Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oscar Night in Review: Most Wonderful Things

also: worst & weirdest moments | fashion review
all Oscar 2009/10 season posts here

Time to wrap up Oscar coverage! I may or may not do a short fashion bit and we may or may not do a podcast ... running on fumes! Thanks for your abundant engaged comments in the worst/weirdest rundown and acting posts. Comments are like premium fuel... especially when the meter is on empty. But never fear. More fun daily movie stuff coming up. Don't go away just because the Oscars are over, y'hear?

13 Best Things About the 09/10 Oscars

13 Stanley Tucci's Eye Rolling. He looked totally embarrassed by his clip from The Lovely Bones which made us love him even more.

12
Contemporary Costume Design Shout-Out. Sure, sure, the world's most brilliant costumer designer Sandy Powell (more on her in a future post) came off like a huge diva with her slow saunter up to the stage and her "I already have two of these" intro. But we heartily appreciate the impromptu contemporary costuming dedication. Even people who love costume design (including me) don't recognize it enough. If I were giving out a contemporary costume design nomination this year I think I would have gone with...
  • Hope Hanafin for (500) Days of Summer
  • Sonia Grande for Broken Embraces
  • April Napier for Julia *winner*
  • Marina Draghici for Precious
  • Catherine Marie Thomas for Whip It
They all did fine or intriguing or smart and sometimes inspired work.

11 Steve Martin. In concept the duo of Alec & Steve was a great idea. In reality only Steve Martin had the sea legs for this sort of improvised live comedy. He's been at it since the 60s, you know. He can even do it with an arrow through his head. I'd be happy to see him back but I'm really rooting for a Hugh Jackman return next year. (Last year's show = so much better)

10 Pedro & Quentin. I understand why the Oscar producers are nervous to have behind-the-scenes talent present awards (for fear of losing only half-interested non-movie buff viewers) but in the case of directors who are celebrities themselves -- at least to the extent that directors can become famous on a visual level -- this was a very welcome presenting duo. It's nice to see a non-acting director besides Steven Spielberg on stage.

9 Color. The ladies of Hollywood (or at least their stylists) really turned up the rainbow and after years and years of oceans of black gowns, it was so welcome.

8 Precious Beats the Odds. Though my vote would've probably gone to In the Loop, I was very happy to see Precious (my silver medalist) win screenplay. But the reason I put this in my top 12 is that I absolutely love it when a worthy win happens after a terrible clip choice. I always feel those clip reels have hidden agendas since they so often give one film or performance a great clip and give a competing film or performance a lousy unrepresentative example. I'm still haunted by the clip they chose to represent Nicole Kidman way back in the Moulin Rouge! year (the year she should have won given the nominee pool). So I felt like Precious's win was accidental revenge on the clip reel. I mean... really... the fried chicken sequence? That's what you chose to represent that emotionally textured script?!?

7 The Set. Pretty, right? Though it did feel a little Avatar tributey with so much shimmery blue. Although for the life of me I didn't understand the lampshade business. What were those occasional lampshade backdrops about? Are there any interior designers out there who can 'splain that set psychology?

6 Michael Giacchino's Speech. He writes good music... and good speech, too. Telling anyone listening that pursuing your creative passions is not a waste of time was totally inspiring. Devoting hours, months and years of your life to a creative pursuit is difficult and nerve-wracking and not often supported in our Most Money Wins cultural value system. Creativity and respect for artistic pursuits should always be encouraged. Everyone would be happier. Well done, Giacchino.

5 Quality Wins Out. The Hurt Locker, the best of the nominees, was triumphant. Maybe six Oscars was a bit much. We tend to like it when the Academy spreads the golden wealth. But it's always a relief when good films win big. And speaking of good... so many of the winners were deserving this year... especially over in Acting. So even if the show was rough and unfocused, the wins were (mostly) quality. But back to The Sexy Locker for a minute. It keeps earning the nickname we gave it. We already knew that Bigelow was the hottest non-acting 58 year old out there. And we already knew that her cast was delicious and cuddly. Then we learned through awards season that at least one of the producers as well as the screenwriter Mark Boal (Bigelow's boyfriend, right? Is this public knowledge?) were also lookers. And now we find out in the acceptance speeches that the brilliant editing team (and new Oscar winners) Bob Murawski and Chris Innis are a married couple? So much, uh, affection everywhere in that movie's production history, right?

4 Tina Fey & Robert Downey Jr. The number of Hollywood jokes about writers being ugly social pariahs and actors being arrogant self-serving divas equal well unto infinity. But with the right delivery... just hilarious hilarious hilarious.

3 Firsts! Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first female director to win. They shoulda let Jane Campion burst that glass ceiling 17 years ago but yay for it finally happening. And when it's deserved, too (even better!). Though it was bad form to play "I am woman. hear me roar" as Bigelow exited the stage, particularly because she awesomely never played the vagina card in her entire campaign. Also kudos to Geoffrey Fletcher for becoming the first African American screenwriter to win. Firsts are so exciting.

2 Sandra Bullock's Speech. Though her Best Actress winning performance was, to me, the least among the nominees, it's not the first time the least has won this "most". See also: 2006, 2004, 1997, 1994, etcetera...) But there's just no faulting that gorgeous knockout speech. It began with humble but perceptive "I get it" comedy, swerved into heartfelt appreciation for her formidable competition (if it wasn't sincere, she's a better actress than we've ever given her credit for being), made time for personal but far from over-indulgent acknowledgements of her own loved ones and also honored the movie and role she was rewarded for. A+ on that speech, Sandy. What a gracious, smart, emotional finish to this super long awards season.

1...the best Best Actor / Best Actress Presentations in general. Last year when I first heard they were doing 5-wide presenter tributes to the acting nominees I thought it was insane. But it turned out to be a great show with that "twist" only adding to the who will speak to whom now, drama? This year, while the rest of the show crumbled around it, this 5-wide system got even better. I realize it takes up a lot of time, but damn it's good television. I couldn't have been happier during the Best Actor presentation, which began with a shocking reveal of two of my personal trinity, and kept getting more and more pleasurable. I never thought I'd live to see The Fabulous Baker Boys (one of my favorite films of all time, which lost every Oscar it was up for in 1989) celebrated at an Oscar event.


It was so surreal... like they had created the show just for me. Better still... as these intros progressed was the feeling that maybe millions of other people watching were having similar "this is for me!" personal experiences given the 20 movie stars and multiple movies getting face and anecdote time. There had to have been something for everyone there and it was complete heaven. My favorite bits...
  1. Jeff Bridges tearing up watching Michelle Pfeiffer pay him tribute. They've been so supportive of each other over the years that it's a complete travesty and mystery to me that they never worked together again after Baker Boys.
  2. Stanley Tucci's teasing Meryl Streep by sponsoring a drive to cap the number of acting nominations at 16 (Comedy revenge for Meryl Streep calling him "the dreadful Stanley Tucci" in her Golden Globes speech for Prada?)
  3. Oprah Winfrey detailing the fairy tale journey of Gabby Sidibe and watching the young actress wipe away tears hearing her name next to Streeps
  4. Vera Farmiga's weirdly cutesy flirtations "fantastically foxy Mr. Foxy Fox" and "he's just so dreeeeeeaaaamy" when addressing George Clooney
  5. Colin Farrell giving us the mental image of he and Jeremy Renner spooning...
I have to stop now but I could keep going. You get the picture. Loved it. Maybe the Oscars were unusually rough this year, but why not focus on the positive as we wave this season goodbye?
*

51 comments:

Cory Rivard said...

I wonder how many people across the planet Earth screamed, "OH MY GOD! NATHANIEL MUST BE DYING!!" Seriously. I truly wonder this. Cause I did. And I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It's like your love for Michelle Pfeiffer and Julianne Moore united the world for a few spectacular moments.

Dylan said...

Ok I'll bite. What was the clip they showed of Kidman from Moulin Rouge?

Deborah said...

You know, when Pfeiffer came out and started talking Baker Boys, that's exactly what I thought: Holy shit, it's Nathaniel's personal Oscars!

Agustin said...

I thought about it too.
Not only Pfeiffer talking about Baker Boys, but standing beside Juliane Moore..
it was all for you!

Sadner said...

@ Dylan , I belive it was the clip where she was rebelling against Harold, her boss ( sorry, don't remember his name) , she shouts

" I don't need you anymore, all my life you made me belive I could only be with someone who could pay for me , but Christian loves me Harold, he LOVES me and that's worth everything , I'm going away from you and from the duke , I'm going away from the MOULIN ROUGE !! "

Sorry, I got carried away, gotta love Moulin Rouge !

Oh and about Michelle Pfeiffer and the fabulous baker boys, maybe it's a sign there's gonna be a blogger's award in the near future, who knows ?

Olli Sulopuisto said...

Nice trolling, Nathaniel.

The actors presenting actors thingie might've worked in theory but in reality it ground the show to a halt just when it should've felt dynamic and interesting.

Jacob Lives said...

Can't agree with the number 1 choice. The Clooney/Farmiga, Firth/Moore, and Renner/Ferrell pairings reeked of laziness. Clooney's especially was glaring. I did like Bridges and Pfeiffer, Oprah and Gabby, Tucci and Streep, and Robbins/Freeman though. I would have loved Clooney getting Matt Damon or Brad Pitt or J-LO or Tilda Swinton. Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger? Jeremy Renner & Sam Rockwell or Charlize Theron?

Nor can I agree with Geoffrey Fletcher winning for the worst screenplay nominated for adapted screenplay this year. Even if they were sick of the Reitman/Turner drama and "Up in the Air" oddly running out of gas at the end (funny when this was the film to beat for a long while in the fall), you had three excellent choices to go with instead of that one (my choice overwhelmingly would have been "In the Loop"). I think all of that "Based on the Novel" nonsense in the title had more to do with that win than people are realizing. It basically said "reward this adaptation, please" in its title.

Fernando Moss said...

I'm sorry Nathaniel, but I wasn't thinking about you hehe... I was just too excited to see Michelle Pfeiffer on stage and wearing THAT dress (finally giving up black gowns) looking gorgeous while thinking she should have at least one Oscar...

RobUK said...

I was thinking about you too Nathaniel, but not during the Julianne/Michelle moment, but during the Sandy Powell speech. I knew you'd dig it too.

Meanwhile, that screen cap hammers a point home that I'd not previously considered... Either Colin Farrell is pocket sized, or Tim Robbins is a giant.

NATHANIEL R said...

Dylan and Sadner -- i actually remembered it as being that broad slapstick comic bit when she is "performing" for the Duke to hide Christian. Out of context that scene is kind of embarrassing.

RobUK... maybe it's both?

cal roth said...

Loved Sandra's speech, too.

Milena Canonero > Sandy Powell, just sayin. But we can discuss this later.

Max said...

When a Best Actress winner knows she probably doesn't deserve the statue she's just received, it's so refreshing to see her be self-deprecating and humble about it. Hilary Swank could certainly take a hint from Sandra Bullock on this front, don't you think?

Ryan T. said...

Fantastic Mr. Fox should've been nominated for Best Costume Design. Tiny little costumes FTW!

Burning Reels said...

I think many of us will be living off that Pfeiffer/Bridges moment for a while!

Completely forgot about the Fey/Downey Jr intro - can't say i'm a huge fan of Downey's but for me that minute or two was some of the best work he's done!

And I agree Cal Roth - Milena is numero uno as far as i'm concerned...

Magicub said...

Nothing sexier than Bigelow, renner Mackie and Gerahgtie gettin the Oscar. During the best actor Speech Nathaniel took control of the World, how you did it?

DJ said...

I would have liked the acting presentation more if, er, they actually honored the supporting actors in the same way. It was a huge slap in the face! And many of the supporting nominees were better than the leading. idk, it just really irked me. So all of a sudden leading actors are better than supporting?

ld said...

I would have also liked seeing the same thing happen to the supporting nominees.

It did feel a bit more polished this year by having them introduce them, and then announcing last year's winner to present the oscar. I prefer that to last year's presentation.

MrW said...

The best part about having former co-stars rather than former Oscar winners present the acting nominees: You get meaningful and even heartfelt appraisals of the performers rather than stuff beginning with the words "If you google Richard Jenkins..."

Ryan said...

Nathaniel, since I love Pfeiffer almost as much as you, I could imagine how you were feeling. It was sublime to see Pfeiffer up there, and for such a good reason. They should have kept the friends nearby so she could have given Bridges the Oscar. Just let her hold one!

BTW, the clip they showed for Kidman was her dancing around screeching/singing "I feel like dancing" with a cut to her repeating "It's a little bit funny" while hiding Christian from the Duke. I remember it so well, because I also knew then that she was losing for sure.

@RobUK, Robbins is a giant--- 6'5". Farrell is a regularly-heighted 5'10"

Murtada said...

Excellent coverage.

You should totally write about the fashion. I'd love to read that. I touched on it a bit on my own review of the ceremony : http://ow.ly/1gelq

NATHANIEL R said...

magicub... if i knew how i did it on sunday night i'd do it every year and Pfeiffer would win the Oscar in no time ;)

Derreck said...

yeah, i thought the Kidman clip was the whole 'I'm leaving!' speech (which i can totally recite from memory). i'm sure a clip is out there somewhere..

and i agree with the number one. Normally, i can't stand Oprah, but when she showed up for Gabby, i was so, so happy. and then her speech! You know you've come a long way when the big O gives you a tribute. Oprah soared up so high in my book after that. Especially how Gabby was so surprised that Oprah was there for her.

and ANY Shawshank references are always appreciated. That was another one where i gushed like crazy.

The tributes are going to get old after a while, but for now, i'll just enjoy them. I'm still hoping that i'll somehow pull a Gabby and end there with Nicole Kidman giving me a tribute. Screw the award, i'll probably die in my seat.

Amanda said...

DJ and ID, I agree. It was very rude not to do the presentations for the supporting nominees as well. Its saying they are less worthy of recognition and praise, and that their work - and therefore their awards- are less important than the lead ones.

What that also means is that they are telling people such as Cate Blanchett, Javier Bardem, Renee Zellweger, Michael Caine, Angelica Houston, Tilda Swinton, Maggie Smith and living legends such as Judi Dench and Morgan Freeman that the Oscars they DO have is less worthy of praise, admiration and respect than the awards Gwyneth and Helen Hunt have.

On the other hand, while I did not like last year's presentation because it felt forced, weired and cold, as if those people had nothing to do with those nominees what so ever and were just there to read whatever they were told to from the teleprompter even if they had no relation to the nominee in question.

This year, it felt much more personal, warm, funny and sweet. It made a lot more sense. To see Jeff Bridges and Morgan Freeman with actual tears in their eyes.....its priceless.

Amanda said...

And yes, Sandra's speech was one of the best in the last past years.

Noecito said...

Nathaniel, I'm curious, who is the last part of your trinity?
Maybe Kidman?!?

RJ said...

I actually found the Best Actress/Actor presentations to be largely unsuccessful. They just seemed random and inconsistent.

NoNo said...

Is anyone following Lauren Bacall on twitter? Yikes!

Let's see what else, oh yes why do starlets today have such bad posture? That Montana girl and that Twilight girl slouch like potato sacks.

I am just glad Avatar didn't win or I would have had to drop my membership.I voted for Precious but The Hurt Locker was my 2nd choice.

Enough of me being a negative Nancy, its just that I am glad I got to see the Oscars of the 40s & 50s.Grace Kelly would have died if she...

...Saw what I did at the red carpet (a tattooed gum chewing woman with too much cleavage and a man in sneakers).


The sneakers guy was Robert Dowey Jr. but who was the lady?

Anonymous said...

You guys call yourselves Oscar buffs!? The clip they showed for Kidman came right after "Your Song". It's when Satine is distracting The Duke so he won't see Christian. High on slapstick, and in lingerie no less. The "I'm leaving" clip would've been much better, but I was hoping for "a real actress" leading up to the "I believe you were expecting me" line at the end of "Sparkling Diamonds". Talk about waste of a perfect moment.

-VAL

James T said...

I didn't see everything but from tour favorites that I saw, I liked them all. But then, I also liked the horror montage.

By the way, Bacall rulezzzz!

illnaa said...

nathaniel i always forget who is the third part of your holy trinity along with Julianne Moore and Michelle Pfeiffer...is it Renee Zellweger or Hillary Swank???

Derreck said...

oh, the third person is most definitely Renee Zellweger. I'm sure of it. ;)

and I'm loving these Bacall tweets. God, i love when people reach that age where they don't really give a shit and tell it like it is.

amir_uk said...

Puh-lease.

Someone tell Bacall that "Grace Kelly would have died if..." she knew Lauren f-ing Bacall was on Twitter.

Anonymous said...

That's not the real Lauren Bacall doing those Tweets.

amir_uk said...

And I was so overwhelmed by the Oscars this year - so much was wrong about them and this season seemed quite arduous to follow - that I've just had to let them wash over me.

The Hurt Locker winning was great (only because it was the least offensive option of the two frontrunners) - but six Oscars? Hmm...

And Sandra Bullock as an Oscar-winner? It's really devalued the Best Actress accolade for me - the first time I've felt this way about the Oscars, despite knowing they've a penchant for celebrating mediocrity a lot of the time. It's just frustrating that when they do get it right, oh they get it right and how sweet it can be.

I can't agree that the acting winners were super-great this year, Nathaniel. I suppose Bridges was second choice, Mo'Nique my third, and Waltz my pick in his category. But last year, for me anyway, was an example of stellar acting winners, the right people won in every category, picked from nominee pools that were largely deserving. It kind of tempered the whole Slumdog sweep (worst Best Picture winner ever?) Anyway, old old news I know.

Ryan said...

*Ahem* VAL, see above, I noted that already. :P

I LOVE Lauren Bacall even more because of twitter!

NATHANIEL R said...

VAL -- yes! that's what i'm talking. it was one of the broad comedy bits from atop the elephants. and I just remember thinking "why? why would they do this to her when she gave teh best of the nominated performances?"

so that's what i was feeling sorta when they showed the fried chicken scene in Precious.

IILNA ... it's really a holy quintet ;) in a majestic throne room atop the cinematic universe with MOORE & PFEIFFER & STREEP & KIDMAN & one alternate (whomever i'm feeling at the moment) It's often WINSLET but right now it's totally SWINTON ;) in the throne room there's a skype connection to France for the French tower where DENEUVE has *absolute* power but other Gallic goddesses roam freely about.

and then there's the Second Circle Corps on a lower floor here in America which is a far more volatile unruly and unstable bunch always jockeying for goddess promotions. and sometime falling (being pushed?) down whole flights of stairs whlie they're trying to move up. It's all very exciting. It should be a tv series!

of course that's just the "working cinema" tower of the mount olympus situation for the film experience mythology. There's also a retired/dead/in limbo tower...

NATHANIEL R said...

amir... Mo'Nique third? holy hell... who is better than that??? i'm so curious.

Burning Reels said...

I also don't have Mo'Nique tops on my list due to some of the earlier scenes but that final scene is becoming more and more difficult to shake off...

par3182 said...

i hated the acting presentations this year; all the good friend/great humanitarian stuff just reminded me of ben vereen praising roy scheider in all that jazz; especially after julianne moore admitted to knowing colin firth for all of three days

the sexy locker's six oscars is hardly excessive when you recall that the dreadful slumdog millionaire won eight

ps - kidman's scene was embarrassing in context

NATHANIEL R said...

par... no praise for my six wide worst and weirdest list. I even thought of you!

par3182 said...

well, obviously i knew it was a coded message of love
(ssshhhhh - the kids'll be jealous)

Bryan said...

I totally agree with you on Stanley Tucci, Nat. I love it when an actor is nominated for a dud, and it's clear they know it. It makes the dud a little bit more forgivable ;-)

I love your description of your holy quintet, too! I nominate Winslet to take Streep's spot; Meryl can be general of the queen army, and Vera Farmiga can be head seductress. And maybe Monique can be secretary of comebacks?

I loved your chaotic stair-pushing and swirling and earth-heaven allusions; never before have you posted something that reminded me of Paradise Lost...

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Which was the last movie to win for modern costume? Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?

brandz said...

Nathaniel, I have to respectfully disagree with you that Quality Wins Out at the Oscars this year. While Sandra Bullock did give a good speech (she really had to if only to validate her presence onstage), her performance in TBS was not quality winning out. Hers was the weakest of the 5 nominees. She did not give the best performance of the 5 nominees. Everybody knows this to be true. She certainly does have charm though.

Anonymous said...

Wait, why do we think Boal and Bigelow are dating? They had different (and more age-appropriate) dates with them right?

My guess is people misstate that they are dating because they're listed as partners -- producing partners that is.

Cluster Funk said...

@Max - I like Hilary Swank, as an actress, more than most but my God, does anyone's faux-humility come off more overtly smug as hers? (No wonder Oprah glommed on.) It's like a weird delusion.

Bernardo said...

I remember that moment in the 2002 telecast! They cut to Nicole Kidman's reaction and she truly looked embarrassed. Weird I remember this, as I was 10 at the time...

Well, considering I know MR!'s dialogues by heart, I guess it's not THAT weird.

Glenn said...

yeah, I hated this year's presentation. Embarrassing stuff like Farmiga's Clooney stuff and Julianne Moore's "we only worked together for three days but i know he's an incredible man" thing. Yikes. Terrible.

I too remember the broad comedic scene they used for Kidman in Moulin Rouge! I wish they'd used a the big moment of "The Show Must Go On" because it's very serious and also musical. Out of all the performances from musicals that have been nominated this decade only ONE had an oscar clip that included the actor singing and that was Penelope. Catherine, Renee and Jennifer all just got straight acting clips.

Of course there was also Penelope and Marion's clips from Volver and La Vie en Rose in which they used clips of them MIMING to music, but that's not the same. Although whoever chooses the clips clearly has a thing for Penelope Cruz singing.

Lara said...

@ anon 10:12, I'm pretty sure they are dating. I noticed it first at he Baftas that there might be something in the air. And lo and behold, in the following week I read two interviews with Boal, where he was mentioned as Bigelow's "beau" and she as the "girlfriend".

FenixPahedi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FenixPahedi said...

The Hurt Locker was not the best movie in the bunch nor of the year 2009. Let's get real. Many good things, yeah sure. A terrific movie that will be remembered for years? Not at all.

I loved Precious winning screenplay. Great surprise.

Friends presenting nominees ? Yay!

Some presenters were great others were... not. Great to see longer clips. Last year it was all done in seconds, people could'nt appreciate anything.
Not showing cinematography clips? Isn't that insane ?

Sorry but Pedro and Quentin were not that great. Quentin read the nominees (Pedro would have been better as two of the movies were in spanish) and Pedro announced the winner in english... Wouldnt it be better to announce the winner of that category in the original language? The presenter should obviously be a person that knows to speak a wide array of languages. I know it seems dumb, but people around the world hate to hear their languages torned apart by awful accents or by incorrect translations.