Tag Archives: oscars

Oscars draw record low TV ratings

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Films about psychopaths, greedy oilmen and corrupt lawyers failed to click with moviegoers, and they proved a turnoff to U.S. television viewers as this year’s Oscars show hit record low ratings.

The 80th anniversary edition of the Academy Awards, dominated by European stars and films that played poorly at the box office, averaged 32 million viewers, entering the record books on Monday as the least watched Oscar telecast ever.

The national viewer tally reported by Nielsen Media Research for ABC’s live, three-hour-plus telecast on Sunday was down about 1 million viewers from the previous record low, set in 2003 when the Oscars were presented just after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq had begun.

The 2003 program was hosted by Steve Martin and featured the musical “Chicago” as best picture.

Sunday’s broadcast, with comedian Jon Stewart making his second appearance as Oscar host, now ranks as the smallest U.S. TV audience for the Oscars since 1974, when actual viewer totals first became available.

The household rating, 18.7, also marks the lowest level by that measure going back to the first televised Oscars in 1953.

By contrast, the most watched Oscar broadcast on record was the 1998 show, when the box-office blockbuster “Titanic” sailed off with a record-tying 11 awards, including the prize for best picture. Some 55 million Americans tuned in that year.

Even that figure pales in comparison to the audience that tunes in annually to the National Football League championship Super Bowl game, which this year drew 97.5 million viewers.

“American Idol,” the most popular U.S. series, averages 30 million viewers a week with its Tuesday night broadcast. It debuted this season with 33.5 million.

The weak ratings for Sunday’s Oscar broadcast came as no surprise given that many movies showcased this year — “There Will Be Blood,” “Michael Clayton,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” — generated little enthusiasm among moviegoers despite critical raves.

The night’s big winner, the grim, violent crime drama “No Country For Old Men,” which claimed four awards including best picture and best drama, grossed a modest $64 million at the North American box office.

Only one movie among the five nominated for best picture, breakout comedy “Juno,” crossed the $100 million box office market domestically. That film managed just one win for best original screenplay.

The Oscar ratings likely also suffered from the fact that all four acting awards this year went to European performers whose names are fairly obscure for American audiences and who appeared in movies that relatively few moviegoers saw.

The Oscars generally have drawn a bigger U.S. television audience in years when the big crowd pleasers at the multiplex, like “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” figured prominently in the awards race.

Oscar producers already were bracing for low ratings due to an overall viewership slump in network TV this broadcast season, exacerbated by a glut of reruns and reality shows triggered by the recently settled Hollywood writers strike.

Still, the Academy Awards show ranks as the year’s highest-rated entertainment special and a cash cow for Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, which raked in an average of $1.8 million for each 30-second spot, up 7 percent from a year ago.

Source: Reuters

‘No Country’ and Coen brothers win big at Oscars

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Bleak drama “No Country For Old Men” won four Oscars on Sunday, more than any other film, including best movie, director and adapted screenplay for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.

The movie, based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel about a drug deal gone wrong in south Texas, speaks to the moral decline of society and was among a group of dark, somber films that competed for the world’s top movie awards.

The film’s fourth award, for best supporting actor, went to Spain’s Javier Bardem for playing a psychopathic killer of few words.

In other top awards, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored a wide range of movies, actors and actresses from several countries, highlighting a recent trend toward globalization in cinema.

But Hollywood’s biggest night belonged to the Coens — offbeat filmmakers who have shown a skill at taking what could be mundane stories, populating them with quirky characters and looking at troubling questions of human frailty.

Accepting his Oscar, Joel Coen talked about how he and Ethan had made films since they were kids and said his brother had taken a camera to the airport as a boy in the 1960s to make a movie about shuttle diplomacy called “Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go.”

“Honestly, what we do now doesn’t feel that much different from what we did then,” he joked.

British performer Daniel Day-Lewis won for best actor as a sadistic oil prospector in the early 20th century whose rise to wealth and power comes at a deep cost to his soul. He was heavily favored for an Oscar after winning a series of other industry awards for the role.

Another British performer, Tilda Swinton, took supporting actress honors as a shifty lawyer in the thriller “Michael Clayton” and France’s Marion Cotillard was named best actress for portraying singer Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.”


These Oscars marked the first time since 1964 that the top four acting awards went to non-Americans, and Cotillard was the first French woman to win best actress since 1960.

“I’m speechless now,” Cotillard said on stage, visibly surprised and overjoyed. “Thank you life, thank you love. It is true there (are) some angels in this city.”

Bardem, the first Spanish ever to win an Oscar, took the occasion to thank his family in his native tongue, apologizing in advance to the Hollywood audience.

“This is for Spain and this is for all of you,” he said.

The Austrian Holocaust-era drama “The Counterfeiters” won the Oscar for best foreign language film. Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, it was the first win for Austria in the category.

In other key categories, best animated film went to audience favorite and box office hit “Ratatouille” about a friendly rat who becomes a chef in a Parisian kitchen.

Best original screenplay went to stripper turned writer Diablo Cody for the hopeful teen pregnancy comedy “Juno.”

Despite the talk of dark and pessimistic movies at this year’s Oscars, many winners offered statements of optimism.

Perhaps the most inspiring came from Marketa Irglova who, along with Glen Hansard, won for best original song with the tune “Falling Slowly” from the low-budget movie “Once.” Until the film won over audiences, Irglova and Hansard were unknown.

“This is just a proof that no matter how far out your dreams are, it’s possible,” said Irglova. “This song was written from a perspective of hope and hope connects us all.”

Director Alex Gibney of documentary winner “Taxi to the Dark Side” — a look at the use of torture by the United States — also offered a message of optimism. “Let’s hope we can turn away from the dark side and return to the light,” Gibney said.

Political satirist Jon Stewart returned as Oscar host and, in his opening monologue, made light of that pessimistic tone of many of the best film nominees.

“Does this town need a hug? What happened?” Stewart said.

What happened? Oscar hugged the Coens.

Source: Reuters

‘The Departed’ wins best picture Oscar, Scorsese, Mirren, Whitaker take prizes

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Martin Scorsese’s mob epic "The Departed" won best picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday and earned the filmmaker the directing prize that had eluded him throughout his illustrious career.

"Could you double-check the envelope?" said Scorsese, who had been the greatest living American filmmaker without an Oscar. He also had never delivered a best-picture winner before, despite crafting such modern masterpieces as "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas."

Scorsese received his Oscar from three contemporaries and friends, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. "So many people over the years have been wishing this for me," Scorsese said.

In an evening when no one film dominated as the Oscars shared the love among a wide range of movies from around the world, three of the four acting front-runners won: best actress Helen Mirren as British monarch Elizabeth II in "The Queen"; best actor Forest Whitaker as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland"; and supporting actress Jennifer Hudson as a soul singer in "Dreamgirls."

The other front-runner, Eddie Murphy of "Dreamgirls," lost to Alan Arkin for "Little Miss Sunshine."

"For 50 years and more, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle," said Mirren, who has been on a remarkable roll since last fall as she won all major film and television prizes for playing both of Britain’s Queen Elizabeths.

"She’s had her feet planted firmly on the ground, her hat on her head, her handbag on her arm and she’s weathered many many storms. … If it wasn’t for her, I most certainly wouldn’t be here. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the queen," Mirren said, holding her Oscar aloft.

"The Departed" led the evening with four Oscars, also winning for adapted screenplay and editing.

The Oscars had their most diverse and international scope ever, with wins for two black actors and global dramas that included "Pan’s Labyrinth," "Babel" and "Letters From Iwo Jima."

The soft-spoken Whitaker won for an uncharacteristically flamboyant role as the barbarous yet mesmerizing Amin.

"When I was a kid the only way I saw movies was from the back seat of my family’s car at the drive-in movie," Whitaker said. "It wasn’t my reality to think I would be acting in movies, so receiving this honour tonight tells me it’s possible. It is possible for a kid from east Texas, raised in south-central L.A. and Carson, who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with his heart, to touch them and to have them happen."

Arkin played a foul-mouthed grandpa with a taste for heroin in "Little Miss Sunshine," a low-budget film that came out of the independent world to become a commercial hit and major awards player.

"More than anything, I’m deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received, which in these fragmented times speaks so openly of the possibility of innocence, growth and connection," said Arkin.

Hudson won an Oscar for her first movie, playing a powerhouse vocalist who falls on hard times after she is booted from a 1960s girl group. The role came barely two years after she shot to celebrity as an "American Idol" finalist.

"Oh my God, I have to just take this moment in. I cannot believe this. Look what God can do. I didn’t think I was going to win," Hudson said through tears of joy. "If my grandmother was here to see me now. She was my biggest inspiration."

"Little Miss Sunshine" also won the original screenplay Oscar for first-time screenwriter Michael Arndt.

The film follows a ghastly but hilarious road trip by an emotionally messed-up family rushing to get their darling girl (10-year-old supporting-actress nominee Abigail Breslin) to her beauty pageant.

"When I was a kid, my family drove 600 miles in a VW bus with a broken clutch," Arndt said, describing a road trip that mirrored the one in the film. "It ended up being one of the funnest things we did together."

The nonfiction hit "An Inconvenient Truth," a chronicle of Al Gore’s campaign to warn the world about global warming, was picked as best documentary.

"People all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It’s not a political issue. It’s a moral issue," Gore said, joining the film’s director, Davis Guggenheim, on stage.

"An Inconvenient Truth" also won original song for Melissa Etheridge’s "I Need to Wake Up."

"Mostly, I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring me, showing me that caring about the earth is not Republican or Democrat, it’s not red or blue. We are all green," Etheridge said.

The openly gay Etheridge kissed her partner Tammy Lynn Michaels on the lips when her name was announced and onstage referred to Michaels as her wife. The couple held a commitment ceremony in 2003 and are the parents of twins.

"Maybe someone at home is going, ‘Did she say wife?"’ Etheridge said backstage. "I was kissing her because that’s what you do, you kiss your loved one when you win an Oscar, that’s what I grew up believing."

Earlier, Gore appeared with best-actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio to praise organizers for implementing environmentally friendly practices in the show’s production.

DiCaprio set up a gag with Gore, asking the 2000 presidential candidate if there was anything he wanted to announce.

"I guess with a billion people watching, it’s as good a time as any. So my fellow Americans, I’m going to take this opportunity right here and now to formally announce my intentions …," Gore said, his voice trailing away as the orchestra cut him off.

Composer Gustavo Santaolalla won his second straight Oscar for original score for "Babel," a film "that helped us understand better who we are and why and what we are here for," he said. He won the same prize a year ago for "Brokeback Mountain."

The dancing-penguin musical "Happy Feet" won the Oscar for feature-length animation, denying computer-animation pioneer John Lasseter ("Toy Story") the prize for "Cars," which had been the big winner of earlier key animation honours.

"I asked my kids, ‘What should I say?’ They said, ‘Thank all the men for wearing penguin suits,"’ said "Happy Feet" director George Miller.

The savage fairy tale "Pan’s Labyrinth" took three Oscars. The Spanish-language film won for art direction, makeup and cinematography.

"To Guillermo del Toro for guiding us through this labyrinth," said art director Eugenio Caballero, lauding the writer-director of "Pan’s Labyrinth," the tale of a girl who concocts an elaborate fantasy world to escape her harsh reality in 1940s Fascist Spain.

Only one of several Canadian nominees walked away with a trophy. Montrealer Torill Kove won best animated short for "The Danish Poet." Ryan Gosling, who was raised in Cornwall, Ont., lost out to Whitaker for the best actor prize, while Toronto’s Deepa Mehta went home empty-handed in the best foreign language film category.

That prize went to Germany’s "The Lives of Others," about a playwright and his actress-girlfriend who come under police surveillance in 1980s East Berlin.

"Letters From Iwo Jima" won the sound-editing Oscar for Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman. Murray’s father was an Iwo Jima survivor.

"Thank you to my father and all the brave and honourable men and women in uniform who in a time of crisis have all made that decision to defend their personal freedom and liberty no matter what the sacrifice," Murray said.

The record holder for Oscar futility, sound engineer Kevin O’Connell, extended his losing streak to 19 nominations without a win. This time, O’Connell and two colleagues were nominated for sound mixing on "Apocalypto," Mel Gibson’s portrait of the savage decline of the ancient Mayan empire, but they lost to another trio of sound engineers that worked on "Dreamgirls." "Apocalypto" lost in all three categories in which it was nominated, all for technical achievements.

Once an evening of back-slapping and merrymaking within the narrow confines of Hollywood, the Academy Awards this time looked like a United Nations exercise in diversity.

The 79th annual Oscars feature their most ethnically varied lineup ever, with stars and stories that reflect the growing multiculturalism taking root around the globe.

"What a wonderful night. Such diversity in the room," said Ellen DeGeneres, serving as Oscar host for the first time, "in a year when there’s been so many negative things said about people’s race, religion and sexual orientation.

"And I want to put this out there: If there weren’t blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars," she said, adding: "Or anyone named Oscar, when you think about that."