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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 2, 2014

Frozen by the Oscars?

12:02 am --   tight as the race might have been, the big awards ended up going pretty much as the consensus said they would.  Lots of tech to Gravity, as well as the Best Director prize.  The acting awards kind of as the buzz said.  And the biggest Oscar of all to 12 Years a Slave.

11:49 pm -- I don't comment as much on the women's fashions, but the Cate Blanchett dress is a stand-out.

11:41 pm -- Samsung should talk more about the multi-tasking screens and less about being connected to my heart.  The inability to multi-task on an iPad, having to go back and forth for doing a lot of things, is it's one biggest problem as a real office replacement device.

11:40 pm -- this year's biggest awards considered to be a tight race, hard to know if there's any significance to Cuaron winning the Director award, over Steve McQueen.  As with Life of Pi, there are some movies that clearly don't direct themselves.  Cuaron was clearly full of emotion and overtaken some by the honor of winning, but it would have been nice if he had found an acceptance speech to present more of that emotion and less just a long list of thank you thank you thank you to a lot of people the world doesn't know or care about.

11:35 pm -- belated recognition for Alfonso Cuaron, the director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the only good film on strictly cinematic terms out of the entire Harry Potter series.

11:32 pm - but should I be surprised? None of the other nominees for Original Screenplay had very good scripts.  American Hustle, not a character I cared about.  Blue Jasmine, half a good screenplay.  Nebraska, managed to find its way past a lot of implausibility to a nice ending, but not overall a great script.  Dallas Buyers Club not a good script.  Happy as I am that Her won, it won almost, perhaps, by default, in arguably the weakest category on the ballot.

11:30 pm -- Wow! Pleasant surprise!  Her wins for Best Original Screenplay.  I really liked this movie, which I saw with Myke Cole.  A few minutes too long, but very good.  And as a science fiction fan, I am just super-excited to see a subtle, clever, unflashy piece of good science fiction win an Oscar, when so much of the sf I get to see in the cinema is full of rayguns and spaceships ramming into big cities and rampant CGI.  Her was a very special movie.  Again, the people who read my blog are likely people who should be going to watch Her.

11:26 pm -- snazzy tux, snazzy acceptance speech.  Best Adapted Screenplay another category laden with worthy winners, but John Ridley as worthy as any of them.

11:24 pm -- I don't know if people in 2014 can properly appreciate what Ray Dolby did for moviegoers.  Pretty much any or every theatre we go to has a good Dolby (or Dolby-like) stereo sound system.  Back in the 1970s, stereo sound hardly existed.  You had to live in a big city, or travel for it, or seek out some special theatre that could show a 70mm print with a six-track stereo soundtrack.  I saw enough movies with plan old monaural "flat" sound growing up that I can't entirely say that I only became a movie buff because of stereo sound.  After all, a a good movie is a good movie.  I saw Gravity in a little theatre in West Hartford and not in Imax, and it was a a good movie.  But when I think of the experience of going to the movies growing up, the experiences I think of were experiences in stereo.  Going to the Loews Astor Plaza for the first time, when I saw Altered States.  Going to the RKO Stanley Warner Route 4 Paramus Quad and seeing The Empire Strikes Back or Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, with great stereo sound.  I remember how upset I was when the Cinemas Six opened in the Caldor Mall and didn't have the Dolby sound they had promised because they didn't think ultimately that it was worth the money it spent.  Dolby started to democratize good sound, and it made movie-going better.  And when Dolby Digital came out, it made that special road-show 6-track sound available to pretty much any theatre, everywhere.  It was special to me to go to a movie and have the hammer driving in the spikes of the railroad, first in one corner of the theatre and then in the other corner and then the train rumbling through the theatre.  Unlike a lot of you, I was around for a world before Dolby, and I don't want to go back to that world.  Thom "Coach" Ehle, Dolby consultant for Bull Durham.  How many Dolby consultants can you name...

11:14 pm -- it being said that I think the best score of the year was for Rush, I'd say Gravity was the best of the scores nominated.

11:10 pm -- surprises me, since two weeks ago wouldn't have said this.  But I'd rather see U2 win for Best Song, over Let It Go.  Probably not going to happen.  And I did like Frozen.  But I'm just thinking there's something a little more special about Ordinary Love.  Well, it's an unusually tight contest in this category, and nice to have at least two very worthy contenders in a category that sometimes has none.

11:07 pm -- can't say enough about Roger Ebert, really.  The Journal Inquirer in CT was one of many papers that syndicated his film reviews.  I didn't follow him on-line, maybe I should have, because reading his basic film reviews long after his illness had forced him off of Sneak Previews/At the Movies/Ebert & Roeper etc., you could see talent in every line.  He could express himself on films both good and bad.  I know how much trouble I have talking about what's good about a movie.  I can rip into the bad, but talking about the good is hard.  He talked without talking down, he educated without being snooty, he could make anyone appreciate film.

11:05 pm -- worth noting #1, Saul Zaentz.  Produced Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, many other noted Oscar-winning/nominated movies.  Also screwed John Fogerty and Credence Clearwater Revival!  If you want to see how objective news isn't always so objective, read the NY Times and LA Times obits for Zaentz, and see how the two papers cover the controversy between Zaentz and Fogerty.

11:03 pm -- wonderful performance by Bette Midler.  Big fan of her The Rose, I am.

10:53 pm -- the ads are fading.  Red Bull Gives You Wings?  I'd rather have Paul McCartney's.  And a bad Mercedes ad.  But I think these were local advertisements that you might not have "enjoyed" in your local market.  If you're lucky.

10:50 pm -- having the Production Design award go to The Great Gatsby over Gravity is a teeny bit of a surprise, though maybe it shouldn't be.  A spaceship is a spaceship, as it were, so this is one technical category where other nominees had room for a little more imagination.  Though if this one wasn't going to Gravity, I'd have given a nod to Her.  Just to say, Her is a movie which more of you should see.  You like science fiction, this is real science fiction.  The production design, a subtle remaking of today, is easy to overlook, but it's part of the small jewels of conceptualization and visualization that make this movie an important work in the genre.  It was on my Hugo nominating ballot, and I strongly urge you all to go take a look at it.  I say that without any negativity intended toward Great Gatsby.  Whatever you can say about Baz Luhrman,and people can say many things about Baz, he's a visualist of a film director, someone who creates a world.  Oftentimes not a world I want to spend much time in, please no more Moulin Rouge, please, but the vision has to be appreciated.  Would never have anticipated this from my first encounter with Baz in the dance rehearsal hall of Strictly Ballroom; kind of like watching the arc of Kandinsky's career to see the transition from Strictly Ballroom to Great Gatsby.

10:39 pm -- the Wizard of Oz tribute number really hit it out of the park.  Wow!

10:31 pm -- In the editing category, I think Captain Phillips may be an actual more deserving recipient than Gravity.  Not that Gravity was badly edited, but the editing of Captain Phillips was just a little more special for me.

10:29 pm -- I thought Grandmaster was pretty awful, but it will always be special.  The Monday night after WorldCon, Eddie and Sam and I piled into the SUV Eddie had rented to have BBQ at Franklin's and headed down to an Alamo Drafthouse to see this.  Movie, bad.  Experience, special.

10:27 pm -- no surprise that Gravity won, and hard to say it's not a deserving winner, but whatever I could say good or bad about Prisoners, Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, these were seriously beautiful films to look at, richly imagined and richly photographed.

10:26 pm -- cinematography is a tough category with multiple nominees that were especially beautiful to look at.

10:24 pm -- when in New York, the JABberwocky team highly recommends Sunnyside Pizza right off the 40th St/Lowery stop on the #7 train.  Very small, not much on the menu besides pizza, but it is to pizza what JABberwocky is to literary representation.

10:23 pm -- just saying, but could Seth McFarland have demeaned the dignity of the Oscars any more than having the ceremony interrupted for a pizza delivery?

10:15 pm --  no surprise for Supporting Actress.

10:12 pm -- Hollywood in a nutshell.  David Heyman's Heyday Productions, which produced all the Harry Potter movies and Gravity and other films, was seeing about getting a free option to a book by one of our clients last year.  Because, you know, it's not like the Harry Potter movies made any money, not like he could possibly afford a few thousand dollars for a year's option on something.

10:07 pm -- no surprise that Gravity won for Sound Mixing, but I would have given it to Lone Survivor.  The sound was one of the most important elements in making Lone Survivor work so powerfully.

10:06 pm -- Michael B. Jordan looked snazzy!  Also appeared in later seasons of Friday Night Lights, one of the best TV shows of recent years.

10:04 -- we would retweet this photo if Eeyore or Tigger appeared in it.  They've been in movies!!

10:02 -- Ellen changed, Harrison Ford can!  But this roaming the audience thing is just not working for me.

9:56 pm -- I think Ordinary Love is the best new U2 song in ages and ages.  Also enjoyed seeing it performed on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show debut.  Good song while eating my shepherd's pie!

9:50 pm -- hard to assess Steve Martin's career, for which he received an honorary Oscar, as it has been so intriguingly diverse.  The stand-up comedy, which I saw a bit of in a screening of an old Muppet Show episode where he guest-starred, doesn't endure.  I wonder if I saw LA Story or Roxanne again in the new future how well those would hold up.

9:49 pm -- usually I've seen at least one foreign nominee by the time the Oscars roll around.

9:49 pm -- haven't seen any of this year's foreign language film nominees, but Omar is playing in NYC and I am going to see it this week, I think.

9:40 -- The Act of Killing was very well reviewed, and I kept thinking of going to see it.  But ultimately, I couldn't bring myself to spend over two hours in a theatre watching a movie about Indonesian death squads.  And it's safe to say the acceptance speech for that wouldn't have included a mini performance from Darlene Love.

9:37 pm -- 20 Feet From Stardom is the only one of the nominees that I saw, and was very good.

9:38 pm -- was a nice acceptance speech for the documentary short, hated to see it getting the go away and leave us alone music.

9:37 pm -- I am hungry!  15 minutes left on the timer.

9:33 pm -- and ABC can take advantage of the Oscars to promote Modern Family, but their best comedy on Wednesday nights is, has been for the past few years, and based on the excellence of the current season will continue to be The Middle.  If you haven't been watching The Middle, you need to start.  Joshua first watched on an airplane, and was a little embarrassed to be laughing out loud in the middle of the cabin.  The Middle.  The Middle.  The Middle.

9:32 pm -- another really good Cadillac ad.  For the avoidance of doubt, JABberwocky did not start in a garage, but when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

9:28 -- I don't like tea, but having the Muppets advertise it so nicely could get me to change.  Museum of the Moving Image is screening Muppet Most Wanted on the Ides of March1

9:25 pm -- back in time briefly, I liked the production values and performance of the number from Happy, but I didn't like the number itself very much.

9:21 -- Gravity!  Deservedly!!  Happily!!! I either purposely skipped or didn't like any of the other films nominated in this category.

9:19 -- probably my most bummed part of the Oscar nominations, that Rush came up empty.  If not a nomination in the tight acting categories, am pretty certain Hans Zimmer's score was better than at least one of the nominees in that category.

9:17 -- Sally Field!  Norma Rae was my 2013 movie at the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival. Doesn't hold up as well as Network, which I just talked about on my blog.

9:16 -- Happily not.  Frozen is about as good as animated motion pictures get these days, if if isn't quite as good as the very best of 100 years of animated movie history.

9:15 pm -- Can this go to anything but Frozen?

9:13 pm -- And Matthew McConaughey doesn't do so well by a white tux either. If he wins for Best Actor, can he have found a new tux by then?  Has a good 90 minutes, probably.  If a tennis player can get a racket restrung in 90 minutes, he can find a nicer tux.

9:12 pm -- Kind of hungry.  After snacking through games day, I almost 90 minutes in the gym before the Oscars.  Nuked some butternut squash to tide me over until the shepherd's pie is done.

9:10 -- this Samsung ad was interesting until it revealed that their idea of a killer app was a heart rate monitor.  Really?  That's what we're all clamoring for on our phones?

9:06 -- I like Channing Tatum, but he looks kind of awful.  The stubble isn't fashionable, and the hair needed some quick attention from the Oscar winners, too bad they didn't do a quick touch-up while they crossed paths backstage.

9:04 -- during the presentation of the tech awards, I put my Kirkland Signature shepherd's pie into the oven.  Didn't need to bring it out for games day, the turkey wraps and other food were enough.  So some tonight, and maybe people in the office will help me out with it tomorrow to finish off.

9:02 -- two tech awards out of the way quickly.  Looking over the nominees for costumes, why not Great Gatsby.  The movie had style in abundance.  And speaking of style, Harrison Ford has still, not just style but gravitas.

8:57 -- what a great Samsung ad!  And I usually fast forward through car ads because I live in NYC and don't own a car or aspire to owning one, but the Cadillac ad wasn't bad, either.

8:52 -- Blue Jasmine.  So Cate Blanchett is widely expected to win Best Actress for her role in this movie, and why not.  Her performance is amazing.  She manages to keep audience sympathy as her character goes off the deep end.  She does things you really know she shouldn't, like going to seek out her estranged son, and you want her to succeed at them.  She anchors the movie.  But she's also much better than the movie as a whole.  Her sister played by Sally Hawkins gives a solid performance in a slightly underwritten role.  But the men Sally is dating are preposterously written, her reactions to them unconvincing, beyond any hope of redemption by any performer.  Woody Allen needed to call rewrite for this one.  Like Prisoners, I'd say Blue Jasmine is a movie worth seeing, but it's also flawed.  And on balance, I'd say Prisoners is slightly the more perfected of the two.

8:49 -- this blue tux, I really like.  I wonder where I can get one...

8:47 -- Ellen calls the speech beautiful, but it wasn't.  It might've worked if he had laid off on some of the thanking, or decided to do something about AIDS, or do something about the current geopolitical situation.  But he tries to do everything, without any organization.  Yeah, everyone's a critic, but I criticize people's writing for a living, so why not here.

8:44 -- I'm not a big fan of the white tux.  And I was liking the acceptance speech for the first half of it, but then he gets into politics,and then after the politics the laundry list of his team members, and then he gets to talking about AIDS.

8:43 -- everyone was predicting Jared Leto would win this, so there's not much point to dwell on the fact that I wish otherwise.  The movie, to me, was a bit of a snooze, repetitive and lacking in tension, even if it did abound in good acting, but not so much to me Jared Leto's.

8:40 -- after a decent monologue, our first award!

8:42 PM -- Prisoners was more complicated, one of the best movies I've ever seen from a bad script.  Best movies:  well, it's got some powerfully good performances by Jack Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman and Paul Dano and others.  The photography is sublimely gorgeous, and its nomination for an Oscar in this category is well-deserved.  There's some nice music.  It's a long movie, but never seems to drag.  There are some searingly powerful scenes that make some nice statements about the limits people can set when none seem justified, or the borders we'll pass when it seems like we should.  But the police detective played by Jake Gyllenhaal never once calls for back-up, constantly charges into dangerous locations without a thought for anything like standard police procedure.  I lost it at the end, when he's transporting someone to a hospital.  And I was willing just a little bit to say that maybe there wasn't a protocol for an ambulance to meet him halfway.  But not for him to get to the hospital, and he hasn't even called ahead so there's someone waiting outside for the injured person.  That's bad writing, someone should've said or done something to catch this, and for all that I admire about the film, I can't quite forgive this.

8:33 PM -- you won't see me talking about August Osage County.  I saw the play, thought it was way over-rated.  Maybe better reviews would have motivated me to try out the movie, but the reviews weren't all that good.  So even though the movie was chockablock with actors that I like, and garnered another Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep, I just couldn't' bring myself to the theatre for this one.

 8:30 PM -- Though I wasn't very good about doing movie reviews on my blog in 2013, I did have a couple weeks where I made concentrated efforts to cover the major contenders for this year's awards. There are a few pictures that I know I didn't get to in the blog which have nominations, most notably Blue Jasmine, Prisoners, and August Osage Country.

8:23 PM Just a few minutes until the Oscars begin.  And my live blogging is a tradition eagerly awaited by somewhat fewer people than actually live blog (let alone read a live blog of) an Apple product launch...


David said...

It's always the highlight of the evening for me! Who is Eeyore picking?

brycemoore said...

Have you ever considered throwing an Oscars party? Or going to the event in person? If clients get Oscar nods, do their agents get to automatically go? I wouldn't want to have to choose between you and my wife, after all . . .