In a recent interview, Neil Patrick Harris has said he doubts he will ever present the Oscars again, following his much-criticized hosting of this year’s ceremony.
Neil Patrick Harris told The Huffington Post: “I don’t know that my family nor my soul could take it.”
Ratings for this year’s Oscar televised ceremony were down 16% on last year, and the lowest for six years.
Neil Patrick Harris’s stint as host came in for a bashing, with criticism it was flat and even “embarrassing” in places.
The actor had previously won plaudits for his hosting of the Tony Awards, which appeared to suit his style more having a Broadway background himself.
Asked if he read the reviews, Neil Patrick Harris said: “I didn’t keep up with it obsessively, but it was interesting to see just what people thought landed and didn’t.”
He added: “It’s so difficult for one who’s simply watching the show to realize just how much time and concession and compromise and explanation has gone into almost every single thing.
“And I’m not saying that to defend everything I said as if it was the absolute best choice, but it’s also an award show, and you’re powering through 14 acts filled with 20 plus awards.
“So my job was to try and keep things as light and specific to this year’s set of films as possible. And if people are critical of that, it’s a big giant platform, so I would assume that they would be.”
The low ratings of this year’s Oscar ceremony has been partly blamed on the lack of blockbuster movies up for the big prizes, with the contenders including Birdman and Boyhood considered more arthouse than mainstream.
This year’s Oscars ceremony has scored the event’s lowest ratings in six years, averaging 36.6 million viewers.
The figures were down by 16% on last year’s ratings, according to Nielsen figures published by Variety.
First-time host Neil Patrick Harris received lukewarm reviews, while some have blamed the drop on a lack of nominations for films with mass appeal.
Last year 43.7 million tuned in when Ellen DeGeneres was at the helm.
Ellen DeGeneres had powered the show to a 10-year ratings high and proved a tough act to follow.
Critics were unimpressed by Neil Patrick Harris’s performance during the three-and-a-half hour awards show, which saw him stripping to his pants for a Birdman and Whiplash inspired sketch – something the LA Times review called “embarrassing”.
Neil Patrick Harris has previously won four Primetime Emmys for his skills hosting Broadway’s Tony awards.
However, The Washington Post commented: “It was bound to happen eventually. Neil Patrick Harris, the man who can host anything, finally stumbled.”
Not everyone has blamed Neil Patrick Harris for the ceremony’s lack of appeal though, with some suggesting the predictability of this year’s awards race may have put TV viewers off.
Many of this year’s prizes were awarded to favorites including Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore who took the top acting prizes on the night.
Birdman triumphed over Boyhood to win both best picture and best director for Alejandro Gonzalez.
The New York Times has suggested the gap between films that are popular in US cinemas and those winning Oscars may also explain a ratings dip, calling the awards “hopelessly detached from movie viewers.”
Box-office smash American Sniper went home with only the sound-editing prize, while the second biggest ticket seller of the best picture nominations, The Imitation Game, also took just one prize.
“After months of intense prize campaigning by the Oscar-savvy Weinstein Company, it lost in seven of its eight nominated categories, winning only for best adapted screenplay,” said The New York Times.
Sunday’s TV broadcast was the Academy Awards’ lowest-rated show since 2009, which attracted 36.3 million viewers when Hugh Jackman hosted and Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner.
This year’s covetable goody bag, officially titled the “Everybody Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag”, is being handed out for the 13th year by the Los Angeles-based marketing company Distinctive Assets.
This year’s extravagant bag worth over $160,000 – an amount deemed taxable by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The celebs nominated in the acting and directing categories will all be gifted with an assortment of pricey swag from Distinctive Assets, with the gifts ranging in price from $5 to $20,000.
Goods donated by 59 brands, the most expensive including art, fine wine, jewellery and luxury travel vouchers, are delivered in a box the morning after the awards ceremony to 20 nominees in the acting and directing categories who don’t take home a prize.
Top of the list in terms of dollar is a $20,000 gift certificate to have Enigma Life founder Olessia Kantor fly out for a personal meeting with each nominee “to discuss their 2015 horoscope, analyse dreams and teach them mind control techniques”.
This year’s giveaway reportedly also includes a luxury three-night stay in Tuscany ($1,500), a wildly expensive train ride through the Canadian Rockies ($14,500), a Reset Yourself lifestyle makeover package ($14,500) and a silver necklace engraved with the latitude and longitude coordinates of the Dolby Theater where the Oscars takes place ($150).
Oscar losers will be offered herbal tea lollipops and lean protein bars. Lest despondent actors are tempted to binge on their Live Love Pop healthy popcorn, the bags also contain portion-control plates.
Nor are celebrities encouraged to take any time out of their presumably gruelling fitness regimes, post-Oscars. For those whose new year’s resolutions are on the wane, there’s a PolarLoop 24/7 activity tracker and vouchers for personal fitness sessions with celebrity trainer Alexis Seletzky. Stars exhausted from the ceremony might welcome a quick fix in the form of anti-ageing products, facial repair cream, and acne treatment. Unfortunately, the anti-perspirant and Starlettos heel protectors come too late to save embarrassments on this year’s catwalk.
There’s a “glamping” trip ($12,500), posh French Mediterranean sea salts ($1,500), a Wellness 360 gift pack ($1,200), a Haze vaporizer ($200) and a year’s worth of Audi A4 car rentals ($20,000) thrown in too.
The goodie bags are distributed by Distinctive Asset and are not endorsed by the Academy. In 2006, the Academy voted to bring an end to them after an IRS agreement stated that specified recipients would have to pay taxes on them.
According to a recent study, Oscar nominees American Sniper and Birdman have seen a surge in online piracy rates since nomination.
The report was carried out by Irdeto, a Netherlands-based company that sells piracy controls to the pay-TV sector.
It used “crawler” software to monitor downloads via Bittorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing services around the world and says its figures represent the minimum number of illegal downloads.
As part of the study, the company compared the amount of piracy in the week before nominations with the week after.
Selma, Wild, American Sniper, Still Alice and Birdman saw some of the biggest swings in popularity, and each accounted for more than 100,000 downloads.
By contrast, two other films that had been tipped for the awards but failed to secure nominations in the major categories did not experience similar demand: Mr. Turner has been downloaded 9,086 times since January 15, and Inherent Vice has been downloaded 53,008 times, according to the study.
The Grand Budapest Hotel has won the top film prize at this year’s Writers Guild Awards.
Wes Anderson’s comedy, which is nominated for nine Oscars, won the award for best original screenplay – for a script co-authored by Anderson and Hugo Guinness.
Graham Moore picked up best adapted screenplay award for his work on The Imitation Game, about World War II code-breaker Alan Turing.
The annual awards were announced simultaneously at ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles and the Edison Ballroom in New York City.
Grand Budapest Hotel – which picked up the BAFTA for best original screenplay earlier this month – is nominated in the same category at this year’s Academy Awards on February 22.
Graham Moore’s script for The Imitation Game is also Oscar-nominated in the best adapted screenplay category.
It was beaten to the BAFTA by Anthony McCarten’s The Theory of Everything – which was not eligible as a nominee at the Writers Guild Awards (WGAs), because of Guild rules regarding jurisdiction and membership.
Another major Oscar contender, Birdman, was also ineligible because four of the writers are not guild members.
The Writers Guild Awards have a healthy track record of predicting the Oscar winners – picking the same winners in the adapted screenplay category 14 times over the past 20 years.
However, last year John Ridley’s script for 12 Years a Slave was ineligible at the WGAs, yet went on to win the Oscar for adapted screenplay.
HBO’s hit series True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey, led the television categories, winning best drama and best new series.
Louie also picked up two awards, for best comedy series and best comedy episode.
Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes collected the Paddy Chayefsky Award for career achievement in TV, telling the audience she remains “amazed there is a job where I get to make stuff up for a living”.
There was a standing ovation as the Screen Laurel Award was presented to Daniel Ramis, on behalf of his late father Harold Ramis, whose screenwriting credits included Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day.
Harold Ramis died a year ago this month, at the age of 69.
The annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon ran nearly three hours on February 2 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.
The Oscar Nominees Luncheon is a chance for all honorees to lunch and take a class picture as a memento of the February 22 ceremony.
Nominees including Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Oprah Winfrey (Selma), Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) attended the afternoon event at the Beverly Hilton.
Show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron told the room that acceptance speeches are a key part of the Oscar ceremony, which is broadcast to 1 billion people in 225 countries.
Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris flew in from New York to lunch with the nominees, and gave a special hug to actress nominee Rosamund Pike – despite the fact that she killed him brutally in Gone Girl.
Neil PatrickHarris attempted to hypnotize the crowd by repeating: “We’re going to spend Oscar night together where everything will be hilarious.”
During the gathering for a group photo, Oscar watchers noted which nominees received the most applause when their name was called.
President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts Cheryl Boone Isaacs says she would like to see more diversity in Oscar nominations, after a row about this year’s nominees.
All 20 contenders in the main acting categories are white and there are no female nominees in the directing or writing categories.
The Academy, which picks the contenders, has faced strong criticism.
However, Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she was proud of the nominees and that the body was “making strides” towards diversity.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is the first African-American president of the Academy, told AP the organization is “committed to seeking out diversity of voice and opinion”.
“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” she said.
She added she would “love to see” greater diversity among the nominees.
After the nominees were announced, people mocked the make-up of the awards using the “OscarsSoWhite” hashtag.
There has been much focus on Martin Luther King biopic Selma, with director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo both missing out.
At the Critics’ Choice award, another Selma actor, Wendell Pierce, said there would be “amazement” David Oyelowo was not nominated once people saw the film.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs said acclaim for Selma was reflected in its Best Picture nomination, which is chosen by all the academy members.
She said that while the Academy continued to make efforts to become more diverse, the wider industry needed to do the same.
“We hope the film industry will also make strides toward becoming more diverse and inclusive.”
Individual branches of the Academy choose the nominees, with actors choosing the acting categories, for example.
The more than 7,000 members then vote for a winner.
Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead the race for this year’s Oscars with nine nominations each.
Full list of nominees for the 87th Academy Awards:
Best Picture American Sniper Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Boyhood The Grand Budapest Producers The Imitation Game Selma The Theory of Everything Whiplash
Best actor Steve Carell in Foxcatcher Bradley Cooper in American Sniper Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
Best supporting Actor Robert Duvall in The Judge Ethan Hawke in Boyhood Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
Best actress Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything Julianne Moore in Still Alice Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl Reese Witherspoon in Wild
Best supporting Actress Patricia Arquette in Boyhood Laura Dern in Wild Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Meryl Streep in Into the Woods
Animated Feature Big Hero 6 The Boxtrolls How to Train Your Dragon 2 Song of the Sea The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Adapted Screenplay American Sniper Written by Jason Hall The Imitation Game Written by Graham Moore Inherent Vice Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson The Theory of Everything Screenplay by Anthony McCarten Whiplash Written by Damien Chazelle
Original Screenplay Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo Boyhood Written by Richard Linklater Foxcatcher Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman The Grand Budapest Hotel Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness Nightcrawler Written by Dan Gilroy
Cinematography Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Emmanuel Lubezki The Grand Budapest Hotel Robert Yeoman Ida Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski Mr. Turner Dick Pope Unbroken Roger Deakins
Costume Design The Grand Budapest Hotel Milena Canonero Inherent Vice Mark Bridges Into the Woods Colleen Atwood Maleficent Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive Mr. Turner Jacqueline Durran
Director Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro G. Iñárritu Boyhood – Richard Linklater Foxcatcher – Bennett Miller The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson The Imitation Game – Morten Tyldum
Documentary Feature CitizenFour Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky Finding Vivian Maier John Maloof and Charlie Siskel Last Days in Vietnam Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester The Salt of the Earth Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier Virunga Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Documentary Short Subject Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry Joanna Aneta Kopacz Our Curse Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki The Reaper (La Parka) Gabriel Serra Arguello White Earth J. Christian Jensen
Film Editing American Sniper Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach Boyhood Sandra Adair The Grand Budapest Hotel Barney Pilling The Imitation Game William Goldenberg Whiplash Tom Cross
Foreign Language Film Ida – Poland Leviathan – Russia Tangerines – Estonia Timbuktu – Mauritania Wild Tales – Argentina
Makeup and Hairstyling Foxcatcher Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard The Grand Budapest Hotel Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier Guardians of the Galaxy Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White
Original Score The Grand Budapest Hotel Alexandre Desplat The Imitation Game Alexandre Desplat Interstellar Hans Zimmer Mr. Turner Gary Yershon The Theory of Everything Jóhann Jóhannsson
Original Song Everything Is Awesome from The Lego Movie Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson Glory from Selma Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn Grateful from Beyond the Lights Music and Lyric by Diane Warren I’m Not Gonna Miss You from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond Lost Stars from Begin Again Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
Production Design The Grand Budapest Hotel Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock The Imitation Game Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald Interstellar Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis Into the Woods Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock Mr. Turner Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts
Animated Short Film The Bigger Picture Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees The Dam Keeper Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi Feast Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed Me and My Moulton Torill Kove A Single Life Joris Oprins
Live Action Short Film Aya Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis Boogaloo and Graham Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak) Hu Wei and Julien Féret Parvaneh Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger The Phone Call Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
Sound Editing American Sniper Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Brent Burge and Jason Canovas Interstellar Richard King Unbroken Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro
Sound Mixing American Sniper John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga Interstellar Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten Unbroken Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee Whiplash Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
Visual Effects Captain America: The Winter Soldier Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist Guardians of the Galaxy Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould Interstellar Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher X-Men: Days of Future Past Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer
Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead this year’s Oscars nominations with nine nods each.
The Theory of Everything, Boyhood and American Sniper also have multiple nominations.
Among best actor nominations are Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper and Michael Keaton.
There are eight films in the best film category:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Meryl Streep is nominated for her 19th acting Oscar, breaking her own Academy Awards record. She is up for best supporting actress for Into the Woods alongside Keira Knightley, Patricia Arquette, Laura Dern and Emma Stone.
Nominated alongside Felicity Jones and Rosamund Pike in the best actress category are previous Oscar winners Reece Witherspoon and Marion Cotillard, alongside Julianne Moore, who recently won the Golden Globe for her role in Still Alice.
Those who missed out in the category included Jennifer Aniston who was nominated a Golden Globe for her role in Cake and Amy Adams who won the Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy for Big Eyes.
Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel have nine nominations apiece, while The Imitation Game is up for eight and American Sniper and Boyhood are up for six each.
The Theory of Everything, Foxcatcher and Whiplash have five nominations each.
Rita Ora is nominated for best song for Grateful from Beyond the Lights. John Legend, who won a Golden Globe for his song Glory from the film Selma, is also nominated along with Tegan & Sara for Everything Is Awesome from The Lego Movie.
The Lego Movie was a surprise omission in the best animated film category.
The nominations were announced in Hollywood by Alfonso Cuaron, who won best director for Gravity last year, alongside actor Chris Pine, Star Wars director JJ Abrams and Oscars boss Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Neil Patrick Harris will host the ceremony of the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on February 22.
Harry Belafonte is to be honored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
The 87-year-old actor and singer will be given a humanitarian award for his work as an activist on racism and equality issues.
Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, Irish-born actress Maureen O’Hara and French screenwriter and actor Jean-Claude Carriere will also collect honorary lifetime awards.
Harry Belafonte is to be honored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (photo Getty Images)
The prizes will be handed out at the academy’s Governors Awards in November.
Known as the King of Calypso, Harry Belafonte has spent much of his life campaigning for various causes including famine relief, education, AIDS awareness and civil rights.
Harry Belafonte was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. He was also named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1987.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences noted Harry Belafonte’s movies such as Carmen Jones, Odds Against Tomorrow and The World, The Flesh and the Devil strived to bring attention to the injustices of racism and inequality.
Academy Awards organizers have put new rules in place to ensure fair campaigning in Oscar’s music categories.
Academy members are no longer allowed to contact voters via any means to promote their song for nomination.
Members will also not be allowed to attend a live performance of eligible songs unless attached to a screening.
It comes following the disqualification in the original song category this year after it emerged a songwriter had emailed voters to consider his song.
Oscar organizers have outlined new regulations for music categories
Alone Yet Not Alone, the title track from an independent Christian-faith film, beat other high-profile contenders to secure a surprise place on the shortlist.
It was later discovered Bruce Broughton – a former Academy governor and current executive committee member – emailed at least 70 of the 240-member music branch during the nomination period to bring his song to their attention.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said at the time Broughton had undermined “the integrity of the voting process”, adding he “took advantage of information that few other potential nominees are privy to”.
Bruce Broughton denied any wrongdoing and said he was “devastated” at the disqualification of his song, which he co-wrote with Dennis Spiegel.
Four compositions were left competing for the award, which was eventually won by Let It Go – written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – from Disney animation Frozen.
The second rule change involving the attendance of live performances is understood to address the number of concert events which were held this year to highlight songs and scores.
Such events featured Idina Menzel singing Let It Go, Pharrell Williams performing Happy and the music from Inside Llewyn Davis.
Although the events will still be permitted to take place, music branch members will not be allowed to attend.
The next Oscars will be held on February, 22 2015 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.