This is just what the name implies: Each week, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.
Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.
However, the above description doesn’t even begin to do justice to what my guest this week has done. More on that in a minute. First, I need to introduce you to him.
Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) was born in Pittsburgh, and grew up just north of there in New Kensington, Pa. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and has worked as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, The Associated Press, and USA Today. His dark coming-of-age comedy Brutal Youth will be published in June—some guy named Stephen King gave it a glowing review—and you can check out his author profile on Goodreads.
Today, though, I’m talking to Anthony about his work at Entertainment Weekly, where he’s currently a senior writer and the go-to-guy on the Oscars. And this is where he took 50 Words Fridays to a whole new level.
See, when people are kind enough to come on my site, I like to try and give them at least a couple of questions to choose from. In Anthony’s case, I came up with a lot more than usual—six, to be precise—just because interviewing a bonafide Oscar expert two weeks before the Academy Awards isn’t what you’d call an everyday occurrence at tedfoxisawesome.com.
Well, Anthony didn’t pick one, two, or even three questions to answer; he did all six. What’s more, he answered each in exactly 50 words. Before I knew what hit me, I had this:
The Ted Fox is Awesome Oscar Preview Special Starring Anthony Breznican
Let’s start the insanity.
How much of a role, if any, does a nominee’s previous Oscar track record play in a given year’s voting?
“It can play a very significant role. Oscar voters are swayed not just by the stories they see on screen, but by the backstory of the contender. Veterans who’ve been passed over for landmark roles can often claim their Oscar later for good-but-not-great roles, like Al Pacino and Paul Newman.”
What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of the Oscar nomination and/or voting process?
“People assume the Oscars are decided solely on merit, but they’re actually a political campaign. Getting people to watch the films, and building support for a candidate are critical to ending up on that stage the night of the ceremony. Great films get overlooked if they don’t play the game.”
How accurate are the Golden Globes and SAG awards as indicators of what’s to come at the Oscars?
“The Globes have comedy AND drama categories, but still only hit the bull’s-eye 65% of the time over the past two decades. SAG gets it right with its ensemble award about half the time. We all want to know, before we know. But no group is exactly like the Oscars.”
Who or what do you believe is the closet thing to a lock in this year’s field?
“Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. Before that movie screened, everyone was aware of Matthew McConaughey’s weight-loss and transformative performance. What few expected was to be moved so deeply by Leto’s sweet and charismatic transgender prostitute. He made a powerful impression that put him ahead early—and kept him there.”
What were the biggest snubs among this year’s nominations?
“People were shocked Emma Thompson didn’t get a mention for Saving Mr. Banks, and Tom Hanks and Robert Redford were left off the Best Actor list for Captain Phillips and All Is Lost, respectively. But unlike Ben Affleck’s directorial snub last year, there wasn’t one absence that caused a firestorm.”
You wrote in EW that this is one of the tightest Best Picture fields in recent memory. As someone who has (#humblebrag) seen all 85 previous winners, I have to know: What do you predict will be No. 86?
“I think it will be 12 Years a Slave—but only by the slimmest of margins. There’s tremendous affection for Gravity, too, and that movie is likely to sweep the technical categories. But the Best Picture prize hinges on an emotional connection, and this year Slave has the strongest one.”
Huge thanks to Anthony for stopping by this week and dropping so much Oscar knowledge. Consider it my Valentine to you, my loyal readers.
I just made it weird, didn’t I? Dammit.