Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oscar Symposium: Climax and Clean Up

Oh my god I am so exhausted. The Oscar Symposium is wrapping, I also recorded the upcoming Oscar Spectacular podcast for y'all including an interview with Tom O'Neill and now I am going to take a well deserved day off. In the meantime, Enjoy the final day of the Oscar Symposium. (Or, if you missed previous installments, start here)

In this installment: Ed smears on eyeliner, Sasha shouts "Here I Am!" and Nick directs his very own Notes on a Scandal. Also: a passionate defense of Little Miss Sunshine, sound mixing and editing (what's the difference?), moviegoers vs. Oscar voters, Pan's Labyrinth, Shortbus and our predictions and personal choices if we had an Oscar ballot.

Got something to say about anything said? Say it here in the comments.

tags: Oscar Watch, Slant Magazine, Abigail Breslin, movies, Cate Blanchett, oscars, Academy Awards, pans labyrinth, Pajiba, Notes on a Scandal, Oscar party, Little Miss Sunshine,Babel, lesbian


J.D. said...


What was the point of all this? lol

But seriously, I hope I get to see Pan's by the 28th, but in the mean time, I expect it to win 4 Oscars. It's almost locked Foreign film, but they think they honored it too much and give it to Germany. Now in Makeup, since they've honored Lemony Snicket over The Passion of the Christ, it will win that easily. Apparently they don't teh makeup for Mel Gibson films.

Since Score is so weak this year (no John Williams,) I actually think this can win it. The Academy loved foreign scores after all. Now, with Art Direction, it makes the most sense to win, doesn't it?

I don't think it has a even a shot in original screenplay, and Cinematography is questionable.

And I never thought about the Production Design aspects of Stranger Than Fiction. Very good, especially the absolute bleak and emptiness of Karen's apartment. Never thought of that.

Anonymous said...

As entertaining as that three parter was, I fully expect to skip the oscars this year. I love the process (even when I bitch about the predictability of precursors, the falliability of marketing, and the general overdetermination of the whole thing), but after reading the comments from some voters in EW (ie - "Babel is the best picture I've ever seen," "I wouldn't vote for Meryl Streep because honoring comedic performances is not what the academy is about," etc) I wonder how I became obssessed about the whole thing in the first place. And given I'm not all that enthusiastic about this year's nominees AND the predictability of a majority of the race, I think I'll sit this one out. Nathaniel's rewatch of season 3 Buffy sounds like a good idea - maybe a greatest hits of "Hush," "The Body," "Once more With Feeling" and "Conversations with Dead People." The oscars can't compete with that!

Yaseen Ali said...

Hysterical LOL at the Blanchett pic! That seriously made my day.

adam k. said...

Wow, this was the best symposium of them all. Maybe it's because it was more about the movies than the awards themselves? Fascinating discussion happening.

I heart Joe Reid in his defense of Little Miss Sunshine. That's exactly why I love it so. And why I also don't want to see it burdened with a Best Picture oscar. I just love this movie's heart, and what it has to say about our culture, and the incredible skill of its cast. Best ensemble of the year, says me.

That said, I'd like to see The Departed win on oscar night. It'd just be the best thing all around.

Does everyone really think Etheridge will win best song? Generally, when a film's nominated for 3 songs, one of them wins. I'm just sayin'. And Listen really stands out.

And I really hope Pan's wins for art direction. SO much more worthy than Dreamgirls.

Score I don't really care about. I suppose I'd like Pan's to win there, too. But since neither Veil nor Fountain were nominated (shameful), I don't really care. But I don't really want Desplat to win for The Queen, one of his less inspired efforts. And another oscar for Santaolalla would be bizarre. Maybe Good German will win, simply to finally honor Newman? Randy Newman has his oscar now, but Thomas is still waiting. This is nomination #8. With no frontrunner, I'd say he has a real shot (that is of course how the other Newman won).

Anyway, that's it. One more time: I heart LMS and Joe Reid.

Glenn Dunks said...

Agreed with Arden and Joe on the subject of the heart of LMS. I like it when a film wraps me up and is simply a well-written movie with characters who like each other and that isn't all cynical and such. But I can't defend that ending. First it takes an ugly step in the whole beauty pageant thing in general, and then the family getting up to dance? Oy. Wasn't that done in About the Boy recently? It was silly then, too. And then there are the issues that Sasha brings up. Why hadn't anyone thought to see Olive's routine first? I'll give it another go when it's out on DVD, but still.

How funny that Pan's Labyrinth could indeed be the movie with the most Oscars by the end of the night. Foreign, Art Direction, Make-Up, Score? Although I think score is going to go to Desplat because it's a BP nominee and they rewarded Santaolalla last year.

I hope Babel goes home emptyhanded. People keep saying it could win Best Picture but what else? Editing? It's in a three-way race for that category (with The Departed and United 93 that I think U93 will win), but other than that? Screenplay? No. Supporting Actress x2? No. Score? I highly doubt it. Director? Nu-uh. So, really? Hmm... maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that it won't.

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, btw, Joe mentioned the Art Direction category at the start of this piece. I gotta say, the reason The Good Shepherd got in was, I think because of Gretchen Rau, who died last year. This was her last film.

adam k. said...

Sad that the BBM editor also died and was not nominated last year.

Glenn, I don't understand the "ugly step" they took in the beauty pageant part. It is explained on the DVD and in interviews that all they did was get real kids to perform their acts and bring their own props. All that stuff really happens. Those kids were proud to be doing what they did. The filmmakers were just letting the pageant speak for itself.

And I also don't see the problem with the ending, I really don't. What other way could it have ended? Greg Kinnear only ended up dancing because he was already onstage and couldn't betray his daughter like that. Also, he just had a lot of issues to work out with losing and caring about his family and his actions made perfect sense in context. And how could the others not join in? I also loved Duane's "what are you lookin' at?" stance before he started dancing. Priceless.

And they didn't see the routine cause they were too busy and they trusted grandpa. I think it was justified well enough.

I think it's basically just about giving the movie the benifit of the doubt in these ways. I dunno.

adam k. said...

Actually, the thing I struggle with most is: what happened every time they hit a red light on the way? Did they get out and push every time, with other cards behind them? If so, I would like to have seen that. I know they were on the highway most of the time, but they still must've hit a red light SOMEWHERE.

And of course, Dwayne probably would've had to notice that there were red and green lights. He didn't drive yet, but still. I've heard that people can in fact go until their teens years before realizing that they're color blind, but I feel like he must've been sort of curious about the lights at some point in his life.

Anyway, those are my only real issues. But I grant you that they're hard to forgive.

Ben said...

I absolutely loved the debate about why we love the Oscars. Because I agree with all the positives and the minuses that were mentioned.

For me, I think it's the excitement that maybe, just maybe, the underdog you're rooting for will come through and pull the upset. Last year, I urgently waited for Michelle Williams to slip in front of Rachel Weisz to get the Best Supporting Oscar. When that didn't happen, I started pulling for Felicity Huffman, then for Heath Ledger...

Well, you get the idea. So the surprises don't come that often. And a lot of the time, the deserving nominee wins, yes. But it's that hope that the TRULY deserving nominee will take over and win over the hyped guy.

Like I said, though, it never happens. I guess we're all masochists. I think we all just buy into the idea that perhaps next year, the Academy will get their act together.

Also, I'll throw this out to whomever feels like answering: why did we need to see two Oscar nominees this year peeing? (I count Blanchett in NOAS and Cruz in Volver.) What the hell?

Glenn Dunks said...

Adam, to me, the ending with the dancing just felt like they didn't know how to end it and not lose the cute vibe it had been giving off throughout.

Also, it's the victim of another pet peeve of mine (Babel had it in spades. all over the place.) It set up characters and problems and then doesn't finish them. I wanted to know what happened to Kinnear and to his marriage. etc. I'm sure Kinnear and Collette's rocky marriage (ya know, they ended up bankrupt) wasn't 100% fixed because they danced on stage with their family.

And the "ugly" thing I said was that the entire film had this delightful vibe going through it and then I felt "okay, I'm not laughing anymore." And if those were real pageant participants then they would have been at the previous pageants. So what sort of pageant was Olive at that allowed her to get second and to send her to a show that was filled with these hideous alien freaks?

Unknown said...

Thanks for putting this together, Nathaniel. It was even more fun to read than last year's.

Anonymous said...

To Kamikaze:

Life's characters and problems are never resolved, so why should they be resolved in movies? I'm not a fan of LMS and can't believe people discuss this awards stuff so seriously, but still... I can't stand art that wraps things up in a resolution bow.

That said, I think we all need to get a life. The fetishization of awards that goes on in the bloggersphere is almost as creepy as Kevin Spacey in... well, anything.

Glenn Dunks said...


That "but things aren't that neat and tidy in real life" reasoning doesn't float with me. If the filmmakers are making these character bankrupt and possibly on the edge of divorce I feel they should follow through with it. It was like in Babel, they made the Brat and Cate characters seem like they hate each other but what happened when they got back to America. I'm sure not everything was all fine and rosey. But pretty much every character in that movie was missing a third act, so...

Anonymous said...

Ok everyone pull down your pants

Beau said...

SPOILERS ON Little Miss Sunshine AHEAD:

I have a feeling I'm going to be one of those people that you scowl at when they tell you they weren't crazy about "Little Miss Sunshine". If I'm being perfectly honest, I think I actually enjoyed "Scoop" more.

I know, I know, start throwing things. I'm prepared.

It's just that the film had way too many plot conveniences for my liking, (i.e.: Steve Carell's ex appears at a random gas station, Dano's colorblindedness, etc.) And then it stretched character plausibility to the point where I couldn't believe a competent, average, fairly intelligent person would even consider doing this, (Toni Collette's mother not being actively involved with her own child's number, having the grandfather take charge of it even though he's semi-off-the-rocker, the cop not noticing the dead body, the family actually TAKING the dead body, and I'm sure there are even more.)


I hate to be that person, really I do. I love whatever Capra I've seen to no end, and I'm even of a select few who'll defend The Terminal to their bitter demise. But for some reason, Sunshine didn't do it for me. :( Wish it did.


The Terminal? Ewwwww.

LMS is far from perfect true. It is very contrived, you're absolutely right. But I think the acting is beautiful (and does a lot for suspension of disbelief)

also: I never had a problem thinking a Mom that frazzled and overworked (she is both breadwinner AND housewife --tough gig) would neglect teaching her daughter dances considering she didn't much believe in beauty contests anyways.

Beau said...

The acting did do a lot for the film, I'll give you that. I felt they all worked better as an ensemble than they did individually (in the sense that the film never gave one character more than it gave the other) and that's where my beef comes in about Arkin and Breslin's respective noms. Both gave noteworthy perfs, but to award them I think is to shun the collective efforts of that whole ensemble.

I don't know, I was raised under a mother who wanted to know every specific detail of the day, so it's definetely all subjective. To me, I just couldn't imagine a mom not being actively involved with her daughter's activities and ambitions. That isn't to fault Collette or her character, (it was one of the lesser contriviances of the film, but still noteworthy), it just seemed strange to me.

...and I'm still in puzzlement as to the establishment of the anti-Terminal clan. In my mind, that and A.I. are the best things he's done in the last five years or so. (Minority Report - very good, Munich - acceptable, not as compelling as I would've liked, War of the Worlds - limited by Koepp's script, very well directed of course, Catch Me If You Can - initial viewing, I didn't care too much for it; needs to be seen again.) A.I. broke my fourteen-year-old heart and Terminal just had me walking on air. *shrugs*

Ben said...

Beau, are we the same person? Couldn't agree more about The Terminal and A.I.

Beau said...

Probably not too far off, I'd say. Same tastes in film, music...
Santa Cruz?
Hell, I even live near you.

Glenn Dunks said...

Yeah, the suspention of belief didn't bother me about LMS. It was when they tried to ground it in reality that I felt they weren't taking enough risks. Didn't trust the audience enough. Like they didn't want to give the audience a bitter taste in their mouth.

adam k. said...

What specifically are you talking about Glenn? I thought you didn't think the last part was pleasant enough? I dunno, I'm confused. I wasn't bothered much by the contrivances either... my feeling is that if it's reasonably possible, then I allow it. Coincidences happen.

It's just when people do outright stupid and totally unbelievable things, like shooting at a bus full of people and being surprised someone in it got shot, that a movie might lose me. And even THAT didn't bother me that much... I still liked Babel...

But I hated The Terminal. I saw it with my family/friends in theaters on my 21st birthday cause that's what was out and I thought it'd be pretty good, and I ended up having an awful time. For that, I will never forgive it.