Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Join Our Club! (Oscar Night in Review ~ Pt 2 of 3)

Of all the conversations I've had offline regarding Sunday's Oscars the most popular topic was always the acting category intros. The biggest change this year at the Kodak was the use of five previous winners to hand out each acting statue, rather than the opposite sex correlative trade off (last year's best actor presenting the new best actress, etcetera). Most Oscar ceremony decisions in past years seem to have sprung from the producers annual anxiety about the excessive length of the show but this format switch actually lengthened the acting segments. This might not be a bad decision strategically since many viewers are presumably watching the show specifically for the glamour of the stars.

The Acting Presentations:
Sophia Loren for Meryl Streep, Shirley Maclaine for Anne
Hathaway, Marion Cotillard for Kate Winslet, Nicole
Kidman for Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry for Melissa Leo
Probability of famegasms very high

This glittery doubled quintet approach (presenters to nominees) was a little overwhelming star-power wise. Overwhelming in a delicious way. Short cascading montages showed the wins of five actors and huge panels rose to reveal those same winners who then marched forward in unison toward a inner circle stage where they would choose a new member of their sorority or fraternity.

Read the rest ...
Return and comment. Did you like this format? Which nominee/winner pairing thrilled you most? We'll wrap up with the fashions this afternoon. Come back

36 comments:

Dame James Henry said...

I think it's a tie between Sophia Loren divalicious praising of Meryl Streep (hand on her hip, hint of jealousy when she read that Meryl had 15 nominations, the overall feeling that she'd rather be somewhere else, that outfit) and Shirley MacLaine's beautiful speech to Anne Hathaway (and Anne's honest reaction to the whole thing) as the best combos of the night.

NATHANIEL R said...

yeah the Shirley to Anne thing was awesome. And between this and her earlier co-starring with Julie Andrews it's like a sign to Hollywood. MAKE NEW MUSICALS AND LET ANNE STAR IN THEM.

pass that torch.

Alex in Movieland said...

I completely agree with what you both said :D though I incline a bit towards Sophia & Meryl. they brought a diva for a diva. It takes a movie legend to talk about Meryl.

I also liked the presence of Eva Marie Saint. [who looks very ok for her 84 years old] Could they have found a supporting actress with a win earlier that 1954? I don't think so, right?!

p.s.: in that photo, Michael O'Connor looks like he's gonna give a blowjob to the Oscar. Show some restraint, Michael!! Learn a bit from Duncan Lance!

mB said...

This was my fave part of the 'revamping' of the show (Hugh's Broadway antics aside) and yes, Shirley-Anne was just heartbreaking - but do we also find that Marion-for-Kate was less of a 'mentoring/welcome to the club' than a 'you are such an inspiration'? It just felt like a reverse-moment compared to, say, Kidman to Jolie or Loren to Streep.

Katey said...

I'm still not over Melissa Leo's hair, which makes her look like you could drop her at a mid-80s Oscar ceremony and she'd fit in just fine.

Viola Davis definitely looks the most disappointed of all the supporting actresses. Your time will come!

Jack said...

I thought the concept was cool, but I miss the acting clips.

I always saw them as an example of what the Academy thought of the nominated performances (so when they showed Nicole Kidman being hysterical and OTT in "Moulin Rouge!", that is what they thought of the performance, and when they showed Toni Collette just sitting and listening to a Haley Joel Osment monologue in "The Sixth Sense", they obviously just saw her performance as nothing but reacting to him), so I was sad to see them go.

Plus, there's always a bit of nostalgia with the acting clips for the time when I used to watch the Oscars but wasn't old enough to see many of the films at the cinema, so the clips were my only opportunity to see the performances. I still remember the Ben Kingsley clip for "Sexy Beast" - it was only a 20-second clip but it was enough to convince me that it was an Oscar worthy performance. Just the way he screamed "Yes! Yes! Yes!!!" was inspired.

Davey said...

Eva Marie Saint's 84? Wow. I would have thought maybe early 70s from Sunday night. Bravo to her for longevity! The former winners presenting to the newbies was a stroke of genius. It's a novelty that they probably won't do again for a long while, but gosh, that was transcendent while it lasted. Well, for the ladies at least. The guys kind of seemed non-affected. And just b/c I'm a huge Richard Jenkins fan, I thought he really got the short end of the stick with Adrien Brody. "If you Google Richard Jenkins's name . . ." Seriously, Adrien? He deserved better than that. And I hope that "look" was for a film role. Natalie Portman should have been there to call him a Hasidic meth lab junkie too.

Peter said...

The problem with the actor ones was that the presenters by and large didn't say anything insightful about the performance or career, as the actresses did. The exceptions here were Robert Deniro about Sean Penn and Cuba Gooding Jr about Robert Downey Jr... but Adrien Brody's awful "tribute" to Richard Jenkins? Ugh.

I loved the overall format though, as it really puts some meat on the bones of "it's an honor just to be nominated."

And I could have sworn that Hopkins would intro Langella... from one Oscar-nominated Nixon to another. How did they miss that one?

Noecito said...

You're totally right Peter. That reference to Google was insulting in so many levels!
But, with the exception of some choices (Brody and Berry), I loved, loved, loved what they did.

Anonymous said...

What I loved most about the presentations was how excited the actual audience appeared to be. Especially for Actress. Glamour to the NINE's, then the extended ovation, and that cut to Anne Hathaway just whooping it up really made that one stick out for me. How amazing that even though she didn't win the night really did seem to belong to Anne?

VAL

Dave said...

Could they have found a supporting actress with a win earlier that 1954? I don't think so, right?!

Apparently Celeste Holm was there, they could've dragged her up there. But the Supporting Actress presentation was easily the best of the four, although I do wonder how much of that might of been the surprise element- "what the hell is this? It's amazing!"- that wore off by the time it came to Actor and Actress. But the line-up was perfect too. Whereas the others had some duds.

(I have to admit that I've never seen a Sophia Loren film and therefore have no respect for her, but it seemed slightly as though she'd been drugged. As did Alicia Keys.)

Dean said...

Interesting Running Trend:

2008 Best Actress is from a Best Picture Nominee
2007 Best Actress is not from a Best Picture Nominee
2006 Best Actress is from a Best Picture Nominee
2005 Best Actress is not from a Best Picture Nominee
2004 Best Actress is from a Best Picture Nominee
2003 Best Actress is not from a Best Picture Nominee
2002 Best Actress is from a Best Picture Nominee
2001 Best Actress is not from a Best Picture Nominee
2000 Best Actress is from a Best Picture Nominee
1999 Best Actress is not from a Best Picture Nominee
1998 Best Actress is from a Best Picture Nominee

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Agustin said...

i really liked the acting presentations
the thing is, sometimes i felt like the already won actress/actor was speaking down to the nominated one, as if they were their teacher, Marion Cotillard gave a great performance as Edith Piaf but she can't be allowed to talk down to Kate! It seemed like a crazy nightmare.

Robert said...

There was a moment when Eva Marie Saint, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn and Anjelica Huston all emerged on stage that I felt the message was:

"In order to underscore the importance of this award, here's 4 winners who don't have careers anymore!"

But mostly I thought it was nice. Will they continue to do it? It seems like the sorta special 1-time-only thing that would have been done last year if they didn't have to throw the show together last minute.

Ryan said...

Re: The Acting Presentations… most-definitely overwhelming. I’m kinda torn to be honest. On one hand they kinda distracted from the winners, but all be damned if my heart didn't skip a beat when two of my goddesses-- one dark (Anjelica Huston), one light (Goldie-aww Goldie-Hawn)-- walked out on stage together. Again, I'm kinda torn.

And thank you Nathaniel for this fun, in-depth wrap up to Oscar Night/ Awards Season 2008. No matter the duration of these ceremonies, in retrospect they go by so damn fast and its like a whirlwind trying to recall all the details- I always worry I’ve missed a small but precious moment. Alas, your wrap-ups- (w/ screencaps no less!) provide the perfect closure to the whole experience.

As for the acting winners themselves, I’m genuinely thrilled. Oscar got it right this year; honoring two of the finest performances this decade (Penn, Ledger) as well as bestowing our beloved Kate with her overdue prize.

In fact, I’m SO thrilled with the acting wins I might even be able to warm up to SLUMDOG. Maybe…

Sean said...

My only problem was that the speeches to each nominee could have had more resonance. For example, Richard Jenkins and Melissa Leo have 84 and 78 imdb credits, respectively, to their names...the academy couldn't find a single Best Actor or Actress from those credits that had worked with them?!?! Some of the choices were inspired Loren-Streep, MacLaine-Hathaway, Huston-Cruz, Kidman-Jolie and even Goldberg-Adams...I just wish they had thought some others through a bit more.

Overall, I enjoyed this and I hope they try to somehow continue it even if it is through video form or something of that nature because as I have been saying since I saw it it brings a whole new relevance to the phrase "it is an honor just to be nominated." And these actors and actresses do get the title "Academy Award nominee/winner..." added to every movie they make...

Cristhian said...

How cool and classy was of The Academy to invite Janusz Kaminski, a cinematographer, to present an award? It's not all about oxygen hogging over paid movie stars, right?

john said...

The thing with this new type of presentation is that all the nominees react in exactly the same way, full of gratitude, a bit teary, smiling and thanking their indiviual presenter. The usual acting clips on the other hand allow for a bit more, take last year when we saw a certain someone grimace at their own performance. You won't get different/interesting reactions
from actors to their own work, if they're now going to drag on past winners saying how great the nominees performances were, whats more it takes up more time.

john said...

(cont.) And for some reason it killed the tension that normally exists in between the showing of the last clip and the announcement of the winner.

jimmy said...

please don't say meryl was among the best dressed just because she looked presentable. love her - but she really needs a good stylist. much much of an improvement over what she wore for the "prada" nomination.

NATHANIEL R said...

john... well as I said in the write up I'm not sure about the longevity of this ... if you could build another tradition out of it but it was a cool one off.

let's see if they try to fuse the two approaches next year. or if they want to include oscar winners talking about them. Why not whole super fast video reels of famous faces saying soundbites about each performance followed by a 20 second clip. It'd still be faster and you'd get the clip?

Michael said...

I loved this part. It was very personal in most cases (Shirley MacLaine was the highlight).

I have to think this came from Scorcese's win when they brought out Spielberg, Lucas and Coppola to present and how that was such a welcome to the club moment. (Wasn't that the year that Bill Condon and Dreamgirls got the shaft? I'm betting he was putting himself in Marty's shoes and used that as inspiration.)

This was easily the best part of the new format. I think the hub-bub of how well the show was run was overshadowed by the absolute boredom of the Slumdog sweep.

Kamila said...

I really hope the next producers of the Oscar make this kind of presentation a tradition on the award show. I was really moved by what Eva Marie Saint said to Viola Davis and Shirley MacLaine said to Anne Hathaway!

Sean said...

since they love montages, and cannot do without them apparently, why not have one previous winner take 10 seconds to say something nice about the nominee and then show a brief clip...then have the winner...

...to me, it was just very exciting and refreshing hearing the peers of the nominees lauding their work rather than only hearing how great it was from critics or people promoting the movie.

John P. said...

I thought the most inspired pairing was Christopher Walken and Michael Shannon. It was like the passing of the weirdo torch between two generations.

SolShine7 said...

It was the best addition to the show. Please, please, puleez let them keep this format. The McClaine-Hathaway pairing was the most touching.

YH said...

It's not sustainable to do this presentation every year. Maybe do it each anniversary year, since they won't probably do the winners photo album again. And no actin clips was quite disappointing. I don't care about the length of the presentation being long with the appreciation speeches, but get those clips back in there no matter what method is chosen. With both intact, Sunday night could have been something truly special.

gduncan said...

If they only did this last year!!!! I would have died seeing someone like Jodie Foster or Hillary Swank presenting Ellen Page!!!!

NATHANIEL R said...

gduncan... right? it boggles the mind imagining this in another year. Like, what would someone have said to Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven.

or Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights ferchrissakes

gduncan said...

Nathaniel, you know what you're right. I think with this new legends presenting to nominees things depends on the 5 actor/actresses that are nominated. This year, and I actually believe even last year, there was a solid group of actors that had enough reputable work to be mentioned. Now that I think about it, if they did this when someone like Keisha Castle Hughes or even Jennifer Hudson was nominated, what could they say?

18 Year Old Blogger said...

Did anybody else get chills when each of the 5 Acting winners showed up on stage?

Shawn said...

I loved it. That is all. Of course they couldn't REALLY do this every year, can they? But every five or so years, why not?

Nat, you should do a post asking your readers which former Oscar winners they would've asked to present on Sunday to those nominees. Would love to see your and everyone else's thoughts.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Kamila, I didn't even think Eva Marie Saint had seen Doubt. "A few small scenes"? How about ONE. None of what she said really seemed to make sense in the context of Davis.

But I really did love this idea and I hope they keep it up. Can you imagine someone like Judi Dench talking up Mo'Nique. Hah, brilliant!

Jack said...

"I didn't even think Eva Marie Saint had seen Doubt. "A few small scenes"? How about ONE."

She was in Meryl Streep's office, then she was outside it, and then later she was in the church. TECHNICALLY that's three scenes.

seasondays said...

first of all, who isn't obsessed with NINE already?
second, wouldn't it be great to have 5 previous best director winners presenting the five nominated directors?