If you haven’t filled out your Oscar nominating ballot yet, you have until 5 PM PT today to get it to the PriceWaterhouse Coopers offices in Los Angeles at 350 S. Grand, Suite 4900. There have been years where 400 to 500 ballots have been walked in the day they were due, according to one Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences consultant who as always plans to have someone count the messengers making deliveries. It’s all part of the last-minute rush to get as many votes as possible for their pictures in the hands of the accountants. Think of it as the same syndrome we see on April 15th when taxpayers wait until the very last moment to drop off their taxes off.
Even though ballots were coming due, it didn’t slow a slew of campaign events especially with everyone in town for this weekend’s non-stop award binge. It kicks off Friday with the AFI luncheon honoring the best in movies and TV in 2010, followed by Friday night’s 16th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards which airs live on VH1 from the Hollywood Palladium starting at 6 PM PT. Of course, loads of parties lead up to the Golden Globes including Friday night’s CAA bash at the Soho House. Saturday AM brings a brunch at Boa honoring this year’s Independent Spirit Award nominees, followed by the BAFTA-LA tea, then the LA Film Critics Awards banquet, and more parties galore honoring Golden Globe nominees including soirees thrown by Disney at the London Hotel and Paramount at Chateau Marmont. Sunday is the Golden Globes, live on NBC at 5 PM followed by another round of parties thrown by The Weinstein Co/Relativity Media, Sony, Warner Bros/In Style, HBO, Fox, AMC, and NBC/Universal, all at the Beverly Hilton. Next to Oscars week, this is the biggest of the entire awards season.
Thursday saw The Weinstein Company hosting a luncheon at the W hotel in Hollywood following their The King’s Speech star Colin Firth’s Hollywood Walk Of Fame sidewalk star unveiling ceremony. Director Tom Hooper toasted him in front of a swarm of guests who included many, many Academy voters. Firth couldn’t stay long as he had to go to a taping of Inside The Actors Studio. But everyone else lingered for a while talking about – what else? – Oscar and who they liked for each category. Firth was a lock with this crowd. But consultants in the room were targeting voters who hadn’t turned in their ballots, including at least one prominent 1970s-era director who admitted he forgot to vote.
One prominent actress was bemoaning the large number of “depressing” films she has been watching this season, and some she admitted to “turning off”. A producer predicted that The Social Network and Black Swan were going to split the edgy vote, letting King’s Speech sneak in and take Best Picture. At this event you would have thought King’s Speech was a lock. But after talking to several voters, I think this could still be a very tight and not-so-predictable race.
Later Thursday, Firth and Hooper showed up again with co-stars Helena Bonham Carter, Claire Bloom, and Guy Pearce for a SAG Q&A at the Wadsworth Theatre in Westwood being streamed on the internet and local NPR station KCRW which is thought to reach a lot of voters. Since most of these Q&As are limited to the audience on hand, this could be an innovative way for distributors to get more bang for their Oscar bucks.
Across town at the DGA, there was another completely packed SAG screening of True Grit followed by a Jeff Bridges/Hailee Steinfeld Q&A. Both received prolonged standing ovations. For the 14-year-old Steinfeld, this was heady stuff. She’s up for a supporting SAG award as well as two Critics Choice trophies. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association ignored True Grit in their nominations, but Hailee is going to the Globes anyway Sunday to be a presenter with Justin Bieber — although she admitted she doesn’t own his CD. (I offered to loan her mine.) She got laughs telling the crowd about shooting the cave scene and being attacked by live snakes. To put her at ease, the “snake wrangler” told her the serpents were complete professionals after working on Snakes on a Plane. “That didn’t help,” she says.
Meanwhile over at Kate Mantilini’s restaurant down the street from the Academy, several foreign language committee members were spotted scarfing down a quick dinner Thursday night before taking in the final two movies of the 65 under consideration for Best Foreign Film. Denmark’s Susanne Bier film In A Better World and Latvia’s Hong Kong Confidential closed out the first phase of the marathon selection process that started October 15th with Canada’s Incendies. Next the Academy’s Foreign Language exec committee will meet to choose three films passed over by the larger committee which gets just six picks. All nine finalists will be announced on January 19th and then whittled down to the final five by a bicoastal group of about 30 members who choose the nominees.