I love the Oscars. I love the stargazing, the pretentious speeches, and all the cutthroat backroom politicking around the voting. I haven't seen the majority of the films up for the major awards, and I probably won't until they're available for rental - but that doesn't matter. The Academy Awards aren't about the movies so much as they are about Hollywood making itself the center of attention to feel important once a year. Boosting ticket sales for a couple of films is purely incidental. This night is all about egos and pecking orders under a nice thick layer of glamor. Okay, and maybe a little sincerity about the elevation of film as art from a few True Believers.
Ten Best Picture nominees, two hosts, and no song numbers. It's going to be quite a night. I decided to liveblog the ceremony a while ago - seems to be what all the cool cats are doing, and I like the immediacy of it.
Here we go:
5:31 - Wait, did I miss the intro? The Best Actor and Best Actress noms have been sent out. Gabourey Sidibe looks glorious!
5:33 - Neil Patrick Harris?! Just for the opening number, it looks like, but he's bringing it. They're doing a full Busby Berkeley number in full 30s regalia. "No One Wants to Do it Alone." It's light and classy and very right.
5:36 - Baldwin and Martin have descended from the ceiling. The banter isn't working so great, but they're slowly easing into it. Callback to "The Jerk." Nice. Woody Harrelson is "so high." The "Avatar" 3D gag didn't work, but the Cameron/Bigelow lines landed. And the ones for "Inglorious Bastards." And the Damon and Bullock ones.
5:44 - Efron and Lautner must be scared out of their cherubic little minds.
5:45 - Clooney, as always, comes out on top. All he has to do is not smile.
5:46 - Best Supporting Actor! Lovely Penelope Cruz is presenting. The performance clips are longer than usual, which I like - we're actually seeing what these guys are nominated *for* and it's helping to sell the films. WINNER - Christoph Waltz. Great speech.
5:51 - "Blind Side" spotlight, with Ryan Reynolds presenting. I'm not sure why - the only connection he has to the film is co-starring with Bullock in "The Proposal."
5:57 - The Kimmel-Silverman-Damon-Affleck joke has now extended to Jennifer Garner.
Back from commercial. Diaz and Carrell (who stepped in for Jude Law?!) are introducing clips of interviews with the stars of the nominated animated films - very cute, with Barbara Walters lending a VO. Oh, and the Best Animation Category too. Of course PIXAR gets it, but it was a strong field this year. WINNER - "Up"
6:01 - I love that satisfied look on Ed Asner's face.
6:02 - Martin announces "two actresses who have no idea who we are." Oh Steve, you're not that old. Miley Cyrus and Amanda Seyfried up to announce "Best Original Song." No performances tonight, so we get these nice extended clips. I haven't seen the non-"Princess and the Frog Ones." Now I need to see "Nine" for Marion Cotillard. WINNER - "Crazy Heart."
6:06 - Chris Pine is up to spotlight "District 9." The presenters have no real relation to the films, I guess. It's just a who's who of the actors that were popular this year. I'm glad they're not pushing those long-winded intros with the stars' future projects too hard this time. Just seeing Chris Pine here is enough to emphasize his breakout.
6:08 - While we're at commercial, a quick note on the set. Big and bright, but simple this year, without too many complex moving parts after the hosts' entrance. Just video screens and podiums and presenters in front, with staircases leading up to a raised platform in the middle. Lots of crystal beading.
6:13 - Baldwin intros Downey Jr and Tina Fey, and gives her kudos for reviving his career. Good man. Best Screenplay awards are up. They're doing an actor v. writer bit. This is great. Downey just called Fey a sickly little mole person. I love them both.
Best Original Screenplay - "The Hurt Locker" beats out some stiff competition, including Tarantino. That was a cold reaction shot of Quentin there.
6:18 - Molly Ringwald! And Matthew Broderick. Oh, they're here for the John Hughes memorial. There was some grumbling about him getting a separate memorial segment from everyone else, but the guy had such a huge impact on my generation, I approve completely.
This is like looking at a high school year book. Young Emilio Estevez. Young Mary Stuart Masterson, Charlie Sheen, James Spader, John Cryer, Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Michael Hall, Kevin Bacon, a Baldwin, and both Cusacks.
And a foreboding shot of Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner at the end there.
6:25 - Spotlight on "Up" with Samuel L. Jackson. Best one so far - beautifully edited.
6:29 - Carey Mulligan and Zoe Saldana are both wearing terrible dresses. And presenting the Shorts categories.
And here's Taylor Hackford and David Frankel to justify why they're still presenting the Shorts Oscars. And John Lasseter too. Do we really need this? Fortunately, we do get to see actual clips of the shorts this year. They've been cut in previous years.
Best Animated Short - WINNER - "Logorama"! First surprise of the night. Wallace and Gromit's entry was easily their weakest, so it's not too shocking. I have to wonder if this makes it more or less likely for the creators to be sued for trademark infringement.
Best Documentary Short - WINNER - "Music By Prudence." This one's usually presented with the Feature Documentary category, so the ordering is new. Lends a little more justification for the intro.
Best Live Action Short - WINNER - "The New Tenants." They completely cut off the second winner. Ooh, no mercy for speech length for the the smaller, more insignificant categories they wasted all that time trying to - they would have had time to talk if you'd just cut the pre-taped intro!
6:39 - Ben Stiller in blue Avatar makeup is wonderfully awkward. And he's presenting Best Makeup. And he's making Trekkie jokes. And he's got a tail. Cameron's losing it. This is great. After some more monkeying with the tail, WINNER - "Star Trek."
6:44 - Jeff Bridges spotlights "A Serious Man."
6:49 - Rachel McAdams and Jake Gyllenhaal presenting Best Adapted Screenplay. They split up the writing awards this year. WINNER - Geoffrey Fletcher for "Precious"! We have an upset! We have an upset! And oh, the emotion in that speech is amazing.
Neither of the leading contenders for the writing awards won. I'm glad, since the awards went to people who will actually benefit from them. Reitman and Tarantino do not need Oscars to get films made.
6:53 - And Steve Martin segues us out as only he can, to Queen Latifah. Ugh, and the Governors Award highlights. Always good to see Lauren Bacall though.
6:57 - Robin Williams, in with a quick blue joke and the Best Supporting Actress category. Ooh, it hurts a little to remember that Heath Ledger would have presented this year according to tradition. WINNER - Mo'Nique. And people are on their feet! A forceful, honest speech, and there goes one classy lady.
7:03 - Colin Firth spotlights "An Education."
7:07 - Sigourney Weaver, looking amazing in red, presents Best Art Direction. WINNER - Avatar. First outcome I really disagree with, as there were design elements of that film that I thought were dreadful. "Sherlock Holmes" and "Parnassus" were both more interesting to look at.
7:10 - "Clothes whores" Sarah Jessica Parker and director Tom Ford (WTF? A director?) present Best Costume Design. WINNER - "The Young Victoria." I still have no interest in seeing this film, but the winner's speech was inclusive and thoughtful.
7:13 - Charlize Theron spotlights "Precious."
Been nearly two hours. I'm going to start a new post.