MOVIES | Oscar? There’s an app for that


The first media creation of the Academy Awards was a 1929 live radio production. Then, TV in 1953. The ceremony began color broadcasting in 1966 and international audiences were added in 1969. 

This year, the 82nd Academy Awards has again evolved to meet the ever-increasing demands of technology. Movie lovers can now get Oscars apps for their smartphones, bloggers are at press conferences, and Oscar public networking sites have thousands of fans.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has premiered its first Academy Awards application, the Oscars App, giving iPhone and iPod touch users access to movie trailers, real-time Oscar night results, and shareable content.

The app’s features give iPhone and iPod touch consumers access to a nominees’ list for each of the 24 categories, see trailers for the 10 films nominated for best picture, and predict winners in each of the categories. Users’ predictions will be saved to a database that will enable sharing with friends via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as well as by e-mail and SMS text, according to the Academy.

“We want to connect with movie lovers wherever they are,” said Janet Weiss, the Academy’s director of marketing. “Our Oscar App gives fans a way to participate in all the excitement and buzz right up to and through the show.”

Bloggers were part of the press corps at the recent Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, indicating the surge of self-publishing sites. But not just any bloggers. “There’s more bloggers here this year,” said Academy publicist Teni Melidonian. “But they’re the bigger blogs that we follow.”

On Facebook, over 76,000 users are fans of the Oscars. During the Nominee Luncheon interviews, Academy publicists included questions from their Facebook stream. It caught some of the nominees off-guard and they appeared unsure who to address their answer to: the hard-to-see corner of the room where a laptop was barley visible, or to the live audience of journalists.

One Academy Facebook follower “asked” Best Actress nominee Sandra Bullock if she became a football fan since filming The Blind Side. Looking around the room, Bullock finally said, “You’re in a black hole and I don’t even know where you are.” Then, spotting the open laptop, she said, “Oh there you are.”

Bullock appeared comfortable answering the Facebook question and gave a long answer while livestreaming. “I was a football fan but not for the right reasons before,” she said. “It was usually who was playing football that I was interested in. I married a football player and my brother-in-law was a ball player. I knew very little. I’m a huge football fan now. I love athletes. I’d always wanted to be a professional athlete on some level and to see what they accomplish emotionally and physically to me is just beyond understanding. What they do on the field is incredible. So now I have a really good understanding about what athletes do. I love the game, just love it.”

Another Facebook fan posted a question to Best Supporting Actor Woody Harrelson about his movie The Messenger and his former role as Woody Boyd on the TV show Cheers. Harrelson wasn’t as detailed as Bullock.

“Thinking back to the time when you were on Cheers, would you have ever considered that you’ve earned an Oscar nomination for dramatic role during the same year that you performed in the Zombieland comedy role?” asked the fan via the Academy publicist.

“The short answer is ‘no,'” Harrelson said, and then turned to face the live audience for other questions.

Best Actress nominee Carey Mulligan (The Education), 24, in an age group most familiar with social networking, answered a Facebook question with ease about her upcoming plans for work. “I don’t know. I haven’t got a job lined up to start after all this,” she said. “[The movie] Wall Street will come out and then a film I did last year with Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield called Never Let Me Go, which is an adaptation of a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. That will come out later in the year, but nothing else at the moment.”

The nominees luncheon was produced live and is now replayed on the Official Academy Awards Livestream site. The Academy’s YouTube channel has over 30,000 subscribers.

The Academy’s Facebook site polls fans with questions like: “Where would you keep your Oscar statue? On the Mantle, In My Bedroom, or I’d Carry it With Me.”

Burnsville student and business owner Jake Hemstrom, 27, says he won’t get the Oscar app for his iPhone. “I’m not interested in actors and their lives,” he said. “I love good movies, but I’m just not interested. I am more interested in sports apps.”