Sunday, February 27, 2011

The 83rd Academy Awards

Cody talks about the 83rd Academy Awards. Discussion of the nominees and potential winners before the show, followed by thoughts posted throughout the show and after.

The Oscars aired on ABC February 27th, hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco.

I love the Oscars. Watching the ceremony is a big event for me. I don't always agree with the winners, but I do agree with the types of films that they acknowledge, and I really enjoy the show. Every year, I like to read as Harry Knowles live blogs throughout, so I figured I'd do a little Academy Awards coverage myself this year.

The nominees and my thoughts:

Best Picture
"Black Swan," Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
"The Fighter" David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
"Inception," Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
"The Kids Are All Right," Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
"The King's Speech," Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
"127 Hours," Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
"The Social Network," Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán, Producers
"Toy Story 3" Darla K. Anderson, Producer
"True Grit" Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Pre-Show: A good assemblage of films, and I've seen every one of them except for Toy Story 3, but this year is all about The King's Speech vs. The Social Network. It could go either way. For a while Social was assumed to be top choice, but as time has gone on and other awards ceremonies have been held, Speech has pulled ahead.

I think Best Picture will go to The King's Speech and, having watched both films, Speech is the one that I would give my vote to if I were in the Academy. In a situation where I have to compare the two, a King overcoming a speech impediment to become a strong, reassuring figure to his country as they head into World War II is a better story than an unlikeable college kid making a website while screwing people over, and I felt that Speech was just a better film overall.

But The Fighter did manage to score a Led Zeppelin song and the filmmakers had the smarts to let the song play out in its entirety, so that alone could push them over the edge for a dark horse victory.

Prepare to read lots of references to the possibility of The King's Speech sweeping the awards.

11:36- Three hours and six minutes into the show, Steven Spielberg officially announces that The King's Speech has won Best Picture. Harvey Weinstein looks on with pride. The 83rd Academy Awards come to a close with a 5th grade chorus from Staten Island singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and, in a very cool moment, the night's winners return to the stage for a curtain call.

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"
Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
James Franco in "127 Hours"

Pre-Show: Some greats in this category. James Franco carried 127 Hours very well. Jeff Bridges is one of my favorite actors, but last year was his year. I think this year is Colin Firth's. He did a great job while perfectly delivering the King's voice and stammer. The scene where he realizes that he may be worthy of being King after all got me choked up.

11:25- Jeff Bridges is so cool. Just saying. Colin Firth wins and goes off to dance.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner in "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Pre-Show: Some more favorites in this category, and The Town is a film that I would've liked to have seen get a Best Picture nomination. It's cool to see John Hawkes get a nod, I've been a fan of his since From Dusk Till Dawn in early '96.

This one comes down to Geoffrey Rush, who was typically great as the King's speech therapist, and Christian Bale, who fully inhabited his role as a crack addicted screw-up. It's Rush if the King totally sweeps, otherwise things seem to be leaning toward Bale.

9:31- Christian Bale wins his first Oscar. I suspect he'll win more of them down the road, if the repeated huge weight gains and losses don't knock him out first. Guy's intensely into it, as we've all heard. The King's total sweep isn't happening.

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"

Pre-Show: I'm a big fan of Nicole Kidman, but I haven't seen Rabbit Hole yet. Jennifer Lawrence gave a great breakout performance and Michelle Williams can tear your heart out. I've seen Annette Bening predicted by some, but I think Natalie Portman winning for going totally nuts is most likely.

11:16- Ryan Gosling getting nominated for Blue Valentine along with Williams would've been grand. Portman and the baby within accept the award, with that lucky sap Benjamin Millepied helping her up the stage stairs. Black Swan got her a fiance, a child, and an Oscar.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"

Pre-Show: Amy Adams was an awesome girlfriend in The Fighter. Predictions go between Helena Bonham Carter's supportive wife in the King's sweep or Melissa Leo's annoying mother, in which case I'd go with Leo. Personally, I'd vote for Hailee Steinfeld, as she was fantastic as the remake's Mattie Ross, totally holding her own and keeping the film hers, a tough job when she's sharing the screen with Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges' Rooster Cogburn.

8:56- Leo takes it and drops an F-bomb on the joint. Kevin Smith's Red State now stars an Oscar winner. Kirk Douglas and Anne Hathaway should totally hook up.

Animated Feature Film
"How to Train Your Dragon" Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
"The Illusionist" Sylvain Chomet
"Toy Story 3" Lee Unkrich

Pre-Show: I haven't seen any of these, but Toy Story 3 seems to be the safe bet.

9:06- Toy Story 3 it is, a.k.a. "Schindler's Toybox".

Art Direction
"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"The King's Speech"
"True Grit"

Pre-Show: The King's sweep? Inception? Alice? The predictions for this one are all over the place.

8:45- Alice wins. Makes sense. Tim Burton worlds are wacky places.

"Black Swan," Matthew Libatique
"Inception," Wally Pfister
"The King's Speech," Danny Cohen
"The Social Network," Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit," Roger Deakins

Pre-Show: It's cool to see Libatique nominated for Black Swan, which was shot with Canon 5D Mark II and 7D HD cameras in addition to 16mm.

Roger Deakins is one of my favorite cinematographers, the man always delivers beautiful pictures. (If he's confirmed to be re-teaming with Sam Mendes on the next Bond film, it will probably be the happiest movie news day of the year for me.) He's been previously nominated for The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Kundun, O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn't There, No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and The Reader. I think, I hope, that he'll finally win this time.

8:48- My first surprise of the night. Pfister lands it. Not what I was hoping for, but Inception was a really good looking movie. I'm sure Deakins will get another chance. 10th time's the charm?

Costume Design
"Alice in Wonderland," Colleen Atwood
"I Am Love," Antonella Cannarozzi
"The King's Speech," Jenny Beavan
"The Tempest," Sandy Powell
"True Grit" Mary Zophres

Pre-Show: I'd think this category would lean toward the more outlandish, like Wonderland, but popular opinion seems to be that this will be another win for The King's Speech.

9:58- Alice wins. I thought that'd be the way to go, but many said otherwise. The King hasn't swept up much yet.

"Black Swan," Darren Aronofsky
"The Fighter," David O. Russell
"The King's Speech," Tom Hooper
"The Social Network," David Fincher
"True Grit," Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Pre-Show: It's Tom Hooper if The King's Speech sweeps. Even if Speech takes Best Picture, this could be one of the occasions where the Best Picture director does not win. This could definitely go to David Fincher. It's a tough one to call.

11:03- Goosebumps and a lump in the throat, it must be the In Memoriam segment. But I really don't like that they've taken to putting singers on stage during the montage. I haven't been able to get a good cry on since they added that distraction.

Tom Hooper wins Best Director for what is going to be Best Picture.

Documentary (Feature)
"Exit Through the Gift Shop," Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
"Gasland," Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
"Inside Job," Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Restrepo," Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
"Waste Land," Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Pre-Show: Exit has the hype and entertainment value, but I've heard that either Inside Job or Restrepo could take this with their more serious subject matter.

10:21- We all breathe the same air as Oprah. Just a thought to warm your heart on a cold, lonely night. Inside Job wins with its look at the financial crisis. Bankers, not Banksy. That "Tiny Ball of Light" Harry Potter auto tune is surely the best musical moment of the show.

Documentary (Short Subject)
"Killing in the Name"
"Poster Girl"
"Strangers No More"
"Sun Come Up"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

Pre-Show: I have no idea. I haven't seen any of them, but I have seen win predictions for almost every film in this category. In a contest, I guessed Poster Girl.

10:13- Strangers No More. By now, it's clear that I am not going to win that contest.

Film Editing
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"

Pre-Show: King's sweep? The Social Network might take it.

10:35- Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for The Social Network. The King is letting Social pick up some wins in the build up to the big ones...

Foreign Language Film
"Biutiful," Mexico
"Dogtooth," Greece
"In a Better World," Denmark
"Incendies," Canada
"Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)," Algeria

Pre-Show: I haven't seen any of these. The only one I've seen any part of is Biutiful, which looks pretty intense.

9:27- James Franco is a beautiful Marilyn Monroe. Helen Mirren is a beautiful Helen Mirren. A very attractive woman from Denmark takes it home for In a Better World.

"Barney's Version," Adrien Morot
"The Way Back," Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
"The Wolfman," Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Pre-Show: I reckon Chainsaw and Dave would be happy to see Rick Baker nab another Oscar.

9:56- "Gross." The first Oscar for Elsey and the seventh for Baker. Chainsaw and Dave are very very very very very very very happy.

Music (Original Score)
"How to Train Your Dragon," John Powell
"Inception," Hans Zimmer
"The King's Speech," Alexandre Desplat
"127 Hours," A.R. Rahman
"The Social Network," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Pre-Show: Inception's horn blast has already become an iconic sound. This may well be part of the King's sweep, but I would really enjoy seeing Trent Reznor get an Oscar.

9:43- Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross win! That's awesome. The Downward Spiral leads to Oscar gold.

Music (Original Song)
"Coming Home" from "Country Strong," Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
"I See the Light" from "Tangled," Music by Alan Menken, Lyric by Glenn Slater
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours," Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Pre-Show: Randy Newman is my guess.

10:46- Randy Newman wins his second Academy Award. His twentieth nomination. Jiminy Cricket.

Short Film (Animated)
"Day & Night," Teddy Newton
"The Gruffalo," Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
"Let's Pollute," Geefwee Boedoe
"The Lost Thing," Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
"Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)" Bastien Dubois

Pre-Show: Pixar's Day & Night, most likely.

9:03- Apparently not. The Lost Thing. I haven't seen any of these either.

Short Film (Live Action)
"The Confession," Tanel Toom
"The Crush," Michael Creagh
"God of Love," Luke Matheny
"Na Wewe," Ivan Goldschmidt
"Wish 143," Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Pre-Show: I really have no idea on this one.

10:15- Congratulations to God of Love. From the clips they showed of it, it does look pretty cute. As does Amy Adams, she's adorable. Sasha Gordon, you're Luke's dream come true.

Sound Editing
"Inception," Richard King
"Toy Story 3," Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
"Tron: Legacy," Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
"Unstoppable," Mark P. Stoeckinger

Pre-Show: Inception will probably take these technical awards.

9:49- And Inception did it.

Sound Mixing
"Inception," Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
"The King's Speech," Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
"Salt," Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
"The Social Network," Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Pre-Show: Probably Inception. If not, The Social Network.

9:47- Boom. Incepted.

Visual Effects
"Alice in Wonderland," Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
"Hereafter," Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
"Inception," Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
"Iron Man 2," Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Pre-Show: Inception.

10:33- 8 time host Billy Crystal shows up to present a tribute to Bob Hope's 18 times hosting... Clips of Bob Hope jokes really shine a bad light on how bland things are tonight. But then Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. come out and have the best written witty exchanges of the night. And Inception gets the award.

Adapted Screenplay
"127 Hours," Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
"The Social Network," Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
"Toy Story 3," Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
"True Grit," Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"Winter's Bone," Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Pre-Show: Aaron Sorkin. I read the screenplay for The Social Network before the movie was even casting, and thought it was fantastic. Reading it made me wish I could direct it myself (of course, if it's good enough for David Fincher then my approval means little), and I've never liked Facebook. A personal bias against the subject matter didn't mean anything here, Sorkin's screenplay is great, built on snappy, intelligent dialogue.

9:14- Sorkin gets his well-deserved statue. Gave a nice shout-out to Paddy Chayefsky's Network and his daughter's guinea pig. I miss the reading of lines from the scripts that they did in previous years.

Original Screenplay
"Another Year," Written by Mike Leigh
"The Fighter," Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
"Inception," Written by Christopher Nolan
"The Kids Are All Right," Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
"The King's Speech," Screenplay by David Seidler

Pre-Show: The King takes another one.

9:18- This time they showed scenes from the movie with script excerpts onscreen, that's good. The King's Speech writer gets to give his speech. Oldest writer to win this award?

Post-Show, 11:54- My one complaint about this year's Academy Awards: the host segments were exceptionally  lame. I'm not saying anything against the hosts, I like Hathaway a lot, Franco is cool, but they were saddled with  really dull, awkward material. The show could've used a major comedy writer overhaul. I get that they wanted to stay far from Ricky Gervais territory, but they could've still been funny... Anyway, other than that  I'm very satisfied with how the show went overall. There were some obvious wins, some surprises, and The King's Speech did a good job of sharing awards on its way to the big win.

"You did it!"

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