Tag Archives: Oscarblog

Oscars! 2012: The Live-To-DVR Blog

Oh, boy. This was the year that I wasn’t interested enough in the Oscars to write 10,000 words about the upcoming awards and my predictions for the winners.

This was the year I wasn’t interested enough to even post a list of predictions.

This! My friends! Was the year when, after I realized that the Oscars were on ABC and not CBS, I gave it a little bit of thought and then decided to just DVR the show and watch plain-old Episode Two of “The Amazing Race” instead.

Yes. I am saying things to you that are quite true.

I was sort of on the fence this afternoon. You know what finally pushed me over? The fact that the producers claimed they didn’t have enough time to allow for performances of the Best Song categories…but hey, they had plenty of time to have Cirque du (goddamn) Soleil perform.

(There were only two Best Song nominees. two.)

I have nothing against circuses, French-Canadians, or even the basic concept of pretentious twerps jumping around dressed as some sort of shrub/stewardess hybrids. I just remember a time in this millennium when the Oscars were actually exciting and interesting and they seemed to have more value than they do today.

I look around for something to blame for this downward trend. If the producers themselves were bouncing around on bungee cords and miming some sort of rot about how this fitness ball they’re juggling with their feet is Their Heart And Hope, I suppose I’d be singling them out but alas, the only people on stage will be Cirque du ****ing Soleil.

All in all, I was just more excited by The Amazing Race.

And then — oh, dear — I flipped over to something else. I couldn’t get interested.

So instead, I saved it on the DVR for this morning and after watching all three hours and nine minutes, I know I made the right call. This was another Lithium-stabilized telecast, with no real highs or lows. The producers put fresh batteries in, switched it on, set it on the ground, and then it rolled in a straight line at walking speed until it ran out of juice and stopped.

Yes, it’s the Thrill of the Movies, ladies and gentlemen!

I can’t dislike the Oscars, however. Without the Academy Awards telecast, the Turner Classic Movies channel wouldn’t have run thirty days of programming in which every single movie is an Oscar nominee. The airing of the telecast signals the end of that series and, finally, the end of the temptation to stay in bed and watch movies all day long.

I’m a little sad to see the telecast sink so low in my esteem. For much of my adult life I’ve been setting aside time in my work schedule every February to write lots and lots of stuff about the Oscars. I’ve learned, however, that it’s important to do things that you’re legitimately enthusiastic about instead of numbly doing things out of morose routine.

So I’m letting go of the Oscars. Instead, maybe I’ll just spend February writing about actual movies. If the Oscars telecast refuses to celebrate filmmaking — seriously: just two nominees. You could have made time for those just out of the loose time in your pockets, producers! — then there’s nothing stopping us film fans from picking up that banner and running with it.

And now, the live-to-tape-blog:

Morgan Freeman kicks things off. Which, as a regular movie-watcher, I can only associate with an extended flashback.

Cool! I’m not sure that George Clooney would have rearranged his schedule and kissed last year’s host on the mouth.

Couldn’t get Jonah Hill to reprise his “Moneyball” role…he’s way too skinny now!

Okay, a Tom Cruise cameo is a pretty cool deal. I think it shows he’s a great sport.

TinTin…missed opportunity fr a Martin Short Ed Grimley appearance.

Billy Crystal does look nice in a tux.

Tuxedo Watch. This is a controversial part of my annual Oscarcast. My audience is split down the middle on whether I should spend any time nitpicking over men’s formalwear: I’m for it and the audience is against it. But I know I’m doing God’s work here.

(Strikes heroic pose, lit by golden sunset as eagle perches on shoulder.)

Two point on Billy’s tails. First, white tie is, I think, supposed to be worn with an open collar. And secondly…hmm…he doesn’t appear to be wearing an undershirt. The pink of his skin is showing through the front of his shirt.

But he is wearing proper white microphone.

Running down all of the Best Picture nominees in his medley points out how silly the new nominations process has become. Nine nominees? Ugh. Honestly, it’s like March Madness. If everyone is in the finals, then what’s the point?

Scorsese either brought one of his grandkids kids (that’s his daughter? Well, awright, Marty!) with him to the show as his Plus One, or else he’s paying a silent tribute to the late career of Woody Allen.

Tony Bennett! Dig that!

Tom Hanks takes the stage, in proper black tie.

Waste of time with a seat-filler gag that Hanks clearly doesn’t believe in and has to (in an affable Tom Hanks way) disavow.

Best Cinematography. This is one of my favorite categories; the point is to look at the movie as an artfully-composed photo. “Hugo” was the obvious choice; a team of that level of skill working with a canvas where they can control every element? They had complete freedom and it showed.

Winner is wearing a proper tux except for the white cravat. Black tie = bowtie.

Makes a slight dig against the producers for putting the Cinematography category first. “It can only go up from here!” Hmm. But normally, it gets buried in the show’s “dead zone,” where the audience is just zapping through and waiting for the Best Actor and Best Picture final runs. By putting Cinematography in the first act, more people than ever will see it. That’s why traditionally they’ve done Best Supporting Actor awards in that slot.

(Also: the show has yet to start to run short on time…so you can almost take as long as you want to say your thank yous. The finger on the “PLAY HIM OFF. NOW” switch is by no means itchy.)

But the next award is “Best Art Direction.” Mmmaybe there’s something to this idea that the producers have decided that “boring categories that are only about highly skilled and experienced behind-the professionals working behind the camera at the top of their art”

Art Direction goes to “Hugo” — another clearly-deserved win.

Co-winner is standing off to the side. See, this I mean: if Art Direction had been presented later in the show, there is no way that the director wouldn’t have played him off at full volume and cut away before she got to step up to the microphone and give her short and very sweet thank you to Scorsese and to Italy (which are kind of the same thing, right?)

The guy is wearing a proper tux.

Show wastes (to my eye) time with a tease for Meryl Streep’s nomination, and an extended skycam shot of the drummers in the house orchestra. This is why the producers couldn’t find any time to perform the two — two Best Song nominees.

Montage of clips from the lat 40 years of movies. I don’t get why they do this. It has no focus, no real point…it’s channel-surfing.

Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez (whom used to do movies before the industry stopped allowing her to do so).

Best Costume Design. OK, I’m with the Cinematographer: this feels like “Let’s get all of these behind-the-camera nominees on and off the stage early. Honestly, next year let’s just give them a dinner or something, okay?”

Winner is “The Artist.” Note that the award-winning costume designer is wearing a proper tuxedo: black jacket and pants, white shirt with black onyx studs, black bowtie. Nice.

Best Makeup: J.Lo and Can-Di come back from a respectful presentation package posing with their butts to the camera. Yeah, real respectful, ladies. Oh, and J.Lo: we can totally see your nipples.

“Iron Lady” wins. Nice win. It’s amazing how effectively they achieved that Margaret Thatcher effect with such little apparent makeup. Streep has a 40-year relationship with one of those makeup artists.

First major male formalwear fail: he’s wearing a black shirt and a black cravat.

Adam Sandler sharing his favorite movie memories: also more important than presenting the Best Song nominees.

Sandra Bullock, looking very sharp. Doing a funny bit about the international audience. Few people on the Oscar stage can handle deadpan humor well. Yes, I’m looking at you, Ben Stiller.

Presenting of course Best Foreign Language Film. Yay! The film from Iran won!

(No, I didn’t see it.)

I actually prefer most of these “non-celebrity” categories. You’re seeing people who seem more genuinely pleased and proud than the over-composed and over-rehearsed celebs.

Winner reads a very nice speech about warfare.

Also: he’s wearing a black cravat instead of a proper bowtie. If you wear a black jacket and pants and a white shirt and a black cravat, you are wearing a Blues Brothers costume. You are not wearing proper formal attire.

Christian Bale. Black cravat and black shirt. If this makes it into the “Oscar moments” clip package in twenty years, he’s going to look as classy as the guys in the crushed-brown-velvet tuxedoes from the Seventies Oscarcasts.

Presenting Best Supporting Actress. Supporting categories are fun because they’re wide-open. Voters are just as likely to give the award to a someone’s first major role, or to someone in a comedic role. Otherwise, they don’t consider comedic roles to be “acting.”

Octavia Spencer wins for “The Help.” Another nice thing about giving an Oscar to someone early in his or her career: they really appreciate it. They get up there and they start thinking about how their families are out there watching this happen and boom, there go the waterworks.

(An Oscar is a big deal! It’s wonderful to see nominees who aren’t too cool to show they think it’s a Big Deal, too.)

I must say it: the Oscars set looks like an iPad app. Which is to say that it’s more akin to what would have been designed for the Oscarcast before HD and cable TV…gotta make everything BIG and obvious, so that it’ll “read” on those screens.

Cool, the Christopher Guest Repertory Company doing a bit about the focus group for “Wizard Of Oz.”

If you’re going to stop the Oscars for something that isn’t related to the awards…you gotta shoot for the moon. Funny bit but it probably went on a bit too long.

Bradley Cooper and Tina Fey. Bradley is wearing a proper tuxedo. Tina Fey demonstrates that classy dresses work great, too. J.Lo? J…? Yeah, you’re already in your Escalade, aren’t you.

Best Film Editing. Another category that I love. I’m fascinated by the process of assembling a film from elements. The director shoots, shoots, shoots, the actors act, act, act…but we see the story that the editor chooses to tell.

“Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Won by Jake and Elwood Blues. Hit us with a few bars of “Rawhide,” will you, boys?

They could also make a decent living as Matt Damon and Ben Stiller impersonators.

Best Sound Editing goes to “Hugo.” The favorite here would probably have been “Drive” for its more obvious applications for sound effects.

Shout out to Thelma Schoonmaker and Marty Scorsese. One winner in proper tuxedo, the other gets a solid 9/10 for wearing a black bowtie with an open collar.

Best Sound Mixing, also goes to “Hugo.” If memory serves, “Mixing” means the overall sound picture and “Editing” means the “special effects,” as it were.

I’m liking the “behind the camera” Oscars coming first. They have my full attention and nobody’s impatient. You get the sweetest speeches.

One proper tux. One black cravat, but he’s wearing a waistcoat so the Jake Blues effect is mitigated, at least…9/10. Also because of his extremely kind-hearted acceptance speech.

Annnd we’re back from commercial, with The Muppets!

In an opera box? Yes, to hide the puppeteers but isn’t that Statler and Waldorf’s gig?

Doesn’t sound like Frank Oz voicing Miss Piggy…?

ANother little presentation on “what it’s like to go to the movies.” Oh, it’s the “Cirque du Soleil” crap.

Which the producers thought was way more important than performing the “Best Song” nominees.

And we see a couple of men in the same suits as Cary Grant in “North By Northwest” bouncing around on tethers.

Now we see a dozen guys in suits doing the same boring Cirque crap that they haul out all the time.

No relevance whatsoever to movies at all. This is just a free ad for Cirque.

Yeah, see, for me, Cirque absolutely doesn’t work out of its original context. If it’s meant to be saying something or enhancing something else, it completely fails. It’s just acrobats tumbling. Yes, they’re at the top of that art, but why not just get the top three pitchers and the top three batters in Major League Baseball up on stage and have them throw and hit batting practice?

That’s also an art, also at the top of their game, and has just as much relevance to the proceedings at hand.

Annnd the Cirque du Soleil crap is swept off the stage.

“We’ve got puppets, acrobats…we’re a pony away from being a Bar Mitzvah” says Billy Crystal. Spot-on.

He hasn’t had much to say by the way of on-the-cuff jokes yet.

Talking about the age of the nominees. “Next year, this will be called the Flomax Theater.” Another spot-on joke. But it’s fab to see Christopher Plummer doing such great work at any age.

Robert Downey Jr. Wearing a black tux shirt and a silvery bowtie that I imagine is a nod to “Iron Man.” Doing an extended comedy riff where he’s filming a documentary about being an awards presenter. Mmm. Didn’t really land.

Also risky as an intro to Best Documentary. The show literally cuts straight from The Wacky to a clip from the story of a soldier severely wounded in combat returning to family, rehabilitation, and civilian life.

“Undefeated” wins. Correct tux, correct tux, Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers, correct tux with silver bowtie (9/10).

I field-promote one of the Blues Brothers to 10/10 for cursing during his acceptance speech. Can’t really make out what it was but there was a minor gasp.

They keep thanking people until the director mutes the mic.

Best Animated Feature, presented by Chris Rock in a proper tux, leading off with a good joke about how black actors wind up voicing donkeys and zebras.

Lesson to Oscarcast producers: actors with standup experience will, more often than not, kill it as presenters.

Becomes a very interesting category when Pixar doesn’t walk away with it. I kind of wish all of the categories could see this same variety of films. I’m hoping for “Rango.”

And it wins! Great. Beautiful lighting and movement in this one, and a very, very funny movie. The first pass at the voice track was done “live,” so to speak: they got the actors on a stage and they played their parts like they were in the little stage at a high school. I’m keen to see more animated movies recorded this way. I have no complaints about “Toy Story 3,” for example, but there’s definitely a different energy when the actors are actually moving and actually playing off of each other, instead of reading each line twenty times.

(Director is wearing proper black tie.)

Clips from upcoming nominees. From the right angles, Glenn Close as “Mr. Dobbs” looks like Billy Crystal.

HD trailer for Pixar’s “Brave” forces me to cancel the fast-forward and rewind. It…it seems unlikely that any other animated movie will have any kind of chance at the Oscar next year.

Back from commercial. Billy Crystal finally changes into a proper tux. Starting off with a bit of lame comedy that mostly shows off how bad Billy’s hair dye (and hair replacement system) look on him.

(He’s a great looking guy…but he’s this guy in his sixties who looks like he’s in his eighties because he’s trying to look like he’s in his twenties.)

Ben Stiller and…can’t place her…follow up the lame schtick with some more lame schtick. I think Stiller is 2 for 2 in presenting absolutely interminably long presenter comedy that doesn’t at all work.

(And he’s in a Blues Brothers costume.)

I’m just going to take a moment here to point out that this schtick was more important to the producers than performances of the Best Song nominees.

I’m also getting annoyed by how these behind-the-scenes awards are being presented. Will they precede “Best Director” with five minutes of schtick? Oh, hell, no.

But at least each movie/nominee gets a good twenty seconds of talk about the thinking behind the effects.

It has to go to “Hugo,” right?

Annnd it does!

(1 proper tux, two Blues Brothers take the stage to accept their statuettes.)

Oh, dear: closeup reveals that one of the Blues Brothers is wearing a checked cravat. Jeeves would most assuredly not approve. At the end of the story, Bertie would be instructing Jeeves to get rid of that tie and would be told that he had given it away to a hotel porter that morning.

Best Supporting Actor. Well what do you know: introduced with a short, classy tribute to this field of endeavor.

I’m so happy that Jonah Hill got nominated. He’s been working, working, working for years and doing exceptional work in roles that don’t conventionally attract awards attention.

It tends to attract nominees at both ends of their careers. Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow could win as a functional “cap off a brilliant career” award.

And it’s Plummer. Receives a standing ovation in addition to the Oscar. “Beginners” is almost a “Best Actor” role; looks like the studio lobbied tactically for a less-competitive category.

(Moneyball, indeed: millions of dollars are spent on a Best Actor campaign.)

Plummer is wearing a proper tux. It…might…be black velvet but I’ll give him a pass. I’m not sure if I should nitpick about fabrics. So long as it isn’t an Isaac Hayes fake bearskin sort of thing.

Back from commercial with another comedy bit. Billy putting words in the mouths of the nominees in the front rows. Not…bad…but it feels more like a “Crap, one of the Cirque du Soleil guys has fallen to his death backstage. Billy, can you stretch for a few minutes while we toss him in a bag and get him out of the theater?”

Owen Wilson-Blues and Penelope Cruz (in best gown of the night so far) present Best Original Score, after a bizarre bit where the whole show stops and everyone focuses on the stage while a large screen in the shape of a movie score rises up.

(Ironically, the producers think this is more important than presenting the two Best Original Song nominees.)

Award goes to “The Artist.” Very classy: Ludovic Bource (in proper black tie) stops to shake John Williams’ hand and say a word or two on his way to the stage.

Pro Tip: if you’re respectful and speak adorable, halting English, the Oscarcast director will probably let you keep talking.

Will Ferrell and Zak Galifanakis. Presenting “Best Song.” Now I think the producers are truly ****ing with this catgory. Or, maybe one of the nominees was ****ig with the producer’s wife and this is all just payback.

“Man Or Muppet” wins. Composer gets off some good jokes and then thanks the right people (including Jim Henson). Cutaways to Jason Segel, who looks immensely proud (justly so). And he’s wearing a proper tux.

Time to spend half a minute broadcasting costumed ladies handing out popcorn to the audience. Which was more important than actually playing the Best Original Song nominees.

Angelina Jolie presenting a writing award. Apparently she’s signed on as a spokesperson for the Right Leg Marketing Board, as she’s making sure the product is out of her dress and facing the camera at all times.

Best Adapted Screenplay. I think it’s got to be Hugo; it’s a magnet movie. Gotta say that I love the arty fake movie posters (silkscreen-style) that they commissioned for the playback of the nominees montage. A great designer can reduce a 2 hour movie to a simple graphical element.

Winner is “The Descendents.” Three men in proper tuxedoes.

Quite the sausage fest, innit?

Pro Tip for all nominees: if a previous winner brought his Mom to the Oscars and dedicates his award to her, please re-think your “wacky” acceptance speech. You’ll look extra-extra-dopey.

Best Original Screenplay. Goes to Woody Allen! Interesting! Shows how much he’s respected; if you establish that solid and consistent a track record — and you don’t break any actual laws — it doesn’t even matter that you never show up to collect your awards.

Another interview montage. Again, we get to hear Adam Sandler (unshaven, in his tennis gear) talk about himself. Instead of hearing the Best Original Song nominees.

I’m not annoyed by the mere fact that they’re using these clips packages. I’m annoyed that they’re doing it so poorly. What do we get from people speaking for five or ten seconds?

Time for a recap of the Technical Awards. Very pleased that the presenter introduced it with complete respect and dignity. Shameful, how they’ve treated these awards in the past (“And now, the moment everybody’s been waiting for…ha ha!”).

Cast of “The Bridesmaids” takes the stage. Introducing Short Films with a bunch of dick jokes. Well done, ladies!

Best Documentary Short. Jesus. They do a Drinking Game joke in which they pull snorters out of their bras and chug. Christ almighty. It’s as if the producers are completely unaware that in twenty seconds, they’re going to cut to footage of people being machine-gunned in Iraq, images of Pakistani women who had been set on fire by religious maniacs, and a village being wiped off the face of the planet by a tsunami.

What a complete lack of taste and class. Idiots! (Here I’m specifically talking about the producers, but the presenters should also have been canny enough to bail out.

Best Animated Short. Good to see a castmember of “Reno: 911” on the Oscars. (No sarcasm there.)

“Fantastic Flying Books” wins. Both wearing proper tuxes. One of them was wise to wear a bowtie instead of a Blues Brothers cravat, given that he’s got thick-rimmed black glasses and is wearing a porkpie hat.

Another exceptionally sweet and sincere acceptance speech.

Michael Douglas presenting Best Director. Gosh, are we that far into the list?

(I forgot: now there are 38 Best Picture nominees. Probably still another three hours left to go.)

Wearing a very classy tuxedo.

Oscar goes to Michel Hazanavicus for “The Artist.” (In a proper tux). Adorable halting English, and it’s a top-tier category. He can talk all the way through the start time for “Good Morning America” if he wants.

Meryl Streep. Billy Crystal mentions her 17 nominations and 2 wins. Gads, I hope she doesn’t become the Susan Lucci of the Oscars. Funny, isn’t it, how a decades-spanning career of consistently fine performances can so easily and gently turn into something to poke fun at.

The Governors’ Awards presented as a clips package. I’m not sure the producers know what they’re doing. Who wouldn’t want to see James Earl Jones or Oprah or even Dick Smith on stage, with a live microphone for thirty seconds?

Buuuut no. We got to see Cirque du Soleil Jumping Around Randomly Crap that looks no different from any other Cirque performance.

They did something similar recently, where they had Pilobolus (I think) do a running series of shadow-performances, in which a Cirque-like Gang Of People In Leotards tumbled and then formed a shadow that approximated something from a Best Picture nominee.

Failure Point 1: It was moderately interesting the first time, it was ok the second time, but as the evening dragged on and the screen descended before a commercial, the only rational reaction from an viewer was “Ugh, more of this.”

Also: lame as the concept was, how doubly-lame was it that they would use little cardboard cutouts to incorporate details (like the heel of a shoe) that they couldn’t do with body parts? Bad idea, lamely executed. At best it made the show longer for no benefit and at worst, it took time away from real winners.

Memorial montage. Never any complaints about this one. I like that they use live music to back this with.

Yes, Whitney Houston got a card.

And Steve Jobs! Complete with the “Stay hungry, stay foolish” line from his commencement speech. Good pick. Hard to think about where Pixar would have wound up without his support, hard to think about where the industry would be without Apple computers and software.

Liz Taylor gets the honored final spot. Seems obvious. Was she the last of the old-style Big Hollywood Superstars? We should probably define that as the sort of stars who made it big and finished their careers before it was possible to get every detail of their lives through social media and news sites.

Best Actor. Another facet that makes me think the producers need to be removed by the National Guard. Presentation of the nominees is better this year than in years past, when a stage full of celebrities would take turns praising each of the nominees individually. Super-awkward and interminable. “How nice that this man who gets $10,000,000 a picture and regularly described as ‘The Sexiest Man Alive’ is getting an ego boost,” we think.

It’s still the ego boost testimonial, but at least they’re all being done by the presenter.

Still! Why not just present clips from the performances and let the work speak for itself?

George Clooney, incidentally, is indeed looking eminently wonderful in a lovely tuxedo. Brad Pitt: perfect tux. Gary Oldman: perfect tux.

In fact, the Oscar goes to the one actor not wearing a proper tuxedo: Jean Dujardin. 9/10 for wearing a black tie with an open collar.

But it’s a lovely, charmind speech that ends with a tapdance…that’s about the best way to go out.

And! He keeps pacing the stage in excitement instead of leaving! Formidable!

Best Actress. Colin Firth sings “Happy Birthday” to each of the nominees, so to speak. That’s almost the most awkward situation you can put someone in: make ’em sit in full view while you lob a very long series of compliments at them. You want to look grateful, but not like you’re lapping all of this up; reserved, but not like you’re impatient for this person to hurry up…nightmare!

The best was his accolade to his “Mamma Mia!” castmate, Meryl Streep.

And it goes to Meryl Streep! Lovely. She’s honored so frequently with nominations that one might guess that the Academy doesn’t think it’s so important to give her the Oscar.

(The statuette marches her gown exactly.)

Points in favor, for this wager: it’s a flashy performance and the whole movie is this character. It’s a historical drama. Against: “The Iron Lady” really didn’t make much money or attract much attention.

But it’s great to see someone with her class and dignity getting the big hardware. I’ve no doubt that there are consultants who get five figures to coach a nominee on how to prepare an Oscars speech. If they’re worth half the money, they’ll burn that speech onto a DVD and make their clients watch it over and over again. Lovely speech about her family and her industry.

Her affection for her hairstylist is no joke. She was on “Fresh Air” a few weeks ago and spoke at length about their working relationship.

Best Picture. All 82 nominees get clips. It runs through about three commercial breaks but no, this doesn’t cheapen things at all and how dare you suggest otherwise.

I don’t like it, no. The significance of nominating a movie like “The Artist” or “Moneyball” is diminished when there’s room for so many on the list. When there were only five, the announcement of the nominees was exciting in and of itself: why did the quirky comedy get nominated for Best Picture, but not the intense, highly-regarded drama that made lots of money?

Producers say, I think, that it broadens the appeal of the show. If that’s the point, it’s not working: ratings are still flat. It just cheapens the whole thing and makes it far more ordinary.

Winner is “The Artist.” Director thanks Billy Wilder three times. Highly apropos!

OscarBlog 2011 — TWO THOUSAND!!!


11:43:41 PM

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.


11:30:40 PM

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.”


11:12:15 PM

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?


11:03:23 PM

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.


10:49:22 PM

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…”


10:42:04 PM

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.



10:23:30 PM

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.


10:13:16 PM

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.


9:54:30 PM

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.


“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…”


9:36:03 PM

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?


9:21:12 PM

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.)


9:14:34 PM

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.

Photo Feb 27 8 50 16 PM


9:09:47 PM

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?


9:02:19 PM

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.”


8:49:34 PM

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.


8:40:27 PM

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.”


7:22:59 PM

…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.


OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 10

Time for Best Actress. Really, how secure can you feel when your competition for The Academy Award is Meryl (****ing) Streep?!?

But I think she’s almost in the Oprah category now. At this point in her career, she’s won her industry’s award so conspicuously frequently that there’s now an unspoken agreement that the Academy should spread the wealth a little.

Kate Winslet for “The Reader.” The sugar-frosted side of my moviegoing psyche says “She gets prettier and prettier with each passing year. The whole-wheat side says that she’s a hell of an actress, is a genius at choosing roles that can show off the full range of what she can do, and has managed to become a big celebrity without losing that appearance of being a genuine person with no particular need for the whole world to know her business.

(Wack to the sugar-frosted side again, which wants to thank Ms. Winslet for showing us so much of her business in “The Reader” and other movies.)

Oh, how adorable. She asks her dad to whistle and PHREEET! comes from the back of the room, instantly.

I’ve sort of had a little observation about events like these. Most of the people nominated for an Oscar (or another major award) has a parent out there watching. And I guarantee you that they’re just over the moon with pleasure. You enjoy achieving your dreams in life. But the only thing that can possibly top it is watching anonymously while your kid achieves their own.

I might think that so-and-so is a phony, such-and-such is unworthy of recognition…all kinds of snarky comments that are so fun to read and write in a blog. But lately, I’ve also thought about the man or woman sitting in front of TV set back at a hotel near the Kodak Theater, who have no idea how they’re going to compose themselves in the hour or two until they meet up with their kid and congratulate them in person.

“How did he do it?” asks DeNiro. “How did Sean Penn manage to play straight men for so many years?” Big laugh. What a masterful performance Penn did in “Milk.” He’s our generation’s Robert Mitchum, no question. I’ve got fingers crossed for him.

I want to see more movies with DeNiro and Penn. “We’re No Angels” didn’t give me enough of these two actor’s synergy.

Adrian Brody is nominating Richard Jenkins. He appears to have gotten the night off from juggling with the Flying Karamazov Brothers as the new Ivan.

I’m actually sort of warming to these personal introductions. The thing is, we like seeing our favorite actors on stage. And here, we get to see DeNiro and Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley for a few minutes.

I check the time and note that they’re really not going very long. So I take back my earlier comments about this burning through the minutes.

I honestly don’t know if it’ll be Penn or Mickey Rourke. I think it’ll be Rourke, because the voters love the “story” of the winner.

Annnd…it’s Penn!

Good, I’m very happy.

“You commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns!” he says, underscoring his Mitchum-ness. “I know how hard I sometimes make it for you people to like me,” he says…another fab line, showing a kind of self-awareness that’s hard not to like.

Back to Rourke. I don’t take back my earlier comment (nor do I edit it, obviously). But this “voters like the story of the nominee” thing is more powerful in the Supporting Actor categories. Hence: Jennifer Hudson.

I also wondered if they’d vote to Rourke just to see what he’d say, with international live television cameras and a mere seven-second delay. But the same could be true of Sean Penn. Penn senses what’s necessary and appropriate, and does make a nicely-crafted pitch for gay rights, and makes the sort of swipe against Bush that’s expressed solely in the form of admiration for the new guy.

In these tough economic times, it’s important to create new sources of revenue. And leading analysts agree that Flea Circuses are the most secure growth industry. And how can you fail, with so much livestock all around you, ready for the taking, branding, and training? Your new Springstar Flea Trap will have your new cash machine up and running in no time.

(And yes, honor commands me to reveal that I’ll get a small Amazon Associates kickback from this and any other purchase you make after clicking that link. Okay? Like I said: times are tough. Amazon Associates isn’t as big a cash cow as a flea circus but what can I do? My landlord won’t let me have pets.)

OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 9

Best Foreign Language Film. About which I have nothing to say. This is a category that is soooo ripe for being taken off of the telecast portion of the program. But it’ll never happen. I understand that it’s impossible to take any of these categories and move them to a pre-show or an alternative Oscar event. Nobody essentially cares that Best Foreign Language Film appears in the telecast, but they care that “their part of the business” is getting lesser representation. And hissy fits ensue.

Here comes the tribute montage to dead people. I wondered why they always put it so late in the show, until I realized: they’re probably stalling as long as they can just in case Joachin Phoenix squeaks in during one of the commercial breaks.

Wow, what a horrible choice to have all of these tribute clips “floating by” on screens inside the theater. So: they take up a fraction of the overall picture. The names are small to begin with, but it’s made even harder when they’re floating by on an angle. And the docus is on the set, not on the people you’re honoring. Idiotic idea.

See? They wouldn’t dare have stuck Paul Newman on a tiny floating screen, would they?

Back from commercial. Prez of Academy is acknowledged, and he simply stands up in audience and waves. Perfect choice. He deserves a moment, sure, but not to stand on stage and burn through a three-minute speech.

Once again, an actor (Reese Witherspoon) is explaining to us that these are these people called “Directors” who apparently park the cars on the set or something. As I have been trapped underground since seconds after birth, I had no idea; bless you, Academy, for this thoughtful explanation.

Best Director goes to “Slumdog.” I’m not terribly happy with the Slumdog sweep. I’m sure it’s a great movie, but there were plenty of great movies in 2008 and I refuse to believe that it just absolutely trounced all other movies, creatively. If it was better than “Wall*E” and “Milk,” I’ll be pretty damned blown away.

Danny Boyle is collecting his Oscar wearing an Elwood Blues costume. Funny, I thought he’d want to go with a tuxedo instead of his Comic-Con togs.

Tell me: just how long are you going to allow those deadly, bloodthirsty lobsters to overrun you home and car before you finally screw your courage to the sticking place and do something about it? And this deluxe lobster snare from Green Lobster will put an end to the liturgy of fear that this flippy-tailed tyrants read to your loved ones every day and night.

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 8

Eddie Murphy, very appropriate choice to introduce Jerry Lewis. Yes, because he starred in the remake of “Nutty Professor,” but because he was once a true giant in entertaiment who sort of frittered it all away with a string of really weird and embarrassing film projects.

I cannot wait to hear Jerry’s speech. No other entertainer has been so utterly desperate to receive acknowledgement of the love of an audience, and so hostile when the expression of that love seems lacking. No other entertainment wants and emotional connection more fervently, and is willing to do anything to get it. No other entertainer holds Show Business in such reverence

And now, the most showbizzy expression of love is being given to him, and he’s being placed in front of a live camera to one of the largest worldwide audiences imaginable.

Okay. Here he is. Annnd…?

Wow! Short, kind, humble, and very restrained. Sort of like what we got when Elia Kazan was given a lifetime achievement award and I was expecting him to say something more than mutter “thanks” and then shamble off the stage.

Nicely done, Mr. Lewis.

Now back from commercial. And it’s time for the music awards.

With “Original Score” it occurs to me that producers are starting to settle in to the new HD world. They’re playing an orchestral medley of the nominated scores while a big screen above the musicians perform. I’m watching on an analog set and you really have to watch closely and carefully to make out the title of the nominated film in that teeny type on the screen.

Another category which I wish I knew more about. What are they judging here? Memorable cues and themes? Or are they honoring how well the music amplifies the story and visuals? When I make my picks, I normally seem to vote for the movies I like instead of the scores. I wonder if the same’s true of the actual Oscar voters?

“Slumdog” wins. Hmm. Maybe that’s it.

“Best Song” is next. Again, what an idiotic presentation; cram all of these wonderful tunes into a single medley, where they do nobody any good.

Oh, and what joy! An interpretive dance! Well, it’s Indian dancers for “Slumdog” so maybe that makes sense. You kids wouldn’t understand, but I grew up in an age when Debbie Allen was allowed to choreograph Oscar dance numbers. It’s been more than a decade and I don’t think I’ve regained my sense of trust in Oscar dance numbers yet.

And here’s that “controversial” Peter Gabriel song from “Wall*E.” He refused to perform a truncated version. Good for him.

I think it’s a swell tune but do keep in mind that it’s an “end credits” tune. Has nothing to do with the movie, has no scenes that support or amplify it…it’s just someone for the people cleaning the theater to listen to. Always a pretty song, but you really do feel like it’s a mercenary effort to bump up the movie’s number of Oscar nominations.

Gee, y’think “Slumdog” is going to win?

Gotta say that I think the voters aren’t going to vote with their ears on this one. They’re going to vote for the nominee that they feel good about voting for. The two “Slumdog” songs I’ve heard are rather dull and flat.

(And really, Academy? You believe that only two movies produced Oscar-worthy songs? You’re just not trying. Honestly.)

Yes, it’s a song from “Slumdog. “Mecca-Lekka-Hi, Mekka Johnny-Ho” (which might actually be something that Jambi the Genie used to chant on the Pee Wee Herman Show, come to think of it; well, look, I can’t be arsed to look up the right spelling.)

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 7

I’ll say one thing for these clip packages (Best Visual Effects)…it gives the liveblogger time to do some WordPress housekeeping and tag and ship the previous post. So I’m all for ’em. We’ll be here until 3 AM, but for selfish reasons…sure, bring ’em on.

Wil Smith. He’d work well as an Oscar host, too. He’s in the business and universally likeable. And a swell entertainer. I bet DJ Jazzy Jeff will enjoy getting the walk-on gig, too. (Musical number: “Second-Unit Assistant Directors Just Don’t Understand”)

Hard to pick a winner in Visual Effects with so many big, flashy productions…

…But I wouldn’t have picked “Benjamin Button.” Ben Button boring. Iron Man’s effects where exhilarating.

Four people come to the stage to collect statuettes. If the economy keeps tanking and takings keep nosediving, we might see a day when the producers of the show find a reason to disqualify any winner that would force the organization to make more than 2 or 3 Oscar statues per category.

Outstanding Sound Editing. One of those categories that sort of baffle me. Sound Editing is usually for discrete sound effects (the squeal of tires). Sound Design is for making the audience believe that the tires squealed inside a concrete parking garage on a humid day.

It HAS to be WALL*E. What an achievement…fusing sound effects WITH acting performances.

It’s Dark Knight?!? Losers! Idiots! Morons! Pinheads!!!

(I speak to the voters, not the people who worked on “Dark Knight,” who certainly worked very hard and deserve to be recognized. They just don’t deserve to beat “Wall*E.”)

Sound Effects Mixing is up next. But I’m frankly too pissed off about Wall*E losing the Sound Editing award to care that “Slumdog” has won.

“Slumdog” also wins for Best Editing. Nope, still pissed about the Sound Editing award. Couldn’t care less who won this one. I need to go get a beverage or something.

I’m not even suggesting that you order the Victor Out Of Sight Mole Trap because of any sort of mole problem. I’m suggesting you order it because it’s actually a cool-looking object to have on your desk. Honest. Looks like a notecard holder from one of the offices in “Brazil.”

(Or a torture device from one of the scenes from the end of that film. It’s best not to think what it would be used for.)

Oh, yes, and I’m also suggesting it because if you click the link and buy anything at all, I’ll get that Amazon kickback. Boring of me to keep bringing it up, I know. But I don’t want you to think I’m offering up these links for your benefit. Like a good magician, I feel that I can only ethically con you if you came into the room planning to be conned, eh?

(And I kind of want to buy myself a new toy.)

OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 6

Best Supporting Actor nominees. Okay, Arkin mangled Hoffman’s name. But it’s good to see Joel Grey on a big stage, under any circumstances.

(So now we know: they’re only singing “Happy Birthday” to the acting nominees.)

Actually, I think this is all a big tribute to Jerry Lewis. In addition to the humanitarian Oscar, they’re modeling the introductions of the acting nominees on the style of a regional Coca Cola bottler presenting a check to Jerry on the Telethon.

“Jerry, your efforts to end muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular diseases is a model for all of us. Since 1962, the Coca-Cola company and its national network of bottlers and distributors has…”

Walken is up! Aw, his hair must be scared by the noise from the crowds. This is the first time I’ve seen it lying flat on his head since “The Deer Hunter.”

Kevin Kline — looking more like Erroll Flynn with each passing year. And that’s a good thing, until the year that Flynn died, at which point Kline should probably either see a good plastic surgeon (note: not any of the Desperate Housewives’ doctors, or Mickey Roarke’s) or leave the business.

Speaking of dead guys: Heath Ledger wins. Proving that even a dead guy has a bigger career ahead of him than Joachin Phoenix.

Can I say: shame on the Oscarcast organizers. They knew that Heath Ledger had a good chance of winning. They knew that his family, still in some stage of mourning, would be coming to collect the award if he won. So where do they seat them? Up with the people Of Value? Nope, they were stuck way back in the boonies. What a bunch of morons.

And if they play them off for any reason…they should be forced to eat an entire Costco-sized can of black olives. Including the oil it’s packed in.

Now for Best Documentary. Odd that they didn’t go into the tribute to actors who’ve recently passed. Probably because it’d be awkward to say “We are now honoring the man whose work we refused to honor just a few minutes ago.”

Nice one, producers: you’ve found a way to name the nominees without giving the audience the slightest inkling of what any of these movies are about. Which is just about a perfect way to make sure that nobody will have any interest whatsoever in seeing these flicks.

Hmm…the montage was directed by the Maysles Brothers, whose docs I love. Okay, maybe I overreacted. It was a nice little documentary but not right for the occasion.

Bill Maher. What a complete toad. And of course, he can’t just hand over the award without plugging his movie, pointing out that people who disagree with him are idiots, and just being a smug “I’m way too cool to be talking to you people” bastard throughout.

I hope it’s “Man On Wire”; loved it.

…And it is! Awesome.

Tightrope walker is not wearing a proper tuxedo (neither are the filmmakers) but look, you fire a crossbow between the Twin Towers ninja-style and then tightrope walk across…you get to do whatever you want to afterward.

…Including balancing the Oscar on your chin! Congratulations sir…you just made every Oscar highlight reel everywhere in the world.

Now time for Best Documentary Short. A reminder that the only good thing about being dissed by the producers and sat waaaay in the back is that they have to show lots and lots of clips from your film while you board the little golf cart that runs you to the stage from your seat.

Winner is a film that (surprise!) I haven’t seen.

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 5

The Judd Apatow short film: Seth Rogan and his Pineapple Express couch-buddy watching pirated movies. Very rare to find a comedy piece on the Oscars that’s actually funny!

Funny bit with Janish Kaminsky “Saving Private Ryan” cinematographer. I do think that’s the last time Seth Rogan will ever hold an Oscar. Maybe.

Is this a good path for future Oscarcasts? They don’t have to pay top-name musicians to play the Super Bowl because it’s such a great opportunity to perform for an enormous international audience. Wouldn’t top-drawer writers, directors, and actors be just as eager for an opportunity to put together a 3-minute film that EVERYBODY will watch? If they put out the word that the producers are open to proposals — no film school students or YouTube “Ow, My Balls!’ videographers may apply — wouldn’t they get a half dozen fantastic pieces like that Apatow short film?

Best Live-Action Short. Winner is not wearing a tuxedo. Black shirts are best worn by Johnny Cash or your priest.


Oooh…Wolverine is wearing his “The Prestige” costume (white tie). Wonder if this is the real Hugh Jackman, or the latest in hundreds of clones drowned in tanks just below the stage of the Kodak Theater?

Hugh (as noted earlier) is a great song and dance man. But I wonder why they’re spending all this time on a “has nothing to do with tonight’s nominees” musical number…and at the same time, they’re collapsing all of the “Best Original Song” nominees into a single chopped-down medley?

I’ve no idea why they do that at all. Best Song is a godsend for the show. Many of these songs were written or performed by some of the hottest acts in the world. Even when it’s some coffeehouse performer who got lucky, I refer you back to that “one of TV’s largest international audiences” comment. What top-name wouldn’t agree to come on to sing one of these songs?

And it’s good entertainment. So why throw away this kind of asset?

I turn my attention back to the show. At this moment, everybody over the age of 25 with no kids is looking at the kids from “High School Musical” (I’m guessing) and saying “Who the **** are these people?”

I do think this “Top Hat” medley is too much of a throwback to the lame Oscarcasts of the Seventies. Still, it’s nice to see a stage full of Boy Dancers once again. You know, the performers who make an excellent living flitting around behind Lola Falana at a variety of minor casino showrooms across the country.

Beyonce Knowles — dammit, the girl can sing.

Good Lord, that number was directed by Baz Lurmann. They were smart to not reveal this until the end. Otherwise, I would have been motivated to dive in through the screen, seek him out, and throttle him for his crimes against good taste and a world without glue-on diamelles.

Moths are idiots. Come on, we’ve all thought it. I’m just the first person to say it. Life is an endless series of terrifying confusions for these creatures, who surely count among God’s most egregious mistakes (though not a greater one than crescent-shaped ice cubes which cling to the curve of the glass and prevent you from drinking your beverage).

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 4

Ben Stiller as Joachin Phoenix! Oh, man. The entire audience is acknowledging and endorsing the fact that Phoenix acted like a colossal ass on the Letterman Show and can happily be mocked. Before that appearance, his retirement was a personal choice. After it…well, the decision left his hands entirely. “When Cortez reached the New World, he set fire to his ships. This left his men very well motivated!”

Great bit. Stiller is committing to it completely.

Nominees for cinematography. Another win for “Slumdog.” Suffice to say that when you shoot in a location like that, you have plenty of opportunities for interesting, dusty lighting.

Wow! Short bit.

Back from commercial with a recap of the Sci-tech awards. Quick shout-out to Jerry Lewis for his invention of the video tap (though that’s been disputed). Ed Catmull got the shout-out…awesome.

Wow again! And we’re off for another commercial. Hmm. Is something going wrong backstage? Or are they running behind on their commercial airings? Are they trying to make sure they can tighten up the show at the end if they need to?

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 3

More looks at the “we don’t have enough money to do a proper set” intentional set design. I wonder if that’s a smart move. Remember, during the hardest times of the 20th century, moviegoers went to the movies because they wanted to see glitz and sparkle and tuxedoed men and women in luxurious ballgowns being driven in huge cars.

I think it’s an ongoing mistake to keep explaining to us “people have to design the clothes you see in the movies.” I think we get it. Just cut together a montage from the nominated work that shows us why it’s so cool. Maybe even get an expert to pre-record his opinions of why it’s so vital and different.

I have no idea what they’re going for in a Costume Design award. Are they awarding fantastic, creative designs? Or simple, story-supporting practical work? It must be hard to costume a period piece like “Milk” and make everyone look like they dressed out of the 1978 Sears Catalogue. Is that appreciated as highly as when you do an 18th century period piece? Nobody remembers how people dressed 250 years ago. But your parents or grandparents would say “We would NEVER wear the cork-soled platforms with the live cricket in the heel with micro-shorts!”

Oh! Now I see: they’re actually sort of moving us “through the production process.” You write a screenplay, then you design the sets and costumes, then you do the makeup, then…”

So what they’re saying is that hiring the actors and the director is absolutely the least important part of it. You can put off making that Craigslist posting until the week before you start filming.

“Benjamin Button” wins for makeup. I guess that was an easy pick. Fantasy makeups are never considered to be as big an achievement as “real world” makeups.

And here’s another montage about “romantic moments of 2008.” An easy and obvious cut, and of course it’s something they air at the front of the show, before they know how late they’re running. Honestly, nobody cares about this.

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 2

Best Screenplay. Yes, live presentation of printed text is always as exciting as the actual scene. No, no, no. Read the nominees and show the faces of the writers in the audience; for four of them, this is the big prize and (again) it’ll make their family incredibly happy. Then read the name of the winner. Then move on!

Oh, dear.

I think I’m going to put that phrase in a keyboard macro to save time.

Though if this blog will truly be plugged into the Oscarcast zeitgeist, saving time will be the last thing on my mind.

Best Screenplay to “Milk.” Good, good. This wasn’t an easy screenplay to write; it was filled with simple solutions to very complicated storytelling problems.

I was wondering if Andrew Stanton’s “Wall*E” screenplay had a chance. Every moment of it had to be written…but so little of it was actual human dialogue, you know?

Shout out for equal gay rights. Cool.

More blatherol to introduce the category. Nobody listens, nobody cares, it’s thirty seconds that can be easily dropped.

“DON’T fall in love with me!” says Steve to his co-presenter. Great line.

Again, reading a screenplay full of direction aloud is as exciting as watching people type. Why is it that the telecast always overlooks the most obvious opportunities to tighten things up? And again, I keep thinking about how thrilled my parents would be to just see me on TV, with my name being read aloud as a nominee. But no, instead they’re showing typewritten pages.

So yes, it’s true: if you’re a writer, you’re at the absolute bottom of the Hollywood power list. They don’t even think you’re pretty enough to be shown on TV!

“Slumdog” wins. I wasn’t consulted, but I nonetheless approve.

Oscars are showing writers one bit of props: they’re putting them on first. Which might seem like a dis, keeping them away from the big categories. But they’re being presented before the director realizes just how ****ed they are for time, and start cutting people off after their first five seconds of the acceptance speech.

More banter between presenters. Jack Black and Jennifer Anniston…good for Katzenberg for laughing at the “I bet everything on Pixar every year” line. He’s either a good sport, or is smart enough to know that a camera is near and he has to look like a good sport.

Yes! Special Wall E OSCAR clip! Always interesting to see how they recucle footage from the anmated cilms…since it’s utterly impossible to render out new footage for the show. If you want Shrek to give out an award, he’s going to look like he stepped from a Playstation game.

But of course, they could have “built” a Wall*E for the show, and R/C him out across the stage, couldn’t they?

Okay, it’s got to be WALL*E. He got it in the neck at the Annie awards, but only because Dreamworks bought voting memberships in the organization for all of its employees.

Yes! It’s Wall*E.

Interesting! Loud cheer from Jack Black…star of “Kung Fu Panda.”

Shout out for Steve Jobs. No “Get well soon, Spunky! You’re in our prayers!” which has to be a good sign. I think.

Animated Short Film. Let’s see if as usual, they play on the winner with Looney Tunes music. I mean, some of these shorts are actually addressing serious subjects, you know?

Should be a Pixar win, methinks…

No, it’s a Frenchy thing. How embarrassing! The American animator who won it chose the wrong fake accent to accept the award in! He’s supposed to pretending to be French, not Japanese!

Was that the first time a Styx lyric was quoted in an Oscar acceptance speech?

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 1

Live! From the set of “Tron!” It’s the 2009 Academy Awards!

No opening documentary-style montage? Hmm. Guess they really are serious about moving things along. But wait until 10:33, when we see the Salute To Chimpanzees In Cinema. Not to be confused with the Salute To Orangutans In Movies, which ran at 9:21.

Fashion watch: Hugh is wearing a proper tuxedo. Which means: black bowtie, closed-collar shirt, proper jacket and pants.

Opening number: good bit, playing on the lack of budget for big opening numbers. Hey, did you notice that the red carpet special DID NOT spend any time talking about how much money each of these gowns and shoes and jewels cost? Smart move, as the first commercial was a sad-faced man talking about how he’s been out of work for three months and was worried about losing his home and not being able to provide for his kids.

“…And we’re back, with Astoria Miller! Ms. Hathaway, I understand that you had all of your nose boogers removed and replaced with $4.2 million worth of yellow diamonds for tonight’s special night?”

Damn, that Hugh Jackman feller can sing and dance and mix it up with the audience. Great number, hugely entertaining…and it ended well before I was sick of it.

What a great choice in host. It’s a very special skill that’s hard to articulate. You can’t be there to express your hostility at never having been recognized yourself, you can’t be there to do your standup routine, you can’t be there with the intention of giving the world a chance to love you. You have to connect with the audience, put them at ease, and let them feel as though they’re in on the fun.

Montage of Actress acceptance speech. Wow, they didn’t include the bit from Vanessa Redgrave’s acceptance speech where she speaks of “not bowing down to Zionist hoodlums.”

I hope they also include Paddy Cheyevsky’s response to that speech, which he made up on the spot when presenting Best Original Screenplay shortly after VR cleared the stage.

Okay, Tilda Swinton looks she’s wearing one of the original designs from an episode of “Project Runway.” Early episode. Before they’ve weeded out all of the art-school losers from the competition. Seriously, a brown dropcloth?

Crimeny, I’m confused. Why are all these actresses on the stage, calling out all these actresses, and praising their performances? If they do this for everything including Best Sound Design and Best Foreign Animated Film…wow, unroll your sleeping bag because we’re going to be here until Tuesday.

GET ON WITH IT, for God’s sake! This is like when there’s an office birthday party for all the staff birthdays of the month…and they make you all sing “Happy Birthday” 17 times!

Penelope Cruise seems to have won…oh, right, an Academy Award. I was so bored during the individual tributes to all of the nominees that I sort of forgot what I was up to.

And after all of that, I bet Cruise gets “played off” after 30 seconds before she can properly thank her parents and other family members.

I sense a great disturbance in the Force that keeps people tuned into the Oscars all evening…

Have they decided to turn the Oscars into a 14-episode reality series for Bravo? Because otherwise, I don’t know how they’re going to get through everything. It’s as if they looked at the 18 hour Super Bowl pre-game, game, and post-game and said “We can beat that. Oh, we can beat that, easy.”

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OscarBlog 2009 – Stave 0

Greetings, from an undisclosed location. In Queens. A walk from the Jefferson stop on the “L.” Up the street a bit. On the right. Past the post office. But I’m really not allowed to make it any more specific than that.

A bit of drama here, sensation-seekers: I happily came out to NYC to do a spot on the CBS Saturday Early Show, and was deep into prep for the show before I figured out that this was Oscar Weekend! So I had to weigh some options, including coming home Saturday night (and giving up a free weekend in a fabulous city, hanging out with fabulouser friends), coming home Saturday night and watching and blogging via Slingbox and a Sprint cellular modem as I speed down the Northeast Corridor on Amtrak…

…Or sleep way the hell in on Sunday, stay put, watch television, go home on Monday instead of Sunday.

So! Welcome to the liveblog. I wish I’d started counting up how many years I’ve been doing this. I imagine that once I’m looking forward to the tenth one, I can get sponsorship from Motorola and various makers of lotions, fragrances, and bright shiny objects and have gift bags for all 53 to 3.4 million people reading this.

I suppose if I don’t count them up, I could just sort of declare that 2010 is the tenth anniversary.

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(Actually, make it 54 to 3,400,001; if people are getting free Emmanuel Ax “Forte” Body Spray For Men Gift Packs, I’m going to be first in line.)

One little extra selfish twist: I’m slugging in an Associates link to Amazon somewhere in every one of these liveblog posts. Are you enjoying this liveblog? Were you planning on buying something on Amazon later? Cool. Click this link to get there. It doesn’t matter what you buy. I’ll get a little bonus from Amazon merely for having reminded you that you were meaning to buy a Havahart Easy Set/Release One-Door Raccon Trap.

(Or whatever. I’m really not here to judge. I just want the referral.)

It won’t cost you anything and it’ll put me a few pennies closer to the purchase price of something fun that I probably wouldn’t have bought myself otherwise.

To keep reloads short, I’ll be updating the blog at every commercial. Onward!