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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Night 2010

So, three hours and thirty-seven minutes. Not a bad length for an Oscar telecast. I don't think it was a great telecast. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin didn't do badly, but no great moments from them either. And by and large the show didn't seem to be very snappily written in those parts of it where the writing makes a difference. I'd have almost preferred more horribly bad moments in the show, if there weren't going to be any really good ones. Perhaps worst to me might have been to have Tom Hanks come on after the Best Director prize and rush to give out Best Picture. No summarization of the nominees, no real break between that and the Director acceptance speech, Tom and Kathryn almost stumble into one another. Outcome wise, most of the rewards were won by deserved winners. I hate most the years when there's some movie that does a sweep which includes winning smaller awards it doesn't really deserve. Hurt Locker did kind of sweep this year, taking 6 awards, but by and large the minor awards that came in its Best Picture wake were awards it earned. And if you weren't sure what way the winds were blowing, I wondered in the post on the Sound awards if there were any tea leaves in the fact that Hurt Locker won both of those when Avatar could certainly have taken and deserved one or even both of the two. And yes, there were tea leaves in that. I think I'll try to find time over the next week to see Hurt Locker again. It is playing still at a theatre or three in the New York area. I do wish Up in the Air had won something. The grasshopper was very good, as was the german chocolate cake. Not enough appetite for the rice pudding, will save for another day.

12:02 AM EST March 8: Well, what a great ten minutes! My blog readers know how badly I wanted Hurt Locker to win Best Picture, and it has, entering the history books as the lowest-grossing film ever to win in this category. Well-deserved, hooray! If you were wondering what Kathryn Bigelow's award for Best Director meant, you needed only to see the drop of tears in Mark Boal's eyes, the way Barbra Streisand was kind of breaking down a bit in the background as Bigelow gave her acceptance speech. I'm a little surprised myself when I look at Bigelow's filmography that I've been pulling for her tonight. The director of Blue Steel. Of Strange Days. Of Near Dark. None of these really films that are thought very much of, no matter how well they may have been received at the time. And things like Blue Steel were. So at 12:07, the show ends, this entry ends.

11:53: Getting Streisand to present the award for Best Director is, as they say, "a good get."

11:48: Sandra Bullock. No complaints. She's managed to build herself her own career to a certain extent, "or did I just wear you all down" she says. Well, if she did, good for her!

11:42: Michael Sheen. Let me plug once again the video release of The Damned United, where Sheen is wonderful.

11:36: As has been written, Crazy Heart came very close to going direct to video, and it took some footwork to get it turned around by Paramount and released by Fox. It's a shame here that four great actors had to lose, but Bridges is as deserving as any of the others. And there's no denying that director Scott Cooper coaxed a lot of good performances out of his cast.

11:33: Jeremy Renner is wearing a really nice tie. Will Jeff Bridges get more than 45 seconds?

11:28: The new producers of this year's Oscar show are keeping this very nice format for presentation of the acting awards that was one of the nicest features introduced on last year's show. This award will go to Bridges, but it is one of the deepest and best crops of acting nominees that can be imagined. Every single one of the performances honored with a nomination for Best Actor this year is a highly deserving honoree.

11:23: Hey -- today's Washington Post had IHOP coupons. Woohoo!

11:17: I haven't seen a single prediction that the Argentine film The Secret In Their Eyes would win in this category. I'm speechless, having seen only two of the five nominees, and one of those not liking at all!

11:07: And it's Hurt Locker. Which is very well edited.

11:06: Editing. Hurt Locker? Avatar? I wouldn't complain if Inglorious Basterds snuck in here because of the very taut long scenes that were central to the film. Same can be said of Hurt Locker, of course.

10:57: Clever Oscar night ad from Hyundai, using a song from The Sound of Music.

10:55: Avatar wins for Best Visual Effects. No surprise. And as I turn to the final page of the Outlook section and see the list of books scheduled for reviews in the Washington Post during the week ahead, we see that Blackout by Connie Willis will be reviewed in Thursday's paper. The cover for Blackout is fantastic. I haven't read the book; back when I had time to read more for pleasure, I can say Connie Willis was an author I often enjoyed quite a bit. Blued Moon. Blued Moon.

10:52: May the best score win! Giacchino takes his first Oscar, he deserves it, it won't be his last. He's part of the future of movie music. Alexandre Desplat is also doing some nice work. But this deserved to be Giacchino's year. He also did a great job on Star Trek.

10:50: The Up score is so darned good. I said in my review that it's the best thing in the movie, channeling the best Randy Newman, let me say is again now. Michael Giacchino did a great job for Up, a great, great, great job.

10:46: This production number for the Original Score is the kind of thing that gives the Oscar telecast a bad name. Can I finish the Washington Post Outlook section before they get around to giving the award? Which I'd like Michael Giacchino to win, for Up.

10:45: Did this Washington Post reviewer of Karl Rove's new memoir read the same book as this Washington Post columnist?

10:41. They took too long putting the screen full-screen in the In Memoriam sequence, so it was hard to tell that Patrick Swayze led off. I find to my surprise that I'm missing a feature of this feature from past years, which was to show an Academy Award winner accepting his/her Academy Award as part of the tribute clips. This is the Oscars, so why not see which of the people we're remembering tonight took home one of the golden boys?

10:35: I didn't like the movie, but there's an argument that White Ribbon is the most deserving winner for Cinematography, but it goes to Avatar.

10:32: Here's an article from the Outlook section of today's Washington Post that's worth reading. My crowning achievement in college was a paper on how the US press fawned over foreign elections going back many many decades, and this article can be seen as a kind of updated version of that. I think my paper was better, this article says "we've been in love with foreign elections for two decades now," which is wrong by around five or eight decades. But it's worth a look.

10:26. And another win for Hurt Locker in Sound Mixing. Good, I think. Any tea leaves that these two awards weren't split between the top contenders? Certainly we're not seeing an Avatar sweep, whatever else happens Hurt Locker will have a lot of Oscar wins to tout when the DVD packaging goes back to press.

10:25: Sound Mixing goes for Hurt Locker. Good. The sound was a very important part of the best scenes in this movie, much more integral in my book than in Avatar. Let's see what happens for the Sound Mixing...

10:22 Tarantino looks happier after the horror movie tribute.

10:18. The hotel video with Baldwin and Martin is another writing misfire.

10:14: Next up, the second iPad ad of the evening. If I live blog the Oscars next year will I be doing it on an iPad? Which I could more easily sit with in the recliner instead of having to sit at a desk watching the show. Well, let's check back in a year and see how the first 11 months of the iPad have changed the world, or not.

10:12: I'm not fond of how the Best Picture candidates are being presented. It's too long a shot on the person doing the intro, so we're not getting much facial language on them. The screen with the name of the movie and the producers is so far in back and direct behind the intro person so we can hardly see that. It's just very awkward staging.

10:06: You know who else was in Eyewitness? Supporting Actor nominee this year, Christopher Plummer. And Best Actor nominee Morgan Freeman. Wow, who knew! Hurt and Weaver I remember, that the movie had two of this year's acting nominees, wow, no recollection of that until I IMDB'ed. If memory serves, Eyewitness was seen at the sloped floor multiplex in the Pyramid Mall in Ithaca. The director Peter Yates and screenwriter Steve Tesich are better known for their Breaking Away, from two years before. Back on topic, can't be surprised that Avatar wins for Art Direction. Now they're on to Costume Design, which is going to The Young Victoria.

10:05: I feel old. It's 29 years since Sigourney Weaver came to my attention in the nifty thriller Eyewitness, with William Hurt as well.

9:59. The buzz is right, Mo'Nique,

9:55: Supporting Actress. This may be a 2nd Precious win for Mo'Nique. I was wowed, to my pleasant surprise, by Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air.

9:50: Instead it goes to one of the two multiply nominated movies (Serious Man) that I couldn't bring myself to see. The screenplay category is often used as a consolation prize for the one movie that the voters most want to see winning something which isn't going to win too much else, so it's in keeping with long tradition for this heavily nominated movie to pick up the win, and in that historical category I'll have to say it's a deserving win.

9:48: I'm pulling for Up in the Air in the adopted screenplay category.

9:39: This is an embarrassment to rival Rob Lowe's duet with Snow White. Maybe The Tennis Channel has a replay of today's dead rubber I can turn to.

9:38: Ben Stiller's blue face looks even worse than Robert Downey Jr's blue tie.

9:35. I always think it's a little sad to hear the music play before someone's done speaking, but if you're nominated for one of the short feature categories you better just figure out how to say what you need to say in 45 seconds. You ain't getting more.

9:23: A very nice tribute to John Hughes. I've got to tell you his movies don't resonate for me the way they do for some other people, but I totally respect the effect they do have on other people. Am I five years too old? Did I need to be in high school when Breakfast Club came out instead of in the latter half of my college years? Did the producers really want to introduce the alumnae of his movies to "Don't You Forget About Me," considering that a lot of the John Hughes troupe have kind of been forgotten? No, he wasn't muse; Jeffrey Jones for me will be the Emperor in Amadeus and not the principal in Ferris Bueller. But much respect.

9:15: Tarantino doesn't look thrilled that Mark Boal won for Hurt Locker.

9:14. I have a hard time picking a personal original screenplay candidate between Hurt Locker and Inglorious Basterds.

9:12: Robert Downey's tie is godawful, but should I give him some credit for at least looking different than all of the other men? The spiel he and Tina Fey are reading is pretty dreadful.

9:03 Nice to be reminded of how good Colin Farrell was in Crazy Heart.

8:59: I thought Up was overrated, but it's not like there's anything in the category I was hoping for more.

8:57: While I watch this very disposable section on the animated films -- is there something else I can watch at 9? -- let me link you to an excellent column in today's Washington Post on the movie The Art of the Steal.

8:48: And Waltz it is.

8:45: But this isn't to say that Damon wasn't good in Invictus, and Woody Harrelson in The Messenger. Tucci I didn't see, Plummer is more of an overdue career achievement nod.

8:44: And it should

8:44: This is almost certain to go to Christoph Waltz.

8:39: Woody Harrelson has my hair line!!!!

8:38: In our first movies, we were both born a poor black child. Good line.

8:34: THere's a real retro feel to the set, with the band on the risers like some old MGM musical.

8:34: Doogie Howser, good. The writing of his production number bad.

8:31: Showing off the star power? I don't understand this parade of actor and actress nominees.

8:25: Meryl Streep. Reminds me I should link to this NY Times appreciation by A. O. Scott, which ran two weeks ago. It's one of the best I read, and I think it gets very well at why I appreciate Streep so much more now than I did 25 years ago.

8:13: Half of the ten best picture nominees from 1943 when last ten were nominated have kind of been lost to the sands of time. No biennial visits to Film Forum for them. Which of this year's pictures will anyone still ponder upon in 67 years?

8:08: I'll try and finish up today's Washington Post during the commercial breaks when not stuffing my face with dessert. Currently reading the John Feinstein college basketball column.

8:06 PM: Sandra Bullock wants to eat a burger and fries after all of this, and a milkshake. She should have some Junior's. Zac Efron looks different. Good, but different. Like he's trying to become a college student.

8:03 PM EST: Penelope Cruz and Vera Farmigia look very red. Very very red.

8:00 PM EST -- I am armed for the evening with a can of Whole Foods root beer, a slice of german chocolate cake from Junior's, a grasshopper cupcake from Crumbs, and some rice pudding from Mangol, a local Turkish restaurant.

7:50 PM EST -- We're Fired Up and Ready to Go for the Academy Awards, watching some red carpet stuff, waiting for the official pre-half hour on the carpet in around ten minutes.


Unknown said...

I haven’t watched the Academy Awards in years, but came in toward the middle and enjoyed following your posts. That was fun.

Agree on Robert Downey Jr's blue tie – atrocious. And totally agree on the production number for the Original Score – too long and boring. Wasn’t sure why Jeff Bridges was given so much time. His speech was like reading the credits at the end of the movie. Really appreciated Sandra Bullock’s acceptance speech. She’s such a likeable person.

I had never heard of Precious, but after viewing the clips, I will rent the movie.

Ricky Bush said...

Enjoyed tapping into the blog. I found it as entertaining as the show. I think "Up" should have won best picture and blown tea leaves all over the place.

in2Art-n-Film said...

Hey Joshua... Still slaving away in the trenches here in HWD... and feeling equally old as well.

Was suprised to read that you (repping Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors) weren't aware of Siggy Weaver until "Eyewitness" ('81); as she made the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame as Ripley in Ridley Scott's "ALIEN" in 1979. Blame it on Oscar OD.

FYI ~ When Alien had its World Premier here in LA (at the Egyptian), FOX had one of the "sets" from inside the Nostromo outside the Theatre; so once you bought your ticket, you had to walk through a "lower level" of the Space Ship set to enter the Theatre... Cheers! D.Halver ~ PS Still working on putting together a CAS Deal.

The Brillig Blogger said...

On the Sigourney Weaver question...

in 1979, I was 14 miles from the closest hardtop, and too young for a driver's license. So I wasn't seeing Alien if somebody wasn't taking me.

Also, 1980 was when I went to the Loews Astor Plaza for the first time, to see Altered States. That was one of my first "big screen/big sound" experiences, along with Empire Strikes Back that same year at the RKO Rt. 4 in Paramus.

Then we got to the summer of 1981 when I could do double features at the Harvard Square and could do movies on my own power since I was in a big city on my own.

Then 1982, when I took my first film class and started college on a campus with lots of film series not yet done in by the arrival of the VCR.

It's safe to say in 1979 that I was nowhere near the film buff that I was soon to become.