oscar nominees

NYFA Looks Forward to the 2017 Oscars

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The Academy Awards has finally unveiled their exciting list of nominees. Much like every year, a mix of expected and surprising nominations have breathed an air of excitement into the industry in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards. Here’s what you need to know:

Two NYFA Students Are Academy Award Nominees

 

NYFA alumnus Jean de Meuron was executive producer on the Academy Award-nominated short film, “La femme et le TGV.” The film, directed by Timo von Gunten and starring César Award nominee Jane Birkin, is a tale about a lonely woman who, through poetic and thoughtful letters, connects and builds a close relationship with a TGV train driver that passes her house at 190 mph every single day. As the two anonymous souls share their worlds by writing to each other, one fateful day the train does not pass her house, leading her to embark on a journey away from the place she calls home in search of that lost connection.

In a nonfiction category, NYFA alumna Raphaela Neihausen is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary. Raphaela Neihausen, along with Kahane Cooperman, is nominated for “Joe’s Violin.” The film’s website describes the documentary as follows: “A Holocaust survivor donates his violin to a local instrument drive, changing the life of a schoolgirl from the nation’s poorest congressional district.” Ms. Neilhausen is also a NYFA partner in Stranger Than Fiction series at IFC and will be joining NYFA as a master class instructor after the Oscars.

NYFA Guest Speakers’ Work Nominated for Best Animated Feature

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This year, NYFA was honored to welcome two Disney animators as guest speakers, who have now had their work nominated in the Oscar’s Best Animated Feature category.

Disney animators and NYFA Guest Speakers Eric Goldberg and Darrin Butters visited NYFA for two separate Guest Speaker Series events. Mr. Goldberg offered NYFA students a behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s Oscar-nominated “Moana.” And Darrin Butters also hosted an exclusive screening for NYFA students, offering them a preview of Oscar-nominated “Zootopia.”

“La La Land” Makes History

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One film you can expect to win big this year is the highly acclaimed “La La Land.” It goes into the awards with a whopping 14 nominations, tying the record held by both “Titanic” (1997) and “All About Eve” (1950). If it manages to win 11 of those, it would tie the record for most wins alongside “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (2003) and “Ben Hur” (1959).

If that weren’t enough, “La La Land” also earned the honor of being the first musical with original story and music to be nominated for best picture since 1979’s “All That Jazz.” In fact, the only other film like them to get nominated was “Anchors Aweigh” (1945). Mildred Iatrou Morgan and Ai-Ling Lee also became the first female duo to be nominated for their sound editing work.

Are you interested in movie musicals? NYFA is the only school in the world offering musical theatre students the chance to perform in fully produced musical films. Learn more about our program.

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NYFA would also like to congratulate documentary alumni Susi Dollnig and Nina Thomas, who recently worked with GQ to provide a behind-the-scenes video with “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling at a photoshoot at the Gellért Thermal Bath in Budapest. Both Susi Dollnig and Nina Thomas work at the post-production company House of Trim, which provided the post-production for the video. Dollnig was the colorist and Thomas was the assistant editor.

No #OscarsSoWhite This Year

The 2017 Academy Awards is already being praised for offering the most diverse list of nominees in its history. A total of seven actors of color were nominated — six black and one Indian. This is a stark contrast from the previous two Oscars, where all major acting categories were 100 percent white. This year’s nominees include:

  • Denzel Washington for “Fences” (Best Actor)
  • Ruth Negga for “Loving” (Best Actress)
  • Octavia Spencer for “Hidden Figures” (Best Supporting Actress)
  • Viola Davis for “Fences” (Best Supporting Actress)
  • Naomie Harris for “Moonlight” (Best Supporting Actress)
  • Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight” (Best Supporting Actor)
  • Indian actor Dev Patel for “Lion” (Best Supporting Actor)

“Moonlight” has received eight Oscar nominations, while “Fences” has received four.

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NYFA recently had the pleasure of welcoming “Fences” actor Russell Hornsby as a guest speaker and special workshop instructor. Read more about Mr. Hornsby’s NYFA visit to NYFA.

The Most-nominated Performer Returns

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For most in the movie industry, getting one Oscar nomination in their lifetime would be a dream come true. That dream came true for Meryl Streep when “The Deer Hunter” (1978) earned her her first acting nomination. Yet Streep went on to make history: Fast forward a few decades and Streep’s unquestionable talent has made her the most-nominated performer. Her 20th nomination is for her role as the titular character in “Florence Foster Jenkins” (2016).

Streep won her first Oscar for best supporting actress in “Kramer vs. Kramer” and second for best actress in 1983’s “Sophie’s Choice.” Her third win for best actress in “The Iron Lady” (2011) made her the fifth actor in history to win three Academy Awards.

More Significant Firsts

Even before the show begins, there are a handful of new countries that are already proud to see one of their own as a nominee for the first time at this year’s Oscars. 2015’s “Tanna” is the first Australian-Vanuatuan film to be nominated for best foreign film. The film depicts the actual story of a couple who, much like the classic “Romeo and Juliet,” fall in love with each other instead of obeying their parent’s arrangements.

Black women who work behind the scenes can also gain inspiration from Joi McMillon. Her editing work on “Moonlight” makes her the first African-American woman to be nominated for the category.

Other Interesting Facts

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  • The last fully animated film to be nominated in the visual effects category was 1993’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” This year, animated films make a triumphant return thanks to “Kubo and the Two Strings” being nominated.
  • “O.J.: Made in America” makes history by receiving a nomination for best documentary. It’s running time of seven hours and 47 minutes earns it the honor of the longest film to get nominated.
  • Damien Chazelle, who is only 32, has the chance to become the youngest director to win best director this year. He’s also the second youngest to get nominated in this category — the first is John Singleton, who was nominated for “Boyz n the Hood” at the ripe age of 24.
  • In the past, only two people had ever been simultaneously nominated in the categories of best picture, acting, and writing. That changes this year, when Matt Damon becomes the third. He is nominated for those categories for his work on “Manchester by the Sea.”

NYFA would like to offer congratulations to our animation alumna Alexandra LoRusso, who worked on the visual FX for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Costume Design category.

Which Oscar nominations are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

“La La Land”: NYFA Examines What Makes a Movie Musical Work

The New York Film Academy is the only school currently offering students the opportunity to perform in an original, fully produced movie musical (check out the write-up on our movie musicals in The Huffington Post). And as reported recently by Broadwayworld.com, NYFA’s movie musicals frequently feature collaborations with Broadway and industry professionals. Which is why we find it both exciting and important to help our community better understand the success of recent Award-season darling “La La Land.” What makes a movie musical so successful, and what can our students learn from this moment?

“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to “Whiplash,” was the dark horse of 2016 films. It started off as a limited release, yet by Christmas it was in theaters nationwide. Despite its quiet start, the movie musical has gained traction quickly in the industry.

The jazz-themed musical, featuring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, took the industry by surprise when it secured seven Golden Globes at the beginning of January. With the Oscars a little less than a month away, Chazelle’s sophomore debut has received 14 Oscar nominations, with two songs from “La La Land” taking spots for original songs:

  • Best Picture
  • Actor in a Leading Role
  • Actress in a Leading Role
  • Cinematography
  • Costume Design
  • Directing
  • Film Editing
  • Music
  • Music (Original Song)
  • Production Design
  • Sound Editing
  • Sound Mixing
  • Writing (Original Screenplay)

Prior to “La La Land,” only two movies in history have secured 14 Oscar nominations – “All About Eve” (1950) and “Titanic” (1997).  “Mary Poppins” (1964), a beloved classic movie musical, received 13 Oscar nominations but it didn’t win Best Picture.

So, to the question burning on all of our minds:

What makes this movie musical successful?

Compared to its fellow Oscar contenders, “La La Land” isn’t a hearty drama nor does it touch on serious issues. Chazelle’s romantic musical, set in Los Angeles, doesn’t immerse its audience into bouts of depression or isolation. Instead, “La La Land” revolves around two attractive people chasing their dreams and at its core exists a romantic comedy — the type of movie that rarely wins Oscars, but that tells a very human story in a directly relatable (if somewhat more glamorous) way.

For a movie musical to succeed, the performances must rivet and move the audience. “La La Land” succeeds at this, unconventionally — for while both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are strong actors, neither are experienced in singing and dancing. Nevertheless, audiences and critics alike have agreed that their performances do what matters most: captivate. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post wrote in her review of “La La Land”: “They have the unforced grace of natural performers, lending an offhand rakishness to every step they take.”

So how can students build their own captivating performances in movie musicals? Here at the New York Film Academy, we believe it’s important that every student in our Musical Theater program receives the highest level of training in professional skills as triple threat performers under the guidance of Broadway-level faculty. In the quest to build a powerful performance, professionals must have a full arsenal of tools to draw upon. NYFA musical theatre instructors have toured in various Broadway and touring productions, regional theaters, opera, movie musicals and television shows. They can offer students real-world training that will prepare students to offer their best possible performance.

What makes “La La Land” different than other romantic comedies?

Unlike most romantic comedies to hit the market today, the two main characters don’t get drunk, have a one-night stand and move on with their lives. Instead, Chazelle uses the first act of the movie to establish the main characters’ individual careers and passions. The dynamics between Mia and Sebastian are effortless. Instead of forcing the characters to be dependent on each other to move the film forward, it allows the audience to bond with both characters on a personal level before the characters become fully entwined. These fully fleshed, individualized characters are what propels the story. And it is the attention to the individual details in the characters that allow Stone and Gosling to shine.

Musical theatre students at NYFA get to experience this careful, deliberate level of individual characterization in the most spectacular way: their roles in original movie musicals are specially written for them. Like Stone and Gosling in “La La Land,” NYFA musical theatre students get the benefit of performing in roles that are tailored to their individuality.

Another factor in the success of “La La Land” is the way the film pays loving homage to movie musicals before it, perfectly balancing affection with clever innovation. The movie isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it gives nods to movie musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Grease,” “Sweet Charity,” “Boogie Nights,” and “Shall We Dance,” achieving an intoxicating blend of freshness and nostalgia for the audience. This knowledge of and ability to build upon the musical theatre canon is a strength one that we firmly believe in teaching at NYFA, where students not only gain training and experience in performing classic musical theatre pieces, but are able to experience Broadway productions from their base in New York City.

Chazelle didn’t set out to deliver a movie focused on serious issues, which would more than likely cloud the plot of the movie. What he set out to do was create two relatable characters reminiscent of earlier movie musicals meant to break the monotony of super heroes and far-fetched action movies dominating today’s film industry. And it worked. Amazingly well.

Start your own movie musical adventure today with the New York Film Academy’s Musical Theatre School.

5 Times the Oscars Made History

The Oscars are the most important and coveted awards in cinematic history and eagerly watched by millions all over the world. But as you wait for this year’s nominees to be announced and wonder if your favorite actors have made the cut, we bring you a list of five pivotal moments when the Academy Awards indeed made history — by honouring those marginalized or neglected, alerting the audience to social inequality and recognizing genuine talent that had been shunned erstwhile.

1.  When Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Best Director Award at the Oscars in 2010.  

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Despite it being the 21st century, gender inequality is still rampant in Hollywood, especially when it comes to women filmmakers. Which is why Kathryn Bigelow literally made history by being the first-ever woman to win the much-coveted Best Director Award for her low-budget war thriller “The Hurt Locker,” about a bomb disposal team — winning over her former husband and industry favorite James Cameron’s 3D extravaganza “Avatar.”  She dedicated her win to the servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan and added, “May they come home safe.”

2. When Marlon Brando refused the Best Actor Award at the Oscars in 1973. 

Marlon Brando created a huge controversy when he refused the Award for the Best Actor for his role as Vito Corleone in the mafia film “The Godfather.” Not only did he boycott the ceremony, he sent actress Sacheen Littlefeather in his place. She waved away the Oscar and read out a letter saying that Brando  “very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry –” Given the way America has maltreated and ostracized and even culturally appropriated the Native American community, Brando’s refusal was a powerful and ground-breaking move to raise awareness.

3. When Charlie Chaplin Received His 12 Minute Standing Ovation at the Oscars in 1972.

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Chaplin is a worldwide icon and a pioneer in the field of silent comedy, but after he was labelled a communist he was not allowed to return to the United States for 20 years. Thus his Honorary Oscar Win was important not only because Hollywood finally realized his great contribution to the industry, but also because his presence at the award ceremony marked his first return to the United States. He received a 12-minute standing ovation from the audience, which is still the longest standing ovation in Oscar history.

4. When Halle Berry became the first African-American woman to win the Best Actress Award at the Oscars in 2002.

Halle Berry created history by becoming the first black woman to win the prestigious Best Actress Award for her role in “Monster’s Ball.”  She was so full of tears that she was unable to speak for a minute and when she finally did, she acknowledged the importance of the moment and said, “This moment is for all the nameless, faceless women of color who now have a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” The night was made even more special when fellow African-American actor Denzel Washington also took home the Best Actor Award for the film “Training Day.”

5. When Patricia Arquette won the Best Supporting Actress Award at the Oscars in 2015.

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When Patricia Arquette won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in the Richard Linklater film “Boyhood,” she used the opportunity to champion women’s rights across the country. In her acceptance speech, she said, To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

So which are your favorite Oscar history-making moments from the list? Did we miss anything? And what are your expectations for this year’s Academy Awards? Let us know in the comments below!

 

2015 Oscars: A Look at the Nominees for Best Original Screenplay

From birds to boys to everything in between, the Best Original Screenplay nominees for this year’s 87th Academy Awards are a diverse, intriguing mix. Most of the writers up for the Oscar have competed for the award before, so it’s anyone’s game. Here is a look at some other works by the Best Original Screenplay nominees and what led them to their Oscar-nominated screenplays, essential reading for any screenwriting student or aspiring screenwriter.

Birdman – Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo

While this is the first Oscar nomination for the other writers of Birdman, writer/director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was previously nominated for Best Writing and Best Directing for his 2006 film Babel and is up for Best Directing and Best Picture this year.

He has also scripted his upcoming film The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. AGI has also written his film Biutiful with Birdman co-writers Nicolás Giacobone and Armando Bo and all four nominees are currently scripting the upcoming Ed Helms television series The One Percent for Starz.

Boyhood – Richard Linklater

This is Richard Linklater’s fifth Oscar nomination, counting his nods for Directing and Best Picture for his 12 years in the making masterpiece, Boyhood. He was previously nominated for Before Midnight and Before Sunset, which were in the Adapted Screenplay category as they are based on Linklater’s original screenplay, Before Sunrise.

He’s also written most of his own films, including Slacker, Dazed and Confused, The Newton Boys, Waking Life, Fast Food Nation, A Scanner Darkly, Bernie and his upcoming effort, That’s What I’m Talking About.

Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

This is Frye’s first nomination and Futterman’s second—he previously got the nod for his work on Capote.

Frye is a veteran screenwriter, having scripted films since the 1980s. His credits include Something Wild, Amos & Andrew and an episode of HBO’s Band of Brothers. He was also script consultant on Lars Von Trier’s experimental film Dogville.

In addition to Capote, Dan Futterman has written for the television shows In Treatment and Gracepoint.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness

While this is Hugo Guinness’s first Oscar nomination, Wes Anderson has received five others, including his nods this year for Directing and Best Picture. His other nominations include two other Original Screenplay nods for The Royal Tenebaums and Moonrise Kingdom and a Best Animated Feature for The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Anderson’s other screenwriting credits are exclusively for his own directed films, including Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, and again for The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Hugo Guinness’s story credit for The Grand Budapest Hotel is his only writing credit to date, but he also did art and voice acting for The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

This is Dan Gilroy’s first screenwriting credit, though he has been writing for Hollywood since the early 90s. His brother is successful screenwriter and director Tony Gilroy. Some of Dan Gilroy’s credits include Freejack, Chasers, Two for the Money, The Fall, Real Steel, and The Bourne Legacy.

Check out our other pages for a look at the careers of this year’s Best Documentary Feature nominees and Best Cinematography nominees.