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Let the self-congratulatory meat parade begin.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2009 by dcairns

That’s George C Scott’s memorable phrase for the Academy Awards. The Great Man had nothing against awards, he said, but the Oscars had, even then, achieved such an all-encompassing bogus self-importance that they were clearly harmful rather than in any way beneficial. It’s not that stupid time-wasting crap is inherently harmful, but it does seem obscene that the one time of year when everybody talks about movies, is given over to a fatuous fashion show celebrating largely dull work.

And how come the news media conspire in the false earnestness of the event, when everyone I know of who watches the awards show does so in order to mock the bad frocks, ludicrous acceptance speeches and hysteria/histrionics?

Even by paying attention to them here I feel slightly soiled. But come by from around 11pm GMT (two hours before the ceremony itself, wherever you are) and I’ll be throwing the digital equivalent of popcorn at the TV, and updating this here post as regularly as drink and spell-checking permit. If comments appear, then the whole thing might well shift to the Comments section, so keep an eye on that too.

See you in the meat district…

joanfontaine

Image from http://tsutpen.blogspot.com/ — head over there and catch the brilliance.

Part two — am now sat on the couch between David Wingrove and Fiona, waiting for the nonsense to start. Nobody seems too excited about who’s going to win, but if Kathleen Byron doesn’t get a look-in during the Role-Call of the Dead segment, Fiona will be incandescent. I like the animated short HOUSE OF SMALL CUBES, which I blogged about here, so I’d like to see it win, but I imagine Pixar will take the gong.

Conversation has dealt with Steptoe and Son VS Sanford and Son, but is now shifting to the frocks. A lot of black dresses, apparently. “I don’t want to see a lot of black dresses,” protests Fiona. I think it would be good if someone came AS an Oscar, naked in gold paint. Mitchell Leisen through a party for Olivia deHavilland after TO EACH HIS OWN and he had a live Oscar for her. “But his eyes are blue!” she exclaimed in delight.

“John Travolta looks as if his hair has been drawn on with a felt tip pen” — Fiona.

I wonder how emotional Mickey Rourke is going to get. Can he actually locate a working tear duct these days?

Sky  1 has Fearne Cotton on the red carpet in a pink dress, clashing quite badly. And instead of grabbing people on their way in, they’re doing pre-recorded talking heads pieces and speculating about how well Britain’s going to do. Ugh.

They’re running through the Best Film nominees now. “Who’s that woman in THE READER?” asks David W. “That’s Lena Olin.” “That’s Lena Olin? Where’s her bowler hat?”

Just predicting that BENJAMIN BUTTON will get its technical awards but not the major ones. So we’ll see if we’re right.

Our friend Dylan is taking odds on strange things happening: “Odds on Tom Cruise presenting an Oscar and using the opportunity to come out of the closet?” There are no takers.

“Oh look, it’s the Slumdog kids!” “They showed them the other night in a vacant lot filled with sewage, and now here they are, all dolled up.” Danny Boyle has said that they  have a trust fund set up that’ll pay out when the kids finish school “and pass their exams.” No pressure, then.

“Odds on Heath Ledger turning up to accept his award? He’s not dead, it’s all a big publicity stunt…?”

Nicola and Dylan both confess to wanting to sleep with Maggie Gyllenhaal, “At the same time, if necessary.” Since Nicola is straight, this is a powerful testimony to Maggie’s charm.

It is widely agreed that we like Sam Rockwell. And that Frank Langella was a sexy Dracula, but is maybe too attractive for Nixon.

At last, we’re  getting some proper frocks. The mum from BENJAMIN BUTTON looks very nice, and Dylan, who mainly remembers the character in old age, can’t believe it’s her.

Much admiration of Josh Brolin. “Especially with that hair, bizarrely,” referring to his MILK do. Someone claims to have seen his ex, Minnie Driver, in an ad. I suggest she should be in a mini ad, as a mini driver. Everybody being interviewed manages to have one scary person in the background…

Dylan has brought his own cafetiere, and his own special cup. We’re beginning to worry about him.

The guy from TWILIGHT is being interviewed, and standing behind him is a man with an upside-down head. And now a character who looks like someone from Family Guy standing behind the dead girl from Veronica Mars. The people behind Amy Adams look normal though, but we’re complaining that Fearne is blocking our view of the frock.

“And here’s Sarah Jessica Parker dressed as a fairy!” cries Fiona, before we’re overtaken with shock at the sight of Matthew Broderick finally showing some sign of age. And at the same time, a sort of plasticity. I ask if he’s had work. “I take it you mean surgical work, he certainly hasn’t had the other kind,” says David.

“Red is the colour of the evening,” declares Fiona, after Mrs Sir Ben Kingsley makes a good impression. Fiona thinks Mickey Rourke looks like the Cowardly Lion.

(I suddenly remembered that I wrote a feature script in which some violent nuns from the militant wing of the Catholic church ram a Best Original Score Oscar up a man’s backside. I can’t think why that’s come to mind, maybe something to do with DOUBT.)

Sophia Loren is there! But Fearne is talking to David Frost. And Peter Gabriel. “Hi mam,” says Pete.

Claudia Winkleman, who’s doing the post-match analysis for Sky later, calls in, saying she’ll “chew off her own hand” if Kate Winslet doesn’t win. Something to look forward to.

God, some of the talking heads they get are awful. Barely qualify as heads at all. James King from Radio 1 is my bete noir. I don’t want to be mean though. Too early in the evening for that.

Fearne just isn’t pushy enough to grab interesting people on the carpet. Now she’s interviewing the other presenters… now she’s got Winslet. She says hi to anyone mad enough to stay up late in the UK. That’s us! Hi, Kate. Now the red carpet non-event is over, time for the actual crap to commence… except now we get more frockanalysis from Gok Wan, who likes all the wrong dresses. “That’s hideous!” cries Fiona when Miley Cyrus appears.

My Mum and Dad went to see THE CHANGELING, but they had made an appointment at the bank, and had miscalculated the length of the ads and trailers, and the film itself, and being responsible people of a certain generation, they couldn’t bring themselves to be late for an appointment they’d made, so they left before the end. I haven’t seen any of it, so that obviously qualifies me to be holding forth. Me and James King.

THEY’VE GOT STEPHANIE BEACHAM! Who has apparently been Best Dressed and Worst Dressed. I strongly suspect she has more interesting things to talk about than this. Even Steph looks bored.

It’s started! Robert Downey Jnr applauds himself and gets away with it. Hugh Jacktor is singing. “How come comic book movies never get nominated? / How can a billion dollars be unsophisticated?” This is potentially OK. Nobody’s done this since Billy Crystal.

A clip of Vanessa Redgrave’s acceptance speech, but nothing about “Zionist hoodlums.” Five previous Best Supporting Actress winners. They all talk like they’re kiddies in a nativity play. Except Whoopi, who gives it her all. Goldie Hawn says “Taraji P Henson” very carefully indeed. “The Academy salutes you all…and…” says Tilda, when I think she really means “…but…” And then, a mild surprise, as Penelope Cruz wins, disproving the supposed leaked memo. Dylan is disappointed that they didn’t show all the other actors realising they haven’t won.

Screenplay. Usually theres an embarrassing gimmick whenever they deal with something that can’t be straightforwardly illustrated. But some good comedy material, including a poke at Scientology from Steve Martin. Fiona applauds when IN BRUGES is mentioned. So we have favourite. But I like WALL-E. And MILK would be… MILK wins! This is good, I feel. Is it a lone nod or the start of a roll? Am I that interested? Still, good speech, and nice to see something be about something. Now adapted screenplay. The bit of screenplay they choose from THE READER doesn’t match the clip. Simon Beaufoy wins for SLUMDOG. Hmm. Didn’t like THE FULL MONTY much. I’ve seen him talk live and had mixed feelings…

Donald, our host, says, “I’m actually surprised that BENJAMIN BUTTON didn’t get nominated for Best Animated Film.”

WALL-E wins, which is good. The director played Barnaby in a school production of Hello, Dolly! it turns out.

Hooray! HOUSE OF LITTLE CUBES wins! Best short animation. “Domo arrigato mister roboto.” My pal Sharon Colman was nominated a couple years ago, but didn’t won. I think she’s at Pixar now.

BEN BUTT gets design. Happy enough about that, as it’s certainly swellegant looking.

Daniel Craig is not too comfortable with an autocue. THE DUCHESS. The costume designer thanks the composer, which is nice. Then he slightly spoils it by calling Keira Knightley “one classy lady”. “Ewww!” says everyone. “He very nearly said ‘bitch'” says Dylan.

A clip-montage of romance scenes gets us confused. We start reminiscing about previous years.  The interpretive dances! CRASH as a musical number, with Thandie Newton’s molestation by Matt Dillon, recreated in the medium of dance! Marvellous.

What is Philip Seymour Hoffman wearing on his head? He better win so we can get a look. Fiona says he looks like a medieval alchemist.

Cinematographer. SLUMDOG. Anthony Dod Mantle. Very laid-back speech, nice.

Janusz Kaminsky reveals unexpected comic talent. “Suck on dat, Anthony Dod Mantle.” Haven’t seen any of the live action shorts. Since not getting nominated myself…

Inexplicable music medley from Jackman… and Beyonce. This must be the rumoured Baz Luhrmann number. Since they segue from song to song with every other line, it must be Baz. Can’t see who half of them are. Ah, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL kids. “Reminds me of the end of BLAZING SADDLES,” says Nicola. “That was horrible,” says Fiona.

We’re REALLY enjoying Stephanie Beacham. She hates EVERYTHING. Sorry you’re missing this, rest of world. She didn’t like the Seth Rogen bit because they made fun of serious films.

Nice line-up of Best Supporting Actors winners. Alan Arkin! (How come Philip Seymour Hoffman is up for SUPPORT?) Joel Grey! Great facial contortions from Diane Lane, trying to keep a straight face as Josh Brolin’s praises are sung. Cuba Gooding Jnr on Robert Downey Jnr is good casting, and Christopher Walken on Michael Shannon is INSANELY good casting. Father and son! Kevin Kline looks like he’ll be giving the prize though…

Yep, Heath Ledger. “I liked his pencil trick,” says Dylan. Sean Penn’s crying. Sophia Loren looks moved. Many many cutaways of people looking moved, serious, thoughtful. Strangely, some actors aren’t too good at this. But many of them are clearly sincere.

Documentary! MAN ON WIRE appears. “Nutter,” says Nicola. But Herzog appears several times and she doesn’t say anything. The Maysles brothers made the interview segment. MAN ON WIRE wins. Nothing for Werner, again. That little French guy is great at getting awards though! Somebody needs to give him a job where he can accept awards all the time.

Don’t like these montages. The Oscars should do big expensive stupid things. Failing that, imaginative clever things might be acceptable. But a loud montage of action scenes seems rather a wasted opportunity. Bring out the dead! Oh, they brought out Will Smith.

BENJAMIN BUTTON gets best FX, which surprises nobody. They ARE very good effects, and they’re not the kind of effects we’re used to seeing.

The guy who gets best sound for THE DARK KNIGHT looks like Benjamin Button! Hooray! Two for one! Best mixing goes to SLUMDOG. WALL-E should have won both, I feel. But it already has a big gong. Danny Boyle looks genuinely delighted though. A sweet acceptance speech from the mixer. Now editor. We think SLUMDOG, and it should be an award for MOST editing. Yep. Dev Patel jumping up and down in his seat. Thumbs up from a grinning Boyle. A nice yellow set of non-Hollywood teeth.

Jer! Who should be getting something for his acting AS WELL AS for his humanitarian work. Jerry manages to pull a funny face as well as giving a gracious speech. I’d have liked a MUCH bigger montage of him.

Music. The medley is very smooth, to the point that everything starts to sound alike. Apart from SLUMDOG, which wins. Looks like it may well be the big winner tonight. God, I don’t actually care. Why am I here? Songs montage, introduced by clumsy metaphors delivered by autocue-shy HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL people. It’s 4am here, Brain is decaying. Dylan asks, “Do you think Baz has been crushed by the bombing of AUSTRALIA?” and everybody misunderstands. “Australia wasn’t bombed, it caught fire!”

It does look like SLUMDOG is blitzing this thing. Another movie I haven’t seen and am not that bothered about. This may be a bad thing to admit while live-blogging the Oscars.

Haven’t even seen the Foreign Films, that’s how crap I am.

Dead people montage! With an unwelcome song. “I’ll be seeing you,” not the best choice. They have Vampira, but they don’t have Kathleen Byron, and the whole thing is very badly shot, with a pointless gliding crane that often makes it impossible to read the names. Now Stephanie comes into her own, because she can talk about Charlton Heston and Riccardo Montalban from a standpoint of actual knowledge, unlike everyone else we’ve heard from.

Director. David Fincher looks resigned. Boyle wins. A Brit. Please don’t be embarrassing. OK, he’s cited Tigger from WINNIE THE POOH. Good speech. Even Stephanie Beacham approves.

Actress. Loren! MacLaine! Berry! Kidman! Cotillard! And the music from GONE WITH THE WIND. David W on Loren: “She wipes the floor with them all.” “Or could, if called upon to do so,” I suggest. Hathaway starts crying when they say her name. Does she always do that? Must be awkward. Very strange expression from Winslet, listening. It goes on and on. What does it mean? Loren dries up completely, by which I mean she seems to forget her lines, rather than that she crumbles to dust. Kidman, who has possibly had more surgical intervention than Loren, does Brangelina. Winslet. Uh-oh. Actually, her shampoo bottle line is brilliant. And getting her dad to whistle — great! Also, really ORGANISED. “These GODDESSES!” Good show.

Michael Douglas nods to Frank Langella with an incoherent speech; DeNiro does Sean Penn. DeNiro looks different. Adrien Brody on Richard Jenkins. God, I hate these speeches. DeNiro managed to sound natural. Anthony Popkins suddenly goes VERY WELSH and does Brangelina 2. Handhi Bendhi Gandhi does Mickey Rourke.

Wow, Sean Penn wins! That’s actually interesting. Should boost MILK, which is great news. And a tribute to Rourke, which is sweet. Good to have a surprise.

Best film. They intercut clips from MILK with BRAVEHEART. “I bet he’s really glad to be intercut with Harvey Milk,” observes David W.

SLUMDOG wins — everybody invades the stage. Hmm, am I ever going to watch that film? Maybe someday. Must be a complicated thing for India, since this is a British production taking a not-entirely flattering view of a former colony. And while showing social conditions is a commendable thing in many ways, we shouldn’t necessarily be the ones doing it. But then, Indian cinema hasn’t been doing that…of course, what matters here is whether it’s a good film. Knowing Boyle’s previous form, I have a sense of what it’ll be like… not my thing.

Then we get ads for “next year’s Oscars” which is ludicrous. Ah, every muscle in my body aches, time for bed.

11pm – 5.00 am. I’m thoroughly resolved that next year I’ll be viewing my role as to provide an ALTERNATIVE to this bullshit. Generally the wrong people win, or the right people for the wrong films. Sean Penn is probably the exception this year. Actually, where it was surprising it was generally good. Maybe they should plot it like a detective novel and always have the least likely person win?

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