8:12: Red carpet bullshit. Other people can blog this. I have my limits.
8:15: Oh jesus they’re doing recaps of the red carpet now?
8:16: No, seriously, whose idea was that, anyway? “Okay, we’ve got about fifty minutes’ worth of softball interview time, so let’s flashback towards the end of it and talk more about the dresses we already showed.”
8:21: Natalie Portman explains that Billy Crystal will be wonderful as host because he won’t be mean and he’ll only want to entertain. The Oscars are the only place and time on the entire planet where anybody expresses enthusiasm for Billy Crystal any more, you know.
8:25: Chris Rock says that he has given Billy Crystal some material but doesn’t know if Billy will use it. Let’s see if Billy is funny! Then we’ll know.
8:33: One minutes and thirty seconds – that was how long it took Billy Crystal to drag out his Sammy Davis Jr. impersonation. Which, it seems, now must be done in blackface. Good call there, Oscars! Boy, I sure am glad we fired Brett Ratner for being homophobic so Billy Crystal could be sorta-racist.
8:35: One thing about the BillyCrystalVerse that is in its favour: The Adventures of Tintin was, it seems, a much bigger deal than it was here.
8:37: One good joke in his first pre-singing part of the monologue (the economy and millionaires giving one another golden statues) and now we’re into the singing, which is excruciating. I mean, James Franco was really bad last year, but he didn’t sing, and at least Anne Hathaway was pretty. Billy Crystal is cheesy – not the good kind of cheesy either – and he’s fallen so deep into his schtick that the jokes are increasingly about his schtick. And he’s not pretty like Anne Hathaway. And he’s arguably less funny than Hathaway is now. Actually forget the “arguably.”
8:43: Tom Hanks gives away the award for Best Cinematography. Should go to Tree of Life or War Horse, I think, but ends up going to Hugo, which is not an indefensible pick. Does this mark the start of a Hugo landslide? And then ten seconds later we jump to Best Art Direction, which goes to Hugo as well. Interesting! And then they give the winners like fifteen seconds to accept their speeches because who cares about these people and their life achievements, am I right? Arrrrrgh I hate how the Oscars have cut down the victory speeches for non-celebrities to basically nothing.
8:45: Jaime Weinman, on Twitter, says that Art Direction always goes to a period film or fantasy film because otherwise the art director (is deemed) to be doing basically nothing. By my count, the last film which argues against this hypothesis is All The President’s Men, which won it in 1976. Ow.
8:51: Billy Crystal explains that the theatre is made up like the “movie palaces of our youth.” The movie palaces of my youth were strip malls with shitty seats, so I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. And to make his point here are a bunch of random scenes from famous movies! Quick – what do Jaws, Ghost, Avatar, The Princess Bride, The Godfather, The Hangover, A Few Good Men, Star Wars, Twilight, Amelie, Raging Bull and Midnight Cowboy have in common? If you said “they are all movies,” you are correct!
8:54: Costume design! Where Anonymous is nominated, amazingly enough, as celebrities explain why costume design is important. I was wondering if perhaps Hugo was going to go three-for-three, but no, The Artist takes it. Ugh ugh ugh The Artist.
8:56: Makeup! Will Albert Nobbs take it because Glenn Close pretends to be a guy, or will it be Harry Potter because wizards and monsters? Neither! It goes to The Iron Lady, and Meryl Streep’s odds of winning Best Actress just went up a couple points. Makeup people’s speeches are actually very nice and there is no musical hustle off the stage, so that’s all right.
8:59: And now: celebrities in a dark room will tell you about their first movies! Hilary Swank of course names three or four because she is an overachiever and she is all “and I won two Oscars already, not that I would tell you this.”
9:03: Ad for The Lorax. Hey, did you know the Lorax is now shilling for an SUV? Probably you did, but it turns out the Lorax is shilling for many other products as well! It’s almost as if they missed the entire point of the book!
9:06: Sandra Bullock says we are going “to try something new,” which is always a sign for “joke that will fail.” This time, it is Bullock explaining that she will be speaking in Chinese, but instead actually speaks in German. Which is the sign for Best Foreign Language Film, which goes – not surprisingly – to A Separation, because it was very good. In fact it was better than most of the Best Picture nominees! But this is nothing new. Also, I somehow managed to miss that a Canadian (e.g., Quebecois) film got nominated for Best Foreign Film this year. I’m out of the loop!
9:08: A Separation guy explains that Iran is actually mostly filled with people who don’t hate everybody, which should be a fairly non-controversial statement, which means it will enrage Fox and Friends tomorrow morning for at least two minutes and thirty seconds.
9:10: Christian Bale presents Best Supporting Actress because he won Best Supporting Actor last year. Did you forget about that? And it’s going to Octavia Spencer, which is not a big surprise because she has a good performance in what was, admittedly, a terrible movie, but at least she gets an Oscar out of it. Octavia completely melts down when she gets the award, which is cute. Maybe now she’ll get a post-Oscar career bump! Wait, no, that only happens to guys and young ingenues, and she is neither of those. Oh well.
9:18: Billy Crystal does a bit about old-timey focus groups, which actually means Christopher Guest and his usual gang get to do a really good bit about focus-grouping The Wizard of Oz, and that is nothing I can complain about. Then Billy Crystal thanks everybody famous who was in his terrible opening number and the show returns to being insufferable.
9:22: Editing! Usually goes to the winner of Best Picture, because most of the voters don’t really think about what editing is but assume the best movie is also the best edited. (Which, given that editing is supposed to be invisible and unnoticed, is not really the worst argument around.) Sometimes, though, it goes to a movie with very obvious and dramatic edits, because those films can say “hey, editing!” to voters. And it goes to… Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I do not think will win Best Picture and had showy editing. The winners clearly had no idea they were going to win and apologize for stammering by saying “we’re editors.” Heh.
9:25: Best Sound Editing, meanwhile, goes to Hugo, and there’s definitely some momentum building now.
9:27: Best Sound Mixing! Hugo is nominated for this one, and… yep that’s another win. See, in the last week, all of the buzz has been about The Artist, The Help and The Descendants. All of these technical wins for Hugo might indicate a steamroller building up, but then again with the exception of The Artist none of those films are particularly deep in the technical categories. In short: I have no idea what’s going to happen! This type of incisive analysis is why you tune in to these liveblogs, folks.
9:34: Kermit and Miss Piggy show up to be briefly amusing and break the tedium… by introducing Cirque du Soleil, who then present the opening number that the Oscars never have any more because they’re too cool to do that, I guess.
9:41: Robert Downey Jr. comes out with a camera crew claiming to be the subject of a documentary, and does a bit with Gwyneth Paltrow. Which is funny. (I am not one of those people who hate Gwyneth.) This is all to present the documentary award, which goes to Undefeated, the great football documentary which is approximately nine months away from being fictionalized by Disney.
9:44: And we have our first “play them out forcefully” moment of the night, because we need more time to make sure celebrities tell us about their first movie experiences while in a dark room.
9:45: Chris Rock does a brilliant bit about race and voice acting for the best animation awards, which unfortunately downplays the difficulty of voice acting, which is a problem Hollywood has nowadays. (I blame Robin Williams.) And the Oscar goes to Rango, because Pixar didn’t make a movie last year, despite rumours otherwise that they might have done. Those rumours were not true. Ignore them.
9:52: Crystal does a bit with Melissa McCarthy where she does her bit from Bridesmaids, because that is what Melissa McCarthy does now as deemed by Hollywood. Emma Stone and Ben Stiller do a bit and she is much funnier than him. Also, she is taller than him. Jonah Hill is in this sketch for approximately two seconds and is funnier than Billy Crystal has been all night.
9:54: Visual effects! Hugo is nominated: will it take the award from those movies with far more elaborate effects like Harry Potter or Rise of the Planet of the Apes? And it will! Momentum, Hugo has it.
9:57: EXTREMELY MEAN-SPIRITED JOKE I COULD HAVE MADE ABOUT THE MELISSA MCCARTHY/BILLY CRYSTAL BIT FROM EARLIER: “Man, Meg Ryan has gained a lot of weight.”
9:58: Melissa Leo shows up to present Best Supporting Actor. Christopher Plummer wins – note that he is wearing his Order of Canada pin! – and gets a mammoth ovation. Plummer gets off a crackerjack joke about how he was practicing his acceptance speech when he was born. Nolte looks pissed that he didn’t win. Christopher Plummer winning officially redeems all of the shittiness thus far of this year’s Oscars, which have been remarkably shitty.
10:07: Billy Crystal does his “telepathy” bit. Mostly lame, although Scorcese trying to play along with Crystal’s schtick is cute. Also, the dog from The Artist shows up, because it is my theory that secretly The Artist is so popular because people want to give the dog awards but there are no major awards where the dog is eligible.
10:11: Crystal actually gets off a decent joke about the stupidly elaborate stage prop for the musical portion of the awards. The world stops dead, the universe is instantly annihilated, and then we are all recreated anew. So that happened.
10:13: Best Original Score (as opposed to Best Stolen Score, removed as a category in 1931) includes a nomination for some film called “The Adventures of Tin Tin,” but who cares because The Artist wins its second award of the night! The composer has no formal training in music, because absolutely everybody involved with this film is a plucky underdog. His mike seems to be sorta metallic for some reason, which is probably why when he asks for another ten seconds to thank his wife, he gets it.
10:16: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifakanis come out banging cymbals. They are actually entertaining. Hey, remember when Best Original Song included performances of the songs? That was great. Now, you get ten seconds of the song. But since “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets won, nobody is going to complain about that, even though they should. Brett McKenzie doesn’t thank Jason Segel, and I wonder if Segel’s strained expresson is a bit or not. My guess is that it’s a bit.
10:23: I don’t know if Americans are getting similar ads at all, but here in Canada, that was about the seven hundredth advert for Missing, Ashley Judd’s new TV series. It is not making me enthusiastic.
10:24: Angelina Jolie presents Best Adapted Screenplay, telling us that people think writing is easy but in fact it is very hard! Nobody has trouble believing this. (People have trouble believing that when they write, it it hard for them to do it poorly.) The movies are presented with little minimalist art things like you would find on the Internet when people do those “hey what if movies were old Penguin books” dealies, which is nice. The Descendants wins in what is its first real opportunity of the night. So that is interesting!
10:28: Original screenplay. I have this sick feeling that The Artist will win, particularly after Bridesmaids gets one of its most boring scenes for the presentation reel. (They have been pimping its few nominees all night because a lot of people actually went to see Bridesmaids.) But no, Woody Allen wins for Midnight in Paris, because he really had a lot of difficulty writing a movie about a screenwriter who wishes he lived in the good old days.
10:31: Celebrities in a dark room talking about movies! Best bit: Reese Witherspoon admitting that her favourite movie is Overboard. Second best bit: Robert Downey Jr. saying “this needs Werner Herzog to say something complicated” and then cutting to Herzog. Worst bit: the rest of it.
10:37: Billy Crystal welcomes the entire cast of Bridesmaids, who are good enough to show up and juice ratings but not quite good enough to win awards. They are presenting short film awards, so Kirsten Wiig and Maya Rudolph make a bunch of dick jokes and instantly win my loyalty forever. The winners of the dramatic category are a father/daughter team, and dad says that “now I don’t have to wait till her wedding to say how brilliant she is,” and the audience goes “aww,” and then the daughter dedicates the win to her mother and the audience goes “awww” again. Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy interrupt their speech to shout “Scorcese!” and do shots. The Best Documentary short winners are the ones who did the one about plastic surgeons working in Pakistan and they give a short but enthusiastic speech. Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper don’t do anything really interesting. The Best Animated Short award goes to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, and the title is really long and I have nothing else.
10:47: For some reason, at the commercial breaks, the oscars have girls dressed up as old-timey confection vendors walking up and down the aisle. I’m not sure what the point of that was except to make viewers say “what the fuck?” But on that level, it certainly is effective. Because: what the fuck?
10:50: Michael Douglas sounds raspy and looks much more gaunt than usual as he presents Best Director. I hope he’s doing all right. The Best Director vignettes are unintentionally hilarious, especially the Terrance Malick one where the actors basically just throw up their hands and say “I don’t fucking know, okay? We don’t get it either.”
10:51: And the Oscar goes to Michel whatsisname from The Artist, which… fuck off. People keep asking me why I hate this movie, and my answer is this: you remember how people hated on, and continue to hate on, Shakespeare In Love for being fluffy and inconsequential? Well, Shakespeare In Love actually makes some statements about the ennobling pursuit of art above all, and about the craft of writing. The Artist says, figuratively speaking, not a goddamn thing. It actually merits all of the complaints Shakespeare got. That’s why I bitch about it.
10:56: The Governor’s Awards recap, which used to be the lifetime achievement awards they presented on the main show, but now that would take up too much time from covering the fucking red carpet, I suppose. Better to do a brief, edited recap and then trot out James Earl Jones, Oprah Winfrey and makeup artist Dick Smith for a perfunctory standing O. Ugh. The Oscars were always schmoozy and shamelessly opulent, but now they’ve become just soulless.
11:03: Memorial reel time. Billy Crystal gives a shout-out to two former Oscar producers: Gil Cates and the other one who died this year, who is not as important as Gil Cates apparently. The reel this year is filled with still images, because that is classier, I suppose, then actually showing the actors doing what they did on screen. God, they can even overproduce the memorial reel?
11:10: Celebrities sitting in a dark room talking about movies, part three! Jonah Hill explains that film people are crazy because they want their film to be the best thing ever and then says that it’s because they care more about the movies than themselves, which doesn’t quite work if you think about it for more than two seconds.
11:13: Natalie Portman presents Best Actor. Instead of having five actresses give actors verbal blowjobs this year, instead they are going to have Natalie Portman give all the blowjobs. In other contexts this would be far more enjoyable, but unfortunately we are on this Bataan death march of an awards show.
11:14: Portman claims that George Clooney made us all believe he was “just a regular guy,” which – not so much, and I liked The Descendants but Clooney is always going to be a movie star even if he gains weight to look schlubby. For Jean Dujardin, they pick one of the two non-silent scenes from The Artist just because they want to fuck with people. And then Dujardin wins and that fucking Artist score plays again.
11:19: Dujardin thanks Douglas Fairbanks for hosting the first Oscars and then screams a bit. He can get away with this, because he is French.
11:23: Colin Firth gives the ladies nominated for Best Actress their blowjobs, because the Oscars are equal-opportunity. Because he is Colin Firth, he can give the trite emotional boilerplate real heft and meaning. The only fun bits come when he references Mamma Mia while celebrating Meryl Streep, and when he tells Michelle Williams she taught him so much despite being twenty-three years younger than him.
11:29: And Meryl Streep picks up her third award for a great performance in an otherwise shitty movie. Somebody in the audience is screaming “YEAAAHHHH” over and over again. Despite the fact that Viola Davis probably should have won, I can’t get upset, because Meryl Streep is wonderful and awesome. She first thanks her husband and then her makeup artist, who won earlier tonight, and they both spoke about having worked together for thirty years, which is really nice.
11:33: Best Picture montage! Which is kind of pointless, since The Artist seems like a lock at this point.
11:36: Yep, The Artist. Ugh. Okay, I am out.