previously played in New York and Chicago.

Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," will be making his first appearance as Oscar host. He has twice hosted the Grammy Awards. Stewart said he is pleased to have the chance to host the Oscar's, but speculated there were alternative motives to his being chosen.

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Jon Stewart

"As a performer, I'm truly honored to be hosting the show. Although, as an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can't help but be a little disappointed with the choice. It appears to be another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal," Stewart said last week.

Crystal has been a reliable performer for the Oscars. The ceremony turned last year to Chris Rock, who drew younger viewers but managed to annoy some academy members with his jokes about stars including Jude Law and Tobey Maguire. Rock is producing and narrating "Everybody Hates Chris," a UPN sitcom based on his life.

When Stewart was announced as host last week, Cates said he doesn't believe that Stewart whose show revels in pointed political humor will have any problems. "Jon knows the difference of being irreverent without being impolite," Cates said. "This is not a political show. I think he understands that."

The 78th annual Academy Awards will air March 5 on ABC from Hollywood.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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78th Annual Academy Awards

78th Annual Academy Awards

78th Annual Academy Awards

(winners will appear highlighted in red)

Best Picture

"Brokeback Mountain"

Producers: Diana Ossana and James Schamus

"Capote"

Producers: Caroline Baron, William Vince and Michael Ohoven

"Crash"

Producers: Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman

"Good Night, and Good Luck."

Producer: Grant Heslov

"Munich"

Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and Barry Mendel

Best Director

Ang Lee

"Brokeback Mountain"

Bennett Miller

"Capote"

Paul Haggis

"Crash"

George Clooney

"Good Night, and Good Luck."

Steven Spielberg

"Munich"

Best Actor

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

"Capote"

Terrence Howard

"Hustle and Flow"

Heath Ledger

"Brokeback Mountain"

Joaquin Phoenix

"Walk the Line"

David Strathairn

"Good Night and Good Luck"

Best Actress

Judi Dench

"Mrs. Henderson Presents"

Felicity Huffman

"Transamerica"

Keira Knightley

"Pride & Prejudice"

Charlize Theron

"North Country"

Reese Witherspoon

"Walk the Line"

Best Supporting Actor

George Clooney

"Syriana"

Matt Dillon

"Crash"

Paul Giamatti

"Cinderella Man"

Jake Gyllenhaal

"Brokeback Mountain"

William Hurt

"A History of Violence"

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams

"Junebug"

Catherine Keener

"Capote"

Frances McDormand

"North Country"

Rachel Weisz

"The Constant Gardener"

Michelle Williams

"Brokeback Mountain"

Best Animated Film

"Howl's Moving Castle"

Hayao Miyazake

"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride"

Tim Burton and Mike Johnson

"Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit"

Nick Park and Steve Box

Best Foreign Language Film

"Don't Tell"

(Italy)

"Joyeux No

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Dan has received a number of recognitions this award season for his amazing treatment of "Capote." Unfortunately, it's been a tough race for him. I'm not sure if he's been able to garner a single award. Oh, well, you know what they say . . . "It's an honor just to be nominated." In the writing categories, truer words were never spoken. I'm sure that ups his studio cred. Congrats!
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  • 1 month later...

Who do you think WILL win tonight? (And, if you want, tell us who you think SHOULD win.)

Here's the list:

ACTOR -- LEADING

Philip Seymour Hoffman - CAPOTE

Terrence Howard - HUSTLE & FLOW

Heath Ledger - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Joaquin Phoenix - WALK THE LINE

David Strathairn - GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK

ACTOR -- SUPPORTING

George Clooney - SYRIANA

Matt Dillon - CRASH

Paul Giamatti - CINDERELLA MAN

Jake Gyllenhaal - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

William Hurt - A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

ACTRESS -- LEADING

Judi Dench -

MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS

Felicity Huffman - TRANSAMERICA

Keira Knightley - PRIDE & PREJUDICE

Charlize Theron - NORTH COUNTRY

Reese Witherspoon - WALK THE LINE

ACTRESS -- SUPPORTING

Amy Adams - JUNEBUG

Catherine Keener - CAPOTE

Frances McDormand - NORTH COUNTRY

Rachel Weisz - THE CONSTANT GARDENER

Michelle Williams - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

ANIMATED FEATURE

HOWL

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Hey all you old Judging Amy fans! Just a note on the JA and the Oscar noms . . . one of the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay is none other than Dan Futterman for "Capote," aka Vincent, Amy's struggling writer brother.

Dan has received a number of recognitions this award season for his amazing treatment of "Capote." Unfortunately, it's been a tough race for him. I'm not sure if he's been able to garner a single award. Oh, well, you know what they say . . . "It's an honor just to be nominated." In the writing categories, truer words were never spoken. I'm sure that ups his studio cred. Congrats!
Hey Rej! Dan won an Independent Spirit award last night! Cross your fingers for tonight's ceremony!
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Here's my picks for who I think WILL win.

ACTOR -- LEADING

Philip Seymour Hoffman - CAPOTE

ACTOR -- SUPPORTING

George Clooney - SYRIANA

ACTRESS -- LEADING

Reese Witherspoon - WALK THE LINE

ACTRESS -- SUPPORTING

Frances McDormand - NORTH COUNTRY

ANIMATED FEATURE

WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

CINEMATOGRAPHY

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

COSTUME DESIGN

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

DIRECTING

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

MARCH OF THE PENGUINS

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

TSOTSI

ORIGINAL SCORE

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

ORIGINAL SONG

"It

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Wow! Ceci . . . you went out on a limb on a few of these! I adore someone who takes a risk! Good luck on your picks! It appears you don't NEED any help in the luck department! So far, you're three for three! You sure can pick 'em! Congrats!!!!!!!!

WOW! Ceci - I count 18 correct guesses for your tally! I sure hope you had some serious money down somewhere! You could have made a pretty penny even with Vegas odds! Congrats!

Neb - Congrats on your 4 out of 5 correct picks. Reminds me a little of that commercial with a certain percentage of dentists selecting a product.

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OMG!!!! How funny was that opening film sequence?!!! We were laughing out loud at how clever that whole production was to include almost every living ex-Oscar host. I also loved Jon Stewart's opening monologue . . . edgy but so far, not over the top.

I wish they'd ask George Clooney to host the event one year. He's very topical and extremely quick on the uptake. He's not too bad to look at either! I was a little surprised at his win for Best Supporting Actor (Ceci - you called that one! Congrats!) but I wasn't at all surprised at his amazing acceptance speech. I knew he would be both funny, clever and poignant!

I love how many big names that Jon Stewart and the producers got to make small film inserts and montages. Ben Stiller's presenting Visual Effects was genius!!! How much did you love Steven Spielberg reaction to Stiller's question? I hope the night keeps going strong. I also love the pomp of the stage design. Can you tell I'm really thrilled with tonight's festivities so far? I knew you could!

Fashions were interesting. I noticed two women with pockets in their evening gown. Sandra Bullock was one of them and I loved it! She was with her date, Keanu Reeves. I was really surprised at how lame the Red Carpet personnel were making such a big deal about their pairing. Big deal! They're friends and about to promote their new movie. Did they honestly think that her husband, Jesse was going to don a monkey suit and walk the Red Carpet? And, Reeves current lady, Diane Keaton, isn't exactly making their relationship a Red Carpet affair.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many Oscar fashions I loved! One in particular was Nicole Kidman. Loved it! Sandra Bullock. Loved it! Jada Pinkett Smith. Loved it! I'm still waiting for the one that makes me cringe. The night is young so there is still time to find the dud Duds. More to come!

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ACTOR -- LEADING

Philip Seymour Hoffman - CAPOTE

ACTOR -- SUPPORTING

George Clooney - SYRIANA

ACTRESS -- LEADING

Reese Witherspoon - WALK THE LINE

ACTRESS -- SUPPORTING

Rachel Wiesz-

Believe it or not I picked clooney and weisz before they won :P

Best Picutre

Brokeback Mountain

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78th Annual Academy Awards

78th Annual Academy Awards

78th Annual Academy Awards

Best Picture

"Crash"

Producers: Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman

Best Director

Ang Lee

"Brokeback Mountain"

Best Actor

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

"Capote"

Best Actress

Reese Witherspoon

"Walk the Line"

Best Supporting Actor

George Clooney

"Syriana"

Best Supporting Actress

Rachel Weisz

"The Constant Gardener"

Best Animated Film

"Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit"

Nick Park and Steve Box

Best Foreign Language Film

"Tsotsi"

(South Africa)

Best Adapted Screenplay

"Brokeback Mountain"

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana

Best Original Screenplay

"Crash"

Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco

Best Art Direction

"Memoirs of a Geisha"

Art Direction: John Myhre

Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau

Best Cinematography

"Memoirs of a Geisha"

Dion Beebe

Best Costume Design

"Memoirs of a Geisha"

Colleen Atwood

Best Documentary Feature

"March of the Penguins"

Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau

Best Documentary Short Subject

"A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin"

Corinne Marrinan and Eric Simonson

Best Film Editing

"Crash"

Hughes Winborne

Best Makeup

"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"

Howard Berger and Tami Lane

Best Original Score

"Brokeback Mountain"

Gustavo Santaolalla

Best Original Song

Song: "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"

Movie: "Hustle & Flow"

Music and Lyrics by: Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard

Best Animated Short Film

"The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation"

John Canemaker and Peggy Stern

Best Live Action Short Film

"Six Shooter"

Martin McDonagh

(Sundance Film Channel)

A Missing in Action Films and Funny Farm Films Production

Achievement in Sound Editing

"King Kong"

Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn

(Universal)

Achievement in Sound Mixing

"King Kong"

Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek

(Universal)

Achievement in Visual Effects

"King Kong"

Joe Letteri, Brian Van

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Thanks h8ts_qt!!! I did do better this year than the last four years or so. Earlier this afternoon I changed my mind about Best Picture and changed it to Crash... so, picked an upset. It was funny the surprise look on all their faces when they won. But, it was a great movie so, I'm glad they got it. Loved Brokeback Mountain as well so, I had a win/win situation going... lol Best part is I had a little Oscar party here tonight with some neighbor's and I charted out all our picks, even added the "expert" pics and yahoo's viewers choice picks to the chart... I BEAT EM' ALLLL... hahaha :P

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