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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, February 22, 2015

The Theory of American Selma's Grand Birdhood Whiplash Hotel Game

12:23 AM: NY Times Oscar blog notes omissions of Roger Ebert and Joan Rivers from the in memoriam list.


12:05 AM: AMPAS got it wrong.  Boyhood is Best!

11:49 PM:  Wait, wasn't that guy a seat filler?

11:47 PM:  And if you compare Graham Moore's speech to Patricia Arquette's you can understand why the editor in me gives Arquette's speech an A for content and a C- for organization.

11:45 PM: Sigh.  The highlight of Graham Moore's speech followed by my disappointment over Best Director.

11:43 PM: me not happy.  wrong director win Oscar.

11:35 PM:  Another mild surprise with Imitation Game winning for Adapted Screenplay.  It is based on a book represented by our friends at the Zeno Agency.

11:30 PM: So the Rivoli Theatre where The Sound of Music premiered.  It was located at 49th and Broadway, with a ornate facade.  The facade was torn down in the 1980s just ahead of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is an old story in New York.  The same thing happened to the blue venetian tile facade of Cinema 1/Cinema 2.  The theatre itself was torn down in the late 1980s not long after I moved to New York, and in its final years it was like most old theatres a duplex, the UA Rivoli Twin with a downstairs and a balcony theatre.  I saw a few movies there before it was demolished.  I am thinking maybe Hoosiers, maybe Secret of NIMH, maybe Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School.

11:26 PM:  I believe Grand Budapest Hotel will, at minimum, be tied for the most Academy Awards given out tonight...

11:24 PM:  That was a stunning twelve minutes of television.  Lady Gaga's Sound of Music performance was moving, and hopefully some to Julie Andrews as it was to me.  Having Julie Andrews come in for the hand-off, having her present the Academy Award for Best Score.  It was danged well-done.

11:10 PM: Heading into the homestretch.  Two screenplay awards, two acting awards, director and picture.

11:09 PM: And from the crowd shots, the performance of Glory might have been even more compelling "in the house" than it was on TV. And watching on TV, everything about the number was awesome.

11:06 PM: Maybe it would have been better not to have NPH complimenting each musical number like a waiter congratulating you on your great choice at a restaurant.  The truly fantastic performance for Glory sounds so sincerely not fantastic when NPH says "fantastic" because his line-reading is just like the compliments for the other less fantastic nominees in this category.

10:58 PM: And to weigh in a bit on the Edward Snowden question -- the US has been a wee bit vindictive toward people who expose truths the government wants hidden, and Chelsea Manning hasn't just been imprisoned but has been imprisoned inhumanely, kept in solitary confinement, etc. etc.  I'd be a lot more critical of Snowden for avoiding US justice if I thought the US government wouldn't go in big for extra-judicial punishment with regard to his confinement before and during his trial.

10:55 Citizen Four is quite a good film.

10:53:  Wait!  That was Glenn Greenwald?  He wasn't, um, help us in customs to see if he was hiding documents someplace?

10:50 PM: The director of Whiplash is only 30 years old.

10:49 PM:  Just to say, the editing category was a very difficult one, with Whiplash, American Sniper, and Boyhood al making very compelling arguments.  The thing with Boyhood is that the editing was brilliant but also so seamless you hardly noticed it was there.  Whereas with Whiplash the editing is very in-your-face important to the movie.  You think of the last long sequence in Whiplash of the Carnegie Hall concert that just goes on and on for way longer than scenes are supposed to go on for in contemporary cinema.  It has to give us Miles Teller drumming, it has to give us JK Simmons leading.  It has to give us some perspective of what the audience is seeing, what each of the major characters is seeing of the other, it can't ignore the other members of the band that are on the stage at that point in time.  I was kind of rooting for Boyhood in this category, but let's face it -- there's some brilliant cutting going on in Whiplash, and the movie wouldn't work at all without brilliant editing.

10:44 PM:  Another surprise, methinks.  Most people were tipping the editing Oscar to go to Sandra Adair for Boyhood, but it's Tom Cross for Whiplash who's taking the podium.

10: 43 PM:  If I had to buy a gadget based on Oscar ads, I'd be buying Samsung hands down.  Their Galaxy ad was much better than the iPad ad a commercial break or two back, and their SUHD TV ad was also quite stunningly good.  I believe the TV ad was using music from the soundtrack for True Romance, which is very Oscar appropriate and also pays tribute to Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette.

10:22 PM:  Hearing the score for Grand Budapest Hotel over the course of the evening makes me think kind thoughts about that maybe winning for Best Original Score.

10:21 PM:  Production Design probably another win for Grand Budapest Hotel.

10:20 PM:  That was one of the worst Academy President speeches in the history of Academy President speeches.

10:19 PM:  Maybe I would like Dreamworks Animation more if they had done the Alcatraz movie based on the Brandon Sanderson novels.  They even had a good script!

10:13 PM:  I think most of the money was on How To Train Your Dragon 2, so the win for Big Hero 6 might be the first surprise of the evening.  I didn't see Dragon.  Big Hero 6 was half of a great movie and half an OK animated rendition of a boring superhero movie, but the good half was really, really good.  No complaints here, and on the whole I'm not a fan of Dreamworks Animation, so having a win for Disney/Pixar is also just fine by me.

10:09 PM:  Lego wasn't robbed.  It wasn't good.  I would have walked out if I hadn't been with a friend when I saw it.

10:07 PM:  They've been big on playing romance themes as the presenters walk on.  From Officer and a Gentleman and Dirty Dancing.  Both of which came out before Ansel Elgort or Miles Teller were born, but which I can still remember!

10:05 PM:  What else but Interstellar could have won for Visual Effects.  I think this movie was under-rated, and wish I had gotten round to seeing it once in Imax after doing the 70mm film route the first time around.

10:04 PM:  Ansel Elgort is tall.  So very very tall.  And even when I was his age, I never looked like him.  Or Eddie Redmayne.  Or even the director of Whiplash.  Or Miles Teller.  A guy can get jealous.

9:58 PM:  What would her character in Boyhood think of Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech?  Probably would approve.  But editorially, the mix of rote thank you's to everyone with a closing message wasn't the best presentation of the message.  But, hey, two Oscars for Boyhood.  But Director and Picture are the ones where we must soar over Birdman.

9:49 PM:  And the first American Sniper Oscar of the evening.  This is a movie that is staying with me in the weeks since I've seen it, and I just may find my way to seeing it again.  

9:47 PM:  Two Oscars for Whiplash!  And did I imagine that NPH was on stage in his underwear?

9:35 PM:  slow stretch in ceremony -- time to start in on some dessert.

9:19 PM:  Ya know, that production number was actually awesome.

9:16 PM:  Even watching the montage for Boyhood gives me goosebumps, bringing back multiple great moments from a spectacularly good film.

9:12 PM:  That said, Ida is the only one of the foreign film nominees I saw.  Which doesn't make it the best foreign film I saw last year.

9:11 PM:  Never knew you could win an Oscar for boring movies where a good chunk of the run-time is taken up with pictures of nuns eating soup.

9:10 PM:  I hated Ida.

9:09 PM:  I'd be happy if I was in the movie business and had to hear 45 seconds of Milena Canonero singing my praises.  She has been around, doing costume design for great movies and great directors for several decades.  Previous Oscar for Barry Lyndon, which might be the one perfect film where every shot fully realizes the director's intentions.  And which came out almost 40 years ago.

9:07 PM: The Google Play ad is movies or content specific, but I don't think it's a very good ad.

9:06 PM: Grand Budapest Hotel wasn't my favorite movie of the year, but it is the most-appreciated by me of Wes Anderson films.  Wes seemed very happy listening to the acceptance speeches for the Costume Design and Makeup/Hair Styling Awards.

9:01 PM:  Both Reese Witherspoon and Patricia Arquette have a nice white-on-black going.

8:59 PM:  I say that enviously because I have to match shades with my different items of clothing, and J Lo managed to do it with one piece of her closing and her actual skin tone.  I cannot pull that off.  I absolutely cannot.

8:57 PM:  With that costume, J Lo should be giving the  Costume Design Award!

8:56 PM:  Both the AmEx and Samsung ads gets kudos for being movies-specific.  Car ads almost always bore me beacuse i have zero interst in ever owning one.

8:55 PM:  The Samsung ad was more entertaining than some of the nominated films!  And the opening number.

8:47 PM:  I like Liam Neeson's black-on-black look.

8:45 PM:  What a weird thank you speech.  It's always good to thank your parents, but a lot of people who haven't seen the other less-viewed award shows where Simmons has won maybe haven't heard him thank anyone else.  As a backstage kind of guy by profession, that leaves an off note for me.

8:40 PM:  Whiplash is my 2nd favorite film of the year, so the expected Supporting Actor win for JK Simmons suits me just fine.

8:38 PM:  And the number is meh.  Too tasteful.  Too not anyone else.

8:34 PM:  Neil Patrick Harris is very definitively now being Billy Crystal, but I'm no fonder of having a a lot of CGI in this production number than I am in the typical overblown SFX spectacular.

8:31 PM:  Best  and Whitest -- Cut to Benedict Cumberbatch in white tux.

8:30 PM:  ANd we're off.  Doogie Howser is on stage!

8:29 PM:  And all the gumption it took to make Boyhood in the first place is outweighed by the fact that the movie which results from it is amazing.  

8:28 PM:  And then there is Boyhood.  Boyhood was an actual challenge to film.  A lot can happen in twelve years, so you set out on this journey with an idea how you want to end it and no idea if you actually can.  Your cast can die on you.  The world can change on you.  The company that's bankrolling you can disappear.  The cast can disappear without dying.  There's a reason why nobody's tried before what Richard Linklater tried with Boyhood.

8:26 PM: Evil is represented by the late surge for Birdman, which was an interesting movie but not that good a one.  The idea of doing a movie without cuts has been done before, as far back as Hitchcock's Rope.  The idea of doing a movie on essentially one set has been done before.  If you want to skulk about backstage you can go and watch the wings of the NY City Ballet in Ballet 422, a decent enough documentary that's playing now.  And the movie has Michael Keaton, but it doesn't really use him.  The more interesting character by far is Edward Norton's.  There are lots of female characters but I can't tell one from the other, during the movie or in retrospect.  I would be really disappointed if this movie won Best Picture.

8:22 PM: Some years I have a mild interest in the outcome, but this year, I feel like I'm at the cusp of a great battle between Good and Evil.

8;20 PM - fun with Google, which was acting confused about my business and work accounts, but signed in and ready to go!

11:37 AM -- If tonight's Oscars are as fabulous as the title of this blog post, if Neil Patrick Harris' monologue is half as brilliant, we'll be in for a fun evening!

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