Monday, February 26, 2007

First Blush: The 79th Academy Awards

Coming to you from La Casa de Brad here in beautiful Bucktown. Brad has prepared a nice spread he procured from Trader Joe’s and I am supplying the Red Hook ESB. Let’s get on with it!

7:00 We start off with CGI Penguins yammering in annoying penguin voices. Now they’re combined with CGI cars. Brad says “Oh Geez.” Followed by “This is horrible.” And now we learn that we are 27 minutes and 43 seconds away from the beginning of the Oscars. What the crap? Man, this is flagrant false advertising. See you then.

7:30 We actually start off with a series of outtakes. “You see a head roll down the stairs. Well, that was a head.” Eddie Murphy gets the best laugh simply by doing nothing. Brad says, “Man this is going on for a really long time.” There are a lot of unibrows in this segment. We can only hope that this trend will continue into the ceremony itself.

7:35 All the nominees are told to stand and clap for one another. “These men and women represent the best of the best.” You two characters are going to Mirarmar. Brad: “no one in the balcony is standing up.”

7:36 Ellen comes out on stage. No, not like that, grow up people. Looks like she plucked her unibrow, so we were obviously misled by that intro. George Costanza would love this outfit – it’s all velvet.

7:39 “To you nominees, everything is on the line for you. It’s a huge, huge night for you.” Ellen’s doing her schtick and rolling with it. It’s not bad. “It’s not that we don’t have time for long speeches, it’s that we don’t have time for boring speeches.” Brad: “Did Jack have chemo?”

7:45 First award! And it’s Art Direction. I thought this was one of those that they did the day before?

7:47 Maggie Gyllenhall got to hang out with the nerds yesterday. We’re getting this out of the way early. As she’s talking, they’re playing applause from the night before. It’s really annoying and confusing. “It was a wild night,” says Maggie. Brad: “Was that supposed to be funny?”

7:49 A bunch of people roll in from the sides of the stage to form an Oscar Shadow. They totally ripped off that intro from the Cosby Show.

7:53 Will Ferrell is here to amuse us. Looks his hair is really big! He’s amusing! Here’s Jack Black! He’s merely amusing as well. I’m so utterly amused. John C Reilly. He’s amusing and talented! He’s actually vastly outperforming the other two guys. This was all just a lead-in to the award for best makeup. Apparently this is Will Ferrell’s job every year now. Lucky us! At least we get him out of the way early. Look, it’s Click! I told you it was nominated. Pan’s Labyrinth wins again! Two for two! They are going to clean up tonight. Montse Ribé is the best-looking makeup director I’ve ever seen. Brad: “The funniest thing about that sequence was Will Ferrell’s hair.” I don’t think he meant that as a compliment.

8:00 Will Smith’s kid raced out in front of Abigail Breslin. Way to be chivalrous. This is best animated short. ‘Cause they’re kids! And they’re not tall! Get it? The Danish Poet wins! This will definitely be the winner who has the farthest walk to the stage tonight. Torill Kove just made a Tom Hanks joke/reference, but no one got it (including me). They’re also going to present the Best Short Film, live action. Binta Y La Gran Idea is the highest rated on the IMDB. Let’s see what happens: Breslin is totally carrying this team and had to take over at the last second to make the announcement. Apparently the Smith kids are not able to read. Maybe they’re home schooled. West Bank Story directed by Ari Sandel! His acceptance speech makes it clear that this dude has watched some Sportscenter in his day: “Short film relies on perseverance, and sticktoitiveness, and hustle.”

8:11 The Sound Effects Choir: Where’s Michael Winslow??? Well that showed a certain talent. Not necessarily a worthwhile one.

8:17 OK, I can see why my brother is so enamored with Jessica Biel. She looks awfully good here. Brad thinks that Dreamgirls will win Best Sound Mixing. And Dreamgirls it is! One of these guys’ family has four generations of sound mixers. That doesn’t seem possible.

8:21 Rachel Weisz is here to finally present a “real” award, Best Supporting Actor. Murphy is the favorite, but I think Arkin wins. Brad wants me to be right, but he thinks it’s Eddie Murphy, too. Second City’s very own Alan Arkin it is! I’m sensing a big night for the Sunshiners. This is likely a major career boost for him. Brad astutely points out that his other role this year was The Santa Clause 3 with Judge Rienhold. Aww, old guys getting choked up with emotion is always a crowd-pleaser. Way to go Ark!

8:25 “Goodmamas, written by Ellen DeGeneres.” I’m liking Ellen. She’s pulling this off. Now we have more from the dance troupe. Maybe there’s a chance that we won’t have to hear the damn songs this year! Oh no, the announcer just informed me that James Taylor, Randy Newman and Melissa Ethridge are coming up. So much for wishful thinking.

8:29 “ABC’s Thursday is made for women and their boyfriends. Only on ABC.” Brad: “In ten years, it’ll just be the live feed from Lifetime.”

8:30 James Taylor and Randy Newman with a GIGANTIC Cars logo above them. Which studio produced that movie again? And which network is this on? Buy it on DVD today. Brad: “This sounds like James Taylor.” After I tell him that it is James Taylor, he says, “It looks like him, too.”

8:33 Melissa Ethridge is here. She’s wearing a silk coat of some kind. She looks more like a bird than ever, and is irritating as usual. Brad: “Is she out there just for Ellen DeGeneres’ amusement?” I say she could never get Ellen DeGeneres. You sleep with David Crosby, you’re going to fall off a lot of people’s lists.

8:35 Well, at least they kept the Melissa to a minimum. It’s your favorite comedy team, Decaprio and Gore. They’re talking about global warming, and just to drive home the message, Leo tanned excessively for his appearance.

8:42 Cameron Diaz looks good. Brad disagrees and tells us that she will be costarring with Justin Timberlake in Shrek The Third. That should lead to a breakup, no? Monster House is supposed to be the best of these. I guess Cars will win, and Brad says Happy Feet. Brad’s right. Robin Williams wins again! Brad asks of George Miller, “Is he wearing a scarf?” I have no idea what you call that. It might be an ascot. I wish I had a photo I could show you, but I don’t. Just trust me that it was a ridiculous thing to wear in front of any living persons.

8:46 Ben Affleck is playing this intro so low-key, you’d think he was acting in a movie. He’s utterly unenthused. That leads to a well-done montage about writers – I was fearing a “Something’s Gotta Give” shot, and unfortunately we got one. Dangit.

8:50 Best Adapted Screenplay. Brad thinks Borat will win – I certainly hope so, but I think it has way too much improv to get it. I’m guessing that Departed wins (I think it’ll be a big night for Departed as well). Departed wins. Jack is looking sleek as hell. Accepting for William Monahan is Donal Logue. Oh wait, this guy’s way fatter than Donal Logue. Monahan is the first solo winner to be chased off by the orchestra.

8:56 Wes Anderson has officially made the big time. He’s on the same level as Ellen, Coach K, and probably some other pompous famous folks. Congrats, Wes!

8:59 Ellen has switched to an Elvisy white jumpsuit, then introduces Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway. They’re quite the attractive pair. They’re doing best costume design. Brad says The Queen. I’m going with Marie Antoinette. But neither of us cares very much. Marie Antoinette it is. Milena Canonero gingerly takes the stage, looking a bit like a current day Peter O’Toole. I’m mean and I’m sorry – that wasn’t nice. Whoah, she’s married to Marshall Bell who we will see frequently in upcoming Schwarzenegger Sundays (Total Recall, Twins). Who knew? I wonder if Kuato is wearing a tux tonight.

9:12 Gwyneth Paltrow, sounding a little V.I. Warshawski, is here to announce Cinematography. Brad and I both guess Pan’s Labyrinth, even though, at least in the theater where I saw it, it was way too dark in most scenes. It ended up looking murky. And the Oscar goes to, Pan’s Labyrinth. That’s three for the goat-man maze!

9:23 Is Catherine Denueve bleeding? Her brooch is supposed to look like it. An excellent montage of all the foreign film winners of the past follows their introduction.

9:29 Cate Blanchette looking stunning as always with Clive Owen to give best foreign film. Clearly Pan’s Labyrinth is going to win. But no, it’s Lives of Others with a stunning upset. This is the upset of the night. The director grabs Guillermo Del Toro out of his seat for a hug. He’s clearly shocked. It’s getting an 8.4 on the IMDB, so it looks like Oscar nailed this one. Yes, I know Pan’s Labyrinth has an 8.5, but I gave it a 70, so there.

9:33 Best Supporting actress presented by George Clooney (winner of last year’s best supporting actor). Jennifer Hudson’s supposed to be the favorite, but I think Abigail Breslin wins. Brad thinks it’s going to be Adriana Barrazza, but he admits that’s wishful thinking. Jennifer Hudson wins! “Look what God can do!” She thanks her late grandmother. “Definitely have to thank God, I guess, again.” “Jennifer Holiday, too!” It’s like a summary of all the recent African American winners. I’m surprised she didn’t thank Vivica Fox, just for completeness.

9:42 Eva Green and Gael Garcia Bernal for best documentary, short subject. Neither of us have a clue here, but that recycling movie seems like it has a lot good trash in it. I’m going with that, Brad says “Two Hands”. And we’re both wrong. It’s The Blood of Yingzhou District. Jerrry Seinfield strides out to his show’s theme music. He’s here to present best doc feature. He does some observational humor about picking up garbage in the movies. Brad: “Is he auditioning for the ’08 Oscars?” We both assume Inconvenient Truth is going to win. I know Jesus Camp doesn’t stand a chance. Inconvenient Truth wins. Davis Guggenheim accepts the Oscar and also has the distinction of being the wealthiest winner. Well, him or Al Gore. Speaking of whom, is he wearing lipstick? Maybe he gave Tipper a smooch before going up onstage. I sure hope not. I’d prefer to think he’s just wearing lipstick.

9:49 Clint Eastwood is here to present the lifetime achievement award to Ennio Morricone. It will be hard to pull this off – a montage of music, but if there was ever a composer who deserves this honor, it’s Morricone. And Eastwood’s the right person to present it. Unfortunately, Celine Dion is here to sing one of his tunes. She’s looking more mannish than ever. Morricone appears thoroughly bored. Celine really can’t sing. Not to get off on a rant, but she has no understanding of what music is supposed to be about. I know she has pipes or whatever, but you’d think she’d learn about passion somewhere. I mean, I know she has passion in her. She’s proven it before. But somehow her singing style is robotic. It’s either wail or nothing with her.

9:59 Morricone takes the mic and his Oscar. He’s speaking Italian and getting weepy. Where are the subtitles? They show his wife with a random seat-filler next to her. Need a tighter shot, boys. Clint will translate for us. Well, at least a handful of the words Morricone said. Brad: “Is he really translating?” “I don’t think so.” This is like that Kevin Nealon sketch on SNL.

10:06 Following Morricone, it’s best original score. Um, the Good German? Brad goes with The Queen. It’s Babel. I figured they wouldn’t vote this way because it didn’t have the orchestration, but I think it’s much deserved. Gustavo Santaolalla just thanked thirty-six people without taking a breath. Impressive.

10:12 Best original screenplay. I think it’s Babel. Brad says The Queen. And it’s Little Miss Sunshine. Brad: “Little Miss Sunshine won?!? I was gonna pick them! Damn.” I feel the same way. It’s good when the guy getting the most distinctive award for writing uses the word “funnest” in his acceptance speech. There’s hope for all of us.

10:20 J-Lo is here to introduce a Dreamgirls “songtage”. I gotta say, Beyonce is blowing Hudson off the stage right now, even if Hudson’s breasts are trying their best to fight back. Brad sees a Vegas future for Jennifer Hudson. OK, so clearly one of these songs is going to win an Oscar, right?

10:28 Ellen just said that both Travolta and Queen Latifa have been nominated for acting Oscars before. I guess Oscar did something right if they didn’t win… Travolta just dropped the worst joke of the evening, referring to himself as a full-figured woman who can sing. Brad and I both assume that Dreamgirls will pick one this one up with one of their songs. But no. Ladies and gentlemen Melissa Ethridge, Oscar Winner. Somebody kill me now. Worst. Award. Ever. Please just eliminate the song category now. We don’t have musicals anymore, and even when we do, they get three songs nominated and split the votes amongst them.

10:32 During another extended commercial break, Brad and I are warming up for the death montage. We expect to see James Brown as reverend Cleophus James. Robert Altman. We think Chris Penn was last year, but we can’t remember. We’re pretty sure that Burgess Meredith died, like, ten years ago. Hopefully Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t keeled over since he presented the best sound award or whatever it was.

10:35 Will Smith here to introduce Michael Mann’s look at America through its movies. Well, that was kind of meh.

10:40 Kate Winslet presents Film Editing. Brad and I both think it’s United 93, if only because the editing was so obvious in the movie (and well done). It was one of those few movies where you noticed the editing, but not because it was problematic. It’s The Departed. This is all pointing towards a Best Director and Best Picture victory. Thelma Schoonmaker wins her third award (Raging Bull, The Aviator).

10:45 A somewhat emotional Jodie Foster presents the death montage. Glenn Ford (never seen one of his). Bruno Kirby – and they show a Spinal Tap shot! Don Knotts – of course! RIP, Mr. Furley. Darren McGavin of Raw Deal fame. Joe Barbera gets a big ovation. Tamara Dobson gets a delayed one only when they showed the poster of Cleopatra Jones. Philippe Noriet seemed near death in Cinema Paradiso – had no idea he died this year. Peter Boyle only gets a small spattering. Jack Palance – I thought that was like four years ago. Mako of Conan the Barbarian – hey, that’s my favorite Mako movie, whatcha gonna do? Jack Warden – again, thought it had been four years. Robert Altman is saved for last. No James Brown! Brad and I are displeased. He’s only really acted in four movies, and one of them was Doctor Detroit. However, his music has been used in over 100 films and TV shows, and he had such memorable scenes in The Blues Brothers and Rocky IV. That’s an omission.

10:52 Phillip Seymour Hoffman, looking disheveled is ready for Best Actress. Brad and I both have our money on Helen Mirren. This is probably the biggest slam-dunk of the night, no? Brad: “I’ll take The Queen. So far she’s failed me every time tonight.” Noted. As long as Meryl Streep doesn’t win I won’t be too upset. She’s almost as irritating as Melissa Ethridge. Helen Mirren wins! She gives the most gracious speech of the night, acknowledging her competitors, then her collaborators, and then Queen Elizabeth herself.

10:56 Chris Connelly is certainly coming off as one of the biggest losers in history. I’m not sure what kind of audience he’s shooting for. “The Nominees are ready. The presenters read. Even the Oscars are ready. Are you ready?” We’ve been sitting here all night, Chris. I think we’re ready. Actually, we might need to see a few more credit card commercials before I’m going to be really ready.

11:00 I ask Brad about a mini Mounds bar in a candy dish on his coffee table. “How old is this?” “It’s not that old.” “Are you sure, it looks a little old.” “I don’t know how old it is.” I eat it anyway. It wasn't new, but I don't think I'll get sick.

11:01 Reese Witherspoon is leaning forward as she talks, and Brad mentions that her face looks a little weird. I have to say I agree. Whitaker is the clear favorite. Gosling is the only one of these performances I’ve seen, and it was yesterday – he was great, by the way. I thought Decaprio deserved a nomination for The Departed. I’m rooting for Peter O’Toole. That would at least be interesting. I’m rooting against Will Smith just because (imagine how much he’ll be shoved down our throats if he wins). Forest Whitaker wins. And I thought he just flew in for games! A very emotional speech from Forest. I’m sure he thought that this would never happen to him despite all of his quality work over his career.

11:07 Best Director – It’s looking like Scorsese’s year. “For the Queen, Stephen Fears” says George Lucas. Close enough. Martin Scorsese wins, and he throws his hands up in the air with a look that says, “well, it’s about time”, but not in a condescending way. Standing O for Marty who makes the best films. He gives a rapid-fire acceptance speech.

11:11 All we have left is Best Picture. It seems clear that Departed will win. Brad says that United 93 was the best movie of the year. I’d have to go with Borat. Neither are nominated in this category (nor did they win in the categories in which they were nominated). We both loved The Departed, though.

11:13 Diane Keaton needs to be kept behind closed doors at this point. She’s a mess. Don’t let her do anymore movies, don’t let her go out in public. They have Jack up there with her, just in case she breaks down again. Brad: “Why’s she touching her breasts?” The Departed it is. Keaton lets out a howl: “OOooooooowwwhhh!” Jack just hangs out on stage.

11:16 Ellen says that it’s truly been a pleasure to be our host and wishes us good night. Good show, Ellen. We’ll see you next year. You’ve repaired much of the damage to the lesbian community that Whoopi inflicted. All in all, it was a very well-done awards show. They finally took some steps to shorten the song performances which had always been the biggest albatross. I’ve long thought that the Oscars should make their focus the movies rather than onstage performances of music and that sort of thing. They had some nice montages and kept the thing moving in generally. And I’m not even upset with the winners! Way to go, Academy!


Anonymous said...

Musical performances do usually need to be shorter, unless Elliott Smith is singing and the Academy will only let him sing a verse and a half and one bridge of his dang song. Yeah, I'm still bitter about it nearly ten years later. Anyway, I'm glad the musical performances were less tedious this year. By the way, I didn't watch the 2004 Oscars; Elliott was nominated for an Oscar, so did they include him in their death montage?

Reed said...

I tried to find out the answer to your question, Hannah, but I couldn't find a list of the people shown in the montage anywhere. You'd think that would exist online. I would imagine that because he didn't appear in any movies, they didn't include him (likely leaving that for the Grammys). If they didn't include the Reverend Cleophus James, I'm guessing they're not keen on putting musicians into their montage.

PMaz said...

Very amusing. My favorite line was "Darren McGavin of Raw Deal fame". That is one of the few Arnold movies I never saw, but I did know McGavin was in it.