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Oscar Balloting 'Secrets' + War Movies Top Online Film Critics Nominations & Marrakech Winners

Oscar Balloting 'Secrets'

Penélope Cruz in Broken Embraces
Penélope Cruz in Broken Embraces (Emilio Pereda & Paola Ardizzoni / El Deseo / Sony Pictures Classics)

At The Wrap, Steve Pond offers some cool insights into the Oscar ballots. For instance, in all but one category, voters are supposed to write down the name of the film – not the talent – on the ballot. So, if your best director picks for the 2010 Academy Awards are Pedro Almodóvar for Broken Embraces, Kiyoshi Kurosawa for Tokyo Sonata, and Michael Haneke for The White Ribbon (one can always dream), you have to write down Broken Embraces, Tokyo Sonata, and The White Ribbon.

The one exception to this rule is the acting category, in which Acting Branch voters must write down the name of the performers and their corresponding films. So, if you were voting for Yolande Moreau in Séraphine, you must write down Moreau's name and the name of the film. Else, you might write down, say, Meryl Streep, and the PricewaterhouseCoopers people wouldn't know if you want Streep for Julie & Julia or It's Complicated.

And if you're dimwitted enough to just write down Julie & Julia, they may think you may be voting for Amy Adams. Either way, your vote would be disqualified. The same would happen if you vote for, say, Helen Mirren in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen or Sandra Bullock in Avatar.

But the most interesting bit of information found in Pond's must-read piece is the following, in which he quotes a letter from acting branch governors Annette Bening, Tom Hanks, and Henry Winkler sent to Acting Branch voters:

“And then there's this: 'If you think that a performance occupies a middle ground between leading and supporting, you may list it on your ballot in both categories.' [italics in the text] If a performance receives enough votes to be nominated in both categories, the letter says, PricewaterhouseCoopers will record a nomination 'in the category in which it received the most support.'

“(Technically, PwC tallies votes in the leading and supporting categories simultaneously, and the moment an actor receives a nomination in one category, he or she is eliminated from consideration in the other.)"

David Kross, Kate Winslet in The Reader

That may explain Kate Winslet's nomination as best actress for The Reader (above, with David Kross) last year, when The Weinstein Co. had been pushing her in the best supporting actress category so she wouldn't compete against herself in Revolutionary Road. (And thus have one of her performances disqualified, which is quite likely what happened.)

Now, what I find curious is that from what I've read before, if a performer got enough votes in both the lead and supporting categories for the same performance, s/he would automatically be nominated as a lead and the supporting nod would be discarded. The supporting performer in sixth place would then be shortlisted with the other four. According to what Pond quotes in his article, that is not the case.

Also, if the Oscar ballot counting is done simultaneously, and “the moment an actor receives a nomination in one category, he or she is eliminated from consideration in the other,” how would the PwC people know who got the most votes in each category?

Photo: The Reader (Melinda Sue Gordon / The Weinstein Co.)

Online Film Critics Nominations

Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker
Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds (François Duhamel / The Weinstein Co.) (top); Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker (Jonathan Olley / Summit Entertainment) (bottom)

The Online Film Critics Society has announced its list of nominees for 2009. Avatar may be a huge blockbuster-in-the-making, but OFCS members apparently weren't that impressed. James Cameron's sci-fi adventure epic earned three nominations: best director, best cinematography (Mauro Fiore), and best editing (Steve R. Moore, John Refoua and Stephen Rivkin). Actually, that's not bad at all, but …

The Hurt Locker, with about $12 million in grosses at the domestic box office, received seven nominations, including best picture, best director (Kathryn Bigelow, Cameron's former wife), best actor (Jeremy Renner), best supporting actor (Anthony Mackie), and best original screenplay (Mark Boal). Quentin Tarantino's World War II revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds, for its part, got eight nods, among them best picture, best director, best original screenplay (also Tarantino), best actress (Melanie Laurent), best supporting actor (Christoph Waltz), and best supporting actress (Diane Kruger).

Another critical favorite, Jason Reitman's socially conscious romantic comedy-drama Up in the Air, was nominated in four categories (including one double nod): best picture, best actor (George Clooney), best supporting actress (Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga), and best adapted screenplay (Reitman and Sheldon Turner).

Reitman and Up director Pete Docter were replaced in the best director category by Neill Blomkamp for District 9 and Cameron for Avatar.

Surprising inclusions: Silent Light, which has been all but ignored by US critics' groups, in the best foreign-language film category; District 9's Sharlto Copley and Two Lovers' Joaquin Phoenix in the best actor category; Tilda Swinton as a best actress nominee for Julia (hers is one of US critics' favorite performances this year, except when it comes to naming their best actress winners); Jackie Earle Haley as a best supporting actor nominee for Watchmen; and Where the Wild Things Are in the best adapted screenplay category.

Missing in action: Colin Firth for A Single Man, The Lovely Bones, Nine.

The OFCS winners will be announced on Jan. 6.

Online Film Critics Awards 2009

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Broken Embraces
Police, Adjective
Silent Light
Summer Hours
The White Ribbon

Anvil!: The True Story of Anvil
The Beaches of Agnes
Capitalism: A Love Story
The Cove
Food, Inc.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog

Kathryn Bigelow (-) The Hurt Locker
Neill Blomkamp (-) District 9
James Cameron (-) Avatar
Joel & Ethan Coen (-) A Serious Man
Quentin Tarantino (-) Inglourious Basterds

Jeff Bridges (-) Crazy Heart
Sharlto Copley (-) District 9
George Clooney (-) Up in the Air
Joaquin Phoenix (-) Two Lovers
Jeremy Renner (-) The Hurt Locker

Mélanie Laurent (-) Inglourious Basterds
Carey Mulligan (-) An Education
Gabourey Sidibe (-) Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Meryl Streep (-) Julie & Julia
Tilda Swinton (-) Julia

Peter Capaldi (-) In the Loop
Jackie Earle Haley (-) Watchmen
Woody Harrelson (-) The Messenger
Anthony Mackie (-) The Hurt Locker
Christoph Waltz (-) Inglourious Basterds

Vera Farmiga (-) Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick (-) Up in the Air
Diane Kruger (-) Inglourious Basterds
Mo'Nique (-) Precious
Julianne Moore (-) A Single Man

(500) Days of Summer (-) Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
The Hurt Locker (-) Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds (-) Quentin Tarantino
A Serious Man (-) Joel & Ethan Coen
Up (-) Bob Peterson

District 9 (-) Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell
Fantastic Mr. Fox (-) Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach
In the Loop (-) Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche
Up in the Air (-) Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner
Where the Wild Things Are (-) Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers

Avatar (-) Mauro Fiore
District 9 (-) Trent Opaloch
The Hurt Locker (-) Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds (-) Robert Richardson
A Serious Man (-) Roger Deakins

(500) Days of Summer (-) Alan Edward Bell
Avatar (-) Steve R. Moore, John Refoua & Stephen Rivkin
District 9 (-) Julian Clarke
The Hurt Locker (-) Chris Innis & Bob Murawski
Inglourious Basterds (-) Sally Menke

Fantastic Mr. Fox (-) Alexandre Desplat
The Informant! (-) Marvin Hamlisch
Star Trek (-) Michael Giacchino
Up (-) Michael Giacchino
Where the Wild Things Are (-) Carter Burwell & Karen Orzolek

Marrakech Film Festival 2009 Winners

Rigorberto Perezcano's Northless was the top winner at the ninth edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival held earlier this month. Set in a small Mexican town, the film tells the story of a young man (Harold Torres) waiting for the right time to cross the barbed-wire-strewn border into the United States.

The Jury Prize went to two films: Nabil Ben Yadir's Belgian "coming-of-age" drama Les barons and Charlotte Lim Lay Kuen's Malaysian family drama
My daughter. In the former, three Belgian denizens of Arab background must make tough decisions about their lives and future; in the latter, a teenager has a love-hate relationship with her love-starved mother, who is always going from one romantic liaison to another.

Also, Lotte Verbeek was the best actress for her mysterious young woman who befriends a lonely widower (Stephen Rea) in Urszula Antoniak's Dutch-Irish drama Nothing Personal, while Cyron Melville was voted best actor for his increasingly unbalanced pianist in Morten Giese's Danish drama Love and Rage.

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami was this year's president of the jury.

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