Monday, February 16, 2009

Oscar's Set and "Telling a Story"

On the off chance you haven't seen this year's Oscar's set. Here it is...


It reminds me a bit of 1930s Busy (excuse me) Busby Berkeley musical number with a huge overlay of art deco by way of Erte. Not that that's a bad thing. I prefer blues and purples to the garish oranges anyway so at the very least it won't burn out my corneas like the BAFTA set threatened to.

In the accompanying article in this weekend's New York Times, the reporter neatly describes the challenges of this hybrid show which is, in essence, a theater show for television and about the movies. Points for understanding that multi headed beast but I'm totally nervous as to what Bill Condon might do when seeking to tame it. David Rockwell, the famed set designer, likens the Oscar ceremony to "community theater on steroids". Which, you know... it's a point. But isn't that what they went for in those odd hopelessly tacky late 80s ceremonies that saw scary dance numbers with 'future Oscar stars' (Christian Slater, Corey Feldman, Patrick Dempsey, Blair Underwood and many more -- none of whom ever want on to Oscar nominations or even Emmy wins) or the dread Snow White/Rob Lowe grinding?

'community theater on steroids' brings only one equation to my mind

"Corrrrrrrrkkkkkyyy!"

Imagine what Corky St Clair could do with a budget!

All this talk (not in this article but elsewhere) of the awards "telling a story" has me nervous, too. Does Condon realize that the outcome of the actual prizes might be a pretty monotonous tale. Act 1: We love Slumdog Millionaire. Act 2: We really love Slumdog Millionaire. Act 3: We'd like to have Dev Patel or Freida Pinto's babies. They're legal, right?

I hope their 'storytelling gimmick' whatever it is, is mostly structural in nature and not all that movie focused. And is it just me or is the problem not that the telecast is broken at all -- It's always been super long. Even when it was popular so deal with it -- but that there's just simply more ways to watch celebrities gather than they're used to be and thus less public need to watch them do so. Not to mention the great divide of movie opinions in this day and age.

The Oscars are just 6 days away. What story do you hope they tell?
*

26 comments:

Robert said...

I worry more and more with each passing day. Methinks the whole "running storyline" thing is going to be a disaster.

Then again I admit to disliking everything Bill Condon has every done.

Paul Outlaw said...

Oh God, that '88 number really is a " journey through Satan's lower colon." Baby Savion Glover is the only one who doesn't truly embarrass himself.

(And thankfully, Nathaniel, it was the Slater Christian and not the Bale. I don't think I could have survived that. The only thing worse would have been seeing Sean Penn up there.)

NATHANIEL R said...

shit. that's what i meant to type. oops. they're hardly interchangeable.

fixed

Christine said...

I am NOT happy about this year's Oscar's. How come we don't know who the presenters are in advance? I'm interested in the awards themselves, but I watch the ceremony itself for tacky outfits, misjudged banter and other nonsense.

I may be delusional, but I think they've seriously misjudged their audience. Given the low ratings last year, the goal shouldn't be to be less eccentric; it should be to be more eccentric, at least in terms of the red-carpet and presenter ceremonies.

Jim T said...

I hope they tell the story of how Slumdog was supposed to win but lost to Milk.

Christine said...

@ Jim T. They are not going to tell the story about how Milk won over Slumdog. The Oscars love feel-good, semi-serious (but not depressing!) movies too much. I think Milk is going to be judged a better film in years to come, although, I confess, I still don't like Milk all that much.

Maybe it's because I remember when Milk was assassinated, and it's too real for me. It was one of the formative memories. All in all, however, I'd rather have Milk when over Slumdog, despite my resercations.

Christine said...

WIN over Slumdog. Argh!

Paul Outlaw said...

The big question is:
Who is doing the Symposium this year and when is it happening?

Heterosexual Teletubbie said...

I'd put the Academy Awards order this way:

1. Supporting Actress
2. Makeup
3. Sound Editing
4. Sound
5. Animated Film
6. Costume Design
7. Art Direction
8. Short Live Action & Animation
9. Documentary & Short Documentary
10. Supporting Actor
11. Film Editing
12. Visual FX
13. Original Score
14. Honorary Oscar
15. Foreign Language
16. Cinematography
17. Song
18. Adapted Screenplay
19. Original Screenplay
20. Actress
21. Actor
22. Director
23. Picture

NATHANIEL R said...

paul. tomorrow *

RC said...

how funny...

i'm very curious to see what happens...but at least the stage looks different then normal.

hugh jackman's "hosting" will certainly make the awards different as well.

hopefully it has something that makes everyone talk, and that the majority of the talk is positive.

we'll see!

Dame James Henry said...

I thought it was completely sad that the first thing I thought of when I read "community theater on steroids" was Waiting for Guffman and those crazy musical numbers but then you mentioned Corky and I immediately felt better about myself. Maybe I'm not so crazy after all!

Casey Fiore said...

I'd like to have Freida Pinto's babies. That movie Junior, with Schwarzenegger: way ahead of it's time.

Michelle said...

The story I'm truly worried about is the no Red Carpet fiasco....We want to see the celebs beforehand and "who" they're wearing. The LA Times article from Feb. 11th, stating that no presenter can walk the carpet, will backfire on AMPAS. http://theenvelope.latimes.com/news/la-et-presenters11-2009feb11,0,4575922.story#

Arkaan said...

The story of 2008?

We saw the previous three years with their darker than average line-ups. We saw a nihilistic thriller who's point about the never ending cycle of violence defeat a film about a battle between capitalism and religion and how they would destroy each other. Before that, we saw a sorrow dripped war film sneak into the final line-up but saw itself be defeated by an ubermasculine crime remake. No more, the AMPAS villagers cried. Why can't we have our uplift!!!!!!

So down went the Fincher epic - a long dirge that explores death. They vanquished The Dark Knight, for it's relentlessly nihilistic tone and even more downbeat interpretation of human nature (too George Bush, they secretly thought). Frost/Nixon's underdog was allowed to slip through even though no one cares.

Apologize for Brokeback, the bloggers cried (for all gay films are made equal!). Nay, the academy went, and Milk was only allowed it's nominations (and a token win in screenplay).

WWAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLEEEEEE - the fanboys screamed. Sorry, AMPAS responded, best picture remains a He-Man Cartoon hater club. Delivering yet another game changer is not enough for PIXAR.

Whither Rachel Getting Married, some wondered (the true first film of the Obama age, Slumdog be damned). Too thorny. Thorns cause blood. We want the Obama age to be rhetoric and energy, not blood, sweat and tears, AMPAS exhorted.

Only one thing stood in the way of Slumdog's triumph: THE HOLOCAUST. For THE HOLOCAUST already denied major awardage for Chicago (a light trifle). THE HOLOCAUST, as perverted by the Weinsteins already stole one oscar away - from the knightly Ian McKellan, and delivered a precedence defying snub to Sally Hawkins. Is THE HOLOCAUST really so mighty as to defeat the unstoppable? Can it be? Well, if Slumdog mania really is so strong, maybe not. Maybe they'll even listen to Slumdog about who to honor in actress ("I love you in ALL you movies! Can I have a hug?" Dev asks the delighted Anne Hathaway).

----

I doubt it, but it's my one fear (and who make a horrible end to this oscar season - like being vomitted on after a child's rollercoaster ride. For than the moral would be that you can make a critically acclaimed phenomenon and still be pipped by a baity film made specially for oscar consumption - hell, Harvey rushed it into completion specifically for these six thousand people. Anything outside of Winslet for The Reader would probably be the last straw for me and Oscar.

Or so I tell myself.

PS. In defense of Blair Underwood, he really was robbed for In Treatment at the emmys.

18 Year Old Blogger said...

Nathaniel--
I know for a FACT that Marion Cotillard is going to be in LA over the weekend. Going to a party and she is going to be there, so I'm sure she will be presenting at the Oscars. I've heard a rumor that all 4 of last years acting winners might present the last award together.

And here is a better view of the set:

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/02/15/movies/awardsseason/
200902 15-OSCARS_index.html

NATHANIEL R said...

18... i never doubted that the winners would be asked back. but i was HORRIFIED about the rumors that they wouldn't do their counterpart category.

I understand fixing things that don't work. But why fix one of the great traditions? It doesn't need fixing.

grrrrrrr

Christine said...

@ 18 year old blogger
so, are they not going to do the thing they always do of the precious year's best actor introducing the awards for best actress and vice versa?

Christine said...

Nathaniel:
Beat me to it. Why mess with tradition?

18 Year Old Blogger said...

Nathaniel-I know. I was disappointed in that as well. I think that they are trying to hard when all they needed was one or two tweaks here and there.

Christine-That's the plan.

RahulB said...

I always thought it'd be interesting if the Best Costume Design category could become a mini-fashion show. I mean, what better way to play to your audience?

Either way, I can almost guarantee them sucking this year. Unless someone shows up in a swan dress and wakes me up.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

I always thought it'd be interesting if the Best Costume Design category could become a mini-fashion show. I mean, what better way to play to your audience?

I remember at least one year where they did do that. The only movie I remember from the faux fashion show was Twelve Monkeys because most perhaps all of the other nominees were period pieces and blended together. I liked the idea in theory, but it didn't work for me in execution. Maybe it would have been better if they had actors/actresses doing the modeling instead of the models doing it. They were pretty famous models, but for some reason imo, they just didn't belong at the Oscars. (Maybe because everytime I think of supermodels trying to act, I always think of Fair Game.)

Robyn said...

So they're basically recreating the "Dreamgirls" set for the Oscars on Sunday? Gar-ish.

Notluke said...

Re: the costume-design-as-fashion-show -- didn't they do it two years ago as well? I seem to remember some models impersonating the British Royal Family in The Queen, for one.

NATHANIEL R said...

yeah i always loved the costume design segments in the rare years they do them. But I think Whoopi using them as costume changes might be my favorite because it didn't bog down the show but just played as a running gag.

although do you want any category as a "gag"

hmmmm

gduncan said...

I'm sorry, but this year's Oscars are just going to be awful. First, with them not saying who presenters are. Then, with it being Slumdog Central. And now they're trying to "twilight" the Oscars up with that guy from the movie presenting. Where is Billy C. when you need him :(