academy awards 2015

  • Independent Spirit Awards Liked ‘Birdman’ Too



    The big story about this year’s Oscars winners may very well be what else they’ve won—namely, the Independent Spirit Awards. The ceremony, as usual, was held the day before the Academy Awards, and rewarded films with smaller budgets and not supported by Hollywood’s largest studios. The show typically has a looser, more fun vibe where its celebrities mingle and goof off, similar to the Golden Globes. This year’s show was hosted by Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell.

    Like the Academy Awards, Birdman walked away with Best Feature. However, in one of the biggest differences from the Oscars, Richard Linklater was awarded Best Director for Boyhood. Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette, and J.K. Simmons all foreshadowed their Oscar wins with acting awards, though Michael Keaton scored the win he couldn’t get Sunday for his starring role in Birdman. Citizenfour presaged its Best Documentary Oscar with a Spirit Award win in the same category. Even the Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards mirrored the Oscars, going to Birdman and Whiplash, respectively. Best Foreign Film winner Ida also got its Spirit Award equivalent for Best International Film.

    With nearly every major winner of the Spirit Awards going on to win their categories at the Academy Awards this weekend, the Oscars overwhelmingly went to films not directly produced or financed by the major studios. Is this a sign of the times, a decentralization of film’s powerhouse auteurs, or just a fluke? Evidence seems to point to the former—after all, five years ago Spirit winner The Hurt Locker beat out Avatar for the Best Picture, but only time will tell. Basically, let’s start the 2016 Oscar predictions!

    Here’s a full list of the winners:


 Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole


    Michael Keaton, Birdman


    Julianne Moore, Still Alice


    Richard Linklater, Boyhood


    Patricia Arquette, Boyhood


    J.K. Simmons, Whiplash


    Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler


 Director/Producer: Laura Poitras

    Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky


    Ida (Poland), Director: Pawel Pawlikowski


 Director: Dan Gilroy; Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak


    Justin Simien, Dear White People


    Tom Cross, Whiplash


    Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman


    Land Ho!

    Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens; Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy

  The Kill Team, Director: Dan Krauss

 Chris Chison

 H., Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia


    February 23, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 5056

  • Birdman Wins Top Cinematography Award


    birdman cinematography

    This weekend, Emmanuel Lubezki picked up the American Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Feature Cinematography for his work on the Alejandro G. Iñárritu film, Birdman. Lubezki also made history, tying the record of most ASC wins with Conrad L. Hall, with an impressive four victories in the category. Lubezki won previously for shooting the Alfonso Cuaron films Gravity and Children of Men as well as the Terence Malick film The Tree of Life.

    Like Gravity, Birdman features long takes that are not just tricky for actors but for cinematographers who must carefully choreograph and execute the shots. Birdman seamlessly edits the long takes to give the impression the film is one extended shot for the entire feature.

    The win gives more momentum to Birdman as it heads into the final stretch of the Oscar season. Many consider Birdman a close second favorite to Boyhood, with the competition hard to predict outright. With the ASC win, Lubezki has a solid chance at scoring the Oscar for Best Cinematography, though he faces tough competition from the other contenders, with Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken and The Grand Budapest Hotel competing in the category.

    Among the other ASC awards given out, Boardwalk Empire’s Jonathan Freeman beat out presumed favorite Game of Thrones for the television prize, and Barbra Streisand accepted the annual Governors Award.

    If you dream of maybe winning the ASC Award one day, check out our cinematography school programs here.


    February 16, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4616

  • New Studies Shine Spotlight on Gender Inequality in Hollywood

    Gine Prince-Bythewood on the set of Beyond the Lights

    Director Gina Prince-Bythewood and actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw on the set of last year’s Beyond the Lights. (Photo: 2013 Blackbird Productions, Suzanne Tenner)

    In the wake of last Thursday’s Oscar nominations—and the public protest they incited over the predominantly white and male nominees—a number of studies were released both right before and after the nominations that offer a significant insight into how the lack of gender and racial diversity is perpetuated both on and behind the screen in Hollywood.

    While the fact that the Academy’s voting members are 93% white and 77% male has been repeated incessantly since the Oscar announcements, a trio of recent studies highlight the fact that an equally pressing issue lies in who is working behind the camera. With this year’s Oscars representing the whitest group of candidates since 1998, little advancement has also been made in the number of minorities and women employed in key behind-the-scenes roles, with women making up 17% of the directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and cinematographers on the top 250 films of 2014. As the Center for the Study in Television and Film at San Diego State University highlights, this is exactly the same percentage as those employed in 1998.

    This goes a ways to explaining why only 37, or 15% of the top-earning films of 2014 featured a lead female protagonist, which is the same percentage as 2013 and a statistic that has remained steady since 2002. And while many of the top-grossing films—including The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part I, Maleficent, and Gone Girl—of 2014 all featured female protagonists in the lead role, showing that there is a significant appetite amongst filmgoers for female-led movies, there exists a clear resistance amongst those making the choices of which films get made and who is working behind the camera.

    The lack of diversity behind the camera also stretches to the small screen, as a five-year study ranging from 2009 to 2014 by the Directors Guild of America found that only 18% of first-time directors of episodic TV shows were women, with minorities only making up %13 of first-time television directors.

    These statistics showcasing the lack of women behind the camera are especially pertinent when considering that research shows that there is a 10.6% increase in female characters on screen when a woman is directing and an 8.7% increase when a woman is the screenwriter. With women making up only 7% of directors—down from 9% in 1998—and 13% of screenwriters on the top 250 films of 2014, it is clear that an increase in the presence of women behind the scenes would likely lead to a growth on screen.

    And while these recent findings paint a bleak picture for women looking to entering the film and television industries, there are many advocates and organizations out there aiming to reverse this trend and provide avenues to help jumpstart careers. One particularly promising addition to the film festival landscape of 2015 is the inauguration of the Bentonville Film Festival, led by actress and renowned gender activist Geena Davis, which not only showcases only female and minority films, but also awards the inners with theatrical, TV digital, and retail home distribution, making it the only film festival to do so.


    January 20, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 5084