Let's talk about The Host! I like Jon Stewart, a lot! I think he is smart and funny and is a very good host for The Oscars.....I must say I felt the lack of time due to the Writer's Strike, because this being the 80th Oscars, very little was made of that.....And I can truly understand that, and forgive them a lot, for that. Without knowing if there would be a "show" with the 'usual suspects', many of the possible "stars" that might have been included, that is, but who would have refused to cross the picket line if the strike had continued----well, their hands were kind of tied there. So, the many "clips" showing past Oscars became the focus, even after the strike was over. But I thought Jon Stewart did better than 'fine', under these difficult circumstances. The highlight of his tenure? When he brought out, Marketa Irglova after the station break. (half of the writing/composing team that won for Best Original Song)...because she did not get a chance to speak and say her 'thank you's'....That was incredibly moving and very very classy! And as far as I know, a first, in Oscar history.....Oscar winners are played offin this century by the Orchestra after 45 seconds or so, never to be heard of again.....At least in every the Oscar broadcasts I've have ever seen since the Winning Speeches became less important than the flat jokey unfunny banter betwen presenters....So this was an amazingly wonderful thing to have happened....The name of the song is "Falling Slowly" from the film "ONCE".....a film made for under $100,000, I believe...This is unheard of, in the incredibly inflated costs of 2008, when producing a film for $60 million, is considered very difficult to do! (I attempted to raise $250,000. to produce a very wonderful film, back in 1967-68, and that amount of money was considered a rather large sum, back then......!)An aside here: (Crotchety "lives"....!) In my humble opinion, the caliber of the Nominated Songs in this 21st Century has been pretty much abysmal. In fact, the only song I can actually think of right off hand is, "Oh It's Hard Out There For A Pimp", and I am not sure that this song will be considered a 'standard', in anyone's lifetime....But, take any year in the Golden Age Of Movies....and see what songs won Oscars.....To refresh your memory: 1935: The Lullaby Of Broadway; 1936: The Way You Look Tonight; 1938: Thanks For The Memory; 1939: Over The Rainbow; 1940: When You Wish Upon A Star; 1941: The Last Time I Saw Paris; 1942: White Christmas; 1943: You'll Never Know....and let's skip to 1949: Baby, It's Cold Outside; 1950: Mona Lisa; 1956: Que Sara Sara..Whatever Will Be, Will Be; 1961: Moon River; 1965: The Shadow Of Your Smile; 1969: Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head; 1973: The Way We Were....Okay. I'll stop. I hope you got the idea here. ALL these songs are considered 'standards', now. They have stood 'the test of time'. I don't even want to think about what will become of all the songs we heard on Sunday night....(And Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz are really talented good writers.....OY!)
Moving right along: Can we talk about the two Screenplays, please? Adapted and Original? Okay. Let's start with 'Adapted'. The Coen Brothers won for their Screenplay of "No Country For Old Men".....(Incidentally, in case you haven't figured it out yet, the meaning of that title has to do with how dangerous it all is in that metaphoric country...So violent and dangerous that no one there lives long enough to ever grow old.....) This screenplay was adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Frankly, I found this screenplay very flawed. I already mentioned how it all didn't track for me and also how I did not understand the ending, at all---Tommy Lee Jones' last 'monologue? What was that about and how did it relate to this film...AND, what was the point of this film, anyway?? Well I have no idea.
What should have won? In my opinion, Sarah Polley's adapted screenplay based on a short story by Alive Munro called "The Bear Came Over The Mountain" for "Away From Her".This is a beautiful script about something really important: Love. Yes, L-O-V-E, love. That would have been my choice. (I have not seen "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly", but I hear that it is a BEAUTIFUL Screenplay and a very beautiful film.....and inspirational, too...Heavens, How Revolutionary.....two films that give us all some hope, as apposed to something about serial killers and greed and murderers who just get up and walk away into the sunset.....!)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Before many of you go balistic....these are my opinions, and since it is my blog, I can be as crotchety as I want. And everything is subjective...everything! Even reviews are the subjective opinion of the writers.....So...... The Original Screenplay that won the Oscar was by Daiblo Cody, for "Juno". A very nice film, to be sure. A sweet film. Best Original Screenplay? I don't think so. I did love what she said in her speech....She thanked her parents for letting her be exactly who she is....a great great gift, to be sure.
For me, there were two other Screenplays that were in my humble opinion, much more deserving and both for different reasons.....! "Michael Clayton", a wonderful entertaining old-fashioned-in-the-best-sense-of-that expression--film, and a completely enjoyable film it was, too. Tony Gilroy, wrote and directed this fine fine film. (And his father, Frank Gliroy, is a very fine writer too. He wrote the play, "The Subject Was Roses" which received the Tony Award, back in the day, and he also wrote the Screenplay for the film as well, among his many other credits....This is a very talented family---Both of Tony Gilroys brothers are involved in films, too---One is a writer, and the other a fine Editor, having Edited 'Michael Clayton'....)
And the second picture was "The Savages" Written and Directed by Tamara Jenkins, and beautifully, I might add. This film is about family; 'family' being two siblings and a father who is sinking into dementia, and, believe it or not, this film had a lot of humor in it, and, in my opinion, Philip Seymour Hoffman's BEST Performance, ever....yes, yes, for me----even better than "Capote". If either one of these films had won Best Original Screenplay, I would have been very very happy. I was really kind of shocked that "Juno" won. But why I should have been shocked when so many other Awards went a very different way than I wanted---I don't know....One clings to hope wherever one can.....
And then, the last two Big Awards.....Both, taken by "No Country"....The Coen brothers for Direction, and The Best Film Oscar, picked up by one of the Producers, Scott Rudin for the very same film. I just do not understand this film recieving all these Awards....I find it very depressing that a movie that has the following images, and very little else, except more of the same....gets this kind of approval and attention from The Academy members.
One other thing I want to say....the 'Red Carpet' is fun and all that, but for me, this evening is about The Awards, and it always has been....Maybe it's because I started being completely addicted to the movies when The Oscars were broadcast on the radio....before there was television.....yes, there was a time when we did not have television, and there was no 'Red Carpet', nor all the emphasis on "Who are you wearing?" So, I have nothing to say about The Red Carpet, except it has very little to do with The Academy Awards......
I'm done with the Oscars for this year....Well, at least I think I am, anyway....(There may be some after-thoughts....)
It is now official. I have turned into a crotchety old person. I never thought that would happen to me...but, this years Oscars are proof to me that, indeed, I am a certified crotchety old person.
To begin with, there was not one surprising 'win' this year. Not one. As far as I am concerned, it all could have been phoned in, sort of..... Even Las Vegas got it wrong, which is astounding.....! But....let me do this. First I'll tell you who I wanted to win....and then I'll tell you who did win, in case there is anyone out there on this planet who does not know....
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: HAL HOLBROOK This was a true 'supporting actor' performance and nominee. He was superb in "Into The Wild". Aside from the fact that he is in his early 80's.....this was a beautiful, nuanced 'actorly' performance. Hal Holbrook should have won.....but, he didn't. Javier Bardem from "No Country For Old Men" took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in a performance that was truly a 'lead' actor. This was not a supporting performance, at all. He was in the wrong category...But, his chances of winning were so very much better in the 'supporting' category. The Academy ought to look into their ground rules here.....This seems to be happening more and more so that the true 'Supporting' performances do not get the recognition they should......Just my opinion...but then, this whole post is just my opinion. There is no question that Bardem is a wonderful wonderful actor.....but he was in the wrong category....! And it was predictable that he would win. No surprise there, at all......plus, I personally have a lot of problems with this film, "No Country....." It is about a lot of horrible people. It is filled with violence....and it is an irresponsible film in many ways, as well as not really 'tracking', for me. I had BIG problems with my suspension of disbelief....plus....I did not understand one word of the ending....not one! (More about this later....) Are you getting the 'crotchety' part yet??
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: RUBY DEE..... The fabulous, wonderful, sublime, brilliant Ruby Dee.....Not only was she fantastic in "American Gangster" but she has never been bad in anything she has ever done throughout her entire career....Ms. Dee is 83 years old. If she had won, she would have been the oldest person to win an Oscar, ever, plus, she would have been only the fourth black woman to win an Oscar in any category, in 80 years....! I really wanted her to win.... This is the only Oscar that was not completely predictable.....I figured it would be either Tilda Swinton or Cate Blanchett.....and it was the very talented Tilda Swinton. She was terrific and deserving, in "Michael Clayton"....a film that was, sad to say, overlooked completely, other than this Award.....But I wanted Ruby Dee to win for many different reasons, not the least of which is how wonderfully talented she is, and just how many more chances will she have to win an Oscar? On to BEST ACTRESS: JULIE CHRISTIE The picture? "Away From Her". You may recall I wrote a whole post about this film and said then, I thought Julie Christie should win. In all honesty, I did not think she would because of the astounding performance by Marion Cotillard in "La Vie En Rose".....I hoped that Julie Christie would win, and even Las Vegas was betting that she would, but honestly, I did not think that Julie Christie had a chance with that very complex and stunning performance by Ms. Cotillard. She certainly deserved this Award and her excitement at winning it was one of the Highlights in a rather subdued 80th Oscar year....(Where were all the older stars? Where were all the previous winners----still alive??? A missed opportunity to honor those who belong to this rather limited, by-it's-very-nature, and select group....Admittedly this was a tough year to plan, what with the Writer's Strike....but still....this was the 80th year....., I mean....Come on, people....!)
BEST ACTOR: JOHNNY DEPP A magnificent performance in a "gem" of a film, "Sweeney Todd". Johnny Depp, never ceases to surprise....His range seems completely without bounds. He can do anything! And, once again, he proved this in this very special film.....That Daniel Day Lewis was going to win was a 'given'. Lewis has won every other Best Actor Award that is around so far this year, so why would The Oscars be any different?....And so, it seemed that there was 'no contest'...Once again, utterly predictable, with no surprise. Grrrrrrrrr. (Crotchety enough, yet?) Daniel Day Lewis is always wonderful in anything he does...but, I am never surprised by him. Never. I feel I already know the performance I am going to see before I see the film. In this case, I have not seen the film---The only one I didn't see---But I have seen some clips...as I'm sure most of you have, too....Particularly that one where he is screaming about abandoning his boy....! He is a very very talented classy actor!
The only 'win' that I wanted to happen that actually did happen was for Best Original Score....by Dario Marianelli. The movie: "Atonement". This is a beautiful classical score. I was very taken with it when I saw the film and thought at the time, 'I hope this man gets a nomination'. Well he did, and he also got to take home the Oscar....! Hooray!
For me personally, I always love when the Academy gives out a "special" Award. This year was particularly moving because the honoree was so incredibly deserving----his career spanning over sixty years... first, as an Art Director and second as a Production Designer....An Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to 98 year old Robert Boyle. It was really wonderful that the Academy, in it's wisdom, honored such a talented and deserving man. His credits are astounding: A host of Alfred Hitchcock film, (who, by the way never won an Oscar)---to name a few---"Saboteur' (1942), "Shadow Of A Doubt" (1943), "North By Northwest" (1959), "The Birds" (1959) and "Marnie" (1964). And then, there are almost 100 other films to which Bob Boyle made a significant contribution in his capacity as Production Designer....earning him four Oscar Nominations, "North By Northwest" , "Gaily Gaily"(1969), "Fiddler On The Roof" (1971), and "The Shootist" (1976). What made it particularly sweet to me is that Bob Boyle is a neighbor of mine. I think he has lived up here as long as I have...maybe even longer....I have never known him well, but would see him every Christmas at another neighbors Christmas Party, and I would see him at The Academy screenings, when I would go with my friend Hanna....Here is something Bob Boyle said about what working in movies has meant to him: "I found that movies were an extraordinary expression of an artistic endeavor. It was a business that seemed to be more interested in creation---in a world that was very interested in destroying itself..."
I realize that these parts of The Awards Ceremony are probably pretty boring to most of the country who would rather just see 'the Stars' and 'the Clothes'....But, we must never forget that without men like Bob Boyle, there would be no movies....there would be no believability; things we just take for granted while viewing a film. What Bob Boyle did to create the illusion of a place and a time, etc., is one of the important elements that makes films what they are.....A Lovely man. A Smart, Bright, Creative man. And still very much with it at 98 years young---and so incredibly talented....! Congratulations, dear Bob! This couldn't happen to a more serving person.....!
We had another 'power outage' today.....our 6th, in less than five weeks.....I wasn't sure I would be able to see the Oscars....I spent a good part of the day trying to find someone who could tape it for me.....I had no luck. Things looked grim.
And then....just before the actual Awards were about to begin, power returned!
So.....I will be posting my Academy Awards after-the-show-thoughts, but not right now.....
It is Friday night, February 22nd, 2008. On Sunday, February 24th, 2008, the 80th Academy Awards will be held just about one short block from where the very first Academy Awards were held. Those first Awards were held in the rather small ballroom of The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. This years Oscars will be held at The Kodak Theatre and all of us, along with God knows how many other people all over the world, can see them on ABC-TV.... And as some of you may recall, they are just down the hill from me. And truthfully, I cannot see much of anything from my deck, except some of the construction stuff....
This big construction thingy in the little video is there because it somehow is helping to control the "tenting" that is covering the whole Red Carpet deal that runs from
Highland Avenue to Orange Drive, on Hollywood Blvd. How do I know this, you might ask? Well, I was talking to my little pharmacy yesterday...they are right down there on Hollywood and La Brea...(two blocks west of Orange Drive...) and I asked Rick what that construction thingy was for....And he is the one that told me that it, and 4 or 5 other smaller construction thingies, which I cannot see, control that huge tenting that you can see a tiny bit of in the picture above...... Here above is a little closer look at the construction thingy and below is a close-up of a couple of workmen, fooling around with whatever it is they fool around with to make that tenting stuff work.Can you see those three guys just left of center? Here below is another picture of the same fellas, doing their thing....You can actually see them a little better in this second picture above.....And then, the next picture below shows this one man hanging in a very precarious fashion.....I would love to know just what it is that he is doing, wouldn't you?Do you see him there hanging just in front of that square box looking thing....? It's times like this that I wish I had an even better camera then I do.....Do any of you remember the Hitchcock film "Rear Window" with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly? I loved that film...(btw: It was Nominated for 4 Academy Awards in 1954 and won, One.....)....Jimmy Stewart played a photographer who is stuck in his apartment with a broken leg who sees something happening in the Apartment building across the way that is very bad...He believes that he sees a man across the way killing his wife....That 'man' was played by the wonderful Raymond Burr, who was very scary in this film....Ray Burr, the man, was not scary at all....In fact, he was a lovely man who was an Art Collector and ran a Gallery in Beverly Hills for many many years....Before his television career, he played all these scary evil men in most of the films he did....."Rear Window" being one of those films.....The 'camera' is a very important character in "Rear Window". And the camera also played a very important part in another great film, "Blow Up"....the Antonioni film.....I guess I kind of love the idea of being able to take pictures of people who have no idea you are doing that....And I don't mean in compromising positions.... Like for instance, I love taking pictures of the people who walk their dogs up on Runyon Canyon, that hill across the way from me...(The same hill where my beloved trees live....) Again, I wish I had a better camera....But, considering that I don't, these aren't too bad....(Do click on all the pictures to see them bigger.....) It almost looks like these two guys are looking at me taking pictures of them.....But, most people are actually looking at the view, especially if it is a beautiful clear day..... Can you see that both these people have those Blue Tooth phone thingies in their ears? This is the typical look here in Los Angeles.....Even when walking up on that hill, people do not want to be without their Cell Phones....lol.Make this picture bigger and you'll see that the person walking with the lady in red is on her cell phone....Amazing, isn't it?And this lady above over on the right...is on her Cell Phone, too.....Is this how it is everywhere now? What did we all do before Cell Phones? We communed with ourselves and nature.....I find it amazing and quite wonderful that so very many people come up to Runyon Canyon to walk and especially to walk their dogs.....And sometimes to do other things, too.....Some people come up there to take pictures. And who is she taking pictures of??? Why, this lady, below.....!And here below, a closer look at the subject of that photograph.......Okay.....back to the Oscars.....So, today, we are supposed to have some more heavy-duty rain....And hopefully, maybe, the heavens will get all rained out so that Sunday the weather will be utterly glorious! And the beautiful Kodak Theatre, almost empty in this picture below....will be filled with 'the beautiful people', in their gorgeous gowns and bling.....the men in their elegant Tux's and a bit of bling, too....And the audience will hold their breath as the 80th Annual Academy Awards unfolds.....This is an interesting year......