Monday, February 25, 2008

Breaking News: The Oscars this Year Didn't Suck!
I love the Oscars. Not the telecast, I hate that. And the overblown "What are you wearing?" red carpet stuff? I could do without that. And generally I disagree with the people who get the statues.

So what's left to love? Those little moments. And... the competition. Every year for many years I hosted an Oscar party with my best friend S., and we'd come up with elaborate menus, spend two days making the food, invite up to 35 people over, and everyone would drop $5 into a pot on their way in and then compete to see who'd take it home. I used to go see three or four movies a week, and when the Oscars came, I would pride myself on having seen every single film in the best picture, direction, writing, and acting categories. Now, I'm lucky if I've seen one film in each category. My biggest rival was Jeremy, and every year he'd show up just to have his ass kicked by me. (Okay, he might have gotten a higher score than me once or twice, but don't tell him I admitted that.) Having a pot worth up to $175 made those film editing categories suspenseful and exciting.

This year, I watched the Oscars alone. Even my husband sat upstairs working on our taxes. What films had I seen in the big categories mentioned above? Juno. And as of Saturday, Gone Baby Gone (and if you have small kids, I don't recommend it. I was traumatized by this film, and it's the last time my husband's allowed to go the DVD rental store alone.)

And sitting on the couch, watching it, I have to say it's one of the best telecasts I've seen. Apparently when the writers have only had 10 days to work on that terrible banter, they write funnier stuff. And when the nominees have been thinking for so long that there wouldn't be a ceremony, they're just happy to be there, and thanking their agents and lawyers come second to just turning in a great speech.

But I think I have a new favourite Oscar moment. With no ballot in front of me, and barely caring about any of the movies, when John Travolta walked out to list off the nominees for Best Original Song, I sat up, held my hands together and whispered, "Once Once Once Once." And when he said, "Glen Hansard," I shrieked. The looks on the faces of Hansard and Marketa Irglova were priceless, and then Hansard got up to give the humblest speech of the night, shocked that they were even allowed up on the stage (he later joked that he felt like the plumber at a flower show). Marketa leaned in to say something, and the orchestra immediately began playing. She turned and walked away just as the orchestra stopped suddenly, and then they restarted. Jon Stewart joked, "Wow, that guy is SO arrogant," but after the commercial, Stewart walked this immensely shy woman back out onto the stage and she gave a heartfelt, impassioned speech:
"Hi everyone. I just want to thank you so much. This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don't give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along the way. Thank you."

There was a lot of love for this little film in the audience. Colin Farrell, in introducing the two before they performed the song, could barely contain his excitement about their performance. As Travolta listed off the nominees, there was a roar from the audience as he announced "Once." When Hansard and Irglova got up to go the stage, the camera zoomed in on Laura Linney, who was almost in tears with happiness. Phillip Seymour Hoffman had his arms above his head clapping (maybe they watched the film together?) Even Jon Stewart mentioned how fantastic the film was.

I reviewed the movie on my blog after seeing it in the summer (short version of review: possibly the best music movie ever). I talked about it again when I went to see Hansard and Irglova live. I can't remember the last time I felt such an emotional attachment to a film, and I'm certainly not the only one. What an amazing Oscar moment (their performance was great, too).

Other fave moments:
  • Tilda Swinton's loopy and hilarious speech about George Clooney, saying he wore his nipple-endowed Batman suit under his clothes in Michael Clayton, and hung upside down when he slept. (Her dress was definitely... unique. It's like she thought, "Hmm... might be cold, might be warm; I'd better dress for both.")
  • Waiting for one of the presenters to take a nosedive after Miley Cyrus, Colin Farrell, and John Travolta all slipped on the same patch of floor right next to the podium (leading Farrell to say, "Someone should do something about that"... they didn't).
  • Marion Cotillard being a surprise upset. Since I wasn't married to any of the performances, it was just cool to see someone completely shocked to win, and act like it. Her speech was giddy and wonderful.
  • Daniel Day Lewis bowing to be knighted.
  • Javier Bardem mentioning his haircut in No Country for Old Men.
  • Jon Stewart saying Away from Her is about a woman forgetting her husband. "Or, as Hillary Clinton refers to it, the feel-good movie of the year!"
  • Forest Whitaker. The guy just walks on stage and the 'classy' meter shoots way up.
  • Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill's onstage banter. They're in front of a gajillion people and they were joking around as if sitting in their basement.
Low points:
  • I love Tom Hanks, don't get me wrong, but does he always have to be so damn cocky? Whenever he, George Clooney, or Julia Roberts take the stage, all you can hear resonating around them is, "DAMN, I'm good." Meanwhile, Hilary Swank has also won two Oscars, but she certainly doesn't act like it. If I were Tom, I'd be a little pissed that they showed my Philadelphia speech from 14 years ago, because in that time, his face has become so puffy you can barely see his eyes.
  • Speaking of which, hey, Renee Zellweger! OPEN YOUR EYES!!!!
  • John Travolta's hair. If you had to wear a wig, would you choose one that's THAT awful???
  • Those damn songs from Enchanted. While I was thrilled to see Kristin Chenoweth singing one of them, that last song made me want to vomit. WHO the HELL voted these terrible things in??? "Falling Slowly" was on a whole other plane. I loved Amy Adams in Junebug, but I couldn't stand her on stage in these songs.
  • I think it's amazing that the honorary lifetime achievement Oscar went to someone who was 98, and he actually showed up, but come on, couldn't you cap his yak time at around 5 minutes or so? He seemed to go on for an eternity.
  • The Coens' non-speeches. Apparently these guys are wordsmiths strictly in the written sense.
  • Katharine Heigl. Did anyone else think she was going to cry? She looked TERRIFIED.
  • Steve Carell not doing a sketch with Jon Stewart. Cripes, what does it take to get these two back together??


Jacqui said...

I actually sat down and watched the Oscars for the first time, in, I don't know, trillions of years. It seemed much faster paced than normal, people didn't give overly lot speeches and the French actress' speech was delightfully over the top but not in a a Hally Berry way, so much classier.

Downside, 3....3! songs from the same movie, there must have better choice than that but still the best song of the year did win, so I shouldn't complain too much. The self congratulatory videos of the Academy and past winners.

fb said...

i miss S's and your oscar parties! :) (although, i tied for second in the oscar pool i was in this year -- not too shabby!)

i watched the whole thing with my goddaughter. to me, it seemed a little obvious it was cobbled together in a short space of time (minimalist set, shortened intro monologue, so. many. clip. reels., etc.), but i didn't think that was a bad thing.

i did think of you when they won best song ... and i was absolutely thrilled that they let marketa back on stage to have her say -- i cannot ever remember that happening in all the years i've watched the oscars. i actually cheered out loud when that happened! :)

my goddaughter was doubly disappointed: she desperately, desperately wanted johnny depp to win (i kinda knew he wouldn't) and she was deeply, deeply disappointed that there wasn't some big tribute to heath ledger (though i explained he had the spot of honour at the very end of the in memoriam tribute).

i'd only seen atonement and juno out of the big pic nominees, and i wasn't honestly expecting much from either, so i was very pleased when diablo cody won (even if her dress looked like it came from some sort of prehistoric value village).

Nikki Stafford said...

HA!!! Love the comment about Diablo Cody! That dress was something else. I thought she was pretty beautiful. She writes a column in EW these days, and in her first column she wrote about how ugly her head furniture was, and now I see why. She's really pretty... I see a lot of bloggers referring to her as the poor man's Dita Von Teese, which is unfair.

Jeremy Barker said...

But how did you do in your picks, or did you make any this year? I was knocked out in the tech categories and ended up with 15/24.

It just wasn't the same not battling it out with you Nik.