I am very aware that there’s a new episode of “The Amazing Race” waiting for me on the DVR right now.
That probably isn’t a sign that this has been an exciting Oscarcast.
Spielberg prepares to hand out the “Best Picture” award.
Nice touch: clips of the nominees, with that tremendous final speech from “The King’s Speech” playing throughout. In essence demonstrating why “The King’s Speech” should win.
It goes to “The King’s Speech.” There’s a huge mob of Brits out there on the stage. Which one of them’s Banksy?
Whu…? They’re marching a children’s choir up on stage to sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow?”
When the show’s over and everybody’s ready to go?
When pretty much the whole TV audience has already changed to see if there’s a “Family Guy” rerun on somewhere?
I do like it when all of the winners come out as a group, though.
Jeff Bridges presents Best Actress. See? Even The Dude puts on a proper tux for the Oscars. And who’s cooler than The Dude?
They’ve done away with the “five different movie stars stand on the stage and directly address and eulogize each of the five nominees” bit. Now it’s just The Dude delivering the platitudes. Am I right in thinking that each of these five nominees would rather just end all those weeks of torture and read the name without any further delay?
Natalie Portman wins for “Black Swan.”
This year’s nominees was something of a low-water mark for me. Not only did I fail to see any of these nominated movies…I’ve only even heard of two. “Black Swan” was hands-down the biggest film of the batch, but I was put off by the sense that there was a lot of topsy-turvy “But are we seeing what’s really happening…or do we only think we know what’s really happening?” nonsense in the flick.
Sandra Bullock appears to hand out the Best Actor award. I’d love to see Jeff Bridges win but I can’t imagine it not going to Colin Firth. They’re both “Oscar-ey” kinds of roles and performances. I remind myself that there are no rules, and that any observations about what wins Oscars are absolutely true except for all the times they aren’t.
But! The eye is always drawn towards (1) Period dramas, (2) Characters based on real people, and (3) Performances where you can “see” the acting happening. Jeff Bridges got two out of three, Colin got three.
And it’s Colin Firth. Who, yes I’ll say it, wasn’t bad at all in “Momma Mia.”
Hilary Swank introduces Catherine Bigelow, last year’s Best Director.
Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit.
It’s Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech,” of course. Thanks his Mom, because she was one of a handful of people who saw a staged reading of the script for this movie, and she then called her son and said “I think I’ve just found your next movie.”
Annette Bening presents a clips package of tiny, tiny fragments of the dinner during which the Academy gave their big, career-spanning “oh, the great contributions you’ve made to the movies” awards. The honorees (minus Godard) are begrudgingly allowed to walk out onto the stage right before the commercial, but only if they agree not to try to say anything.
This has been a very flat Oscarcast, hasn’t it?
Now the Memorial reel, for all the people who died.
Oh, dear: Celene Dion singing “Smile.”
There’s always a lot of discussion about how hard the producers work to include those who passed away shortly before the telecast. I wonder if they’ll have time to include Charlie Sheen’s last scrap of sanity?
And I wonder how much of this is a logic puzzle. I remember the In Memoriam video that Turner Classic Movies ran at the end of 2010. I had to imagine that the editors were secretly sort of pleased that Leslie Nielsen, Barbra Billingsley, and Peter Graves all died in the same year. “Oh, I am so totally going to put all three of them together, with clips from ‘Airplane!’!”
Whoof…Halle Berry is quite the slice of awesome. And it’s nice to see Lena Horne get her own clip. Here’s a rare example of how the Oscarcast has improved. A legend dies. Easy answer: show one of his or her performances. This isn’t an opportunity for the producer to bung in one of his agent’s other clients to do a fake tribute and get some attention.
(Most egregious example: When Gene Kelly passed away, the Oscarcast (produced by Quincy Jones) had Savion Glover do a tapdance number. The number had nothing to do with Gene Kelly or his work. It was just a random Savion Glover dance, where you really can’t see his face or his body and he’s mostly just angry at the cockroaches he thinks he can see crawling across the stage.
Winner of Best Short is now talking to the press. Movie was his NYU graduate film program thesis.
Best Song from “127 hours.” Meh. Too “Windham Hill” for my tastes.
Gwyneth Paltrow singing her song from her movie. It’s an interesting peek into the difference between a professional singer and a talented amateur. She sings as well as many pros could sing that song. But you can see how hard she needs to focus and work to sing it the way she wants it to sound. The pros on the stage have long since made that into a background process.
I can’t think of any song that I really like this year.
Randy Newman wins. Okay.
“I don’t want to thank all these people from the studio. I know that’s not good television…I always bring the whole show down…”
Billy Crystall takes the stage, which is a major tactical error. Listening to Anne Hathaway’s intro made me think “The Oscars absolutely needs the right kind of host…a true emcee that can race out there and keep the energy up.” And then out he comes, injecting the first real life into the show of the evening.
The host needs the ability to read the room, moment by moment, and make adjustments as necessary. I’m not getting that from tonight’s hosts.
Are we now seeing a tribute to Oscar hosts? Another tactical error: if tonight’s hosts were already shown up by Billy Crystal, how bad will they look when we all get to see what kind of job Bon Hope used to do?
Ends with Bob introducing Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. I wonder who did the voice-alike? That’s a challenge. Not only is Bob Hope dead, but most of the people who could mimic Bob Hope are dead now, too.
Best Visual Effects. This category is getting more and more interesting, and relying more and more on the studios pulling back the curtain on the process. A starship plows into Las Vegas, disgorging platoon after platoon of alien commandos? Fab: you understand the effects. But these days, spectacular effects also means “two characters walking along an ordinary street.” Because the production could only afford to block off one corner of downtown Philadelphia, and everything from the end of the block to the horizon is actually just digital set extension. Oh, and it was shot at 2 AM, so all of the midday lighting is actually fake.
Award goes to “Inception,” and bravo for that. I can’t imagine how this movie would have worked ten years ago.
Best Film Editing. Another category for which I rarely have an instinct. Very few movies are obviously built upon the editing. “Memento”? “Pulp Fiction”? Sure. Otherwise, it’s hard for a layman to intuit just how much a movie owes to decisions that were made in the editing suite, not on the set or during the writing.
Best Documentary Short goes to “Strangers No More,” while Christian Bale fields a question about Charlie Sheen backstage and makes fun of a reporter’s hat.
I wonder how YouTube has affected the importance of this award. An Oscar is always supremely desirable but now the filmmakers have so many other ways to get lots of attention for their work. How does the filmmaker’s life change after winning a Best Documentary Short Oscar?
“God Of Love” wins. I instinctively LOVE this guy (Luke Matheny) because he’s tall and awkward and has a huge bushy Afro for which he apologizes to the audience, earning warm laughter.
(Another shout-out to iTunes.)
One thing for sure about YouTube and streaming media: now there’s a great chance that people will actually get to see these nominated movies.
A very sweet acceptance speech that includes “To my Mom, who did the craft services” (another big warm round of cheers).
Next: a comedy music video made by autotuning a scene from Harry Potter, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and that Pouty Vampire movie. This was more important than allowing Eli Wallach to accept his award on television.
Oprah takes the stage to present Best Documentary. You know, I think apart from Kirk Douglas she’s the first example of a Big Star presenting an award tonight. Tom Hanks would have made the list but they gave him an awkward bit to read.
“Exit Through The Gift Shop.” Will Banksy take the stage? It’s moot: “Inside Job” (the doc about how bankers gamed the loan industry and intentionally created economic chaos) wins.
Charles Ferguson wins Best Tie, thus far. Further endears himself by starting off by saying “Not one executive has gone to jail” before issuing his thanks.
I’m still disappointed that “Kings of Pastry” wasn’t nominated. One of my fave films of 2010.
James Franco has swapped the pink satin gown for a tux wth a grey shirt and dark grey tie. It isn’t an improvement.
Marissa Tomei sets up the clips from the Scientific & Technical Awards. I wonder why they don’t include more of this. This is terrific, visual stuff, pertaining to the true magic of movie-making.
“Congratulations, nerds,” says the Hollywood pretty-boy when the 30 seconds of clips are over with.
Achievement in makeup. “Barney’s Version” looks neat…lots of good old-age stuff. I missed this one but am eager to check it out. Paul Giamatti = “I want to see this.”
But it’s hard for Rick Baker to fail to win for wolfman makeup.
UGH. Black on black on black on black tuxedo again. It’s starting to annoy me now.
(It’s still better than that incredibly lame black pleather muu-muu that some effects guy on “The Matrix” collected his award in. Among men’s Oscarwear, it is the Bjork “dead swan” dress.)
Best Costume Design goes to “Alice In Wonderland.” I think this category goes straight-up to the flashiest nominee.
I wonder how hard it is for these nominees to choose a dress/tux? Instinctively I want to think “she’d want to use this as a way to show off what she can do with design,” but if I think about it a minute longer I realize that she would achieve the same goal much better by demonstrating “I thought about the event and the context and chose the perfect garment to suit the moment.” She’s in a Very Lovely Gown.™
Now it’s a montage of clips of people interviewed on Hollywood Boulevard answering the question “What’s your favorite movie song?”
For the rest of the evening, every segment that’s not an awards presentation fights against the thought “And this was more important than bringing Jean-Luc Godard on stage to collect a lifetime achievement award.”
Kevin Spacey is now singing for some reason. Probably because he’s in front of an audience.
Good! Apparently they’re actually going to perform all four nominated songs. First up is Randy Newman.
I retract my earlier statements that “Every Randy Newman song sounds like every other Randy Newman song…and every Randy Newman song sounds like a toilet-paper jingle.” I only think that’s true of his movie songs. His “Toy Story 3” tune is different enough, I guess, but it lights no fires with me.
I wonder if his “movie song” process is different from his other songwriting process? “God’s Song” is just flat-out an incredible song and I can’t possibly imagine that it was written by the same dude who wrote “I Love To See You Smile” three times for three different movies.
(Clips shown during the song. Ends with the end shots from the movie. Christ almighty, I almost started tearing up.)
Mandy Moore and Zack Levi sing “Some Damned Song From ‘Tangled’.” Well, Alan Menken wrote it. But it’s really like a box of brownie mix. Very sweet, very constant from one year and one brand to another. You hardly process this song at all.
See? This is why we come out for the Oscars: to see glittering stars like the President of the Disney/ABC Television Group.
Switching over to the iPad app, where David Seidler is talking to the press. He says he’s OK with the upcoming PG-13 edit of “King’s Speech.”
Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. I see that “Cream-colored gown studded with crystals” is the theme of the evening. Kidman’s dress is pretty good, too.
Time for the Sound categories. Is that John Williams conducting the slide-out orchestra? I spot two themes of his (“Lawrence” being the odd man out. And “West Side Story.” No, now the lights are up and that’s not him. Seems like an odd quartet of selections, doesn’t it?
Original Score: Good, the orchestra is playing selections.
Will the winner be…BWWWAAAHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMM?
“Social Network” is so in there with a shot. Perfectly attuned to the subject and impossible to divorce from the movie.
I think “Inception’s” problem is that it was SO in your face. But damn, that score sold a lot of copies of “Non, Je Regrette Rien,” didn’t it?
(You did realize that most of the underthemes were that exact same tune, slowed wayyyyyy down?)
Yes! It’s Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. Well-deserved.
Surprising nobody: the screenwriter of “The King’s Speech” is giving a long,very good speech. “I’m not a monarchist,” he’s saying. “Nor am I an anti-monarchist. Most nations need a symbolic leadership apart from the head of state…”
Best Sound. Usually a honeytrap for lame comedy bits.
Traditionally a hard one for me to call. I still have no idea what the voters are looking for. “Inception” probably needs to win an award tonight, though, wouldn’t you agree?
Oscar goes to: “Inception.” Let’s pretend that I was confident of that one all along. Must say that the sound is part of what made that movie such an immersive mindcluck.
Black on black on black on black on black. You know, if any one of these guys switched two or three pieces of clothing with Xavier “ice cream man” Barden, both men would have looked much better.
Sound Effects Editing. “Inception” or “Toy Story 3,” don’t you think?
Yes, “Inception” again.
“Inception” would have made my Top Five list of 2010, if I made those lists. I don’t think it could have won any major awards, though. So much of its running time is given over to laying out the rules for the Fantastic Story To Come. That couldn’t have been avoided but it probably closed the door on a bunch of awards that it probably deserved.
Coke commercial shows a national-level — dare I say Presidential — politician chugging down a Diet Coke just before taking the podium and addressing an arena filled with tens of thousands of people.
“My fellow Ameri…*BRAAAKKKKKK!!!!*…er, ‘scuze me…”
Ann Hathaway, doing a singing number in which she pretends that Hugh Jackman bailed on a planned duet. Wow, does this ever not work. The premise: that there was a last minute cancellation for which the telecast was unprepared. They didn’t have time to find a replacement, but they had time to write a brand new comedy number referencing it.
See, if the bit were funny, none of that would have mattered.
Annnd now James Franco comes out in drag. Pop quiz: is he (a) Marilyn Monroe, (b) Madonna as Marilyn Monroe, or (c) Anna Nicole Smith as Marilyn Monroe?
Answer: (d) “Regretting he let someone talk him into this.”
Best Foreign Film, presented by Russell Brand and Dame Helen Mirren. Brand looks a little like “Weird Al” Yankovic’s slightly shifty older brother. He’s on my “I don’t get this” list.
Best Foreign Film goes to “In A Better World.” Haven’t seen a dang one of the nominated movies.
The video on the iPad app stream appears to be about five or ten minutes behind the TV feed.
Best Supporting. I was very surprised and pleased to see Christian Bale take a supporting role in “The Fighter.” He’s the goddamned BATMAN, you know?
Former reality star Jeremy Renner in “The Town.” There were lots of under-the-radar movies in this category, weren’t there? It’s often a “We want to award the movie that everybody loved” aspect to some of the noms.
Has to be Geoffrey Rush, doesn’t it? It’ll suck the air out of the room if he doesn’t win.
Nope! It goes to Christian Bale!
See? HE’S THE GODDAMN BATMAN. He also killed Wolverine in that other movie. He’s earned it.
(Oof. Black tuxedo over a black shirt and a black vest and a black tie. It’s as though his acceptance speech is being directed by James Cameron. “We just need a highlight map off of you in the ambient lighting,” he explained during the fitting. “We’ll composite in a proper tuxedo in post and it’ll look even more like a real tuxedo than a real tuxedo.)
I wonder why Mark Wahlberg had such a puss on his face when Bale gave him that shout-out?
Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Aaron Sorkin. Great stuff. Didn’t “The Social Network” seem like the sort of flick that would definitely get Best Screenplay but nothing else?
(Though perhaps this was really an award for his fine work in television, on HBO’s “Entourage.”)
Nice shout-out to Paddy Chayefsky. The Screenwriters are articulate and well-spoken, but they’re even worse than the animators, in the eyes of the Oscars producers: they’re geeks who write screenplays.
Best Original Screenplay. Has to be “The King’s Speech” or “The Kids Are All Right,” I think. But I want it to be “King’s Speech.” Terrific story of how that script came about.
Yes! “King’s Speech.” He asked the Queen Mum for permission, and waited until she passed on, at her request. See, kids? Good manners win you the Oscar.
Nice, graceful comment about ageism in Hollywood. Thanking the Queen? SOMEbody’s angling for an OBE, I think…
(Very nice, gracious speech. A model for how we’d all like to behave if stuck up on that kind of stage.)
I am, incidentally, watching the backstage stuff on the Oscarcast iPad app. It’s great video…it’s the true raw-edged spontaneous events that I like to see in live TV. During the commercials, I watch the extended backstage thank-yous, and the press room Q&A, where the winner is a little more collected.
This is, incidentally, the one and only time that I can say “When Apple changed the iPad’s slider switch’s function from ‘lock screen rotation’ to ‘mute volume’, that was a valuable change.” My opinion will switch back to default as soon as the Oscars are over and I no longer want a quick way to cut the streaming audio.
Wow, Justin Timberlake is sort of doing a Charlie Sheen impression up there for “Best Animated Short,” isn’t he?
Second free commercial for Apple tonight as Timberlake says “There’s An App For That.”
“Day And Night,” the fabv Pixar short. “Gruffalo.” “Let’s Pollute.” “The Lost Thing.” “Madagascar.”
Count on two things for the winner of this category: most of his speech time will be taken up with climbing into a golf cart for the ride from the section of the theater where they stick the nerds…and they’ll play them on with the Wacky Toon Theme. Even if it’s a 20 minute short honoring hundreds of thousands of war dead.
Now these guys will get played off for going long. That’s the THIRD thing you can count on with this category.
Best Animated Feature. If it isn’t “Toy Story 3,” then there’s going to be a fight.
(Though I did love “The Illusionist.”)
Yes, it’s Toy Story 3. Of course.
Lee Unkrich looks a bit like Ed Helms of “The Office” and “The Hangover,” doesn’t he?
“Pixar is the most AWESOME place to make movies!” I can believe that, after my tour of the place.
Fashion note: Hmm. I’ve never seen a necktie that has…er…a jeweled belt under the knot. Is that an LA thing?
Oh, Samsung. It’s so adorable that you’re still advertising the Samsung Galaxy Tab. In a world that already has a (cheaper and 10x better) Motorola Xoom in it and is about to have an iPad 2 in it and already has an iPad 1 in it.
Kirk Douglas! But he’s over 40 and doesn’t have a hit movie this year! How the hell did he get in there! SECURITY!!!
Still sharp! Good on ‘im. I’m so pleased to see him introducing Best Supporting Actress.
Amy Adams for “The Fighter.” No, not a colorful personal story. Helena Bonham Carter: yes (an Award for lots of good movies, plus the billion-dollar “Alice,” plus it’s a period costume drama, which always finishes strong). Jackie Weaver for a movie that nobody’s heard of. No. Melissa Leo…no. Hailee Steinfeld for “True Grit” – Yes. Great story with her nomination.
(When I try to predict a Supporting Actor winner, my eye is always drawn to the nominees who either have a lot of history behind them or whose win represent a really cool story.)
Yay, Kirk! Keep up on the stage, we all love you and there’s no chance the director will try to pull you off the stage.
He can see that his delays are playing well. Good, good, good.
Melissa Leo? Okay.
I was really surprised when he was nominated for “Frozen River.” It goes to show you that they sometimes truly honor the performance instead of the movie (I was one of the few people who saw that flick…it really wasn’t very good).
I haven’t seen “The Fighter.”
…And now I, and hundreds of thousands of other viewers have just thumbed the “Replay” button on the DVR to make sure she really said “It looked so ****ing easy!” Well, that’s one way to make sure your acceptance will make the AM clips package!
Whoof. I was glad to see Kirk Douglas take all the time he wanted…but with this acceptance speech, this category is going on more or less forever, isn’t it? We might not have time for the montage of clips saluting the focus pullers on “Snakes On A Train.”
Hosts are calling out relatives from the audience.
Ouch…”to do pre-scripted Host banter.” What a narrow escape! The movie industry almost created a spontaneous, genuine moment!
A look back at past movies? See, this is what I was honking on about earlier. They have time in the Oscarcast to show clips from “Gone With The Wind” but no time to allow Francis Ford Coppola to collect his Thalberg award in front of an international audience?
Whoof. What a slow, sentimental award presentation. They need to start the show off with E-N-E-R-G-Y.
We’re now looking at clips from “Titanic”?!? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?
Nominees for Art Direction. Alice in Wonderland. Never bet against Tim Burton.
Harry Potter. Never bet against a gazillion-dollar franchise.
Inception. Never bet on the one where the art direction is incredibly important.
True Grit. Ditto.
King’s Speech. It’s a mottled wall that was also used in a gay porno (true). No.
…Yes, it’s “Alice In Wonderland.”
I really prefer these awards to the Acting ones. You see winners up at the podium who are 90% thinking “My Mom and my Dad and my kids are watching, and I think I’m about to cry just thinking about what’s going through their heads right now.”
Cinematography. Black Swan (maybe), Inception. King’s Speech (very good choice). Social Network (no). True Grit (favored).
Inception wins. Cinematography is always a fun one to evaluate: it’s all about what this movie looks like as a series of photos.
Fashion Comment: I don’t approve of black tux, black shirt, black tie. Men have a big advantage here and they should press it: all they need to do is get a standard tux and get it tailored well. Bang: even 30 years from now, they’ll look great in the clips package.
And we’re off! With a clips package of the nominated movies.
I do love it when the Oscars, for just a few minutes, pretend that all but two of the nominated movies actually have a shot at winning something.
Yes, we’re looking forward to an “Inception” parody. And a drag Black Swan for sure.
Judges score +3 style points for effective use of Alex Baldwin.
Oh, dear. I vote that the Morgan Freeman Narration gag is played out.
Okay! My first wrong pick of the evening. But I think we’ve got at least Guy In Black Swan Makeup Gag ahead of us during the next three hours.
Y’know, I forgot that Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin co-hosted the other year.
A “Back To The Future” segment? IHNATKO DOTH VERILY APPROVE.
(I am reminded that Christopher Lloyd is the latest example of the syndrome where an actor plays a character decades older than his true age…but eventually ages into the role.)
Slightly surprised that they didn’t go with a James Franco bumping into James Franco in his own movie joke.
Annnnnd the hosts take the field! Holding an iPhone? What a relief: there’s no mention of Twitter or “the ongoing impact of the digital audience and social media.”
…And now I’m just testing the AppleScript that automates my liveblogging. If this works, then highlighting this text and clicking the menu will update this page with a new, timestamped entry.
Push the button, Frank…
I know the new millennium is a decade old. But you can’t argue the point: the suffix “…TWO THOUSAND!!!” still makes anything sound more exciting.
This is the evening of the 2011 Academy Awards telecast, which seems like the perfect time for me to do a liveblog of the 2011 Academy Awards telecast, wouldn’t you agree?
“But it always runs too long and it’s so boring and it’s just an excuse for millionaires to superinflate their already hyperinflated egos!”
Yes. Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more: you’ve described the NFL telecasts to a tee and perfectly encapsulated my frustrations. If the NFL televised just one game a year, then sure, I’d give them a free pass. But parading around a 60,000-seat ballroom surrounded by lights and cameras every weekend, for months? The word for that is “drama,” my friends, plain and simple.
No, the Oscars has taste. And if you even need more evidence that the Oscars is better than the NFL in every conceivable way, then I present this final fact:
The Oscars has never delayed the start of “The Amazing Race” or “The Simpsons.”
I will accept no further arguments against my position.
Which is not to say that it’s a perfect institution. I absolutely cannot abide the change to the nominations system, by which every movie released in the calendar year gets nominated for Best Picture, provided it didn’t feature a comedian cross-dressing in an immense fatsuit. What a fantastic idea that was; it was a clean solution to the problem of Andy Ihnatko getting too interested in who wins.
Other changes that I disapprove of:
- Sure, go ahead, put more movie stars in the telecast. It’d be weird if they didn’t. But they’re starting to stack ’em up like the Kodak Theater is John Wayne Gacy’s crawlspace. It’s just about as palatable, too. Now we have multiple hosts and a gut-churning thing at the end of the show in which Movie Star Who Didn’t Get Nominated stands on the stage and heaps the sort of treacly praise upon a nominee that would cause even James Lipton to mutter “What an ass-kisser.”
- Cool nominees and honorees are shuffled off to the non-televised part of the proceedings. Francis Ford Coppola, Eli Wallach, and Jean-Luc Godard are big enough to be honored by the Academy this year for the entirety of their careers in film and the major contributions they’ve made thereto. But they aren’t in “Kung-Fu Panda 2” so they have to collect their statues at the drive-thru window away from the cameras.
- The stuff I want to watch has been deleted to make room for more Gowns and lots of nonsense. It amazes me that they can’t have live performances of the Best Original Song nominees but they’ll find time for a segment where Jennifer Beals reads a list of 100 Tweets posted in the past week about the Best Supporting Art Direction-nominated films.
I think that’s why my Pre-Oscars Excitement has rolled back a little bit in the past few years. Ten years ago, I’d have written and posted five thousand words about the nominees and the event. Now? I’ll blog it.
Well, hell. The Oscars are like pizza. Even when it’s bad…it’s still the Oscars.
Liveblogging starts a little before 8:30. Just keep refreshing this page.