Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw attend the Governors Ball following the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood on Feb. 26. Along with Kathleen Kennedy, Spielberg produced Best Picture nominee War Horse, which he also directed, and which features Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, and Tom Hiddleston. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)
This year, War Horse‘s Best Picture competitors were the following:
- Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.
- Alexander Payne’s The Descendants.
- Bennett Miller’s Moneyball.
- Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.
- Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
- Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
- Tate Taylor’s The Help.
- Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, the eventual winner.
Steven Spielberg has received a total of 13 Academy Award nominations as Best Director and/or one of the producers of a Best Picture nominee. He won three times, twice as director – Schindler’s List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998) – and once as producer of Best Picture winner Schindler’s List. Saving Private Ryan lost the Best Picture Oscar to Shakespeare in Love, one of the Academy Awards’ biggest surprises ever.
Spielberg’s other nominations for Best Director were for the following: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), and Munich (2005). He failed to be shortlisted for two Best Picture nominees he directed: Jaws (1975), Amarcord‘s Federico Fellini was shortlisted in his place; and The Color Purple (1985), when Ran‘s Akira Kurosawa took his spot.
Governors Ball 2012
The Governors Ball, the official post-Academy Awards party, was held at the Hollywood & Highland Center on Feb. 26, 2012. Oscar winners and losers, presenters and performers showed up at the ball for drinks, food, and some groovy lighting and ambiance, as can be attested above. But the big news at the 2012 Governors Ball wasn’t the mauve illumination, or Meryl Streep’s third Oscar, or Christopher Plummer’s first, or Jean Dujardin’s one-for-the-books Best Actor victory, or even Angelina Jolie’s bare right leg – but that Sean Young was arrested just outside the Ball. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)
“I was just standing by the little line [outside the Ball],” Young told People magazine. “I wasn’t bothering anybody.” She explained she was taking pictures with the likes of Jolie, Brad Pitt, and Sandra Bullock (right, with Young) to post them on her Facebook page when a security guard told her to leave. [Sean Young / Sandra Bullock picture via Young’s Facebook page, which has a number of must-see photos taken on Oscar night.]
“… I started to leave and [the guard] grabbed my arm and he started pulling me. And I turned around and I was pulling my arm away – and I struck him.” Young was then taken to a police station, where she was booked for battery.
“The Academy will most likely issue a public apology,” Young later told X17 in a video interview, “apologizing for the bad judgment of the security guard and the bad judgment of … their lawyer, because he had a chance to recommend a … private person’s arrest – and that’s what he did. And that’s like, against [a] member of their own Academy. That’s pretty tacky!”
Young adds that “I was well-behaved. It was fine … and the surveillance tape will bear that out. And if I don’t get a public apology, I will make a lawsuit. … It’s atrocious behavior on the Academy’s part.”
In 2006, Sean Young attempted to get into an exclusive Vanity Fair Oscar party without an invitation. Two years later, she asked to leave the DGA Awards. At about that time, she entered rehab. More recently, she was seen on David Letterman’s show presenting a humorous video featuring herself asking for more movie work. Among Young’s movie credits are Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, as Harrison Ford’s replicant love interest; David Lynch’s Dune, with Kyle MacLachlan; Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, playing opposite Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen; Roger Donaldson’s No Way Out, with Kevin Costner; Joel Schumacher’s Cousins, starring Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini; and James Dearden’s A Kiss Before Dying with Matt Dillon. Young’s film career went downhill in the early 1990s, following “Catwoman problems” at the time Tim Burton directed his Batman movies.
Young added the following comments (the last one is really cool) on her Facebook page:
I just want everyone to know that I was sober, extremely well behaved when a very stupid security guard went postal on me and then The Academy’s very stupid lawyer recommended a “private person’s arrest” [citizen’s arrest] and I have grounds for a lawsuit against the Academy although I believe a public apology to me would be much better. I am OK and I have the Hollywood Police Stations [sic] support who very carefully and kindly photographed the bruises on my arms which this guard is responsible for doing.
Hi Everyone! Working on not absorbing any toxic spew from this unfair and stupid media silliness. I have really appreciated everyone’s reaching out to me in support. Honestly, made my day so much better. Waiting on word from The Academy on a public apology. I think they have figured out it was in fact there [sic] security guards [sic] fault and may indeed feel they should issue an apology to me. I will keep you posted.
One thing I remembered this morning, was to think of things that happen as not happening to you but FOR you….
According to common wisdom, the Oscar ceremony attracts the most viewers only if there’s at least one major box office blockbuster in the running for Best Picture. The source for that assumption is the 1998 Oscar ceremony, when James Cameron’s Titanic won the Best Picture Oscar – in addition to Academy Awards in ten other categories – and Oscarcast television ratings soared: 57.25 million viewers, compared to the previous year’s 40.83 million (Best Picture: The English Patient) and the following year’s 45.63 million (Best Picture: Shakespeare in Love).
Never mind the fact that a relatively modest (compared to Titanic or even Shakespeare in Love) 43.56 million TV viewers watched Peter Jackson’s super-blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King win Best Picture (and ten other Oscars) in early 2004. That figure was only about 3 percent higher than the following year’s, when 42.16 million people watched Clint Eastwood’s (relatively speaking) modest success Million Dollar Baby claim the Best Picture statuette. (Million Dollar Baby‘s total domestic box office: $100.49 million vs. The Return of the King‘s $377.84 million.)
This year, despite nine titles vying for the Best Picture Oscar, the closest to a blockbuster among them was Tate Taylor’s 2011 summer sleeper hit The Help, which took in $169.69 million in North America. The eventual Best Picture winner, the French-made (but Hollywood-set) The Artist has to date grossed $31.77 million in the U.S. and Canada – not bad at all for a $15 million-budgeted silent, black-and-white movie starring two performers (until now) little known in the United States, but hardly blockbuster figures.
Even so, despite myriad dire predictions in the media – some were expecting the Academy Awards’ lowest TV-ratings ever – the 2012 Oscar ceremony broadcast on ABC boasted the second biggest TV audience since 2007, according to preliminary data. If those numbers are confirmed, an estimated average of 39.3 million American television viewers watched the show hosted by Billy Crystal, and featuring the likes of Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, Owen Wilson, Meryl Streep, and Michael Douglas. That’s about only 600,000 fewer than the near-record 39.9 million who watched the Grammys in the aftermath of Whitney Houston’s death.
Though also slightly behind the 39.92 million Oscarcast TV audience when Martin Scorsese’s The Departed won Best Picture in 2007 and (quite a bit behind) the 41.62 million who watched James Cameron’s Avatar lose the Best Picture Oscar to Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker in 2010, viewership this year was way above the 31.76 million who witnessed Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s independently made No Country for Old Men win Best Picture, and a group of non-Americans – Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Javier Bardem, and Tilda Swinton – sweep the acting categories in 2008.
Last year, even though the Best Picture shortlist featured two major blockbusters – Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 – in addition to more modest hits such as Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, an average of 37.6 million people – about 5 percent fewer than this year – watched Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, and The Dark Knight star Christian Bale take home Oscars.
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Photo: Matt Brown / © A.M.P.A.S.
Another bit of good news for the Academy and ABC was that this year’s Academy Awards managed to retain its 2011 TV audience in the coveted 18-49 year-old age group despite the absence of young favorites such as the Harry Potter movies’ Daniel Radcliffe or the Twilight movies Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. Social media tracker Trendrr said that online buzz during the show reached 4.2 million hits, twice the number in 2011. On Twitter, the Oscarcast was trending in just about every country.
So, having a blockbuster competing for Best Picture will help television ratings to some extent or other. No one can argue against that. But that’s clearly not all there is to the Oscar ceremony’s allure.
At the 2009 Oscar show, for instance, host Hugh Jackman and presenters Robert Pattinson and Zac Efron received some of the credit for the dramatic ratings increase, as 36.94 million people – five million more than the previous year – tuned in to see Danny Boyle’s indie-made, India-set Slumdog Millionaire win Best Picture. Though Avatar got the credit for the ratings increase the following year, the presence of Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner surely did the show no harm when it came to TV viewership.
Now, it remains unclear whether or not the Academy and ABC did better-than-usual promos for the show this year, or if the mix of recent Oscar-related scandals and curiosities enticed viewers to tune in. The likes of Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise certainly didn’t hurt matters any. In fact, the popularity of this year’s Oscar ceremony may have been a combination of all of the above – and more.
I should add that among the aforementioned scandals were Brett Ratner’s use of a widely publicized anti-gay slur, which forced him to resign as one of the Oscar show’s producers; Kodak’s Chapter 11, which meant the removal of Kodak’s name from the now ex-Kodak Theater, where the Academy Awards ceremony was held; and Vertigo star Kim Novak’s “rape” tirade against The Artist‘s filmmakers, particularly composer (and eventual Oscar winner) Ludovic Bource.
Curiosities included a variety of question marks: Will Meryl Streep win her first Oscar in 29 years? (As it turned out, she did.) Will Viola Davis become the first black actress to win the Best Actress Oscar since (the part-black) Halle Berry in 2002? (She didn’t.) Will Woody Allen win his first Oscar in 25 years? (He did.) Will George Clooney lose the Best Actor Oscar to a foreigner who doesn’t even speak English? (He did.) Will Jean Dujardin become the first Frenchman to win an Oscar in the acting categories? (He did.)
Will Michel Hazanavicius become the first French national to win the Best Director Oscar? (He did.) Will The Artist become the first (near-)silent to win Best Picture since William A. Wellman’s Wings and F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise in the Academy Awards’ first year? (It did.) Will the Academy include internationally renowned filmmakers Theo Angelopoulos and Raoul Ruiz (a.k.a. Raúl Ruiz) in the In Memoriam segment? (It didn’t – though at least underground filmmaker George Kuchar and veteran French actress Annie Girardot made the cut.) And finally, will the Academy use this opportunity to feature an homage to the long-neglected (until The Artist) art and magic of silent movies? (To its everlasting shame, it didn’t.)
Billy Crystal photo: Matt Brown / © A.M.P.A.S.
Tina Fey attends the Governors Ball following the 84th Annual Academy Awards from Hollywood, CA Feb. 26, 2012. Fey and Bradley Cooper presented the Best Film Editing Oscar to a couple of surprised winners: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for David Fincher’s thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. That was the only Oscar for Fincher’s remake of the Swedish original starring Noomi Rapace. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)
This year’s Oscar ceremony was hosted by Billy Crystal. Besides Fey and Cooper, presenters included The Fighter / Batman Begins / The Flowers of War / The Dark Knight / The Dark Knight Rises’ Christian Bale; Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol / Rock of Ages / Top Gun / The Last Samurai‘s Tom Cruise; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides / To Rome with Love / Volver / Into the World‘s Penélope Cruz; and the Bridesmaids female cast: Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig.
Also, Bad Teacher / Gambit / What to Expect When You’re Expecting / Being John Malkovich‘s Cameron Diaz; Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps / Haywire / Behind the Candelabra / The China Syndrome / Romancing the Stone‘s Michael Douglas; Casa de Mi Padre / Dogfight‘s Will Ferrell; Gambit / Another Country / The King’s Speech‘s Colin Firth; The Amazing Spider-Man / The Help / Easy A / Movie 43 / The Gangster Squad‘s Emma Stone; and The Devil Wears Prada / August: Osage County / Great Hope Springs / Doubt / Julie & Julia‘s Meryl Streep.
Maya Rudolph attends the Governors Ball following the 84th Academy Awards ceremony held at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood on Feb. 26, 2012. Rudolph wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, but she was a presenter alongside fellow Bridesmaids actresses Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Kristen Wiig. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)
Penélope Cruz: Oscar ceremony 2012
Wearing an old-fashioned blue dress, Penélope Cruz – looking a bit Sophia Loren-ish – is pictured above with Oscar show co-producer Brian Grazer backstage at the 84th Academy Awards, held at the former Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, ’12. Cruz was a presenter at the ceremony.
A Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Cruz was nominated for two other Academy Awards: Best Actress for Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver (2006) and Best Supporting Actress for Rob Marshall’s Nine (2009).
Additionally, Penélope Cruz had a major worldwide hit last year: Rob Marshall’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, with Johnny Depp. She will next be seen in the following:
- Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love, also featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin, Alison Pill, Greta Gerwig, Giuliano Gemma, Riccardo Scamarcio, and Ornella Mutti.
- Sergio Castellitto’s Venuto al mondo (literally, “Come to the World” – in the general sense of “having been born”), with Emile Hirsch and Jane Birkin.
Brian Grazer and Penélope Cruz photo: Richard Harbaugh | © A.M.P.A.S.
Cameron Diaz backstage at the Oscars
Pictured above is actress Cameron Diaz garbed in a tight-fitting white dress backstage during the 2012 Academy Awards. Diaz was a presenter alongside Jennifer Lopez.
Cameron Diaz has never been nominated for an Academy Award, though a while back she was the New York Film Critics Circle’s surprising Best Actress pick or her performance in, this is not an April Fools joke, the lowbrow, crass comedy hit There’s Something About Mary (1998).
Diaz, who’ll be turning 40 in August, will next be seen in Kirk Jones’ What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Her co-stars are Jennifer Lopez (what a coincidence!), Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Dennis Quaid, Chace Crawford, Rodrigo Santoro, Chris Rock, Megan Mullally, and Genesis Rodriguez.
After that, Cameron Diaz shall be seen in Michael Hoffman’s Gambit, written by Joel and Ethan Coen, and featuring Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Alan Rickman, and veterans Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago) and Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show). Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine co-starred in the 1966 original directed by Ronald Neame (The Poseidon Adventure).
Cameron Diaz photo: Darren Decker | © A.M.P.A.S.
James Earl Jones, Oprah Winfrey
Honorary Award recipient James Earl Jones and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey backstage at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony held at the Hollywood and Highland Center on Feb. 26, 2012. Jones and Winfrey was officially handed their trophies at the Governors Awards held in fall 2011. Jones wasn’t in attendance, as he was appearing with Vanessa Redgrave in a production of Driving Miss Daisy on the London stage. (Image: Richard Harbaugh / © A.M.P.A.S.)
James Earl Jones was a Best Actor nominee for Martin Ritt’s 1970 drama The Great White Hope. His competition consisted of Jack Nicholson for Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces, Melvyn Douglas for Gilbert Cates’ I Never Sang for My Father, Ryan O’Neal for Arthur Hiller’s Love Story, and the eventual winner, George C. Scott for Franklin J. Schaffner’s Patton. Scott became the first performer to refuse the Oscar.
Oprah Winfrey was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for Steven Spielberg’s 1985 drama The Color Purple. Her competitors were fellow The Color Purple player Margaret Avery, who caused quite a stir at the time as a result of a trade-magazine ad; Amy Madigan for Bud Yorkin’s Twice in a Lifetime; Meg Tilly for Norman Jewison’s Agnes of God; and the eventual winner, Anjelica Huston, for her performance in her father John Huston’s Prizzi’s Honor.