Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Oscar the Octogenarian

So, I've mentioned my love/hate relationship with awards shows before. That particularly applies to the Oscars. But right now, I'm in full-on love mode. I'm in love with the Oscars! I love them! I sort of feel like Roberto Benigni right now. I want to jump on chairs and talk about making love to them and all that jazz. First of all, I'm so thrilled that the stupid strike ended and that the show actually happened. Second, Oscar turned 80 years old, so it was really special. And lastly, my favorites kicked some serious award ass!! WOOHOO!! Seriously, I've never been more happy with the winners overall than I am this year. For the first time, most of the predicted or heavily favored winners coincided with the people or films I actually wanted to win. This was the best Oscar experience I've ever had.

That being said, this awards season has left me exhausted. I've written some pretty hefty posts about different shows lately, especially my last couple entries, so I promise I'll try to be as concise as possible with my Oscar summary. I'll comment on the winners first (just the ones that interested me the most), and then I'll mention some other highlights, and that'll be all. So, here we go.

Best Score: Dario Marianelli for Atonement

He had no competition, as the other nominees were pathetic, but he still totally deserved it. I love the Atonement score. How many other scores can you think of that utilize the typewriter as an instrument? It's pretty awesome.

Best Make-Up: La Vie en Rose

Damn right. It's some of the best make-up I've ever seen. The way they age Marion Cotillard is amazing.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Counterfeiters

Even though I think this category was bogus this year, I'm really happy that the only film I saw is the one that won. It's a really good film. I highly recommend it.

Best Documentary: Taxi to the Dark Side

I haven't seen it, but I was stunned that it won over No End in Sight and Sicko. Maybe they canceled each other out.

Best Art Direction (Production Design): Sweeney Todd

I totally agree. The art direction is magnificent in any Burton film, but production designer Dante Ferretti and set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo made magic in Sweeney Todd.

Best Animated Film: Ratatouille

I'm surprised, and yet I'm not. It was a real toss-up between Ratatouille and Persepolis. I kind of wanted Persepolis to win just because of how original it is and to see something different win, but Ratatouille is Pixar's most sophisticated film, and one of their best. Brad Bird is brilliant, so I'm happy. Honestly, I probably would have voted for Ratatouille, too.

Best Song: "Falling Slowly" from Once

Um...YEAH. No question. Major congratulations to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Here are their acceptance speeches:

Glen Hansard: "Thanks! This is amazing. What are we doing here? This is mad. We made this film two years ago. We shot on two Handycams. It took us three weeks to make. We made it for a hundred grand. We never thought we would come into a room like this and be in front of you people. It's been an amazing thing. Thanks for taking this film seriously, all of you. It means a lot to us. Thanks to the Academy, thanks to all the people who've helped us, they know who they are, we don't need to say them. This is amazing. Make art. Make art. Thanks."

Marketa Irglova: "Hi everyone. I just want to thank you so much. This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don't give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along way. Thank you."

Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit for There Will Be Blood

What?! How could Roger Deakins lose? And if Deakins lost, I assumed it would be to Janusz Kaminski. I'm really happy for Elswit (who was really humble and graciously credited production designer Jack Fisk and his crew for 80% of the award) and Paul Thomas Anderson (Elswit has brilliantly shot all of Anderson's films), but it was Roger Deakins' year. He should have won it for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but I thought he would win it for No Country for Old Men (which would have been fine). I can't believe he won for neither. I can only assume the Academy canceled him out by double-nominating him. He probably got a lot of votes, but they were too split.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men

(Josh Brolin presenting the award to Ethan Coen)

I'm so glad that the Coens are finally getting the attention and recognition they deserve. They've always been amazing. I know they won a screenplay award before for Fargo, but it's been a long time. This is well-deserved. It's a great script. I'm including their speeches, just because they're so wonderfully awkward and funny.

Joel Coen: "Thank you very much for this. Thank you, Scott Rudin for bringing us this novel and giving us the opportunity to make the movie. I think whatever success we've had in this area has been entirely attributable to how selective we are. We've only adapted Homer and Cormac McCarthy, so thank you."

Ethan Coen: "We, uh, and thank you very much."

Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody - Juno

Like there was ever any doubt. Still, it doesn't make it any less exciting or gratifying. Kudos, Diablo! This was the first time I've ever seen her get emotional.

Here's her speech: "What is happening? This is for the writers, and I want to thank all the writers. I especially want to thank my fellow nominees because I worship you guys and I'm learning from you every day, so thank you very much. I want to thank the Academy, I want to thank Fox Searchlight, Mr. Mudd, Mandate, Dan Dubiecki. I want to thank our incredible cast including the superhuman Ellen Page. I want to thank Jason Reitman, who I consider a member of my family, and I'm in awe of his talent as a filmmaker. I want to thank Sarah Self. I want to thank Mason Novick who knew I could do this before I did. And most of all, I want to thank my family for loving me exactly the way I am."

Best Director(s): Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men

Yay! This is the first time they've ever won a directing Oscar, and again, I'm totally happy for them. I have to admit that I had brief, gleeful thoughts of Paul Thomas Anderson winning adapted screenplay or directing over them. It would have been so ironic for Anderson to finally get an award for THIS film. There Will Be Blood is, like, the anti-Oscar movie. So, it would have been poetic justice. But, I believe the Coens deserved their awards. Here are their directing acceptance speeches:

Ethan Coen: "I don't have a lot to add to what I said earlier. Thank you."

Joel Coen: "Ethan and I have been making stories with movie cameras since we were kids. In the late '60s when Ethan was 11 or 12, he got a suit and a briefcase and we went to the Minneapolis International Airport with a Super 8 camera and made a movie about shuttle diplomacy called 'Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go.' And honestly, what we do now doesn't feel that much different from what we were doing then. There are too many people to thank for this. We're really thrilled to have received it, and we're very thankful to all of you out there for letting us continue to play in our corner of the sandbox, so thank you very much."

Aww, bonus points for sentimentality and hilarity.

Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton

Huh? How did this happen? This is the only award that really irked me. Yes, she's very good, but the performance shouldn't have even been nominated in the first place. I know, I know, she's been ignored for a long time, but this isn't the performance that should finally get her noticed. She shouldn't have won. I know Cate Blanchett gets an Oscar nomination every time she sneezes, but she really deserved it for her astounding portrayal of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. This category was my biggest let-down. But then Swinton had to be all cool and quirky during her speech and make me love her. She softened the blow by being totally rad. Darn you, Tilda!

Tilda Swinton: "Oh, no. Happy birthday, man. (she's talking to the Oscar) I have an American agent who is the spitting image of this. Really truly the same shape head and, it has to be said, the buttocks. And I'm giving this to him because there's no way I would be in America at all ever on a plane, if it wasn't for him. So, Brian Swardstrom, I'm giving this to you. And Tony Gilroy walks on water, it's entirely official as far as I'm concerned, and Jen Fox and Steve Samuels, our incredible producers. And Sydney Pollack, and George Clooney, you know, the seriousness and the dedication to your art, seeing you climb into that rubber bat suit from 'Batman & Robin,' the one with the nipples, every morning under your costume, on the set, off the set, hanging upside-down at lunch, you rock, man. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

Of course. That doesn't mean I didn't get nervous that he might not win, though. I always do. I'm a total nerd watching the Oscars. This is one of the most deserving honors for one of the best performances I've ever seen. And he brought his mom! And he spoke to her in Spanish! Aww.

(Javier and Mama Bardem)

Javier Bardem: "Wow. Alright, this is very amazing. It's a great honor for me to have this. I want to and I have to speak fast here, man. Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think that I could do that and put one of the most horrible haircuts in history over my head. Thank you for really proving my work. I want to share this with the cast, with the great Tommy Lee Jones, with the great Josh Brolin, with the great Kelly MacDonald. And I want to dedicate this to my mother, and I have to say this in Spanish, and I'm sorry... [Speaking in Spanish] Thank you very much!"

I love that whoever did the Oscar speech transcripts was too lazy to find someone to translate the Spanish.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Again, OF COURSE. He was even more of a lock than Javier Bardem, but I was still freaking out before the announcement. It would have been a total tragedy if he had lost. I would have flipped. Few people have ever deserved an Oscar more than Day-Lewis did for his revelatory performance as Daniel Plainview. I love this man. He even knelt before Helen Mirren to accept it! What a sweet, charming, humble guy. He's always so eloquent, too. His speech is amazing.

(So classy: Day-Lewis kissing George Clooney on his way up to the stage to accept his Oscar)

Daniel Day-Lewis: "And that's the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood, so thank you. My deepest thanks to the members of the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town. I'm looking at this gorgeous thing you've given me and I'm thinking back to the first devilish whisper of an idea that came to him and everything since and it seems to me that this sprang like a golden sapling out of the mad, beautiful head of Paul Thomas Anderson. I wish my son and my partner HW Plainview were up here with me, the mighty Dillon Freasier. So many people to thank. One amongst them would be Mrs. Plainview down there, the enchantingly optimistic, open-minded and beautiful Rebecca Miller. I hope that all those to whom I owe and to whom I feel the deepest gratitude will forgive me if I say just simply, 'Thank you, Paul.' I've been thinking a lot about fathers and sons in the course of this, and I'd like to accept this in the memory of my grandfather, Michael Balcon, my father, Cecil Day-Lewis, and my three fine boys, Gabriel, Ronan and Cashel. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you."

"I'm looking at this gorgeous thing you've given me and I'm thinking back to the first devilish whisper of an idea that came to him and everything since and it seems to me that this sprang like a golden sapling out of the mad, beautiful head of Paul Thomas Anderson." Wow.

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men

(Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Javier Bardem celebrating)

Hooray!! I wanted it to win so badly. I think it's definitely the Coens' best film, which is saying a lot. Finally, they're having their big moment. I love this film so much. When I saw it way back at Cannes, I knew it was special, but I never realized it would be this big. Again, it was fairly expected, but I was still anxious. And then came the blissful exaltation.

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose

AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my god!!!!!!! Un-freaking-believable!! I saved her for last, because this was my biggest thrill of the night. It was a total shock. I knew she deserved it. I knew it after only seeing a few minutes of her in La Vie en Rose. But I totally thought Julie Christie would win, and I bet everyone else did, too. Julie Christie certainly thought so. She started to stand. Not only that, she looked like she was pulling out a SPEECH. Ugh. Well, sit down, Julie Christie! Woohoo!!! Like Daniel Day-Lewis, few people have been more deserving of an Oscar than Marion Cotillard. Her performance is sheer genius. It's unreal.

I admit that I briefly strayed away from Marion Cotillard. I feel really guilty about it, actually. I wanted Ellen Page to win for awhile. I was just so in love with Juno, and both of them are so great in their own ways, and my deep connection to Juno just swayed me Ellen's way. But, I realized that Ellen Page's nomination WAS her win. She'll have plenty of chances. I swooningly returned to Marion Cotillard. My first reaction to seeing her in La Vie en Rose was it.

I've been pulling for her and just hoping against hope, but to see her actually win was a dream come true. I literally screamed when her name was announced. Out loud. I screamed. There was some jumping around, too. I was all fluttery and full of adrenaline. My heart was pounding. I even cried a little. It was just awesome, probably the most satisfying win I've ever experienced. Seriously. It was that big for me.

The right woman definitely won. It's one of the best performances EVER. I'm so, so happy for her. And she's such a sweetheart. Marion, je t'adore!! Félicitations!

Marion Cotillard: "Oh -- thank you so much. Olivier, what you did to me, Maestro Olivier Dahan, you rocked my life. You truly rocked my life. Thank you so much to Picturehouse for your passion, members of the Academy, thank you so, so much. And -- wow. Well, I'm speechless now. I -- I -- well, I -- thank you life, thank you love, and it is true, there is some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much."

"Thank you life. Thank you love." So beautiful!! Thank YOU, Marion.

Okay, so there's my assessment of the winners. Now, here are the best sound bites from Jon Stewart's opening monologue:

After discussing the end of the Writers' Strike: “Tonight we look beyond the dark days to focus on happier fare - this year’s slate of Oscar-nominated psychopathic killer movies. Does this town need a hug? What happened? No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd, There Will Be Blood…all I can say is – thank god for teen pregnancy. No, I think the country agrees. Cheered everybody up. They needed that kind of light-hearted fare.”

"There were, if I may, amazing performances this year, I think everybody can agree on that. There really were. Daniel Day-Lewis – remarkable. Cate Blanchett – twice. My friend Javier Bardem – Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh. Remarkable. Your work in No Country for Old Men – combining brilliantly Hannibal Lecter’s murderousness with Dorothy Hamill’s wedge cut. Julie Christie was absolutely amazing in Away from Her. Brilliant movie. It was the moving story of a woman who forgets her own husband. Hillary Clinton called it the 'feel good movie of the year.'"

"There is a great variety in the nominated films this year, which I think is terrific. Even Norbit got a nomination, which I think is great. Too often the Academy ignores movies that aren’t good."

"Tonight is not just about the actors. It’s about directors, writers…Diablo Cody. What an amazing story. She wrote Juno, such a great movie. Diablo Cody used to be an exotic dancer, and now she’s an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. I hope you’re enjoying the pay cut."

"Not all films did as well as Juno, obviously. The films that were made about the Iraq War, let’s face it, did not do as well. But I am telling you, if we stay the course and keep these movies in the theaters, we can turn this around. I don’t care if it takes a hundred years, withdrawing the Iraq movies would only embolden the audience. We cannot let the audience win."

"Oscar is eighty this year, which makes him now automatically the front-runner for the Republican nomination."

"This is, you have to admit, this is a huge election. It’s an historic election. So much excitement. For the first time in so many years, we don’t have an incumbent president or incumbent vice-president. The field is wide open. Have you all had a chance to examine all the candidates, study their positions, and pick the Democrat you’ll vote for?"

"Democrats do have an historic race going. Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama. Normally, when you see a black man or a woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty. How will we know it’s the future? Silver unitards? That can’t be all."

"You have to give Barack Obama credit. He has overcome a great deal. Not just he’s an African-American, Barack Hussein Obama is his name. His middle name is the last name of Iraq’s former tyrant. His last name rhymes with Osama. That’s not easy to overcome. I think we all remember the ill-fated 1944 presidential campaign of Gaydolph Titler. It’s such a shame! Titler had so many good ideas! He just couldn’t get past the name. And the mustache."

Finally, I just want to rattle off some other highlights and memorable moments:

  • Jon Stewart: He did a great job, much better than his first time hosting. He was just the right balance of snarky and sincere.
  • Fake clip packages to show what a writerless, padding-required Oscars would have been like, including "Bad Dreams: An Oscar Salute" (people waking up from bad dreams) and "Oscar's Salute to Binoculars and Periscopes"

  • Jon Stewart bringing Marketa Irglova back on stage to give her acceptance speech after the orchestra cut her off

  • Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova performing "Falling Slowly"

  • Poor, poor Amy Adams performing "Happy Working Song" from Enchanted. The other two numbers from Enchanted were like Busby Berkeley musicals, but all she got was a whole lot of nothing. She had to sing this cute but really silly song all alone in the middle of this gapingly empty stage. Actually, it wasn't totally empty; there were these two ridiculous spinning platforms with big circles on them. Hmm... They didn't help. It was like singing in bottomless pit. She was a trooper and did her best, though. I love Amy Adams, and she was great, but I felt really bad for her. It was cringe-inducingly awkward.

  • Celebrating Oscar's 80th birthday with lots of great clip packages. The best one ended by showing lots of stars during especially emotional moments, set to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." Corny? Perhaps. Yet totally effective. It made me cry. This weepy segment started with Bob Dylan, Christopher Reeve, and Hattie McDaniel, then went on to juxtapose footage of newer stars (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's heartfelt, exuberant, and tearful acceptance speech, Russell Crowe sharing some really profound words, Kevin Spacey dedicating his award to Jack Lemmon) with classic Hollywood stars when they were older, like Joan Crawford, Jack Lemmon, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant (accepting his Honorary Oscar, and wiping away tears! I love him so much!), and, finally, Charlie Chaplin accepting his Honorary Oscar, also moved to tears. The tribute ended with Chaplin sweetly saying, "Thank you for the honor of inviting me here and...oh, you're wonderful." It was divine. It reminded me of why I love film so much.

So, awards season has come to an end. It's hard to believe that it's all over. It's very bittersweet for me, because I've never been more invested than I have been this year. However, I can find consolation in the fact that this season went out with a golden bang. The 2008 Oscars rocked. It was definitely the best and most fulfilling show that I've ever witnessed personally, but I'd wager that it was one of the best Oscar shows ever. How fitting, because 2007 was one of the best years for cinema ever.


Bill Treadway said...

I know some Spanish - I'm half Spanish from my mother's side (the rest is 1/4 British and 1/8 each Italian and German from my father's side)- I don't speak it but I can understand quite a bit.

This is a really rough translation and I'm probably messing it up but he basically said "Hey Mom. This is for you. And for your parents and grandparents who have all brought dignity and pride to this profession. This is for Spain and for all of us."

As for Daniel Day-Lewis. As far as his acting is concerned, we'll have to agree to disagree. I just don't get it. I thought he was marvelous in Age of Innocence, Room with a View and Unbearable Lightness of Being, but the rest leave me scratching my head.

Lisa Draski said...

That's surprising and interesting about Daniel Day-Lewis, but I'm always up for agreeing to disagree. As for the translation, that seems to be something he would say in an Oscar speech. Sounds good to me. Thanks for that!