People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Monday, March 8, 2010
  Blogging the Oscars: Part 2

Welcome to the part two of the second annual Captivate movie blog Oscar night liveblog. I actually hate the word “blog,” and I just used it twice in one sentence there, so I doubt you’ll be seeing it again today. Check out Part 1 here if, for some reason, you want to read a more detailed rundown of my picks. The deal is, I watch the entire Oscars telecast and write about it, and this is noteworthy because I don’t really care much about the Oscars. This year, however, unlike last year, I’ve actually seen most of the nominated movies (6 of the 10 Best Picture nominees, vs. none of last year’s five), so let’s see if my actually knowing what the hell I’m talking about improves my accuracy. I don’t really expect it to.

A quick note: I actually fell asleep during the red carpet pre-show (which tells you about all you need to know about my level of interest in Oscar fashion) and woke up a little bit after the show started, and I’m actually watching the show saved on PVR on about a 45-minute time delay, so my times are estimated and may be a little bit off, if that’s the sort of thing that matters to you.

8:30 pm ET
Okay, we’re off to a pretty weird start, with all the best actor and actress nominees on stage. I don’t get it. And neither does Clooney, apparently, who looks sort of uncomfortable.

Neil Patrick Harris comes out for a little song and dance number to introduce Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. I hate musical numbers with a burning passion, so right off the bat they’re making me question the wisdom of doing this whole “force myself to watch the whole Oscars show and be witty about it” thing again. Antonio Banderas looks impressed though.

Martin and Baldwin take the stage. I think both of these guys are pretty great (though I still can't help but assume their pairing was originally meant to promote It’s Complicated, which they’re both in...and now they’re joking about Meryl Streep. Does this thing come out on DVD next week or something?) They’re doing the bit where they joke about nominees in the audience, which is almost always the source of uncomfortable jokes. Martin and Baldwin are solid so far (less than five minutes in, for whatever that’s worth), and I like Baldwin’s little staredown gag with Clooney, who usually seems more game for joking around like this. Who pissed in Clooney’s cornflakes this morning, I wonder? Overall though, it’s a fairly solid opening monologue, though I guess it’s really not that because there’s two of them. Duologue?

They’re doing Best Supporting Actor already. I love how they always start off with a couple of big awards to trick us into thinking the show is actually bopping along at a quick pace and isn't going to drag until after midnight. Oh, how naive we all are. So is The Last Station movie about Leon Trotsky? Because if it is, I don’t understand why Christopher Plummer is up for Best Supporting Actor.

Christoph Waltz wins for Inglourious Basterds with a nice little speech. Not boring, didn't drag on, and it seemed heartfelt and sincere. And I was right, so we’re off to a pretty nice start here. And I can’t escape the feeling that this will be the only award Inglourious Basterds wins all night.

My Pick was: Christoph Waltz
I Am: Right. 1-0.

Cameron Diaz and Steve Carrel are solid. So far I’m pretty impressed with the writing in the show, and the presenters are surprisingly not-terrible. Up wins Best Animated Feature, which is not much of a surprise. I would have liked to see Fantastic Mr. Fox win (I’m a Wes Anderson nerd and I really liked this movie), but Up was pretty much a shoo-in, and it’s a great movie. Is it shoo-in or shoe-in? Anyway, good for Up.

Man, that Miley Cyrus is a void of charisma. I’m not looking forward to when they try to shove her down my throat as a movie star in a few years. Seriously, entertainment business, this is the best you’ve got to offer? I am unimpressed. Ryan Bingham and T. Bone Burnett win Best Original Song for something from Crazy Heart. They keep it nice and short, so again, I feel like I’m being lulled into a false sense of hope as far as the show’s length goes. We’ll see.

Chris Pine is out to talk about District 9, part of the thing where they talk about every Best Picture Nominee through the show. There’s 10 nominees this year, so these will be more plentiful than normal. I only mention this because I suspect it will be the only time District 9 will be talked about tonight.

Man, Baldwin looked like he was eating glass when he said that thing about Tina Fey reviving his career. She and Robert Downey Jr. have a nice little bit together introducing Best Original Screenplay. But I just can't take Tina Fey seriously giving these little voiceover stage directions. I assume this is Tarantino's to lose…except he just lost to Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker. I’m pleasantly surprised (not that I have anything bad to say about Tarantino’s work in Inglourious Basterds, probably his best film yet), as it’s a fantastic movie (regular readers know I’ve been raving about The Hurt Locker since the summer), and journalists just don’t win enough Oscars. A nice, humble little speech from Boal, and The Hurt Locker has its first Oscar. I am stoked.

Wow, is Molly Ringwald a giant, or is Matthew Broderick really short? They're out for a tribute to John Hughes, which is a sweet little segment that does the job well. And look at that young Alec Baldwin!

Man, it is beyond weird seeing all these actors from old John Hughes movies all grown up. It’s cool that they got them all back for this, but that cut from 2010 Anthony Michael Hall to 2010 Judd Nelson was rough.

I like this little segment about short films (pretty smart to explain the significance of the “other” awards the Oscar producers make the public sit through to see the awards they actually care about), though it seems a little defensive, a two-minute piece justifying the short awards’ placement on the main show. And seconds after thinking to myself that this Logorama thing looks sort of cool, it ends up winning. Not a bad speech either, by some French guy, but there’s that inescapable feeling that this pleasant, charming man who is obviously experiencing one of the high points of his professional life is about to get played off the stage by the band any second.

The second the fat lady interrupts the black dude his acceptance speech after Music by Prudence wins best documentary short, I realize this is gonna get ugly. And lo and behold it does: we’re treated to a rambling, unintelligible speech by someone who interrupted the guy holding the award, ending with the evening’s first uncomfortable music play-off. Ugh. People who win the minor awards, while I understand they’re super stoked about winning, need to realize that nobody wants to spend three or four minutes listening to the thoughts of the guy who wins best animated short or best sound editing. These two guys who just won for best live action short film was just brutal. Two out of the three speeches for the shorts awards ended awkwardly, and I’m wondering once again why they’re even on the main telecast.

Ben Stiller comes out dressed as an alien from Avatar for a joke that seems sort of expected. But Stiller, as usual, sells it pretty well; the joke, somewhat wisely, is based on the fact that he looks like an idiot. Star Trek just won for best makeup, and I’m starting to doubt in my abilities to keep this whole thing interesting for the duration of the night.

I love that Jeff Bridges (a.k.a. The Dude from The Big Lebowski) introduces the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man in the best picture montage. Is only one of the Coens in attendance? That’s crazy. I don’t even know which one that is. Ethan?

Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams are out to present Best Adapted Screenplay. Ooh, I forgot that In The Loop was up for best adapted screenplay! I finally saw that a few weeks ago, it’s brilliant. But it’s District 9 that I’m really rooting for. And Push wins, of course. I forgot that that movie needs to win stuff because it won’t get any of the “major” awards, like best picture. Man this guy looks emotional. He sounds like he's reading a monologue from a play. It’s gonna be so awkward when the band starts playing him off. Actually that didn't happen, he managed to end it quite gracefully. I’m impressed, and I need to see this Push business.

Queen Latifah is out for a thing about the governor’s awards, which I guess are four lifetime achievement-type awards. Awesome that Roger Corman has a Oscar now. Looks like everyone had a great time at that thing, everyone seemed drunk. Lauren Bacall and Roger Corman are getting a standing ovation until the announcer tells them to stop by bringing out Robin Williams. This is probably going to be painful.

It’s time for best supporting actress. Penelope Cruz still feels like a token nomination for Nine, a film that was clearly meant to be a big Oscar deal, but now the producers get to say it was nominated for something. And I’ve already ranted enough in this space about how Mélanie Laurent from Inglourious Basterds was robbed. Mo’nique wins, which makes me 2-0, and for some reason they cut to mostly black actors (many of whom, as far as I know, were not her co-stars in Precious, like Samuel L. Jackson) during her speech.

My Pick: Mo’nique
I am: Right. 2-0!

Avatar just won its first Oscar, for best art direction. Hoo boy, someone started their speech with “13 years ago, the doctors told me I wouldn’t survive…” pretty much daring the producers to play him offstage, and all but guaranteeing emotional applause. Well played, sir. Well played.

The scientists who keep Sarah Jessica Parker looking younger than 60 are working overtime tonight, but really, there’s only so much you can do for a hideous witch-woman like that. She and Tom Ford are out to present Best Costume Design, which goes to The Young Victoria. I’m sure it’s a fine film and the costume designers all worked hard, but I don't care.

The music they keep playing after they hand out awards keeps reminding me of ‘Love Hurts’ by Nazareth, which is incredibly distracting.

Cute little Paranormal Activity bit with Martin and Baldwin, but I expected it to go somewhere. Instead it basically just says to the audience “Hey, everyone, remember Paranormal Activity?”

Man, speaking of voids of charisma, two moppets from Twilight are out for a montage paying tribute to horror films. Hey, what are the chances that the Oscar people thing the Twilight movies are horror movies? Well, they included a shot of it in the montage, so I guess so. Too bad, it was an otherwise cool bit, even though I’m not sure I see the point. Someone decided to devote a couple of minutes to a montage of horror movies, and now that's done, the horror movies have officially been acknowledged and we can all move on? Also, I really, really hate the Twilight girl. It can’t be good that I get this irrationally angry when a person appears on my TV. Health-wise, I mean.

The Hurt Locker wins for best sound editing, which is cool, as that movie has pretty good sound editing (having a semi-decent sound system helps me notice stuff like this), and it’s more hardware for The Hurt Locker, so, aces. Nice short speech too, no complaints here.

The Hurt Locker wins again for best sound mixing, which means they have to fetch the guy who just won two seconds ago from the back to accept another award. Great stuff. I hope this is the beginning of a trend for the night.

For some reason they play the E.T. theme when Elizabeth Banks comes out to mention that they handed out some technical awards last night. Not really sure what the point of that was, either the E.T. thing or the technical awards mention, as they don’t even say who won what.

Is John Travolta wearing jeans? Did he not know about tonight’s show? I’m starting to wonder what it’s gonna take for Quentin Tarantino to win an Oscar. I guess Inglourious Basterds won’t be his The Departed after all.

Avatar wins for best cinematography, and during cinematographer Mauro Fiore’s speech it cuts to Stephen Lang, probably the only human in Avatar worthy of any acting recognition.

It’s time for the annual Oscar Death Montage. Patrick Swayze kicks off this year’s morbid “Who Gets the Most Applause?” sweepstakes. Oh man, I forgot Ron Silver died this year. Michael Jackson made the cut this year, which seems to bend the rules a little bit, but Farrah Fawcett (who was an actual actor and died the same day) isn’t even mentioned. Stay classy, Oscars.

Jennifer Lopez and Sam Worthington may the oddest presenter couple this year, and what they’re presenting is even odder, a montage of best original score done as an a series of interpretive breakdance numbers. I’m pretty sure I made a very similar joke last year, but if anyone's curious, what is happening on my television right this moment is exactly what people hate about the Oscar telecast. This is just absurd.

The Avatar number just pushed this breakdance number over the top into “among the silliest things I’ve ever seen” territory. Then Up wins best original score.

Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper are presenting together, and I want to make a joke about how both of them are bland, handsome flashes in the pan. But I can’t think of anything funny, so I just wrote that. Avatar wins best visual effects, which is one of the biggest gimmes of the whole night (except perhaps Christoph Waltz), which is a shame, because for my money, District 9 had far superior effects, if for nothing other than I just believed more in that world and in those digital characters. But it looks like Avatar is winning all the technical awards, and I won’t pretend it didn’t have great effects. Can’t argue with the biggest movie of all time, I guess.

I forgot Alec Baldwin was co-hosting this thing. I guess they have these big chunks of the show without the host now (I vaguely recall something similar happening last year, when Hugh Jackman vanished for like 40 minutes or something), or in this case, hosts. I feel like we’re in the home stretch for some reason, and I also think I’m probably just fooling myself.

The Cove wins best documentary, underscoring my need to see that movie. Also, Fisher Stevens just won an Academy Award. Tonight is weird. Man, they are playing people off mercilessly tonight. That’s three times tonight that I’ve been moderately embarrassed for the people onstage.

Tyler Perry is annoying.

The Hurt Locker
just won for best editing. I’m starting to think it’ll win all the major awards it’s up for. I wish I’d picked The Hurt Locker for best picture instead of Avatar, because then I think I’d be looking at a clean sweep in terms of my predictions. But no, I had to get all cynical and assume the Academy would split the Best Director and Best Picture awards to give both The Hurt Locker and Avatar some love. If only I’d gone with my heart.

My digital TV guide says the show will be over in 10 minutes, but I suspect that will not be the case. Quentin Tarantino and Pedro Almodóvar present best foreign language film. I’ve got to see this A Prophet movie, I’ve heard only insanely good things about it. An Argetinian film called The Secret In Their Eyes wins, and the guy accepting the award makes the funniest Avatar joke of the night, thanking the Academy for not considering Na’vi a foreign language. He doesn’t get any laughs.

Kathy Bates classes up the joint and sells Avatar as a legit contender for best movie of the year. Still not buying it. But I think the major awards are up next, which is good, because I am getting tired.

They’re doing that weird gang-presenter thing from last year again, bringing out a bunch of co-stars to talk about the nominees for best actor. And someone needs to find out what demon Michelle Pfeiffer made a bargain with, because she does not look however old she’s supposed to be. (I can’t believe we’re minutes away from Tron: Legacy officially starring an Oscar winner!) The problem with this system, though it is nice (Pfeiffer's tribute to Bridges was particularly touching), is that it takes several minutes to hand out one award. Also, these are such nice, warm tributes that it’ll seem sort of unfortunate that in about three minutes, four of these guys are going to be losers. And Tim Robbins is hilarious.

They’re still handing out best actor, except now Kate Winslet is doing it. They tricked me into thinking this would come in at a reasonable length again. Jeff Bridges wins, which is great, even though I haven’t seen Crazy Heart. He's an incredibly talented actor, and he deserves an Oscar. The Dude just won an Academy Award, and delivers a wonderfully Dude-like acceptance speech. Awesome.

My Pick: Jeff Bridges
I am: Right. 3-0.

Now it’s time to do this whole thing again with best actress. These things are actually very sweet and effective, particularly Oprah Winfrey’s tribute to Gabourey Sidibe from Precious. Sandra Bullock wins, surprising almost nobody. Bullock proves herself a class act with her speech, saying nice things about everyone else in the category. I don’t even really like Sandra Bullock, but that was the best Oscar speech I’ve seen in a while?

My Pick: Sandra Bullock
I am: Right. 4-0.

Two awards to go! Babra Streisand is out to present best director. The Academy makes my night by giving it to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. The director of Near Dark and Point Break, two of my favourite movies of all time, just won an Oscar. Cameron looks legitimately thrilled for his ex-wife, and Bigelow herself seems absolutely blown away. I get cynical about the Oscars every year, but every time I’m ready to write them off, the Academy pulls through and gives awards to truly great movies like No Country for Old Men or, in this year’s case, The Hurt Locker. If it wins best picture, my clean sweep is ruined, but I don’t care.

My Pick: Kathryn Bigelow
I am: Right. 5-0.

Tom Hanks literally jogs onstage to announce that The Hurt Locker is the winner for best picture. I don’t remember the last time a movie so deserved all the awards (well, I guess No Country winning). I got excited about The Hurt Locker the second I heard about it a couple of years ago, just because it was a new Kathryn Bigelow movie, so the idea that I just watched her win a bunch of Oscars is pretty nuts. Sometimes there’s justice in the universe.

My Pick: Avatar
I am:
Wrong, for the first and only time tonight. 5-1.

12:00 am
Well, that’s the show, and it’s well past my bedtime. Not only did I come one pick away from being perfect on the big six awards, but I also accurately predicted that the show would go long.

I feel like this wasn’t as funny and clever as last year’s, but the more I think about it the more I realize it’s just a combination of my actually being satisfied with most of the major winners (particularly The Hurt Locker) and the show being boring. Not a lot of train-wreck moments, at least not ones I could write something clever about (that breakdancing thing was just brutal), and the show, overall, left quite a lot to be desired after, I thought, a pretty strong start.

The good news is, I went 5-1 after going 3-3 last year, so I guess it does make a difference when I actually see the nominated films. I have no idea what next years’ crop of movies will be like, obviously, but if it’s as solid a field as this year’s contenders (The Hurt Locker, District 9 and Inglourious Basterds were all up for multiple awards, and were my top three movies of last year), then I’ll take a boring show for some genuinely great films winning awards.

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