Welcome to the Second Annual Cinemaslave Oscar Blow-by-Blow. As I watch the broadcast tonight, I’ll be updating this blog post periodically to give my running commentary. Feel free to refresh your browser throughout the broadcast and follow along. (Of course, if you’re reading this after the fact, then that game will probably be a lot less fun.)
Here I sit, laptop at the ready, warm cat snuggled in beside me on the sofa, watching a pre-Oscar Barbra Walters special. Ellen Page just had her turn in the spotlight, answering a string of softball questions lobbed with too much affection by a journalist who barely seems to be going through the motions. Harrison Ford concluded the show, but seemed like he’d rather be in bed. It’s so disappointing; Ford rarely gives interviews, and it’s a shame that his first TV chat in over a decade had to be such a sugar-tinged affair, with Walters practically fawning all over him. Didn’t her interviews have teeth once upon a time?
George Clooney jokingly mentions that he did a better acting job in Batman and Robin than Michael Clayton. Holy false modesty, Batman!
Hey look, it’s Cameron Diaz, who isn’t even nominated, blabbing on and on about the fact that Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor. Thank God she’s here to tell us these things. Every year I claim I’m not going to watch this fluffy Red Carpet prologue, and every year I give in. I’m a bad independent thinker.
Is Jack Nicholson drunk in the front row, or merely insane? Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing more of his eccentric behavior.
The Oscars are off to a great start with an entertaining montage, blending together a bunch of characters from classic films. I bet there’s a list of all the movie references online before the show’s over.
Jon Stewart gets things started on a nice note, joking about the writer’s strike, the feel-good tone of Juno, Dennis Hopper’s perpetual state of confusion, and Javier Bardem’s haircut. (Best quips: “Even Norbit got a nomination, which is great! Too often the Academy ignores movies which aren’t good.” and “I’m happy Atonement got a nomination. Finally, a story that captures the raw passion of Yom Kippur!”) I also love to see him making people squirm with his political jabs (“Have you all had a chance to carefully consider which Democrat you’ll be voting for?”) Good stuff.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age wins the first award, for Best Costume Design. Hey, at least this oft-despised film didn’t get completely shut out.
George Clooney hits the stage to introduce one of those patently unnecessary Oscar montages that pushes back the end of the show until approximately 5am. HA! It’s a slight exaggeration, of course. I think.
Jon Stewart is a non-stop zinger factory tonight, quipping that to really appreciate Lawrence of Arabia on the iPod, you have to watch it in widescreen.
Next up is Best Animated Feature, and to no one’s great surprise, Pixar’s animated blue rat takes the cake (after first baking it in a Parisian kitchen). I regret that I haven’t seen Persepolis yet. Darn you, super rare arthouse movies!
La Vie En Rose takes the Best Make-Up award. I’ve rarely seen a group of folks so delighted to receive an award, but the way these award winners keep getting thrown off the stage after only a few moments is smack-worthy. Can’t they have just a *moment* in the limelight before the producers get itchy?
Amy Adams hits the stage to sing “Happy Working Song,” the first of three Best Song nominees from Enchanted. Words fail me.
Best Visual Effects, presented by The Rock. I think his sheer mass needs to win some kind of special effects award, but regardless, The Golden Compass beats both Bay’s smashy robots and Johnny Depp’s crew of pirates. Shocking!
It’s official… I’m in love with Cate Blanchett, at least while she’s wearing that purple dress. I wish I was Sweeney Todd, so I could accept the Best Art Direction Oscar from her. I’d put her in a pie, alright.
It’s Best Supporting Actor Time, and how sure am I that Javier Bardem is going to win? So sure that I’m already posting that he won, even though the winner hasn’t yet been announced.
Yep. And well-deserved, too, I might add.
Jon Stewart gives a demonstration of what the Oscars would’ve been like without the writers: “And now, a four-hour montage of binoculars and periscopes!” followed by “a montage of bad dreams”. Hey, it made me chuckle, but the audience seemed not to find it nearly as amusing. But now we’re into the second Best Song nominee: “Raise It Up,” from August Rush. I actually like this one… soulful and melodic, with some introspective lyrics. But nothing’s gonna shake my utter devotion to Once‘s “Falling Slowly”.
Owen Wilson introduces the Best Live-Action Short Film award; regrettably, all the nominees in this category are thusfar unseen by me. But the French Le Mozart Des Pickpockets takes home the gold.
It’s the same situation with Best Animated Short Film (introduced by a particularly obnoxious animated Jerry Seinfeld): I haven’t seen any of the finalists, but Peter and the Wolf, which did look great, wins the big prize.
Best Supporting Actress, and the competition is fierce this year. All five of these ladies did some amazing work, and although I was no fan of Atonement, this particular performance was my favorite part of the movie. But Tilda Swinton, who I’ve loved since The Beach, is the golden lady tonight for her work in Michael Clayton, and I *love* her reaction — absolutely stunned, and literally speechless. And once she did speak, she was almost incomprehensible. But her eventual teasing of George Clooney and his Batman performance was Oscar Gold!
Jessica Alba hosts the Scientific Technical Awards, which to me is a bit like asking Paris Hilton to design the Hoover Dam, but whatever.
Best Adapted Screenplay, and No Country for Old Men wins it… but interestingly, There Will Be Blood got far louder cheers from the audience when its name was announced during the reading of the nominees. A hint of things to come in future awards, perhaps?
Miley “Hannah Montana” Cyrus shows up to introduce the third nominated song — another Enchanted ditty called “That’s How You Know”. These sorts of songs are why I don’t like most musicals. I just can’t relate to them at all; they seem to belong to another time, an era that’s never heard of The Beatles. (Odd that I’m a rabid silent movie fan, yet I can’t stand most showtunes because they sound far too dated to my ears. Well, I’m nothing if not eccentric.)
Best Sound Editing, and another surprise: The Bourne Ultimatum beats out Transformers, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Ratatouille. Naturally, the winner is the only one I haven’t yet seen. But we follow it up almost immediately with Best Sound Mixing, where BAM! — Bourne once again conquers. Nicely done. (Note that the guy on the far right looks like Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers, and seems like he’s perhaps been partaking of his namesake weed.)
Forrest Whittaker presents the Best Actress Oscar, and man, he just radiates nobility. Screw Obama, I’m voting for Forrest Whittaker for president! Another tough category to call, with some fierce competition. I’d love to see Cate win, just so I can gaze adoringly at her in that purple dress once again, but the shiny gold man is going home with Marion Cotillard! Perhaps the one winner NO ONE predicted! I love upsets like this… makes me feel like I’m watching history. And kudos to Cate, who reacted with as much delight as if she’d won the award herself.
Colin Farrell announces the song “Falling Slowly” from Once, and the audience goes nuts just at the mere mention of the film’s name. I’m more sure than ever that the Best Song award is in the bag. And the performance was brilliant too! Glen’s playing that same battered-to-shit guitar he’s been lugging around for years, and looks damn proud of it. This song is sonic love, friends… a musical blanket in which to wrap yourself. And Marketa looked gorgeous.
Jack Nicholson introduces a montage of previous Best Picture winners, and looks disgusted at the cheesy introduction he’s forced to read. I love it. I’m also amazed, and a little saddened, to see how many of these former Best Picture winners have all but faded from the public consciousness.
Best Editing. I still maintain that I’m Not There deserved the award, but it wasn’t even nominated. And once again, The Bourne Ultimatum surprises me by winning. I would’ve loved to see No Country win, just so the Coens would have been forced to accept the prize. (They edited the film under an alias.)
The annual Honorary Oscar is presented to 98 year-old Production Designer Robert Boyle, whose credits include North By Northwest, The Birds, Dragnet, and Fiddler on the Roof. Although he had to be helped to the podium, he seemed genuinely touched and happy to be there. (However, he looked like a hobbit next to honorary Amazon woman Nicole Kidman.)
Best Foreign Film, introduced by Penelope Cruz. It’s a rare year when none of the nominees have much heat behind them… no clear favorite has emerged, which makes it anyone’s guess. But the correct guess is The Counterfeiters.
Another performance of a bland song from Enchanted. Someone text me when it’s over.
John Travolta talks music with the Best Song nominees. And although I liked “Raise It Up”, no one’s happier than me that my beloved “Falling Slowly” won. I want to hug these people. Glen was charming. (“We made this film for 100 grand, and never thought we’d be standing in front of you people. Thank you for taking our film seriously.”) And I love Jon Stewart’s quip after Hansard left the stage: (“God, that guy’s so arrogant!”) Sadly, Marketa didn’t get to speak, although she tried — but the orchestra steamrolled over her. Grr. Bill Condi, I’m biting you on the leg!
PHENOMENAL! After the commercial break, Marketa is brought back to the stage and allowed to give her acceptance speech. (“Let her have her moment!” says Jon Stewart.) One of the classiest things I’ve ever seen the Oscars do.
There Will Be Blood wins its first gold statue, for Best Cinematography. No complaints here; the look of the film is extraordinary.
The annual Oscar Roll Call of the Dead. It’s sad to see how many legends have left us, but their work will live on forever. Antonioni, Bergman, Heath Ledger, Deborah Kerr, Lois Maxwell, Laslo Kovacs, Jane Wyman… your work will live on forever. No Brad Renfo or Roy Scheider, though… although we did see Ledger. They must be saving the others for next year.
Best Original Score. There’s still a lot of bitterness that There Will Be Blood was excluded from consideration on a technicality. And I’m upset too, because it means that Atonement actually gets to bring home an award.
Best Documentary Short Subject, presented (bizarrely) by a group of military personnel in Iraq. A shame most people probably won’t get to see these films, but Freeheld was the winner, which resulted in the most tearful acceptance speech ever. Tom Hanks sticks around to hand out the Best Documentary Feature, which goes to Taxi to the Dark Side. (Nuts… I would’ve loved another polarizing Michael Moore speech.)
Harrison Ford takes the stage (looking like it’s past his bedtime) to give out the Best Screenplay award. Please don’t be Juno… but even before the nominees are over, I know it will be Juno, simply because the audience went nuts when Diablo Cody’s name was read. Honest to blog, she still looks like a skank. And sure enough, after her name is announced as winner, she takes the stage in a see-through leopard skin dress that looks like something rejected from a Tarzan movie. She may as well be wearing a sign that says “Look, I’m hip and quirky, just like my characters! Love me!” No thanks.
My wife notes, as we watch the Oscar clips from previous years, that women’s fashions have changed tremendously over the years, but the men still look like penguins.
Best Actor, presented by a startlingly sexy Helen Mirren. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Daniel Day-Lewis owned this award. You can feel the power radiating off that man, even when he’s smilingly pleasantly at the crowd.
Best Director, and at last the battle between Paul Thomas Anderson and the Coen Brothers will be decided! And the winner is… No Country for Old Men. It’s a great movie… but I feel bad for Paul, who certainly deserved it just as much.
No Country for Old Men takes home Best Picture as well! Well, whaddya know? The Academy got it right.
And with that… good night, folks. Thanks for hanging out with me. But please, get your filthy shoes off my red carpet. Gawd!