Hollywood Oscar campaigns: A civil affair in a wide-open field

Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:16pm EST
 
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In an industry known for its boundless self-promotion, campaigning for this year's Oscars has been a relatively civil affair, compared with the bare-knuckled sparring of years past.

But that does not mean studios have toned down the campaigns around their films and nominees. In fact, Oscar watchers believe this awards season has been the most feverishly contested in recent memory.

"I feel that this year is more exhausting than ever," said Tim Gray, the awards editor at trade publication Variety, noting the number of high-quality films among the best picture nominees.

"It is more intense partly because there are more movies in contention. But in every race, there are very few shoo-ins, and so people are seeing an opportunity," he added.

This year, nine films will compete for the best picture Oscar, which will be handed out on March 2 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. Oscar voting ends on Tuesday.

Although, slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" and outer space thriller "Gravity" appear to be the favorites for the top prize, winning the statuette could come down to a handful of votes, Gray said.

"I think it works on the supposition, 'Leave no stone unturned,'" he said, noting how stars and directors have been attending screenings and question-and-answer sessions, sometimes more than one per day, to reach some 6,000 Oscar voters.

An emphasis on voter outreach could play a bigger role this year, when "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity" tied for the top award from the Producers Guild of America last month out of thousands of votes. The award is one of the top predictors of Oscar success.   Continued...

 
Cast member Leonardo DiCaprio arrives for the U.K. premiere of "The Wolf of Wall Street" at Leicester Square, London January 9, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Paul Hackett