Sunday, February 24, 2008

Academy Awards: Drive by Impressions (Updated Again and Again and Again)

I stumbled across the awards in a fruitless search to watch something else just in time to see Brad Bird has won the Oscar for Ratatouille--a well-deserved win. It’s brilliantly funny, touching, and gorgeously rendered--and it kind of solidified my belief that Bird is one of America’s best directors. Tomorrow night I’ll be watching both Iron Giant and Ratatouille to celebrate.

While I realize they want to keep the show short, I also think that they’ve been a little rude about the cut off for some of the speeches. When a person has only been up for a few seconds, find it in your hearts to give them a few more than usual. It’s probably the biggest night of their professional lives and they deserve to enjoy it with a little unrushed dignity.

The chick from Enchanted is hot. Ultra mega stoopid hot. The musical number is pretty fun, too, in an extreme take on Disney music. Fun stuff. Hubba hubba.

Jon Stewart irritates me, but he’s a solid host.

Watching the visual effects awards goes far in showcasing just how unreal movies are these days. Which isn’t horrible--see my love of Ratatouille and other animated movies for an example of how much I enjoy the artistic rendering that comes purely from the artists--but is a problem when those effects become more important than the heart of the story. See the latter two Pirates movies as a good example. Still, the technology is amazing.

The Art Direction award is more interesting to me, really. The capacity to create entire worlds and then translate them to film--whether those worlds are imaginings of other planets or visions of the past is irrelevant--to support the mood and feel of the movie is amazing. I haven’t seen Sweeney Todd, but I’m not surprised that a Tim Burton directed film would win the award. Regardless of other merits, Tim Burton movies are always visually arresting.

Re-watching Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s Oscar win was a reminder of the pure expression of joy that he expressed that night. I had forgotten. I wish he would make more movies worthy of a nod because there aren’t too many more likable people in Hollywood. He seems so genuine and unassuming in the middle of the self-consciousness and arrogance of so many of the other actors.

Javier Bardem deserved his Best Supporting Actor nod for No Country for Old Men. I saw that movie a few months back and I’m still digesting it--his performance is a large part of why.

Oscar’s Salute to Binoculars and Periscopes was a high point for me. Mostly because I’m pretty sure i noticed a clip from Top Secret in there. Could be wrong, though, since I wasn’t paying all that much attention.

Did anyone actually see August Rush? The song that they featured was fine--perhaps a little generic, but certainly not bad. I just could count the number of people that I know who saw the movie on the fingers of no hands. So, if you’ve seen the movie, raise your hand, because I’m pretty sure they released it in the new Nearly Straight to Video format.

Hey, Owen Wilson. I wonder how he’s doing? He looked like he needs glasses to read the Teleprompter, was as wooden as a presenter can be, and skipped right over any fluffy stuff, so yeah…

Best Supporting Actress goes to Tilda Swinton (who looked tremendously surprised). I saw only one of the movies--and Michael Clayton wasn’t one of htem, so I don’t have any commentary. I love Tilda Swinton, although I couldn’t necessarily explain why. She’s certainly a wonderful actress, though.

So, yeah, looks like the Coen brothers are going to have a good night.

I wouldn’t have picked Bourne Ultimatum for either of those sound awards. No Country and 3:10 to Yuma would have been my choices.

Best Actress (the award was given by the phenomenally talented Forest Whitaker) goes to Marion Cotillard--hopefully I’ve spelled that right. Again, another movie I haven’t seen, so I won’t comment on the performance, but her acceptance speech in broken and confused English was all sorts of endearing.

I’m so bored by this thing right now…

Wait, what the hell? Bourne Ultimatum won yet another of those little techie awards? Weird.

Nice entrance, Mr. Travolta.

Hey, Big O, whaddya got there, fella?

I’m not stopping yet. I don’t want to.

Best Cinematography went to Robert Elswit for There Will be Blood. Which is nice for him. I would have given it to that guy from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. But what do I know?

Dead montage. One of those faces stands out as particularly sad, of course--a too short life with a useless ending--and some of them are simply personal reminders that, damn, I’m getting old.

Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject) was given by soldiers in Iraq. Nice treat for the troops who got to participate. Some of the audience just looked a bit confused, though. Here’s to the winner, Freeheld, for receiving the award in a unique way. And, of course, just for winning the award. I suppose it makes up (just a touch) for Hollywood’s political bias, which might have been a bit more obvious in the nominations for Best Documentary Feature.

The award went to Taxi to the Dark Side. I think it should have gone to Fistful of Quarters--which wasn’t, you know, actually nominated. Because political statements are far more interesting than entertainment and good film making. Let’s hope that we can move away from the Dark Side, folks. Because Darth really has us in his hold…

With the Best Actor going to Daniel Day-Lewis, let’s just say that there are no surprises here. Also nothing unreasonable--he’s great. Best Directory and Best Motion Picture going to Coen brothers same-same. And, regardless of what people might think of the ending, they directed a near-perfect film there. Big congratulations to them as they’ve made some of my favorite modern films.

Denzel is looking mighty fit and trim. If I were making a movie today and needed a strong, male lead, he would probably be number one on my list. Russel Crowe would be number two.


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