5 things we learned from Oscar expert Dave Karger and Elvis Mitchell on The Treatment

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Self-professed ‘Oscar nerd’ Dave Karger hosts Fandango FrontRunners, and serves as the official ‘Oscar expert’ for shows like Access Hollywood, E! and TODAY. This week on KCRW’s The Treatment, he and host Elvis Mitchell dish on the most interesting stories coming out of this year’s Academy Awards:

1. “Oscar-nominated” is not always synonymous with “good,” and vice versa.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis was a favorite among cinephiles this year. It cleaned up at critics society awards from San Diego to Vancouver to DC. Plus, it gifted us with this delightful little ditty.

Despite all of that, it only wound up with two Oscar nominations in minor categories (Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing). This isn’t the first time that a film embraced by the critics has gotten the dreaded Academy snub. Having worked as a film critic for many years, Elvis Mitchell understands that divide all too well. “As a critic you get wedded to the idea of what the ‘good’ movies are, and sometimes that doesn’t materialize in the Oscar nominations,” he says.

So why aren’t the tastes of our most esteemed critics and their Oscar-voting counterparts more aligned? Karger says he thinks Inside Llewyn Davis was a little bit “too cool” for the Oscar voters, and he meant that in two ways: “It’s too hip of a film, and also it has a coldness to it in that the lead character is not someone that you’ll necessarily find yourself rooting for.”

2. Jackass will hit the red carpet, hopefully in a giant shopping cart

When talking about critically acclaimed movies, most people don’t bring up Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. But that didn’t stop Johnny Knoxville’s grandfather/grandson hidden camera road trip from getting an Oscar nomination, for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (for Steve Prouty).

Bad Grandpa Oscar bluray billboard
Bad Grandpa making the most of their Oscar nom (you can spot this billboard on Cahuenga Blvd at Regal Place. photo courtesy of Daily Billboard). (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Whether it’s Three Six Mafia winning big or Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park showing up in drag, high on acid, there’s been a rich history of ‘did that just happen?!’ Oscar moments. If anyone can add to that streak, it’s Knoxville. Preferably dressed as his character, the 86-year-old Irving Zisman.

3. Megan Ellison has a magic touch

American HustleAnnapurna, the production house helmed by independent financier Megan Ellison, started making movies in 2012. Since then, Ellison has been nominated three times for Best Picture, for Zero Dark Thirty, American Hustle, and Her.

Annapurna Pictures identifies itself as a production company that finances “sophisticated, high-quality films that might otherwise be deemed risky by contemporary Hollywood studios.” It presents an interesting alternative to big(ger) budget films that might not have a prayer in the studio system, but promise strong artistic merit.

This year, the films produced by Annapurna received a total of 17 Oscar nominations.  One of the front runners for Best Picture, American Hustle, probably wouldn’t have gotten made if Ellison hadn’t written a check.

4. It’s the end of Pixar’s Oscar reign… but probably not really

Nobody panic. Pixar’s mastery of the animated film isn’t really in jeopardy. They just had a dud year. Their 2013 offering, Monsters University, wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature. It’s only the second Pixar feature not to get the nod, after Cars 2. Dave Karger says he was surprised Monsters University didn’t snag that fifth spot, mainly “because it was good enough and because it was Pixar,” but the wildcard nod ended up going to Ernest & Celestine, a hand-drawn feature about an unlikely friendship between a mouse and bear.

Perhaps the omission of Monsters University was a subconscious pushback after last year, when Brave took the prize, which many thought was unmerited. Pixar will probably find its way back to the Oscars before long, and until then, there’s this.

5. You’re lucky to get EGOT status before 40

Actor Philip Michael Hall, who coined the term EGOT (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an Annual EGOT summit? Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Streisand, Scott Rudin, James Earl Jones and the rest would convene, in a castle, on top of a mountain, and wear special hats and talk about where they keep their Emmy, Grammy, Oscar AND Tony. The summit would be hosted by Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas, who coined the term EGOT, though he has never been nominated for any of these awards.

An EGOT summit may not actually exist; nevertheless, the group may soon be welcoming a new member. Robert Lopez is the co-creator of the smash-hit Broadway musicals Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon. He’s already won a Grammy, two Daytime Emmys and three Tonys for his work in theatre and television. Which, technically, makes him an EEGTTT. If he wins the Oscar on Sunday for Best Original Song for “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen, he will be EGOT #12. At age 39, he would also be the youngest EGOT in history, leaving him plenty of time for him to reach EEEEEGGGGGGOOOOOTTTTT status before the end of his career.