Okay. With that said, I found last night's ceremony to be entirely enjoyable. It was as long as they usually are, but it didn't feel long. Acceptance speeches were interesting, touching, and surprisingly brief. My man Jon Stewart did an excellent job of hosting; funny and gracious, as he always is. I did sense the impact of the writers' strike and the hurried preparation, but it was still good and funny. I love it when Jon cracks himself up, although he did seem to do it kind of a lot, but it's okay because it's adorable. I do kind of wish that he'd stood at the podium to give his opening monologue, because his walking around and repetitive hand gestures was kind of distracting. But still funny. Just the right amount of political joking, with Democrats and Republicans getting equal portions. Too many funny bits to mention, but possibly my favorite: "...and the baby goes to...Angelina Jolie!" Runner-up: "Even Norbit got a nomination...so often the Academy ignores bad movies." Naturally this drew a somewhat rueful laugh from me.
Anyway, here are the winners, for reference; as to the ceremony, impressions in no particular order:
-I'd really like to see that short animated version of "Peter and the Wolf", as that story/musical piece is a long-time favorite of mine.
-I really liked Brad Bird's speech when he won the animated feature award, the dialogue with his school guidance counselor: "'What if movies didn't exist?' 'I'd have to invent them!'"
-I was touched that Javier Bardem brought his mother to the awards and then thanked her in Spanish. That was sweet. I wish I understood Spanish so I could know what he said, but maybe it's none of my business.
-It was really funny when they were showing the nominees for Best Actress and they showed a clip of Cate Blanchett laying the smackdown as Elizabeth I, and then they panned over to her and she made this face like, "Whoa! What's her problem?"
-The best live action short is "Le Mozart of Pickpockets". Interesting that the French word for "pickpockets" is "pickpockets".
-To the short documentary winners: you go, girls! Great speech: "...they face discrimination that I as a married woman don't have to face."
-Visual effects...I've only seen 2 out of the 3 nominees; I did see the Golden Compass movie, and I so wanted to make an intelligent comment on it as a movie apart from the "controversy", but I'm afraid that, as I haven't read the books and it was made to be part of a trilogy, I'm hopelessly befuddled about it. But as to the visual effects...I've seen animals, and they don't look like that, but then again it did take place in a parallel universe, and they are talking spirit guides and whatnot, so maybe they would look
-So the original song category...I have mixed feelings about this; generally speaking I think it's kind of a worthless category, but it does make for spectacle during the Oscar broadcast, and I do enjoy spectacle. So because I enjoy spectacle, I enjoyed all the Enchanted numbers, and kudos to Amy Adams for going out and singing that song all by her lonesome, though it would have been neat to have her little animated friends join her. Moving on...I did see August Rush, and I found it very moving at the time, but I've since found it strangely forgettable, which is unfortunate, but there you go. I did, however, remember that song, and that it was very effective, and that young soloist is amazing. I had never heard of the movie whose song won, but now I want to see it because it looks interesting and the two of them were adorable, and I think it's really awesome that they wrote the song and acted in the movie. I saw someone in an article refer to them as "non-actors," and I think that's really stupid. Did they portray a character in a film? Then they're actors. That's what "actor" means. But probably my favorite moment of the whole night was when Jon Stewart brought the woman back on to make her speech. Because she went up to speak, and then the music started, and then she stopped, and then the music stopped, but she was already walking away, so the music started up again, and I felt very sad for her, and then after the commercial break Jon Stewart brought her back on. I don't know if that was his decision or what, but whoever is responsible, I thought it was very classy.
Also, so cute the story Jon told about the two of them backstage with their statuettes: "We should make them kiss!" "But they're both guys!" "But this is Hollywood!" So funny; the two of them were adorable, and I'm happy for them that they won because otherwise I would probably never have heard of them.
-Speaking of the orchestra, I guess they just have to have 5 snippets of score ready every time an award is announced, since they don't know ahead of time who's going to win. I guess that means they really have to pay attention. It would be interesting to play in that orchestra, or just to be a fly on the wall in that pit.
-This might be an opportune time to mention the "in memoriam" section. I did wonder what they were going to do about that, if they were going to include Heath Ledger, since he died in January and usually they seem to just remember people who've died in the previous calendar year. That being the case, I would have understood if they had not included him, but I was glad that they did, since it's just over a month since he died and that pain is still fresh for so many of us. I was also glad that they made it clear which span of time they were including, so people wouldn't get mad about them including our boy. But then, I noticed that they didn't include some other people that I thought they would, like Brad Renfro, (who was not as big a star as Heath Ledger, but was younger and died only a few days prior), and the admittedly obscure Maila Nurmi, better known as Vampira. They didn't include them, and I wondered why. I suppose it's difficult to include everyone. It's always sad to watch that, and to see names that you remembered seeing that they died but forgot, and to see names that you never knew and didn't appreciate in life. For some reason, I missed seeing (or forgot) that Deborah Kerr had passed away, which made me quite sad; she was a classy lady.
-'Twas nice to see Sweeney Todd win one award, for art direction. Better than nothing.
-I was quite interested in the original screenplay contest, since 4 out of the 5 were comedies, and 3 out of the five were written by women, so it was interesting to see where they'd go with that. I've not seen any of them, so I can't really comment, but I'm (now) interested in seeing all of them. As for Diablo Cody...by all accounts the screenplay was really good and that award was deserved, but I do have to wonder if the award wasn't as much just given out of curiosity to see what she would do and say when she got the award, because she is quite eccentric. You know, people are always quick to point out that she used to be a stripper, but what they don't mention is that she was a stripper by choice. Also, unless I'm mistaken, she didn't start calling herself "Diablo Cody" until after she stopped stripping, or if that's not the case, she had already been a stripper for some time before she started calling herself that. Anyway, I respect her for her non-conformity, even if it's a little scary to me, and I thought her speech was very good and I was impressed by how humble she was in thanking the other writers. That said, she was wearing 1 million dollar shoes. Now that's courage of a sort; I marvel at these women who wear all these millions of dollars in borrowed jewelry and stuff. I could never do that because I wouldn't be able to relax for fear that something would happen to it. Plus I think it would be really cool to show up at the Oscars wearing a no-name outfit and fake jewelry and see if anyone noticed.
-I love how completely non-plussed Tilda Swinton was at winning Best Supporting Actress; she was like a deer in the headlights. And her speech about the Oscar statue looking like her agent was quite charming.
-The Best Actor race was kind of interesting to me, because you had at least three and possibly four actors who were playing rat-bastards, and then one was a singing rat-bastard. I'm being facetious when I say "rat-bastard," but it's interesting that so many of the nominees weren't "good" characters, since the Academy doesn't like to reward villains very often. It's also interesting that there seems to be less Oscar-love for the movie-musical than there was in the past, especially now that the movie-musical is experiencing such a renaissance.
Of course, I wanted to see Johnny Depp win Best Actor; of course it was a little bit of a disappointment when he didn't...but then again, not really a suprise. I am actually kind of curious now to see There Will Be Blood, except that it's called There Will Be Blood; it might as well be subtitled: "Don't Come Crying to Us When the Movie's Too Violent for Your Taste". On the other hand, if Daniel Day-Lewis is as good as everyone says he is, that could possibly compensate for the violence-factor. Daniel Day-Lewis is fascinating and kind of creepy to me; here is a guy with this incredible gift who left the movie business for a few years to become a cobbler when the movie business became unsatisfying...I can't help but admire that. And yet...you talk about "method" acting; Daniel Day-Lewis kind of takes it to the extreme. I mean, it's good to be serious about and dedicated to your work, but on the other hand, it is just a job, and I don't think that any job should necessarily consume your whole life. It's disturbing to me how deep he reportedly gets into his characters, because there's the possibility that he'll never come back out. He did endear himself to me by dedicating his SAG award to Heath Ledger; I thought that was a really classy gesture, and it was a lovely, heartfelt speech. His Oscar speech was also very sweet, dedicating this award to his father and grandfather, and acknowledging "Mrs. Plainview," his wife. And Helen Mirren "knighting" him was really funny.
-Every time they panned over to the girl who was nominated for being in Atonement, James McAvoy was sitting next to her, talking to her and whatever, and I thought it was really sweet and brotherly how he was there to support her, because I imagine that she was probably just a little freaked out. And I don't remember what he and Josh Brolin presented, but they were adorable. And wow, does Josh Brolin ever look like his dad.
-Then there was that bizarre bit in which the two Peter-Jackson-look-alikes were fighting about who got to be Halle Berry and who got to be Judi Dench. That was...weird, and mildly amusing, but the best part (at least I think this is where it happened) was when one of them did a Jack Nicholson impression and then turned to Jack Nicholson, in the front row, and said, "That was the worst Jack Nicholson impression ever. Sorry, man."
-The Coen brothers were adorable on the three occasions they took to the stage, and I'm happy for them. Apart from that, I don't have a lot to say about it; I've not seen the No Country for Old Men, and I don't think I care to. I like O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but apart from that, I don't think I have the proper sensibility to truly appreciate the Coens. In one of the articles reviewing the Oscars (I think it was from the New York Times) the author revealed the ending of No Country for Old Men (with NO spoiler alert--those jerks), and based on that and my past experience with other Coen brothers films, I don't think I would enjoy it. But good for them.