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Entries in Oscars (11) (327)

Tuesday
Feb282012

Tues Top Ten Pt 2: 84th Oscar Takeaways

It's (almost) all over but the dresses. But first we're counting down the ten takeaways from Oscar's 84th year. Your takeaways may vary of course but these are the ten things I expect I'll keep thinking about beyond the big night....

10 Direction is Everything
09 Fincher's Oscar Stride
08 Leggy Angelina Jolie
07 Movie Stars on Movies
06 A Separation's Win


Jessica and her Nana

05 Jessica Chastain is a Girly Girl
Just when we started thinking of her as a Serious Serious Actress she showed up in awards season all giggling, bouncy, girlish. This doesn't mean she isn't a serious actor of course but it was rather a shock, even after speaking with her. Celia Foote's uninhibited enthusiasm in The Help might be the closest we've seen to the real woman behind the chameleon. This impression continued on Oscar night when she brought her Nana and went all womanchild shy and cuddly after her clip. Later during the Best Actress presentation she looked enormously worried for Viola Davis. No wonder she's an actress; her face registers every flush of big feeling. 

04 Emmanuel Lubezki Is Never Going To Win an Oscar
I was more sure that "Chivo" aka Emmanuel Lubezki would lose the cinematography Oscar for The Tree of Life than I was sure who would win it. I predicted The Artist but the prize went to Robert Richardson (Oscar #3) for Hugo.  Lately AMPAS seems much more interested in cinematography as a complicated technical profession rather than a spiritual one that's all about light and tone and feeling. For the past three years Oscar has definitely preferred heavily processed CGI behemoths here. We hope they one day get back to movies that feel crafted by hand... and God. Like There Will Be Blood (which miraculously won).

Lubezki is brilliant but it's lost on the general voters. At least the cinematography branch knows his worth. He has the unique distinction of being nominated with frequency despite rarely lensing Best Picture nominees (which is rare) and despite not being inextricably tied to any one specific filmmaker (also rare). His nominations, all of them deserved (rarer still!), come from filmmakers as diverse as Alfonso Cuaron, Terrence Malick and Tim Burton.


03 Best Presenter: Emma Stone
Easy A was such a confident comic star turn that it was inevitable that she would ascend but it's delightful that she's just as funny at the big show as on the big screen. Entering the stage to present strenuously waving, emphatically gesturing, widely grinning, Emma Stone was so keyed up you had to ask if she was for real. Before she spoke you were caught for an instant on the line between 'is this a skit? and 'ohmygod she is really into this' which, as it turns out, was the skit.

We are here tonight to present the award for visual effectsTHIS IS MY FIRST TIME PRESENTING AN AWARD. Hiiiiiii. 

Waitwaitwaitwait let's stop rushing. We should have some banter.

What joy. Emma is just as funny as herself. Or maybe as Anne Hathaway, if you take this as a comic send up of that ill fated Oscar hosting last year. (In tonight's performance Ben Stiller will be playing the supporting of the less stoned but equally dull James Franco there only to bring his partner down). From Stone's unbridled enthusiasm to her ADD Show Person energy to the spontaneous singing... Was it too Mean Girl? I am crazy in love with Anne Hathaway myself but I laughed and laughed.

(Runners up: The Bridesmaids "SCORSESE!!!!!" [knocks back drink]. It was smart to give the six of them the three short film awards as their numbers dwindled on stage. I only wish they could've had a Sound of Music send off or some comic interstitial to shoo each other off the stage 'adieu adieu to you and you and you'. Distant third: Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr in "The Presenter")

02 Meryl Streep's Third Win. Be Careful What You Wish For
As previously discussed... but also the night's best speech. (Streep would have had a rival in Christopher Plummer but for his speech being in syndication for a couple of months now)

01 They Weren't Fooling Around With 'The Year of Nostalgia'
The Oscar Producers will see your Hugo and The Artist and The Help and War Horse and The Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris and every other backwards gazing collage of deeply felt memories, shared at the movies or privately recreated by or vicariously lived through the movies and they'll raise you Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep Winning, Tom Hanks all over the place, Cameron Diaz, and Billy Crystal thawed from his cryogenic freeze. If you squint your eyes a little this ceremony took place in...1994.

What will you take away from the 84th Oscars? 
Are you already dreaming of the 85th?

Tuesday
Feb282012

The Best Oscar Press Room Photo


Jean Dujardin (aping his already famous George Clooney photo op at the Oscar luncheon) with Movie Queen Meryl.

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 ...