TIME Oscars

Call It the Independent Oscar Awards

“In case this is the last time I get to thank anyone,” Jared Leto said yesterday on receiving the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, “I wrote down a couple names.” He then thanked his costar Matthew McConaughey, adding, “After Dallas Buyers Club I think I’m gonna pull an opposite McConaissance and just do romantic comedies.” He also thanked homemade burritos, the makers of vegan butter, “Whitcomb L. Judson, the inventor of the zipper,” Wayne Gretzky, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Ansel Adams, Jackson Pollock, Steve Jobs and Baby Jesus.

And “I want to thank all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me.” And “my future ex-wife Lupita” Nyong’o, the 12 Years a Slave actress whom the press has linked romantically, and perhaps fancifully, with Leto. “I’m thinkin’ about ya.” Finally he acknowledged “the 36 million who have died of AIDS and the 35 million who are still living with HIV-AIDS around the world. I dedicate this to you, to the LGBT and Q community. Here’s to life.”

(READ: Why Jared Leto will win Best Supporting Actor)

A saving grace of the Independent Spirit Awards, which pay tribute to films with budgets under $20 million, is that the winners don’t get played off the stage after 45 seconds. They get to talk as long as they want; McConaughey, in his speech for winning Best Actor, went on for six (agreeable) minutes. He may have spoken longer: the evening TV version of the afternoon awards, played on IFC, trimmed some of the acceptance speeches, including Leto’s. And it didn’t air or even announce the awards for Foreign Film (Blue Is the Warmest Color), Cinematography (12 Years a Slave), Editing (Short Term 12) or Ensemble Cast, which went to Mud, starring… Matthew McConaughey.

IFC cut those important parts of the ceremony for time, yet kept all of host Patton Oswalt’s subpar opening monologue plus many lame all-star presentations (excepting Andy Samberg and Bill Hader’s droll listing of the women who had inspired them, including Cher, Justine Bateman, Ann Romney, “the queen alien from Aliens,” “the ladies of Living Single” and “the girl with the horns attached to her head in True Detective” — which led them to surmise who is the Yellow King in McConaughey’s HBO series). That the channel also found time to run about 30 minutes of commercials, including seven promos for its own sitcom Portlandia, betrayed the very notion of film independence. Do your own thing and we’ll reward you for it, the show might have told the honored moviemakers. Just don’t expect us to let people see it.

(READ: Why Matthew McConaughey will win Best Actor)

In a way, though, people will get to see a replay of the Independent Spirit Awards tonight; it will be called the 86th Academy Awards. If the predictions of all-knowing outsiders (including me) are accurate, five of the six “major” categories will have the same winners. Leto will have one more chance to thank people, as will McConaughey. Cate Blanchett, for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and Nyong’o are favored to be the laureled actresses, and 12 Years a Slave the Best Picture.

The one likely difference: Alfonso Cuarón, not Slave’s Steve McQueen, should be named Best Director for Gravity. Only if the unlikely occurs — if Gravity manages to win Best Picture, and Nyong’o gets outpointed by Jennifer Lawrence for her role in American Hustle — will the pack of winners be considered mainstream. Otherwise, this is the year the Academy went off-Hollywood.

(READ: Why Alfonso Cuarón will win Best Director for Gravity)

Of the nine nominees for Best Picture, only four — Gravity, American Hustle, Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street — had production budgets higher than $25 million. The movies that cost more earned more at the domestic box office: more than $100 million for those four, with Gravity the breakout hit, registering a $270-million North American gross. The five low-budget movies — Slave, Dallas, Philomena, Nebraska and Her — never broke through to the mass audience. Slave reached $50 million just this weekend. Philomena is nearing $35 million, Dallas and Her are stuck at $25 million, and Nebraska scraped up $17 million. Together, these five films have been seen by about the same number of people as saw American Hustle.

Even with the big Gravity number, the nine Best Picture finalists earned about $775 million, or 20 percent below the $940 million amassed by last year’s nine, when six of the finalists (Lincoln, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Argo, Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook) pulled in more than $100 million, and a seventh (Zero Dark Thirty) made $92 million.

(READ: Why Gravity should win Best Picture, but won’t)

Of course a film’s budget, let alone its box-office showing, is incidental to its quality — or to whether it wins an important Oscar. Four years ago, Avatar (cost about $270 million, earned $2.8 billion worldwide) lost Best Picture to The Hurt Locker (cost $15 million, earned less than $50 million). But fewer hit films that dominate the public conversation means fewer people tuning in to the big show. The lack of moviegoers’ investment in more than half of the nine Best Picture nominees is one reason that tonight’s Oscar-cast, however charming Ellen DeGeneres may prove as host, will suffer worse ratings than last year’s.

The program is usually a snooze-a-thon anyway; it’s less appealing and less fun than the Grammy, Emmy or Tony awards. If the television audience is to be entertained, the producers better hope for some blips in the script — like McConaughey removing his shirt to display those fab abs, or Leto thanking Ted Cruz. Then again, Blanchett might save the evening. In 2005, when she won Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator, she told her director, Martin Scorsese, “I hope my son will marry your daughter.” If she made the same vow to her Blue Jasmine director, she could light up the Twitterverse.

TIME Oscars 2014

Oscar’s Hottest Tinder Profiles: Which Way Will You Swipe?

It's going down, the Academy's yelling "Tinder!"

Filled out your Oscar ballot yet? Better hurry — the days are whizzing by.

To help with your choices — after all, the acting categories involve some tough decisions — we decided to turn to our favorite dating app and Tinderize some of the year’s best characters. Should you find yourself in the Dolby Ballroom on Sunday night, be sure to swipe right — you’re in good company.

Profiles are (obviously) fictitious.

TIME awards

Why ’12 Years a Slave’ Will Win Best Picture

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE
Jaap Buitendijk—Fox Searchlight

It's not the most clear-cut race in Oscar history, but Slave should still come out on top

NOMINEES
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea for the Motion Picture Academy to expand the number of Best Picture nominees from five to as many as 10. Why should the top award be less selective than, say, Best Director?

The reason, back in 2009, was that the previous year’s most popular movie, The Dark Knight, didn’t get a Best Picture nomination. The Academy knew that more people watched the Oscar ceremony when blockbuster hits were in the final mix. The show achieved its most viewers ever in 1998, when Titanic, the first movie to gross $1 billion worldwide, swept the awards; and the highest recent viewership was in 2004, when the second billion-dollar movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, was the big winner. Sure enough, in 2010, Avatar, the current “all-time” box-office champ, was a major contender (though not a Best Picture winner), and the ratings spiked up again.

Two things: First, that’s a lousy reason to expand the category. And second, the Academy still is averse to nominate the most popular films for Best Picture. The most-seen movies of 2013 were The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Iron Man Three and Frozen. Katniss’ opus was completely stiffed, the Tony Stark sequel earned only a Visual Effects nomination, and Frozen, which should have been nominated for Best Picture (as the animated features Beauty and the Beast, Up and Toy Story 3 were previously), will have to settle for prizes given out early in the Oscar ceremony.

Of this year’s nine Best Picture nominees, only four — Gravity, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street and Captain Phillips — earned more than $50 million at the domestic box office; and only Gravity was a popular smash. The other five are, basically, art films. That’s fine for prestige, but it defeats the purpose of adding more Best Picture slots to attract mainstream moviegoers to the TV show.

If Best Picture had been at its traditional number, the five candidates would likely have been American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street; they received the most nominations. As in the Director category, we can quickly reduce the serious contenders to three, and then two.

David O. Russell’s American Hustle, a popular and critical success, had the chance to score a rare Picture win for a comedy-drama — as Woody Allen’s Annie Hall did in 1978, the year in which the Hustle story is set. But as much as the Academy surely enjoyed it, the movie may seem not substantial enough to take the top prize. So bye bye; we miss American Hustle.

(READ: Why American Hustle will win Best Original Screenplay)
Gravity should win Best Picture — says the man who called it the finest movie of 2013, and also included Hustle and Slave, and for that matter Her, on his 10-best list — and it will earn the most Oscars. I’d say at least six: Alfonso Cuarón for Director, and for Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects (plus maybe Original Score). Piling up wins in the “little” categories is nice, but it’s like a Presidential candidate taking a lot of states with few electoral votes; he won’t get into the White House unless he wins the big states.

For Gravity, the “big state” is Best Picture, and that won’t go to the (my) best picture — because, alas, the fates and Oscar history conspire against it.

I’ve written about this before, but, in short: no science fiction movie has ever won the top Oscar — not 2001: A Space Odyssey (which wasn’t even nominated the year that the musical Oliver! won), not E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (when Gandhi won) and not Avatar (lost to The Hurt Locker). The aged Academy members typically reward realistic fact-based dramas, set in the recent or distant past, that employ lots of actors and have dozens of craftspeople on the set. Gravity meets none of those criteria: it’s a fantasy, set in the future, with a visible cast of two and an effects crew of nerds in studios strewn around the world. Even those wonders may not impress the skeptical Academy. As one anonymous voter complained to The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg: “I’ve seen better things at planetariums.”

(READ: The long version of Why Gravity won’t win Best Picture)

What movie fulfills the Academy’s Best Picture requirements? Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. The consensus choice of film critics’ year-end prizes, and a Golden Globe winner for Best Drama, it also took the British Film Award (BAFTA) for best film and tied with Gravity at the Producers Guild. (The Screen Actors Guild went with the actor-friendly American Hustle.) This is a serious, scalding portrait of slavery, the great American scar, and it edifies even those viewers whom its graphic, sadistic violence makes uncomfortable.

The movie’s brutality, and its cool, distanced view of an American atrocity, could prove a handicap. An Oscar truism: in the competition between a film the members admire and a movie they love, they’ll go with love. In the last three years they’ve chosen The King’s Speech over The Social Network, The Artist over Moneyball and Argo over Life of Pi.

(READ: Why Lupita Nyong’o May Win Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave)

McQueen’s movie is not lovable; that factor makes this final category a fascinating conundrum. But given the Academy’s presumed reluctance to reward a film about scam artists (Hustle) or a planetarium production (Gravity), I have to stick with 12 Years a Slave.

TIME Oscars

Oscars 2014: Why Alfonso Cuarón Will Win Best Director for ‘Gravity’

Warner Bros.

The only reason Gravity will win is because it won't win the bigger prize: Best Picture

NOMINEES
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Two or three of these names are horses to fill out the field for the big race. Payne is well liked, even if few real people saw his ornery little black-and-white comedy. Scorsese, having overcome the Academy voters’ bizarre hostility to his work for 30 years — when he made sensational movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino, but kept losing to actors turned directors (Robert Redford, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson, respectively) — before they finally acknowledged him in 2007 for The Departed, is here because, whatever the members’ feelings toward The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s certainly very busily and expertly directed. But neither he not Payne has a realistic chance here.

(READ: Why 12 Years a Slave Will Win Best Picture)
American Hustle was a frontrunner a month or so ago, when it won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble (SAG’s equivalent of Best Picture). And Russell, who went through a pariah phase in Hollywood when the famously amiable George Clooney denounced him after starring in Russell’s Three Kings, is now routinely praised by his stars as a superb and sensitive director of actors. But the Hustle momentum has ebbed, and even if the movie were to win Best Picture, Russell would still be a long shot for this award.

(READ: Our review of American Hustle)

Let’s say this is a two-film race — that Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are neck and neck for Best Director and Best Picture. How will that play out? The view from here is that, whichever film takes the top prize, Cuarón will be named Best Director.

Of the 85 movies named Best Picture, 62 also received the Best Director award — that’s nearly three-quarters of the time. But in the past 15 years, the Academy voters have split their ballots five times, including last year, when Argo won Best Picture but Ben Affleck was not nominated for Best Director and the prize went to Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Had Affleck not been stiffed in the nominating process, he probably would have won the Director statuette. But of the remaining candidates, the Academy chose Lee for masterminding a fanciful drama, laden with extraordinary visual effects, about a solitary figure battling the harshest elements.

(READ: Why Ang Lee was destined to win Best Director for Life of Pi)

That could also be a description of Gravity. In addition to coaxing strong performances from Sandra Bullock and Clooney as the stranded space couple, Cuarón also orchestrated the magnificent environment they inhabit. Although the Academy prefers their Best Pictures grounded in realism, not fantasy, Lee’s Life of Pi win proved that the voters understand and appreciate the qualities a visionary director needs to create an otherworldly adventure. The Directors Guild recognized Cuarón’s achievement when it named him the year’s Best Director — and the DGA award has forecast the Oscar award all but seven times in its previous 65 years.

(READ: Our review of Gravity)

One thing that might favor McQueen: the Academy’s chance to make history. Four years ago, in the competition between Avatar director James Cameron and The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow, the Academy chose Bigelow, making her the first woman to be named Best Director. That battle had two wrinkles: Cameron and Bigelow used to be married to each other; and a lot of people in Hollywood just didn’t like Cameron. So they got to perform a progressive social act and to punish the self-proclaimed “king of the world.” It was a vote of both nobility and spite.

(READ: Why Avatar Lost at the Oscars)

This year the liberal Academy members could vote to make the London-born McQueen the first black filmmaker to win Best Director. Unfortunately for McQueen, Cuarón is not hated; he’s one of the world’s most likable directors, with a self-depreciating humor in his acceptance speeches. A few weeks ago, when he won the Director prize (over McQueen, among others) at the British Film Awards, the Mexican filmmaker mentioned that he had lived and worked in London for the past 13 years, adding with a smile, “I think that I make a very good case for curbing immigration.”

(READ: Our review of 12 Years a Slave)

Charm may not win Oscars on its own, but it doesn’t hurt. The Academy will want to hear him give a final speech for Gravity — because he won’t be on stage when the Best Picture prize is announced. McQueen will: as one of the producers of 12 Years a Slave.

TIME Oscars

Would the Oscars Have Loved Lana Del Rey If She Wasn’t So Young and Beautiful?

The singer's Gatsby theme "Young and Beautiful" was brutally snubbed at the Oscars — and some suspect foul play

Pop music fans are always quick to go to bat for their favorite artists, whether or not it’s justified — but the outrage was well-earned when Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” was passed over for an Oscar nomination this year.

And yet, the aching, wistful ballad, used as the theme song for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, wasn’t just snubbed for a Best Original Song nod at the 86th Academy Awards — it may have been legitimately sabotaged. So what happened?

When the song first premiered last May, reactions ranged from contempt (Rolling Stone‘s Jody Rosen called it “a drag”) to praise (“a sweeping epic,” Entertainment Weekly declared). And despite Del Rey’s polarizing position in pop culture — she’s either considered an inauthentic construct cooked up in major label board meetings or The Most Beautiful Poet In The Land Of Gods & Monsters — the general consensus remained more or less the same: “Young and Beautiful” was the most quintessentially Lana Del Rey song that Lana Del Rey had ever recorded.

The song soon went on to become Del Rey’s most commercially successful song since her October 2011 debut “Video Games,” rising to an all-time peak of #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. (She would later shatter that record with Born To Die‘s “Summertime Sadness,” thanks in large part to a club-ready remix by EDM maestro Cedric Gervais.)

It’s no surprise, then, that the song was met with Oscar buzz. But by the time the nomination window came rolling around toward the end of 2013, “Young and Beautiful” was already mired in scandal.

According to a Deadline report from December, an anonymous envelope was “mailed to various members of the Academy’s music selection committee,” which included a print-out of a fake Variety web article alleging that Lana’s song was somehow ineligible for the Best Song nomination due to “a technicality involving The Great Gatsby‘s changed release date.” Upon further investigation, Academy members realized that the article was in fact doctored. (Stop me if you’ve already seen this plot play out in a Hitchcock flick — or maybe Clue.)

From Deadline:

Insiders said attempts to figure out the sender were unavailing, so the studio and Interscope focused on setting the record straight with the Oscar committee member who reported receiving the missive and others who might have. Warner Bros, which has several songs from the Baz Luhrmann-directed film on the just-release long list of 75 eligible tunes, is now recutting a music featurette to emphasize the collaboration between Luhrmann and Del Rey on the song, which plays in the scene where Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) regales Daisy (Carey Mulligan) with the grandeur of his mansion. And yes, the song is Oscar-eligible.

By the time nominations were announced, the damage may already have been done: The song was left off of the final list of nominees — even after a second controversy swept the category. (Yes, really.)

Upon the announcement of the official nominees in mid-January, one song in particular stuck out as a fairly unusual entry: Composer Bruce Broughton’s “Alone Yet Not Alone,” the title track of a small, independent Christian film, which brought in less than $150,000 at the box office.

By the end of the month, the curiously below-the-radar selection had been pulled from the category — which has happened a mere handful of times in the history of the Academy Awards. So why was it removed? Because of an e-mail reportedly sent from Broughton to 70 members of the Academy, politely encouraging them to consider his song for the nomination. But the message alone wasn’t enough to cost the song the nomination: It was the fact that Broughton is an executive committee member of the music branch of the Academy, and previously acted as an Academy governor up until 2012. As a result, his influence on voters was called into question.

Regardless of whether or not the Academy was right in pulling Broughton’s nomination, the fact remains that “Young and Beautiful” sat there in silence, shedding a lone, glamorous tear while a battle of technicalities raged on in front of her innocent eyes.

You could blame the mystery envelope, which could have come from any number of nominees, or perhaps a nefarious pop star rival vying for the nomination from the same soundtrack — et tu, Fergie? (Kidding!) You could blame the subtle shades of insider trading that led to the eventual disqualification of one entry. Or just blame the fact that the Great Gatsby producers decided to throw five (5!) songs up for nomination from its own soundtrack. But whatever the reason, Lana was ruthlessly, sincerely snubbed.

It’s not that the song would have stood much of a chance for victory, to be fair: Judging by the general response from the public, Frozen‘s ubiquitous “Let It Go” (the soundtrack from which it hails has hit #1 on the Billboard 200 5 times this year) and Pharrell’s inescapable-yet-undeniably-infectious Despicable Me 2 theme “Happy” (which just hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week) are the most likely victors in the category. But Lana deserved the recognition. (Hey, at least the Satellite Awards had the decency to award Lana for Best Original Song.)

Moreover, Lana’s far too busy putting the finishing touches on her Born To Die follow-up Ultraviolence with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach (among other rumored collaborators) to be bothered about some award, anyway. (It would have been nice to see her work the red carpet in some gorgeous gown — but I digress.)

There’s only one question that remains when it comes to Lana Del Rey: Will you still love her when she’s no longer snubbed and ineligible?

TIME Aging

Oscar Winners Live Longer Than Nominees, Study Says

82nd Annual Academy Awards - "Meet The Oscars" New York
Bennett Raglin—WireImage/Getty Images

Actors who take home the statuette get about four extra years, while those who win multiple times get six

This Sunday, a handful of stars will go home empty handed from the 2014 Academy Awards show. Not only will they be left with the bitter sting of defeat, but such loss may also lead to shorter lifespans than the winners.

Seriously. Social status has long been recognized as a predictor for poor health. Typically, research has focused on disparities between the rich and the poor. But science tells us that the effect may extend to quite literally the top of social ladder. In fact, Oscar winners may also have the perk of longevity.

The finding was first noticed in 2001. Researchers from the University of Toronto studied 1,649 Oscar-nominated actors and actresses. When they accounted for factors that could influence death rates, they found that among the participants, Oscar winners had a survival advantage of about four extra years of life, and actors who won multiple Oscars had an advantage of six years. Nominees who didn’t win had the same survival rates as their non-nominated peers.

Success could possibly account for the survival advantage, the researchers say. They speculate that since stars are subjected to intense personal scrutiny, they pay special attention to their looks and behaviors. Consequently, they may avoid risky behavior and focus more intensively on eating and exercise. Not to mention, many have the means to hire nannies, trainers, and managers, which could mean they are under less stress than the general population.

Of course, there are the exceptions, like Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman who died recently after an overdose. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine questioned the methods of the 2001 study. The original study was criticized for counting the years an actor was alive, instead of comparing years after a win. They also declared winners and losers at the onset, and didn’t factor in whether actors in the study won an award later on. When the new researchers re-calculated, they didn’t find the numbers significant.

If the findings do hold true, it could mean that there are other factors that impact survival, like a jump in social status. Looks like we will have to wait and see.

TIME Oscars

Everything You Need to Know About the 2014 Oscars

US-ENTERTAINMENT-GOVERNORS AWARDS
Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images

From the best performances of the year to the only two people in the world who already know who's won

What: The 86th Academy Awards

Where: Hollywood’s Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. You can watch on ABC on your TV and streaming online for the first time.

When: The show officially begins at 7pm EST, but expect red carpet coverage to get interesting at 5pm ET. (E! will begin their red carpet coverage at 1:30pm ET for die-hard red carpet devotees and Giuliana Rancic fans.)

Who: Dozens of nominees, 46 presenters and Ellen Degeneres, hosting for the second time.

PREDICTIONS

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Best Actor: TIME critic Richard Corliss predicts that Matthew McConaughey will win for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. For more, learn about the evolution of Matthew McConaughey (that’s the McConaissance, for the uninitiated) and catch up on why Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to win an Oscar.

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave

Best Animated Feature: Frozen

Best Documentary Feature: Twenty Feet from Stardom

Best Foreign Language Feature: The Great Beauty

ALSO

TIME fashion

Oscars Style: Here’s Every Dress Worn By Every Best Actress Winner

Infographic shows the gowns, sheaths and frocks sported by everyone from Bette Davis to Halle Berry

Everyone knows the Oscars are about two things: celebrating the year’s greatest cinematic achievements, and also marveling (or recoiling) at your favorite stars’ sartorial choices. As you get ready for this year’s ceremony, take a look back at what every Best Actress winner since 1929 has sported on the Red Carpet, from traditional black dresses to glittering, over-the-top frocks.

Oscar Dresses: Every Dress Worn By Best Actress Academy Award Winners

TIME awards

Oscars 2014: Meet the Only 2 People in the World Who Already Know Who Won

PwC Oscars Briefcase
New 2014 PwC briefcase with Oscar® envelopes Courtesy PwC

The accountants who determine the Oscar winners take their jobs very, very seriously

While the movie-watching public and the movie-making elite both wait patiently for the Oscars on Sunday, Rick Rosas and Brian Cullinan are ahead of the game: They’re the only two people in the whole world who know in advance who will win an Academy Award.

In fact, for some categories, they might already know: the last Oscar votes rolled in on Tuesday and, as the PwC accountants chosen to do the final count on Oscar ballots, they started their tallies the next day. The Oscar vote-counting process goes on for months, continuing throughout the nominations process, but the homestretch that is the finals lasts less than a week.

“As accountants, we keep confidential information every day,” says Rosas. “This is the one time there’s a little heightened interest in it.”

And when it comes to secrecy, the Oscars are definitely not messing around. To wit:

  • A small team of people (about six people, not including Rosas and Cullinan) split up the ballots so that nobody is counting an entire category, which means nobody knows how the different entries stack up. Those subtotals are added up by Rosas and Cullinan. By Friday evening, the two accountants will know all the winners.
  • Though they won’t disclose how many vote are received, there are about 6,000 voting members of the Academy. All of the counting is done by hand. “It’s old-school,” says Cullinan. “It’s as boring as it sounds. You have lots and lots of stacks of little pieces of paper.”
  • All of the categories are counted several times, and extra if there’s a tie (which has happened). There has never been a post-awards recount required.
  • The Academy provides triplicates of cards listing each movie in every category. Rosas and Cullinan put the winning cards in the envelopes; the losing cards and extras are destroyed.
  • Two identical and complete sets of cards are put in two identical briefcases. This year, PwC has introduced a new style of briefcase — seen above — which is the first one to bear the Academy’s logo as well as the accounting firm’s.
  • Having rehearsed their blocking on Saturday, Rosas and Cullinan will travel to the show separately, in cars with security details. They carry the briefcases down the red carpet, pausing for interviews, and each take their places on opposite sides of the stage. As presenters come on from either side, they’ll be handed the right cards.

When the envelopes are opened, the number in the know will balloon from two people to tens of millions.

PwC has been counting Oscar ballots for decades, and Rosas said the process is pretty well fine-tuned; this is Cullinan’s first year on the Oscar beat, but Rosas is a veteran. It’s a busy few days, but no all-nighters are required, particularly because they already know what they’ll wear on Sunday. (Tuxes, natch.) That’s a good thing, because after the Oscars are over, it’ll be straight into tax season. Not that they mind being busy for a few days — heading the Oscars team is an honor at PwC offices, they say.

“Especially for those who aren’t in the business world, [the Oscars are] what we’re known for,” says Cullinan. “To be asked to do it is probably, as an accountant, as much fun as you can have.”

(MORE: What Makes an Oscar Winner)

TIME awards

You Can Watch the Oscars Streaming Online for the First Time Ever

You Can Watch the Oscars Streaming Online for the First Time Ever
Toby Canham—Getty Images

Watch it on your iPhone.

For the first time in Oscar history, you can watch Sunday’s award show streaming online from your computer, tablet or smartphone. Horrendous red carpet outfits might seem less offensive to the eyes on a second — smaller — screen.

The Oscars isn’t the first major live broadcast to stream for free. Fox Super Bowl was streamed online for the first time in February 2014 to great success — it was the most-viewed US sports livestream ever.

WATCH ABC’s streaming Academy Awards service is available to viewers with cable subscriptions through Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communications, Verizon GiOS, Googble Fiber or AT&T U-Verse in select major cities, USA Today reports. Nonsubscribers will have access to “The Oscars Backstage,” which will air highlights from the show and behind the scenes celebrity access.

The Oscars, hosted by comedian Ellen Degeneres, will air March 2 at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.

[USA Today]

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