The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that three of last year’s acting winners, Kate Winslet, Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz will present at this year’s 82nd Academy Awards. Penn won Best Actor for his role in “Milk,” Winslet finally garnered a Best Actress golden statue for “The Reader” and Cruz walked away with Best Supporting Actress for her hilarious turn in “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Since Cruz is nominated again this year in the same category for “Nine” she was already going to be there and obviously, unless there is some miracle of God, Best Supporting Actor winner Heath Ledger will not be represented. Unlike last year when the show’s producers tried to keep as much suspense around the presenters as possible, Oscar is being much more forthright this time around.
More intriguingly, does the announcement that these three former winners are returning mean producers Tom Sherak and Adam Shankman have absolutely abandoned any plans to duplicate last year’s touching five former winners presenting to five nominees innovation? As Awards Campaign reported last month, the plan was already in the works to augment the set up by having “friends” appear instead of former winners, but in the weeks that have followed the producers may have realized that can be pretty difficult to pull off. Plus, would Winslet and Penn really return to present lesser awards? Doubtful. Let’s hope for some innovation again this time around.
In other Oscar matters, I diligently broke down Sandra Bullock’s smart “Late Show with David Letterman” appearance on Monday night, but she’s not the only nominee hitting the talk show circuit. Fellow Best Actress nominee Gabourey Sibide of “Precious” appeared on the last installment of “The Late Show with Jay Leno” on Tuesday night as well as “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” (she’d already appeared on “The View” last week). Best Supporting Actor frontrunner Christoph Waltz stopped by Letterman on Wednesday and Best Actor contender Jeff Bridges is on “The View” Friday. Today, Ryan Bingham stopped by to see Whoopi, Barbara and crew to perform his Best Oscar nominated song “The Weary Kind (Theme from ‘Crazy Heart’)” (think ABC is doing everything possible to plug the Academy Awards on their shows?).
Whether this really helps the actor’s campaigns is debatable, but it certainly gives some media exposure to their movies, careers and the big show (especially with the Winter Olympics set to dominate all things beginning Friday). Lionsgate is no doubt hoping some of Sibide’s personal charm rubs off on “Precious” grosses (a film that easily should have surpassed $50 million, but is now stuck at $43 million), but this is really about increasing the actresses notoriety while she’s still hot. The same can be said for Waltz. “Basterds” is doing A-OK on DVD and Blu-ray and he’s already finished shooting his villainous role in “The Green Hornet,” but a little more publicity can’t hurt as he tries to snag an even bigger payday for his next gig. As for the “Crazy Heart” contenders, this is definitely about box office as the film continues to expand throughout February and any plug they can get is cheaper than another TV spot.
More importantly, Academy members have already been mailed their official ballots which are due on later than 5 PM PST on Tuesday, March 2. That’s only 19 days away. Can anything dramatically change voters minds by then? We’re guessing no, but that’s half the fun of Oscar night anyways.