This year's Academy Awards seemed to be pretty average.
I certainly was pushing for "Juno" to win some major awards and in fact it did. I have not seen "No Country For Old Men" and therefore had no stake in whether or not the film won. Just that it got in the way of "Juno".
Jon Stewart was fair as host. He never seemed to leave his mark on the show anywhere. Some of his jokes were good, perhaps a little too political at times, but that did not mean he wasn't enjoyable. Billy Crystal is still the best and no one has topped him yet. Note the blatant Apple product placement shot when Stewart talked about watching "Lawrence Of Arabia" on his portable device. Turning what was clearly an iPod Touch on it's side, he commented on the ability to watch the movie larger on the screen. I did love when they came back from commercial one time where he and some little girl were playing Wii tennis on the gi-normous screen.
Amy Adams singing “Happy Working Song” from "Enchanted" seemed a bit lite considering she was the only one on stage. It would have been better to see her perform "That's How You Know" in a full ensemble musical number which was instead performed by Kristin Chenoweth.
I thought the 80th Oscar montage could have been much better, speaking from montage cutting experience myself. There needed to be a much wider range of feeling and emotion to really encapsulate this milestone. But in the end it seemed to be a little two dimensional. The "Binoculars" and "Nightmares" montages were funny though.
The "In Memoriam" montage was very well done, as usual. There were a couple of people I did not know had passed away and found myself reflecting on that for a moment, almost missing the next couple. I do want to see the whole thing again. I really felt Heath Ledger should have had a line of dialogue from "Brokeback Mountain" at least. particularly since he is so fresh in everyone's mind. Not to put him above the others, although they did squeeze a line or two in from a few so they could have here to put a final stamp of admiration on the piece.
And who was missing from all this? Roy Scheider. Roy Scheider! Why was he left out of the roll call?
Right below the "In Memoriam" title there was a line that read 'February 1, 2007 - January 31, 2008'. Some folks may have questioned exactly what time period these passings fell to include them in the montage. So this could have been The Academy's answer to the confusion. But still, Scheider should have been included...dates be damned! Yeah he'll be there in next year's montage. But his passing is so fresh and could have easily been editorially inserted, even if there was a time constraint. Trust me, I know how this works.
Was very happy to see "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody win Best Original Screenplay, and of course Daniel Day-Lewis taking the very well deserved Best Actor nod for "There Will Be Blood". I also really appreciated Editor Christopher Rouse's Best Editing win for "The Bourne Ultimatum". Another well deserved award.
But didn't everyone think Cate Blanchett was going to be a lock in the Best Supporting Actress category for "I'm Not There"? I would have also expected Amy Ryan of "Gone Baby Gone" to win. But in a bit of a surprise Tilda Swinton took the prize. I certainly like her and look forward to seeing "Michael Clayton" at some point though.
The big upset of the night was Marion Cotillard's win as Best Actress in "La Vie en Rose". I think several million people across the globe all said. "...AH WHAAAAAA?!" at the same time. While several other million thought, "Who is that?". The favorite in this category was Julie Christie, and yes I was pulling for "Juno's" Ellen Page to turn everyone on their ears. But here comes this French actress in this French movie no one has seen or heard of. Very good for her and the film, but a head scratcher for everyone else.
Why did "The Golden Compass" win for Best Visual Effects?! Those effects looked very CG in all the trailers and extended Comic-Con clip I saw prior to the movie's release. Even though I didn't see "Pirates" I thought those effects looked better. "Transformers" (which I did see) looked ten times better than "Compass"! WTF! Plus I think they could have found two more entries from this past year to make it five like the rest of the categories.
Probably my favorite moment of the night was what followed Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova ("Once") taking the stage to accept their Oscar for Best Song. There's always that damned clock that ticks off the 30 seconds everyone has to give thanks. In most instances, when it hits zero you're done. Hansard approached the microphone first to give his acceptance remarks, followed by Irglova who was abruptly cut off by the orchestra which chimed in a bit early. She ended her barely begun acceptance speech and turned to walk off stage when the music briefly stopped, then resumed. After the commercial break Jon Stewart announced that Irglova did not have the opportunity to say her thank-you's properly and would be coming back on stage to do so. I outright applauded.
This was a classy moment that in past years might have been overlooked or perhaps thought of as 'oh well, we fucked up but the show must go on...sorry". But this was a clear acknowledgment that they (the show) had fucked up and needed to correct the situation. Bravo!...and what a wonderful treat for Hansard and Irglova who were having the most amazing night of their careers. They probably did not expect to win against "Enchanted"'s three nominations.
I also appreciated Tom Hanks introduction and inclusion of American soldiers in Baghdad who presented the nominations for best documentary short and announced the Oscar winner, "Freeheld," by video. This could have been a nice little 'Happy 80th Anniversary to The Academy" moment, and then out. But those men and women actually read the list of nominees and had an awards envelope right there to open. It was great to see them included as opposed to just a nod to our fighting men and women abroad.
So "No Country For Old Men" won Best Picture. Yeah, that's nice.
I'm not really sure I want to see this film but am curious after all the hubbub and might catch it on cable when it airs. The Coen Brothers can be strange and enigmatic at times...like during their acceptance for Best Director and Picture. I think they and The Wachowski Brothers should get together and go bowling. Would probably make for an interesting short film. By the time their awards were handed out, the show had lost a bit of steam because everyone knew they'd win. Rah-bah-bah. I was pretty much done right after Daniel Day-Lewis won his award anyway, knowing what was most likely to come.
And on a final note, I don't give a shit that Disney owns ABC which broadcasts the Oscars. Stop waving Miley Cyrus around all the time, we don't fucking care! This was the clear reason why they interviewed her on the red carpet and her inclusion as a presenter during the ceremony. No more Hannah Montana! If I knew she was going to be so obscenely huge I would have turned around and bopped that kid in the head when Billy Ray Cyrus brought her to the edit bay while I was cutting "Radical Jack" in '99!
BTW, it was good to see Jack Nicholson back in the front row.