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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, April 25, 2021

2021 Oscars Live Blog

11:30 PM Mine not to reason why.  If you read my 3400 words on this blog from before the Oscars, you’ll see that I am mostly happy with the things that won and the things that did not. But it was a weird evening.  The dry section in the middle was extremely dry. The beginning was extremely fresh because it was like no Oscars since I can remember, and I can remember back to things like the years when Chariots of Fire or Raiders were nominees, and I was watching in the TV room of the house I grew up in.  The ending was extremely odd.  But I watch most of all for the actual winners and losers.  I love every frame of Nomadland, and it won for Best Picture, every frame love that movie like I do every frame of Barry Lyndon.  The movies I liked least were Mank and Ma Rainey, and Mank won only in technical categories that it had an argument for winning, even in the photography category where it wasn’t my choice. Ma Rainey won some small awards, but not for the acting categories where I think there were better performances that were rewarded. My biggest disappointment is in the Supporting Actor category, where I’d have loved to see Paul Raci, but still Sound of Metal had a deserving spotlight including an award in a very competitive Editing category.  But, that ending.

11:16 PM: And no complaints on Anthony Hopkins.

11:15 PM OK! There was a lot of talk about Viola Davis winning for Ma Rainey, and I just couldn’t see another person winning Best Actress other than Frances McDormand or Carey Mulligan.  And I shan’t complain that it is McDormand.

11:12 PM Nomadland

11:09. But, Nomadland.  I love this movie, and it isn’t often that the movie I love most takes home the Best Picture trophy.  See Nomadland.  See it where you can soak in every image of every frame, every sound, every choice made by Chloe Zhao as s the director, every bit of modesty in Frances McDormand’s performance. Nomadland is special.

11:08. OK. That’s an interesting approach.

11:01 PM Did I miss the acting categories, or are they doing some weird thing of presenting the Best Picture nominees and then sandwiching in two more awards before presenting the award?  Weird...

10:56 PM Is this the first year that the In Memoriam has been segregated by the people who got one second and the people who got two seconds?

10:47 PM On the other hand I just got to see Glenn Close dancing away her sorrows over a record-tying 8th look with 0 wins in the acting categories.

10:45 PM If I need to endure Oscar trivia it should be at a bar where I can get a free hard cider for answering the question.

10:43 PM Since I’m doing a film-related live blog, a shout-out to Sean O’Connell, whose book RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT came out with perfect timing as a the Snyder Cut was releasing.  Sean spent his week before the Oscars doing some great get interviews for his next book WITH GREAT POWER, a history of Spider Man on film, which will be published in 2022.  

10:40 PM the noise in the room at Union Station seems at its loudest for the Best Song winners. I feel sorry for the people in Sweden who are up at this hour of the morning to not win an Oscar.

10:32 PM I will never complain to have Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross winning for Best Score, and better for Soul, which I didn’t see, than from Mank, sharing the award with Jon Batiste. Reznor and Ross, The Social Network. I need for a NY repertory house to give me an opportunity to enjoy The Social Network again.  

10:26 PM This is the first weekend since the pandemic where two movies have done significant opening weekend business, with both Demon Slayer and Mortal Kombat over $15M. My viewing this weekend was the pleasant Together Together, which is the first indie/art movie to have gotten an actual coordinated release post-pandemic, with reviews in the papers and time for theatres to prepare for showing it, and the Sat night screenings a little introduction from the director and a post-move taped Zoom with the director and two leads. Bit by bit it’s coming back, but it’s a little like going back to the beach house after a long winter away and having a lot of work to do to spiff it up for the season.

10:23 PM

10:18 PM Another small surprise. Did any of the Oscar preview articles I read tout Sound of Metal in the editing category?  This was a hard category, though, with all sorts of good movies contending. Very nice acceptance speech.

10:12 PM I more liked than loved when I saw In The Heights on Broadway, but I am eagerly awaiting the movie version on June 11. I’ve seen trailers many times, and now many different trailers with a new one coming into theatres recently that has a little more plot focus and now this one on the Oscars, and it hasn’t yet lost its appeal, its ability to get me to look up from my iPad and watch.  I am eager to see this movie on the biggest screen I can, hopefully in a glorious Dolby Atmos sound mix.

10:08 PM WTF? In fairness, Mank is strongest in categories like cinematography, but this is still an upset, taking the prize over Joshua James Richards for Nomadland.  And I loved every frame of Nomadland while, again, Mank I mostly watched the insides of my eyelashes.

10:07 PM Glenn Close ties Peter O’Toole for a a record eight losses of an acting award.  Chloe Zhao the first woman of color to win for Director.

10:04 PM I saw enough of Mank in between long stretches of “resting my eyes” to appreciate that it did have some achievement in production design, and the score was also excellent. So, sure. Give Mank an award.  It’s still a hot overrated mess of a movie. I hate this as much as I shall forever love David Fincher’s The Social Network.

10:02 PM Seconding @justincchang

10:00 PM A few minutes ago there was an ad for Google Meets. Don’t believe them. Google Meets is to Zoom what Bing is to Google.

9:57 PM Glenn Close is looking touched a little watching the acceptance speech, but she’s lost out on so many Oscars, but Hillbilly Elegy wasn’t the moment this year.  I can see Glenn Close reaming out her grandson in the car, and I can see Yuh-Jung Youn looking crestfallen after the fire, or simply being a grandmother in the family’s home. It’s a nice moment for the evening.

9:55 PM Yuh-Jung Youn for Supporting Actress.  The idea of her winning has grown on me over the course of the last several hours.

9:51 PM The family’s left to prepare for the work day or get ready for travel home tomorrow, so now it’s just me in my hotel room.  Last Oscars I was also in a hotel room in DC, in the before time, with tasty treats from Bakeshop in Arlington VA and fond memories of meals with David Louis Edelman and R.R. Virdi.  Aaaaah, the before times.  Back to being me, Oscar, some very good mini black and white cookies from Costco, and the apple strudels that will likely be offered to the hotel front office staff in the morning.

9:38 PM The “little bit dry” that Bryce Moore mentioned is becoming more apparent as the evening goes on.  Nothing dry about Bryce’s Perfect Place to Die, which is coming in August. Some energy missing from the festivities.

9:23 PM They’re showing clips!

9:19 PM I just had to explain to my nephew what a dot matrix printer is/was.  Hard to believe that the technology could have come and gone so very very quickly. Kind of like how I expect aa movie like Mank to sink out of view.

9:00 PM The story of how I care to fall in love with Chloe Zhao is kind of embarrassing.  I was going to see 2001: A Space Odyssey in 70mm with Nick Martell, and never dreamt that it would be sold out on a Monday night.  But, it was!  And I hadn’t gotten advance tickets.  Seeking an alternative, I suggested we see The Rider, which sounded like maybe it would be kind of meh but had gotten such reviews.  So we saw it on a teeny screen at a teeny art house multiplex.  And we loved The Rider.  And that was how I came to eagerly anticipate Nomadland.  

8:59 PM No surprise that Chloe Zhao won for Nomadland, but it makes me immensely happy/

8:54 PM with all due respect to the MPTF workers, when this speech is going on for so long it’s kind of reminding me why I tell authors to watch the head-and-shoulders gestures.  The best way to avoid going overboard is to try not to use them at all, and we’re at that stage with letting the acceptance speeches drone on for forever.

8:45 PM not a fan of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but Ann Roth has been designing great costumes for about as long as I’ve been alive, and I think I read that she is, at the age of 89, the oldest person so far to go home with an Oscar statue. Check out her filmography. It is the definition of illustrious.

8:31 PM & the best part of Daniel Kaluuya’s win is seeing the looks on the faces of his family members in London, something that would have gotten lost in the large scale of the traditional ceremony at the Dolby Theatre.  This evening is such a nice “if live gives you lemonade...” moment, for the first half hour.  LIke, the acceptance speeches are going on, but it’s nice for a half hour.  We’ll see how it goes for another two-and-a-half.

8:28 PM My nephew points out that we aren’t getting clips for the Supporting Actor category, but we are getting some personal notes which take excellent advantage of the intimate Union Station setting for this year’s Oscars. And I like it.

8:22 PM No surprise that Another Round won, but Quo Vadis, Aida is the better film.  I can’t rave enough about Quo Vadis, Aida. where you can read my mini-review, and why I am not super happy to see the glorification of alcohol in Another Round getting an Oscar.  There’s nothing to complain about as a piece of filmmaking, but...

8:17 PM I liked the Expedia ad.

8:12 PM Not sure I was expecting The Father to win for Adopted Screenplay, but I don’t mind that it has.  I mean, Florian Zeller is up at 2am in Paris France to get his Oscar.  Better he should get it than just pose in his tux.  And Christopher Hampton at 1am in the UK

8:09 PM Glad there was no orchestra to drown out that nice acceptance speech from Emerald.

8:07 PM As I mentioned in my pre-Oscar 3400 words, Emerald Fennell kind of had to win for Promising Young Woman. It’s a great script, full of fun with dark undertones and navigating shoals and shoals and shoals.  If I were ranking the nominated movies that you should see, this is right at the top of the list.  Promising Young Woman.

8:06 PM There’s this belief that Hollywood’s privileged, and it’s kind of true, but the intro for the Original Screenplay is making it clear that people have to work their way in.

8:03 PM “Our love of movies helped to get us through.” Very true for me.  So very, very true.  

8:00 PM I didn’t get to watch a lot of the red carpet, but I’m impressed with what I’ve seen of how they’re doing this.  Actual people in an actual place with an actual red carpet feel.  Good first impression.

7:58 PM We’re doing this!  I’ve got company, which I haven’t had for an Oscars in decades probably, but we’re doing some live blog here.

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