Watch: Trailers for the Oscar-nominated short films, which will be coming to theatres January 30

OSCAR_SHORTS_2015_Poster_1500px_highSay what you will about the Oscars — the politics, the obsession with celebrity, and so on — but one of the things I like about them is how they can shed a light on films that normally wouldn’t get a lot of attention.

Case in point: the short-film categories. Five animated films, five documentaries and five dramatic films are nominated in those categories every year, and over the past decade, thanks to ShortsHD, these films have been made available to the public via streaming online and screenings at theatres around the continent.

This year’s nominees will start making the rounds on January 30, three weeks before the winners are announced February 22 — and you can watch trailers for all of ’em below the jump.

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A.D. gets a new title and trailer, producers meet the press

ad-peter-johnFirst it was A.D.: Beyond the Bible, then it was just plain A.D. Now the NBC series — produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey as a follow-up to their History Channel miniseries The Bible — has a subtitle again. As of yesterday, it is now called A.D.: The Bible Continues.

Or does the name go back earlier than that? I see now that the first trailer, posted back in November, has the full title, but I don’t recall seeing it in any articles about the series until yesterday, and it could have been added to the trailer later. I also note that part of the URL for the series’ main website has changed from “ad” — which is what it was when I linked to it four weeks ago — to “ad-the-bible-continues”.

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Release date changes for two upcoming “faith-based” films

christthelordoutofegyptTwo films with a “faith-based” hook have seen their release dates change in the past couple of days.

First, Variety reports that Warner Brothers is no longer going to distribute the Christian music documentary Hillsong: Let Hope Rise as originally planned.

The film was going to be distributed by Warner Brothers and Alcon Entertainment on the Wednesday before Easter, two and a half months from now, but an Alcon rep told Variety today that their company was ultimately “unable to close the rights deal for the movie.”

There is no word yet as to who might distribute the film in Warner’s place.

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Oscar winners slipping at the box office — 2014

americansniperI devoted posts to this subject in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013 — so here’s the post for 2014.

2005 marked the first time since 1996 that the Best Picture winner did not gross at least $100 million, the first time since 1985 that not one of the Best Picture nominees grossed at least $100 million, and the first time in living memory that the Oscar did not go to one of the Top 25 films in North America. In fact, the winner that year — Crash — grossed a mere $54.6 million and ranked way, way down at #49.

Ever since then, the Oscar for Best Picture has alternated between relatively big hits and somewhat smaller box-office performers. But that trend could end this year, as the Academy now seems poised to reward two small films in a row.

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Oscar nominations — my own two bits, and a complete list

grandbudapesthotelIt is extremely rare for a film to win Best Picture without also being nominated for its director, its film editing, and its screenplay. So it looks like this year’s top Oscar will go to one of three films: Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Imitation Game. But there are exceptions to every rule, and we can’t entirely rule out Birdman, which is tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel for the most nominations of any film this year; Birdman was snubbed in the film-editing category, but that could be because the film was seamlessly edited to look as though it was all filmed in one long take.

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He played Xerxes in 300, now he’s Jesus in the new Ben-Hur

rodrigosantoroContinuing the trend whereby actors of Portuguese and/or Latin American descent play Jesus in movies produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, The Hollywood Reporter revealed today that Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro has been cast as Jesus in Timur Bekmambetov’s upcoming remake of Ben-Hur, which Burnett and Downey are co-producing.

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