Why Social Impact Entertainment Is Ready for the Spotlight in Hollywood (Guest Blog)

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Last month’s Oscars represented a breakthrough — not only for the diversity of winners, but for a larger idea that has been gaining momentum in recent years: that mass entertainment and deeper social messages are not mutually exclusive, but rather an opportunity for Hollywood to do well and do good at the same time.

The extraordinary range of winning films, which addressed themes of racism to social class to sexual identity, put a spotlight on the growing desire of large audiences to grapple with — and in many cases influence — some of the world’s most thorny issues. Winners and nominees like “Green Book,” “Roma,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “The Wife,” “BlackKklansman,” “Vice” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” show us that in a world of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” people are hungering for more reality.

“The State of Social Impact Entertainment” (SIE), released on March 5, is a landmark report that explores this emergent field in depth, examining what actually works to capture and engage audiences in this noisy and mobile age; why social impact entertainment’s financial potential keeps growing; and how creators can learn from the successes and failures of others.

Also Read: Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler Reflect on Being First Black Winners in Their Oscar Categories

SIE comes in many forms. From digital short form to feature films, TV series, plays and virtual reality, the increasing diversity of media gives social conscious creators great flexibility to tell their stories in ways that maximize engagement and impact with target audiences. Of course, good intentions are not enough — a great story is still of paramount importance. And so is building strong and early partnerships with leaders, organizations and communities to enable organic support for a project to grow and flourish. After all, buzz drives distribution, especially in the age of social media.

In the run-up to the Oscars, I was struck by a February 12 essay by Carvell Wallace in The New York Times Magazine, anticipating the opening night of Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” for which Wallace bought eight tickets “as soon as they were available — the first time in my life I’ve done that.” He added, “Beyond the question of what the movie will bring to African-Americans sits what might be a more important question: What will black people bring to ‘Black Panther’? The film arrives as a corporate product, but we are using it for our own purposes….”

Also Read: Why the ‘Green Book’ Oscar Victory Has Divided Hollywood

That’s the promise, potential and power of social impact entertainment — to engage audiences in larger ideas, and empower them to translate emotions into actions in the world around them. As Leonardo DiCaprio — himself a champion of SIE — writes, “you want to make sure that your audience walks away with a clear understanding of the steps they can take in their own lives to be part of the change you are seeking to create.”

Of course, there is no formula for success in SIE. As “The State of SIE” reveals, however, there are approaches that tend to yield greater dividends. Ultimately, this report is intended as a guidebook for current and future industry leaders and storytellers who want to engage others in addressing issues that are too complex for any single person to solve. And for those hoping to make a difference in this world, the spotlight has never been brighter.

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Oscar Party Report: A Wild Cork-Popping Night for Rami Malek, Lady Gaga and More (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The 91st Academy Awards were full of surprises, not the least of which was when Rami Malek fell off the stage after taking home the prize for Best Actor.

He got a bit of medical care, then bounced back to make a run at doing every possible post-show bash.

Rami Malek sprays champagne during the Governors Ball. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Every winner headed straight to the Governors Ball, which is held steps from the Dolby Theatre at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. That’s always the first stop for winners, to get the plaque engraved with that affixes to their golden man.

So as the 1,500 invitees streamed into the “Filmscapes”-themed ball, the star wattage was blinding. Director Alfonso Cuarón led the charge, letting Netflix honcho Ted Sarandos help handle one of his three “Roma” trophies, while Spike Lee and Barbra Streisand giggled over his “BlacKkKlansman” Oscar.

Mahershala Ali, Octavia Spencer and Peter Farrelly marveled about their best picture win for “Green Book,” and Regina King couldn’t stop smiling over her surprisingly heavy prize for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Best Actress winner Olivia Colman still seemed a bit dazed by the whole night’s turn of events.

Also Read: Why the ‘Green Book’ Oscar Victory Has Divided Hollywood

Lady Gaga attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at Hollywood and Highland. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“A Star Is Born” leading actress Lady Gaga went straight to the engraving table, getting her Best Original Song prize plaque set in place for the ages, with co-winner Mark Ronson by her side. Everyone stopped to graze a bit (gotta keep up strength for the long party haul, after all) on Wolfgang Puck’s tidbits, some dusted with caviar and truffles.

“The Wife” star Glenn Close did a quick change, getting out of that heavy golden gown — which didn’t bring her the winning luck she had hoped for — opting for a more practical little black party pantsuit for making the rounds (although it too had a long train). She took off for the Vanity Fair party hosted by editor Radika Jones and found that Olivia Colman, the newly crowned queen of Hollywood, had changed too — into a creamy golden gown that matched her Oscar.

Olivia Colman attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

The Vanity Fair party, held in a huge tent at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, was still a super-hot party despite reports of its demise.

Richard E. Grant threw off his coat and tie and got comfortable, Joni Mitchell held court in one corner and Billy Porter kept his huge hoop skirt on but peeled down on top to a diamond necklace instead of a tux shirt at the glittery party.

Supermodels like Alexandra Ambrosio, Isabell Fontana and Adriana Lima all showed a lot of skin; Kendall Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner did the same. Past winner Lupita Nyong’o was a feathery delight, while Melissa McCarthy sported an Adidas track suit and did a little dancing with husband Ben Falcone on the packed floor.

Newly minted winners roamed the red carpet, including Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson (but sans Bradley Cooper), Spike Lee, Regina King and Alfonso Cuarón; runners-up seemed care-free (it’s an honor to be nominated after all), especially Amy Adams and her husband, Darren Le Gallo, who snuggled like newlyweds despite being married for almost four years.

Darren Le Gallo and Amy Adams get close at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Also Read: Oscars: ‘Green Book’ Win Gives an Old-Fashioned Ending to a Diverse, Forward-Looking Show

Earlier in the afternoon, Elton John and David Furnish (who later turned up at Vanity Fair) hosted their annual Oscar night gala in West Hollywood, which raised over $6.3 million on Sunday for the global effort to end AIDS.

Elton did a duet with Taron Egerton, who plays the piano man in the upcoming biopic “Rocketman,” and both exhorted the crowd to bid on the auction items offered to help the cause, featuring the Yahama piano signed and played by John at the “Lion King” 20th anniversary concert, in studio sessions for the “Devil Wears Prada Musical” in Las Vegas and Toronto, as well as at this year’s Academy Awards Viewing Party.

“Rocketman” director Dexter Fletcher and star Jamie Bell joined Egerton at his table, while around the room we spotted Shohreh Aghdashloo, Mädchen Amick, Patricia Arquette, Alina Baikova, Thora Birch, Chad Buchanan, Candace Bushnell, Charlie Carver, Kristin Chenoweth, Erika Christensen, Chris Colfer, Chace Crawford, Terry Crews, Heidi Klum, Caitlyn Jenner, Lindsey Vonn, Gus Kenworthy and Rumer Willis.

Later in the evening, all were treated to another musical set by The Killers, as people popped in from other viewing parties once the actual Oscar show was over.

Also Read: Watch ‘Rocketman’ Star Taron Egerton Perform ‘Tiny Dancer’ With the Real Elton John (Video)

Jamie Foxx, Anthony Anderson and Kym Whitley attend the Mercedes-Benz USA Awards Viewing Party at Four Seasons Los Angeles. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz USA)

Speaking of viewing parties, over at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, Jamie Foxx started his long Oscar party trek at the Mercedes-Benz USA Oscars Viewing Party, joining Anthony Anderson and Kym Whitley as the Academy Awards began.

With lots of big-screen TVs, comfy seating nooks and plenty of passed sliders and tuna tacos, the noisy crowd that included Jon Hamm, Kelly Rowland, Dan Stevens, Tracee Ellis Ross, Estelle, Jessica Szohr and Mykelti Williamson were as much about each other as the broadcast.

That is, until Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper started singing, which quieted the place. Bette Midler didn’t get nearly the same attention, but when “Green Book” took home the top prize, a stunned silence led quickly to a universal gasp of surprise that rippled across the ballroom.

John Legend and Bryon Allen (Photo by Dylan King/Entertainment Studios)

Foxx wasn’t there to hear all the shocked chatter, for he had slid down the street to the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where he was actually slated to be the host of Byron Allen and Entertainment Studio’s third annual Oscar Gala.

Foxx missed most of the dinner served during the show, but was there to take the mic and get the post-show dance party going. He also introduced John Legend, who played an hour-long set, just after his wife Chrissy Teigen auctioned off a cooking lesson in their home for eight people. That was part of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles charity element to the evening.

Guests who enjoyed the performance by one of the few people in the world who has scored an EGOT (winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) included Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Kathy Griffin, Jon Lovitz, David Alan Grier, Billy Gardell, Omarosa and Anthony Anderson, who had also slipped over from the Mercedes-Benz bash to hear Legend tinkle the ivories.

Also Read: Oscar Eve Party Report: Rami Malek, Spike Lee, Melissa McCarthy and Glenn Close With Her 4-Legged Date (Photos)

It was a Queen reunion with Brian May, Rami Malek and Roger Taylor. (Photo courtesy Fox Studios)

Across town in Hollywood, Fox and Fox Searchlight took over the Hollywood Athletic Club for their after party, but despite the massive size of that venue, they still got shut down by the fire marshal as the night progressed.

Fortunately, those two studio’s big winners got in the door, as “Bohemian Rhapsody” star Rami Malek whirled through, with Lucy Boynton, his co-star (and girlfriend, as he announced in his acceptance speech).

Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor celebrated there too, along with other actors from the biopic — Mike Myers and Allen Leech — and the film’s sound editing Oscar-winning duo of Jon Warhurst and Nina Hartstone. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Fox’s other Oscar winners for their “Free Solo” documentary, happily made the cut, too.

Once people began moving on — Malek was in and out quickly — the doors opened up again.

Lucy Boynton and Brian May at the Fox party (Photo courtesy Fox Studios)

Also Read: Oscars 2019: 11 Best and Worst Moments, From Lady Gaga-Bradley Cooper Duet to ‘Wayne’s World’ Reunion (Photos)

But only a few special guests continued on to the two most coveted invites on this 2019 Oscar night:  Madonna’s late-night after-party at Guy Oseary’s house was only for A-listers like Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Lady Gaga, who apparently ended her longtime feud with the hostess. Gaga and the Material Girl spent the witching hours snuggling up in a threesome — Madonna, Gaga and Oscar.

And Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s The Gold Party (named for the Armand de Brignac Gold Champagne that sponsors and flows at the bash) was once again the tightest ticket in Hollywood, as guards barred the way in.

We hear Rihanna made the cut, decked out in a puffy animal-print mini dress, as did newly engaged couple Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, Leonardo DiCaprio, Drake, Natalie Portman, Usher and other A-plus names, as well as the guy who bounced all over town on Sunday night like a rubber ball: Jamie Foxx.

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Why the ‘Green Book’ Oscar Victory Has Divided Hollywood

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Inside the Governors Ball on Sunday, where the Oscar-shaped smoked salmon canapes were passed in abundance, it didn’t take long for Spike Lee’s tantrum over “Green Book” winning Best Picture to make the rounds.

Oscar-goers and winners were aghast that Spike turned his back in the theater when “Green Book” was announced for the final award, and then made his displeasure even more clear in the press room when he said, “The ref made a bad call.”

But more than gossip about Spike’s bad manners, the question was why did “Green Book” seem to rub some people — including a leading director of color — the wrong way? Especially on a night when an historic number of nonwhite talent won gold statues?

Also Read: Spike Lee Gets ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ Deja Vu From ‘Green Book’ Win: ‘Ref Made a Bad Call’

“It was great to see Spike Lee hold an Oscar,” actor David Oyelowo said at the Governor’s Ball, echoing the sentiments of many, and emphasizing the positive.

But the backstage drama suggested a clash between Hollywood’s old and new waves, as when Ava DuVernay showed up, queenlike, at the much-dissed Vanity Fair post-Oscar party in support of the new-generation editor Radhika Jones.

En route to that party that some folks wonder might lose its luster! LOL. @VanityFair#OSCARS pic.twitter.com/Zb9c43klf1

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 25, 2019

Also Read: Oscars Make History With Record 7 Black Winners

This year’s Oscars seemed suspended between what the Academy aspires to be — progressive, inclusive and actually diverse — and where it traditionally has been, which is politically progressive as seen through the eyes of privileged white folks, almost exclusively men.

“Green Book” fell squarely in the latter category, the latest iteration of well-intentioned storytelling about American race relations told by white people who continue to hold most of the power. Spike Lee, ever the barn-burner, seemed to rebel against that convention even when the Academy chose to honor him with his first-ever competitive Oscar for his own dark comedy about…. that’s right, race.

Understandably, the makers of “Green Book” found no comfort in the backlash. Producer Jim Burke seemed wounded when asked at the Governors Ball about Lee’s criticism. “It’s a Spike issue,” he said, adding, “It’s never been made clear” what specific issues the “BlackKklansman” director has with the movie.

Also Read: Oscars: ‘Green Book’ Win Gives an Old-Fashioned Ending to a Diverse, Forward-Looking Show

But truth be told, Spike wasn’t the only one questioning the “Green Book” victory —  he was just the only one invited to the party who threw a stink bomb.

Twitter immediately was afire with critics who found the choice artistically offensive. Many noted that director Peter Farrelly’s acceptance speech omitted mention of Don Shirley, the African American concert pianist who was the subject of the film (played by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali).

Others, like past Oscar nominee James L. Brooks, detected an odd note in Ali’s acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor. “The director earnestly thanked for never coming near the actors, ‘giving us space’ ..letting us work it out on our own,” he tweeted. “Must have been one edgy set.”

Literally still laughing at last night’s thank you speech 4 best supporting actor. The director earnestly thanked for never coming near the actors, “giving us space” ..letting us work it out on our own” and confining himself to an occasional “tweak”..Must have been one edgy set.

— james l. brooks (@canyonjim) February 25, 2019

Also Read: Oscars 2019: ‘Green Book’ Best Picture Speech Omits Don Shirley, But Carrie Fisher Gets a Shoutout

Almost immediately, the “Green Book” win divided people along political and cultural lines.

On the racial politics of telling another story about racism in the 1960s South through the point of view of a white man, Burke tried to explain: “It’s about the black-and-white experience. It’s about differences in race and class, but we are all, every one of us, very proud of this film. If you have a problem with that — it’s confusing.”

I asked whether he thought some of the criticism came from the fact that the film had a white director, white writers and five white male producers (although, to be fair, Octavia Spencer also co-produced).

“I can’t change the fact that I’m white. If the question is: Can white people have or not have a point of view on racial inequality?…” He trailed off, without an answer and finally just said: “It’s been a rough campaign season.”

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Watch and Read Spike Lee’s Oscar Acceptance Speech That Trump Called ‘Racist’ (Video)

Oscars: ‘Green Book’ Win Gives an Old-Fashioned Ending to a Diverse, Forward-Looking Show

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Top Critics Vent as ‘Green Book’ Tops Oscars; LA Times Critic Calls It Worst Best Picture Winner Since ‘Crash’

Oscar Eve Party Report: Rami Malek, Spike Lee, Melissa McCarthy and Glenn Close With Her 4-Legged Date (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

When planning out the weekend rolling into Oscar Sunday, top talent had to make key choices when it came to which Academy Awards pre-event to go to first, how long to stay, what to wear (naturally), how many to hit in a single night and is the venue dog-friendly?

Here’s a look at some of the most coveted invites from the weekend.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, Glenn Close, Regina King, Rami Malek and George Clooney attend MPTF’s ‘The Night Before’ The Oscars at Fox Studio Lot on Feb. 23. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MPTF)

As every Hollywood player knows, you’re only as good as your last picture in this town; and you never know when your career might take a downturn. That’s why the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund’s annual “Night Before” fundraiser is always the place to be on the Saturday evening before the Oscars, as it reveres and raises cash for the venerable service organization that supports members of the entertainment industry in time of need, be it for social services, retirement care or financial desperation.

It’s a behemoth, the one party that seems to get bigger every year; these days it has outgrown the town’s ballrooms and now happens at Fox Studios, where it raised $5 million for the fund by the end of this year’s 17th annual star-studded party. Look one way, there was MPTF Foundation chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg along with Glenn Close, Regina King, Rami Malek and George Clooney posing for a photo op (above).

Look another and earlier Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio, Viola Davis and Helen Mirren were in the crush, too, along with current nominees like Amy Adams, Spike Lee, Yalitza Aparicio, Adam Driver, Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen.

And they kept on coming, more nominees in the stars-everywhere-you-turned crowd were Sam Elliott, Richard E. Grant and Willem Dafoe and past winners popped up, too, including Allison Janney and Octavia Spencer. Even Taylor Swift turned up: She stars in the Universal’s upcoming film version of “Cats.”

Also Read: Oscar Week Party Report: Glenn Close, Allison Janney, LaKeith Stanfield and More Hit the Scene (Photos)

Glenn Close and Pippi at Sony Pictures Classics annual Oscar Nominees Gala Dinner sponsored by Maestro Dobel at STK LA.
(Photo by Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com)

Saturday began with the Independent Spirit Awards and after party, where smaller indie films are celebrated. Glenn Close was triumphant as best actress for her work in “The Wife,” and that party gal kept right on going after a quick outfit change to the Sony Pictures Classics’ Pre-Oscar dinner at STK Los Angeles to celebrate the win.

She brought her daughter Annie Starke (who co-stars in the movie) and her little dog, too. Sir Pippin of Beanfield had quite the day on the red carpet (above) — and even went on stage during the Spirit Awards, too.

Also chowing down on steak, cod and a celebratory flourless chocolate cake at STK were Sony Pictures Classics’ other Academy Award nominees, best foreign language contenders Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (“Never Look Away”) and Nadine Labaki (“Capernaum”) and best cinematography hopeful Caleb Deschanel (“Never Look Away”), who brought his actress daughter Emily to the party.

Rami Malek and Brian May are seen as Vanity Fair and Genesis celebrate the cast of “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Feb. 22 in L.A. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Dinner at Cecconi’s on Friday night was all about “Bohemian Rhapsody,” as 20th Century Fox joined up with Vanity Fair and Genesis automobiles to toast that Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic with Belvedere Vodka and Hennessy XO (and to nibble those fabulous Cecconi truffle flatbreads, too).

Stars Rami Malek (above, with Queen guitarist Brian May), Lucy Boynton, Mike Myers, Ben Hardy and Allen Leech joined original Queen members May and Roger Taylor, along with singer Adam Lambert, who takes on Freddie’s vocals with the band these days. That power trio will perform at the Oscar show on Sunday.

Also Read: Oscar Parties 2019: All the A-List Events Happening in Hollywood

Friday night was awash with talent agency bashes, too, as CAA, UTA and WME all honored their nominees and clients. Naturally, the stars made sure to at least stop in for a photo op with their reps.

At the CAA Pre-Oscar Party sponsored by Heineken, best actress nominee Melissa McCarthy brought hubby Ben Falcone (above; both are in that agency’s stable) to check out the new San Vicente Bungalows in WeHo. Also along for the dance-filled bash were some of CAA’s biggest wattage stars, including more 2019 nominees (Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga), as well as Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler and Mick Jagger.

Over at the Sunset Tower, UTA pulled in their team of nominees, too — everyone from animation geniuses Brad Bird (“Incredibles 2”) and Phil Lord with Christopher Miller (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”) to “Roma” breakout star Marina de Tavira. Ethan and Joel Cohn made the scene, too, along with Joel’s wife Frances McDormand, who took home last year’s best actress trophy. Kate Beckinsale, Tracee Ellis Ross, Elizabeth Banks and Nicholas Hoult stopped into this one as well, which went off to the dancing tunes spun by DJ Spider.

Meanwhile, WME’s Friday night celebration was at a private home, where client and best actor nominee Rami Malek was the center of attention. Other WME loyalists who stepped out to that party were Liam Hemsworth, Gal Gadot, Serena Williams, Rebel Wilson and Ginnifer Goodwin.

Christoph Waltz greets Olivia Colman at the ICM Partners 2019 Oscar Party held at a private residence in Beverly Hills, CA on Thursday, February 21, 2019 (photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

A bit ahead of the weekend’s packed party schedule, ICM held its bash on Thursday at partner Hildy Gottlieb’s Beverly Hills home. Her hubby, director Walter Hill, co-hosted the event for the seriously talented crowd, including 2019 client nominees Olivia Colman (above, with past winner Christoph Waltz), Regina King, Spike Lee, Sandy Powell, Fiona Crombie and Guy Nativ.

Spike Lee and Cedric The Entertainer attend the ICM Partners 2019 Oscar Party held at a private residence in Beverly Hills, CA on Thursday, February 21, 2019 (photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

They enjoyed cocktails and canapés with former Oscar winners like Waltz and Kathy Bates. Former Academy Award nominees on the talent-filled scene were Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Jacki Weaver and Jeff Goldblum. Spike Lee and Cedric the Entertainer shared a moment (above); we’re guessing Cedric still wants to know why he didn’t get a role in “BlacKkKlansman”!

Also Read: The Scene at TheWrap’s Oscar Party Honoring Women and Inclusion (Photos)

Richard E. Grant and Michael Howells, British Consul General, attend a reception for U.K. Oscar nominees at British Consul General’s Residence on Feb. 22. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Friday night was also a night for Hollywood’s ex-pats to make merry, at least those from Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, that is. Those proud countries hosted special pre-Oscar revelries to single out their citizens, beginning with the U.K. Film afternoon bash at the British Consul’s residence in Hancock Park.

There, with tea and scones (and some gin thrown in for good measure), best supporting actor nominee Richard E. Grant joined Michael Howells, the British Consul General in Los Angeles (in the photo below), for a champagne toast to all the nominees from across the pond.

Shamier Anderson, Canadian Consul General Zaib Shaikh and Stephan James at a pre-Oscar celebration for Canadian Oscar nominees. (Photo: George Pimentel)

A few blocks away, at the residence of the Consul General of Canada, a big crowd celebrated everything short, since the Canadians own “five of the 10 short film nominations this year,” as Consul General Zaib Shaikh told the cheering Canucks gathered in his back yard.

He also shouted out to TeleFilm Canada and the National Film Board of Canada for their ongoing financial and creative support of Canadian filmmakers. Nominees on hand included Alison Snowden, David Fine, Domee Shi, Jeremy Comte, Marianne Farley, Marie-Helene Panisset and Trevor Jimenz. Some of Canada’s favorite Hollywood actors — Nia Vardalos, Maxim Roy and brothers Shamier Anderson and Stephan James (the star of the 2019 best picture nominee “If Beale Street Could Talk”) — joined in the late afternoon fete. Anderson and James flank Shaikh in the photo below.

Oliver Masucci, Tom Schilling, Saskia Rosendahl and Sebastian Koch attend the German Oscar reception at The Villa Aurora on Feb. 23 (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)

Over at The Villa Aurora in the Pacific Palisades, Germany also had their own Friday afternoon “die Feier” (celebration) to honor that country’s nominees, with accolades for Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director of the best foreign film “Never Look Away,” and his stars Oliver Masucci, Tom Schilling, Saskia Rosendahl and Sebastian Koch (pictured above).

Also Read: Oscar Nominees Celebrate Most Inclusive Year Yet at TheWrap-WanderLuxxe Party

Glenn Close and Yalitza Aparicio attend the Women in Film Oscar Nominees Party at Spring Place on February 22, 2019. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for Women In Film)

Taking over the newest party space in Beverly Hills, Women in Film made Friday night their own. At Spring Place (on Wilshire and Spaulding), traffic backed up and females poured out of chauffeur-driven rides to make their way up to the 12th annual WIF Oscar Nominees Party.

Everyone came to support the idea of empowering women in every aspect of film, from current nominees including Regina King, Sandy Powell and Marina de Tavira to Glenn Close and Yalitza Aparicio (below), who both dressed in suffragette white.

Kate Bosworth at the Women In Film Oscar Nominees Party at Spring Place on Feb. 22 (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Chloe Wine Collection)

Actress and producer Kate Bosworth led the rest of the talented crowd — Angela Bassett, KiKi Layne, Connie Britton, Lake Bell, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and WIF head Cathy Schulman among lots of others — in launching a new initiative aimed at female directors. Chloe Wine Collection launched the “She Directed” contest in conjunction with WIF and Bosworth, with plans to provide four women both mentorship from established Hollywood veterans as well as funding for a future project.

“It’s a very important initiative,” Bosworth (above) told The Wrap amid the din of the party. “It’s important to continually strive to put women at the center of the story. It’s frustrating that women still have to fight so hard to direct in this industry. It’s frustrating. It really is beyond frustrating. Women in general are some of the most ferocious energies on this planet and I think it’s about harnessing that ferocity. I get frustrated, I sometimes just want to upturn the entire table. But it’s about making enough noise that you get a seat at that table.”

Nominees toast onstage during the 12th annual Women in Film Oscar Nominees Party Presented by Max Mara with additional support from Chloe Wine Collection, Stella Artois and Cadillac at Spring Place on Feb. 22. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Chloe Wine Collection)

Women garnered 61 Oscar nominations this year, a record number, as Cathy Shulman told the appreciative crowd. “We are at the height of gender parity in Hollywood right now, since we started Women in Film 12 years ago. But gender parity is still the issue. Only 25 percent of this year’s Oscar nominees are women. We still need to keep fighting!”

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What Really Happened to That Oscar Statue That Marlon Brando Refused?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

This story on Marlon Brando first appeared in the December 9, 2016 issue of of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

It isn’t surprising that the Academy’s early history has become pocked with colorful but entirely fictional lore–stories of landslide vote totals that never actually slid, of a mysterious figure who skulked to the dais and made off with the real winner’s prize, or of various gentlemen who served as the model for the Academy’s statuette.

But myths about the Oscars don’t all date from the early days of the organization. For instance, there’s the question of the current whereabouts of what has often been called the “Brando Oscar.” The phrase refers not to the 1954 award that Marlon Brando received for “On the Waterfront,” but to his second Best Actor statuette for 1972’s “The Godfather.”

A recent trade article suggested that the woman who had come to the stage in his place, and who gave her name as Sacheen Littlefeather, had “accepted” the Oscar in Brando’s stead; the writer also turned up a longtime assistant to Mr. Brando who claimed to have had it in the bottom drawer of her desk for a long period.

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Somehow lost was the fact that, as more than 50 million viewers could once have attested, the whole point of Ms. Littlefeather’s standing in for Brando, and of the speech she made on his behalf, was to reject the honor that the Academy had voted him. She had never touched the statuette she was offered, and it had never found its way to anyone’s desk drawer.

Still, the “Brando Oscar” resurfaced in an odd episode in 1995. The actor-turned-talent agent Marty Ingels announced at a press conference that a client of his had the statuette and was prepared to auction it to benefit a charity. (Or at least partly to benefit a charity, though the split wasn’t specified.)

Reporters who called the Academy about the story were reminded that there was no such thing as a Brando Godfather Oscar; the rejected statuette would simply have been returned to the evening’s backstage supply to be given to another winner later in the ceremonies.

That should have been true, but it wasn’t.

The story became more tangled when Ingels revealed the statuette’s serial number, 1601, which according to AMPAS records was an unpresented “display” statuette, then on loan to an exhibition in New York. A phone call confirmed that it was safely on display.

Confident that a scam had been exposed, the Academy asserted that Ingels couldn’t possibly have 1601. He shot back a photo: “1601.”

It didn’t seem possible. The whole point of incising serial numbers on every Academy Award since 1950 had been to render each statuette unique. The Academy had never seen a number duplicated.

I knew that the statuette Mr. Ingels had been waving around had nothing to do with the nonexistent Marlon Brando award, but I didn’t know what he did have, or how it had been assigned the same number as another Oscar. The mystery had the Academy stumped. It was clearly a real — not a counterfeit — award, and the serial number not only looked genuine, it was also within the run of statuettes that were distributed at the March 27, 1973 ceremonies.

Where the hell had it come from?

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A partial answer emerged when we looked back past the Academy’s computer records of who had received which statuette, into an older loose-leaf binder in which that information had formerly been kept, sometimes with handwritten notes interposed. The entry for 1601 indicated its long-term loan to the exhibition.

But just above it was another entry that had been whited out. Holding the page up to a strong light exposed the original text: “1601 — disappeared during the 45th Awards Ceremonies.”

We concluded that someone, most likely the Dodge Trophy official who had functioned backstage as the statuette quartermaster, had been embarrassed enough by the loss of one of his charges that he later had a new 1601 made and returned to the Academy. With the “lost” notation whited out, the original 1601, someone hoped, had been erased from the Academy’s history.

Also Read: No, ‘Last Tango in Paris’ Director Did Not Say Marlon Brando Committed Rape

A telephone call from left field provided the next clue. A few days after the ersatz Brando award had come to light, Academy staff member Patrick Stockstill fielded an odd inquiry. The caller, who gave his name as Ron Forrester, asked the switchboard to connect him to the head of the documentary department.

Stockstill administered the two doc awards, and unfortunately for Mr. Forrester, he was also the Academy’s staff historian and very much involved in the attempt to solve the 1601 riddle. Even more unfortunate for Forrester, Stockstill was old enough to remember the sitcom “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster,” which had starred Marty Ingels.

Ingels’ voice was beyond distinctive, and he made no attempt to disguise it as he asked his question: “Say something happened during an Oscar show and one of the documentary awards didn’t get picked up. What would happen to it?”

We were fast-forwarding through a tape of the 45th awards within minutes. The newly remarried Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner had presented the documentary awards that year. Two awards were sent to the podium for the co-directors of the feature doc winner “Marjoe,” but only one of them was handed out; a shot from the wings shows the winners leaving the stage with only Sara Kernochan cradling an Oscar. (An Oscar, it turned out, engraved with No. 1602.)

Behind the filmmakers, as the lights dimmed for a commercial break, the unclaimed Oscar stood forlornly on the podium. And while the stage was dark, for the only time in the Academy’s history, someone stole an Academy Award off the stage.

So the Academy knew that the statuette that was being passed off as the Brando Oscar had no connection whatever to Marlon Brando. Whether Marty Ingels’ “client” who was hoping to sell it was the person who had stolen it off the Chandler stage, or just a receiver (unknowing or culpable) of stolen goods, remained to be seen.

In the meantime, the Academy’s original assumption, which was that the Oscar rejected by Ms. Littlefeather had simply been returned to the supply of awards available for later distribution that evening, turned out to be widely off the mark. The thwarted presenter (with Liv Ullman) of the Best Actor award, Roger Moore, when asked if he could recall returning it to the backstage pool, told a somewhat more interesting story.

He had watched Sacheen Littlefeather’s performance with interest. Though self-described as an actress, she was not a great actress — the upraised palm with which she turned down the statuette was a gesture from the early silent period, and the sorrowful frown she locked her features into was also a little broad — but under the circumstances she had done very well.

She worked without notes, betrayed no nervousness about the massive TV audience or the even more daunting first two rows of movie stars, and she conveyed Brando’s rationale for the rejection at least as coherently as he had.

When she left the stage, Moore followed her, still holding the Oscar. He looked around, concluded that the Academy hadn’t designated anyone to gather up rebuffed statuettes, and carried the award back to his seat.

That Oscar evidently had every bit as enjoyable an evening as those that had been received more warmly. It went to several parties, stood at the center of many lavishly spread tables and received almost James Bondian attention from any number of beautiful women. And then Roger Moore took it home.


We need to take a sidewise step at this point to pick up a thread that might seem completely unrelated to Marlon Brando. It has to do with the 1972 award received by Charlie Chaplin. This was not the triumphal return of Chaplin to Hollywood to receive an Honorary Oscar; that had happened the year before.

His 1972 award was arguably the most unusual one the Academy had ever presented, in that it was a competitive Oscar given for an achievement in a picture made 20 years earlier.

The film was “Limelight,” and the award was for its score. “Limelight” had had its original U. S. release torpedoed by McCarthy-era disapproval of Chaplin, and it had never been released in Los Angeles. Its 1972 run therefore made it — the Academy decided after a quick check of its rules — eligible to compete for that year’s awards. (The loophole was sealed the following year.)

Also Read: Brits Spied on Charlie Chaplin for the FBI

There is a sturdy monograph yet to be written about this third Chaplin Oscar. A case can be made that, even with the Academy’s willingness to overlook the copyright date on the film, “Limelight’s” score should have run afoul of the rule that made Nino Rota’s “Godfather” score ineligible that same year, since a prominent component of it had been used in an earlier film.

But the Academy had enjoyed giving Chaplin a 1971 Oscar, and it seemed determined to present him with another one, as a co-recipient with two by-then-deceased composers, one of whom had nothing whatsoever to do with the Limelight score.

Chaplin had not made a second trip to L.A., so the award was packed and sent to him in Europe. It was damaged in shipping.

His family returned it with a letter expressing the hope that it could be replaced. It could, of course, and as it happened, quite easily.

Roger Moore had arranged just the day before for his publicist to return his houseguest of recent weeks to the Academy — and when the banged-up Chaplin award arrived, Moore’s returned Oscar, the same one turned down by Brando, was sitting right there on an executive’s desk.

So, in one sense, the answer to the question of whatever happened to the (second) Brando Oscar is that Charlie Chaplin got it.

The false Brando Oscar, which the Academy now thinks of as statuette 1601(A), crept back into hiding and has not been heard from since.

When he retired in 2011 after more than 20 years as the executive director of the Academy, Bruce Davis began researching a book on the history of the organization. In TheWrap’s Oscar magazines this year, Davis will tell some of the stories he’s uncovered.

Click here to read more of TheWrap Magazine’s Oscars Issue.

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A look back at Oscar highlights, from Marlon Brando refusing his award to John Travolta botching Idina Menzel’s name.

Jerry Lewis Improvises Oscars Finale for 20 Minutes (1959)
Lewis hosted the show in 1959, but for some reason, the show ended 20 minutes early, so he improvised a monologue for the rest of the show, which was joked about for many years after that.

At the 2017 Oscars, Warren Beatty declared “La La Land” the winner of Best Picture. When everyone was giving their acceptance speeches, people started to realize there was a mix up — “Moonlight” had actually won. Everyone thought it was a “oh, no, ‘Moonlight’ deserved it” moment, but it wasn’t. It was a straight-up Steve Harvey moment, and it will go down as one of the most outrageous moments in history.

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Marlon Brando Refuses Best Actor Oscar (1973)
When Brando won the award for Best Actor for his role in “The Godfather,” he sent up Sacheen Littlefeather to wave away the statue and say that Brando couldn’t accept the award due to the treatment of Native Americans in the film industry.

Man Streaks on the Oscar Stage (1974)
While David Niven was hosting the Oscars in 1974, he was surprised when Robert Opel decided to streak across stage, flashing a peace sign.

Charlie Chaplin Receives 12-Minute Standing Ovation (1972)
When receiving the Honorary Award in 1972, Charlie Chaplin received a 12-minute standing ovation,  the longest in Oscar history.

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Sally Field‘s “You Really Like Me!” Speech (1985)
When Sally Field won Best Actress for her performance in “Places in the Heart,” she famously said, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me!”

Rob Lowe and Snow White’s Disastrous Musical Opening (1989)
This musical number was torn apart by critics, attracted a lawsuit from Disney, and had Julie Andrews, Paul Newman, Sidney Lumet and Gregory Peck co-signing a letter, calling it an “embarrassment” and “demeaning.”

Jack Palance Does Push-Ups on Stage (1992)
When Palance won the Supporting Actor award for “City Slickers,” he talked about producers taking risks with older actors. To give an example, he popped down onto the floor and did some push ups.

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Tom Hanks Thanks (and Outs?) His High School Teacher (1993)
Tom Hanks delivered one of the most outstanding acceptance speeches when he won the Best Actor award for “Philadelphia.” He also gave a shout-out to his high school drama teacher as one of “the finest gay Americans I have known.” (Hanks had contacted his long-retired teacher beforehand, but the incident inspired the 1997 comedy “In & Out.”)

Roberto Benigni Goes Wild (1999)
When Roberto Benigni won the Oscar for Foreign Language Film in 1999, (“Life Is Beautiful”),  he went wild and climbed on chairs, jumped around and hopped onto the stage.

Halle Berry’s Oscar Speech (2002)
Berry was the first African-American woman to win a Best Actress Oscar, and in her speech, called her award a door-opening moment for “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance.”

Melissa Leo Swears on Stage (2011)
When Leo accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “The Fighter,” she was so nervous that she kept cussing throughout the entire speech.

Ellen’s Superstar Selfie (2014)
Ellen DeGeneres hosted the 2014 Oscars and wanted to break the record for the most retweeted photo of all time, so she snapped a star-studded picture with Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper and Meryl Streep.

Sean Penn‘s Fail of a Joke About Alejandro Inarritu (2015)
Sean Penn introduced the winner of Best Picture, “Birdman,” by saying, “who gave this son of a bitch his green card?” before announcing Alejandro Inarritu’s name. However, the joke was completely lost on audiences and many criticized Penn for being racist.

Oscar Best Picture Race Dominated by Box Office Winners

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Is ‘Black Panther’ About Survivor’s Remorse? (Podcast)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

What if Eric Killmonger isn’t only a supervillain, but also a victim of undiagnosed trauma, abandoned by the rest of his family? That take on “Black Panther” is at the heart of our latest “Low Key” podcast, which you can listen to on Apple or right here:

On each episode of “Low Key,” Keith Dennie, Aaron Lanton and I discuss pop cultural issues we think have been overlooked. This week, Keith and Aaron talk about subtleties of the Best Picture contender that white viewers may have missed — including how Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) represents black men left behind.

We start out the episode wondering whether we should take the Best Picture Oscar nomination for “Black Panther” at face value: Are Oscar voters making up for past snubs of superhero films, like “Dark Knight”? Or making an effort at recognizing more diverse films?

Could it be that Oscar voters simply love “Black Panther” as much as we do?

With nearly a year of hindsight, we also talk the true meaning of “Black Panther.” The key figure may not be Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), but rather his antagonist, Killmonger. Does Killmonger symbolize radical revolutionaries, as it might appear at first glance?

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“He’s more than just a revolutionary. He’s somebody’s that’s suffering from post-traumatic syndrome,” Keith says.

(He may be too good a character to leave behind: an ET segment this week fueled hopes that Killmonger might return for “Black Panther 2.”)

“Black Panther” begins in 1992, when Wakanda’s king, T’Chaka, who fights for Wakanda in the guise of Black Panther, confronts his brother N’Jobu. N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) has stolen from the kingdom, in order to fight for revolution abroad. While T’Chaka (John Kani) attempts to bring his brother home, things go awry, and T’Chaka, to his own horror, kills N’Jobu.

N’Jobu’s death leaves his son, Eric, to grow up abandoned in Oakland, California. He trains to become an accomplished killer. When T’Chaka dies and his son, T’Challa, becomes king of Wakanda, Killmonger strikes, seeking the revenge he has plotted for decades.

Aaron explains on “Low Key” that Eric can be taken to represent other black people who feel abandoned.

“When you’re watching it, and you are a black person in the middle class, I can’t even explain to you the kind of survivor’s guilt you’re feeling,” Aaron says. “You feel like you’re Wakanda. … If you are of the second-generation of people who started going to college — for a lot of us you’re the first generation of people going to college — Killmonger, in some ways, represents what you’re afraid could happen to the people who have not had the opportunities you’ve had — who you know.”

It’s a thought-provoking conversation. I learned a lot, and appreciated “Black Panther” more than I did when we started. If you like the episode, please tell someone, give us five stars on Apple, or do whatever you can do.

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Jon M. Chu on ‘Crazy Rich Asians’: ‘We Had a Sense of Purpose’

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Regina Hall Explains Why ‘Support the Girls’ Isn’t Your Typical #MeToo Movie

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

This article about Regina Hall first appeared in the TheWrap magazine’s Oscar Nominations Preview issue.

Regina Hall’s mother always told her, “Nothing beats a failure but a try.” Although Hall didn’t know what that meant as a kid, her character in Andrew Bujalski’s Support the Girls helped her to understand.

Hall plays Lisa, the manager of a Hooters-style family restaurant called Double Whammies. Her character cares so deeply for her employees, all twentysomething girls with bare midriffs, push-up bras and cutoff Daisy Dukes, that they’re willing to put in the effort at this otherwise crummy job.

“I can take f—ing up all day, but I can’t take not trying,” Hall’s Lisa says in the film. It’s a line that resonated deeply with Hall when she read Bujalski’s script.

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“She’s stuck a little bit,” Hall said. “Life can be tough. You make the most of it, and there’s so many people in the world who do that.”

At first glance, Lisa is far different from Ryan Pierce, the highly successful branding expert Hall portrayed in the massive, raunchy studio comedy “Girls Trip.” But in each film, Hall plays a leader among a group of working women, feeding off their energy to fuel her performance and vice versa. And though her characters are drowning under the weight of so many responsibilities, they always put a good face and positive spin on every situation.

“Life is different for them,” Hall says of the working class women in “Support the Girls.” “Trajectories are different. Imagination is different. And yet the heart isn’t. Big hearts. Big zest for life. A joy, because when they’re running that restaurant, they’re joyful.”

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Hall, too, worked bad waitress jobs early in her career. It allowed her to give a delicate, multidimensional performance that has already won her the best-actress prize from the Gotham Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle, along with a Spirit Awards nomination.

But overcoming built-in prejudices about the film hasn’t always been easy — including the prejudices Hall herself brought to the script, which she expected to go in a more typical and less interesting comedic direction.

“I kept waiting for this studio-engine plot to reveal, and it didn’t,” she said. “And I just was like, ‘Wow, in life we make so many moves that are lateral.’ It felt like people doing the best they can in life. And I thought it was interesting that [Bujalski] had this world of sisterhood juxtaposed with a restaurant, that he showed that kind of solidarity and empowerment.”

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Hall said that “Support the Girls was turned down by the Sundance Film Festival — because, she suggested, a comedy directed and written by a man about women at a place called Double Whammies sounded inappropriate in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

But nine months after its premiere at South by Southwest, audiences are continuing to discover “Support the Girls and respond to its themes.

“Life is difficult. Things are expensive. The economy is uncertain, and [we] have a story with working-class people that’s about discovering that,” Hall said. “There is something about the people you work with when you love them that does make any environment kind of amazing.”

To read more of the Oscars Nomination Preview issue, click here.

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10 Essential Sidney Poitier Movies, From ‘Blackboard Jungle’ to ‘To Sir, With Love’ (Photos)

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“No Way Out” (1950)
In his big-screen debut, Sidney Poitier makes a memorable impression as a pioneering African American physician who runs afoul of a racist thug (Richard Widmark) whose brother died in his care.
“Blackboard Jungle&#…

‘Black Panther,’ ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Make Best Makeup Oscar Shortlist

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

As part of a series of shortlist reveals for the 2019 Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the finalists for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category, which includes the Josie Rourke period piece, “Mary Queen of Scots,” as well as the Marvel Studios blockbuster “Black Panther.”

Other finalists include the horror film “Suspiria,” the biopics “Vice,” “Stan & Ollie” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and the Swedish fantasy film “Border.”

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Academy members in the Academy’s Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch will be able to view 10-minute clips of the nominated films on Jan. 5 and will select three films to receive official nominations.

The final list of Oscar nominees in all categories will be revealed January 22. Read the Best Makeup finalists below.

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Mary Queen of Scots”
“Stan & Ollie”

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2019 Oscar Contenders, From Rami Malek to Spike Lee (Exclusive Photos)

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Rami Malek, Spike Lee Willem Dafoe, Annie Lennox, Maggie Gyllenhaal and more are vying for Academy recognition this season. They stopped by StudioWrap for an interview and photo session.
Actor Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Actress Kathryn…

‘A Star Is Born’ Is a Legit Oscar Contender – And Here’s What Else Is

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Yes, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will be in the thick of the Oscar race with “A Star Is Born,” the kind of crowd-pleasing film that should also figure prominently in awards talk for the next five months.

But “A Star Is Born” is hardly the only film with a clear path to the Dolby Theatre. Most of the season’s top contenders were unveiled during the first batch of major fall film festivals: Venice, Telluride and Toronto, and then New York. So this is a good time to sit back and assess where we are at this point in the season, before a final batch of contenders is unveiled around the AFI Fest in November.

We have a few clear frontrunners, though none without question marks hanging over them. We have some upstarts who have come on strong and could be real players. And we have a couple of films from earlier in the year that just might have staying power.

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For starters, here are 10 films that’ll be in the race:

“A Star Is Born”
WHY Bradley Cooper’s new version of an old story is passionate, moving and has been wowing audiences since it premiered in Venice. Cooper, who makes a more convincing rock star in this version than Kris Kristofferson did in the last one, is a lock for a Best Actor nomination. Lady Gaga is the same for Best Actress — even if it’s amusing that the closer her character gets to becoming a Lady Gaga-type pop star, the more the movie wants us to believe she’s betraying her true self.
BUT There’s a long history of Oscar watchers overestimating the awards potential of big musicals — and this is not just a big musical, it’s the third version of a big musical. (And the fourth version if you count the one that wasn’t a musical, or the fifth if you count “What Price Hollywood?,” the 1932 film that was awfully similar to the first “Star Is Born.”)

Also Read: ‘A Star Is Born’ Film Review: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Reinvigorate a Classic

WHY It won the jury prize in Venice, it finished second in audience voting in Toronto, and it looks and feels like something special: a deeply personal but unexpectedly universal love letter to family and to those who become family. And director Alfonso Cuaron is a known quantity to Oscar voters, winning Best Director in 2013 for “Gravity.”
BUT It’s a black-and-white movie, it’s in Spanish and it will certainly be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Could voters feel that’s enough reward?

“First Man”
WHY Damien Chazelle’s first movie since “La La Land” gets visceral and overpowering when Neil Armstrong climbs into the seat as a test pilot or an astronaut. Telling the story of Armstrong and NASA’s first trip to the moon, the film is a tour de force that makes space travel feel more dangerous than any previous story set above the atmosphere.
BUT Trying to make an emotional movie about an unemotional man can be tough — and while the spectacle of “First Man” is unassailable, the man at its center might be a little too hard to embrace.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Gets Bigger and Bolder in Toronto IMAX Premiere

“Green Book”
WHY It beat “A Star Is Born” in audience-award voting in Toronto. (It beat “Roma” and “First Man,” too.) A light-on-its-feet drama that tells the true story of an Italian-American New York bouncer who was hired to chauffeur a black pianist through the segregated South in the early ’60s, it is an undeniable crowd-pleaser that also happens to touch on serious subjects. It also puts stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in the thick of the awards race.
BUT “Driving Miss Daisy” was a long time ago. Are voters ready to embrace “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary” director Peter Farrelly as an Oscar-contending director?

“If Beale Street Could Talk”
WHY Two years after winning the Oscar with “Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins has returned with a James Baldwin adaptation that won over critics and audiences in Toronto. At its heart a gentle and beautiful love story in which a young couple struggle to survive in a world of racial injustice, its intimacy (and occasional humor) give it a real punch.
BUT “Beale Street” is a delicate mood piece that might be a little too understated for some — except in the character of a racist cop, who is such a leering cartoon villain that he can take you out of the film.

Also Read: ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Review: Barry Jenkins Delivers Stunning Romance With Aftertaste of Injustice

“The Favourite”
WHY A lavish period piece about the palace intrigue in early 18th century England, Yorgos Lanthimos’ film is dark and witty and has a trio of delicious performances from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. With a clear path to acting and below-the-line nominations, Best Picture could be a real possibility as well.
BUT It’s Yorgos Lanthimos, and anything from that Greek provocateur is very weird. (There are still Oscar foreign-language voters who won’t forgive the executive committee for adding “Dogtooth” to the shortlist in 2010.) Lanthimos doesn’t portray human behavior — he takes it to extremes in order to mock it, which means this sumptuous period piece is also pretty vicious and unforgiving.

“Black Panther”
WHY Ryan Coogler’s comic book movie is a huge hit and also a cultural landmark, which gives it an awards currency that no previous comic book film took into the Oscar race.
BUT It may be a cultural landmark, but it’s also a comic book movie. And comic book movies don’t get nominated for Best Picture.

WHY Spike Lee’s blend of comedy, drama and outrage was acclaimed in Cannes and is widely seen as the best film in many years from a director who never quite got his due from the Academy. But AMPAS gave him an Honorary Oscar in 2015, and might be ready to salute a movie that’s set in the ’70s but feels as if it’s about today.
BUT It wowed ‘em at the festivals but didn’t do especially well at the box office. Will Lee’s return to form play as well with the voters as it did with the critics?

Also Read: ‘BlacKkKlansman’: Here’s What Happened to the Real NORAD Klansmen in Charge of Protecting Us From Nukes

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
WHY Melissa McCarthy makes you forget her days as a broad comic actor in her performance as Lee Israel, a real-life celebrity biographer who fell on hard times and turned to forging letters as a way to earn money. And the film itself, aided by a delightful supporting turn from Richard E. Grant, is satisfying enough to make it a contender.
BUT It might be seen as an acting vehicle for McCarthy, making her nomination (or nominations for her and Grant) all voters think the movie needs.

WHY “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen has made a heist movie as his followup to that Oscar-winning drama — but this is Steve McQueen, so the heist is less important than his tough examination of the societal forces that lead a group of women (led by potential nominee Viola Davis) to attempt a robbery that had been planned by their late husbands. Turning the film into a dark drama about race and corruption gives it a heft that you might not expect from the subject matter.
BUT McQueen may have done interesting things with the genre, but it’s still a heist movie, and one that feels less substantial than “12 Years a Slave” (which the Academy loved) or McQueen’s “Shame” and “Hunger” (which they didn’t).

And here are 10 more that deserve to be in the race:

“22 July”
Paul Greengrass’ moving drama about a far-right terrorist’s attack in Norway in 2011 is less about the attack than the aftermath — it couldn’t be timelier in its portrayal of a society trying to determine the value of democracy in the aftermath of tragedy.

Also Read: ’22 July’ Film Review: Paul Greengrass Calms Down but Still Packs a Powerful Punch

“Leave No Trace”
Debra Granik’s last narrative feature, 2010’s “Winter’s Bone,” was a dark-horse Oscar nominee. Eight years later, she’s even more sensitive and restrained in this story of a PTSD-afflicted veteran trying to raise his teenage daughter off the grid; it features terrific performances by Ben Foster and newcomer Thomasin McKenzie.

“First Reformed”
Paul Schrader’s best film in decades is a rigorous and haunting examination of faith and responsibility, starring a restrained and unforgettable Ethan Hawke as a reverend tortured by the death of his son in Iraq.

Paul Dano is a remarkably assured first-time director in this quietly wrenching Richard Ford adaptation, which stars Carey Mulligan as a young mother whose life veers in unexpected directions after her husband leaves to fight a forest fire.

Also Read: ‘Wildlife’ Review: Paul Dano’s Directorial Debut Is an Austere Portrait of a Family in Crisis

“The Front Runner”
Jason Reitman’s drama about the fall of 1988 presidential candidate Gary Hart, who was caught in an extramarital affair, is a throwback to the political movies of Robert Altman — people talk on top of each other, things get chaotic but there’s a real sense of drama and high stakes. Plus the story of a politician brought down by an affair is either a quaint period piece, very timely or both.

“The Other Side of the Wind”
Is the boldest movie of 2018 one that was shot by Orson Welles more than 40 years ago? Yeah, maybe. Partly the portrait of a director in free fall, partly a Michelangelo Antonioni imitation, the film — painstakingly pieced together from Welles’ footage and notes on Netflix’s dime — is weird and audacious and oddly touching.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
Why should documentaries be restricted to the Best Documentary Feature category? You won’t find a more moving and more necessary film in any genre this year.

Also Read: Why Mr. Rogers Is the Perfect Movie Superhero for Our Times (Guest Blog)

“Incredibles 2”
Why should animated films be restricted to the Best Animated Feature category? You won’t have more fun at the theater than with Pixar’s latest gem.

“Cold War”
Why should foreign-language films be restricted to … Well, you know. Pawel Pawlikowski’s luminous tour through post-World War II Europe is a love story infused with regret, and with glorious music.

“Crazy Rich Asians”
It’s as much of a landmark in its own way as “Black Panther” was in its, which means that an Academy increasingly attuned to diversity shouldn’t ignore it.

And finally, several films have yet to be screened but could definitely muscle into the Oscar picture. Adam McKay’s “Vice,” with Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, is perhaps the biggest threat. But the list also includes the Ruth Bader Ginsburg story “On the Basis of Sex,” with Felicity Jones as the justice early in her career; “Mary Queen of Scots,” which stars two of last year’s Best Actress nominees, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie; “Welcome to Marwen,” Robert Zemeckis’ adventurous adaptation of a story first told in the acclaimed documentary “Marwencol”; “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel to the 1964 that received more Oscar nominations than any other Disney film ever; and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with Rami Malek as Queen singer Freddie Mercury.

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Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem Film ‘Everybody Knows’ to Open in Time for Oscars

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Everybody Knows,” the Spanish-language psychological thriller from Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi, will be released in theaters on Feb. 8, 2019, with a brief awards qualifying run beginning Nov. 30, the studio announced on Friday.

Focus Features picked up rights to the film ahead of its premiere opening-night screening at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival back in May.

The film, which stars Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, is director Farhadi’s follow-up to his 2016 Oscar-winning foreign language film “The Salesman.” Farhadi also previously won the best foreign-language film Oscar for “A Separation.”

Also Read: Penelope Cruz on ‘Everybody Knows’ Director: ‘He’s Demanding in a Very Good Way’ (Video)

“Everybody Knows” follows Laura (Cruz) on her travels from Argentina to her small home town in Spain for her sister’s wedding, bringing her two children along for the occasion. Amid the joyful reunion and festivities, the eldest daughter is abducted. In the tense days that follow, various family and community tensions surface and deeply hidden secrets are revealed.

The film was is produced by Alexandre Mallet-Guy of Memento Films and Álvaro Longoria of Morena Films.

Focus acquired the rights to distribute in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, select Asian territories and the Middle East, apart from Iran. The film received rave reviews after its premiere screening.

Also Read: ‘Everybody Knows’ Film Review: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem in Strongest Cannes Opener in Years

Cruz told TheWrap that the film was one of the most painful experiences she’s had as an actress.

“All of my scenes were very intense,” Cruz told TheWrap in a magazine cover story. “In one scene I have a panic attack in the car, and I ended up in an ambulance myself. It was just from hyperventilation and from my blood sugar going very high from the stress of the scene. I remember getting out of the ambulance, and Asghar made sure I was OK.”

She paused. “And then he asked me for one more take.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Focus Features Acquires Penelope Cruz Drama ‘Everybody Knows’ in Cannes

Penélope Cruz Says She Spent Months in ‘Terrifying Pain’ for Cannes Opener ‘Everybody Knows’

Asghar Farhadi Recruits Prominent Iranian Americans to Represent Him at Oscars