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Entries in Oscars (11) (327)

Tuesday
Feb282012

Tues Top Ten Pt 1: Takeaways from the 84th Oscars

We love to do top tens on Tuesdays and more of them will be coming your way soon. Today's top ten is not strictly ascending, some of these moments I loved and some I decidedly did not but they're ten things that I'm thinking about today and that I imagine will always come up when I think of the 84th Oscars.

TOP TEN TAKEAWAYS
Things to remember, for better and for worse, from the 84th Oscars

10 Direction is Everything With Dance
When I first heard they were doing a Cirque Du Soleil number at the Oscars, I groaned. Not that I don't enjoy the odd acrobatic but why at the Oscars? If you want it to be a variety show, stop being so inexcusably high and mighty about the Original Song category (that music branch and those rules. sigh) and start nominating 5 songs each year like in every other category. There are several songs this year that might have made for great ceremony moments. But when it began with that graceful, hypnotic liftoff via North by Northwest, my spirit lifted off with the twinned Cary Grants And then crashed back down to earth when I realized that the guy in the control booth had ADD and felt it necessary to show me closeups during big elaborately choreographed acrobats, which made for entirely confusing moments. Sometimes you couldn't even tell what film clips they were dancing to.

There's a certain cross-section of film critics that have been so cynical and mean spirited about our Best Picture, The Artist, that you'd think it was directed by Ed Wood, Alan Smithee or Michael Bay. They've been so weirdly hyperbolic about their hatred that it's been hard to actually hear an argument within the bile. But the Cirque Du Soleil number only served to illustrate how wise Michel Hazanavicius was with the physicality of The Artist, especially in its last glorious continuous take moments where you could see (wait for it) ENTIRE BODIES DANCING. This is quite possibly the simplest visual performance concept of all, that to understand / absorb / fully enjoy a dance, you have to see the body. It's such a simple concept that 96% of the (modern) time, directors screw it up. Well done Hazanavicius. Should the Oscars choose to ever have musical numbers again, please hire a control booth with less panicy "ohmygodthey'llgetbored" insecurities. It's hardly ever boring to watch great dancing / acrobatics / performances. It's only boring when you can't see them and are forced again and again to look at one particular detail at the expense of the whole.

09 David Fincher's Oscar Stride
With Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall's semi-surprise win in film editing for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (I predicted it as the "spoiler" should there be one and now of course I wish I'd just gone for it fully) they achieved an Oscar miracle: it's the first back-to-back editing Oscar since 1935/1936 when Ralph Dawson took home prizes for A Midsummer Night's Dream and Anthony Adverse. Baxter and Wall won last year for The Social Network and though they really are superb editors, what this most definitely illustrates (along with the great guild showing for Dragon Tattoo) is that David Fincher has really hit his stride with the Academy. It took them a long time to get there but now that they're there expect every one of his films to win nominations in some category or another. It was hard not to view the clip selection for Rooney Mara as the Academy own cheeky response to Fincher's preemptory quipping about his movie's AMPAS fate.


There's too much anal rape in this movie to get nominated."

 

08 Leggy Angelina
Angelina has always felt a bit like a cartoon version of a movie star, so overripe, so perfectly visual. The best part is that she knows it. Her strut to standing hip swung leg out pose was so deliciously diva that it must be celebrated (and mocked by the next Oscar winner) immediately thereafter.

07 Movie Stars Talking About Movies Is Love.
King Kong Morgan Freeman talking King Kong. Brad's amusing description of The Gargantuans. Adam Sandler talking James Bond and Sean Connery's chest hair and saying "can i please do that?" (um which part?) And most of all Gabby Sidibe marveling over "My Left Foot" (who knew?) we love this sort of thing.

"Nader & Simin" watching Farhadi accept the Oscar

06 Art is Global. Art is Political. Art is Good For the World.
Asghar Farhadi and cast were present and Iran won its first Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Farhadi got political in his speech and we're glad he did. Though some of the sentiment was lost in his English, we appreciate any reminder that respectful discourse and rich cultural exchange is possible and admirable, especially in the face of so much lowest common denominator politics. So many politicians these days play on people's worst instincts toward hostility and resentment for all, never thinking through the effects of war mongering rhetoric.

But back to the movies. We hope that A Separation marks a turning point and the category that used to give us the Bergmans and the Fellinis of the world will return to its roots and start giving statues to the masterpieces again. What a great start.

FIVE MORE TO GO - from Jessica to Emma Stone.
But what's your take on these five topics?

Tuesday
Feb282012

Curio: Oscar Food 2012

Alexa here. When my friend Mike found out that I would be making a pie in honor of this year's Oscars, he made some quick guesses as to the theme: 

  • Black and white for The Artist?
  • Pineapple coconut for The Descendants?
  • Ringling Bros clown cream pie for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?
  • Humble Pie by Alabama for The Help?
  • A Trip To The Moon cheesecake for Hugo?
  • French Silk pie for Midnight in Paris?
  • Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet for Moneyball?
  • Pi for The Tree of Life?
  • Cowpie for War Horse

I quickly wished I had the energy to make nine pies instead of just one. In that spirit, here are some great Oscar-themed goodies I've seen around the web, along with the pie I ended up with. Feel free to share your own menu cleverness in the comments.

Of all the Oscar recipe ideas I've seen, I thought these Oscar-themed dogs were best (but then again I'm from Chicago, where encased meat is king). From the top: The Help Southern fried chicken sausage dog, The Artist old-time Hollywood dog, Midnight in Paris Parisian Pâté dog, The Descendants Hawaii dog with grilled Pineapple and Sriracha, Hugo watch dog, War Horse bruised and bleeding dog, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close NYC dog with mustard and sauerkraut, The Tree of Life dog with spinach, and a simple ballpark dog for Moneyball.

Click for yummy desserts... 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb272012

Internal Conflict & Streep's Third Oscar

My own personal history with the Oscar stretches back to the early 80s but there's so much self-mythologizing about it that I sometimes get confused about when I finally figured out What It Was. I know with certainty that the first ceremony I was aware of was in Spring 1983 because I had seen Gandhi, Tootsie and E.T. with my parents. But if I watched I remember nothing from that ceremony. My first sure Oscar ceremony memory was watching Shirley Maclaine win Best Actress for Terms of Endearment (which I hadn't seen). I remember being excited for Maclaine who I already loved but I don't remember why (probably TV airings of musicals?) and I remember being super excited by Meryl's Silkwood clip. Before I ever knew Meryl Streep as an actress -- her movies were always rated R and I wasn't allowed to see them -- I knew her as The Great Oscar Winning Actress.  I think my first Meryl movie in the theater was Out of Africa (1985) and I desperately wanted her to win her third Oscar now that we were well acquainted.

Meryl finally wins her third

When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going 'OH nooooo, oh come on. why Her? Again?' You know? But whatever.

First, I'm going to thank Don because when you thank your husband at the end of the speech they play him out with the music and I want him to know that everything I value most in our lives you've given me. And now secondly, my other partner, 37 years ago my first play in NYC i met the great hairstylist and makeup artist Roy Helland and we worked together pretty continuously since the day we clapped eyes on each other. His first film with me was Sophie's Choice and all the way up to tonight when he won for his beautiful work on The Iron Lady thirty years later EVERY SINGLE MOVIE IN BETWEEN. And I just want to thank Roy but also I want to thank -- because I really understand I'll never be up here again -- I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends. I look out here and I see my life before my eyes. My old friends. My new friends.

Really this is such a great honor but the thing that counts the most with me is the friendship and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together. My friends thank you, all of you, departed and here for this, you know, inexplicably wonderful career. Thank you so much. Thank you.

I waited and waited and waited and waited and waited. I waited through backlashes, box office poison, comebacks, astounding technical biopic work (Cry in the Dark), and mysteriously moving original creations (The Hours), through thrilling musical/comedy (Postcards from the Edge), improbable rebirth as box office mega-sensation (Devil Wears Prada), less thrilling musical/comedy (Mamma Mia!). I wasn't always rooting for her but I was always rooting for her if you know what I mean.

My heart danced a bit when she spoke, just a bit since I was upset. And I laughed at her psychic opening (you know that's true!) and teared up at what sounded like a lifetime achievement speech which is what it essentially was. Meryl finally won her third.

Be careful what you wish for.

Two great actresses. Only one statue.

Though I've desperately wanted Meryl Streep to have a third Oscar -- who deserved a third more? -- it became suddenly tied up with my single biggest Oscar pet peeve (the Academy's relentless all-devouring soul-crushing belief that biopic mimicry is the highest form of acting) and tied up with the defeat of a new(ish) actress who I genuinely think is one of the greats... just without the roles to continue proving it.

Though I find roughly half of the regular charges of racism levelled at the Academy tiresome and ill thought out (it has to be about the movies that are released and the performances inside of them or it holds no water -- that's all Oscar has to choose from!) it's hard not to look at Viola's loss and bemoan Oscar's (and Hollywood's) resistance to women of color.

Here we had a great actress headlining a major blockbuster hit, giving an astoundingly deep, moving performance and singlehandedly elevating her movie into the substantive kind that gets nominated for Best Picture (we can argue all we like about how "substantive" The Help is and how much other actresses contributed but it's Viola that gave the movie its only sharp edges and its soul and made it however substantive that it is). She also managed to win a few key awards and stay in the press for months and months and months on end.

It's hard to imagine all those plusses and still coming up empty-handed on Oscar night, especially in favor of a previous winner in a movie that no one likes. It's also hard to imagine a year like Viola had not being followed by major offers for major roles but so far... crickets. And this last is more anger-making than an Oscar loss, and something we'd all hoped an Oscar win might've helped to overcome... though this is perhaps wishful thinking; Hollywood is as resistant to great black actresses as the Oscars which reflect them.

In some ways you can argue that it's just the luck of the draw. Meryl was always going to win a third. It was just a question of when. But it's hard to look at the way Meryl's third was shoved aside for a Movie Star Queen doing her best but hardly statue-worthy work just two years ago, and it's hard to look at other performers who've sailed to Oscars with ease that aren't anything like Viola Davis's caliber.

In Halle Berry's Monster's Ball Oscar-winning speech she spoke movingly of her historic moment as the first Best Actress of color.

This moment is for Dorothy Dandrige, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women who stand beside me Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox, and it's for every nameless faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened."

Did the door quietly swing closed again?

 

Monday
Feb272012

Gold Thread, Crystal Host, Bronze Bragging (If We Must)

1. Open (Gold) Thread! What's one thing you most want to discuss in the post-mortem?
Besides the [ahem] obvious. Here's the schedule...

Tonight & Tomorrow
Key Moments, Internal Conflict, Good Speech, Final Takeaway
Wednesday

Fashion Wrap up.

2. Billy's Return?
One of the online Oscar sports each year is arguing about how well the Oscar Host did? I confess that this isn't an area that ever sparks much from me in terms of critique or conversation since The Host(s) isn't at all why I watch the show. But how'd you think he did?

I thought Reasonably Fine Not Special though there was an awful lot of asking for assurance that he was 'reasonably fine,' right? A lot of "wasn't that amazing/beautiful/special?" Um... if you say so, Billy.

3. How'd you do on your predictions?
I scored a not-embarrassing but hardly statue worthy 17/24. I assume this puts me outside the "shortlist" of Best Predictors, no medals for me. Not even bronze. I've been snubbed... by myself and my wishful / pessimistic thinking stumbles (either can get you into trouble). If you beat me, feel free to brag about it in the comments.

Sunday
Feb262012

Oscar Night is Here. Live-Tweeting

Each year we stress ourselves out with live blogging of all the big events but for Oscar... Since it's my favorite holiday I usually throw a party and recap later right here. Tonight I'm taking a cue from the fatigue I see all over the red carpet. As I turned on the TV Berenice Bejo had the microphone in her face. Why are the Oscars so special?

Because it's the last one."

While that's a genuine truth, "the last one" came out with something like a squinting faraway desperation for a week in bed. The cast and crew of The Artist have been working it for months you have to admit.

They're so committed I wouldn't be surprised to have seen them helping to roll out the red carpet. Bejo's high heel imprints are still faintly visible on red carpets all over the state.

I am party-less so I'll be live tweeting. Something more low key. I miss so much when I'm typing and photoshopping and polling and everything all at once. And I don't wanna miss the Oscars. I'll update this post a few times during the night with my tweets as guide so refresh your screen.

Red Carpet

• I was hoping that Michelle would come as Marilyn but she's very Michelle.

• Tate Taylor (The Help) so handsome. And I just noticed for the 1st time this morning that he's one of Steenburgen's sycophants in The Help.

• E! Claims "Total Departure!" for Rooney Mara because she's in white not black. Get back to me when she's in a pink ball gown
It's a little chilly"
-Rooney Mara
... weather and personality.
• Best Actress Fashion Watch. Thus far Davis > Close > Williams > Mara. Not exactly the order I expected. Where's Streep?


• Tate Taylor (The Help) so handsome. And I just noticed for the 1st time this morning that he's one of Steenburgen's sycophants in THE HELP

• "the man who loved best actresses too much" that'll be the title of my self-help book if i ever get help.

• Jessica Chastain looks amazing but better than the dress is that unexpectedly girlie bouncy personality . she brought her Nana!
"I love the energy, the light, the american faces and the cinammon rolls"

-Jean Dujardin

• It'll be hard to top Jean Dujardin's red carpet quote about his awards season experience.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb262012

It's Oscar Day. Are You Prepared For Guests?

The day has finally arrived! Have you finished all your last minute preparations? Made your final predictions? Bought all your party gifts and decor?

Baked all your chocolate pies and other Best Picture themed foods?

If Anxiety, Excitement, Prediction Jitters, Star Lust, and Indifference were all competing in the same category for "Best Usurping Of Your Mood," which would win?

 

Saturday
Feb252012

Randomness: Oscars, Silents, Women Helmers, Loser Gifs

Salon on the reinvention of Brad Pitt. Good history piece / career overview
Vulture Best Pictures as infographics
Pajiba "interviews" Amanda Seyfried about her latest hacktress movie Gone.
NPR Monkey See smart provocative piece on the politics of Warrior (2011)
New York 100 pictures of Meryl Streep through the years. She ages backwards in this gallery
IMDb a gallery of your acting nominees in and out of character

My New Plaid Pants has my favorite "which is hotter?" of all time featuring (American Psycho)
Low Resolution's top ten films of 2011. Not your average top 10 list.
Some Came Running objects to the frequent comparisons of Singin' in the Rain and The Artist
Sunset Gun, now married to Guy Maddin -- is this the first time a film critic has married a director? trivia experts? -- explains his latest project, seances if you will to remake lost silent films.
Booby Finger How To Watch The Oscars a very snarky guide if you're into that sorta thing

Film Festivals Are Infinite
With Skyfall just around the corner I find myself thinking of 007 James Bond quite often and then Pierce Brosnan popped up in my inbox. Have you ever heard of Cinemagic? It's a film festival / workshop type thing for young people interested in filmmaking. (I'm reasonably confident that someone starts a new film festival every day of each year in the 21st century; they are infinite). It's Irish born but it's been expanding and Pierce Brosnan is a celebrity supporter.

Should I revisit all the Bond films this year. I'm torn on how to honor the 50th anniversary.

Our Apologies To 50% of the World's Population
Between the still pervasive global problems of sexist, patriarchal and theocratic governments and cultures and religions that love to treat women like shit, and the latest hypocrisies of the ever sick-making US Republican party ("we believe in small government except when it comes to war-making and your personal morality so hold still while we insert this probe into your vagina without your consent!") women just can't catch a break lately. So why not share this video from IndieWire's Women in Hollywood blog about the female directed movies Oscar didn't love.

 

It's interesting how many quality female-helmed films there were this past year and I absolutely support the notion that we need more female directors. But I also think it's worth being realistic and saying that none of these films would have won Oscar attention even if their directors had penises. Not that kind of movie(s).

Sally Kirkland when Cher wins. Love ya, SallyWhat you still need more Oscarable links? Jesus!
24 Frames interesting bit about Alfre Woodard's activism within AMPAS
Vulture Best Pictures as infographics
In Contention Guy defends The Artist ... and has money on it.
Gawker on Netflix user reviews of Best Pictures
Slate Acceptance Speeches! Yes, I linked / wrote it but wheeee interactive

Finally... fourfour has a "how they lost" an animated gif wall of Oscar name-reading and the instant smiling that follows. I don't know what caused it but I kind of think nominees are better at hiding their feelings in today's Oscar world which makes it less fun.

Naturally I love this gif wall though my favorite isn't listed. So here it is again for you because it's my preferred method of self-flagellation.

I love you Kathleen!

I'm aware that this post is extremely scattered but it's the day before the Oscars. I'm all over the place with anxiety!

Friday
Feb242012

Final Oscar Predictions: Oui, It's "The Artist" 

We'll talk more this weekend but I want to get this posted. I'll be applauding loudly when The Artist wins. Everyone always complains that Oscar doesn't appreciate comedies and then when they do, everyone always screams "trifle!" with holier than thou disgust; the Academy can't win! But this (presumed) winner is a beauty. All twinkly-eyed, big hearted and (mostly) light on its feet. The only real question seems to be how many Oscars will it win. I'm guessing seven... though three of those guesses are easy to see flopping (Actor, Costumes, Cinematography). I don't see it any scenario where it wins Art Direction, Supporting Actress or Screenplay so I'm guessing seven is the maximum. Since you can make such a viable argument for literally any of the five nominees to win Costume Design, I'm guessing the showiness / baitiness of all of them will tip things ever so slightly into the Artist column, which is also I think what's going in Cinematography. I just can't quite believe that "El Chivo" will finally win the gold he's deserved for so long (the latest chance being with The Tree of Life). I've highlighted the true nailbiter categories in red; if you get them right you win the Office Pool.

Best Picture
Will Win: The Artist
SpoilerThe Descendants and The Help are the only films with spoiler heat but even if you try and talk yourself into them, you think you're lying right?
Should Win: Haters gon' hate but The Artist is a beautiful funny rare gift. 

Best Director
Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Spoiler: Martin Scorsese started precursor season strong with Hugo but the movie has been cooling so I have to wonder if it isn't Alexander Payne in second position for The Descendants
Should Win: I'll clap loudly for Hazanavicius but if they decide not to give the Artist everything, a surprise career win for Terrence Malick would be delicious

all categories after the jump...

Click to read more ...