Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oscar voter dishes on the nominations

The Daily Beast has a fascinating interview with an anonymous voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences about her thoughts on this year's Oscar nominations. This member, a woman who appears (to me) to be a member of the Acting division, had some strong opinions. It's a fascinating read. Among her thoughts:

  • She's baffled by Selma's snubs in most categories, particular for Ava DuVernay's lack of a Best Director nomination. Since this voter, at least, received her screener copy with plenty of time to watch it, she downplays (but doesn't entirely discount) the studio's limited campaigning as a factor. The controversy over the portrayal of LBJ may have been a bigger factor.
If you took away the controversy, you’d be in a different position, but it was too late to recover from that. As for the timing, I got my screener with plenty of time. And it isn’t like there aren’t precedents for holiday releases. You’ve got a black woman and a black film and you’re pitching it to a liberal organization -- if anyone should be open to it, it’s that body. 12 Years a Slave was an extraordinary accomplishment and a shot out of the dark. If you were going to split hairs, that is a better movie, but the last thing I want to come off as is, “We’ve got two black movies, so let’s marginalize them and accommodate one.” Selma is really a strong film, especially in a weak year.
  • She doesn't get Boyhood as a movie and thinks Birdman will hold up and stand the test of time. As much as she thinks Birdman director Alejandro González Inarritu is very unlikable, which could be a factor in a tight vote, she's still leaning towards voting for him for Best Director.
  • She hasn't seen Still Alice yet, but thinks Julianne Moore is utterly charming at the Academy lunches and is so likely win the Best Actress Oscar that she thinks that's when everyone will plan to go to the bathroom.
  • She thinks Kiera Knightley's Supporting Actress nomination for The Imitation Game was wasted, and Meryl Streep was great in Into the Woods but it was more of a stunt performance. She's leaning towards voting for Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress for Birdman but thinks Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) has it sewn up.
  • She's seen enough one-note drill sargent performances, and so although J.K. Simmons is winning all of the Suppporting Actor awards for Whiplash, she's going to vote for Edward Norton's more nuanced performance in Birdman.

Read the full interview for more of this Academy voter's thoughts and insights.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nominations are now OPEN!

Nominations for the 2014 Cosmisque Movie Awards are now open!

You can vote in one of two ways:

  • Download the MS Word ballot and email it back by the deadline; or
  • Fill out your ballot with our online form by the deadline

Ballots are due by Friday, February 13, 2015 at midnight.

Feel free to use these downloadable resources for help:

  • List of eligible 2014 films in PDF or Excel
  • Our list of Nomination Ideas, including an explanation of every award and potential nominees getting "buzz" this year.

More questions? Read more about who we are, and check out our Nomination FAQ below.

Cosmo Nomination FAQ

Am I eligible to vote?

Would you like to vote? That’s the biggest criteria. Originally, voting was limited to members of the Cosmique Krewe of Colour and selected additional individuals by invitation only. We have now opened up voting to others who feel like-minded. If you feel you fit with our vibe, we welcome your participation.

Although it has never happened, we reserve the right to discard ballots that we believe are attempting to sabotage the integrity of the awards, such as an agent trying to get their client’s fans to pack the nomination process. Although voters are not required to fill in every nomination slot for every award, ballots that only vote for a single film and nominate it for every award are likely to be regarded with suspicion.

For the Best Films Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame, can I nominate any film?

There are no restrictions on genre, nationality, language, or era for your nominations. The only restrictions are:

  • The film cannot be already in the Hall of Fame; and
  • The film cannot be eligible in the regular categories for the current or future awards years – that is, films released in 2014 or 2015. 

In other words, if the film theoretically could have been nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award this year, it is not yet eligible for the Cosmo Hall of Fame. Any film released in or before 2013 that is not already in the Hall of Fame can be nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame.

For the Lifetime Achievements, why can’t I nominate a previous winner?

Think of the Lifetime Achievement categories as a Hall of Fame. Once a film or a performer has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, they are already in the Hall of Fame it and there’s no reason to nominate them again.

Can I vote for the same nominee five times for the same award?

No. Passion counts, but we don’t want it to count too much. In the first year, we allowed that and had some unusual nominations as a result. Your five nominees must be for different films or performances. Duplicate votes for the same nominee for a single award will be ignored, and only one of the nominations will count. However, if you wish to give one of your nominees more weight, you may use the optional Power Vote for one of your nominees per award.

What is the Power Vote?

During the nomination round, voters have the option of giving a Power Vote to one of their nominees to give it extra weight. The Power Vote has the effect of nominating a particular film or performance twice for the same award. This allows voters to express their passion for a particular nominee while still recognizing other worthy films and performances.

Can I use the Power Vote for a sixth nominee?

No, the Power Vote may optionally be used to give extra weight to one of your five nominees per award, but it cannot be used for a film that is not already one of your five nominees. The Power Vote is intended to reward passion for a particular film while reigning in the madness that could occur if voters could use all five slots for the same nominee. Nominees with a Power Vote count double, as if the voter had nominated it twice.

Can I use the Power Vote more than once?

A Power Vote may only be used once per award. If you attempt to use it more than once in the same award, we will either ask for clarification or ignore the Power Votes entirely, at our discretion. The Power Vote is completely optional and you are not required to use it if you would like all of your nominations to have equal weight for a particular award.

It’s so overwhelming! What if I can’t think of enough nominees? 

Don’t worry, that’s okay. Just fill out as much of the nomination ballot as you want. You don’t need to come up with five nominations in every category if you don’t choose to. You can leave some categories partially unfilled or even completely blank if you choose.

One strategy to help you think of nominations is to begin by going through lists of eligible films and flagging the ones you’ve seen. You can consider downloading our list of Eligible 2014 Films:

  • PDF – A simple two-page list of every eligible 2014 film; or
  • Excel – A list of eligible films in Excel that allows you to rate or mark off films you’ve seen for easy reference

We’ve also provided a list of Buzzworthy 2014 Films, an annotated list of the awards that provide definitions of each award’s scope with ideas of potential nominees receiving considerable buzz.

What if there’s a film I want to nominate that isn’t on your list of eligible films?

It’s possible that the film you want to nominate isn’t eligible either because it isn’t a 2014 film. But it’s also possible that we messed up. We create our list by beginning with films that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences declare are eligible for Oscar consideration, and then we supplement with additional films that may have been in film festivals before being released on DVD, but not meet the Academy’s stricter criteria for the Oscars.

If there’s a film you think should be eligible, feel free to email the suggestion to us or post a comment here and we’ll review the suggestion.

What if I liked an actor in more than one film?

Like the Golden Globes, but unlike the Academy Awards, an actor or actress may receive multiple nominations for the same award. This has happened a handful of times in Cosmo history: Nicole Kidman received Best Actress nominations for both Moulin Rouge and The Others the same year, while Ian McKellen received Supporting Actor nominations the same year for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and X2: X-Men United.

Can an actor be nominated for an animated film?

Yes, voice-over work for animated films counts as an eligible performance for the Oscars, and if it’s good enough for the Oscars, it’s good enough for us. Ellen Degeneres was nominated for several Cosmos for her work in Finding Nemo, winning Best Supporting Actress.

How do I decide whether a particular role should be in the Leading or Supporting categories?

Use your own judgment. Not every film has both a Lead Actor and a Lead Actress. And sometimes it’s ambiguous. Cosmo voters have sometimes disagreed, resulting in a split decision that can allow an actor to receive nominations for both leading and supporting awards for the same performance (like Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo, Scarlett Jorhansson in Lost in Translation, and Richard Gere in Chicago). Nothing in the rules prevents you for nominating them for both leading and supporting awards if you aren’t sure how other voters may be leaning.

Why can’t I nominate in the Best Director category?

The Best Director nominations are chosen by an algorithmic formula rather than direct nominations. This began as an accident. The first year we did nominations for films of a specific year, we overlooked the Best Director category on the nomination ballot. Rather than completely ignoring it, we chose nominees based on the directors who had received nominations in other major movie awards that year. This proved to be fairly successful. Given that most of our voters are not involved in the movie industry and have a hard time seeing the effects of a good director on the screen (unlike other awards, even technical categories like Costume Design or Visual Effects), we decided to maintain this approach.

What is the formula used to determine Best Director nominees?

We won’t disclose the exact formula, but we will explain the general basis. Directors receive points for each nomination and win they receive at other film awards: the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Directors Guild of America, BAFTAs, Critics’ Choice Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and SF Film Critics Association, among others. Directors also receive points for the Cosmo nominations their film receives, with categories weighted differently depending on their importance (Best Picture nominations count more than nominations for Best Male Heroic Character, for example). This allows for some fan favorites to be nominated alongside directors with considerable critical and peer acclaim. Occasionally, a fan favorite may get nominated even if he or she hasn’t received directing nods from any of the other major awards, like Bryan Singer for X2: X-Men United and Joss Whedon for Serenity. While it is theoretically possible for an acclaimed director to receive the film’s only Cosmo nomination, so far it has never happened.

What if I haven’t seen that many films? There might be other films or performances I like better than the ones I’ve seen.

We have always maintained that the Cosmo Awards are as much about what drew us to the theaters (or DVD rentals, or streaming services) as they are about what we liked that we saw. See what you want to see, vote for what you want to vote for. Reward what you enjoyed and don’t worry that you didn’t see everything.

How do I know what genre a film is eligible for?

Use your own judgment. Resources like IMDB may provide a guide, but don’t feel constrained if they don’t tag a film with a genre you’d like to nominate it in. Most films are eligible for more than one genre, and you are free to nominate it in anything that you personally think is appropriate. Sometimes it may be ambiguous whether a particularly film qualifies for a particular genre. For example, some might consider one film to be a rather dramatic comedy while others may see it as a comedic drama. You are free to nominate it in both if you wish, and some films like Big Fish and Lost In Translation have received both Best Comedic Film and Best Dramatic Film nominations.

How can I cast a nomination ballot?

You can vote in one of two ways:

Nomination ballots for the 2014 Cosmique Movie Awards are due no later than February 13, 2015.

What if I change my mind after I’ve submitted my ballot?

You are free to make changes provided they’re completed before the nomination deadline of February 13, 2015. If you voted online, please resubmit that section of your ballot using the same email address. Only your most recent ballot will be processed. If you submitted an MS Word ballot, please email us at the email address on the ballot and tell us what you would like to change.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Who we are, and why you should join us

Nominations are now open for the 2014 Cosmique Movie Awards! For those of you who are new, this is a perfect opportunity to learn about us. It's your opportunity to agree with the Oscars or strike your own path and react against them.

What are the Cosmique Movie Awards?

The Cosmique Movie Awards, also called the Cosmos, were originally founded by a group of friends in San Francisco as their response to the Academy Awards. It began at an Oscar party, where we ended up being less interested in who the guests thought would win, and more interested in who they wanted to win instead. And just as importantly: who they would have nominated instead of the Academy’s picks. From that grew our own awards: the Cosmique Movie Awards.

Over the years, participation has slowly grown and membership is now open to those who are interested in participating and feel they share our general vibe.

The Cosmos are your opportunity to react against the Academy if you don’t agree with some of their nominations.

How did you get the name?

Many of our initial voters were members of a private Mardi Gras krewe in the San Francisco Bay Area called the Cosmique Krewe of Colour. Although the initial idea was that the awards would be voted on by krewe members, from the very beginning other selected individuals who were not part of the krewe were also invited to participate.

What makes you different from the Oscars or other awards?

Our voters are just regular fans of movies. Most of us aren’t involved in Hollywood or the film industry (though a few are). Most of us aren’t published movie critics (though a few are). Most of us are just regular movie fans.

We like to think that we blend the gravitas of the Oscars with the irreverence of the MTV Movie Awards. We certainly have traditional awards for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, and the like. But we also have silly, irreverent awards like Favorite Female Heroic Character, Best Male Villain, Sexiest Ensemble, and Best Use of (Gratuitous?) Nudity.

Who are the voters?

Our voters are widely disparate and are scattered throughout the country. None of these “demographics” are requirements, but they may help you get a sense of our “vibe.” In general:

  • A large percentage of our voters are from the San Francisco Bay Area or have ties here.
  • Many of our voters identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or some other facet of the LGBT community. Those who don’t are supportive allies of the LGBT community.
  • Most our voters are not involved in the movie industry (though we do have a few involved behind the scenes in films, at least one published film critic, and one regular voter is even a Cosmo winner).
  • While our voters probably skew a bit left-of-center politically, there is no litmus test for participation.
  • Our voters’ film interests run the gamut. Some see movies every week in the theater; others won’t see anything unless it’s available on DVD or streaming. Some try to see every potential Oscar hopeful. Some go for documentaries, foreign films, and indies; others prefer summer blockbusters and action films. There’s a powerful contingent that favors science fiction, fantasy, and superhero films – so much so that these are now three different awards in our Best by Genre awards. And some of our voters (and not just female voters) go for “chick flics,” romantic comedies, and angsty YA fare.

We don’t expect our voters to see every film jockeying for recognition at the other awards. We don’t even expect them to see everything nominated for a Cosmo, though many try to. We have always felt that the awards are as much about what drew our voters to the theaters (or DVD rental, pay-per-view, streaming services) as they are about what our voters liked that they saw.

What kinds of awards do you have?

Our awards are divided into five categories:

  • Lifetime Achievement Halls of Fame: Five separate awards for Best Films of All Time, Best Actresses/Actors of All Time, and Best Comedic Actresses/Actors of All Time.
  • Best Overall: Includes films of all genres, from serious awards like Best Film of 2014, Best Director, and Best Cinematography, to more irreverent awards like Favorite Guilty Pleasure.
  • Performance Awards: Awards for actors in specific films, from Best Actress in a 2014 film to things like Best Female Villain and Actor’s Character You Would Most Like to be Intimate With.
  • Genre Awards: Awarded to films considered to be the best in the action/adventure, animation, comedy, documentary, drama, fantasy, historical, musical, mystery/suspense/horror/thriller, queer, science fiction, and superhero genres.
  • Worst: Like the Razzies, voters can choose the Worst Film, Most Overrated Film, and Worst Performance.

Why do you call it the 2014 Cosmique Movie Awards when it’s 2015?

At the beginning, we adopted a convention of naming the year’s awards for the calendar year of the eligible films rather than for the date those films were nominated.

Can I participate?

Yes! Well, probably. If you’ve read about us and feel you share our vibe, you can vote, providing that:

  • You are at least 13 years of age; and
  • This site does not violate any local laws or community standards in your jurisdiction.

How does voting work?

We’ve divided voting into two rounds.

  • In the nomination round, voters may select up to five different nominees for each award, and may give one of their nominees an optional Power Vote. The top vote-getters are nominated and advance to the final round.
  • For the final awards, voters choose one of the nominees for each award to decide who wins.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Daily Beast's 10 Oscar surprises

The Daily Beast has a rundown of what they consider to be the most surprising snubs and other surprises for this year's Oscar nominations, including more love than they expected for American Sniper and a lot less than they thought for Selma.

The list includes:

  • The Lego Movie snubbed for Best Animated Feature
  • Marion Cotillard's Best Actress nomination for Two Days, One Night
  • Selma snubbed for Best Director (Ava DuVernay) and Best Actor (David Oyelowo
  • African Americans mostly snubbed across the board
  • Foxcatcher got nominations for Best Director (Bennett Miller), Best Actor (Steve Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), and Original Screenplay ... without also getting a Best Picture nomination. (Only eight films got Best Picture consideration this year.)
  • Gone Girl ignored for everything except Best Actress (Rosamund Pike)
  • Life Itself, the documentary about legendary film critic Roger Ebert, snubbed for Best Documentary
  • Six nominations for American Sniper, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Bradley Cooper)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal snubbed for Nightcrawler
  • Jennifer Aniston's lack of a nomination for Cake

Check out the full article for more about why they were surprised.

Oscar nominations announced

The Academy of Motion Arts & Pictures announced their nominees for the 87th Annual Academy Awards this morning, with Birdman and The Grant Budapest Hotel leading the pack with nine nominations each.

The Lego Movie, widely considered a frontrunner for Best Animated Feature, was a surprise snub in that category, though it did receive a nomination for Best Original Song. Although Jennifer Anistan's performance in Cake and Jake Gyllenhaal's performance in Nightcrawler were receiving recent awards momentum, neither were nominated.

The awards will be telecast on Sunday, February 22, with Neil Patrick Harris hosting.

Best Picture

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash


  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor

  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods


  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ida
  • Mr. Turner
  • Unbroken

Costume Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Inherent Vice
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • Mr. Turner

Foreign Language Film

  • Ida, Poland
  • Leviathan, Russia
  • Tangerines, Estonia
  • Timbuktu, Mauritania
  • Wild Tales, Argentina

Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

Original Score

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Mr. Turner
  • The Theory of Everything

Adapted Screenplay

  • American Sniper
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inherent Vice
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Original Screenplay

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nightcrawler

Animated Feature Film

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Documentary Feature

  • Citizenfour
  • Finding Vivian Maier
  • Last Days in Vietnam
  • The Salt of the Earth
  • Virunga

Documentary Short Subject

  • Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
  • Joanna
  • Our Curse
  • The Reaper (La Parka)
  • White Earth

Film Editing

  • American Sniper
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Whiplash

Original Song

  • "Everything Is Awesome," The Lego Movie
  • "Glory," Selma
  • "Grateful," Beyond the Lights
  • "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
  • "Lost Stars," Begin Again

Production Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Mr. Turner

Animated Short Film

  • The Bigger Picture
  • The Dam Keeper
  • Feast
  • Me and My Moulton
  • A Single Life

Live Action Short Film

  • Aya
  • Boogaloo and Graham
  • Butter Lamp
  • Parvaneh
  • The Phone Call

Sound Editing

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken

Sound Mixing

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

Visual Effects

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards

Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer
We hadn't heard of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards before now, but they sound awfully fun.

Like the Cosmique Movie Awards, they give awards to films in both traditional and unconventional categories. Some of their more conventional awards this year went to Boyhood for Best Film, Richard Linklater (Boyhood) for Best Director, Michael Keaton (Birdman) for Best Actor, and Julianne Moore (Still Alice) for Best Actress.

But they also have some really fun awards of note that are limited only to female nominees, including:

  • Best Woman Director - Ava DuVernay for Selma
  • Best Female Action Star - Emily Blunt for Edge of Tomorrow
  • Best Depiction Of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction - Scarlett Johansson for Under the Skin
  • Actress Defying Age and Ageism - Tilda Swinton (who also won Best Supporting Actress for Snowpiercer)
  • Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Leading Man and The Love Interest - Colin Firth (b. 1960) and Emma Stone (b. 1988) for Magic in the Moonlight
  • Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent - Cameron Diaz for Sex Tape

We're going to make a note to keep this one on our radar. Check out their full list of winners.

(H/T: CriticWire)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The 2014 Cosmique Movie Awards

It's time to start planning for the Eleventh Cosmique Movie Awards, honoring the best (and worst) films of 2014.

At the moment, Birdman and Boyhood seem to be bringing in the most nominations from other film awards (like the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, the BAFTAs, and more), followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, and The Theory of Everything.

Historically, Cosmo voters have often been in fairly close agreement with other awards shows for many of our nominations, but usually with some surprising twists. (Last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was the Cosmos' top nominated film despite being largely ignored except for technical categories for most other awards.) Will The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies be this year's top nominee? If Ian McKellen and Peter Jackson get nominated again, they will have been nominated for every single film in the Middle Earth series. How will a whole host of superheroes -- mutants, avengers, robots, and more -- fare in our specialty categories against the films already being lauded by more traditional award shows? You get to help decide!

Award Changes

Last year we made a few significant changes that will be continued this year.

  • We increased the total number of potential nominees to six for every award (though we reserve the option to lower it or increase it for specific awards to deal with ties, insufficient nominations, or other unforeseen issues). 
  • The award for Best Young Performer, which was revived in 2012 after being dormant for a decade, was split into separate male and female awards for Best Young Actress and Best Young Actor
  • And the award for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Film was split into separate awards for Best Fantasy Film and Best Science Fiction Film.

All of those changes are being retained. In addition, this year we're creating another new award to address the popularity of genre films among Cosmo voters: Best Superhero Film. While films that qualify for this award may well also qualify for others, particular Best Fantasy Film or Best Science Fiction Film, we're hoping that adding this one will help us recognize more films in a genre that has always been very popular among Cosmo voters.

The Schedule

As usual, the Cosmo Awards schedule is built to follow the Oscars. Many of our voters use the Academy Awards as a guide for what to see. We therefore open our nomination process on the day the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announces the Oscar nominees, and we announce our nominees (and start voting for the winners) on the day of the Academy Awards.

Here's our schedule:
  • Thursday, January 15, 2015 - Cosmo nominations open. (Oscar nominations announced.)
  • Friday, February 13, 2015 - Cosmo nomination ballots due.
  • Sunday, February 22, 2015 - Cosmo nominations announced; final voting begins. (Academy Awards are held.)
  • Friday, March 20, 2015 - Final Cosmo ballots due.
  • TBD - Winners announced.

We'll post the nomination ballots on Thursday.