Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar Dish

I'm keeping my Oscar dish short (my kind of short) because the whole world is blogging about the Academy Awards in one form or another. I think we have the Writer's Strike to thank for what feels like an unusual amount of coverage, even considering the hundreds of millions that watch the telecast every year in countries around the world. The dearth of awards shows this season, thanks to fears of picketing and, oh yeah, a distinct lack of writers to write the often cheesy intros and presentation banter, have made the Oscars the one sure thing for Hollywood's self-congratulatory love fest. The only other of note was the Screen Actor's Guild Awards. For once the Golden Globes presentation actually reflected the hypocrisy of the Globes themselves as the pitiful news conference/Entertainment Tonight slag fest it devolved into was an exercise in embarrassment and a case study in not knowing when to quit.

But what made the Oscars shine tonight was a miraculous event not seen in many a year: Everyone was having fun! Usually, by the time the gaggle of actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, costumers, documentarians, animators, and musicians, etc. get to the Oscars, the official conclusion to Spring's annual award frenzy, some just seem exhausted (
underneath the layers of make up and designer togs), presumably worn down by the campaigning and the marketing and the glad handing and by answering the same questions over and over again. But with the strike deep-sixing the larger awards shows, last night was a somewhat rare occasion for the Hollywood elite (and aspiring elite) to have a good time looking gorgeous and celebrating each other (never mind the possible catty exchanges in the ladies room.) It was just plain fun.

Here are the bulleted highlights of things I enjoyed:

  • How awesome is John Stewart? I enjoyed so many of his quips (I am NOT You Tubing them - much too much work for a Monday morning) but my favorite bit was him bringing out Marketa Irglova after the commercial break so she could add her thanks for the Best Song win, making up for the orchestra cutting her off pre-commercial. A thoughtful act for a woman who may never grace that stage again to have her moment in the sun.
  • I've loved Daniel Day-Lewis since The Last of the Mohicans, but have admired him and been in awe of his talent and process longer than that. Somehow I missed his poetry of words (which shouldn't be that surprising considering that his father was Poet Laureate of England) but after the SAG awards acceptance speech and last night's speech, I am suitably in awe of his tongue (not that way!) as well.
  • The seeming array of foreign winners last night, with Italian-, French-, and Spanish-accented English flowing out from the podium during acceptance speeches.
  • Enjoyed Josh Brolin and James McAvoy's banter together and with Jack. I always like it when the presenters have fun with what they're doing. (Sorry Katherine Heigel, but get over yourself. You've been headlining Grey's Anatomy and taking on the boys in the Apatow oeuvre - you can handle this. It was like when Ashley Judge said she was just a Southern girl in the big city - for, like, 10 years already. Please.)
  • Is Jack the Oscar mascot now? Always in the front row, repeatedly referenced by host and presenters alike, yucking it up with Regis. It's fun, but it's a little weird.
  • Loved Helen Mirren, Hilary Swank, and Jennifer Garner's dresses (though Garner needs to get the hair out of her face and Mirren should know better than to wear fabric that wrinkles in the limo ride over - see what I learn from reading The Fug Girls!) Not so good? The vine climbing Anne Hathaway's chest, Jennifer Hudson's my-breasts-point- in-different-directions Grecian ode, Diablo Cody's I-really-was-a stripper-see-I- still-dress-like-one, nearly transparent, leopard-print mu-mu, and Tilda Swinton's I-was-so-nervous-I-ate-the-sleeve-on-one-side-of-my-dress-but-spared-the-other- side-so-you-wouldn't-think -I-was-strange black caftan-like dress. Didn't work honey. I think Swinton's an amazing actor, ever since her awe-inspiring turn in Orlando, but the girl seems a tad odd.
  • Lovely, lovely George Clooney was everyone's favorite gent, despite not winning last night (always a winner in my book though, George!) I particularly enjoyed Tilda Swinton's recognition of the nipple-prominent Bat Suit she claims he continues to wear under his designer togs (I knew it!) And Day-Lewis' recognition of him on his (Daniel's) way up the stairs was a charming nod to lovely George. I love those impromtu moments.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis' knighthoood. She may not be the real Queen Elizabeth, but Helen Mirren certainly rules that realm.
  • Marion Cotillard. I found her win surprising - I thought Julie Christie had that one locked after the SAG awards - but I found Marion's enthusiasm and delight infectious. (Though what is the deal with having the Best Actress award at 10:30 and waiting another hour for the Best Actor award, coupling that award with the juggernauts of the evening, Best Director and Best Picture? I'm not liking the implications there.)
  • Love that Glen Hansard and the aforementioned Marketa Irglova not only sang their ballad "Falling Slowly" at the awards show, but won Best Song over all the productions of Enchanted (which I saw and enjoyed) and the somewhat annoying "Raise it Up". Once is so the little movie that could.
Those were the moments that are still in my head (it was a VERY late night at my house, which had little to do with the Oscars). People said that in 2003 we had a return to glam after the subdued tone the 2002 Oscars had less than six months after 9/11. I would never lift anything to the same significance as 9/11 and certainly nothing as trivial (in comparison) as the Writer's Strike, but I had the sense of a return to having a good time and enjoying the evening in a similar way.

I know I enjoyed it.

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