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Neil Patrick Harris Tony Awards + Oscar Rules Changes & Electronic Voting Pitfalls

Neil Patrick Harris Tony Awards
Neil Patrick Harris’ Tony Awards.

Neil Patrick Harris Tony Awards reach 7 million viewers

Originally staged by the U.K.’s National Theatre, War Horse won the Tony Award for Best Play last night in New York City. Set during World War I, War Horse uses both human actors and life-size horse puppets to tell the story of a boy and his horse as the latter is sent to the trenches. (See further below the full list of 2011 Tony Award winners.)

War Horse was adapted by Nick Stafford from Michael Morpurgo’s novel, which has also been made into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. War Horse – the movie – opens on Dec. 28. Richard Curtis and Lee Hall penned the film adaptation featuring Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston, David Thewlis, Toby Kebbell, Eddie Marsan, and others.

War Horse won four other Tonys, including Best Direction of a Play for Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. The evening’s big winner, however, was Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s The Book of Mormon, which took home a total of nine Tonys, including Best Musical.

Larry Kramer’s AIDS drama The Normal Heart was the Best Revival of a Play; the fluffy musical Anything Goes the Best Revival of a Musical.

Barbra Streisand and John Schlesinger both wanted to bring The Normal Heart to the screen, but without success. In fact, The Normal Heart has yet to get the movie treatment. Anything Goes has been (officially) filmed twice: with Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman in 1936; and with Crosby again and Mitzi Gaynor in 1956.

Among the film personalities who won Tonys last night were Oscar winner Frances McDormand, voted Best Actress for her performance in Good People; Angels and Insects’ Mark Rylance, the Best Actor winner for Jerusalem; and late ’80s-early ’90s leading lady Ellen Barkin, who won as Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for The Normal Heart.

Broadcast by CBS and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, the Tony Awards ceremony was watched by 6.9 million viewers according to preliminary results, with a 9 percent gain from last year in the 18-49 demographic group.

And make sure to check out Michael Billington’s The Guardian piece that begins with the following line: “Where would Broadway be without the British taxpayer?”

Photo: Kevin Kane / WireImage for Tony Awards

Mark Rylance, Jerusalem
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Best Play: War Horse

Best Musical: The Book of Mormon

Best Book of a Musical: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon

Best Revival of a Play: The Normal Heart

Best Revival of a Musical: Anything Goes

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Best Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Play: Frances McDormand, Good People

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Norbert Leo Butz Catch Me If You Can

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Sutton Foster, Anything Goes

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon

Best Direction of a Play: Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse

Best Direction of a Musical: Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon

Best Choreography: Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes

Best Orchestrations: Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Rae Smith, War Horse

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon

Best Costume Design of a Play: Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Paule Constable, War Horse

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon

Best Sound Design of a Play: Christopher Shutt, War Horse

Best Sound Design of a Musical: Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: Athol Fugard, Philip J. Smith.

Regional Theatre Tony Award: Lookingglass Theatre Company (Chicago)

Isabelle Stevenson Award: Eve Ensler.

Special Tony Award: Handspring Puppet Company.

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre: William Berloni, The Drama Book Shop, Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts

Mark Rylance image via oregonlive.com.

Best Picture Oscar Rule Change

Rules for the Best Picture Academy Award nominations have just been changed. According to the Academy’s press release, the governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted on Tuesday, June 14, “to institute a system that will now produce anywhere between five and 10 nominees in the category.” The number of Best Picture nominees will be known only on the day the nominations are announced.

In order to land a nomination, contenders must receive at least 5 percent of votes in the no. 1 position. In other words, at least one in twenty Academy members who bother to vote will have to pick the same movie so it can have a chance at a nomination. (Note: 5 percent of the vote doesn’t guarantee a nomination, as theoretically 20 movies could reach that percentage.)

The Academy adds that the Best Picture winner will continued to be determined via the preferential system, regardless of the number of nominees, “to ensure that the winning picture has the endorsement of more than half of the voters.” A wise decision; one that should be extended to all other categories.

Photo: The Blind Side (Ralph Nelson / Warner Bros.)

Academy Award Rule Changes: Animation, Documentary, Visual Effects Categories

In addition to the restructuring of the Best Picture nominations, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have approved the following rule changes (from the Academy’s press release):

In the animated feature film category, the need for the Board to vote to “activate” the category each year was eliminated, though a minimum number of eligible releases – eight – is still required for a competitive category. Additionally, the short films and feature animation branch recommended, and the Board approved, refinements to the number of possible nominees in the Animated Feature category. In any year in which eight to 12 animated features are released, either two or three of them may be nominated. When 13 to 15 films are released, a maximum of four may be nominated, and when 16 or more animated features are released, a maximum of five may be nominated.

In the visual effects category, the “bakeoff” at which the nominees are determined will expand from seven to 10 contenders. The increase in the number of participants is related to a change made last year in which the number of films nominated in the visual effects category was increased from three to five.

Previously, the Board approved changes to the documentary feature and documentary short category rules that now put those categories’ eligibility periods in line with the calendar year and thus with most other awards categories. The change means that for the 84th Awards cycle only, the eligibility period is more than 12 months; it is from September 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors for approval.

The 2011 Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Electronic Oscar voting: Problems & pitfalls

Electronic balloting for the Oscars could theoretically mean a Best Picture Oscar for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, if a Robsten fan-cum-computer hacker decides that it’s about time the Academy recognizes their idols. Or, if we get an art-house hacker, why not a Best Picture Oscar for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life?

You think I’m joking?

Electronic Oscar voting will be implemented “as early as this year, and will certainly be in effect by next year,” explains a letter sent by Kimberly Roush, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ director of membership, to the Academy’s 6,000 or so members as reported in the New York Times.

“At some point, once the system is up and running,” Roush adds, “mailed ballots will be eliminated.”

Here’s another possible problem: I’m quite sure Ernest Borgnine remains an Academy member. Does he have email? What about Carol Channing? Joan Fontaine? Luise Rainer?

The switch to electronic voting is clearly the chief means for the Academy to shorten awards season. The Oscars are awards-season latecomers – in fact, they’re the very last ones to be announced – which is one of the reasons for the generally disappointing television ratings of the Oscarcast.

Now, shortening awards season would lead to a series of problems: studios would have to release their Oscar-bait Christmas movies in November; voters would have less time to check out potential Oscar contenders; and movies such as The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire, which benefited tremendously from awards-season buzz, will see their ticket sales “shortened” as well.

Unless, of course, awards season ends up just as long as it is now, as critics groups’ awards, the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, etc. are all pushed forward as well.

In other words, in case the Academy decides to start handing out Oscars in January, expect the Iowa Film Critics to announce their winners sometime in mid-October.

Photo: © A.M.P.A.S.

Hallvar Witzo, Zach Hyer, Theo Rigby, Anthony Weeks, Student Academy Awards
Front row (left to right): Hallvar Witzø, Julian Higgins, Avner Geller, Stevie Lewis, Tal S. Shamir, Wonjung Bae, Soham Mehta; back row (left to right): Theo Rigby, Anthony Weeks, Shawn Wines, Max Zähle, Karzan Kader, Zach Hyer, Bernardo Warman, Shaofu Zhang

Jennifer Garner announces Student Academy Award winners

The winners of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 2011 Student Academy Awards were announced Saturday evening at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Actress Jennifer Garner, Oscar-nominated animator John Musker, Academy Award-winning producer Edward Zwick, and Academy President Tom Sherak were the presenters.

The 2011 winners – one or more of those listed below will likely end up as 2012 Oscar nominee(s) – are:

Alternative category
Gold Medal*: The Vermeers, Tal S. Shamir, The New School, New York
* Only one medal was awarded in the Alternative category.

Animation category
Gold Medal (tie): “Correspondence, Zach Hyer, Pratt Institute, New York; and Dragonboy, Bernardo Warman and Shaofu Zhang, Academy of Art University, California
Bronze Medal: Defective Detective, Avner Geller and Stevie Lewis, Ringling College of Art and Design, Florida

Documentary category
Gold Medal: Vera Klement: Blunt Edge, Wonjung Bae, Columbia College Chicago
Silver Medal: Imaginary Circumstances, Anthony Weeks, Stanford University
Bronze Medal: Sin Pais (Without Country), Theo Rigby, Stanford University

Narrative category
Gold Medal: Thief, Julian Higgins, American Film Institute, California
Silver Medal: High Maintenance, Shawn Wines, Columbia University
Bronze Medal: Fatakra, Soham Mehta, University of Texas at Austin

Foreign Student Film category
Gold Medal: Tuba Atlantic, Hallvar Witzo, The Norwegian Film School, Norway
Silver Medal: Bekas, Karzan Kader, Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, Sweden
Bronze Medal: Raju, Max Zaehle, Hamburg Media School, Germany

From the Academy’s press release:

While all winners knew they would each receive an award, their placement – Gold, Silver or Bronze – was not revealed until the ceremony. Gold Medal award winners received cash grants of $5,000, Silver Medal award winners received $3,000 and Bronze Medal award winners received $2,000.

The U.S. students first competed in one of three regional competitions. Each region was permitted to send to the Academy up to three finalists in each of the four categories. Academy members then screened the finalists’ films and voted to select the winners. The foreign student winners were selected by Academy members at special voting screenings from a pool of 52 entries from 32 countries.

The release adds that past Student Academy Award winners have received 43 Oscar nominations and have won or shared eight Oscars. Earlier this year, 2010 Student Academy Award winner Luke Matheny won the Oscar for Live Action Short Film for God of Love. Additionally, fellow 2010 Student Academy Award winner Tanel Toom was nominated in the Live Action Short Film category for The Confession, and John Lasseter, a 1979 and 1980 Student Academy Award winner, was a nominee in the Adapted Screenplay category for Toy Story 3.

Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Turkish Drama Hayde Bre: Shanghai Film Festival Best Film

Orhan Oguz’s Turkish drama Hayde Bre won the Golden Goblet for Best Feature Film at the 2011 Shanghai International Film Festival. [List of Shanghai Film Festival winners.]

The Shanghai Film Festival’s Official Competition jury led by Barry Levinson wrote the following in a statement about Hayde Bre:

What attracted to us was its stark, honest, unflinching look at a mother dealing with a modern world and her separation from her rural background, a woman caught up in a changing world and the painful struggle she faces. The film was effective, sometimes disturbing, but always true to its intentions.

As the young woman’s widowed father, Sevket Emrulla was chosen as the festival’s Best Actor.

Chinese filmmaker Han Jie was given the Best Director prize for Mr. Tree, which also received the Grand Prix. The film tells the story of a migrant worker who, no fault of his own, is perceived to be a prophet.

Among the other Shanghai festival winners were Lu Xingchen as Best Actress for The Young Man Sings Folk Songs in the Opposite Door, which also earned awards for Zhang Ming’s screenplay and Wen Zi’s music.

The Shanghai Film Festival Official Competition jury included Tran Anh Hung, Paz Vega, Zhang Jingchu, Christopher Hampton, and Wang Quan’an Yoichi Sai.

Los Angeles Film Festival winners

Narrative AwardFamiliar Ground

Documentary AwardWish Me Away

Best Performance in the Narrative Competition – The Cast of How to Cheat: Amber Sealey, Kent Osborne, Amanda Street and Gabriel Diamond

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature – Attack the Block

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature – Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

Audience Award for Best International Feature – Senna

Best Narrative Short Film – The Wind Is Blowing on My Street

Best Documentary Short Film – I Am A Girl!

Audience Award for Best Short Film – Blind Date

Best Animated Short Film – The Eagleman Stag

Audience Award for Best Music Video – Can’t Shake This Feeling

Saturn Awards: Christopher Nolan Mind-Bending Sci-Fier Tops

Film

Best International Film
* Monsters.
The Complete Metropolis.
Centurion.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Mother.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.

Best Science Fiction Film
* Inception.
Hereafter.
Iron Man 2.
Never Let Me Go.
Splice.
TRON: Legacy.

Best Fantasy Film
* Alice in Wonderland.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Clash of the Titans.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Best Horror/Thriller Film
* Let Me In.
Kick-Ass.
The American.
Black Swan.
Shutter Island.
The Wolfman.

Best Action/Adventure Film
* Salt.
The Expendables.
The Green Hornet.
Red.
Robin Hood.
True Grit.
Unstoppable.

Best Animated Film
* Toy Story 3.
Despicable Me.
How to Train Your Dragon.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
Shrek Forever After.
Tangled.

Best Actor
* Jeff BridgesTRON: Legacy.
George ClooneyThe American.
Leonardo DiCaprioInception.
Leonardo DiCaprio – Shutter Island.
Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man 2.
Ryan ReynoldsBuried.

Best Actress
* Natalie PortmanBlack Swan.
Cecile De France – Hereafter.
Angelina JolieSalt.
Carey MulliganNever Let Me Go.
Ellen PageInception.
Noomi RapaceThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Best Supporting Actor
* Andrew GarfieldNever Let Me Go.
Christian BaleThe Fighter.
Tom HardyInception.
Garrett HedlundTRON: Legacy.
John MalkovichRed.
Mark RuffaloShutter Island.

Best Supporting Actress
* Mila KunisBlack Swan.
Scarlett JohanssonIron Man 2.
Keira KnightleyNever Let Me Go.
Helen MirrenRed.
Vanessa RedgraveLetters to Juliet.
Jacki WeaverAnimal Kingdom.

Best Performance by a Younger Actor
* Chloë Grace Moretz – Let Me In.
Logan LermanPercy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
Frankie Mclaren & George McLaren – Hereafter.
Kodi Smit-McPhee – Let Me In.
Will Poulter – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Hailee SteinfeldTrue Grit.
Charlie Tahan – Charlie St. Cloud.

Best Director
* Christopher NolanInception.
Darren AronofskyBlack Swan.
Clint EastwoodHereafter.
Matt Reeves – Let Me In.
Martin ScorseseShutter Island.
David Yates – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

Best Writing
Christopher Nolan – Inception.
Michael Arndt – Toy Story 3.
Alex Garland – Never Let Me Go.
Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz & John McLaughlin – Black Swan.
Peter Morgan – Hereafter.
Matt Reeves – Let Me In.

Best Music
* Hans ZimmerInception.
Daft Punk – TRON: Legacy.
Clint Eastwood – Hereafter.
Michael Giacchino – Let Me In.
Gottfried Huppertz – The Complete Metropolis.
John Powell – How to Train Your Dragon.

Best Production Design
* TRON: Legacy.
How to Train Your Dragon.
Shutter Island.
The Wolfman.
Inception.
Alice in Wonderland.

Best Costume Design
* Alice in Wonderland.
The Wolfman.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
TRON: Legacy.
Robin Hood.

Best Special Effects
* Inception.
TRON: Legacy.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
Alice in Wonderland.
Iron Man 2.

Best Make-Up
* The Wolfman.
Splice.
Repo Men.
Let Me In.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
Alice in Wonderland.

Television

Best Network Series
* Fringe.
Lost.
Smallville.
Supernatural.
V.
The Vampire Diaries.

Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series
* Breaking Bad.
The Closer.
Dexter.
Eureka.
Leverage.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
True Blood.

Best Television Presentation
* The Walking Dead.
Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol”.
Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special.
The Pillars of the Earth.
Sherlock.
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

Best Actor in Television
* Stephen Moyer – True Blood.
Bryan CranstonBreaking Bad.
Matthew Fox – Lost.
Michael C. HallDexter.
Timothy HuttonLeverage.
Andrew Lincoln – The Walking Dead.

Best Actress in Television
* Anna Torv – Fringe.
Sarah Wayne Callies – The Walking Dead.
Erica Durance – Smallville.
Elizabeth Mitchell – V.
Anna PaquinTrue Blood.
Kyra SedgwickThe Closer.

Best Supporting Actor in Television
* John Noble – Fringe.
Michael Emerson – Lost.
Dean Norris – Breaking Bad.
Terry O’Quinn – Lost.
Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad.
Lance Reddick – Fringe.
Steven Yeun – The Walking Dead.

Best Supporting Actress in Television
* Lucy Lawless – Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
Laurie Holden – The Walking Dead.
Morena Baccarin – V.
Gina Bellman – Leverage.
Jennifer Carpenter – Dexter.
Beth Riesgraf – Leverage.

Best Guest Starring Role in Television (tie)
* Richard Dreyfuss – Weeds.
* Joe Manganiello – True Blood.
Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad.
Noah Emmerich – The Walking Dead.
John Terry – Lost.
Seth Gabel – Fringe.

DVD Releases

Best DVD Release
* Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed.
District 13: Ultimatum.
The Good Heart.
The New Daughter.
The Square.

Best DVD Special Edition
* Avatar (Extended Collector’s Edition).
Monsters (Special Edition).
Red Cliff (International Version).
Robin Hood (Unrated Director’s Cut).
Salt (Deluxe Unrated Edition).
The Wolf Man (Unrated Director’s Cut).

Best DVD Classic Film Release
* The Complete Metropolis.
Cronos.
The Exorcist (Extended Director’s Cut).
King Kong.
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Deluxe Edition).
Psycho (50th Anniversary Edition).

Best DVD Movie Collection
* Alien Anthology.
Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy.
Clint Eastwood 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros..
Fantomas: Five Film Collection.
Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 5.
Vengeance Trilogy.

Best DVD Television Release
* The Twilight Zone (Season 1 & 2) (Blu-ray).
Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final Season.
The Six Million Dollar Man (The Complete Collection).
Space 1999: The Complete Season One (Blu-ray).
Thriller: The Complete Series.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Season 4, Volume 2).

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