Holy crap, this got long in a hurry. Behind a cut it goes.
8:30: …looks like we’re going with a mashup-CGI montage to start off the show this year. Which has a lot of weird afterimages. Is that just me with the afterimages, or did some idiot at the Academy think “hey, you know what people like? Blur-induced headaches.”
8:31: Jon Stewart! Plus he is not blurry! This evening just got one thousand percent better.
8:32: Oh, good: the first of many, many shots of Jack Nicholson in his sunglasses. Because he is a bad boy, you know. He wears his colostomy bag with attitude.
8:33: First of many, many writer jokes. All of these have the unspoken addendum “and if you thought that strike was bad, wait for the Screen Actor’s Guild strike later this year…”
8:35: Daniel Day-Lewis looks really, really bad without facial hair. When did he get so emaciated?
8:36: Nicholson Count: three.
8:38: Okay, I’ll admit it: Diablo Cody, whatever you might think of her scriptwriting, is pretty goddamned hot.
8:41: Relatively lackluster monologue enlivened by Jon Stewart’s about black and women Presidents, followed up by “Gaydolf Titler,” which deserves to be a catchphrase.
8:43: Jennifer Garner presents the Costume Design award, presumably because she wore a lot of wigs on Alias. This is of course the “which costume drama wins it” award.
8:44: And it goes to Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which just goes to show you it doesn’t matter how goddamned terrible your period epic is – so long as the people are dressed up all pretty-like, you can get a trophy.
8:45: I was gonna say something about the winner’s speech, but it was fifteen seconds long. You know what I miss? Total nobodies being allowed to give proper acceptance speeches, thanking everybody they ever wanted to thank for anything because when would they ever be on national TV and get a chance like this again, et cetera. I’m not kidding: seeing how “normal” people react to an opportunity like that is vastly more interesting to me than watching Julia Roberts mug for the camera for ten minutes and fake crying.
8:46: And looks like we’ve got a “past Oscar winners reminisce about winning” motif for tonight. Which promises to be absolutely fucking deadly.
8:49: George Clooney introduces a clip reel of “80 years of Oscar’s best moments.” Which features a lot of quick single-frame shots that anybody not knowing the events therein would not recognize for a moment, and also, inexplicably, Celine Dion singing for half of it.
8:53: Steve Carell mock-slags Jon Stewart, then proceeds to pretend to introduce documentaries before being corrected that it’s actually animated features. He panics. “Is this being shown in Belgium?”
8:55: Ratatouille beats Persepolis, to nobody’s surprise. Incidentally, it hasn’t gotten much attention with the other two nominees rightfully getting tons of attention, but Surf’s Up is genuinely entertaining and intelligent, and well worth your time.
8:56: Brad Bird thanks his high-school guidance counsellor. It’s pretty funny. See, this is why you should let relatively non-famous people go as long as they like. He of course gets cut off by the fucking orchestra. FUCK YOU, OSCAR PROGRAM DIRECTOR.
8:58: Katherine Heigl pretends to be very nervous presenting the Makeup award. Suuuuuuuure you are, lady.
8:59: La Vie En Rose, which a lot of cynics predicted would win so that the Academy could award some high-end foreign flick and look sophisticated, wins. The winners get about thirty seconds before the orchestra cuts them off. FUCK I hate that shit.
9:00: Song performances! Woo! I love it when they actually do full performances rather than a medley. And Amy Adams is singing the first of the songs from Enchanted, which is fantastic, because Amy Adams is wildly awesome.
9:03: You know, credit where credit is due: when Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones first hooked up, I, like everybody else, made the May/December jokes. But you know, they do seem really natural and unforcedly happy together, in a way that a lot of celebrity couples just… don’t. So good for them, and so forth.
9:06: Wait, John Stamos is on ER now? Huh.
9:08: Dwayne “No Longer The Rock” Johnson presents the award for visual effects and pulls off a really great gag without overdoing it, and may I again say thank God that man got out of professional wrestling. Man, there is nothing in this category that was even remotely good in a popcorn sense this year. It’s entirely “man, I spent twelve bucks to see that in theatres?” movies.
9:10: The Golden Compass wins. Timing amount of time they get to thank their loved ones (some of whom are of course in the audience and looking so proud they might burst, and god knows we don’t need to see that): thirty-six seconds for four people.
9:12: Art Direction, presented by Cate Blanchett. Sweeney Todd wins (obligatory pan to Johnny Depp), and the stupid orchestra cuts off the two Italian people who won after a whopping forty seconds.
9:15: Best Supporting Actor montage. Capped by Cuba Gooding Jr. very nicely ignoring the orchestra telling him to wrap up, which you would think would be a signal of some kind.
9:17: Man, I forgot Jennifer Hudson even existed. Huh.
9:20: Javier Bardem wins, which surprises absolutely nobody because he was walking away with this thing. He notes that he has to speak fast (because he’s only winning one of the most important awards in the show, after all), then apologizes because he has to thank his mother in Spanish. Very polite, very unnecessary of him to do such a thing. Good (short) speech.
9:23: Nicholson count: eight (counting two appearances in clip montages, but he had the stupid fucking sunglasses on so it counts).
9:24: Okay, “Oscar’s Salute to Binoculars and Periscopes” was pretty funny.
9:25: Keri Russell is introduced as being the star of August Rush, which only makes sense considering she’s introducing the song from that movie, otherwise you have to think she would have been introduced as the star of Waitress, right?
9:28: I note that they had Amy Adams sing alone on stage, but for this song they not only have the full choir (most of whom are just lip-syncing, the cheaters) but also a bunch of people sitting in pews for visual effect. BIAS!
9:30: Owen Wilson! It is time for the annual Owen Wilson/Ben Stiller “hilarious” comedy sketch! Right? Right?
9:31: Or not. They just present Best Live-Action Short Film. Oh well.
9:32: Oh god, a Bee Movie thing? Didn’t they already release this goddamned movie? Do we need to see more promotion of it? Hasn’t anybody who was already willing to see Bee Movie done so already? Is there some hope that a indigenous tribe of Amazonian warriors, deep in the jungle, having only encountered civilization, might watch the Oscars and say “you know what? I think we need to see that movie about the bee that talks to people. Yes, before we buy penicillin.”
9:35: Best Supporting Actress montage, worthy only for reminding us that one year, everybody went fucking insane and gave Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar.
9:37: Best Supporting Actress – Saorise Ronan, I have to say, is cute as a button with James McAvoy (yes, yes, not Purefoy) elbowing her and her looking embarrassed to be on TV.
9:40: Tilda Swinton! Hot damn, I thought Cate Blanchett had it in a lock. And judging by Swinton’s reaction, so did she. I am genuinely happy about this – I love Tilda Swinton and everything she has ever been in (yes, even Constantine). And she makes fun of George Clooney for being in Batman and Robin, which is likewise fantastic.
9:41: Sidney Poitier gets an “I won an award” moment, and – well, if anybody’s gonna get one of these things, then Sydney Poitier should get one.
9:46: And Jessica Alba was this year’s ritual sacrifice to the moviemaking geek community, hosting the scientific and technical awards. She even manages to read the quick summary of the awards woodenly!
9:47: Nicholson count: eleven. HE IS A BAD BOY!
9:48: Best Adapted Screenplay award, doing the usual “quote classic lines” shtick, then Josh Brolin apologizes for his bad Nicholson impersonation. MORE NICHOLSON! WE MUST SEE HIM AGAIN AND AGAIN!
9:49: Oh, god, they actually filmed the writers tapping away at their laptops.
9:50: The Coens take it. One of them (Not sure if it was Ethan or Joel) completely forgots everything he was going to say. The program director quietly pumps his fist, having gotten a freebie! They could have eaten up valuable montage time!
9:51: A pretty neat “how we pick ’em” montage, which is actually kind of cool – explaining the process is always fun.
9:54: Miley Cyrus introducing a song. Because she sings! And Kristin Chenoweth performs! Because she sings too!
9:57: Oh my god, it’s a giant cheesy ostentatious dance number! They haven’t done a giant cheesy ostentatious dance number in years! My god, I’ve missed them.
10:03: Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill do a brilliant bit about which of them is the Judi Dench and which is the Halle Berry, which they tacitly admit has nothing to do with the sound editing award they’re about to present.
10:05: The Bourne Ultimatum takes it. The winners get forty-five seconds. Generous.
10:07: Okay, barring a major moment of brilliance, the Rogen/Hill “I’m the Halle Berry” routine is probably going to take moment of the night.
10:08: Bourne Ultimatum takes Sound Mixing as well. The asshole program director strikes up the orchestra after winner A mentions, very considerately, an Academy member and colleague who passed away this year, and doesn’t even let winners B and C say anything. Fuck that noise.
10:09: You know, usually by this point an Oscar landslide winner has picked up one or two lesser awards, and of the two favorites (No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood), No Country has picked up two so far and There Will Be Blood has diddly. This may be a sign.
10:10: Best Actress montage. Featuring two ASL signings of award acceptances (Louise Fletcher and Marlee Matlin).
10:12: Forest Whitaker presents Best Actress. You know, Laura Linney has to win an award one of these years. Is there anybody other than Meryl Streep who so consistently elevates the movies she’s in? (And Meryl Streep has a bunch of golden men already.) It’s not going to happen this year, but.
10:15: Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose – she was easily the dark horse pick, with Linney and Blanchett not really having any serious chance and Page and Christie being the favorites. That was surprising. Anyway, she pretty obviously didn’t prepare a speech and has nothing eloquent to say, but she’s obviously quite happy! So that’s nice.
10:17: …wait, that was awfully early for the presentation of the Best Actress award, wasn’t it?
10:18: IM from a friend also watching: ” i want someone to accept an award and go onto the stage with a megaphone, and use it to speak over the the music prompt.”
10:20: Wii ad disguised as comedy sketch. Good thing we had that time handy instead of wasting it on some acceptance speeches or something.
10:21: Colin Farrell, who is Irish, introduces the song from Once, which is also Irish. Confession: I didn’t really care too much for Once, which for me fell on the level of “technically proficient in all ways, but simply didn’t grab me.” The song, though, is gorgeous, and I’d love to see it win. It’s even being performed by the stars of the film (even playing their own instruments, seeing as how they wrote), who obviously are completely in sync with each other. This is one of the truly great Oscar song performances, up there with Elliot Smith’s haunting solo of “Miss Misery” and that year Randy Newman and Peter Gabriel dueted the song from Babe: Pig In The City (which I now want to look for on Youtube – it was that good).
10:24: Oh, fuck off, Jack Nicholson. Fuck off, Best Picture Montage that gets cut for anybody not watching the Oscars in hi-def TV. Fuck off, fact that Crash and Gladiator are on this list, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain aren’t.
10:29: God, this just goes on forever. It also reminds you that some Best Picture winners simply haven’t aged well despite having been good at the time (Platoon, Around The World In Eighty Days) and some are timeless (Marty, Patton).
10:30 I know when I think editing, I think Renee Zellweger.
10:31: And although editing is often a good bellwether for Best Picture winners (so is cinematography), they give it to The Bourne Ultimatum. Moral of the story: The Bourne Ultimatum, if it had been nominated for Best Picture, would have been a contender.
10:32: Jon Stewart gives props to the orchestra, who are doing a workmanlike job ruining the show at the behest of the program director.
10:33: Nicole Kidman introduces the Honorary Oscar for Robert Boyle, who still teaches and lectures on production design and art direction today, at the age of 98. Fun fact: Oscar winners live, on average, five to ten years longer than average – something to do with being recognized as a master (sort of) causing life to just generally be less stressful. Of course, Boyle (three times nominated, never won) didn’t seem to need that, but maybe he’s got another five or ten years in him now what with the honorary Oscar.
10:38: Yeah, no fucking way they’re cutting off a genuine Hollywood backstage legend with a legitimate right to refer to Alfred Hitchcock as “Hitch.” You talk as long as you want, Robert Boyle.
10:44: Penelope Cruz (she’s foreign!) presents Best Foreign Film. The Counterfeiters takes it, and I am happy because it’s absolutely brilliant. If you haven’t seen it, by all means finagle yourselves to see it. I can’t emphasize how good it is. It’s better than any of the Best Picture nominees, and the Best Picture nominees are all very good.
10:47: Patrick Dempsey introduces the third song from Enchanted, and I’m not sure if Amy Adams is dancing as her character in the dance number or if it’s just a lookalike. I should probably mention here, while I’m giving plaudits that Enchanted is a really fun movie and well worth a rental at the least.
10:50: Man, John Travolta’s hair is awfully short.
10:52: Holy shit, the song from Once won! I definitely wasn’t expecting that. That’s fucking great. What is not fucking great: the orchestra cutting off Marketa Irglova before she even gets to speak. What the hell. The program director officially needs to be shot like a dog.
10:55: Hey, what does Steven Spielberg have to say about winning an Oscar? Let’s find out!
10:58: Jon Stewart brings out Marketa Irglova so she can have a proper actual acceptance speech. This strikes me as being Jon Stewart during the commercial break saying very politely, but firmly, that she needed to get an actual fucking acceptance speech.
11:00: “Gaydolf Titler.” I just want to maintain my blog’s hit ranking for anybody searching for that phrase (I am currently number one in the entire world!) Gaydolf Titler Gaydolf Titler Gaydolf Titler.
11:01: Cameron “Looking More Like The Joker Every Single Day” Diaz introduces the nominees for Best Cinematography. Roger Elswit wins it for There Will Be Blood, which seemed likely because Roger Deakins made the mistake of being nominated twice for two excellent films and thus splitting his vote. Elswit thanks his production crew.
11:03: Memorial reel. Big applause rounds for: Jack Valenti, Suzanne Pleshette, Deborah Kerr, Ingmar Bergman, and of course Heath Ledger. (I have to say, I did not applaud for Jack Valenti, even if he was entirely sincere in believing that a native-product quota for Canadian theatres would deeply harm the American film industry, what with our simply massive consumption of such product in comparison to our own. And now they’re whining that we’re a nation of pirates. Wahh, wahh, wahh.)
11:10: Amy Adams (yay) presents Original Score, which goes to Atonement. (IM from friend again: “What are the odds that the musical score winners DON’T get cut off?” And it didn’t happen, despite him taking obviously a bit longer than average. Musicians, they stick together.)
11:13: Okay, can Jon Stewart just host the Oscars forever? Please?
11:14: Best Documentary Short is presented by GIs in Iraq. Hollywood cares!
(My roommate: “Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if, partway through the troops giving their little speech presentation, there was an explosion in the background?”
Me: “You are a horrible, horrible human being.”)
11:16: Some ladies who made a film about, I think, discrimination against same-sex couples win, and they’re very happy and emotional, and that is nice.
11:17: Apparently we don’t trust the grunts to do the feature documentary presentations. Or maybe it’s because a bunch of the films are war-on-terror-related.
11:19: Taxi To The Dark Side wins. I’ve seen it; it’s good. I would have preferred No End In Sight, but I can understand where that might be more polarizing, because the former is about what people would like to believe an isolated incident, and the latter is about how the war in Iraq is a horrible failure.
11:20: Hey, Michael Moore didn’t win! What will wingnut blogs complain about tonight? Hard money is on the Taxi To The Dark Side guy arguing for a return to firm constitutional law.
11:21: Elton John won an Oscar, you know!
11:25: Harrison Ford looks downright pissed off to have to present Original Screenplay. “Some punk kid sits down at their fancy computer and shits out some words…”
11:26: And Diablo Cody wins, unsurprisingly. She is total-fangirl up on stage, gushing over everybody, and she’s so impressed to be recognized like this, and she worships the other nominees and she loves her family and she breaks down crying. That was nice. Apart from the crying (because I am manly), that’s the sort of Oscar acceptance speech I’d like to give if I ever got the chance.
11:31: Best Actor montage.
11:32: Helen Mirren says a bunch of words and it is awesome.
11:33: You know, it really has to be said again, although it has been said repeatedly by many people this year: this is a fantastic year for nominations. Practically nothing embarrassing or underserved.
11:35: Daniel Day-Lewis wins, surprisingly absolutely nobody. Cute bit where Mirren “knights” him with the statue because “that’s the closest I’ll ever get to a knighthood, so…”
11:41: Best Director montage, leading off with the classic Lemmon/Matthau bit from way back when (the first Oscars I ever watched, even a bit).
11:43: Martin Scorcese presents Best Director, and it’s really interesting, because you have to understand fifteen years ago when Scorcese lost out for Goodfellas, nobody was surprised, because he had as many enemies as friends in the business if not more. And now, he’s idolized by the newer generations. And so it goes.
11:44: The Coens finally get their Best Director nod. Whichever one forgot his speech last time cleverly says he has nothing to add to his previous words. Frances McDormand is grinning like an idiot, which is entirely deserved and proper.
11:45: Final Nicholson count: twenty-three, counting the montages.
11:46: The Denzel (who, with a goatee, looks like Captain Sisko – admit it, it’s true) names No Country For Old Men the Academy’s 80th Best Picture winner, and the Coens take the stage once more, alongside some producer nobody knows and who gets the bulk of talk time, but he thanks his partner and chokes up and that’s adorable. And that’s the award show. One of the best Oscars in years, frankly. Good night!