Monday, February 25, 2008

"And then I woke up."

Awards season is officially over. Well, at least for ten months or so. As for the Oscars tonight, well... I can't quite say they were exciting, but this is certainly the happiest I've been with the awards in my entire history of watching them (since I was about 5 years old). A scant group of minor disappointments, but at no point-- and this is, frankly, amazing to me-- in the evening was I genuinely pissed off by any of the winners, and it was a fairly breezy, enoyable show (only 3 hours and 18 minutes long). For the most part, the best of the nominees actually won, and occasionally, the best eligibile in that category, nominated or not. I didn't live-blog, nor did I take note of the time of certain occurrences, but find below (in italics) my random musings during the Oscar telecast that I jotted down.

Red Carpet

-- Jesus, Renee Zellweger looks disturbingly like David Bowie tonight.

-- Marion Cotillard is ridiculously beautiful

-- I hope Miley Cyrus gets assassinated on the red carpet and puts a polite damper on the rest of the evening

-- Jennifer Garner is looking a whole lot like Zac Efron with that haircut

The Show Itself

-- Jon Stewart is already doing significantly better than he did two years ago. "Tonight we look beyond the dark days to focus on happier fare: This year's slate of Oscar-nominated psychopathic killer movies. Does this town need a hug? What happened? 'No Country For Old Men,' 'Sweeney Todd,' 'There Will Be Blood?' All I can say is, thank God for teen pregnancy." Mmmm, hilarious.

-- Why the fuck is Patrick Dempsey allowed to sit in the second row?

-- Jon Stewart makes a joke with the phrase "make-up sex." Everyone laughs, Colin Farrell is noticeably stone faced.

Best Costume Design
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age"

Well, it certainly had the MOST costumes, didn't it? And the winning lady gave probably the best speech of the night, if only for the fact that it was eight seconds long. Eh, "Atonement" or "Sweeney Todd" kind of deserved this more, but "No Country" and "There Will Be Blood" weren't nominated here, so I can't really get worked up about "Elizabeth" taking it.

--At 22 minutes into the telecast, only one award has been given out. This is going to be a long one.

Best Animated Feature

While this half-billion dollar grosser didn't really need MORE support or accolades, and some recognition for "Persepolis" would have been nice (and helpful for the film's box office), I really can't quibble with this. "Ratatouille" may have been the most delightful film of last year, and endlessly clever, creative, funny and moving. It may be a financial and critical juggernaut, but that doesn't change the fact that it really WAS the best animated feature of the year and deserves every potential award coming to it (for my money, it deserves the Best Original Screenplay Oscar tonight as well).

--Hey, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill are here, looking nearly identical! Whoa, Katherine Heigl (presenting) is visibly nervous and her voice is quaking. Nonetheless, she's the second young starlet in a week to attempt to emulate Marilyn Monroe.

-- Man, Colin Farrell is really pissed off about something tonight.

Best Makeup
"La Vie en Rose"

Can't work up much excitement for this, other than saying it was deserving. I would have passed out had "Norbit" won an Oscar and "Pirates" didn't really draw my attention in the makeup department. If for no other reason than making a beautiful beautiful beautiful actress achieve so many different looks and various levels of deformity, this win seems just.

-- Wow, Amy Adams is singing "Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" and she's just kicking ass. As much as I might dislike this movie, Adams is just so effervescently delightful and she's completely pulling this performance off. God, I love her.

Best Visual Effects
"The Golden Compass"

[chokes on cocktail] What?!? Are you fucking kidding?? Look, I hated "Transformers," but even I had to admit its special effects were probably the best and most technologically advanced I've ever seen in a motion picture. Compared to the Coca-Cola polar bears in "The Golden Compass"?!?! Jesus Fucking Christ, has Michael Bay alienated this many people in Hollywood? I swore this was the biggest lock of the night, more than even Bardem or Day-Lewis. Hmm, this means either "No Country" or "Bourne" is taking the sound awards. If "Transformers" can't win this, it ain't winning shit.

Best Art Direction
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Grrr, Jack Fisk should have won this for his wonderful sets for "There Will Be Blood," but I loved the sets for "Sweeney" as well, so I'm not too pissed off. Ha, Paul Thomas Anderson is very emphatically, and noticeably, not clapping.

-- Am I alone in really loving Jon Stewart's material tonight? It's just a throwaway joke, but this bit about Cate Blanchett playing the pit bull chasing Josh Brolin in "No Country for Old Men" made me laugh really hard.

Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"

And the always astute Ms. Jennifer Hudson pronounced Javier "Harvier." Lovely. Anyway, we all knew this was happening. "You can't stop what's coming," and all that. Not necessarily my favorite of the five, but he was truly astonishing in this performance that's going to be referenced and imitated for years to come, ad nauseusm. Gave the second half of his speech in Spanish, and I have no idea what he was saying, but it seemed sincere.

--Ha-ha, Stewart "translates" for us using the Spanish he learned in High School. Apparently, Javier told his mother where the library was.

--Wow, this "August Rush" song is cringe-worthy. Myself and my co-watchers all get up and do various cleaning up, phone calls, etc. until the number is over.

Best Live Action Short
"The Mozart of Pickpockets"

As I predicted, the award goes to the one involving the cute little kid. I had a feeling from the moment the audience I saw this with responded well to it, laughing frequently and using words like "adorable."

Best Animated Short
"Peter and the Wolf"

Blech. This was my least favorite of all the animated shorts. It was "cute" and nothing more. Kind of pretty looking, but completely hollow artistically. Was hoping for "Madame Tuitli Puitli" but oh well.

Best Supporting Actress
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"

Ahhhh wonderful! Best of the five performances, been so wonderful for so long with no recognition, and, she's just a delightful actress. I just love her and wish her all the best; maybe now she'll land a third boyfriend. Truly phenomenal speech too: "George Clooney, you know, the seriousness and the dedication to your art, seeing you climb into that rubber bat suit from "Batman & Robin," the one with the nipples, every morning under your costume, on the set, off the set, hanging upside-down at lunch, you rock, man." My god, can we give her another Oscar RIGHT NOW??

-- Announcer: "The always fantastic Jessica Alba." There are some phrases life just does not prepare you for ever hearing. How does one react to a statement like that? She stumbled pronouncing the "E." in "Gordon E. Sawyer," that's not easy to do.

-- Josh Brolin and James McAvoy are presenting an award together. My, my, what a dreamboat sandwich these two make.

-- I love these phony "I'm writing my screenplay" clips they're showing for the Best Adapted Screenplay nominees, and I love even more that Paul Thomas Anderson is obviously the only nominee to refuse to film one.

Best Adapted Screenplay
"No Country for Old Men," adapted by Joel and Ethan Coen

Not much to say really except I'm quite fucking happy. This is totally deserved, and I hope its the first of four for the Coens tonight.

--The President of the Academy (I think) presents and stars in a truly lame bit about how the voting process works. Jon Stewart follows it up with the most unenthusiastic face you can imagine and states, "Wow. That was amazing." Hilarious. Please someone post it on YouTube.

--Song number two from "Enchanted," this one the really irritating production number from Central Park. All I can think of while watching this is 'man, that's a lot of gay construction workers' and 'was Kristen Chenoweth always this bland?'

Best Sound Editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum"

Hm, "No Country" really deserved to win this. Me no happy. Whoa, but on the plus side, a guy named "Per" is accepting an award.

Best Sound Mixing
"The Bourne Ultimatum"

Repeat above sentiments. Minus the Per.

-- Wow, even Cate Blanchett seems appalled by the height of her theatrics in this "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" clip. Her "I have a hurricane in me" bit is what "Heeeeeere Iiiii aaaaaam" was for her last year. The fact that the Academy even nominated her for this shit just shows how much they love her, so she should be happy.

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"

Yes, yes, yes, this is excellent. I called it, and I'm very happy she won over Julie Christie. Sure, Laura Linney would've been perfection (and I'm so delighted that they showed the "big. red. pillow." clip for her), but this is almost as good. Ever since I read her "I do not know this bummer" quote in Entertainment Weekly, I've been charmed by her, and she's asked to do so much in this showy role and completely pulls it off. And boy, what infectious enthusiasm: "Thank you life, thank you love! It is true there are some angels in this city!" Love it.

-- God I love "Falling Slowly." Better fucking win. And is it me, or does Glen Hansard look especially cleaned up and well-groomed? Glen Hansard? More like Glen HANDSOME. Har, har, har. I'm hilarious.

-- Hmmm, the audience does not seem to be clapping for Renee Zellweger. I can hear the audio of applause but when they cut to a wide shot of the audience, I didn't see anyone actually clapping. Perhaps a bit of dubbing trickery to make America think her Hollywood peers like her?

-- Ha ha ha, there's a drawn portrait of 'Roderick Jaynes' when his nomination is announced for "No Country for Old Men." Did the Coens draw it, I wonder?

Best Film Editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum"

Again, subscribing to the notion that "most" must be equivalent to "best." I'm not pissed off, but I'm not happy either. I still think it's going to win Best Picture, but it's very noticeable that "No Country" is not sweeping tonight at all.

-- Oh, Jon Stewart, how you tickle my fancy. "Film Editing! Someone just took the lead in their Oscar pool based on a guess." Belittling to the category, but so true.

--Wow! Nicole Kidman actually has breasts when she's pregnant!

Best Foreign Language Film
"The Counterfeiters"

Is it wrong that I've had a screener of this movie lying around for the last two months, and now that it's won an Oscar, I still don't have much of a desire to watch it?

-- Announcer: "The Versatile and Handsome Patrick Dempsey." Hm. I guess I know a few girls who find him handsome, but versatile?

-- Jesus fucking Christ, ANOTHER song from "Enchanted"?? How many must we be subjected to?? On a second viewing last week at a local three dollar theater, I realized how truly nothing-special all of the songs in this movie were.

Best Original Song
"Falling Slowly" from "Once"

Eeeexcellent. If this didn't win, I might have gone on a rampage. Aw, "T'anks," "T'ree," "T'ought." God, I love the Irish. Oh shit, Marketa Irglova didn't get to say her bit. What the fuck.

--Ahhh, Jon Stewart brought Marketa Irglova back out to say what she was going to before she got cut off. And it was lovely: "Hi everyone. I just want to thank you so much. This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don't give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along way. Thank you"

Best Cinematography
"There Will Be Blood"

I kind of wanted one of Deakins' nominated films to take it, but Elswit did a masterful job on "Blood" so I'm still happy.

-- Colin Farrell continues to look completely fucking miserable.

-- Hilary Swank introduces dead people. She's certainly played enough of them. God, I'm awful.

Best Original Score

Still pissed "There Will Be Blood" was deemed ineligible, but this was an excellent, complex score and it probably deserved to win. Whuh, Dario Marianelli is British? Who knew. Man anytime "Atonement" is mentioned, they keep cutting to the mini-"Atonement" crew basically consisting of Saoirse Ronan, James McAvoy and his older-but-very-attractive wife.

--Jesus, give Tom Hanks the award for Not Aging Well. He looks like he just celebrated his 65th birthday, and then someone hit him in the face repeatedly with a bowling pin. Poor, poor (two-time Oscar-winning) man. Yeesh.

-- Laura Linney's fiance boytoy has been beatifically smiling all night. Noticeably.

Best Documentary Feature
"Taxi to the Darkside"

Hm, I did NOT call this one. I thought either "No End in Sight" or "Sicko." Either way, I can't say I'm not happy. "Taxi" was an excellent doc that really demands to be seen, and director Alex Gibney is a terribly intelligent guy who once rode in the backseat of my car while he was in town for the Maryland Film Festival (long story).

Best Original Screenplay
"Juno," Diablo Cody

Wow, Diablo Cody actually has emotions, and not just carefully scripted twee one-liners in her mental arsenal? Who knew. In all seriousness, I haven't really built up the ire for "Juno" some have and I'm genuinely fine with her winning this award. I wish her all the best in the future with all the money she should look forward to making. And props to the Academy people for playing "A Well Respected Man" on her way up to the podium, not the nice-but-irritating-the-more-you-hear-it-throughout-the-awards-season "Juno" anthem "Anyone Else but You."

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"

Again, it's hard to work up much to say when this was just SO expected and has been the performance winning every single award all season. That said, it really is the performance of the year, and one of the great performances of all time, so if it didn't win, it would've been sacrelige. I've heard one or two criticisms leveled against this performance as being the "biggest" or the "most" acting, but not really the "best;" and I understand the criticism in theory, I've leveled it myself many a time. But, sometimes, rarely, a performance is both. Day-Lewis's inhabitance of Daniel Plainview is a big performance on a grand scaler, but there's also so much there to dig away at, and so many levels to it. That "I've abandoned my child!" sequence we've seen ad neauseam certainly has the obvious awards-factor elements in there-- he's yelling!-- but it also involves such emotional complexity, and requires Day-Lewis to express about fifteen different things in the span of 90 seconds. This performance is astounding on every level, and the few who say otherwise just need to see the movie again.

Best Director

Joel and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"

At long last, they've won it. Let the pedestal-building begin! I remember when the Coens followed up "Fargo" with "The Big Lebowski" and the near unanimous assessment was that it was a "lesser" work of the Coens, and boy what a disappointment that they followed up their masterpiece with a trivial bit of silliness. And now, of course, "Fargo" and "Lebowski" are (or should I say were?) regarded by most as their two best films. So we shall see what happens with their next, "Burn After Reading." I've read the screenplay, and it's completely delightful, and off-the-wall zaniness, so I'm sure there will be "Lebowski"-esque disappointment before we look back on it as a modern classic. Anyway, I've gotten off track. Yay, yay, long live the Coens, for they are now Oscar-winning directors.

--Meh, Denzel's the best they could get to deliver Best Picture? Step it up, Academy.

Best Picture
"No Country for Old Men"

I've got to say, it still makes no sense to me that this movie is an Oscar winner for Best Picture. It's too challenging, too cerebral, too symbolic, too meditative, too cynical, too phenomenal. It doesn't make sense. This is the award that's supposed to go to movies that say racism is bad or wittily hypothesize the backstory of writing of "Romeo and Juliet" or commemorate the Holocaust. It's not supposed to go to morally murky, violent Coen Brothers movies with abrupt, thought-provoking endings that basically impart the message that society is quickly going to shit. What the fuck has happened to the Oscars? I have no idea, but whatever it is, it's something worth celebrating.


Blogger Michael said...

I question whether Atwood's costumes for "Sweeney" were really more deserving than Byrne's for "Elizabeth." And, dare I venture into this anti-critical maelstrom—but I prefer "Persepolis" to the delightful, but moralizing "Ratatouille"...

I'm very sad Jack Fisk lost. Since "The New World" (and revisiting Malick's filmography), I've had a weird fascination with Mr. Sissy Spacek. His and Tilda's nominations this year have been a long-kindling fantasy of mine.

I didn't particularly love "Peter and the Wolf"—but "hollow artistically"? What does that even mean?? I think a greater case can be made for the beautifully crafted "Madame Tutli-Putli" as being "hollow artistically." It's quite the lovely, empty vessel.

Tilda's work in "Michael Clayton" makes me appreciate why we have supporting actor categories in the first place. I'm truly astounded and ecstatic that her subtle performance scored not only a nomination—but a deserving win in this category. Go Tilda!! (Down with Dee!!!)

Hmm, I question whether "No Country" deserved Sound Editing. I do think, however, it did deserve Sound Mixing.

Regarding the Swank-qua-dead comment: is it just me, or is it surprising that so few of the acting nominees this year feature a death scene? Who among them dies on-camera: Cotillard (or no??), Affleck, Depp, and Wilkinson? And really, only Depp's death scene is played up...

Regarding DDL: I truly think it's one of the great performances in cinema, but I don't think having to 'see it again' will quell the criticisms raised by many objectors to his work (these 'great'/'awful' value judgments are entirely subjective). A good case can be made against this performance; I think Manohla Dargis' review of the film gives a decent defense of DDL's work.

"No Country" is an exceptional winner. But if the Academy truly wanted to impress me with its embracing of the impossibly strange, it would have awarded "TWBB" its top honor. To me, it gave "Best Picture" to the less bizarre of the two 'out-there' kinda movies.


4:01 AM  

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