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Oscar Talk 2020: This Year’s Buzz and a Tribute to John Singleton

Oscar Talk 2020 - Oscar Buzz Panel
At Emerson Los Angeles, Oscar Buzz panelists discuss the dynamics that influence the 2020 Academy Awards. Photo by Luis Paz ’20.

With the Academy Awards just days away, Emerson’s Oscar Talk explored the influences behind film’s most coveted prizes, and honored the work of a filmmaking icon. The annual event took place at Emerson Los Angeles, and featured lively discussion among two panels of industry experts.

“One of the goals of the Oscar Talk program is to enhance the educational experience of our students by allowing them to hear from entertainment experts on topical issues,” said Owen Eagan, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies.

“This year we honored John Singleton with a tribute featuring panelists who knew him well and could speak to his impact on the industry as one of the most influential filmmakers in Hollywood history. We’re so thankful to our panelists for their willingness to share their expertise since the success of this program is directly attributable to them,” Eagan said.

Oscar Talk 2020 - Tribute to Singleton panelists
“A Tribute to Singleton” panelists (l-r): Rae Shaw, Anita Bennett, Gil Robertson IV, Carla Renata, and Brandon Broussard. Photo by Luis Paz ’20.

Singleton, who passed away in April 2019, became the youngest director and the first African American to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar for Boyz N The Hood (1991), which depicted life in South Central Los Angeles and was mostly drawn from his own experience. Throughout his career, Singleton transformed how black lives were portrayed on screen and his work had a profound impact on the industry.

Moderated by Gil Robertson IV, president and co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association, the Singleton panelists included:

  • Anita Bennett, contributing editor at Deadline Hollywood and founder of Urban Hollywood 411
  • Brandon Broussard, screenwriter, director and founder of film writing company Murder Ink
  • Carla Renata, founder of The Curvy Film Critic and contributing reviewer at AAFCAVariety, Ebony, and NPR.
  • Rae Shaw, an award-winning writer-director of films and writer of screenplays, poetry, essay and short fiction
Oscar Talk 2020 - Oscar Buzz panelists
Oscar Buzz panelists (l-r): Pete Hammond, Kymn Goldstein, Tim Gray, Claudia Puig, and K.J. Matthews. Photo by Luis Paz ’20.

The second panel, “Oscar Buzz,” featured insider perspectives on the strategies and tactics used to generate Oscar buzz. Eagan moderated the panel across a range of insightful topics such as, what are their predictions for the top awards, and why? How are studios generating buzz, and how much are they spending? Who got snubbed in nominations? And what’s the deal with that preferential voting process for Picture of the Year?

Oscar Buzz panelists included:

  • Kymn Goldstein, chief operating officer of Allied Integrated Marketing
  • Tim Gray, awards editor and senior vice president of Variety, author of Variety: An Illustrated History of the World and the Hollywood Dictionary,
  • Pete Hammond, chief film critic and awards columnist for Deadline Hollywood
  • K.J. Matthews, entertainment reporter for BBC World Service Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC World TV, Germany’s DW News English TV Network and ABC Australia’s Breakfast News
  • Claudia Puig, president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a critic on NPR’s Film Week
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