TIME movies

How Frog Legs Helped Make the Oscars Possible

Science explains how those Academy Awards are made

On Sunday night, big players from the film industry will gather inside Hollywood’s Dolby Theater in the hopes of winning a golden statue. And if they finally do win one, they’ll thank their loved ones, their producers, their fans, and the Academy.

But there’s one thing that probably won’t get a shout out: science.

Watch materials scientist and author of Newton’s Football, Ainissa Ramirez, explain how science—and frog legs—are responsible for the Academy Awards’ golden statues.

TIME movies

Here’s Who Will Win at the Oscars

While some winners are all but decided, the biggest prize of the night is tough to call

Three of the four acting contests are sewn up, and the fourth (Best Actor) is reaching mathematical certitude. The Best Director prize looks to be won by a Mexican for the second straight year. But when the Academy Awards air on Feb. 22, on ABC with host Neil Patrick Harris, the Best Picture category will make this one of the cloudiest Oscar races in ages.

The top contenders are trickster endeavors, each filmed in 30-some days: Birdman, which pretends to be a single shot lasting nearly two hours, and Boyhood, which spans 12 years of a Texas lad’s life. Earlier awards from the most influential Hollywood guilds—Producers, Directors and Screen Actors—give Birdman the edge: no film that failed to take at least one of these awards has won Oscar’s top prize since 1996, when Braveheart defeated the guilds’ favorite Apollo 13. Then again, the British Academy (BAFTA) has picked the “correct” film for the past six years. And this time, BAFTA chose Boyhood.

Hovering above these two acclaimed movies is the (red state) elephant on the ballot: American Sniper, which has earned more at the domestic box office than the other seven Best Picture nominees combined. But it won’t win. The Academy voters typically prefer to honor a socially relevant artistic triumph (12 Years a Slave last year, The Hurt Locker five years ago) over a crowd pleaser of distinction (Gravity, Avatar).

Here, then, are my picks for which films, filmmakers and stars will carry home 8½ lb. of Motion Picture Academy love from the 87th annual awards.

MONEY Hollywood

The Big Dollar Figures Behind Hollywood’s Biggest Night

Oscar statues on stage at Academy Awards
Adam Taylor—ABC via Getty Images

At this Sunday's Academy Awards, all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood will be on display—at a price, of course.

The 87th Academy Awards, being held on February 22, is heavy on film nominees that were made on (relatively) small budgets, with (relatively) meager box office grosses to match. Even so, like any Oscars, a small fortune will be spent on the buildup to this year’s awards ceremony, as well as the big night itself.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the big and small dollar amounts—OK, mostly BIG—behind the Academy Awards.

1: Number of 2015 Best Picture nominees to earn more than $100 million at the box office, in what’s shaping up as an especially blockbuster-light Oscars ceremony. Clint Eastwood’s war drama American Sniper walks away with the honor, but it hardly compares to Avatar, which earned a whopping $2.8 billion in 2010, the highest on record for any BP nominee. Ironically, Avatar lost out to The Hurt Locker, which is the lowest-grossing movie to win Best Picture, pulling in only $14.7 million at the box office before the awards.

$400: The surprisingly low estimate for what one of the Oscar statuettes is actually worth. Mind you, an Oscar isn’t solid gold but is merely gold-plated. Besides, the real value comes with the name connected to the statue: Joan Crawford’s only Oscar, which she received for her performance in Mildred Pierce, sold at auction for $426,732 in 2012, while Orson Welles’ Best Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane sold for $861,542 at auction in 2011.

$25,000 – $30,000: The cost of the much-hyped 16,500-square-foot red carpet that Hollywood stars stroll down before the Oscars, according to Red Carpet Systems in Los Angeles. (Installation’s included in the figure.)

$85,000: The per-ticket price scalpers were trying to command by selling seats to the awards show in 2008. Since attendees sign a contract that prohibits them from selling or even giving away their seats, scalped Oscar tickets are all but unheard of today.

$125,000: The value of the swag bag given to Academy Award nominees in 2015. Besides lavish vacations and accessories, this year’s bag includes a $20,000 gift certificate to have Olessia Kantor, the founder of Enigma Life, meet with the nominees to discuss their 2015 horoscopes, analyze their dreams and teach them… mind control techniques.

$500,000 vs. $3.9 million: Hollywood agents estimate that winning an Oscar results in a pay increase of about 20% for the performer’s next project. However, much like in the real world, there’s reportedly a notable gender wage gap. Actors can expect a $3.9 million increase, on average, while actresses may only take home an extra $500,000.

$1.9 million: The cost of a 30-second commercial airing during this year’s TV broadcast of the awards ceremony.

$3 million: The average bump in earnings at the box office for an Oscar-winning film. It’s impressive, but nothing compared to the Golden Globes, where a win can supposedly help pull in an extra $14.2 million in ticket sales.

$18.1 million: The cost of Cate Blanchett’s ensemble at the 2014 Oscars, the most expensive of the night. Her Armani Prive gown was valued at $100,000, while Blanchett wore some $18 million worth of jewelry. More “normal” designer gowns worn at the Oscars run anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, and celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch estimates that jewelry completing the outfit can easily hit $750,000.

$100 million+: The amount spent collectively by Hollywood for the purpose of campaigning for Oscars during awards season. Studios often pay Academy PR consultants $10,000 to $15,000 to run their campaigns; in 2013, Harvey Weinstein actually hired President Obama’s former deputy campaign manager to push Silver Linings Playbook. Meanwhile, the going rate to advertise your film in the Hollywood Reporter during Oscar season is $72,000. It all adds up, and the average campaign for a Best Picture winner costs $10 million on its own.

$130 million: Filmmakers and Hollywood stars aren’t the only winners during the Oscars. Greater Los Angeles is the beneficiary of an economic boost of $130 million thanks to increased spending on everything from florists to limo drivers.

$1 billion: The estimated value, in terms of equivalent advertising dollars, of Ellen DeGeneres’ famous A-list selfie taken during the 2014 Academy Awards.


What the Oscar Movies Can Teach Us About Money

The envelope please...

2015 Warrens Award
Leah Bailey

The Oscars do a fine job of honoring great movies. But who honors great movies about money?

No one—until now, that is. To accompany the 87th Academy Awards, MONEY is inaugurating its own prizes to commemorate 2014’s finest cinematic lessons in personal finance. We’re calling them the Warrens, in a nod to Warren Buffett, the shrewd money manager who’s also a celebrated dispenser of financial common sense.

Had the Warrens existed in past years, awards likely would have gone to movies like Blue Jasmine, for which Cate Blanchett won a 2014 Oscar portraying a woman whose life falls apart after her husband’s Madoff-like fraud is exposed. One key lesson from that movie: Don’t abdicate all financial responsibilities to your spouse. Another: Bad things can happen if your self-image is tied up in your net worth.

Another past recipient would have been the 2009 Best Picture Oscar winner, Slumdog Millionaire, which, despite its focus on a get-rich-quick game show, argues that love, not money, is the key to happiness.

So which 2014 movies win this year’s Warrens, and what lessons do they teach?

The envelope please….

— By Kara Brandeisky, Margaret Magnarelli, Susie Poppick, Ian Salisbury, Taylor Tepper, and Jackie Zimmermann


  • Best Argument for the Value of Education

    BOYHOOD, Patricia Arquette, 2014.
    Matt Lankes—IFC Films/Courtesy Everett Collection


    In this Best Picture-nominated movie, Olivia (played by Oscar favorite Patricia Arquette), raising two children without their father, goes back to school to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. That effort ultimately helps her land a dream job as a psychology professor. At a lunch celebrating her son Mason’s high school graduation, Olivia encounters a young man she once hired to install her septic tank and whom she had encouraged to go to community college. Turns out he did just that and now runs the restaurant where she’s eating. “You changed my life,” he tells Olivia. No, it was education that did it—for both of them. (For a guide to affordable colleges that have the strongest economic payback, check out Money’s Best Colleges.)

  • Best Lesson in Estate Planning

    THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, from left: Paul Schlase, Tony Revolori, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, 2014.
    Martin Scali—Fox Searchlight/Courtesy Everett Collection

    The Grand Budapest Hotel

    In director Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated movie, famed concierge Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) is willed a priceless work of art, “Boy With Apple,” by a rich patron of his hotel—who also happened to be his lover. The deceased’s progeny are none too pleased by this unexpected turn and go to great lengths to reclaim the valuable piece of art. This drama could have been avoided if the murdered Madame D (Tilda Swinton) had simply followed good practices in estate planning, such as identifying which possession should go to which people.

  • Best Career-Change Advice (tie)

    BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE), (aka BIRDMAN), from left: Zach Galifianakis, Michael Keaton, 2014.
    Alison Rosa—20th Century Fox


    Onetime movie star Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) sinks his life savings into a Broadway play to revitalize his career; the attendant pressures, financial on top of personal, pose serious threats to his mental health. One key takeaway: If you’re looking for a second-act career, make sure you have the resources to fund your new venture without having to make the drastic move, in Thomson’s case, of refinancing the Malibu home you promised to your daughter.

  • Best Career-Change Advice (tie)

    LETS BE COPS, from left: Damon Wayans, Jake Johnson, 2014.
    Frank Masi—20th Century Fox Licensing/Everett Collection

    Let’s Be Cops

    This buddy movie won’t win any Oscars — it scored a pathetic 30 of 100 on Metacritic—but it’s got our vote for job-switching smarts. Pals Justin (Jake Johnson) and Ryan (Damon Wayans Jr.) dress up as the fuzz for a costume party, find they like the attention their garb garners, and decide to keep up the act. After they get mixed up in a real crime, one of them—spoiler alert!— heads to the police academy. It’s a smart move to do a trial run on a dream second career. Not so smart: breaking the law in the process.

  • Best Performance by a Financing Campaign

    VERONICA MARS, Kristen Bell, 2014.
    Robert Voets—Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Veronica Mars

    Spunky detective Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) transitioned from the small screen to the big one in 2014 to help clear the name of her hottie ex Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). While fans of the cancelled TV show were delighted to see the Neptune High gang reunited, it wasn’t the contents of this film that earned it a Warren — it was the financing. Appealing to a rabid Veronica Mars fan base, Bell and show creator Rob Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the film. The effort paid off: The film stands as Kickstarter’s highest-funded film project, and the sixth-highest-funded project ever for the site. If you have a project you’d like to raise money for, start with these tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign.

  • Best Small-Business Strategy

    CHEF, from left: Emjay Anthony, Jon Favreau, 2012.
    Merrick Morton—Open Road Films/Courtesy Everett Collection


    This indie hit isn’t just about food and family. It’s also about how to promote your small business on social media—and how not to. High-powered chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) makes a big mistake after joining Twitter, losing his cool and firing off a series of obscenity-laced tweets at a famous restaurant blogger. After Carl loses his job, however, his son Percy uses savvier social media posts in a wildly successful effort to promote Carl’s new venture, a Cuban sandwich truck.

  • Best Real Estate Recommendation

    NEIGHBORS, from left: Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, 2014.
    Glen Wilson—Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection


    Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), adjusting to life with a newborn, suddenly have their lives turned upside down when a fraternity moves in next door. Frats throw parties—loud ones that make it hard for babies to fall asleep—and soon the couple and the frat engage in an escalating series of pranks meant to make one another’s lives unbearable. Don’t want to end up like the Radners? Make sure you follow these steps when shopping for a home, and find a good real estate agent who is extremely knowledgeable about the neighborhood where you’re looking.

  • Best Sales Pitch

    A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, from left: Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks, 2014.
    Atsushi Nishijima—Courtesy Everett Collection

    A Most Violent Year

    In this movie from Margin Call director J. C. Chandor, beleaguered heating-oil company owner Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) coaches his sales force on how to close a deal. The key, he says, is projecting an aura of quality in even the subtlest of gestures—if a customer offers coffee or tea, for example, take tea because it’s the “fancy” choice. “We’re never going to be the cheapest option, so we have to be the best,” he says. “When you look them in the eye you have to believe that we are better—and we are—but you will never do anything as hard as staring a person straight in the eye and telling the truth.” Of course, sending a message about quality—whether or not it’s true—does something else: it gets people to spend more. That’s why we pull back the curtain on all the subliminal tricks that salespeople use to loosen your purse strings.

  • Best Argument for Having a Nest Egg

    THE GAMBLER, from left: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, 2014.
    Claire Folger—Paramount/Courtesy Everett Colle

    The Gambler

    You’ve probably heard of the importance of building up an emergency fund in order to cope when disaster strikes in the form of a job loss, or perhaps a costly family health issue. The necessity of having a nest egg to fall back on takes quite a different level of importance in this film, in which a literature professor and severe gambling addict named Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) winds up owing several hundred thousand dollars to various underworld characters. At one point, Bennett turns for help to another loanshark named Frank (John Goodman), who offers a brilliant lecture on why an emergency fund is so critical—only with a lot more expletives than the typical personal finance expert. “Somebody wants you to do something, f*** you. Boss p***** you off, f*** you! Own your house. Have a couple bucks in the bank,” Frank explains. “A wise man’s life is based around f*** you. The United States of America is based on f*** you.”

    It’s worth noting that there are also better ways to pay off debt than turning to loansharks. Assuming, of course, your life isn’t on the line in the matter of a few days.

TIME movies

Why American Sniper Was the Only Oscar Movie That Made Big Money

Warner Bros. Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' American Sniper.

The film, starring Bradley Cooper, has made more money than the other seven best picture nominees combined

Birdman may be widely perceived as the Oscar frontrunner for best picture, but American Sniper has already destroyed its competition at the box office. Despite being the worst-reviewed Oscar contender (with a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes), the film has earned a whopping $306.5 million domestically so far, more than the other seven best picture Oscar nominees combined. Even Bradley Cooper admits he can’t explain the film’s success.

But here’s a theory—and, no, it has nothing to do with that fake baby. In a terrible year at the box office, American Sniper soared when other Oscar contenders flailed because it advertised itself as a war movie, not a prestige film.

2014 was a bad year at the box office in general: moviegoing hit a two-decade low. But Oscar movies performed particularly poorly. American Sniper was the only best picture nominee to cross the $100 million mark. The Imitation Game came in at a distant second with $79.7 million, and Grand Budapest Hotel took the third spot with $59.1 million.

Studios never expect prestige dramas to make as much as blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy or even Fifty Shades of Grey. But in 2013, four best picture contenders grossed over $100 million at the box office: Gravity ($274 million), American Hustle ($150.1 million), The Wolf of Wall Street ($116.9 million) and Captain Phillips ($107.1 million). In 2012, five films—Lincoln, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi—all surpassed that $100 million benchmark. In comparison, this year’s Oscar hopefuls look like they’re limping to the finish line.

Let’s assume that the controversy surrounding American Sniper—whether real-life sniper Chris Kyle was a hero or a murderer, a patriot or a liar—had little to do with its massive success compared to the other Oscar contenders. Every prestige biopic from this year (Selma, The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything) has come under fire for factual inaccuracies or subversive politics. If controversy were all that drove ticket sales, at least a few of those films would have been hits, too.

Let’s also assume that this wasn’t all Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood’s doing. Neither has the star power to guarantee a hit. Up until this point, Cooper hasn’t carried a movie on his own—The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and even Guardians of the Galaxy have all been ensemble films with A-list casts. And Eastwood hadn’t had a hit since Gran Torino in 2008. Just six months before American Sniper hit theaters, his last directorial effort, Jersey Boys, tanked at the box office.

American Sniper did have a major advantage over much its competition: it played in more theaters. The 2015 Oscars are dominated by arthouse films. From Boyhood and Birdman to Whiplash and Grand Budapest Hotel, many of the standout movies were distributed by specialty divisions of major studios; therefore, they received limited releases.

That’s not to say that American Sniper‘s massive success was predestined. The film cost just $23 million to produce, bringing it far closer to Birdman’s $18 million price tag than Gravity’s $100 million. But bigger movies like Imitation Game were just as widely distributed, but not nearly as widely seen.

No, the key to American Sniper’s success lies in its promotions. While all the other Oscar movies were sold as prestige films—trotting out their film festival laurels or punctuating British accents with dramatic piano music—American Sniper sold itself as a good, old-fashioned, edge-of-your-seat war flick. Just watch the first trailer:

As it turns out, Americans would rather watch a nail-biter than a meditation on childhood, fame, brilliance or whatever else the latest Oscar films might be meditating on this year. Here’s the real question: Is Bradley Cooper going to shoot that kid? It’s hard to think of a better way to lure butts into seats.

What was particularly brilliant is that they aired this (literally) heart-thumping trailer during football games, capturing the key demographic that made another real-life Navy SEAL movie, Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg, a hit at the top of 2014. Both films pay tribute to the hard choices soldiers are forced to make on a daily basis. For Lone Survivor’s Marcus Luttrell it was whether to capture or even kill some innocent mountain herders who might report his whereabouts to the Taliban leader he was sent to kill; for American Sniper’s Chris Kyle, it’s whether to shoot a boy who may be trying to blow up his comrades.

This helped Chris Kyle’s story reach outside the tight circle of largely liberal-leaning folks writing about and voting for Oscar films. Though New York and Los Angeles have the highest concentration of moviegoers and usually fuel successful films, American Sniper‘s audience trended toward the heartland. Eight of the top 10 markets for American Sniper were in the South or Midwest—in cities like San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Nashville—according to the Wall Street Journal.

Whether the movie is pro-war or not (screenwriter Jason Hall would argue not), its campaign appealed to conservatives excited to see notorious Hollywood right-winger Clint Eastwood’s take on the Iraq War. (Other Iraq war movies like The Hurt Locker and Green Zone have mostly been helmed by liberal directors, and haven’t done nearly as well at the box office.) It also spoke to Christians who could ascribe to Chris Kyle’s priorities, as spelled out in his autobiography: “God. Country. Family.”

So while Hollywood celebrates a film in which a young boy helps his father distribute Obama signs on Texas lawns, the rest of America will be watching another man—who grew up in a very different part of Texas—target an Iraqi in his crosshairs.

TIME movies

Neil Patrick Harris Wants to Top Ellen Degeneres’ Oscar Selfie

"How do you beat the selfie that broke the Internet?"


Neil Patrick Harris confided to Ellen DeGeneres that he’s been “having nightmares” over her famed selfie that nearly broke the Internet as she hosted the 2014 Academy Awards.

The pressure to top that high-water mark has created “this horrible dark cloud over my head,” Harris, 41, confessed as the two strategized his hosting duties on Wednesday’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“How do you beat the selfie that broke the Internet?” he wondered.

She called her in-audience selfie just plain luck that only worked because others followed her lead.

“You can’t plan that. I hoped that it would happen. I hoped people would jump in,” DeGeneres said. “So all you have to do is have a nugget of a good idea, and if everybody’s on board and they’re playing, whatever your idea is, they’re with you. That just was such a perfect fluke that happened and I was so lucky.”

First-time Oscar host Harris is up to the task: “Selfie’s into my brain. So I’m gonna try to do something better, I think,” he said.

“You can paint them,” DeGeneres teased of a possible selfie follow-up.

Harris, who has successfully hosted the Emmy and Tony Awards, said he’s been working with writers on material.

“It’s a tricky process with the content,” he said. “I’m finding good jokes that we had that are funny and strong, then I’ll watch a late-night talk show and they’ll say the same joke … the Grammys, Saturday Night Live … I just want everyone to stop talking until Monday!”

Harris said he’s hoping to strike just the right balance to amuse both nervous industry types in attendance and the millions of film lovers watching around the world.

“I’m calm, and I feel good about the content that we’re doing. I want to make sure that the people that are in the theater, that are nominated, that are very nervous, enjoy the show and feel respected, like I’m talking to them,” he shared.

“But I think it’s more important – nay equally important – to be talking to people at home and making sure that the people, the larger group of people that are watching it at home feel that I’m talking to them and that they’re not excluded from the party,” he said, adding, “but if I spend too much time talking to them I’m excluding the people whose party it is.”

The 87th Annual Academy Awards show will air live on ABC Sunday from the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME movies

The Imitation Game Director Morten Tyldum: We Didn’t Need Gay Sex Scenes

"It’s kind of prejudiced to say that if you have a gay character in a movie, you need to show explicit gay sex," says the Oscar-nominated director

Few knew who Norwegian director Morten Tyldum was before he took on the Alan Turing biopic, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. But the film about the inventor of computer science, who broke the Nazi code and helped win World War II, has earned Tyldum a Oscar nomination for best director (along with nods for Cumberbatch, Knightley and Best Picture). Even if Tyldum doesn’t win, his star is on the rise: He’s set to film a space romance called Passengers next with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in talks to star.

Still, The Imitation Game — like every other biopic this Oscar season — hasn’t been without controversy. Tyldum talks his decisions not to delve deeper into Turing’s sexuality and not show his suicide with TIME.

How much did you know about Alan Turing before the film?

I’ve always been interested in history, so it shocked me when I read the script how little I knew about Turing. It’s sort of like if Albert Einstein was a little-known mathematician. Alan Turing was one of the most important individuals in the last century, and he’d been living in the shadows of history far too long. I think it’s impossible to not be fascinated or intrigued or outraged when you hear the story for the first time.

How much do you think historical accuracy matters in a biopic?

I think it matters a lot. It’s a huge responsibility when you’re dealing with real-life persons and real-life events to do it accurately. Of course, you have to compress a lot into two hours, and there’s no way you can be totally accurate. You have to convey the emotional accuracy—how did Alan Turing feel at this time?—and to do that, you sort of have to dramatize events.

That’s why I wanted it to feel like a thriller. He was 27 years old when he came to Bletchley. Here was this man plucked straight out of Cambridge. And he ends up with all these incredible secrets being dumped on his shoulders and all this incredible pressure. It would be as if he was living in the middle of this wartime spy thriller, so that’s what we wanted to convey.

One criticism of the film has been that you didn’t delve deeply enough into Alan Turing’s sexuality.

First of all, it’s very accurate the way it is in the film. His words about his time at Bletchley, he called it a sexual desert—he wrote that in a letter to a friend. He didn’t have any sexual encounters during all that time. His most important relationship he had was his relationship with Joan. They were engaged for six months. He even wanted children with her at that time.

We’re not shying away from Alan being gay. To me, the movie is about lost love, unfulfilled love. The computer came out of the loss of Christopher and the idea to try to recreate a consciousness. To create another love interest for him would be completely meaningless and also not true. It would be sort of like having a random, unnecessary sex scene with him and another man. You would never do that, even with a straight character. It’s kind of prejudiced to say that if you have a gay character in a movie, you need to show explicit gay sex.

Why did you decide not to show Alan Turing’s suicide?

We shot Benedict being dead, and in many ways it felt melodramatic and unnecessary. To me, it’s all about his relationship to Christopher. So him turning off the light on the machine and saying goodbye to Christopher, then the movie is over.

At first, we were fascinated by the apple. Alan killed himself by taking a bite of this cyanide apple, and the rumor was that that’s where the Apple logo came from. It was this great link from the inventor of computer science to this device we all carry around in our pockets now. But I shot the apple and Benedict lying there and all that. But the whole thing turned into a sort of Apple commercial. The other thing is, it turns out it’s not really true. Steve Jobs said he wished Alan Turing had been the inspiration for the Apple logo, but it was a coincidence.

The apple did come from Alan Turing’s fascination with Snow White, which we tried to get in but there wasn’t room for it. It was too hard to explain. The true story is actually that he watched Snow White when he was waiting for the interview with Commander Denniston at Bletchley Park—the one that you see in the beginning of the film. He took the train from London, and he was early and went to the village cinema to see a movie while he was waiting. He saw Snow White, and from then on, he was a little obsessed with the story of Snow White. That’s why he decided to kill himself with the bite of an apple—which is in many ways poetic, but it felt like too much to explain.

I wanted to show the last night they had together, which is also a true story, they made this huge bonfire and burned everything. I wanted to go from his goodbye to Christopher to that ending with the fire. It just felt right.

Benedict Cumberbatch seems like a very charismatic person, but he was playing this characters who was a bit socially awkward.

We don’t think he had autism. Some people believed that at the time because he had some of the traits. But when you see his writing, he’s very insightful when he writes about himself and his own situation. He just had this mind that went in five different directions at all times. In the middle of a conversation, he could just leave if he felt you weren’t smart or interesting.

He was an odd man. He was allergic to pollen, so he used to wear a gas mask sometimes. He just would come to a meeting and have gas masks on without telling anybody and would just sit there and talk. He had this mug that he drank tea from. And he was paralyzed that someone would take it, so he chained it to his radiator. He did some odd things.

An overlooked part of Bletchley’s history and the history of computer programming is the role women played. Why was it important to develop Joan (Keira Knightley) as a character?

She started up as a clerk, or a “big room girl,” as they called it. Bletchley was mostly women, but they were doing the legwork, the paperwork, translations. In the whole history of Bletchley, there was only two women that ever got to work on that level, and Joan Clark was the first.

She was this brilliant mathematician, but she lived in a time when intellect wasn’t really valued in women. And that was the beauty of Alan is that he didn’t have this prejudice. He really saw what she was, and they fell in love—this kind of odd friendship love—because they were both incredibly smart people. They worked together for six months, and it was a very fulfilling time for her because she was allowed to finally do something which was really meaningful and important. She continued to work for the government after the war at Bletchley.

The celebration of the outsider seems to be at the heart of the film.

They were both outsiders: she being a woman, he being this socially awkward gay man. Alan Turing was able to come up with this extraordinary idea because he looked at the world from a different point of view. It wasn’t just that he was a closeted gay man — he was also a man who had a mind that worked differently. And Joan was this woman who had to struggle to be recognized for being brilliant. It is trying to celebrate that and show how important that is.

TIME movies

Lady Gaga Will Perform at the Oscars

The singer will join Jack Black, Anna Kendrick and Jennifer Hudson on Feb.22

Lady Gaga has joined the lineup of stars performing at the Oscars. Gaga herself and Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced on Twitter today that the pop singer will take part in year’s ceremony. Zadan wrote that she will be involved in a “a very special performance.”

“Lady Gaga is a once in a lifetime artist who’s musical evolution keeps growing. We are proud to have her perform on the Oscars for the very first time,” Zadan and Meron said in a statement.

So just what’s going to happen at this year’s Oscars will all these “special performances” and “sequences”? Details are still scarce, but producers have also announced that Jack Black, Anna Kendrick, and Jennifer Hudson will participate.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME movies

Watch Keira Knightley Re-Create the Famous Orgasm Scene From When Harry Met Sally

Oh my


For its annual Hollywood issue, Vanity Fair focused on the British invasion at this year’s Oscars where actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are nabbing nominations. In honor of that achievement, the magazine asked various British actors to recreate famous Hollywood scenes in a video.

The short includes Cumberbatch re-creating the infamous Mr. Darcy scene in the pond as well as Jones and Tom Hiddleston as Bonnie and Clyde. But the highlight of the film is Keira Knightley doing her best Meg Ryan impression to reproduce the infamous fake orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally. Nobody can top Meg Ryan, but Knightley comes close.

TIME movies

Screen Actors Guild Awards 2015: See All the SAG Winners

Uzo Aduba of the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black" poses backstage with her award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles
Mike Blake—Reuters Uzo Aduba of the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black" poses backstage with her awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California Jan. 25, 2015

The SAG Awards are usually treated as an Oscar predictor

The cream of Hollywood assembled at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles late Sunday to discover who will be honored at the Screen Actors Guild Awards 2015. The red carpet extravaganza is prestigious in its own right, but it is also a crucial yardstick for the Academy Awards just around the corner. Read TIME’s introduction to the 21st SAG Awards here.

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role

Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role

Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

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Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series

Winner: Orange Is the New Black

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series

Winner: William H. Macy, Shameless

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series

Winner: Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black

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Outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries

Winner: Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or miniseries

Winner: Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series

Winner: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series

Winner: Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder

Outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series

Winner: Downton Abbey

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Outstanding performance by a male actor in a motion picture

Winner: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a motion picture

Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture

Winner: Birdman

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Lifetime achievement award

Winner: Debbie Reynolds

Read next: Birdman Flies Ahead in Oscar Race

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