Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Night: Live Blog

I am an Oscar junkie.

It's sort of like being a political junkie, but you only need a fix one time a year, so it's a bit more controllable. To an Oscar junkie, Oscar night is huge. We wait for it all year, wondering what will be nominated, thinking about what got ripped off, what should have been nominated, what nominations seem completely weird, etc. And then we watch the awards themselves, not only for the spectacle but actually because we care about who wins, even in years such as this one where I didn't get to see all of the nominated films.

Some of my thoughts from this year's nominations:

Biggest snubs

How the heck could they not nominate Joe Wright, the director of Atonement? This is a film that the director had everything to do with, and he doesn't get nominated? Huh?

No nomination for Keri Russell in Waitress? Amy Adams for Enchanted? Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart? Jame MacEvoy, Keira Knightley, Vanessa Redgrave for Atonement? And not a single nomination for Zodiac? Hairspray?

Favorite Nominations

Three songs from Enchanted. Fun! Juno with tons of noms including Ellen Page. Excellent! Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd--I didn't see that one coming. Viggo Mortenson for Eastern Promises--I didn't see the movie, but I thought he deserved a nomination for return of the King, so I'm down with it. Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild--how can you not like that nomination? Saorise Ronan in Atonement--she has no chance to win, but I love the fact that she was nominated. (At least someone in the film was!) "Falling Slowly" from Once is nominated: a beautiful song that could make me long to see the film all by itself. The Golden Compass gets an Art Direction nod, at least: I hope it wins. The evocation of that "other" world was remarkable.

So the whole things opens with a montage of famous movie images sort of heading to the Kodak Theatre. Haven't they done this before? Ah well, it's fun and it's short, and maybe that's a comment about the host. Jon Stewart is on his own tonight: no big numbers or high concept stuff this time, no waking up in Clooney's bed. He got off some good jokes, some good lines, especially his take on Atonement (it's about Yom Kippur) and set the right tone. About the writer's strike, he called Oscar night "makeup sex" after the fight...sounds about right to me. It's a good opening. Not great, but I don't think he can lose tonight considering the lack of prep time.

Jennifer Garner cannot look anything but beautiful. But what's the deal with that hair? And since she mentioned scissors in her comments, I'm betting there will be someone in some magazine who talks about cutting her falling locks out of her eyes.

Costume design...I have that in my closet! I swear, the winner's dress is a basic housedress that wears like a tent. I have it in my closet and I pull it on in the summer when I don't give a hoot what I look like. Couldn't she design something more flattering for herself?

George Clooney, looking every bit like James Bond, stands at the podium, introducing a montage of Oscar moments. For a junkie like me, it is so cool to see this sort of thing, and I actually saw many of them least the ones that didn't happen in black and white. Some of the great classic moments and speeches, and some of the most awful moments (Snow White/Rob Lowe comes to mind, which Oscar is finally ready to make self-referential jokes about) never leave my mind, but I had forgotten some, like Cher's incredible (and I use the word literally) outfit and a few others. Fun to revisit them!

Steve Carrell is maybe the funniest man on Earth. (And he let an expletive slip through...) Anne Hathaway is a perfect foil and gorgeous in red. This is the first year I have seen none of the Animated Film nominees; what's up with that? The winner is the movie about a gourmet rat in Paris; guess I'll have to rent it and "support a rat who dreams."

"HIGH-gle." Ah, so that's how you pronounce Katherine Heigl's name. More red: and the winner is wearing red too. Must be Hollywood's it color.

Amy Adams sang a joyous and bouyant version of "Happy Working Song" solo on the stage, and I found myself entranced and so grateful that there were only two weeks to pull this show together, so they were not tempted to have dancing rats and cockroaches bouncing aroundt he stage with her.

I'm not sure The Rock should go for subtle facial humor. I am glad, though, that The Golden Compass won something; I think it was a seriously underappreciated movie.

Cate Blanchett walks up to the podium and just takes over, even with flyaway hair. And she gives an award to Sweeney Todd, another underperforming movie that I thought was really very, very good. Of course the best part is getting to see Johnny Depp in cutaways: that's always a joy (in a visceral, completely platonic, I'm not at all jealous of his wife, no not me sort of way).

Silly but funny bit by JS: Cate Blanchett plays anything, even a bulldog, even himself.

Best Supporting Actor, the first acting award, finally gets here, and a surprisingly stiff Jennifer Hudson presents the completely unsurprising victory to Javier Bardem. I guess there aren't going to be any surprises tonight. I was sort of hoping that the two bloody movies might cancel each other out and leave Juno to win Best Picture, but I guess we're going according to plan... His lovely shoutout in Spanish to his mother was a nice moment.

JS does a bit introducing a couple of silly little montages allegedly prepared for the Writers' Strike Oscars that didn't have to happen: a Tribute to Binoculars and Periscopes and a Tribute to Waking Up From Bad Dreams. Goofy fun.

Second song: "Raise It Up" from August Rush. Keri Russell is another tremendously beautiful actress with such presence; I've adored her since the premiere of Felicity. She got burned for Waitress; there should have been a nomination.

Owen Wilson without a single joke? Not even a smirk? Are the writers still on strike? And Jerry Seinfeld's bee makes no comment about being stiffed for the Best Animated Film award? No way! You'd tink it would have at least been a little bit stung by the rejection...

Alan Arkin comes on to bring out the Best Supporting Actress award and Ruby Dee seems absolutely shocked by her own performance! Saorise Ronan from Atonement seems to have pilfered Keira Knightly's green dress. Oh my! A surprise! Tilda Swinton wins for Michael Clayton. This amazing actress has been on my radar since Orlando; it's about time she won something. It's just surprising that Amy Ryan didn't or that, failing that, Cate didn't slide into the gap. Could Cate be in line for Elizabeth?

Jessica Alba--more red, though it's really more a burgundy strapless dress with some kind of furry creature wrapped around the top---recounts some science awards, and JS comments on her and Cate's pregnancies, noting that there could be more soon because Jack Nicholson is in the audience. Then Josh Brolin comes out to do what he calls "the worst Nicholson impression in history." He's right.

The Coen Brothers win the screenplay award. Did they just equate Homer and Cormac McCarthy?

There is actually a fun montage about how the Oscars are voted for and tabulated. Who knew that was even possible?

Miley Cyrus--I guess with a current concert movie out she counts as a film person--presents another song from Enchanted, and this time there will be a production number. It's recreating the movie's Central Park number and Kristen Chenowith is doing the Amy Adams part. Like Amy's song earlier, it's exuberant and loads of fun...and short. Great combination!

The Bourne Ultimatum wins Sound Editing. And the orchestra cuts them off in about ten seconds. And then it wins again for Sound Mixing, which is cool because there are only about ten viewers who know the difference between the two anyway.

BIG AWARD time: Lead Actress. So of course Forrest Whitaker is given a Serious Statement to read instead of something fun to say. Cate doesn't seem pleased with her own performance in the snippet they showed, as she winces noticeably. Julie Christie is more complacent watching herself Marion Cottillard looks happy to be here, and Laura Linney and Ellen Page too...such smiles. Surprise! Marion Cottillard wins it! "Thank you life, thank you love, and it is true there is some angels in this city!" Nice. :-)

JS playing tennis on a giant Wii. Continues a bit he started earlier about being hooked on modern technology. (It was an iPod then.) Then the lovely "Falling Slowly" from Once is introduced by the lovely Colin Farrell. I need to see Once; it's high on my list. And I'm really rooting for that song.

And heeeeere's Johnny: Nicholson is onstage. Of course--you couldn't keep him off. To introduce a Best Picture montage. And then Renée Zellweger--stunning as always--introduced Film Editing. Whoa! Bourne again! That film is cleaning up on the technical awards. It's now the lead winner of the night, as JS just noted.

Nicole Kidman, "star of the untitled 2010 Nicole Kidman project," dressed in black with a mega-drapey off-center glittery choker/necklace/poncho, introduces a 97-year-old production designer who worked for Hitchcock and many others. Robert Boyle looks like he richly deserves this honorary Oscar. And the dude came out himself to pick it up. :-)

Penelope Cruz comes on, another actress with some kind of furry something wrapped tightly around her bosom. What's up with that anyway? Best foreign film goes to Austria. Yay Austria. Rah.

McDreamy introduces the last Enchanted song, "So Close," the least of the three if you ask me, and so I guess it is appropriate that the ballroom dance sequence around it completely overwhelms both song and singer. So John Travolta comes on to give the award, his hair so short it might as well be painted on. Yes! Once won one! This is a beautiful song and, of the five, the only one likely to be remembered years from now.

And after the lovely and self-effacing speech, JS says, "wow, that guy is arrogant," getting a good laugh. And then, after commercial, he brings Marketa Irglova, half of the songwriter/singers from Once, back out for the speech she didn't get to give. Nice touch!

There Will Be Blood wins for Cinematography. First win for Paul Thomas Anderson's violent Best Picture Nominee.

Hillary Swank follows Cameron Diaz onto the stage. She's introducing the Oscar night montage of death, last year's "in memoriam" to performers and behind the scenes folks. Light applause so far, twenty or so names in. An agent (?) gets things going. (Yes, these folks know where the money comes from.) Suzanne Pleshette and Deborah Kerr, Ingmar Bergman, and Heath Ledger get significant applause as well.

Amy Adams takes the stage again, to present instead of singing. She's giving out the award for Score, and snippets of famous scores usher it in. And the Oscar goes to Atonement, perhaps in atonement for the academy's ill treatment of the film in nominations. (I'm irritated still about Joe Wright.)

Tom Hanks, Mr. Everyman, walks on. And here we get a shoutout to service people in Iraq, presenting Best Short Documentary. Gotta love modern technology with those live hookups from halfway around the world. The winner is Freeheld, a short film about a dying firefighter struggling to get domestic partner benefits for her lesbian lover. And then the feature doc winner is Taxi to the Dark Side, perhaps a mild surprise given the presence of a Michael Moore film (Sicko) in the nominees list.

Lame joke alert: Harrison Ford is "either an internationally acclaimed movie star or an auto dealership." Well, the writers only had two weeks. Anyway, the laconic Ford, with a smile, gives the Best Original Screenplay award to Diablo Cody for Juno, who, explosed bikini-girl tattoo on her shoulder and all, comes up and gives a teary and sincere speech in a dress from the sixties. I love this young woman, whom JS introduced earlier as a "former stripper turned screen writer" and asked how she was handling the pay decrease.

Best Actor montage: Was Marlon Brando ever that young? That light? And DeNiro and Pacino in beards...hmm...

Helen Mirren, elegant in (what else?) red, comes out to give Daniel Day-Lewis his prize. Someone said earlier he wasn't here. Why the heck not? He's the only one, apparently, with any chance at all. She draws a laugh with the word cojones. But then he did actually present something before...he must be here. Wait, there he is in the house; OK then. Because to absolutely no one's surprise, he's the winner. Despite Viggo Mortenson's beard.

We're coming up on the close of this show: all that are left are Best Director and Best Picture. I'd love to see the Big Uglies split it for Juno or Atonement, but No Country For Old Men is everyone's favorite, as are the Coen Bros. Martin Scorsese starts things as expected: they get the Best Director award. Ethan gives his speech from earlier: "Thank you." Joel rambles comically for a bit, but not too long, and then Denzel Washington comes out for Best Picture #80. Here we go: No Surprises For Tonight's Oscars. No Country wins, as forecast. Guess I'll have to see it now. This guy says with a straight face that the win is a "complete surprise"? To whom? Some eight year old in Uganda?

3:20 isn't too bad for the Oscars. It skipped along at a pretty good clip. The writers should go on strike every year. (Kidding!)

Ah well...

Back to reality.



Chef Gusteau said...

I have to say, I ran to my computer quick to write down the "Thank you Life, Thank you Love, There must be some angels in this city" quote.

You haven't seen Ratatouille! Ugh! Best animated film since pinnochio, get on that. It's actually quite a beautiful film, the moment when Remy the Rat is climbing through a Parisian home, and then sees Paris for the first time is, in my opinion, the greatest shot ever produced in the animation business. I did also love Brad Bird's Acceptance Speech for the film. The thing I like most about the film is that I get more out of it every time. And I guarentee you that if the film was live action, and the rats were african-americans and not Rats it would have been a best Picture nod. The food scenes are so beautifully filmed, the Linguini character has the best physical comedy I've ever seen in animation. Collette, Skinner, Gusteau, and Emile were all very memorable. And Anton Ego's monologue at the end of the movie is absolutely beautifully written. But enough about that.

I was happy for Diable Cody winning for Juno (Although, me being a Disney Fan) I was slightly upset for Brad Bird, and Jan Pinkava.

I was also glad that there weren't any big sweeping winners this year. No Country of course was in the spotlight, but also was Bourne, Juno, Atonement, There Will be Blood, and others. If you're an animation fan, like I am, you also know that Persepolis posed a challenge.

My big undecided vote went to best original song. I loved all three nominated songs from Enchanted, as well as the ones that weren't nominated, but I also loved Raise it Up from August Rush, and also Falling Slowly, even though I violently disliked Once. My pick would have been "That's How You Know" the staging in this number is absolutley spectacular and the melody so catchy, it seems like the quintessenial musical song, but I suppose they wanted to play James Dean tonight.

Altogether a successful, and utterly entertaining night, I actually watched the whole thing, which I've only accomplished once or twice. (I usually click back and forth). Congratulations to the winners!

Unknown said...

I know, I know! I should be flayed and pureed, seasoned beyond reason and boiled in oil for not seeing Ratatouille. Especially since I didn't even need the silly little pronunciation guide to get the name right! Your description is exquisite and makes me want to see it even more; it is on my list. So is Persepolis.

Why do you loathe Once? It sounds like a simple, sweet movie to me. I do agree with you about "That's How You Know" though: I have rarely seen such a perfectly wonderful staging of any song in any least not since Mary Poppins.


Chef Gusteau said...

I think the reason I disliked Once was the same reason everyone else liked it. I found the filming style of the movie to be distracting. I'm personally more interesting in dialogue and characters, and the filming of this movie distracted from that (although what was there was not exactly Shakespere). It looked to me like a group of Elementary school students got bored and filmed some people on the streets. I guess some people find that appealing...?

Unknown said...

I'm going to have to watch it so I can make an educated comment. It's rather difficult to assess a movie I haven't seen (though I read that Maxim managed to review a Black Crowes CD they hadn't HEARD...).

Unknown said...

I just read in Entertainment Weekly that the "live" feed from Iraq was not live at all but pre-taped. In fairness, no one actually said it was live; I just assumed it was since they announced the winner, but of course they just had the solider read all of the names and played the appropriate video, just as they do when animated characters announce winners. I guess technology isn't quite as advanced as I want it to be. {sigh}


it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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