Monday, February 23, 2009

The 81st Annual Academy Awards

I am happy to report that I did not end up watching the Oscars show alone. I started out with about five other people watching it with me, though by the end there was just one other person who had lasted the > 3 hour ceremony.

The relevant results:
Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner of the night, taking home eight statues from its ten nominations, for best picture, director Danny Boyle, adapted screenplay, cinematography, editing, music, song, and sound (mixing). The only two nominations it lost were sound editing to The Dark Knight and best song to itself (it had two noms in the category). Benjamin Button, which had received the most nominations, was left to pick up Slumdog's scraps, in best art direction, makeup, and visual effects. Milk enjoyed two big wins for best actor Sean Penn and for original screenplay. Dark Knight, which had received eight nominations, won two for sound editing and best supporting actor; Heath Ledger's parents and sister accepted the award on behalf of his daughter Matilda. Wall-E, which had received 6 nominations, won only for best animated feature film. Kate Winslet won her first Oscar (it was her sixth nomination) for best actress in The Reader; Penelope Cruz won her first Oscar for best supporting actress in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The Dutchess won for costumes. Doubt and Frost/Nixon both left empty-handed. Overall, the results lived up to the awards predictions. The only surprise of the night was the Best Foreign Language Film award, which went to Japan's Okuribito, not to either of the more recognized front-runners, Israel's Waltz with Bashir and France's The Class.

The production of the Oscar show:
The Academy Awards show itself was structured to tell the story of the process of making a movie. This was fine, though there were some categories--animated feature and short, feature and short documentaries, and foreign film--that didn't fit in with the story, and the supporting acting categories were sprinkled around as well, breaking with the overall structure. Plus, the best director award had to come near the end, which in the structure of the story seemed a bit contrived. The acting category presentations were very long. For each acting award, five previous winners would stand in a semi-circle on stage and make a little tribute speech for each of the five nominees, then welcome the winner as a new member of their fraternity/sorority. I suppose if you were one of the nominees it might have been sweet to have Sophia Loren flatter you or Alan Arkin mess up your name, but it took too long and was kind of boring. Luckily, the other categories were done fairly efficiently, particularly since several were grouped together with the same presenters.

The show had a bunch of montages, but I wasn't particularly interested by most of them. Romances from the past year's movies? Lame. I wonder if they managed to attract more young viewers by parading Robert Pattinson, Zac Efron, and Vanessa Hudgens across the stage. I also have to complain about the use of the random blue-tinted clips on a five-second loop that they used to fill in the gaps of the screen whenever it cut to show shrunken shots of nominees/presenters (they're hard to describe, but if you watched the show, you saw it many times). For the most part, I was not aware of the clips, which I think was the point (they shouldn't distract me from the presenter or nominee). But my friend and I both found the Kung Fu Panda clip very distracting. If I see Po catching that thing in his mouth one more time... Yeah, we were pretty sick of seeing that every five seconds throughout the show.

Hugh Jackman didn't have that much to do (I guess less host filler helps move the show along), though he did do two song and dance numbers. I really liked the opening medley about selected nominated movies--Anne Hathaway as Nixon in a Frost/Nixon romance was great, and the bit about The Reader ("I haven't seen The Reader") was hilarious. But I do tend to like musicals, so I'm not sure what other people's reactions will be. Presenter Ben Stiller took an easy jab at Joaquin Phoenix, gum and all. Freida Pinto had a really nice blue dress. Dev Patel is adorable, and he looked so excited and elated each time Slumdog won an award. And the little children got up on the stage at the end when it won Best Picture! So cute!

I thought it was a good show overall. Could have been better, and shorter, of course. And over the credits at the end, they showed some preview clips from upcoming 2009 films. Let the new Oscar race begin!

some of my frock; take what you're given


Sebastian said...

Ooh, smashing frock darling!

Still a little sad to dress to the nines, and then stay in...
(Interesting derivation on that phrase, incidentally)

Unless perhaps you were roleplaying some campaign at the same time as the show. That'd be kind of fun...

Eleni said...

Eh, dressing up and going out may be better than dressing up and staying in, but if I'm staying in I figure it's better to dress up than not. And there were other people watching the show with me who could admire my dress, anyway.

Always comes back to roleplaying, does it?

Sebastian said...

Did they dress up in slinky black numbers and tuxedos too...?

We used to roleplay in some semblance of costume. Sometimes just a long coat, or a fedora. It made it a bit more fun, and easier to slip into character!

Once I wore some kind of baggy toga affair for a Star Wars campaign... No plastic lightsabre, though.