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Frank Marshall-Directed Bee Gees Docu Gets HBO & HBO Max Premiere Date & A Trailer

A month after Deadline revealed that HBO Documentary Films acquired North American rights to The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, the film has been set to premiere December 12 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO. It will also be viewable to stream on HBO Max. You can watch the first trailer above.

The Frank Marshall-directed pic had been an official selection of the 2020 Telluride Film Festival before that fest was derailed by the pandemic. It tells the story of an iconic band that is way more than a symbol of the polyester disco era from when their soundtrack-fueled Saturday Night Fever. That was just one part of their evolution as musicians. Marshall has directed an intimate look at siblings Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb. They wrote more than 1,000 songs, including 20 No. 1 hits throughout their career.

Pic is a Polygram Entertainment presentation of a Kennedy/Marshall and White Horse Pictures production in association with Diamond Docs. Marshall produced alongside Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa, and Mark Monroe, latter of whom wrote the script.

The Bee Gees story with all their tunes has been catnip and aside from a stage musical project with Barry Gibb, Elisabeth Murdoch and Stacey Snider at Sister are teamed with Steven Spielberg and Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King and scribe Anthony McCarten in developing with Paramount a big Bee Gees narrative film.

Read the full story and watch the trailer on Deadline

You Might Feel Like Dancing After Seeing The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

Interview with filmmakers Jeanne Elfant Festa & Mark Monroe

Amid our splintered pop-cultural moment, it’s hard to fathom how big the Bee Gees were. The band, formed all the way back in 1958 by brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, owned the 1970s in a way that seems inconceivable today. Not only did the Gibbs sell 120 million records and release nine chart-topping singles, but they also became the poster boys for the disco genre.

A new documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, aims to convey the trio’s massive impact — including its musical influence, which persists in the present day. The film will have its premiere tomorrow, October 8, at the Dezerland Park Drive-In, where, from the comfort of your car, you can experience the rise of and backlash toward one of the most popular musical acts of the 20th Century.

The drive-in screening — which kicks off the Miami Film Festival’s fall presentation, Gems — is coincidentally located one block from Criteria Studios, where the Bee Gees laid down many of their hits, from “Jive Talkin'” to “Nights on Broadway.”

As one might expect, the city the Bee Gees called home beginning in 1975 plays a strong supporting role in How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.

“Eric Clapton suggested they come to Miami, where the sunshine helped their creative evolution,” says Jeanne Elfant Festa, the film’s coproducer. “We were able to include all this beautiful footage of Miami from the keyboardist’s Super 8 camera.”

“They were young guys. They came to Miami not just to make music, but to have fun,” adds writer and coproducer Mark Monroe. “The dance music in Miami, the different communities — all of that are part of the ingredients of the music that came.”

The Bee Gees famously showed off their new adopted home in the promo video for “Night Fever,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. In the video, cars are driving down Collins Avenue with the brothers superimposed over a neon-lit Sunny Isles Beach doing its best Vegas imitation. The long-gone beachside motels and delicatessens never looked more glamorous than when soundtracked to the disco classic.

But the filmmakers say their documentary goes far deeper than the familiar setting.

“We show how they pioneered the drum loop and the synthesizer,” Elfant Festa says by way of example. “There’s a scene where you can hear the evolution of the recording of the song ‘Nights on Broadway.'”

She says it wasn’t hard to persuade some of today’s biggest musical acts to speak about the Gibbs’ influence.

“We interviewed Nick Jonas, Mark Ronson, and Chris Martin from Coldplay. They all jumped to talk about how the Bee Gees influenced them,” Elfant Festa tells New Times. “After we already locked the picture, we showed it to Taylor Hawkins, the drummer of the Foo Fighters. He was asking us if it wasn’t too late to interview him. He loved the Bee Gees.”

The film also takes a serious look at the backlash to the band and the disco genre, culminating in 1979 when Chicago shock jock Steve Dahl staged the infamous Disco Demolition Night at the home of the White Sox, Comiskey Park. Though the Bee Gees are straight cis white men, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart posits that much of the resentment had its roots in bigotry.

“They became targets because of their success,” Monroe argues. “The Bee Gees were influenced by the R&B and dance music of minority groups — the discotheques were where Blacks, Latinos, and gays went to dance. There were a lot of people who wanted no part in that. Disco was a target, but I think it had as much to do with opening up of cultures in mainstream music.”

Still, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart is more musical celebration than societal analysis. It’s one that Elfant Festa claims might not be safe for these times of social distancing.

“It’s going to be hard for people to stay in their cars,” she says, “because they’re going to want to dance.” 

View the story on The Miami New Times

Music Docs Rock the Nashville Film Festival

Films about The Bee Gees, David Olney and more stood out at the fest

Given Nashville’s global reputation as a music capital, it’s understandable — if also a little predictable — that the Nashville Film Festival always features music movies on its rosters. Music documentaries like Woodstock and Dig! demonstrate that the lives of music-makers can be as captivating — and as captivatingly captured — as the best narrative cinema. That said, music films, like musical artists, may only appeal to fans of a particular act. Worse yet, they can also reveal that your favorite singer, songwriter or virtuoso musician is somebody you can’t possibly spend even two hours with. I’m usually less than excited by the festival’s music movie offerings, but this year they were the clear standout during a week full of films.

The festival and its tuneful film category got a roaring start with Frank Marshall’s The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart slated as the online event’s opening-night presentation. One can imagine a packed red carpet for this film in a world sans-pandemic. Barry Gibb himself might have made the trip given the only surviving Gibb brother’s connections to Nashville’s music scene. While we missed out on the real-life razzle dazzle this movie might have generated, there was nearly nothing missing in Marshall’s exhaustive — but never exhausting — exhumation of the Australian band’s decades-long career, and the massive impact The Bee Gees have had on popular music.

Marshall’s approach isn’t groundbreaking, but his storytelling chops are top-notch. The film predictably takes us from the band’s teenage success in Australia to their breakthrough in England where their folk-rock sound finds them hitting the charts and palling around with John, Paul, George and Ringo. The movie traces the group’s developing into a rhythm-and-blues band, and achieving global superstardom with the Saturday Night Fever film and its forever-danceable soundtrack. It also follows up on the backlash against disco and the brothers’ evolution into a songwriting and production team, working with other artists and scoring hits through the 1980s. Along the way, Marshall also reveals the inner workings of the band as they grow as artists and as brothers.

Of course, all of this is expected from a Bee Gees doc, but Marshall’s unexpected touches are what makes this movie special: The behind-the-scenes details of how Saturday Night Fever came together are fascinating, and so is the band’s post-disco evolution — a period of continued creative and financial success that even fans might not be fully aware of. Another great detail is the commentary from Oasis songsmith and guitar slinger, Noel Gallagher. The Gallagher brothers’ success and brotherly combativeness are both the stuff of legend, and Noel Gallagher’s hilarious insights here are one masterstroke in a movie with many.

Read the full story from Nashville Scene

Amy Poehler to direct Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz documentary

Watch the report on Good Morning America Pop News


Available now!

The Apollo nominated for NAACP Image Award

NAACP Image Awards: ‘Harriet’ Leads Film Nominations With 10

Other top nominees include ‘Us,’ ‘Dolemite Is My Name,’ ‘Queen & Slim,’ ‘Just Mercy’ and ‘The Lion King.’

Glen Wilson / Focus Features

Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet on Thursday scored the most NAACP Image Awards nominations of any film with 10, including one for star Cynthia Erivo’s original song featured in the film, “Stand Up.” The movie is also up for best soundtrack, outstanding motion picture, best actress (Erivo), supporting actor (Leslie Odom Jr.), supporting actress (Janelle Monáe), breakthrough performance (Erivo), ensemble cast, writing (Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard) and directing (Lemmons).

Other films nominated for multiple NAACP Image Awards include Jordan Peele’s Us, with eight nods; Eddie Murphy-starrer Dolemite Is My Name and Melina Matsoukas’ Queen & Slim, which are up for seven awards each; and Just Mercy and The Lion King, which are up for six awards apiece, with Beyoncé’s soundtrack contribution “Spirit” also nominated. 

Harriet, Us, Dolemite, Just Mercy and Queen & Slim are all up for outstanding motion picture and ensemble cast, while Dolemite and Queen & Slim are both nominated in the outstanding independent motion picture category, where they will face off against three-time nominee Clemency and two-time nominees Luce and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Best actor nominees include 21 Bridges‘ Chadwick Boseman, Queen & Slim‘s Daniel Kaluuya, Dolemite‘s Murphy, Just Mercy‘s Michael B. Jordan and Winston Duke of Us.

Joining Erivo in the best actress category are Clemency‘s Alfre Woodard, Queen & Slim‘s Jodie Turner-Smith, Lupita Nyong’o of Us and Black and Blue‘s Naomie Harris. Meanwhile, Turner-Smith joins Erivo in the breakthrough performance category alongside Little‘s Marsai Martin, Just Mercy‘s Rob Morgan and Shahidi Wright Joseph of Us

Dolemite is represented twice in the best supporting actor category, with both Tituss Burgess and Wesley Snipes earning nods, alongside Harriet‘s Odom Jr., Just Mercy‘s Jamie Foxx and Waves‘ Sterling K. Brown. Supporting actress nominees are Dolemite‘s Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Harriet‘s Monáe, Hustlers‘ Jennifer Lopez, Little‘s Marsai Martin and Luce‘s Octavia Spencer.

The Lion King dominates the outstanding character voiceover performance category with nominations for Woodard, Donald Glover and James Earl Jones. Other nominees are Nyong’o for Discovery Channel’s Serengeti and Sterling K. Brown for Frozen 2.

Us‘ Jordan Peele is also nominated in the outstanding writing and directing in a motion picture category, facing off in the former with the writers of Harriet, Just Mercy, Clemencyand Brian Banks.

On the TV side, Netflix’s When They See Us leads with nine noms, followed by ABC’s Black-ish with eight, NBC’s This Is Us and OWN’s Queen Sugar with five each and EPIX’s Godfather of Harlem with four.

In terms of individual performers, Beyoncé has six nominations across various categories, followed by H.E.R. and Lizzo with four each. Lizzo is also up for entertainer of the year, where she will face off against Tyler Perry and two-time nominees Angela Bassett, Billy Porter and Regina King.

In terms of studios behind the nominated projects, Netflix leads with 42 mentions (30 in TV and 12 in film), followed by Universal with 15.

The 51st NAACP Image Awards — recognizing the achievements of people of color in TV, music, literature and film and those who promote social justice through creative endeavors — will air live on BET on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m. ET.

A complete list of this year’s nominees follows.

Entertainer of the Year


Angela Basset
Billy Porter
Regina King
Tyler Perry

Outstanding Drama Series

'Queen Sugar'
‘Queen Sugar’
Skip Bolen/2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Godfather of Harlem (EPIX)
Greenleaf (OWN)
Queen Sugar (OWN)
The Chi (Showtime)
Watchmen (HBO)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Omari Hardwick in 'Power'
Omari Hardwick in ‘Power’
Courtesy of Starz

Billy Porter – Pose (FX Networks)
Forest Whitaker – Godfather of Harlem (EPIX)
Kofi Siriboe – Queen Sugar (OWN)
Omari Hardwick – Power (Starz)
Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Regina King in 'Watchmen'
Regina King in ‘Watchmen’
Boris Martin/HBO

Angela Bassett – 9-1-1 (FOX)
Regina King – Watchmen (HBO)
Rutina Wesley – Queen Sugar (OWN)
Simone Missick – All Rise (CBS)
Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Susan Kelechi Watson in 'This Is Us'
Susan Kelechi Watson in ‘This Is Us’
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

CCH Pounder – NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)
Lynn Whitfield – Greenleaf (OWN)
Lyric Ross – This Is Us (NBC)
Susan Kelechi Watson – This Is Us (NBC)
Tina Lifford – Queen Sugar (OWN)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Giancarlo Esposito in 'Godfather of Harlem'
Giancarlo Esposito in ‘Godfather of Harlem’

Delroy Lindo – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Giancarlo Esposito – Godfather of Harlem (EPIX)
Harold Perrineau – Claws (TNT)
Nigél Thatch – Godfather of Harlem (EPIX)
Wendell Pierce – Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Prime Video)

Outstanding Comedy Series

'Dear White People'
‘Dear White People’
Lara Solanki/Netflix

Ballers (HBO)
black-ish (ABC)
Dear White People (Netflix)
grown-ish (Freeform)
The Neighborhood (CBS)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

Tiffany Haddish in 'The Last O.G'
Tiffany Haddish in ‘The Last O.G’
Courtesy of TBS

Logan Browning – Dear White People (Netflix)
Jill Scott – First Wives Club (BET+)
Tiffany Haddish – The Last O.G. (TBS)
Tracee Ellis Ross – black-ish (ABC)
Yara Shahidi – grown-ish (Freeform)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

Don Cheadle in 'Black Monday'
Don Cheadle in ‘Black Monday’
Erin Simkin/SHOWTIME

Anthony Anderson – black-ish (ABC)
Cedric The Entertainer – The Neighborhood (CBS)
Don Cheadle – Black Monday (Showtime)
Dwayne Johnson – Ballers (HBO)
Tracy Morgan – The Last O.G. (TBS)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Halle Bailey in 'grown-ish'
Halle Bailey in ‘grown-ish’

Halle Bailey – grown-ish (Freeform)
Loretta Devine – Family Reunion (Netflix)
Marsai Martin – black-ish (ABC)
Regina Hall – Black Monday (Showtime)
Tichina Arnold – The Neighborhood (CBS)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Tituss Burgess on 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'
Tituss Burgess on ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’
Courtesy of Netflix

Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)
Deon Cole – black-ish (ABC)
Laurence Fishburne – black-ish (ABC)
Terry Crews – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)
Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

'Being Mary Jane'
‘Being Mary Jane’
Courtesy of BET

American Son (Netflix)
Being Mary Jane (BET Networks)
Native Son (HBO)
True Detective (HBO)
When They See Us (Netflix)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

Octavia Spencer in 'Truth Be Told'
Octavia Spencer in ‘Truth Be Told’
Apple TV+

Aunjanue Ellis – When They See Us (Netflix)
Gabrielle Union – Being Mary Jane (BET Networks)
Kerry Washington – American Son (Netflix)
Niecy Nash – When They See Us (Netflix)
Octavia Spencer – Truth Be Told (Apple TV+)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

Jharrel Jerome in 'When They See Us'
Jharrel Jerome in ‘When They See Us’
Courtesy of Netflix

Caleel Harris – When They See Us (Netflix)
Ethan Henru Herisse – When They See Us (Netflix)
Idris Elba – Luther (BBC America)
Jharrel Jerome – When They See Us (Netflix)
Mahershala Ali – True Detective (HBO)

Outstanding News/Information – (Series or Special)

'Surviving R. Kelly'
‘Surviving R. Kelly’
Courtesy of Lifetime

PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (PBS)
Surviving R. Kelly (Lifetime)
The Breakfast Club (REVOLT)
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman (National Geographic)
Unsung (TV One)

Outstanding Talk Series

'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah'
‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’
Courtesy of Comedy Central

Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
The Real (Syndicated)
The Shop: Uninterrupted (HBO)
The Tamron Hall Show (Syndicated)

Outstanding Reality Program, Reality Competition or Game Show (Series)

'The Voice'
‘The Voice’
Trae Patton/NBC

Iyanla: Fix My Life (OWN)
Lip Sync Battle (Paramount Network)
Rhythm + Flow (Netflix)
Sunday Best (BET Networks)
The Voice (NBC)

Outstanding Variety Show (Series or Special)

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle
Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage

2019 Black Girls Rock! (BET Networks)
Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones (Netflix)
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (Netflix)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (Netflix)

Outstanding Children’s Program

Doc McStuffins (Disney Junior)
Family Reunion (Netflix)
Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History (Netflix)
Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest (Disney XD)
Motown Magic (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited Series)

Lyric Ross in 'This Is Us'
Lyric Ross in ‘This Is Us’
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Caleel Harris – When They See Us (Netflix)
Lonnie Chavis – This Is Us (NBC)
Lyric Ross – This Is Us (NBC)
Marsai Martin – black-ish (ABC)
Miles Brown – black-ish (ABC)

Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble

Jada Pinkett Smith on 'Red Table Talk'
Jada Pinkett Smith on ‘Red Table Talk’

Angela Rye – Young Gifted and Broke: A BET Town Hall (BET Networks)
Jada Pinkett Smith – Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
Lester Holt – NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (NBC)
Trevor Noah – The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain, Abby Huntsman, Ana Navarro – The View (ABC)

Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show or Variety (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble

Steve Harvey on 'Celebrity Family Feud'
Steve Harvey on ‘Celebrity Family Feud’
Courtesy of Byron Cohen/ABC

Iyanla Vanzant – Iyanla: Fix My Life (OWN)
LL Cool J – Lip Sync Battle (Paramount Network)
Regina Hall – 2019 BET Awards (BET Networks)
Steve Harvey – Celebrity Family Feud (ABC)
Wayne Brady – Let’s Make A Deal (CBS)

Outstanding Guest Performance in a Comedy or Drama Series

Kelly Rowland in 'American Soul'
Kelly Rowland in ‘American Soul’
Courtesy of BET

Blair Underwood – Dear White People ( Netflix)
David Alan Grier – Queen Sugar (OWN)
Kelly Rowland – American Soul (BET Networks)
Sanaa Lathan – The Affair (Showtime)

Outstanding Album

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Cuz I Love You – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
Homecoming: The Live Album – Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
I Used To Know H.E.R. – H.E.R. (RCA Records)
Sketchbook – Fantasia (Rock Soul Inc./BMG)
Worthy – India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)

Outstanding New Artist

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Ari Lennox (Dreamville/Interscope Records)
Lil Nas X (Columbia Records)
Lucky Daye (Keep Cool/RCA Records)
Mahalia (Burkmar/Warner Music UK)
Mykal Kilgore (Affective Music)

Outstanding Male Artist

Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars
Courtesy of Slate

Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records)
Khalid (RCA Records)
Lil Nas X (Columbia Records)
PJ Morton (Morton Records)

Outstanding Female Artist

Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
Fantasia (Rock Soul Inc./BMG)
H.E.R. (RCA Records)
India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)
Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)

Outstanding Song – Traditional

Cynthia Erivo
Cynthia Erivo
Steve Granitz/WireImage

“Enough” – Fantasia (Rock Soul Inc./BMG)
“Jerome” – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
“SPIRIT” – Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
“Stand Up” – Cynthia Erivo (Back Lot Music)
“Steady Love” – India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)

Outstanding Song – Contemporary

Hollywood Foreign Press Association/ Image Group LA

“Before I Let Go” – Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
“Hard Place” – H.E.R. (RCA Records)
“Juice” – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
“Talk” – Khalid (RCA Records)
“Motivation” – Normani (Keep Cool/RCA Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for THR

“Brown Skin Girl” – Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, Beyoncé & WizKiD (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
“No Guidance” – Chris Brown feat. Drake (Chris Brown Entertainment/RCA Records)
“Say So” – PJ Morton feat. JoJo (Morton Records/EMPIRE)
“Shea Butter Baby” – Ari Lennox feat. J. Cole (Dreamville/Interscope Records)
“Show Me Love” – Alicia Keys feat. Miguel (RCA Records)

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album (Traditional or Contemporary)

I Made It Out – John P. Kee feat. Zacardi Cortez (Kee Music Group/Entertainment One)
Laughter – Bebe Winans feat. Korean Soul (Regimen Records)
Love Theory – Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul Records/RCA Records)
Not Yet – Donnie McClurkin (Camdon Music/RCA Inspiration)
Victory – The Clark Sisters (Karew Records/Motown Gospel/Capitol CMG)

Outstanding Jazz Album

Carib – David Sanchez (Ropeadope)
Center of The Heart – Najee (Shanachie)
Love & Liberation – Jazzmeia Horn (Concord Jazz)
SoulMate – Nathan Mitchell (Enm Music Group)
The Dream Is You: Vanessa Rubin Sings Tadd Dameron – Vanessa Rubin (Vanessa Rubin)

Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“Hard Place” – H.E.R. (RCA Records)
“Juice” – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
“No Guidance” – Chris Brown feat. Drake (Chris Brown Entertainment/RCA Records)
“Steady Love” – India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)
“Talk” – Khalid (RCA Records)

Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation

'Queen & Slim'
‘Queen & Slim’
Universal Pictures

Harriet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Terence Blanchard (Back Lot Music)
Queen & Slim The Soundtrack – Various Artists (Motown Records)
The Lion King: The Gift – Beyoncé w/Various Artists (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
The Lion King Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Various Artists (Walt Disney Records)
Us (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Michael Abels (Back Lot Music)

Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction

New Daughters of Africa – Margaret Busby (HarperCollins Publishers)
Out of Darkness, Shining Light – Petina Gappah (Simon and Schuster)
Red at the Bone – Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead Books PRH)
The Revisioners – Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counter Point Press)
The Water Dancer – Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World)

Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction

Breathe: A Letter to My Sons – Dr. Imani Perry (Beacon Press)
STONY THE ROAD: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow – Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Penguin Press)
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations – Toni Morrison (Alfred A. Knopf)
The Yellow House – Sarah M. Broom (Grove Atlantic)
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays – Damon Young (HarperCollins Publishers)

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional

Inspire Your Home: Easy, Affordable Ideas to Make Every Room Glamorous – Farah Merhi (Tiller Press)
Letters to the Finishers (who struggle to finish) – Candace E. Wilkins (New Season Books)
More Than Pretty: Doing the Soul Work that Uncovers Your True Beauty – Erica Campbell (Howard Books)
Vegetables Unleashed – José Andres (HarperCollins Publishers)
Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, And Opportunity For Black Women In America – Karen Arrington (Author), Joanna Price (Illustrator), Sheryl Taylor (Forward) (Mango Publishing)

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

American Spy – Lauren Wilkinson (Random House)
I Am Dance: Words and Images of the Black Dancer – Hal Banfield (Author), Javier Vasquez (Illustrator), (Literary Revolutionary)
More Than Pretty: Doing The Soul Work To Uncover Your True Beauty – Erica Campbell (Howard Books)
Such A Fun Age – Kiley Reid (Penguin Publishing Group)
The Farm – Joanne Ramos (Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography

Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System – Cyntoia Brown-Long (Atria Books)
Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward – Valerie Jarrett (Viking Press)
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) – Elaine Welteroth (Viking Press)
My Name Is Prince – Randee St. Nicholas (HarperCollins Publishers)
The Beautiful Ones – Prince (Author), Dan Piepenbring (Edited by), (Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry

A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland – DaMaris B. Hill (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Felon: Poems – Reginald Dwayne Betts (W.W. Norton Company)
Honeyfish – Lauren K. Alleyne (New Issues Poetry and Prose)
Mistress – Chet’la Sebree (New Issue Poetry and Prose)
The Tradition – Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation – Barry Wittenstein (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator), (Neal Porter Books / Holiday House Publishing Inc)
Hair Love – Matthew A. Cherry (Author), Vashti Harrison (Illustrator), (Kokila)
Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment – Parker Curry (Author), Jessica Curry (Author), Brittany Jackson (Illustrator), (Aladdin Books)
Ruby Finds a Worry – Tom Percival (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o (Author), Vashti Harrison (Illustrator), (Simon & Schuster, BFYR)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens

Around Harvard Square – C.J. Farley (Akashic Books)
Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk – Meredith Davis (Author), Rebeka Uwitonze (Author), (Scholastic Inc.)
Hot Comb – Ebony Flowers (Author), Ebony Flowers (Illustrator), (Drawn and Quarterly)
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight – Gilly Segal (Author), Kimberly Jones (Author), (Sourcebooks Fire)
The Forgotten Girl – India Hill Brown (Scholastic Inc.)

Outstanding Motion Picture

'Just Mercy'
‘Just Mercy’
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Dolemite is My Name (Netflix)
Harriet (Focus Features)
Just Mercy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Queen & Slim (Universal Pictures)
Us (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Chadwick Boseman in '21 Bridges'
Chadwick Boseman in ’21 Bridges’
Courtesy of STXfilms

Chadwick Boseman – 21 Bridges (STX Films)
Daniel Kaluuya – Queen & Slim (Universal Pictures)
Eddie Murphy – Dolemite is My Name (Netflix)
Michael B. Jordan – Just Mercy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Winston Duke – Us (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Alfre Woodard in 'Clemency'
Alfre Woodard in ‘Clemency’
Courtesy of TIFF

Alfre Woodard – Clemency (Neon)
Cynthia Erivo – Harriet (Focus Features)
Jodie Turner-Smith – Queen & Slim (Universal Pictures)
Lupita Nyong’o – Us (Universal Pictures)
Naomie Harris – Black and Blue (Screen Gems/Sony Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Sterling K. Brown in 'Waves' (with Kelvin Harrison Jr.)
Sterling K. Brown in ‘Waves’ (with Kelvin Harrison Jr.)
Courtesy of A24

Jamie Foxx – Just Mercy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Leslie Odom, Jr. – Harriet (Focus Features)
Sterling K. Brown – Waves (A24)
Tituss Burgess – Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix)
Wesley Snipes – Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Jennifer Lopez in 'Hustlers'
Jennifer Lopez in ‘Hustlers’Courtesy of STXfilms

Da’Vine Joy Randolph – Dolemite is My Name (Netflix)
Janelle Monáe – Harriet (Focus Features)
Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers (STX Films)
Marsai Martin – Little (Universal Pictures)
Octavia Spencer – Luce (Neon)

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture

Cynthia Erivo in 'Harriet'
Cynthia Erivo in ‘Harriet’
Glen Wilson / Focus Features

Cynthia Erivo – Harriet (Focus Features)
Jodie Turner-Smith – Queen & Slim (Universal Pictures)
Marsai Martin – Little (Universal Pictures)
Rob Morgan – Just Mercy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Shahadi Wright Joseph – Us (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture

'Dolemite is My Name'
‘Dolemite is My Name’
Courtesy of TIFF

Dolemite is My Name (Netflix)
Harriet (Focus Features)
Just Mercy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Queen & Slim (Universal Pictures)
Us (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

'Queen & Slim'
‘Queen & Slim’Universal Pictures

Clemency (Neon)
Dolemite is My Name (Netflix)
Luce (Neon)
Queen & Slim (Universal Pictures)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Netflix)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance

'The Lion King'
‘The Lion King’
Walt Disney Studios

Alfre Woodard – The Lion King (Walt Disney Studios)
Donald Glover – The Lion King (Walt Disney Studios)
James Earl Jones – The Lion King (Walt Disney Studios)
Lupita Nyong’o – Serengeti (Discovery Channel)
Sterling K. Brown – Frozen II (Walt Disney Studios)

Outstanding Documentary (Film)

'Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am'
‘Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am’
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Miles Davis: Birth Of The Cool (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
The Black Godfather (Netflix)
The Apollo (HBO)
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (Magnolia Pictures)
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (HBO)

Outstanding Documentary (Television – Series or Special)

'Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé'
‘Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé’
Netflix; Inset: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Free Meek (Prime Video)
Hitsville: The Making of Motown (Showtime)
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (Netflix)
Martin: The Legacy of A King (BET Networks)
ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (Netflix)

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah'
‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’
Courtesy of Comedy Central

Cord Jefferson – The Good Place – “Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy” (NBC)
Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce – One Day at a Time – “Ghosts” (Netflix)
Jason Kim – Barry – “Past=Present x Future Over Yesterday” (HBO)
Karen Gist, Peter Saji – Mixed-ish – “Let Your Hair Down” (ABC)
Trevor Noah – The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – “Steve King’s Comments Meet Trevor Noah: Racism Detective” (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Kay Oyegun – This Is Us – “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life” (NBC) (WINNER)
Janine Sherman Barrois – Claws – “Cracker Casserole” (TNT)
Lena Waithe – The Chi – “Pilot” (Showtime)
Patrick Joseph Charles – Black Lightning – “Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption” (The CW/Netflix)
Lena Waithe, Dime Davis – The Chi – “The Whistle” (Showtime)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Television)

'Native Son'
‘Native Son’
Matthew Libatique/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Cas Sigers-Beedles – Twas the Chaos Before Christmas (BET)
Melissa Bustamante – A Christmas Winter Song (Lifetime)
Patrik-Ian Polk – Being Mary Jane (BET Networks)
Suzan-Lori Parks – Native Son (HBO)
Yvette Nicole Brown – Always a Bridesmaid (BET Networks)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Film)


Chinonye Chukwu – Clemency (Neon)
Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham – Just Mercy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Doug Atchison – Brian Banks (Bleeker Street and ShivHans)
Jordan Peele – Us (Universal Pictures)
Kasi Lemmons, Gregory Allen Howard – Harriet (Focus Features)

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series

Ali Goldstein/Netflix

Anya Adams – GLOW – “Outward Bound” (Netflix)
Justin Tipping – Black Monday – “7042” (Showtime)
Ken Whittingham – Atypical – “Road Rage Paige” (Netflix)
Randall Winston – Grace and Frankie – “The Pharmacy” (Netflix)
Shaka King – Shrill – “Pool” (Hulu)

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

'When They See Us'
‘When They See Us’
Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Ava DuVernay – When They See Us – “Part Four” (Netflix)
Carl H. Seaton, Jr. – Snowfall – “Hedgehogs” (FX Networks)
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson – Power – “Forgot About Dre” (STARZ)
Debbie Allen – Grey’s Anatomy – “Silent All These Years” (ABC)
Jet Wilkinson – The Chi – “The Scorpion and the Frog” (Showtime)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television)

'American Son'
‘American Son’
Courtesy of TIFF

Codie Elaine Oliver – Black Love (OWN)
Janice Cooke – I Am Sombody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story (Lifetime)
Kenny Leon – American Son (Netflix)
Rashid Johnson – Native Son (HBO)
Russ Parr – The Bobby Debarge Story (TV One)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Film)

'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind'
‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’
Ilze Kitshoff/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Chiwetel Ejiofor – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Netflix)
Jordan Peele – Us (Universal Pictures)
Kasi Lemmons – Harriet (Focus Features)
Mati Diop – Atlantics (Les Films du Bal Presente en Co-Production avec Cinekap et Frakas Productions en Co-Production avec Arte France Cinema et Canal+ International for Netflix)
Reginald Hudlin – The Black Godfather (Netflix)

View Article.

The Apollo has been nominated for for a Motion Picture Sound Editor award for Non-Theatrical Documentary

Non-Theatrical Nominees:

Non-Theatrical Feature

Deadwood: The Movie 

Supervising Sound Editors:  Mandell Winter, MPSE, Daniel Colman
Sound Designer: Ben Cook
Dialogue Editors: Brian Armstrong, Bernard Weiser, Shane Hayes
ADR Editors: Rob Chen, Dhyana Carlton-Tims
Foley Editor: Eryne Prine 
Music Editors: Micha Liberman, Jillinda Palmer, Stephanie Gangel

Escape Plan: Extractors

Supervising Sound Editor: David Barber, MPSE 
Sound Designer: Roland Thai 
Sound Effects Editors: George Haddad, MPSE, Ben Zarai
ADR Editor: Michael Kreple
Foley Editor: David Kitchens, MPSE 
Foley Artist: Gonzalo “Bino” Espinoza
Music Editor: Steven Saltzman, MPSE

Guava Island

Supervising Sound Editor: Trevor Gates
Dialogue Editor: Jesse Kees 
Sound Effects Editors: Matt Hall, Paul Knox 
Supervising ADR Editor: Jason Dotts
Foley Editor: Walter Spencer  
Music Editor: Devaughn Watts
Foley Artists: Tim McKeown, Mike Hornton


Supervising Sound Editor: Mac Smith 
Sound Designers: Mac Smith, Brandon Proctor
Dialogue Editor: Brad Semenoff
Sound Effects Editors: 
ADR Editor: Chris Gridley 
Foley Editor: Richard Gould  
Foley Artist: Heikki Kossi, MPSE 

Music Editor: Felipe Pacheco

Lady and the Tramp

Supervising Sound Editors: Andrew DeCristofaro, MPSE, Darren “Sunny” Warkentin MPSE
Sound Designer: David Esparza 
Dialogue Editor: Kelly Oxford 
Sound Effects Editors: Michael Payne MPSE, Matthew Wilson
ADR Editor: David Stanke
Supervising Foley Editor: Geordy Sincavage  

Foley Editor: Alex Jongbloed
Supervising Music Editor: Bryan Lawson
Music Editor: Erica Weis


Supervising Sound Editor: David Barber, MPSE 
Dialogue Editor: Karol Urban, MPSE 
Sound Effects Editors: George Haddad, MPSE, Roland Thai, Steve Urban, MPSE, Ben Zarai
ADR Editor: Michael Kreple
Foley Artist: Gonzalo “Bino” Espinoza  
Foley Editor: David Kitchens, MPSE

Music Editor: Steven Saltzman, MPSE


Supervising Sound Editors: Frederic Dubois, MPSE, Dror Mohar

Sound Editor: Bryan Parker, MPSE
Foley Artist: Tapio Liukkonen 


Supervising Sound Editors: Odin Benitez, MPSE, Todd Toon, MPSE
Sound Designer: Martyn Zub, MPSE
Dialogue Editor: John C. Stuver, MPSE 
Sound Effects Editors: Jason King, Adam Kopald, MPSE, Luke Gibleon, Christopher Bonis
ADR Editor: Dave McMoyler
Supervising Music Editor: Peter “Oso” Snell, MPSE
Foley Artists: Mike Horton, Tim McKeown 
Supervising Foley Editor: Walter Spencer

Non-Theatrical Animation

Batman: Hush 

Supervising Sound Editor:  Rob McIntyre, D.J. Lynch
Sound Designer:  Evan Dockter  
Sound Effects Editors: Lawrence Reyes, Derek Swanson
Foley Editor:  Aran Tanchum, Alfredo Douglas 
Foley Artists: Vincent Guisetti

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Turtles

Supervising Sound Editor:  Jeff Shiffman, MPSE
Dialogue Editor:  Kelly Foley Downs, Patrick J. Foley, Michael Garcia
Sound Effects Editors: Jessey Drake, MPSE, Mitchell Lestner, Kevin Hart
Supervising ADR Editor: Mark A. Keatts
Foley Editor: Tess Fournier, MPSE

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

Supervising Sound Editor:  Kate Finan, MPSE, Jeff Shiffman, MPSE
Dialogue Editor:  Johnathan Hylander
Sound Effects Editors: Jessey Drake, MPSE, Tess Fournier, MPSE, Ben Gieschen, Mitchell Lestner, Greg Rubin

Foley Editor: Carol Ma

Lego DC Batman: Family Matters

Supervising Sound Editor: Rob McIntyre, D.J. Lynch
Sound Designer: Lawrence Reyes 
Sound Effects Editors: Ezra Walker
ADR Editor: George Peters 
Foley Editor: Aran Tanchum, Derek Swanson
Foley Artists:  Vincent Guisetti 


Supervising Sound Editor:  Jeff Shiffman, MPSE 
Dialogue Editor:  Michael Wessner
Sound Effects Editors: Tess Fournier, MPSE, Brad Meyer, MPSE 
Foley Editor: Carol Ma

Reign of the Supermen

Supervising Sound Editor:  Rob McIntyre, D.J. Lynch
Sound Designer:  Evan Dockter  
Sound Effects Editors: Ezra Walker 
Foley Editor:  Aran Tanchum, Alfredo Douglas 
Foley Artists: Vincent Guisetti

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines

Supervising Sound Editor:  Rob McIntyre, D.J. Lynch
Sound Designer:  Evan Dockter 
Sound Effects Editors: Ezra Walker  
Foley Editor: Aran Tanchum, Alfredo Douglas 
Foley Artists: Vincent Guisetti

Non-Theatrical Documentary


Supervising Sound Editor: Paul Cowgill
Foley Editor: Peter Davies 
Music Editor: Alessandro Baldessari
Foley Artists: Paul Ackerman 

Apollo: Missions to the Moon

Supervising Sound Editor: John Warrin 
Dialogue Editor: Nick Pavey
Sound Effects Editors: Christopher Pentecost, Brian Golub, Leandro Cassan 

Epic Yellowstone

Sound Designer: Brian Eimer
Sound Effects Editors: Michael Bonini, Robynne Trueman
Foley Editor: Michael Le
Foley Artists: Guy Francoeur

Hostile Planet: Oceans

Supervising Sound Editor: Kate Hopkins, Tim Owens
Sound Effects Editors: Jonny Crew, Hannah Gregory, Ben Peace
Foley Editor: Tom Mercer  
Foley Artists: Ben Jones

Our Planet: One Planet

Sound Effects Editors: Kate Hopkins, Tim Owens

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Bird of Prey

Supervising Sound Editor:  Nicholas Renbeck
Dialogue Editor:  Branka Mrkic-Tana
Foley Editor:  George Lara, Dow McKeeve 
Foley Artists: Marko Costanzo  

The Apollo

Supervising Sound Editor: Christopher Barnett, Al Nelson
Sound Effects Editor: Benny Burtt

This Is Football

Supervising Sound Editor: Greg Gettens 
Sound Effects Editor: Chad Orororo 
Foley Editor: Ciaran Smith, Philip Moroz  
Foley Artists: Paula Boram

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali

Supervising Sound Editor: Mandell Winter, David Esparza
Dialogue Editor:  Sang Kim, Micah Loken
Sound Effects Editors: Ryan Collins, Ando Johnson

View on the MPSE Website.

Oscars Shortlist: Academy Reveals Remaining Contenders in Nine Categories

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced shortlists in consideration for the Oscars in nine categories: documentary feature, documentary short subject, international feature film, makeup and hairstyling, music (original score), music (original song), animated short film, live action short film and visual effects.

The full lists are below:


Fifteen films will advance in the documentary feature category after 159 films were submitted in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

“American Factory”
“The Apollo”
“Apollo 11”
“The Biggest Little Farm”
“The Cave”
“The Edge of Democracy”
“For Sama”
“The Great Hack”
“Knock Down the House”
“Midnight Family”
“One Child Nation”


Ten films will advance in the documentary short subject category. There were 69 films qualified in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

“After Maria”
“Fire in Paradise”
“Ghosts of Sugar Land”
“In the Absence”
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”
“Life Overtakes Me”
“The Nightcrawlers”
“St. Louis Superman”
“Stay Close”
“Walk Run Cha-Cha”


Ten films will advance to the next round of voting in the international feature film category (formerly known as foreign language film). Ninety-one films were eligible in the category.

Academy members from all branches were invited to participate in the preliminary round. They must have viewed the submitted films theatrically and met a minimum viewing requirement to be eligible to vote in the category. Their seven choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s International Feature Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

In the nominations round, Academy members from all branches are invited to opt-in to participate and must view all 10 shortlisted films in order to cast a ballot.

Czech Republic, “The Painted Bird”
Estonia, “Truth and Justice”
France, “Les Misérables”
Hungary, “Those Who Remained”
North Macedonia, “Honeyland”
Poland, “Corpus Christi”
Russia, “Beanpole”
Senegal, “Atlantics”
South Korea, “Parasite”
Spain, “Pain and Glory”


Ten films will advance in the makeup and hairstyling category. All members of the Academy’s Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch will be invited to view seven-minute excerpts from each of the 10 shortlisted films on Saturday, January 4, 2020. Members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.

“Dolemite Is My Name”
“Downton Abbey”
“Little Women”
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”
“Once upon a Time…in Hollywood”


Fifteen scores will advance in the original score category. One hundred seventy scores were eligible in the category. Members of the Music Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

“Avengers: Endgame”
“The Farewell”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Frozen II”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“The King”
“Little Women”
“Marriage Story”
“Motherless Brooklyn”
“Pain and Glory”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”


Fifteen songs will advance in the original song category. Seventy-five songs were eligible in the category. Members of the Music Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

“Speechless” from “Aladdin”
“Letter To My Godfather” from “The Black Godfather”
“I’m Standing With You” from “Breakthrough”
“Da Bronx” from “The Bronx USA”
“Into The Unknown” from “Frozen II”
“Stand Up” from “Harriet”
“Catchy Song” from “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part”
“Never Too Late” from “The Lion King”
“Spirit” from “The Lion King”
“Daily Battles” from “Motherless Brooklyn”
“A Glass of Soju” from “Parasite”
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”
“High Above The Water” from “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am”
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from “Toy Story 4”
“Glasgow” from “Wild Rose”


Ten films will advance in the animated short film category. Ninety-two films qualified in the category. Members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

“Dcera (Daughter)”
“Hair Love”
“He Can’t Live without Cosmos”
“Hors Piste”
“Mind My Mind”
“The Physics of Sorrow”
“Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days”


Ten films will advance in the live action short film category. One hundred ninety-one films qualified in the category. Members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

“The Christmas Gift”
“Little Hands”
“Miller & Son”
“Nefta Football Club”
“The Neighbors’ Window”
“A Sister”
“Sometimes, I Think about Dying”


Ten films remain in the running in the visual effects category. The Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee determined the shortlist. All members of the Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the shortlisted films online or attend satellite bake-off screenings in January 2020. Following the screenings, members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.

“Alita: Battle Angel”
“Avengers: Endgame”
“Captain Marvel”
“Gemini Man”
“The Irishman”
“The Lion King”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
“Terminator: Dark Fate”

Oscar nominations voting opens Jan. 2 and runs through Jan. 7. Nominations will be announced on Jan. 13. Final Oscar voting begins Jan. 30. Deadline for voting is Feb. 4. The Oscars will be handed out five days later on Feb. 9.

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HBO’s ‘The Apollo’ Documentary Is a Rousing Showcase of Black Musical History

It’s just another pile of New York City bricks with a neon-lit marquee, technically. But if you’re in Harlem and walk down 125th street between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, the presence of The Apollo Theater is unmistakable. 

The Apollo documentary, premiering on HBO on Wednesday, November 6, attempts to illustrate its cultural significance in black history for the past 85 years. And considering the venue is famed for its amateur nights in which performers were either cheered or booed with zeal, it’s fitting that the film is a rousing success.

The blur of archival images at the outset reminds us of the generational scope of the Apollo’s impact: Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Bo Diddley, Gregory Hines, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, LL Cool J, Redd Foxx, Chris Rock and Will Smith all took the stage at some point in their careers. When they played to the audience — 1506 patrons at full capacity — they knew in their bones this wasn’t just any gig. The Apollo represented a space where black audiences could gather under even the most trying of circumstances to witness and judge popular art by their own standards. Jeering aside, this was a safe haven. Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett and activist Herb Boyd are some of the luminaries that express how the top-notch entertainment at the Apollo has always been secondary to the rich communal spirit.

Director Roger Ross Williams (an Oscar winner for the short Music by Prudence) weaves through performance and politics, past and present. Resident historian, tour director and ambassador Billy “Mr. Apollo” Mitchell — he’s worked on the premises since 1965 — serves as our congenial guide (and frames the narrative), guiding curious pedestrians through the halls and delivering a more traditional overview to the camera. 

It was white entrepreneur and promoter Frank Schiffman who opened the theater in Harlem in 1934 as a talent showcase. The real estate became hallowed ground almost immediately thanks to the craftsmanship on stage and the business savvy behind the scenes. The hard-nosed Schiffman kept typed index cards of every artist and noted everything from temperament to ability. On Charlie Parker: “Excellent musician.” On Dizzy Gillespie: “Not prepared.” Dizzy Gillespie!     

The anecdotes that accompany some of these names are delicious in detail. In a remarkable account, a shy 17-year-old named Ella Fitzgerald originally planned to dance during the first year of Amateur Night in 1934. But after seeing the Edwards Sisters light up the stage with their synchronized steps, she decided to sing instead. She started scatting to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Judy” and took home first prize. A few years later, Ralph Cooper, who created and hosted Amateur Night, scouted Billie Holiday and convinced Schiffman to give her a shot. She performed the haunting protest song, “Strange Fruit.”

Several artists give their own first-hand recollections, and, mercifully, don’t do it wearing rose-colored glasses. Smokey Robinson waxes about how he and the Miracles had to share a cramped eighth-floor dressing room and work their way down based on success; actress Leslie Uggams recalls her first show there and says she was getting ready to leave when she was told she had to grind through four more that very day. (Performers typically did 29 shows a week!). Even Aretha Franklin, in an interview filmed just before her 2018 death, laments that she’s still waiting on the money that Schiffman owed her. 

Still, like most music-themed documentaries, the raw footage is the star of the show. And while it’s always amusing to gawk at acts before they hit it big, the videos here offer proper context to a specific time and place in our history. Consider that Richard Pryor elicits howls of laughter from the audience as he peppers the N-word throughout his stand-up material. Meanwhile, James Brown fearlessly declares, “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” amid the civil rights riots of 1968. (After he died in 2006, the funeral was held at the Apollo as a tribute to both the venue and the hardest-working man in showbiz.) Barack Obama was the first sitting president to visit; he promptly brought down the house by crooning a few bars of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” 

The performances weren’t all groundbreaking crowd-pleasers. Though pre-teen, pre-Fugees Lauryn Hill covering a Smokey Robinson classic could be viewed in hindsight as a sign of her prodigious talent, the audience boos her. Off-stage, The Apollo endured its own hardships. Williams breezes through its woeful chapter in the 1970s when the site had to close due to bankruptcy. Manhattan borough President Percy B. Sutton tried but failed to turn it around financially. It’s now a federal and city landmark run by the state of New York.  

Can this historical attraction remain mythical? After all, Harlem itself is now so gentrified that The Apollo is located across from, yikes, The Gap. The jazz greats that once breathed life inside that theater have given way to acts like Lady Gaga and Guns N’ Roses. These facts also go without mention. But Williams wisely culminates his film with a 2018 all-star on-stage reading of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” a manifesto to the experience of being black in America. No singing, no dancing, no jokes. It’s a strong statement on the social and political meaning behind every artistic performance: A community can indeed find healing through the power of art. 

The Apollo premieres on HBO on Wednesday, November 6.

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Review: Harlem’s cathedral of culture ‘The Apollo’ stands the test of time

By Robert Abele

A space like the Apollo Theater, Harlem’s high church of American music, didn’t just play host to up-and-comers, storied legends and energetic wannabes — it amplified the sound and spirit of black entertainment in a way that reverberated far outside its walls.

Any movie tasked with celebrating its 85 years as a cultural landmark would have its work cut out for it, which makes Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams’ beautifully turned, rich and moving documentary “The Apollo” a true gift for these turbulent, who-are-we? times: essential history and quintessential performance expertly woven together to remind us what lasting, vibrant artistry and community looks like. From the heyday of jazz to the sweetness of soul and the power of hip-hop — with the reality of race ever present — Williams offers up a celebration worthy of the Apollo’s legacy.

With its blend of the archival, the interviewed, and modern-day footage, the first miracle of the film is that it never feels overstuffed with talking heads, or perfunctorily assembled, or rushed in covering its many glories across nearly a century. It’s a real beating-heart tribute, always streaked with feeling, whether joyous or poignant. That’s partly because the theater’s spirit, from its Depression-era launch as a mixed hot spot at a time when black people couldn’t patronize nightclubs in their own backyard, always intertwined excellence in black entertainment — launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Stevie Wonder, and cementing the live chops of countless others across music, dance and comedy — with the notion that simply being on that stage, in that audience, constituted not only a vital act of expression, but also a feeling of home. It’s why Williams always threads in footage old and new of the block’s streets and citizens among the glittering stories and stars, as if to stress that the Apollo was as much a good neighbor as a grand beacon.

Williams makes the potent choice to bracket this history with a verité glimpse of the Apollo’s behind-the-scenes preparation for a multimedia staging of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ galvanizing book, “Between the World and Me.” Coates’ words of ceaseless struggle and fierce belonging echo through the film as we see Holliday make the Apollo a safe space for protest music with “Strange Fruit” (which she was pressured not to perform), favorite son James Brown anthemize the civil rights era with “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and truth-to-power rap artists flood the stage in the ’80s.

Just as inspiring is the tradition surrounding the Apollo’s fabled amateur night — the world’s longest-running talent show, a lively format by which the untapped (who have included Ella Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill over the years) can command the spotlight, and perhaps earn a famously boo-ready crowd’s hard-won love. But like a lot about the Apollo, it’s the opportunity to give voice to that which lies behind this beloved rite. Cincinnati student Bianca Graham traveled to New York by bus to perform a soaring rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” and when she tears up at the memory of a friend shot and killed by a cop, you can believe the theater’s soul must course through each and every respect-paying hopeful that hits its stage.

Singer James Brown being interviewed after he performed at the Apollo in 1968, from the documentary ‘The Apollo’

The anecdotes are like music too, with spirited tales of nerves, awe and camaraderie from Smokey Robinson, Leslie Uggams, Patti Labelle and Pharrell Williams, and necessary context from backstage overseers like former owner Bobby Schiffman, current President Jonelle Procope and historian/tour guide Billy Mitchell. From these reverent insiders, and Williams’ graceful stewardship, comes a lasting portrait of an artistic institution that’s seen ups and downs but continues to thrive by bringing people together and getting the most out of many of them. It’s hard not to forget an early clip of Ella Fitzgerald and what she heard way on that amateur night in 1934 when her then-unknown teenage self balked at following the crowd-slaying, legendary Edwards Sisters with her own meager dance routine.

A man yelled, “You’re out here, do something.” So she sang.

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