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Alone Yet Not Alone gets an Oscar nod — controversy stirs. The Oscars take the nod away — controversy grows.
The just-shy-of-unknown picture earned a Best Original Song nomination for its title number, "Alone Yet Not Alone," written by Dennis Spiegel (lyrics) and Bruce Broughton (music). Technically speaking, the nomination should furrow some brows:
For one, Alone Yet Not Alone only had a 21-day (and largely overlooked) theatrical run in 2013, a move to option it for awards eligibility — enough to color the film with a puzzling rouge, maybe, but not quite to support accusations of wrongful nomination... as proven by the fact that a yet unnamed organization hired a private investigator to confirm the legitimacy of Alone's eligibility. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the investigation — which focused specifically on the existence of print advertisements during its theatrical run, which are necessary for a film aiming for an award — deemed the film A-OK for nomination.
Far more important is the official reason for the song's disqualification: a specific degree of campaigning conducted by Broughton, who just so happens to be a former Academy governor. Reports following the removal of "Alone Yet Not Alone" from the nominees list share a message sent by Broughton to Oscar voters during nominations week, courtesy of CBS News.
Anybody who remembers Melissa Leo's Best Supporting Actress candidacy back in 2010 knows that awards campaigning is hardly taboo practice. Off-putting, maybe, but not against the rules, which is why the official ruling on Broughton's actions might perplex. According to Academy President Cheryl Boone, it wasn't so much what he did, but who he was. The mere fact that Broughton's name, as a former Academy governor, appeared at the head of the aforesaid email would have been enough to sway voters, as she articulates in her statement: "No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one's position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one's own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage."
Unsurprisingly, Broughton has responded with dismay, affirming that his intentions were never to use his professional history to sway voters, but only to ensure their awareness of the film and song, a practice he asserts is within the parameters of traditional Oscar campaining.
So... who's right?
An even more pressing question might be if there were any additional factors that went into the decision to oust the Alone Yet Not Alone title song from the running. Although the above mentioned private investigation was conducted, presumably, by a third party (Cinemablend writer Sean O'Connell jokes — or hypothesizes? — that "it's got to be the people behind Inside Llewyn Davis"), it indicates the overarching suspicion associated with Alone But Not Alone's nomination from the beginning.
When you take a look at the film itself, you might understand the contentious feelings. Alone Yet Not Alone is a self-decreed "faith-based" film that has garnered criticism for manipulative religious viewpoints and racist depictions of Native Americans. Before even stirring unrest over its eligibility, the new publicity for Alone Yet Not Alone stirred allegations of prejudice. And we've got to wonder if the public response to the film being considered for an Oscar in any way influenced the Academy's decision to pull the plug.
Already the nature of the debate is shaky. Some are defending the legality of Broughton's actions (like Hitfix columnist Kristopher Tapley) and highlighting arbitrariness in the Academy's decision. And considering the holes in the organization's defense of the nomination removal as well as the private investigation and the Alone But Not Alone outcry that preceded this new development, we're left to question just what factors pushed the Academy into such a rare action, and to ask ourselves if whatever feelings we may have about Alone But Not Alone should in fact impact our outlook on its disqualification.
Again: who's right?
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American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years A Slave look set to dominate the 2014 Academy Awards. The movies will go head-to-head for Best Picture along with Captain Phillips, Nebraska, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, Her and The Wolf of Wall Street.
British stars Christian Bale (American Hustle) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) both scored a mention for Best Actor, while American Hustle's Amy Adams will go head-to-head with Gravity's Sandra Bullock for Best Actress.
Other actresses nominated in the category are Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Judi Dench (Philomena) and Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).
Last year's (13) winner of the Best Actress trophy, Jennifer Lawrence, will compete for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Hustle, while Bradley Cooper landed a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in the crime caper.
12 Years A Slave co-stars Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender also picked up nods for their supporting roles, while the film's director Steve McQueen and American Hustle's David. O. Russell both landed nominations for Best Director along with Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron.
Speaking shortly after the nominations were announced, British moviemaker McQueen told the BBC, "(I am) just very excited - nine nominations. A lot of them (the Oscar nominees are) British. I am just so excited. We worked very hard and are very privileged to receive these nominations."
While O. Russell admits he is thrilled that all four of his film's main actors picked up nods, adding, "It's all four actors... you always worry as sort of the captain... that one of your great performers is not going to get recognised... they all put so much into it and they did it together so it's nice that none of them got left out."
American Hustle and Gravity both scored 10 nominations, while 12 Years A Slave landed nine.
The nominations were announced by actor Chris Hemsworth and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Thursday (16Jan14), and the winners will be unveiled during the Los Angeles prizegiving on 2 March (14).
The full list of nominees is as follows:
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
David O. Russell - American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Alexander Payne - Nebraska
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
Actor in a Leading Role:
Christian Bale - American Hustle
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
Actress in a Leading Role:
Amy Adams - American Hustle
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Judi Dench - Philomena
Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
Actor in a Supporting Role:
Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years A Slave
Jonah Hill - The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
Actress in a Supporting Role:
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska
Before Midnight - Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips - Billy Ray
Philomena - Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
12 Years A Slave - John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street - Terence Winter
American Hustle - Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine - Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club - Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
Her - Spike Jonze
Nebraska - Bob Nelson
Animated Feature Film:
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
The Grandmaster - Philippe Le Sourd
Gravity - Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis - Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska - Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners - Roger A. Deakins
American Hustle - Michael Wilkinson
The Grandmaster - William Chang Suk Ping
The Great Gatsby - Catherine Martin
The Invisible Woman - Michael O'Connor
12 Years A Slave - Patricia Norris
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
20 Feet from Stardom
Documentary Short Subject:
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
American Hustle - Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips - Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club - John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa
Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger
12 Years A Slave - Joe Walker
Foreign Language Film:
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Missing Picture
Makeup And Hairstyling:
Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger
Music - Original Score:
The Book Thief
Saving Mr. Banks
Music - Original Song:
Alone Yet Not Alone by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, from Alone Yet Not Alone
Happy by Pharrell Williams, from Despicable Me 2
Let it Go by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Frozen
The Moon Song by Karen O, from Her
Ordinary Love by U2, from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
The Great Gatsby
12 Years A Slave
All Is Lost
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness.
Tanzie (Hilary Duff) and Ava Marchetta (Haylie Duff) are heiresses to the multimillion-dollar Proactiv-like cosmetics company started up by their late father. Much like all the celebutante sisters in Hollywood (the Hiltons the Olsens the Simpsons et. al.) they live the privileged life--seamless entry into the hottest clubs maids waiting on them hand-and-foot actor boyfriends etc. But early on in Material Girls their high lives come crashing down when at a gala feting their beloved dad a video exposes the cosmetics line as dangerous. Their father’s oldest friend Tommy (Brent Spiner) tries to work damage-control magic but the damage is already done only to be worsened when the ditzy sisters accidentally set fire to their mansion. Forced to relocate to their maid’s (Maria Conchita Alonso) tiny apartment blacklisted by the people that matter--and their credit cards declined--the gals decide to go to work as um private investigators looking into what they believe was a scheme to sabotage the company. Along the way self-discovery bangs ‘em over the head. Separately the Duff sisters stay the ‘tween course recycling virtually the same type of role in the same movie and TV show after movie and TV show. The riskiest role either of the two has taken was Haylie’s turn in Napoleon Dynamite--not because it was edgy but rather because it had a potentially larger or smaller appeal than just the Lizzie McGuire crowd. Together in their first movie collaboration it’s double the nausea. It’s as if they decided to come together under an even wider safety net. Their talent as actresses won’t be clear until they take an ever-so-marginal chance but un-ironically they know how to play mini-mogul sisters. Anjelica Huston also stars as Fabiella the one trying to swoop in on Marchetta Cosmetics’ misfortune. We know precisely what we’re getting with Huston but we may never know why she took this role. Same can be said for Lukas Haas as a pro-bono lawyer who went from fare like Gus Van Sant’s Last Days to this (should-be-made-for-Nickelodeon) movie. Martha Coolidge has directed so much TV (The Twilight Zone Sex and the City) and film (Lost in Yonkers The Prince & Me) over the years it’s surprising to learn she wasn’t behind the movie that looks like Material Girls’ biopic: White Chicks. In all mock seriousness though it’s sad to see anyone attempt to helm what can essentially be considered “Duff Corporation” movies let alone a talented Hollywood vet like Coolidge. She had to know the limited parameters she was cornering herself into here but the director still manages to seem a bit lost. For example when she uses visual techniques such as juxtaposed scenes—which looked cool in say Sideways--it feels almost offensive here. It’s the dead-tired rich-girls-to-blissfully-bourgeois-girls story however that delivers the deathblow to the gut. And it’s Coolidge’s (possibly correct) assumption a movie that can be so narrowly focused toward a specific sect of moviegoers is the one that delivers a blow to the soul.