Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rainn Wilson: Best Awards Show Host Ever

Rainn Wilson rocked my world and the indie film world by hosting the Independent Spirit Awards live on February 23rd, 2008. If you've never watched the Spirit Awards, they're super casual, it takes place outside under a tent, everyone eats and drinks during it (it's a lunch awards show), and it airs on IFC, so people can swear and be spontaneously outrageous and offensive. It's great! I'll do a quick highlight recap at the end of this entry, but first I have to post these amazing Rainn Wilson videos. He was a superb host, and his comedic talents are truly limitless.

The best parts of the show, without question, were Rainn Wilson's "audition" tapes for the five Best Feature nominees. I was waiting and waiting for these to appear on YouTube, and finally they did. Bless you, YouTube. It might help to have seen the films or have some familiarity with them to get more of the jokes, but I really don't think it's necessary. They're funny no matter what. Comedy is pretty universal, and this is some of the best I've ever seen. Just marvel at his range in these five videos alone.

So, here they are, Rainn Wilson's found "audition" tapes for the Best Feature nominees. The only two directors who really appear in these videos are Todd Haynes and Jason Reitman, just to clarify. The Schnabel guy does a great impersonation, and Schnabel himself loved the bit. I guess he just wasn't available to do it. Anyway, please watch all of these. They're not very long, and I promise you won't regret it. The videos are all great and funny, but I'm ordering them from least funny to most (just in my opinion).

Rainn Wilson auditions for A Mighty Heart with director Michael Winterbottom:

Rainn Wilson auditions for Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park:

Rainn Wilson auditions for Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly:

Rainn Wilson auditions for Jason Reitman's Juno, with special guest Jason Bateman:

Rainn Wilson auditions for the role of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes' I'm Not There:

Seriously, his I'm Not There audition is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my entire life. I still laugh so hard at it that I cry. The one for A Mighty Heart is much more low-key, but it definitely shows his versatility. I think the Paranoid Park one might be the only one where seeing the movie would help the humor, because that homoerotic shower in slow-motion is spot-on. His audition for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is hilariously offensive. The Juno one is also hysterical. It's so great of Jason Reitman and Jason Bateman to be in it. I love all the videos, but the I'm Not There one is the best by far. Todd Haynes is the best sport ever. I just adore him, and he's so cool about it. Rainn's Dylan impression is GENIUS.

I'm posting four more related videos from a series Wilson calls "Rainn on Film." These weren't aired on the show. They were just extra goodies from the website. The first three are interviews with Jason Reitman, mainly about Juno (Rainn Wilson makes a cameo in Juno, if you haven't seen it, so that's why this is all so wonderful), and the last one is an interview with Todd Haynes (still the funniest in my opinion).

"Rainn on Film" with Jason Reitman, parts 1-3:

"Rainn on Film" with Todd Haynes:

Here's one more brilliant video of Dennis Hopper initiating Rainn Wilson to give him indie cred:

Now, other non-multimedia highlights from the Spirit Awards:

  • Ellen Page won Best Female Lead for Juno.
  • Ed Begley, Jr. rides bike to power the "green" telecast.
  • Once won Best Foreign Film.
  • Juno won Best Feature.
  • Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova did a kick-ass rendition of "When Your Mind's Made Up" from Once.
  • Diablo Cody won Best First Screenplay for Juno. She accepted it from Jason Bateman, who called it a fix. Her speech: "Total fix! Jason and I actually hate each other. (laughs) This is the coolest award in the coolest category. There is nothing like writing a first screenplay, and then to do so and to find yourself in this company is like the most amazing experience imaginable. Thank you Film Independent. I want to thank Fox Searchlight. Our producers were incredible. We had the best cast ever. Watch this: Ellen, Olivia, Michael, Jennifer, Jason, J.K., Allison (rattled off really fast). You are the best. We had the best time. Super cool. You know, I really, I would like to thank Mason Novick, because he introduced me to Jason Reitman, who introduced me to Ellen Page, who introduced me TO THIS MOTHAFUCKA!!!" Yes, she said it just like that, trailing off into a sing-songy, hair band, rock star yell.
  • Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Female for I'm Not There. After a really long walk to the stage (it seemed to be really long for everyone), she started by saying: "It's kind of cruel to make a pregnant lady waddle that far." She then dedicated her award to Heath Ledger.
  • Sing-a-longs for the Best Feature nominees, the greatest being David Alan Grier's ode to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Steve Zahn's Dylan-inspired I'm Not There performance.
  • I'm Not There received the Robert Altman Award for outstanding ensemble work. Todd Haynes gave a beautiful acceptance speech about Heath Ledger. For more on the award, Cate Blanchett's acceptance speech,and Todd Haynes' speech, go here.
  • Rainn Wilson hitting on Javier Bardem as he introduced him to present an award: "To present the award for Best Director, it is my pleasure to introduce a past Spirit Award winner and this year's Honorary Chair. He is the Spanish star of the brilliant No Country for Old Men. He is charming, ruggedly handsome, talented, speaks five languages...I want to fuck him so hard - Javier Bardem!" Bardem responds: "All right. All right. We got a deal, we got a deal. I have to learn English somehow, so it's a good idea to do it sharing the same bed, I guess."
  • Javier Bardem is everyone's best friend. He gets a shout-out from lots of people. Could he be any more wonderful or charming? I think not. Everyone loves him, and it's totally justified.
  • Dustin Hoffman drunkenly (or so it seems) presents the Best Feature Award. He confesses: "One thing I'd like to get off my chest - I did fuck Javier Bardem, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is the product of our union."
  • Good-natured antagonism between Rainn Wilson and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rainn Wilson started it in his opening monologue by pointing out Steve Buscemi, Mike White, and Philip Seymour Hoffman: "Oh my god, it's Philip Seymour Hoffman - the Hoff! Oh man. God, it's weird to be the best-looking guy in the room. (laughter and applause) Hey, what's Phil Hoffman doing? Does he look mad? Is he coming after me? Is he pissed?" Cut to Philip Seymour Hoffman with knife and fork in hands eating at his table, emphatically nodding his head and mouthing what looks like "Fuck yeah." Then, at the end of Hoffman's acceptance speech for Best Male Lead (The Savages): "And now I'm going to go kick Rainn Wilson's ass." Finally, Rainn Wilson closed the show: "Well, before we sign off, ladies and gentlemen, I just want to say a few things. Thank you all for coming today. It's been an honor hosting this. Congratulations to all the winners. And Philip Seymour Hoffman, prepare to die!" With these last words, he jumped off the stage and ran into the middle of the crowded room, where Hoffman was waiting for him, holding a chair. They proceeded to wrestle, with Hoffman doing a lot of spanking. He eventually beat Rainn Wilson down. Great stuff.

It was an excellent show. It was so much fun, and it's always wonderful to honor independent filmmaking. Rainn Wilson absolutely knocked it out of the park as the host. I was so impressed by him. He was phenomenal! It was the best hosting I've ever seen, and I'm an awards show junkie. I love him on The Office, but I was totally blown away by how brilliant he was on the Independent Spirit Awards. He even co-wrote the show with Office writer Jennifer Celotta! Awesome job, Rainn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is the best job of hosting I've ever seen, and that includes Billy Crystal at the Oscars. Wilson actually managed to be hilarious, borderline offensive, and yet strangely affectionate in his snarky odes to some of the best independent films of the year. His two interactions with the great Todd Haynes are pure comic gold. Thanks so much for posting them all!!