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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 26, 2017

Oscars: Made in America

12:23 AM: Actually, I do know what to say.  For a movie full of shots of people slowly coming into focus, it's only fitting that the Moonlight win for Best Picture was initially so cloudy.  Totally, 100% fitting. It summarizes the aesthetic of the film itself.  And, I still can't stop laughing.

12:13 AM: I have nothing more to say.  I look forward to reading about the final ten minutes of tonight's ceremony.  I don't know what to say.

12:04 AM:  And Dunaway looks spectacular.

12:03 AM:  Beatty and Dunaway.  A nice touch.  Drunaway also appeared twice in the ill-timed Rolex ad, in her role in Network.

12:01 AM:  The most special Oscars are the ones when I get to start typing an "AM" in for the live blog.

11:58 PM:  If wishes were fishes.  But while I enjoyed La La Land, I just don't really see this, even if everyone kind of said it's what would happen.

11:57 PM:  I don't want Emma Stone to win.

11:50 PM:  The Best Actor field was originally considered to be Affleck's to lose, then looked like maybe he would lose it to Denzel.  I am very happy with this win. Very humble speech. Bottom line, I'd love to be twenty again, just so I could go to college and go to grad school and do a dissertation on Manchester by the Sea, awful use of music included.  It's a special film in so many small and wonderful ways.

11:42 PM:  No complaints here.  Damien Chazelle directed Whiplash, which was quite a fine piece of work, and followed it up with another quite a fine piece of work.  La La Land isn't my favorite of this year's movies, but it's every bit a director's vision and passion and hard work as any of the other films it was contending with.  And, yes, Whiplash was also a damn fine piece of work.  It's quite rare for a young director to start out with films like this that are critically acclaimed and genuinely accessible to a wide swath of moviegoers, that don't put me to sleep or thrive only in the rarified atmosphere of Park City.  So I'm happy.

11:38 PM:  Oh yay! Another Verizon ad.  More to the point, poor Cameron Crowe.  His Jerry Maguire is kind of like my autobiography; I screened it for my 50th birthday party, in fact.  So to see his pleasant We Built a Zoo turned into fodder for the Matt Kimmel show tonight. Sigh.  And it is a pleasant movie.  Not a great one, but a very pleasant one.

11:30 PM:  Yay! Manchester by the Sea wins for Original Screenplay. Matt Damon will now happily eat all the McRibs he's gotten over the course of the evening.  Lonergan is an excellent playwright and screenwriter, and plays like Lobby Hero are as worth seeing as Manchester by the Sea is.  He's had "History" in Hollywood, which is a little too long to discuss here (I'll add a link later), but taking home an Oscar tonight after the odyssey of Lonergan's last movie has to be sweet.  And it is such a good screenplay,

11:19 PM:  Nice to have a shout out to the teaching of arts in public schools, which has been losing ground for years due to budget cuts and teaching to tests.  But. Really.  Someone's mother let someone leave the soccer team to appear in a school musical.  The horror.  The horror.

11:17 PM:  If you weren't pegging La La Land in the Score and Song categories, you should never get to fill out an Oscar pool ballot again.  Ever, ever again.

11:15 PM: So this was the first time that any Harry Potter movie won an Oscar for anything.  I'm not the biggest fan of the series; Azkaban is the only of the movies that I've actually liked.  But still, you think of all the technical resources poured into the movies, often by top talents in the industry like Production Designer Stuart Craig, or music for some of the film's from John Williams, and the visual effects, and etc. etc., and it's hard to believe there's always been something better every single time, until tonight.

11:08 PM:  Spoke to soon.  The purple prose of unnecessary clutter in an Oscar musical # hath returned.

11:06 PM:  Here we go again.  The #s from La La Land would be perfectly fine if it was just John Legend singing and playing piano, and instead we've got all sorts of unnecessary stuff going on in the background.  At least they appear to have exited the stage without hitting John Legend in the head, like one of the flags did in the Moana number earlier.

10:57 PM:  Because we all think of Bridges of Madison County as first choice of Meryl Streep's excellence.  But it's a surprisingly good movie, and it has Clint Eastwood, whose Sully deserved more love from Oscar than it received.

10:54 PM:  One of the best ever presentations about the Sci/Tech Oscar presentation.  And are we looking at a midnight EST closing time for the Oscar ceremony?

10:42 PM: Great Google ad.

10:41 PM:  If we do get to vote for the best Walmart short, the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg is far and away my top choice.  It was fun.

10:38 PM:  One of the biggest changes from when I was growing up -- it's so much less likely for a Best Picture to also vacuum up wins in the technical categories.  Film editing is often a very tough category with lots of worthwhile nominees, and I'm kind of pleased with Hacksaw Ridge winning in this category.  And of course, we'd all expected two hours into the ceremony that Hacksaw Ridge would have twice as many Oscars to its name as La La Land.  Mel Gibson has been a good sport about the ribbing he's taken from Kümmel, and why not.  If I could get a little ribbing in exchange for two Oscars for my movie, yeah, probably me too.  It remains to be seen if Matt Damon will feel like he's gotten any return on his investment in ribs.

10:25 PM:  So I'd have pegged Production Design for Fantastic Beasts, rather than Costumes.  That's why we play the game.  It is "most likely correct" that I would not have done well in an Oscar pool.  "Most likely correct."

10:18 PM:  "This is Ryan Gosling.  He's very handsome.  Don't look into his eyes."

10:01 PM:  Around and about the halfway mark, and the Sting number is a great place for a bathroom break, and for Lady Gaga.  Except it was probably too short for a bathroom break.

9:58 PM:  On Bill Paxton:

9:50 PM:  And, yes, Viola Davis did win for Supporting Actress, while I was telling you about Lynn Stalmaster.  If Verizon should be calling AT&T's add, I'd like to suggest that Apple go after Samsung's.  Apple's approach to ads can use an updating, and maybe that can be a column idea for Dan Moren.  Final thought on this set of ads:  will there be some kind of toll free # or something, so that after the Best Picture, we can give an award for the Best Walmart Receipt Picture?  Even better, can they get Jeff Bezos to come up on stage to present that award?

9:44 PM:  While we head to the coronation of Viola Davis, some notes on the excellent group of honorary Oscar recipients.  Anne Coates may be best known for the "match cut" in Lawrence of Arabia and has decades of achievement as a film editor.  Same for Lynn Stalmaster, who was one of the leading casting directors, a category that has a branch in the Academy but not an Oscar to award -- making his receipt of an honorary award the only way of honoring.  For whatever reason, the first film that popped to my mind as being cast by Lynn Stalmaster was "Tootsie," and I surfed over to IMDB to see if that was in fact a correct recollection.  It was.  But I could just as easily have associated Stalmaster's name with the casting of Superman: The Movie or dozens upon dozens of other films.  And casting is so very important.  Who cast Hidden Figures?  Whomever it is, that's a hidden figure behind the success of a movie that relies heavily on the quality of its cast.  Frederick Wiseman is one of the leading documentarians of our time.  As his time has gone on, it's gotten harder and harder to love his movies if you aren't a critic because nobody's able to tell him to cut, and he distributes his own movies.  Better to go looking at a movie from decades ago like Titticut Follies than his most recent In Jackson Heights, with all due respect to the fact that I know several of the people who appear in the most recent.  But at his best, and even sometimes at his longest, he'd shed light on US institutions from hospitals to fashion to the military to prisons to schools to more.  It's hard to say you're a movie lover or cineaste of any sort whatsoever if you haven't seen something that Wiseman has directed.  Do you need me to tell you about Jackie Chan?

9:33 PM:  After having to endure two Verizon ads in just the first hour, I may cancel my FIOS service the moment the ceremony is over.  Also, I have no plans to be Disney's guest on March 17.  Maybe I will go look for a VCR tape of the animated version that I can hold up to the light because I can't play it on a VCR.

9:30 PM:  The bummer about that Arrival win -- Sully was also nominated, and Sully was a really good movie that deserved more Oscar love and which I really wish I'd gone back to see a second time, and it doesn't even get a consolation prize.  I really, really, really liked Sully.  It would be on my Ten Best for 2016, hands down.

9:28 PM:  In honor of Arrival winning, I will doze off for most of the acceptance speech, wake up near the end, and decide I woke up too soon.

9:23 PM:  That was a nice Walmart ad, which doesn't make it any less soul deadening for me to walk into a Walmart.  Also, maybe Verizon should hire a good advertising agency, like the one AT&T is using.

9:19 PM:  Lesson to writers:  do not clutter up your movie with unnecessary flourishes the way the Oscar performance of "How Far I'll Go" had those people with blue flags going back and forth in the background for not particular purpose.

9:14 PM:  Was Caroline Waterlow tearing up in the background during Ezra Klein's acceptance speech for OJ: Made in America?  And an excellent speech; dispensed with the laundry list to focus on the actual crime that underlying the movie.

9:11 PM:  As noted in my pre-Oscar blog post, I consider OJ: Made in America to be the Best Picture, the real Best Picture.  Not just the best long form documentary.  It's worth seeing.  All eight hours of it.

9:11 PM:  One of the NY Times reporters live chatting is with me -- quietly pulling for Hidden Figures to surprise us at the end of the night.

9:05 PM:  Unintended relevance.  Bill Paxton shows up in a Titanic clip in a Rolex ad.

9:03 PM:  SInce I have never wanted to buy a car, I don't understand why there are so many ads for them.

9:02 PM:  I wonder how many Oscar pool ballots have been wrecked by having Fantastic Beasts win for Costume Design?  Was that going to be a thing?  Also, we can now say with reasonable assurance that La La Land will not be tying any records for Oscars actually won.

8:53 PM:  I said to myself before the ceremony, "please, no Verizon ads with the guy holding the mic." Anything can win the awards now, it won't be more disappointing than seeing one of these crappy Verizon ads.

8:50 PM:  I'll consider this to be the award for his role in Hidden Figures.  Because when it comes to Moonlight, there were four other performances which the clips reminded me how much I enjoyed relative to the winning one.

8:45 PM:  Not bad, unless you're Matt Damon.  Working to the host's particular strengths, and doesn't seem like a monologue four other people could have given.

8:41 PM:  "We didn't see Elle, but we absolutely loved it.". Well, see it!

8:40 PM:  Jeff Bezos and I are each "JB" yet he is at the Oscars, and I am just watching it.

8:38 PM:  "Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist."

8:37 PM:  Sadly, the 230 countries that hate us is most likely correct.

8:35 PM:  Honestly, it can only go downhill from here.

8:33 PM:  Um, no idea what this has to do with the business at hand, but I will never complain if someone wants to bring Justin Timberlake into my living room.   Maybe he could host the Oscars some year.  And the people in the audience seems to be enjoying it.

8:20 PM:  I got a devil's food cheesecake and chocolate cupcake from Juniors, a German chocolate slice from Amy's Bread, and a couple cookies from Empire Cake.  Even though I've been 2:20 on the bike and elliptical today, I should maybe try not to eat all of them?

8:12 PM:  18 minutes to go.  Oscar live blog!!

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