Sunday, February 26, 2012

LIVE from Los Angeles! The Academy Awards! In My Living Room!

I've never tried a Live Blog before, but it was very popular in 2006 and 2007, so I thought, "Better late than never." And I figured the Oscars would be a good thing to Live Blog about because they are live and I started a blog last week, but mostly because they are about the movies and also because I don't need to go anywhere.

Let's just make one thing clear: I was not invited to the Oscars this year.  I thought that might be because I moved on Dec. 30, which has caused all sorts of things to get delayed in the mail.  It's not, though.  It's because I'm not a member of the Academy and the few people I know who do get invited to the Oscars have never bothered to see if I want to go with them.

I take solace in the fact that those I know who have gone say it is really boring and you can't see anything except what's being projected on big screens all throughout the theater, so you might as well be home watching it on TV.

So, here goes my Live Blog.

Almost.  I have to run to the grocery store first.  Be right back.  (I hope I'm right back.  Will I make it in time?  The suspense is killing me.)

5:28 p.m.
They always talk about a billion people.  Last year, 37 million Americans watched the Oscars.  So, 970 million people outside of the U.S cared about the Oscars?  That just seems really hard to believe, since only about 10% of Americans watch.  But, Hollywood has never been particularly good at math.

5:30 p.m.
I wonder if they've ever considered doing the Oscars at different malls all over the country.

5:35 p.m.
I always like these openings.  But this one feels an awful lot like the intro to a theme-park attraction.

5:40 p.m.
"Watching millionaires present each other with golden statues."  That sums it up.

It can't be very easy to write jokes about movies that most of the "billion people" watching have never seen.

Does it seem like most of the audience can't understand a word he's saying?

It's funny that the set designer always bases the Oscar set on the kind of glorious, single-screen movie palace that doesn't exist anymore.  Better that, I guess, than a set that looks like the Regal 16 at Equestrian Crossing.

5:45 p.m.
Tom Hanks should host the whole dang thing.

I guess that guy's prepping didn't extend to getting a haircut.

Cinematography: Hugo over Tree of Life?  Hm, interesting.  I think that says less about Hugo than it does that Academy voters, like most people, didn't understand The Tree of Life, but, boy, it sure did look really beautiful.

Production Design: Does this mean that Hugo is getting consolation prizes, or did Oscar voters choose Hugo down the line?  Hmmm ... this is interesting.  But since Hugo and The Artist combined have grossed about $70 million, it continues Oscar's trend of honoring movies that most people haven't seen. That's why the ratings keep going down.

Meryl Streep may not get an Oscar, so she dressed like one.

5:55 p.m.
If someone is playing a "drink whenever you see Tom Hanks" game, they're flat on the ground by now.

That was a lovely montage, but what was the point?  If we're watching this, it's likely we like movies.

It's always curious ... do they not give these actors the scripts in advance?  Because most of them can't read the TelePromTer with any flair.  How is that?  These are supposed to be the best, highest-paid actors in the world.  But loved that way of introducing the nominees.  Terrific idea of showing the clips and having commentary.   Kind of renders the hosts unnecessary.

Is it just me, or does Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" look more like Dobby?

Warwick Davis!  WARWICK DAVIS!

When they cut to the audience, I'm surprised how few people I recognize.

Was that Barbra Streisand or a Gelfling?

Wow, that star-studded ode to the magic of the cinema was decidedly unmagical.  There's a reason these people do best when they are scripted!  That was an awful lot of talent falling very flat.

Just caught up with the "Dictator" red carpet gag with Ryan Seacrest.  There was really only one problem with the gag and with the overall stunt to get Cohen's character to be part of the Oscars ... it's not funny.  Like, did you even crack a smile?

6:07 p.m.
Sandra Bullock is awesome.  Especially when she speaks German.  She and Liz Lemon should get together.

Foreign Film: "A Separation" is hugely deserving.  That was a brilliant, unforgettable movie in any language.  Sadly, when you cut away to the audience, most people were clearly not paying attention.  Did I mention Sandra Bullock rocks?  Seriously.  She's gone from borderline joke 10 years ago to brilliance!  Love her!

Supporting Actress: Aw, she brought her mom!  (Jessica Chastain, I mean.)  Octavia Spencer -- who's that guy?  She deserved the award, but, boy that was probably the best, strongest category tonight.  Any of them deserved to win. Nice speech.  Years ago, when the actors used to thank their agents and managers, it was OK -- now it just sounds odd when they thank corporations.

6:18 p.m.
OK, this is good stuff.  "I didn't get the thing with the kids."  "There's lots of ugly faces in this film. I've never seen so many unattractive people."  "Was one green, or am I nuts?"  Sadly, that focus group actually would have resulted in changes today.  Hey Academy: More Christopher Guest!

Well, at least Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper can read.  They may even have rehearsed!

Film Editing: Hm.  I didn't see it, so can't comment too much -- but if it was as well done as The Social Network, then it's deserved.

I miss getting a quick explanation of what the sound categories are.  They are so important to the overall enjoyment of a movie, but in the Oscars they are relegated to second-class status.  Another win for Hugo (sound editing) ... interesting.  They're spreading the love around, for sure.

They really are selling these things short.  There is a great opportunity to help the "billion people" understand why these categories are important.  And why the same film often wins both, as just happened for Hugo (sound mixing), at the moment the big winner of the evening.  Wonder if that will change?

6:47 p.m.
Sorry, I was making a pizza.  Priorities.  Pepperoni, sausage and olive, if you must know.

The Cirque du Soleil thing must have been great live.  On TV ... it was a giant commercial and that's how it came across.

Best Documentary: Kind of a surprise.  Given how many excellent films got shut out of the category, I fully expected the celebrity-backed Paradise Lost 3 to take it home.  Glad it didn't go to a sequel to a sequel!

Chris Rock, did your mother tell you it's not polite to talk about how much money you make?  Especially after you just said it wasn't hard work compared with "real" work?  That came across as completely tone deaf. 999.8 million people are thinking, "Why do they give him a million dollars to do that?" The people in that room are thinking, "He only makes a million dollars for an animation project?"

Best Animated Film: Not Disney. Not DreamWorks. The times, they are a-changin'.

6:53 p.m.
More Emma Stone, please.  Emma Stone, Tina Fey and Sandra Bullock -- all the Oscars needs.

Visual Effects: Come on, couldn't we se a bit more of the work?  Fascinating that Hugo won.  There really needs to be a separate category for best animated performance.  Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes was astonishing.  But Hugo over Potter, too.  Verrrrrry interesting.

Supporting Actor: OK, trophy hasn't been given out when I'm writing this.  Doesn't it seem logical that a group made up primarily of senior-citizen actors will choose a senior-citizen actor?  I thought Beginners was fine, but it wasn't nearly as good as its reputation.  Max Von Sydow ... so, really, there are three silent performances this year?

Yep, Christopher Plummer.  I still only see Captain Von Trapp, sorry.  Nice speech.

I have a feeling this is all heading toward a Hugo win for Best Picture.

7:10 p.m.
This is the time of the awards when I always think, "Just get on with it."  If they'd just move it along at this point instead of more cutesy filler ... why do they do this?  It would be like having an entertainment act after ever play during the Super Bowl.

Dear Next Year's Producers: I just found six minutes you can cut out of the show.

Best Original Score: What the ... ?  No formal training in music?  The scores for The Artist (winner) and Hugo were both extraordinary.  Glad to see that the "controversy" over the use of the music from Vertigo didn't have an impact.  But, man, this show is continuing the tradition of ... boredom.  Come on!

Will Farrell, Zach Galifianakis, Sacha Baron Cohen -- when comedy actors think they're funny is when they are the least funny.  Will Farrell is like the Chevy Chase of the 21st century.  Not in a good way.

Best Original Song: Oh, wow, at least that incredible tension is over.  All the world was wondering.  And now we'll be humming Man or Muppet for the next few days.  What's that?  You don't know the song?  Never heard of it?  Hm. Yeah.

7:25 p.m.
One of life's great mysteries to me: Why is Angelina Jolie the "biggest movie star the world'?  I don't get it.

I have news for the writers and producers of the Oscars: Screenplays are about a LOT more than dialogue.  It would have been REALLY cool if the segment had showed how the screenplays set the stage, establish character, really are the entire blueprint for the movie. It's not just about writing dialogue.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Another good group of nominees.  Good choice for The Descendants, very amiable speech by Alexander "I Knew I'd Be Up Here" Payne.

Ha.  The Artist really screwed with that "let's show dialogue on screen" concept.  Best Original Screenplay -- I'd like to see any of these films win.  So happy for Midnight in Paris.  What a wonderful film.

Uh-oh, here come the talking heads again.  How cool would it have been to have mixed in real people?  What are they supposed to be doing here?  Their favorite movies?  What makes movies work?  I don't get this.  Adam Sandler: Jack and Jill was the truth.  You got that one right.

Watching commercials.  Hey Google, guess what?  Not everyone wants every picture saved instantly.  Remember Anthony Weiner?

7:37 p.m.
Those sci-tech awards actually looked fascinating.  I'd MUCH rather see more about those than best score and best song.  That stuff impacts ALL filmmaking.  At least give us an idea of where we can find more about those creations online.

The Bridesmaids: Cute.  Funny.  I wish these films had better distribution.  Again, couldn't the Oscar website host them, so we could check them out?  At least have the winner up as soon as it's announced.  Hey, that movie has Ciaran Hinds, who is terrific in John Carter, though his role is pretty brief.  Just had to get a John Carter mention in here somehow.

Documentary Feature: Once again, all of those movies look interesting -- can't the Academy tell us where we might find them?

James Cromwell has a crappy seat.  Poor guy.  There also seem to be a lot of empty seats toward the back of the auditorium.  Are even the attendees that bored?

Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger has been astonishingly accurate so far.  Very curious to see if The Artist goes all the way, because it seems to have been mostly, um, quiet up until now.

7:51 p.m.
Best Director: That was actually a minor nail-biter.  Such a fitting honor for a guy who tried something different, who wanted to experiment with the medium, who went backward to show the way forward.

Meryl Streep remembered her glasses.  Cute.  The Color Purple and Beloved aside, I still don't get what major contribution Oprah has made to the film industry.

8:04 p.m.
Oh, boy.  Here it comes.

I think it's getting a little out of hand ... this has become a major production.  Doesn't it seem Whitney Houston should have had at least, I dunno, maybe a sound bite?

8:13 p.m.
Coming up on three hours and still more filler.

Best Actor: Let's be honest, as much as the guy from A Better Life seems to be liked by the Hollywood insider club, can we all admit about six people saw this movie?  Even my mom, who sees any movie involving Mexicans, had never heard of it.

Come on, really?  They use the "sound" scene from The Artist?  Lemme guess, because the producers thought more people would "relate" to it?

Jean Dujardin over Clooney?  Now there's a real upset.  Incredible.  Clooney had a lock on the thing.  Not to say I'm not happy about it.  Very cool.\

$5 tickets for a 15-minute Oscar performance?  Now, that's an awesome idea.

Brangelina looks like they are really struggling to keep it together.

A tap dance!  Now there's an entertainer.

Great observation from earlier in the evening by my pal David:

"It was really weird that they gave an Oscar to "Saving Face", a film about a plastic surgeon helping women in Pakistan (who were attacked with acid) and then cut to Sandra Bullock who looks like a 
brunette Joan Rivers who is getting plastic surgery just because."

8:25 p.m.
Glenn Close ... we need to see MUCH more of her on the big screen.  She's one of the best actresses anywhere, but in typical Hollywood fashion, no one seems to know what to do with her, so she's on a TV series.  She looks radiant tonight.

Rooney Mara ... huh?  I don't get it.  (Yeah, I know, I haven't seen the movie, but I still don't get it.)

Meryl Streep was fantastic in that role, but the movie ... meh.

Michelle Williams -- still didn't see that movie, either.  I'm curious about it.  Gotta say, though, she seems single-mindedly determined to be a serious actress.

Wow ... another complete surprise.  I really didn't think they'd do it quite yet.  Love that both she and Viola Davis were in the front row.  No one knew for sure!  Love the look of surprise that was really on her face.  "But ... whatever."  Love it.

I know she's a great actress, that she's a consummate pro, but Meryl Streep always comes across as believable, sincere and genuine, despite her fame.  Maybe she really is just acting?  I hope not.

8:33 p.m.
Tom Cruise.  Interesting choice.

I'm still going with The Artist.  But I won't be surprised by Tree of Life, The Help or The Descendants.

Oh, yeah, or Hugo.

Or, come to think of it, Midnight in Paris.  Really good nominees this year.

This is the first time I've actually wanted  to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Very nice montage there.  Love how they're doing this.  Actually feels suspenseful!


Awesome.  Very pleased.  The Artist is a fantastic film.  Some find it too lightweight, others think it's too clever or somehow not really that important because it's got a "slight" story, or complain it's just a novelty.

To them, I say ... it's a movie.  It's a glorious movie.  It sends the audience out of the theater feelign happy, feeling joy.  Now it will have a bigger audience -- more people will discover it.

OK, that's done.  Now I'm gonna watch The Amazing Race.

Good night!


  1. Watching the Tom Banks sneak peak backstage.@ The Kodak, is it.still called.that?

  2. I'm reminded that I missed both Mission Impossible and Tin Tin this year.

  3. Yup my guess is Hugo for Best Piicture too!