Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscar 2008

The Oscars this year were a classy show, with awards spread across 11 deserving films, some very low budget (Juno cost only a few million, and the tiny Irish film Once cost way under $1million). All four acting awards went to non-Americans - first time it's happened since 1964 (when Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, Peter Ustinov and Lila Kedrova won). Marion Cotillard winning a Best Actress award made her the first French performer to receive one since Simone Signoret back in 1960. And Jon Stewart (whom I have a definite soft spot for) did a pretty good job as host.
Unfortunately all this class meant the show got some of the show's lowest ratings ever in the USA (possibly THE lowest ever - they're still checking). So if the producers get desperate next year and give a showfull of tacky stunts (nominated songs performed by Paris Hilton duetting with Michael Jackson, with awards announced by that gay guy off the internet who screams and cries about Britney Spears) then we'll know why.
* Channel 9 didn't start the broadcast till 8:30pm. As there was no red-carpet special at 7:30, I thought we were safe from Richard Wilkins, but sadly not so. My way of coping with him is to have the sound turned off, so you can still watch the stars (as they try to work out whether he's got anything meaningful to ask them, then try to remove themselves from his presence as quickly as possible without appearing too rude). It's also important to stay away from the pre-recorded interviews with the stylists and trainers and hairdressers to the stars, especially that Australian git Napoleon who keeps popping up unpleasantly in all kinds of places. With no sound from the tv for half an hour, I thought some film music might fill the silence. 30 minutes of the soundtrack from Xanadu was the result, and I blame the choosing of this particular cd on the sugar rush from the packet of raspberry-filled Tim Tams I'd started to consume.
* Poor Johnny Depp, nominated for the third time, and lost again. As Cade says, maybe the fact that he never wins will help him keep his 'Hollywood outsider' edge. But if taking on the Sweeney Todd role, with all that singing and that truly terrific hair didn't work for him, I'm not sure what it'd take for him to get a little gold man.
* Not that it wasn't good to see Daniel Day Lewis win. There Will Be Blood had lots of showy 'acting' scenes, and he obviously threw himself deeply into the role. So good for him.
* Having so many non-americans winning awards made for lower star-wattage, but more variety in the acceptances. Javier Bardem wanted to say something to his mum in Spanish. Tilda Swinton thanked her co-star George Clooneyand commented on his days as a caped crusader in a nippled Batman suit. And Marion Cotillard appeared quite over the moon.
* It was a treat to see a French actress win for once. I didn't think the voters would do it. Marion was great in La Vie En Rose, but unfortunately it does continue the trend of handing out Oscars to actors playing famous folks (Jamie Foxx in Ray, Reese Witherspoon in Walk The Line, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote, Cate Blanchett in The Aviator, Helen Mirren in The Queen). Maybe it's just a sign that complex fictional roles are hardto come by these days?
* The Coen's won the directing and Best Picture awards, but they seemed as unsurprised by it as everyone else. Still, they seem nice boys.
* Diablo Cody won a Screenplay award for her first film Juno. She looked all sparkled up for an awards night, and was said to have borrowed a pair of $1million shoes to wear walking down the red carpet. So she looked the part, and seemed to have travelled the road from being an 'exotic dancer' to 'academy award winner' with ease. But she became very emotional during her acceptance speech. She said a line that's often used - "I especially want to thank my fellow nominees because I worship you guys and I'm learning from you every day" but said it with passion and seemed to mean it 100%. She was struggling by the time she got to the end of her speech, and rushed out this - "And most of all, I want to thank my family for loving me exactly the way I am." before starting to break up and having to leave the stage in a rush. I couldn't tell from her face whether she was furious with herself or just trying not to break down in tears, but she was highly wrought up. Was the most moving moment of the night.
* Every year they have a number of montages, usually showing scenes from famous films. One of the nice moments of the night was when Jon Stewart gave some examples of what things might look like if the whole show was made up of montages - which included a short montage entitled 'Bad Dreams -The Oscars Salute!", a montage of scenes from famous films where people wake up in bed, frightened after a bad dream. Ahhh! Argh! Oh!
* The songs! A sweet, fairly simple number from Once won, but not before performances of 3 nominated songs from the Disney film Ella Enchanted, allof which might have been fine in the film but were deadly on stage. They were the kind of cheesy Disney-pastiche songs that might accompany a lunchtime parade at Disneyland, but without the fun of actually being there. Why don't they write decent songs for movies anymore?
* It felt like the oldies were a little ignored. Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, and Helen Mirren, were among the few older stars to get a showing on stage, while some others spent the night sitting in the audience (Julie Christie, Dennis Hopper, Faye Dunaway, Sissy Spacek, Jane Russell...). Being the 80th Oscars, I'd thought they would have made more of a thing of past winners. Till the writer's strike was sorted out a few weeks ago, there was always a chance the show wasn't going to go on, so maybe the organising of the show was a little rushed? I'll stick with that idea, because otherwise I'll have to be offended on behalf of everyone wrinkly in Hollywood!
* The Last award, the big Best Picture, was accepted by the Coen brothers, and big-time producer Scott Rudin. His final words were to "my partner, John Barlow. Without you, honey, this is just hardware". In previous years, that kind of gay abandon would only have been expected from the out-of-towners. So presumably, from now on in, following Jodie Foster's lead perhaps, LA gay folk are going to gush about their partners as much as the straighties at these things.
* Couldn't see Carrie Fisher's name amongst the show's writing credits thisyear :-( I hope it's just that she had something else on. I wouldn't want to think The Academy has dumped Princess Leia!
* Cate Blanchett beat Nicole Kidman at being the most pregnant Australian, though both tummies seem to be coming along nicely.
* Everyone looked pretty, like anyone could care less. Only bad dress I saw on stage was sitting on Jennifer Hudson. Maybe they should bring some 'reality tv' style competition into it next year by obliging all actresses to dress themselves for under $30. That would be something to see.

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