Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Oscars ... Live from Sherman Oaks!

Back in 2012, I did a live blog from our sofa as we watched the Oscars and got fat on some terrible junk food that no single person filing in to the Dolby Theater would ever think of putting into their bodies.  Wait a second ... I've seen some of the nominees.  To a lot of them, what I eat would qualify as health food.

Anyway, the following year I got invited to actually attend the Oscars.  So, I reasoned, if it happened once, it could happen again.  Therefore, I'm getting situated in front of our TV screen, which affords me a better view of the action than anyone except perennial front-row-seated Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson are guaranteed.

(I discovered back in 2013 that the majority of people you see on camera at any given time are seat fillers, since the real action at the Oscars takes place in the lobby of the Dolby Theater, where several bars are prominently situated.  If you ever go to the Oscars, my recommendation is to bolt out of the theater at the first commercial break and hightail it to the orchestra-level bar area.  You'll get views you won't forget, but mostly everyone stands around like people at a corporate convention, smiling and waving to everyone else while mumbling under their breath what they really think.)

OK, now, before we get going, I have to finish up this batch of hot wings I'm making.  So, see you again around 5:30 p.m. PT.  Until then, have fun watching the pre-show!


4:41 p.m. -- Chicken wings take a lot longer to make than you might think.  (Sorry, that had nothing to do with the Oscars.)

5:04 p.m. -- Emma Stone should just host the whole thing.  How does she manage to be glamorous yet normal?  She's great.  I didn't care for Birdman, but I'd sure be happy if Emma Stone won the Oscar.

5:06 p.m. -- Do you think Naomi Watts is just as confused as the rest of us about what the heck happened to her character in Birdman?  She just kind of disappeared from the movie.


5:28 p.m. -- Chicken wings still baking.  That was as poorly timed as David Letterman's "Uma-Oprah" bit.


5:30 p.m. -- Neil Patrick Harris already looks like a better host than any the Oscars have had in years.  He takes the stage like he owns it.

Nice way to get a plug in for "Clue: The Movie."

This is exactly what the last couple of years have lacked.  Great opening.

Hey, a Sondheim parody!  Exactly what gets everyone in Iowa all excited!  (But a great Sondheim parody, nonetheless.)


5:40 p.m. -- Lupita Nyongo'o is one beautiful woman.  Let's assume she doesn't play Yoda.

Supporting Actor -- J.K. Simmons delivered the best performance of the year.  By anyone.

"So far, 100% predictable," says Jeff.

"Listen to them as long as they want to talk to you." That's a beautiful sentiment.  Great job in not thanking the agents, lawyers, publicists, etc.  How refreshing.


5:49 p.m. -- Oh, that's right.  A long time ago, Liam Neeson used to be in serious movies!

5:51 p.m. -- Everyone's going, "What was Begin Again?"  I'm not sure I can help answer that question.

Begin Again starred Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.  What?  Who knew!


5:57 p.m. -- Sign me up for the gift bags.

5:58 p.m. -- Costume Design: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel continues the 100% predictability trend.  But it's certainly a deserving win.

6 p.m. -- Makeup and Hairstyling -- Another win for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is really good because you shouldn't reward makeup for delivering a performance like it did in Foxcatcher.  And now I've already forgotten the third nominee.  Sorry to whomever it was.

Nice shout-out to Dick Smith, one of those names we all remember from the behind-the-scenes magazines growing up.

6:03 p.m. -- It's always fascinating to find out which actors can read Teleprompters and which can't.


6:10 p.m. -- Foreign Language Film: Ida.  There goes my office pool.

This guys is awesome!  Why should you be forced off the stage for the sake of a broadcast?  Ha -- love how much he ignored the loudest music possible.  I wonder if they would have just had Shirley MacLaine come out and start her presentation even if he were still rambling on?

It's a shame that the studios submit their own "sizzle reels" to portray Best Picture nominees.  They just look like badly edited commercials.

Aha!  My seat-filler description was right on target, you see?

"Everything is Awesome" is a cute song, but it's no "Happy."

That's a pretty freaking awesome commercial for Lego.  I imagine every brand is thinking about how they could make their own film.  The Clorox Movie.  The Lysol Movie.  The Purina Movie.  I mean, that's a LOT of air time for a commercial!


6:25 p.m. -- "The most well-adjusted former child actor in the room."  I was REALLY hoping it would be Kirk Cameron.  That would have been wild.

Live Action Short Film: The Phone Call.  Nope.  I'm not winning that office pool by any stretch.

Aw, there's always that one guy in a duo who never gets to speak.  I wonder how long they hold grudges?

Documentary Short Subject: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.  Two movies about crisis hotlines.  I wonder if Academy voters are trying to send a hidden message.  Sounds like the industry might need something like this.  Business idea: Crisis Hotline: Academy Award WINNERS, press 1; Academy Award NOMINEES, press 2.

Well, someone shows some class, at least.  The word "suicide" got the orchestra to shut up.

"Takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that."  Well done.  My concerns based on that seat-filler gag that NPH couldn't think on his feet have been entirely dispelled.

Whoever recommended to David Oyelowo that he wear a red tuxedo should ... get their own Oscar!

"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" is also what McDonald's says to Gwyneth Paltrow.

NPH is really, really trying, but this is a really, really dull show so far, despite the Lego commercial.

We're an hour and 10 minutes into this thing, and so far only two major awards have been given out.


6:25 p.m. -- Neil Patrick Harris shirtless.  He's certainly going for the gay audience.  (I'm not complaining.)  Artfully arranged tighty-whities, too.  That's all 100% natural!

It's kind of amazing that they'll still air the live-action short film category as part of the broadcast, but the technical achievements that directly affect what moviegoers see on screen aren't part of the awards ceremony.  There should be a way to provide more of that fascinating behind-the-scenes insight to the not-1-billion-people who are watching.

Sound Mixing -- Whiplash.  Well done.  Even though I'm someone who's still a little confused about the difference between the two sound categories, I do know that sound was more than 50% of the experience of Whiplash.  What a great, great movie that is.  If you haven't seen it yet, stop waiting.  Extraordinary.

Sound Editing -- American Sniper.  Well, maybe I still have a chance at that office pool after all.

Clint Eastwood looks more and more badass every year.  Still, though, it's odd to see the chair beside him actually occupied.

Prom Night 1985 called and asked Jared Leto for his tux back.

Supporting Actress -- I still think there could be a surprise here.  But I'm not holding my breath.  I sure hope they get to take home those Lego Oscars.

Patricia Arquette.  Nope, I guess no surprises.

Oh, hey!  There's a huge surprise!  It suddenly started pouring rain outside.  That's the most exciting moment of the evening so far.


7 p.m. -- Beyond the Lights.  Begin Again.  Both Oscar nominees, which is more than most movies can say.  You remember Beyond the Lights, don't you?  No, really.  It came out last year.  I swear.

Apparently this musical performance is why Jared Leto was wearing that tux.  All we need now are Molly Ringwald and Michael Schoeffling.

Visual Effects -- Interstellar.  Interesting.  It wasn't the front-runner.

Holy crap, DirecTV just lost sound.  And the awards show might be better this way!

Sound is back, just in time for another scintillating acceptance speech.

Ooh.  The theme from Dirty Dancing.  Continuing the 1980s prom theme!

Animated Short Film - No, Kevin Hart, theses are not what you called cartoons.  These are much different than that.  Feast.  It was certainly cute.  I have to admit I was disappointed Glen Keane's Duet wasn't nominated.

Animated Feature Film -- I've got my fingers crossed for Hiccup and friends.  Suddenly the tension ratchets up for me.  I sure hope this is one category where there are no surprises.  Big Hero 6.  Oh, man.  Oh, man.  Oh, man.  That was indeed a surprise.  It's going to be a hard day at work tomorrow.  So much for it being a night of no surprises.


7:22 p.m. -- Production Design -- The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Why couldn't this have been the category that surprised?

The bellhop kid from The Grand Budapest Hotel should have put on his little mustache.  The way the camera keeps cutting to him, I think we're going to be seeing more of him in the future -- he's adorable.

They should have played the 007 theme for Idris Elba.  Just for fun.

Cinematography -- Birdman.  But if you're confused, it's because I don't think they actually said the name of the film.  Interesting that it's the only Birdman award of the night so far, which I'd love to think could herald a come-from-behind win for The Grand Budapest Hotel (not a film I loved, but I liked it a lot more than Birdman), but again, I'm not holding my breath.  Though after that loss for How to Train Your Dragon 2, I guess anything is possible.  I'm still reeling from that one.  Even if weren't a little personally involved in that race, I would have still been surprised.  How to Train Your Dragon 2 really is a fine, fine film.

Two hours after it began, the show still has almost all the major categories left to go.  I wonder if half the country isn't actually in bed by now?


7:31 p.m. -- Morbidly, this is always the most fascinating part of the evening, the In Memoriam.  Lovely combination of Meryl Streep and Marvin Hamlisch's haunting Sophie's Choice theme.  So very odd to see Robin Williams' name on that screen.

The somber theme sure fits after that Animated Feature category.  Was that really 20 minutes ago already?

While I'm not a particularly big party-goer, I find it very hard to believe that Good Morning America has the ultimate Oscar "after-party."  I imagine there are some slightly better festivities going on tonight in L.A.


7:43 p.m. -- What's a film editor?

Film Editing -- Whiplash.  That falls into the "surprise" category, too.  Could Oscar voters be showing their love for Whiplash?  Three wins each so far for Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash, but one for Birdman.  Could those awards be potent signals?

I'm mildly worried for Terrence Howard right now.  Strange.

Is Neil Patrick Harris pronouncing David Oyelowo's name correctly?  Or have I been pronouncing it incorrectly?  Hmmm.

Documentary Feature -- Citizenfour.  I'm curious to see this film.  It's been surprisingly difficult to find documentaries in L.A. recently.  Or maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

I've never seen anyone look more bored than Reese Witherspoon just did.


8:02 p.m. -- Good performance of a good song from an incredibly undervalued movie.  Selma is a fine, fine film.  David Oyelowo just had the most human reaction of any Oscar attendee.

Hey!  It's Adele Dazeem and Liberace!

Best Song -- Huh?  Danielle Brisbois? "Glory" from Selma.  Very nice to see the Academy members acknowledging that they did wrong by this film.  This win wasn't unexpected, but it's nice to see the movie recognized somehow.

"There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850."  That's a stunning statement.  Great speech.

I think they use "Pure Imagination" as a musical cue every year.  You won't hear any complaining from me!  One of the best movie songs ever written (and performed).


8:13 p.m. -- I'm not sure 11:13 p.m. Eastern time is the best time to stop the show for a retrospective on an individual move, no matter how much I love The Sound of Music.  And I love me some Sound of Music!  But I also would love to think this whole thing will be over in less than four hours.

Lady Gaga doing The Sound of Music.  I take it back.  Let's watch.

If she's really, truly doing that -- live or taped -- I think we have just found our new Maria.  That's impressive.  Though I'm not sure how Mother Superior would feel about those tattoos.

Will Gaga end this medley with "Clang Clang Clang Went the Trolley" like the Sweeney Sisters.

Note to Oscar producers: Have Neil Patrick Harris give out all the awards and Lady Gaga do all the songs next year.  You'll cut down the show by three hours and you'll have a better show.

It's a shame that had to happen at the THREE. HOUR. MARK.

Best Original Score: My money's on The Theory of Everything, but at this rate, who knows? And the Oscar goes to ... The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Well, the hotel certainly seems to be the place to stay this evening.  It's a movie I enjoyed very munch, but my mind was often elsewhere the night I saw it, as beautiful Edward died the next day.  I may have to see it again!  I'm not a big Wes Anderson fan, but this was certainly one of his most purely enjoyable, fully accessible films.  If not his very best to date. is calling this year's show a "yawn-fest instead of the usual snorefest."  Well, despite the length, they are keeping it interesting ... for the relatively small numbers of people who saw the films that are dominating so far.  For the record, the longest Oscar ceremony was in 2002, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, which lasted 4 hours, 23 minutes.  This one might not be far behind.  (The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings won Best Picture that year.)

Best Original Screenplay -- Birdman.  There it is.  The key indicator, probably.  Unless it's Birdman's major recognition?  I don't know anymore.  I just don't know.

Fun fact: During commercial breaks, people come around and hand out snacks to the attendees.

Best Adapted Screenplay -- The Imitation Game.  That's a genuine surprise; I had expected this to be a lock for Whiplash.  Great to see a first-time writer win.

Another wonderful speech that used the moment to say something, not just to thank agents.  Terrific!


8:38 p.m. -- Three hours, 8 minutes.  Einstein's theory of relativity in action.

(Side note: Once Upon a Time is still on the air?)

Best Director -- Birdman.  OK, so there it really is.  I'm wondering when it will dawn on Hollywood that Birdman is this year's Crash.  Birdman was certainly an accomplishment, but it left me completely cold.


8:49 p.m. -- I wasn't bowled over by Foxcatcher, but doesn't Steve Carell just seem like a cool guy?

The first Hollywood-type interview I wrote and got paid for it: Michael Keaton.

Best Actor -- Eddie Redmayne.  I mean, come on ... that performance.  The work he did was just incredible.  The movie wasn't as good as his performance, but he was absolutely amazing.

Funny how they don't strike up the band for these particular acceptance speeches!

Matthew McConaughey didn't come out driving a Lincoln?  What's that about?

Best Actress -- Julianne Moore.  Well, since she got a clip that was twice as long as everyone else's, I guess it was a given.  But definitely deserved.  Harrowing, absorbing movie.  And what a backstory -- had no idea one of the directors has ALS.

Rosamund Pike does the whole "I'm-so-happy-for-her" thing very well.

NPH is rocking the purple velvet very well.  He needs a chocolate-brown top hat.

But that Oscar prediction gag sure fell flat.

9:03 p.m. -- OK, here we go.  Is it Birdman that will take flight, will Boyhood be all grown up?  Or will it be a surprise?

Let's see ...



OK, that's it.  Let's all come back next year.