The Oscar Project
I must admit I had no idea when I started this bracket challenge in early March how it would turn out. I just wanted to do a fun little bracket to get some engagement here on the site during the actual March Madness going on in basketball, and it surpassed my wildest dreams.
But enough of my rambling, you want to know who the winner is. Well, I purposely used the Pixar logo image here to force the actual winner announcement down the page a little bit. I had to make you work for it and scroll at least a little before giving you the answer.
And the winner is...
I had a vague feeling back at the beginning of this whole thing that this would be the result, but based on how some of the voting went early on, I wasn't sure if it would actually happen.
The final round came down to the difference of just a couple votes with Toy Story edging out The Incredibles by 5.26 percentage points. Any closer and it would have been a draw that I would have had to decide myself.
What this bracket really showed me about the Pixar films is that they are all REALLY good. The fact that many of the match-ups came down to one or two votes making the decision one way or the other tells me that it's really hard to separate which of these films is better than the others.
I've had a few conversations with folks about this who were aghast at how a certain film could've beaten another film, and I assure them that if I ran this same bracket again with the same seeding, it would probably turn out different, just like the actual basketball tournament. If I seeded the films differently, it would be a completely different outcome. We might end up with the same winner 8-9 times out of 10, but the path to get there would change each time.
If you're interested in getting an email update on the next bracket for the month of April, please drop your name and email in the form below and you'll get all the important updates as I announce the next bracket!
Just like the previous round, the semifinals did not disappoint, and provided two very close match-ups. In the end it was the powerhouse duo of Buzz Lightyear and Woody from the #2 seed Toy Story taking it to Mike and Sully from the #11 seed Monsters, Inc. and coming away with a spot in the finals. It was a bit of an improbable run for the Monsters, Inc. crew, having to take on Cars 3 in the first round followed by two much closer match-ups against powerhouses #6 Up and #3 Finding Nemo. Ultimately, Toy Story just proved to be too strong this round, and Monsters, Inc. was eliminated.
On the other side of the final, we find #9 The Incredibles. The super Parr family that first graced the screen in 2004 also had to beat several heavy hitters including their second round match-up with Coco (8), quarterfinals against top seed Toy Story 2 and finally knocking out 4th seed Inside Out in the semis. It remains to be seen if the Parr's can take out Buzz and Woody a second time to claim the overall championship and be declared The Oscar Project's Best Pixar Movie of 2021.
Lastly, I added a few extra questions to the survey this time. I'm just trying to gather some feedback on how people liked this diversion and get suggestions for future versions of this. Please take a second to complete those other questions after you vote as it will be a huge help in trying to target content for this page. Thanks!
As I'm diving into the history of film more and more lately, I found myself slowly building a library of books about movies and wanted to share that with folks. That being said, this is the first in what I hope will be a monthly segment here spotlighting one book about movies.
My first spotlight here is going to focus on the 2019 book Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen by Brian Raftery. The book walks through the year 1999 in movies from beginning to end, giving some of the stories behind the great films of the year from the big budget blockbusters like Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and The Matrix, to the unexpected hits like Office Space and The Sixth Sense, and even giving insight into the phenomenon that was The Blair Witch Project.
The book came about as a result of countless interviews conducted by the author as well as compiling source accounts from the time. And while 1999 doesn't seem like that long ago, it is a full generation at this point so there is some distance between us today and the year in question.
I wanted to start with this book because, as I look back on the year 1999, it was a formative year in my own film experience. Up to that point, my main focus had been on things in the science fiction realm. I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Star Wars film, the first time I was going to be able to see one of those in it's initial run in a movie theater. There was the science fiction/action film The Matrix which captured my imagination and blew my mind as to what was possible in films when it came to special effects.
But beyond these, I was starting to broaden my horizons and able to finally get into R rated films without parental approval. Films like Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, and American Beauty were within my grasp and while I didn't necessarily see all these at the theater, many of them I did check out between 1999 and late 2000 when I arrived at college for the first time.
Raftery writes in the book's prologue about the night of New Year's Eve 1999, the night when the world held its collective breath in hopes that the Y2K rumors wouldn't come true and that life would continue on as usual. He implicates the concern over Y2K as one of the main culprits of the boom in the film industry in 1999 as the world led up to its impending doom. Looking back now, of course there was little to worry about, but at the time, I remember the concern being real. It seems a trivial thing to worry about today with things going on in our world, so reading about that "simpler time" feels good and brings me back to a good place in my own life.
Today is the day where the NCAA basketball tournament officially starts with four play-in games. With those games kicking off, it's time to move on to our semi-final match-ups with only four films remaining.
The quarter finals provided some of our closest match-ups to date and two of them came down to a single vote. At the top of the bracket, overall number one seed Toy Story 2 was knocked off by 9th seeded The Incredibles. Meeting The Incredibles in the first semifinal match-up is 4th seeded Inside Out after they knocked off the remaining Cinderella, 21st seeded Cars.
In the other close game, 11th seeded Monsters, Inc. narrowly defeated #3 seed Finding Nemo with one deciding vote. Mike and Sully will face off against #2 seed Toy Story, the only remaining Toy Story film, the only film remaining from the 1990s, and of course the earliest released film out of the remaining contenders.
So we are down to 4 films left and they are some REALLY strong contenders. I would be OK with just about any of these four films winning the entire thing. I also want to look forward to the next bracket we can do like this once we're done with Pixar films. I've had a few thoughts, but want your feedback as well. Before you go vote for the semifinal round, drop a quick comment below with a bracket of films we could explore.
Next up in our series this week is the Best International Feature category. Previously known as Best Foreign Language Film, this category got a new name just last year in 2020 with Best Picture winner Parasite winning here as well.
This year, one of the international feature nominees is again nominated for Best Director (as was Bong Joon-ho last year) with Another Round's Thomas Vinterberg being recognized in that category.
As of this writing, I have not had a chance to watch any of these films, though they will be on my list as we approach the Academy Awards ceremony. As I am able to watch them, reviews will be posted on the site.
2021 Short Film Nominees | 2021 Best Documentary Feature Nominees
I am starting off our deeper dive coverage of the films nominated for Oscars this year with a look at the three short film categories, Best Documentary Short Film, Best Animated Short Film, and Best Live Action Short Film.
I personally love these categories because you often get a wide range of stories all packed into small packages. Many of the films, especially in the animated category, are less than ten minutes long, so you can sit down and watch the entire category in less time than it takes to watch a full feature film, if you can find them that is.
That's the true struggle with these films. They rarely get released to theaters outside of film festivals, but with the rise of online streaming services and sites like Vimeo and YouTube, many of these are more accessible than ever. Out of the 15 nominees across the three short film categories, seven are readily available on YouTube, Netflix and Disney+. The remaining eight do not currently have distribution as of this writing, but may be released publicly prior to the Academy Award ceremony.
Best Documentary Short Film
With four of these five films available online, I was able to sit down and watch them back to back. I wish I could say these documentaries were uplifting and lighthearted, but with subjects ranging from anti-government protests in Hong Kong to the murder of a young girl to a WWII French Resistance fighter visiting the concentration camp where her brother died, you won't find much levity here. About the closest you'll come is the conversation between a grandfather and grandson on the eve of the younger man's concerto debut in concert.
These films are all fantastic. As I have some more time to digest them and think about them, I'm sure one or two may rise to the surface as my favorite to win the award, but right now they are all too fresh in my mind to make a pick.
Best Animated Short Film
The animated short film category is one that has been owned by Pixar shorts off and on for some time. However, as cute as "Burrow" is, I don't think it is strong enough to take home the prize this year. I say this having only seen that and "If Anything Happens I Love You," but already that film has my vote for the award. Fair warning, don't read anything about it before you watch, not even my summary below. The best way to watch that short is to go in blind.
I am hoping to get a chance to see the other three films, especially "Opera" which brings a very intriguing premise. As I am able to view them, I will update here with my thoughts as well as short reviews of each.
Best Live Action Short Film
As of this writing, I've only seen one film from this group but it is fantastic. The premise of "Feeling Through" is truly unique and once again, I went in knowing very little of what it was about.
I am also intrigued to see "The Letter Room" which stars Hollywood actor Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars, Inside Llewyn Davis) He has been seen in a number of big budget films over the last decade or so, that I look forward to seeing what he is able to do in a short film format.
Finally, I recently heard an interview with Lawrence Bender, the producer of "Two Distant Strangers" as well as Joey Bada$$ who stars in the film. The story sounds like an intriguing look at police brutality in America mixed with a concept familiar to anyone who has seen Palm Springs (review) or Groundhog Day.
After yesterday's announcement of the nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards next month, there weren't too many surprises. Many of the categories looked similar to what they had been for the Golden Globes a few weeks back, albeit with fewer actual nominees since there are only single categories and no splits between drama and comedy/musical.
One thing is for sure, women are here to stay at the top of the Oscars. With a record 70 women being nominated for a total of 76 nominations, there are also two women up for Best Director, after the category being filled with all male nominees last year. It is the first time more than one woman has been nominated for the directing category. Among them Chloé Zhao is the first woman to recieve four nominations in a single year for her work on Nomadland while Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell is the third woman to receive three nominations in a single year, following Sofia Coppola and Fran Walsh, both in 2003.
Soul director Pete Docter received his now record fourth nomination in the Best Animated Feature category, which is celebrating its twentieth year as an Oscar category. In the Best International Film category, Tunisia becomes the fifth country from Africa to be nominated with their film The Man Who Sold His Skin.
Hamilton and One Night in Miami star Leslie Odom, Jr. is the fourth person to receive an acting nomination and a song nomination for the same film. This distinction is a fairly recent development with the three previous actors being Mary J. Blige for Mudbound in 2017, Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born in 2018 and Cynthia Erivo for Harriet just last year.
I would be remiss to not mention the posthumous Best Actor nomination for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (and Da 5 Bloods) star Chadwick Boseman. He is only the seventh actor to be nominated following his passing and after winning the Golden Globe, feels like a strong contender to be awarded an Oscar.
Finally, the acting categories are populated by a whole host of newcomers along with a few past winners. A total of 11 acting nominees are first-timers including Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Chadwick Boseman, Andra Day, Vanessa Kirby, Leslie Odom, Jr., Paul Raci, Amanda Seyfried, Lakeith Stanfield, Steven Yeun, and Yuh-Jung Youn. Among the past winners are Olivia Colman (2018), Viola Davis (2016), Anthony Hopkins (1992), Frances McDormand (1997 & 2018), and Gary Oldman (2018).
For a full breakdown of the nominees, check out yesterday's summary post. And be sure to come back tomorrow for a deeper dive into the three shorts categories including Best Documentary Short Film, Best Animated Short Film, and Best Live Action Short Film.
The nominations are finally here. After a whirlwind year at the movies when so many films were delayed or even canceled from their original release dates and many more found audiences through streaming platforms and video on demand services, we finally have a list of the nominees for recognition in 23 categories.
Below you'll find a list of all the films, actors, directors, and other filmmakers nominated for Academy Awards this year. Today's post is just a quick summary of the nominees. Throughout the rest of March and into April, I will be providing daily posts about the nominees in each category, wrapping up with individual summaries of the Best Picture nominees in the weeks leading up to the 93rd Academy Award ceremony on April 25th.
Links below in film titles are for trailers. Films available through streaming services are linked with that service's name. Many of these films are available on services you probably already pay for, so get out there and watch some of these incredible films before the awards are handed out next month!
And that's it! If you made it this far, congrats! Click the link for each category for a full breakdown of the category as we get closer to the 93rd Academy Award ceremony on April 25th.
Today is Selection Sunday when it comes to the big basketball tournament, but what matters here is these Pixar films that are getting votes. We are on to the quarterfinals this week with only eight films left in the running.
Amazingly, there is one Cinderella left in our little tournament. Our 21st seeded Cars has made it all the way from the initial play in round where it beat out 12th seeded WALL-E, and through the second round match-up against the 5th seeded tearjerker Toy Story 3. Now it's matched up against another heavyweight in Inside Out.
The biggest blowout of round 2 was both of our undersea adventures. After getting out of the first round, 14th seeded Finding Dory was no match for the power of 3rd seeded Finding Nemo. The little clownfish now faces off against 11th seeded Monsters, Inc. which upset the high flying adventure and 6th seeded Up.
In the bottom of the bracket, 2nd seed Toy Story, Pixar's first feature film, held strong with a commanding win over 15th seeded Incredibles 2 and will face off against 10th seeded Ratatouille. We will see if the little rat that cooks can hold up against Woody and Buzz a second time after beating out 7th seeded Toy Story 4 in round 2.
Finally, at the very top, number one seed Toy Story 2 logged a decisive victory over 2020's first Pixar film (and 17 seed) Onward. The first Pixar sequel will face off against 9th seeded The Incredibles in the quarterfinals after the super family narrowly upset 8th seeded Coco.
So there's your bracket up to this point. With the field dwindling quickly, some of your favorites are likely being eliminated, so make sure you keep voting to keep your favorite Pixar films in the running as we look to crown the best Pixar film by the end of March!
It's time to find out which films have been nominated for Academy Awards in this weird year and this year the husband and wife pairing of Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas will be announcing the nominated films.
Recent announcements have been brought to us by people including actors John Cho and Issa Rae last year, Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis in 2018, and directors Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee in 2016.
If you're inclined to watch the nomination announcements, you can do so on YouTube below. They will also be streamed live via Oscars.com, Oscars.org, Twitter, and Facebook.
If you can't watch live on Monday morning, you can watch the nominations after the fact or come back here for the full list of nominees once they are announced. I will also be providing category by category reviews over the course of the next month leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards in April 25th.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?