Monday, February 25, 2008

My tenth annual Oscars review

This was Hollywood’s biggest night -- when we paid tribute to this year’s excellence in motion picture Oscar campaigns. The two leading contenders for Best Picture were one with a baffling ending and one that puts half the audience into a coma. Those marketing boys know how to spin a yarn.

I’m sure for most viewers, these are what they thought were the five nominees for Best Picture: Something Something Country, Something Something Blood, Michael Jordan, that thing with whatshername, and one of those Knocked Up movies.

Was there a single winner the first hour from America? This was the United Nations general assembly with production numbers. Every speech was like Borat but not funny.

We ended the writers strike for THIS? Jesus! The best thing I can say about this Oscarcast is that there were no shadow puppets this year.

Had we not settled this is what the show would have been, and tell me you wouldn’t have preferred it.

“Please welcome your host, ABC foreign correspondent, Joohee Cho!”
The “In Memoriam” tribute would be stretched so long that by the end someone new would have to be added.
“Singing the nominated song from ENCHANTED, here is ABC sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein!”
“The theme this year: Stunt doubles. Those brave men and women who look like your favorite stars and tonight will get to BE them.”
“The no-good son of a bitch nominees for best Original Screenplay are…”

At least that show might have had some surprises. All the locks won. Something Something Country swept the big awards. The only surprises were Marion Cotillard beating Julie Christie (and by the way, doesn’t Edith Piaf clean up well? Wow!) and LA VIE EN ROSE edging out NORBIT for Best Makeup. Eddie Murphy was robbed AGAIN!

The flood watch was canceled prior to the show. We didn’t get to see Anne Hathaway in her Jimmy Choo golashes.

But those inane red carpet shows went off as planned. My favorite was the local one for KABC in Los Angeles hosted by entertainment boot lickers, George Pennachio and Richard Roeper. When they’re not gushing like school girls they’re asking the most idiotic questions. George to Heidi Klum: “It’s great to be at an event like this. How did YOU get invited?” To Amy Ryan he asked, “If you win will you be thanking the Teamsters?”

Richard Roeper to Tom Wilkinson about his role in MICHAEL CLAYTON: “You had those big operatic scenes and were able to play way over-the-top.” Surprisingly, Wilkinson took offense at that. George asked Sara Lawson if she beaded her dress herself? And serving as a fashion expert was Channel 7 Eyewitness News anchor, Michelle Tuzee. Just last week after reporting a bus plunge she complained that new Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias was a “nightmare in blue”.

“Who are you wearing?” used to refer to dress designers. Now it means tattoo artists.

No Joan & Melissa Rivers this year. The red carpet equivalent of Mom & Norman Bates have run out of networks. Joan is doing a one-woman show in LA and for the first time ever on Oscar night is performing to more than 200 people.

The Hollywood cause this year: the campaign to close Guantanamo. Celebrities wore orange ribbons to show their tremendous concern for this issue. Ask them what last year’s cause was. Most will say, “Uh…red ribbons?”

Red was definitely the color of the night. Every other gown was red. It was like being at the Nebraska Cornhuskers homecoming dance.

Jon Stewart was funny but you need someone bigger, more larger-than-life to host such a grand event. Seriously, Joohee Cho would have kicked ass!

Usually they start out with an actor category or two. Not this year. We were forty minutes into the show before anything happened. Kinda like sitting through Something Something Blood.

Since Cate Blanchett played Bob Dylan, shouldn’t she be nominated for Best Supporting Actor?

Even pregnant and showing, Jessica Alba still was the hottest woman in the room.

My daughter Annie has a good rule. No movie over three hours should be eligible for Best Editing.

It would have been interesting if Roderick Jaynes had won for editing Something Something Country. Roderick Jaynes is just a pseudonym. The Coen Brothers actually edited their own movie.

I’m so excited. For the first time ever, a movie I co-wrote, VOLUNTEERS was included in an Oscarcast. There was a two second clip of it in the “periscope and binoculars” montage. Between that and picketing, I really feel like I’m part of the industry now.

RATATOUILLE deserved not just Best Animated Picture but Best Picture as well. You didn’t have to say you liked the movie just because critics did. You could actually like the movie yourself.

Katherine Heigl was a knockout!! Marilyn Monroe at her most radiant and lucid.

Diablo Cody came as Cleopatra: biker chick. I was happy she won for Best Original Screenplay. I liked the message Hollywood was sending: “No more Nancy Meyers comedies!”

How could the Academy nominate LARS AND THE REAL GIRL for writing and shun I KNOW WHO KILLED ME?

Tilda Swinton looked like Conan O’Brien. I was glad she won too. Maybe now she can afford two sleeves.

Al Gore and Cher have more Oscars than Johnny Depp.

How do I describe Cameron Diaz’s dress? It’s like if you tried to gift-wrap a vacuum cleaner.

Owen Wilson looked good and is apparently over that pesky suicide deal. They should have had him intro the “In Memoriam” tribute. By the way, they forgot Brad Renfro.

Oh no! Jerry Seinfeld pimping that Goddamn bee movie AGAIN?! Make it stop!! At least in the “hilarious” montage they didn’t show MY GIRL where the lead character dies from a bee sting.

Daniel Day-Lewis finally won his Oscar for GANGS OF NEW YORK. When he someday shuttles his mortal coil I’m sure the cause of death will be: choked on some scenery.

If you want to vote for the eleven-year-old girl from the AUGUST RUSH song – 1-866-IDOLS 04.

I guess Nicole Kidman couldn’t decide which necklace to wear so she wore them all. She looked like a Christmas tree with tinsel put on by a drunk.

My guess is the three songs from ENCHANTED canceled each other out. For Kristen Chenowith’s number there were dancers and acrobats flying everywhere, a bridge, flowers, props, costumes. But for the star of the film, Amy Adams – a bare set and a dress she couldn’t move in. Nice.

I was thrilled however when Best Song went to Glen Hansard and Marketa Inglova for ONCE. And the highlight of the night was letting Marketa come back and deliver her acceptance speech after the music had pushed her off. Watch. Cuba Gooding Jr. is going to want to come back now. There’s fifty more people he needs to thank.

The speeches I like are those rare few with genuine emotion. Marion Cotillard’s and surprisingly, Diablo Cody’s. She did not have to be censored even once.

I also was moved by 98 year-old, Robert Boyle, who received an honorary Oscar for working on hundreds of great, classic movies and DRAGNET.

Penelope Cruz was smashing as usual but I’m not sure about furry black gown. She looked like Barney Rubble ’s prom date.

Every year it’s the same thing. The five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary are four war movies and one about dance.

The winner of Best Documentary was from Austria and noted that many great film directors like Billy Wilder had to flee that country because of the Nazis and as luck would have it, his movie is about the Nazis. What is he talking about? Every Austrian movie is about the Nazis! Along with every book, every article, every children song.

How’d you like to be in Paul Thomas Anderson’s limo after the show? The director of Something Something Blood is probably going postal. “They don’t understand my brilliance! My genius! I try to elevate the movie going rabble! Give them art! Give them beauty! Take them to worlds the ingrates have no business seeing. And do they appreciate me? Do they at least acknowledge that I have been touched by the hand of God? No! They humiliate me in front of billions of people. They give away my award – MY award -- to two hicks! Oooh, some trailer trash person finds a suitcase of money. That’s real original. And bad guys are after him. Who’s ever seen that before? Meanwhile, I make a masterpiece. Look at these ads the studio took out. What more proof do you want than that?! Oh, the hell with it. Just take me to the Vanity Fair party! I can drink myself to death there… What? Canceled?! Why? Writer’s Strike? What the hell?!”

Remember when Al Pacino and Clint Eastwood and Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro used to be at the Oscars? Now it’s Miley Cyrus, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Heidi Klum (how DID she get invited?), Jonah Hill, and Seth Rogen.

It’s just not the same. It’s just not as good. And it’s still just as long.

But we watch. Every year we watch. I guess we just can’t resist a good Oscar campaign.


Rob said...

Damn, Ken, you nailed it yet again. Especially Paul Thomas Anderson. I still remember then girlfriend Fiona Apple acting like he was the second coming when he lost for that rancid collection of F-words entitled Magnolia.

My thoughts:

No opening of any sort? Odd. Odder still that I kind of missed it.

Jon Stewart was funny, but not great. I'd go with Stephen Colbert over Jon Stewart. Stephen's quicker with an adlib and I'm guessing he'd be a little less snarky. Snarky's good when you're bursting the bubble of a Sean Penn or Paul Thomas Anderson, not so much when you're doing it to an Oscar ceremony full of people I wouldn't know if they were in the Enquirer and I was standing next to them in the checkout line.

Who was Jennifer Hudson wearing? Michelin Man?

Where were all the "stars"? The Rock, Keri Russell, and Patrick Dempsey? If Teri Hatcher got up to present an award, I decided I was tuning out.

Typically the celebrity death march has me saying, "Oh man, I forgot he died" or, "I thought he died five years ago." You know that they're scraping the bottom of the death barrel when they pay tribute to five or six agents. And oddly, even Heath Ledger didn't get much applause.

The honorary Oscar was nice, but again I was left saying, "who?" Apparently they were again having trouble finding someone because this guy's been out of the business for almost 30 years.

If I had to choose between a 5 hour show without any filler or a 5 hour show with song and dance numbers that star Rob Lowe and Snow White, I'm going with Rob Lowe and Snow White. It's hard t talk about how much you hate the show when you fall asleep half way through.

And fianlly, isn't it time that we got rid of the best sound, best sound editing, best costume design, and other production Oscars. Even these people's mothers don't brag that they won.

"My son won an Oscar."

"Oh really, what did he act in?"

"He did sound editing in Bourne Ultimatum."

"Oh. More tea?"

Bitter Animator said...

I like your analysis of Magnolia, Crutnacker. I was told that film was genius. Genius isn't what I got.

The thing that really bugged me about that film is that it opens by telling you what it is trying to be, in showing you these neat urban legend tales of many strands coming together to make something wonderful. Clever little tales.

But when Magnolia hit the point it was supposed to get clever, it couldn't bring those stories together without a completely random deus ex machina event in the stupid poxy frogs.

So it showed what it wanted to be and then failed miserably to deliver it.

That said, I did think the characters and the performances were excellent but what a let down on the story.

Anonymous said...

Katherine Heigl was perfection on two feet.

Anonymous said...

There might not have been as much star power as in previous years, but you must admit that the people in the Kodak Theatre were an incredibly elite group: they were the only people in America who claim to have actually seen all five Best Picture nominees.

Of course, at least half of them are lying, but still...

ravaj said...

love reading your writing mr. levine. the 'in memoriam' tribute is always cool by me because it highlights some people in the industry of whom i've never heard, but put in a lot of good work.

btw i think the grandson of michael balcon would want you to check out this link:

WizarDru said...

"every year we watch"?

Not this year, we didn't. I can't speak for others, but we were too busy watching "Ratatouille" on DVD to watch the Oscars. Didn't even remember they were on until 9:30...and then we played a video game and went to bed.

The only thing I was interested in was whether "Persepolis" or "Ratatouille" would win best Animated movie.

Mike McCann said...

The Academy needs to find a different host -- someone who has excelled at several of the performing arts and has both a Larger Than Life personality and stature as One of the Greats with the general public.

I nominate... Bette Midler

Anonymous said...

Who were those two guys who argued over which one was Halle Barre and which one was somebody-else-I-can't-even-think-of-now? Brilliant comedy....that *was* supposed to be humor, wasn't it? Oy.

More seriously, leaving Charles Lane out ot the "In Memmoriam" segment was unforgiveable.

Anonymous said...

Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill (cf. Superbad)

J-Money said...

I noticed the omission of Brad Renfro too! Since when is stealing a yacht grounds for not being remembered during the RIP montage?

Heidi Klum was there in support of the 718 "Win Heidi Klum's Dress and Some Diet Coke" commercials which, when added together, were longer than There Will Be Bloooood and had a better ending than "Something Something Country".

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rory.

Yes, the were Superbad.

rob! said...

man, what's with all the hating on Paul Thomas Anderson? whew!

anyway, during the editing award, they did show a picture of the mythical Coen Bros. editor "Roderick Jaymes"--who was that?

Anonymous said...

Wait. The Academy Awards were on last night? You mean we could have TiVo’d those 4 repeat Criminal Intents? Now you tell us. Actually waiting for your overnight review, it felt like Sardi's, and well worth it. I was really in a bind. Wife already went to work, so there was nobody else around to tell me what to think this morning.

Having learned from one of your fairly recent blogs Ken, apart from the shortcomings you mentioned, do you think the broadcast was more tolerable this year because they didn’t have time to overwrite it? Or to come up with funny lines and setups that go nowhere for people who should never have been asked to deliver funny lines and setups to begin with?

Stewart had his own writers and was good. Sounded like Rogen/Hill either created their own well-delivered material – or also had their own writers. So where was Vilanch and Co? Did Mom’s advice, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” finally pay off?

One other production element that might have been added had the writers not settled: Dwayne Johnson demonstrating the step-over toe hold and flying leg scissors on a very pregnant Kate Blanchette?

Will you allow some piling on to your own observations? In no particular order:

I was also struck by the United Nations / English as a second language flavor of the first hour. Next year everybody will be wearing no ribbons in support of offshore outsourcing. And I’m still bummed out that Kazakhstan was shut out yet another year for Best Foreign Film

The other thing I noticed about Nicole Kidman’s necklace collection was that it seemed to be listing to starboard under its own weight. I noticed the red too, but also that this year all the gowns actually seemed like actual clothing. Nothing overly plunging or see-through, no oversized ass-bows. What has come over these people? Even Diablo Cody had what I think they used to call in the 50s a sun dress.

Incidentally, I just went online and discovered there’s a chance I can win the red bra Heidi Klum almost wore at the last Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

As an insider, do you know if the Coen Brothers also catered their own movie? I did think their Penn and Teller impression was spot on, as was Scott Rudin as interpreter.

Scenery chewer though he may be, isn’t there something in the back of your mind about Daniel Day Lewis that makes you feel less queasy when he’s in character than when he’s Daniel Day Lewis?

In the same way that Menken-Schwartz shorted themselves out, is it possible P.T. Anderson also was short changed because the Academy got Something, Something Blood mixed up with his previous outtakes short Blossums & Blood?

Agree about Ratatouille, but weren’t you also routing just a little bit for Surf’s Up, if only to see if the Oscar could have been presented by penguin winners from previous years?

Do you think Forrest Whittaker was a real trouper for not having been creeped out like the rest of us by that ocular MasterCard commercial?

I think everybody else was also moved by Robert Boyle, and memory or prompTer, the acceptance was a really impressive performance from a 98-year old. But were you also worried that he was in danger of turning 99 before it was over? And yet it was extremely gracious to yield his remaining time so they could bring Marketa back out for an encore that wasn’t MOS. (Actually with that body of work, he probably wasn't given enough time.)

And finally, shouldn’t Michael Cera really have received the Oscar for best original score?

Tom Quigley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Quigley said...

Boring, boring, boring! Two hours into it, I turned it off and went to bed, right after the tribute to their fallen comrades aired, thinking that this year's show had a good chance of being included in next year's "In Memoriam" segment...

And I agree with you with you about the lack glamor at the show, Ken. Whether or not it's just a lull in the industry right now, there seems to be a dearth of superstars that can contribute some sparkle and class to the Oscars. I was even hoping that maybe, to add a little of that "Old Hollywood" sparkle and class, Jane Fonda might come out to present the Best Actress award, just so the evening would be livened up by her dropping something like: "...And as we present this award, please keep in mind that there are no losers -- just a lot of [C-word]s who didn't sleep with the right Academy members"...

Jon Stewart was OK, but since most of his comedy comes out of sarcasm and satire (like mine doesn't? -- but then, I'm not hosting the Oscars), and he doesn't seem quite comfortable straying from that style, his monologue and quips during the course of the show didn't seem to evoke all that much response from the audience.

And God bless Robert Boyle at 98 years old... Hopefully, as he was being helped to the rostrum by Nicole Kidman he was able to let go of his cane long enough to get a little grab-ass off her... The guy probably designed Edison's summer home... He deserved it...

This morning when I was going over the list of winners and realized that all four acting awards had gone to foreigners, I started to imagine the what Academy Awards ceremonies will be like 10 years from now... I figure with our economy going the way it is, by the year 2018, the Oscar ballots will look like Chinese menus, all the acceptance speeches will be in Mandarin, and master of ceremonies Jackie Chan will close the broadcast with "Thanks for watching... See you again next year -- from Beijing!"...

Unknown said...

Hm I liked your previous Oscar-reviews better. To be honest I only watched "Bourne Ultimatum" and "Sicko" of all the movies that were nominated, yet I totally loved the show.

By the way: Jane Wyman died. I grew up with "Falcon Crest". And George Clooney didn't win best Actor. AGAIN. Total bummer.

I don't know why you are so engrosses with that Heigl woman. I think she's totally boring.

Unfortunately I think you are right. John Stewart is not the big number that should be hosting the Oscars, but then you have to compare him to what Whoopi did last year and I would take John over HER every time.

If you ask me, Colbert should host. He's funnier at the moment than Stewart.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone picking on Paul Thomas Anderson. Didn't he bring us Boogie Nights? Heather Graham roller skating topless is GENIUS in my book!

Tallulah Morehead said...

I wouldn't worry about eddie Murphy being robbed. He had a big awards weekend. He won THREE Razzies on Friday!

My own litle Oscar show observations are up at my flog, for any who haven't had enough!


Anonymous said...

"you have to compare him to what Whoopi did last year"

You mean staying home? Because Ellen DeGeneris hosted last year. I don't know which of them should be more insulted, Whoopi or Ellen.

Jake Hollywood said...

I was happy "ONCE" won for best song, it sorta makes up for the snubbing at the Golden Globes or the Indie Spirit Awards. What? a film made outside the studio system for less than $166K. How is that film not deserving of being nominated for indie recognition?

This years crop of Oscar films just reinforces my personal belief that it's never about the best films of the year being nominated, it's about who has the best lobbyist.

And it's easy to see that most of these films were really trying to be Oscar films--despite the fact not even the winning film was deserving in any category.

And now we turn to the actual telecast--just imagine how great it would have been if Gil Cates had more time to prepare. Damn those pesky writers.

What a snore fest.

Richard Cooper said...

I finally made a tv antenna out of baling twine and a coat hanger. I thought the fuzzy red-blob actors were better than the fuzzy black-blob actors, but I have to say I preferred the white noise best.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit!! “Juno” as best screenplay over “Michael Clayton?” Really?! The academy voters’ choice clearly shows how we elected a chimp to two terms as our president.

Tony Gilroy’s brilliant script is one of the finest examples of screenwriting in recent years. It’s a complex and layered piece where you discover something new on a second and even third viewing. I was blown away by the crackling dialogue and the complicated and morally ambiguous characters. I urge all aspiring screenwriters to view it multiple times to see the real craft of screenwriting.

I wasn’t a fan of Juno but could see how Diablo Cody’s feel good screenplay could appeal to a mass audience. But as work of art deserving a best screenplay Oscar? Please. Once again the academy voters have bypassed true art and rewarded bland entertainment that verges on mediocrity.

And finally, Ken, I believe the Austrian who won did it for the best foreign language film, “The Counterfiters,” a holocaust film. I’ve heard it’s good and plan to Netflix it, but a holocaust film? Was that really a surprise? I think the larger point is that nobody here on your blog caught it. Shows how relevant the awards are. People have already forgotten.

Flip Wiggins said...

My biggest complaint about the Oscars is about a category no one cares about, short films. Why is it every year that at least 4 out 5 nominees are foreign. And this year, even though "The Tonto Woman" was in English it was a British production (it was also adapted from and Elmore Leonard short story. Hard to screw up the script when you start with Elmore Leonard) .

Aren't they're like 3000 film schools and 10,000 annual film festivals in the United States!!? And yes I know that 99 percent of student films are pretentious wastes of time . Most feature a tortured artist aimlessly walking the streets for 15 minutes and then he/she commits suicide. But it's obvious that the short judges are just completely mesmerized with subtitles. The film must be important because we have to READ IT! Excellent! BRILLIANT!

My suggestion for all you short filmmakers is to record your tortured artist's narration in French.

Anonymous said...

Not only did they skip over Brad Renfro during the memorial tribute they also forgot Roy Scheider!

But heck, he was only one the of stars of Jaws, The French Connection, Marathon Man, All That Jazz and about a dozen other great movies. And he died, like, last week... so he was easy to overlook.

And am I the only one who thinks Rene Zellweger looked a lot better as a slightly plump average girl than as a starved-thin supermodel wannabe? Someone shove a donut in that girl and tell her to stop squinting.

John Hudgens said...

While I personally would have recut the In Memoriam montage to add Roy Scheider had I been running the show, they listed a cut-off date of February 1 at the start - Scheider died a week and a half after that "deadline"...

Tom Quigley said...

.... "My suggestion for all you short filmmakers is to record your tortured artist's narration in French."...

There does seem to be a certain group of intelligentsia that would be enthralled with a pile of dog poop as long as it had a French accent attached to it.

The late Gene Siskel seemed to be a sucker for French titles... I always thought that you could have given "Dude, Where's My Car?" a French moniker, and Siskel would have gone on for hours, waxing effusively about what a magnificent job it does of exploring the human condition on so many different levels...

Anonymous said...

Ken, your blog isn't even two years old, how can this be your tenth annual oscar review?

Anonymous said...

Wait, you have to die on time and under budget to get recognized?

One thing I didn’t hear mentioned was the seeming dearth of African American nominees and winners compared with previous years. Especially those years when there were enough to be remarkable.

Incidentally I don’t believe all those gowns were red. We’re told that in response to two of the nominated pictures, there had been a spontaneous outbreak of full thoracic hemorrhaging.

Anonymous said...


Best review yet! You are the funniest fast writer in the world. Or is it the fastest funny writer in the world? See? That's why it takes me longer.


Anonymous said...

Chewing the scenery is right. It looks like he took acting lessons from Jerry Day Lewis.

By Ken Levine said...

I started writing these reviews for friends on my address list. What you're seeing now used to be read by 300 people at the most.

Victor said...

Strange year when my ONLY rooting interest was in the Best Song category of all things. Fortunately for me, "Once" won, and even better, allowed Marketa to say her Thank You's. I don't know if it he was involved in that decision, but even Jon Stewart seemed to realize that this was the only interesting story this year. "Once", while not the best film, was easily the one I enjoyed more than any other last year.

Anonymous said...

Al Gore and Johnny Depp have won the same number of Academy Awards: none. Davis Guggenheim won the Oscar awarded to AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip for future Oscar pool bettors: if there's anything nominated involving Jews and Nazis, bet it. It's a lock.

Anonymous said...

The Oscar telecast used to be interesting (way back in the '60's) because it was your one chance each year to see your favorite actor behave as they "really" were. You had an opportunity to see them, out of their film persona, accepting an award and speaking from the heart. With the advent of such shows as Entertainment Tonight and all that followed (and of course with all the entertainment blogs), we can witness our "heroes" each evening behaving as they do, so when the Oscars come around, it is like, "Who cares--it's those guys I see each and every night behaving like fools doing it once more but in better clothes". Besides the French girl, did anyone appear all that thrilled to have won? It appears we all all bored.

Unknown said...

I've been to a Nebraska Cornhuskers homecoming (class of '04), and the level of redness is pretty similar. Though, at good ol' NU, the girls all come lumpy and bundled in hoodies.

webbie said...

Poor Brad Renfro...he had the unfortunate luck to die within a week of Heath Ledger. So easily forgotten.

I found the awards last night quite boring. I kept going back and forth to Pride and Prejudice. How can annimated shorts and documentaries compare to Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy?

I watched the Independent Spirit Awards Saturday and found them far more entertaining.

And talk of better hosts leads to me to say...WHERE THE HECK IS BILLY CRYSTAL?!!!!

Anonymous said...

"And talk of better hosts leads to me to say...WHERE THE HECK IS BILLY CRYSTAL?!!!!"

Billy Crystal? Hey--where's Mort Sahl? He hosted it once when I was about 13.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I totally agree with A. Buck Short's comment about Daniel Day-Lewis. He'd say something and then make this snorting noise that I found most disconcerting.

John Pearley Huffman: right on about Renée Zellweger. Jeesh!

And Webbie: I think the Independent Spirit Awards are always more interesting than the Oscars. More humor, and every thing is much, much looser. Even the song from "Once" was better without those awful--and totally unnecessary--strings swelling at the end.

Speaking of which: For me the absolutely best moment was when Marketa Irglova was brought back out to say her thanks. Kudos to whoever performed that miracle. I was sooooo irritated when she didn't even get a chance to say one word, but usually once they're gone, they're gone. And her speech was so classy. (Which brings to mind probably my other favorite Oscar telecast moment--a few years ago when the creator of the song from "Motorcycle Diaries" got up to get his Oscar and didn't say anything, but merely sang a few bars the way it was supposed to be sung and not the way it had been butchered in the "production number." Also very classy, and he, too, made his point.)

Annie said...

Something Something Country, Something Something Blood

ahahah! Exactly.

I miss the days when it aired in April so I'd have a half-assed chance of actually getting to view some of the films before the show.

As long as they continue to air it in February, most movies will continue to be "Something Something Blah Blah" with few exceptions. At least for me.

VP81955 said...

Heidi Klum (how DID she get invited?)

Perhaps someone mixed up "Ella Enchanted" (where she had a supporting role as a giant) with this past year's "Enchanted."

But if we're going to have supermodels at the Oscars, better Heidi and Elle MacPherson (who at least try to act) than Kathy Ireland. Anyone remember "Alien From L.A."?

Ricky said...

I also noticed they missed Brad Renfro.

Didn't they forget Roy Scheider also? I don't remember seeing him in the memorium.

Anonymous said...

Oh noes!!! Non-Americans won major awards?

As for comments that Colbert should host, I don't think the character Stephen Colbert would work well as the host of the Oscars.

Perhaps it is my musical taste, but there isn't one original rock song written for a movie this year? We were treated to three Disney songs, a Gospel song, and something that belongs on Easy Listening FM.

Where was Nicole Kidman when they had Best Pregnant Actress?

blogward said...

Ken, if there was a blog Oscar, it'd be yours.

Anonymous said...

michael zand said: "I wasn’t a fan of Juno but could see how Diablo Cody’s feel good screenplay could appeal to a mass audience. But as work of art deserving a best screenplay Oscar? Please. Once again the academy voters have bypassed true art and rewarded bland entertainment that verges on mediocrity."

See the contradiction there, michael? Bypassing true art is pretty much been the Academy's m.o. for, oh, 80 years. So it's a fallacy to think a great script "deserves" an Oscar. I get amused when the term "Oscar-worthy" is used as a compliment.

That said, they often nominate great work, and I never miss the show. I too liked Gilroy's script for Michael Clayton, but I came away thinking all that complexity and layering (which I agree was great) was ultimately in service of a rather banal, been-there-done-that plot. Maybe I'll "get" it after more viewings.

Oh, and I'm not sure you can make much of a correlation between Academy voters and two terms of Bush. How many voted for him? One percent?

Toby O'B said...

Like Anonymous said, the omission of Charles Lane from the tribute section was unforgiveable, especially as he was also one of the founders of SAG. And it might have been nice to see mention of Alice Ghostley, Joey Bishop, and Ian Richardson. Maybe they were known more for their TV work, but they still made strong showings in the movies.

I bet they would have dropped Dabbs Greer as well if he hadn't played Tom Hanks' character in "the Green Mile".

Anonymous said...

Cameron Diaz's dress wasn't bad enough to distract me from her hair . . .

I'm still bitter that no song from Into the Wild was nominated. That soundtrack album remains in heavy rotation on my iPod.

Anonymous said...

Re Roy Scheider's omission from the obits--I think I saw a note on the opening card of the clip that this was thru Feb 1, 2008.

As to the Brad Renfro and others...

Anonymous said...

"And fianlly, isn't it time that we got rid of the best sound, best sound editing, best costume design, and other production Oscars. Even these people's mothers don't brag that they won.
'My son won an Oscar.'
'Oh really, what did he act in?'
'He did sound editing in Bourne Ultimatum.'
'Oh. More tea?'

I could not agree LESS. Sorry, an Oscar, or an Emmy for that matter, is ALWAYS impressive, and YOU try making a good movie without decent sound, editing, costumes, and other production aspects. Production design can make or break a film. Robert Boyle, honored at the ceremony, was one of the most visually influential film artists ever.

And I would say this even if my brother hadn't been a sound mixer at MGM. (PENNIES FROM HEAVEN among ather credits.)

An old, dear friend of mine, now retired, has an Emmy for editing HAPPY DAYS. I do not and never have liked the show, but my reaction to his winning that Emmy was "WHOOPIE!!!" not "More tea?"

The response in the real world to your "More tea" gag would have been "And how many Oscars does YOUR son have?"

Anonymous said...

If Ken Levine gets to vote why wouldn't Heidi Klum and The Rock get to go?

Anonymous said...

Not mentioning Charles Lane is indeed an egregious omission. Even if he hadn't appeared in a number of nominated and winning films (lots of Capra, 42nd Street, The Music Man), he lived to be over 100 and was the recipient of a number of honors and tributes in the couple of years before his death (in July, which was well before the cut-off). He was on their radar and there's no excuse for the snub.

Stella Louise said...

I'm with Annie--except I don't think movies over 2.5 hours should be eligible for a Best Editing Award. Seriously, my butt starts to ache and I start squirming @ the 2 hour mark...

And I also agree with the crutnacker--although the contributions of below the line people is crucial, the vast majority of television viewers don't really care. Hand those awards out earlier and them invite the winners up on stage at the beginning of the show for a big round of applause. Then maybe you could zip through an Oscar show in under three hours.

Also agree with Michael Zand--I was totally rooting for Tony Gilroy to win Best Original Screenplay. Sad that everyone seems to be buying into the Diablo Cody hype machine. It will be interesting to see how her future writing efforts pan out...

Unknown said...

I'm interested that you obviously didn't like There Will be Blood. I usually hate those sort of films, but other than being about 20 mins too long, I thought it was fantastic, and Daniel Day Lewis' performance was incredible.

Funniest oscar moment for me (in Australia) was Richard Wilkins (local celeb interviewing hack) on the red carpet. He asked Michael Moore who he was wearing and he answered, I got this at the Big and Tall outlet store. Gold.


Anonymous said...

Jessica Alba, Ken??? Oh, come now.....She wasn't even the prettiest person on the STAGE during her intro.

Anonymous said...

Good commentary, but I don't see how you can call Roeper a bootlicker and then say he called Wilkinson's performance over the top to the man's face! (Though I thought Wilkinson was being humorous and wasn't offended.) Roeper also said "Atonement" didn't deserve its nominations, and he said he couldn't stomach "La Vie En Rose." Who else is going to say that on red carpet? Who else is even going to hint at negativity on the red carpet? Roeper also mocked his co-host on more than one occasion for asking stupid questions. It was hardly a "What are you wearing" type of appearance. Plus, if you've ever seen his show or if you've read his Oscar blogs this weekend, he's about as far away from a bootlicker as you can get without being Ken Levine!

Unknown said...


Damn. I just read the article about Whoopy and the screwed-up Football-Player-Interview before posting. Of course I meant to say Ellen. Shame on me. I guess I'm not better than Whoopi :-)

Cap'n Bob said...

I hear Joan Rivers got canned for asking Ed Gein, "Who are you wearing?"

Anonymous said...

I think the thing that stayed with me was the montage of the Best Picture winners that Nicholson introduced. Apparently, after the 1970's, The Academy decided to stop voting for films that might be iconic, or a statement on the times, or genre bending, or hell... even memorable. The last 28 years have been middle of the road choices that no one need bother to rent because, really, who the hell is going to refer to them? Even Showgirls comes up more often in conversation that Braveheart.

Anonymous said...

"It would have been interesting if Roderick Jaynes had won for editing Something Something Country. Roderick Jaynes is just a pseudonym. The Coen Brothers actually edited their own movie."

It would have been great. They could have gone up and accepted on his behalf, saying Jaynes couldn't be here tonight, he's having dinner with Robert Rich and Mahatma Kane Jeeves.

Rob said...

Oy, don't bring back Billy Crystal. His first two were gold. His last 70 were the pits.

As or the best sound mixing, best short film, etc, I'm always interested in who wins because I'm a geek, but your average viewer could care less.

Let's face it, the Oscars are fun, but often meaningless. HOw many actors and directors have never won the award, or wind up getting a gimmee later in their careers. Honestly, was the Departed a better film than Raging Bull, Goodfellas, or heck, even Casino.

TCinLA said...

Paul Thomas Anderson is proof that sometimes you really do need the Director and the Writer to be different people, so at least someone can yell "Noooooooo! Don't dooooooooo that!!!!!!!" and perhaps be heard before it's too late.

"Boogie Nights" was fookin' brilliant, but everythihng since....

Not so much.

But the lad is still young and does show promise.

Diablo Cody is further proof that writers - who are writers because they were never properly socialized in their youth (ask me how I know) - need to have professionals dress them for events like this. Biker chick tattoos and stripper-chic gowns just really don't cut it. I was glad someone taught her how to speak in public before she publicly humiliated all the rest of us.

TCinLA said...

A note to The Crutnacker (#1): as someone who writes action films, it's the editor, the sound editor and the sound mixer who make those movies. If you don't believe me, go watch the Bourne Ultimatum. Without sound and editing, nada.

Your comment about those folks only reveals how little you know about what's really important in some movies.

Alto2 said...

Katherine Heigl was stunning, just stunning. So was Anne Hathaway. Would someone please give Johnny Depp a razor? PLEASE?

The march of the preggos continued: Cate Blanchett looked like a whale in purple satin. Nicole Kidman looked like a Stepford Wife. Jessica Alba was radiant.

Query: why did the woman who won for Best Makeup look like such a hag?

Finally, I thought Jon Stewart was a bore. His timing was off. His jokes weren't funny. However, he redeemed himself by inviting Marketa Inglova back to the stage to speak.

Next year, can we please have a funny M.C.?

Anonymous said...

Here's what's wrong with the Oscars: Everything.

Where was Judd Apatow? He had his hand in two big hits this year (Superbad and Knocked Up) and produced a third that was solid (Dewey Cox). But as far as I can tell, all these more-or-less beloved films were completely overlooked by the academy.

Where was Transformers? A huge hit, but while I won't contend it should have won Best Picture it was the most technically adept piece of big-time flimmaking this year. Fantastic effects, very well edited and the production design was borderline brilliant. Shouldn't one of the Autobots been up there to present an early award to make the kids happy? Shouldn't there have been features about how film tech keeps moving forward using that film as an example? You know, it was a movie people actually seemed to like... and my five year-old son is still raving about it.

There were no films from Steven Spielberg, George Lucas or Martin Scorsese this year. Those guys may be aging, but they're the spine upon which popular moviedom is built. Can't they be forced to make more movies?

Where was Will Smith? He made the mediocre I Am Legend the sixth most popular film of the year... he's a real movie star and he wasn't up on stage? Why?

Where was Nicholas Cage? His second National Treasure film camei in as the 8th most popular of the year... where was he?

Where were the references to 300? Spider-Man 3? Shrek The Third? Pirates of the Caribbean? Die Hard? You know, the hits. Sure, the Academy may detest sequels, but the world wants to see Bruce Willis.

By the way, the detestable Fred Claus outgrossed No Country For Old Men by about $8 million. Where was Vince Vaughn?

Where was Tyler Perry?

Michael Douglas? Robin Willams? Steve Martin? Steve Carell? Tom Cruise? The Simpsons? Matt Damon? Ben Affleck (What, he wouldn't go with his wife?)? Adam Sandler?

The problem with this Oscar show was a dim supply of star wattage. A dim selection of movies people cared about. And a dim, ambling show.

So there.

Tim W. said...

Believe it or not, I actually saw all the Best Picture nominees before they were announced, but I dragged myself to see a couple of them. My favourites, by far, were Michael Clayton and Juno. And while Tony Gilroy's script was fantastic, I do understand some people's complaint that it was a bit of a formulaic ending- villain spills the beans and -surprise- the hero is recording them. Hey, I liked it, but I understand the complaints. Juno's biggest criticism of the script is probably the unrealistic dialogue, as if dialogue in movies is EVER realistic. I would have been happy with either one of them winning.

I thought Stewart did a good job, but I don't remember him after about the halfway mark. Maybe give him something to do, next time.

And when mainstream Hollywood starts making great movies again, then they might actually be nominated. It says something when the best Hollywood movies of the year were Bourne Ultimatum and Superbad. Hell, even the George Clooney starring Michael Clayton was paid for by some land developer from Boston, apparently. A lot has been said of the low box office of the five nominated movies, but what was their average budget? The again, they did spend $150 million on Transformers, and look how good that was.

Tim W. said...

One more thing, why does Bruce Vilanch keep getting work as a writer for the Academy Awards when the writing for the Academy Awards is always SOOOO lame. Is it just me?

Anonymous said...

"Query: why did the woman who won for Best Makeup look like such a hag?"

Because she's an old lady who dressed as though she was 25. When your throat looks like that, don't wear plunging necklines. When you have the back of a skinny crone, don't wear a backless gown.

Anonymous, they're the Oscars, not The People's Choice Awards. They're supposed to be about quality film-making, not box office success.

You asked: "Where was Tyler Perry?Michael Douglas? Robin Willams? Steve Martin? Steve Carell? Tom Cruise? The Simpsons? Matt Damon? Ben Affleck (What, he wouldn't go with his wife?)? Adam Sandler?"

Well, first off, Where Steve Carell was was on stage, presenting one of the earlier awards. Maybe you were in the bathroom. He was very funny. The Simpsons aren't real. And why would anyone give a rat's ass where Adam Sandler was? As long as he was absent, that's all we can ask for of him. Ditto for Tom Cruise. As for where was Robin Williams: one suspects he was somewhere making a movie no one will see next year.

Anonymous said...

There Will Be Blood really should have won best picture.

Katherine Heigl looked 50 years old.

Anonymous said...

d. mcewan,

My argument wasn't that they all should have been nominated, but that they should have been there. Like it or not, Adam Sandler is a movie star. A big one.

As to Steve Carell, I guess I missed him. I do take exceptionally long poops.

Anonymous said...

d. mcewan,

My argument wasn't that they all should have been nominated, but that they should have been there. Like it or not, Adam Sandler is a movie star. A big one.

As to Steve Carell, I guess I missed him. I do take exceptionally long poops.

Buttermilk Sky said...

"This was the United National general assembly with production numbers." Welcome to the twenty-first century, when actors and movies originate all over the world and the Academy has to take notice or become terminally provincial. Actually, I don't think you get to complain about all those accents in the state which twice elected Schwarzenegger.

Why blame Jon Stewart for lackluster movies and presenters? Is it his fault? Could Hope or Carson have done better? The show could use some glamour, though. Next year the men could go back to bow ties, so they don't look like they came straight from a funeral. Keep picking on Stewart and we could end up with Craig Ferguson. Nobody wants that.

At the end of a strike-damaged sweep month, ABC was desperate for a large, young audience. So, Dwayne Johnson, a huge star to millions who have never heard of Paul Newman. Apparently they didn't tune in, but it was worth a try.

I've never seen JAWS 4 but if someone was paying me a truckload of money to spend late winter in Barbados, I don't think I'd say, "I have to go to Los Angeles where there's one chance in five I'll win a gold-plated trophy." Oscar didn't make Michael Caine a star, ALFIE did. Oscar doesn't have that kind of clout. (Without looking, name F. Murray Abraham's latest film.)

Micgar said...

Hello-came here by way of Jon Swift's Best Blogposts of 2008! I like your analysis of this year's Oscars. I didn't watch them, but I agree with you about some things-especially about how some of the newer "stars" cheapens the Oscar name-Miley Cyrus!? The Rock?! And yes everyone made such a big deal about "something something blood" that we almost wasted $ on it! (we hardly get to go the movies) I heard that it was boring as hell! Maybe good acting, but way, way too long!
Anyway, great post-glad Jon pointed me in this direction!