Monday, February 27, 2012

The not-the-live Oscars blog

I didn't want to live-blog the event, but here's a recap of my notes from the evening.

My night of watching got off to a rocky start at 8:00pm, which is when I thought the show started. But it turns out it starts at 8:30, and I get to watch half an hour of the red carpet special after all. Oh dear. Evidently Angelina Jolie was "made for the red carpet." I still think the best dress-related comment I ever heard at the Oscars was when the winner in the documentary category said her dress cost more than her movie.

It's almost like comfort food to have Billy Crystal hosting again. The first time Billy Crystal did the bits intercut into the movies it was hilarious, but now it’s just sequelitis. I still like Billy Crystal, and I thought he did a pretty funny show - mostly - but maybe it would have been nice to do something really different. He did have some great lines about the Kodak Theater during the show:
"Here at the Chapter 11 theater"
"Here at the Your-Name-Here theater"

The Cinematography award went to Hugo; Vincent Laforet isn’t going to be happy; he wanted The Tree of Life to win.

I’m actually watching the event with my teenage daughter and four of her friends. It’s definitely a more interesting way to watch the Oscars, and sometimes I can’t hear the show over the conversation - though I don’t think I’m really missing anything. Everyone groaned when the Forest Gump clip was shown. They are also upset that the orginal songs aren’t going to be performed. When bits like the popcorn girls come on, there’s lots of “they cut the songs so they could show this?!” comments.

Billy Crystal makes a joke about digital: “That's from a long time ago when movies were actually shot on film!” I wonder how many of the Oscar audience actually got that. But it's good to see that some traditions never die: the stilted, pre-scripted conversations are still being used at the Oscars. The Costume Design intro was “awkward!”

For several of the awards, they show montages of the movies with the nominee - or someone - talking about working on the project. None of these comments seem to be designed to contribute anything to your knowledge of movie making; just nice little platitudes like makeups: "ordinary people arrived in the morning and extraordinary people left"

In one sequence of actors talking about the movies, Tom Cruise didn't actually look like Tom Cruise! He did show up at the end, looking like himself, to give the Best Picture award!

I really liked Sandra Bullock’s German sounding Chinese bit for the Best Foreign Language Film. The group I was with all said "that one’s going to win" when they showed the Iranian movie clip; and it did. Sometimes you feel that the Oscars does the predictable thing. BUT, the audience I'm with thinks the acceptance speech by the movie maker was very classy.

Fun fact of the evening: The Artist is the first silent picture nominated since 1928.

The focus group piece was funny, though maybe more to the Hollywood audience than to the watching audience. It suggests that Hollywood has a real problem with focus groups, but it was funny in an SNL sort of way. Still, was it the best use of time?

When The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wins for film editing, my daughter says “it’s because it had that MTV style of editing.” To top it off, the winners serve up one of the most awkward speeches yet, but I loved it! According to Twiiter: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the first film to win Best Editing and no other award since Bullitt.

My next nominee for best acceptance speech is one of the co-winners for Sound Editing for Hugo who says “I’d like to thank everybody every born, or who ever will be born. If I've forgotten anybody, then you probably know who you are.”

The award for Sound Mixing raises amongst the audience here the question; What is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing? I have no idea; but someone Google’s it on their iPhone and reads “Sound editing is recording everything and sound mixing is putting it all together.”

The Muppets introduce Cirque Du Soleil, who start off spinning through the air with a clip from North by Northwest behind them. That's my favorite movie, so they get points from me for that! I like Cirque Du Soleil too, but I can’t help thinking; they cut the two original songs for that?

Billy Crystal’s best line so far: “We've got puppets and acrobats, we're a pony away from a bar mitzvah!”

Robert Downey Junior does a semi-amusing bit about shooting a documentary live during the intro for the Best Documentary, which goes to Undefeated. "This is ridiculous,” says one of the winners, “A year ago we were sitting being depressed thinking no one would ever see this movie…” The second speaker then gets the first - and only - beep of the evening, and they get played off!

Chris Rock does a funny bit about voice acting, and how if you’re a fat woman you can play a young thin damsel, and “if you're a Black man, you can play a donkey or a zebra.” He follows up with how “I've done animation. It's the easiest job in the world,” and talks about recording the voices for animation!

Another favorite acceptance speech: “It's a huge honor to be nominated, but it's awesome to win. It's really underrated.”

Christopher Plummer is a popular winner for Best Supporting Actor, and is evidently the oldest actor ever to win. He then says to the Oscar “You're only two years older than me, where have you been all my life?” He gives a classy speech.

After the head of the academy delivers a dull speech, Billy says “Thanks Tom for whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Mr. Excitement.”

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis come out in white tails and cymbals, and do a short, funny bit before presenting the music and song awards. I wish they’d had a few more minutes to develop it. And surprise, there are only two original songs nominated? Things are tough all over. I wasn’t impressed by the snippet of Man or Muppet, but hey, it was written by a New Zealander, so woot!

Angelina needed a better writer - or a better delivery - for her intro to Best Adapted screenplay. Unlike nearly every other award category, I actually saw most of the movies in this category: The Descendents, Hugo, Moneyball and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and I’d have given it to Moneyball, but The Descendents wins it.

Woody Allen gets Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris. I loved the Hemingway bits in that movie, so I'm okay with that.

As usual, the technical awards get short shrift, but Douglas Trumbull gets a well deserved award for his work over the years.

The cast of The Bridesmaids come out to award the best short subject awards, and make some jokes about short vs. long "movies" and also reference a Scorcese drinking game.

The Best Animated Short Film goes to “two swamp rats from Louisiana,” and their movie The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore. I think they might have been playing the Scorcese drinking game before they won. You can see the trailer for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore on Vimeo.

The teens think Terrence Malick should get best Director, but they also think Scorcese will win. So it's a bit of a surprise when The Artist gets it instead. He proclaims “I am the happiest director in the world right now!”

Once again, the previous Best Actor and Actress winners come out and say some touching little bits about each of the nominees. I think this is part of the punishment for winning an Oscar. Does anyone else find these rather awkward?

I also thought Glenn Close would get the Best Actress award, but it goes to Meryl Streep, and she wins me over with a nice acceptance speech. But it's The Artist that wins the night for Best Picture, and the last acceptance speech ends with “I want to thank three people: Billy Wilder, and Billy Wilder, and Billy Wilder.”

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