February 29, 2004

Awards Night

I usually skip the Oscars (insert registered trademark symbol here) and read the summary in the morning. Tonight, I'm in Film Critic mode! I'm going to watch the entire thing! I'm even taping it for later analysis, taping it right over the final episode of Quantum Leap I recorded earlier today but didn't have a chance to watch, and over last week's Scrubs with that dishy Brendan Fraser! How's that for dedication?

My predictions? I'm not very good at this. Master and Commander, Monster, and Lost in Translation will take a few awards from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and the Pirates movie. Master and Commander might take Best Costumes. If not for Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, I'd allow myself a little giddy hope Johnny Depp could actually win Best Actor—but I'm glad enough that he was nominated. It seems some of the Academy actually remembered what "the movies" are all about in their quintessential form. I'm way too biased about ROTK to think clearly about its odds of winning the big awards tonight.

Blow-by-blow coverage follows. I can't guarantee the commentary will be insightful, but it will spare you having to watch the actual awards broadcast.

Oscar Night: Clean Sweep (the list of the winners)

I've had no prophetic dreams about the awards. Unless you count dreaming about fighting rapier all night, but that might have had something to do with all the SCA fencing I watched yesterday, and is probably not about Pirates and ROTK sweeping up all the gold at all.

But, you never know....

After the song-and-dance and hoary joke sequence, we leap right into Best Supporting Actor: nominees: Alec Baldwin in The Cooler; Benicio DelToro in 21 Grams; Djimon Hounsou in In America; Tim Robbins, the one bright light in Mystic River; Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai; and not Sean Astin in ROTK (grrf). And the winner is: Tim Robbins. The Outside Food critic is pleased.

Billy Crystal announces, with requisite Hobbit jokes, Sir Ian McKellan presenting clips from Best Picture nominee ROTK. Angelina Jolie slicks out in white silk to present the award for Achievement in Art Direction (set design and decoration): Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Last Samurai, ROTK, Master and Commander, Seabiscuit. And the winner is: Grant Major, Alan Lee, et al for ROTK. Huzzah. The Outside Food critic is fairly happy, even if Alan Lee is not her favourite of the artists who have tackled LOTR's world.

Billy Crystal vamps with Robin Williams, they make little timely jokes about San Francisco and Mel Gibson, and Williams presents Best Animated Feature Film: Brother Bear, Finding Nemo, Triplets of Belleville (how can it not win? well.. maybe to Nemo. maybe.). The winner being: Nemo. Hmm. Okay.

Renee Zellwegger—I'll toss her in as my prediction for Best Supporting Actress—announces achievement in Costume Design: Pearl Earring, Last Samurai (Ngila Dickson, our own heroine of Xena), ROTK (Ngila again, and Richard Taylor), Master and Commander, Seabiscuit: ROTK wins! (Maybe I should put my genuine Ngila-created Xena costume on eBay again now....)

Nick Cage is on next ("another member of the Coppola family," Billy Crystal reminds us), to announce a clip from Master and Commander (which Billy Boyd is in, in case I haven't crowed about that previously). Chris Cooper (Seabiscuit) will be presenting Best Supporting Actress: Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog), Patricia Clarkson (Pieces of April), Marcia Gay Hardin (Mystic River), Holly Hunter (Thirteen), Renee Zellwegger (Cold Mountain). Winner: Renee Zellwegger. The Outside Food Critic gets one right!

I always listen to these acceptance speeches cringing and waiting for the "shut up now" music to start playing. It's a high-anxiety moment.

Now, Tom Hanks, looking very Tom-Hanks-like, to discuss the 80-year show business career of Bob Hope, who hosted the Oscars 18 times. Montage follows. We are reminded this is the 76th annual awards show. I become determined to sweep the Oscars at the 100th annual awards. Writer, director, music, art direction, and, I should think, best digitised performance.

Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, in Starksy & Hutch drag—actually, only Ben is (I suppose it's all right to plug a movie that is completely unlikely to win any Academy noms). They do a little routine, and almost have chemistry. Nominees for Best Live Action Short: The Red Jacket, Most (the Bridge), Squash, A Torsion, Two Soldiers (several of these are foreign films and I would surely mangle the spelling of the titles in the original language); winner: Two Soldiers. Based on a 1942 Faulkner story. Outside Food critic will, of course, have to track it down. The music swells to chase the winners offstage.

The pair continue their shtick for Best Animated Short Film: Bounded(?), Destino, Gone Nutty, Harvie Krumpet, Nibbles (looks kinda fun, in a dangerously mind-twisting surreal way, that one). Harvey Krumpet (by Adam Elliot of Australia) wins. It has a Wallace and Gromit look to it. His uncle Geoffrey Rush apparently did voice work.

I hear ROTK music... yes, it's Liv Tyler, her drastic but trendy black-framed glasses slashing her face in half, to announce Sting performing the theme from Cold Mountain. Robin has IM'd me to tell me she loves this song ("My Ain True Love"). But it didn't make me bawl hysterically the way the ROTK end-title song does, now that I've listened to the words. "Scarlet Tide," the next song, also from Cold Mountain, is performed by Elvis Costello and others. Next up, music from ROTK: the end-title song, "Into the West" by Fran Walsh, Annie Lennox, and Howard Shore, and performed by Annie Lennox. (Does she count as a diva yet?) I had to stop playing my ROTK CD because all of it reminds me of this song, and it makes me weep. It's also right in my vocal range, so I tend to try to sing it at the top of my lungs while it's playing. This is rough on those around me.

(This is not yet the announcement of a winner, though. Commercial break ensues, with a promise of Will Smith afterward.)

Will Smith and Mrs Will (who is not me but perky tiny Jada Pinkett) present the award for Achievement in Visual Effects: ROTK, Master and Commander, Pirates. I wouldn't mind Pirates, although Gollum will be hard to beat. And the winner is: ROTK. Precioussss!

The scientific and technical awards were given out two weeks ago. We get a recap, with really tiny subtitles to indicate who the winners are. Of course, I have a really tiny television screen (I know—scandalous! And me a film critic!).

Jim Carrey, who is now officially weirder than Robin Williams, gives a special tribute and award to Blake Edwards, with clips from The Pink Panther, 10 and so forth. The award is given with much Pink Panther-esque shtick, and Blake Edwards chews up scenery (almost literally).

(This is right about the point—1-1/2 hours in—that I start thinking "Is it over yet?" I don't really have much tolerance for this sort of thing. You should have seen me by the end of the long SCA dinner and awards ceremony I attended yesterday, but that's a different story, and I was probably just sore I didn't get to hit anyone with a rapier, but back to tonight....)

Bill Murray, no longer a SNL cut-up but a respected elder thespian, is the next presenter, and his low-key humour is much funnier than frenetic antics. He announces a clip from Lost in Translation, soon to be reviewed by an Outside Food critic near you. Scarlet Johanssen presents Achievement in Makeup: Richard Taylor and Peter King for ROTK (who is surprised? not me), Master and Commander, Pirates. Pirates this time? Nope—ROTK sweeps up another one. I'd have thought Pirates, what with all the rotting skeletal creatures, and Johnny Depp's eyeliner.

Sandra Bullock and John Travolta, an unconvincing little skit requiring Sandra Bullock not know the The Jazz Singer was the first sound movie: Achievement in Sound Mixing. Last Samurai, ROTK (which I honestly think should win), Master and Commander, Pirates, Seabiscuit. (Really? Seabiscuit?) And the winner is... ROTK. Whooo.

The same pair present Sound Editing: Master, Nemo, Pirates. And the winner is Master and Commander. Well, those cannon were loud, and the Vaughan-Williams/Thomas Tallis surged impressively over the waves.

"It's now official, there is nobody left in New Zealand to thank," says Billy Crystal. Julia Roberts steps out for a special award presentation to the late great Kate: Katharine Hepburn.

(Only an hour left to go, now, if it stays on schedule.)

Oprah Winfrey is next in the cavalcade of stars stars stars, and I'm getting too weary to think of something snide to say about her haircut or about her effusive commentary on Mystic Blather. I'm sorry, Mystic River. Whatever.

Diane Lane and John Cusack (swoon) present Best Documentary Short Subject: Asylum, Chernobyl Heart, Fairy Tales, none of which I have been cultured enough to see. Winner: Chernobyl Heart, directed by MaryAnn DeLeo. Hurry, Ms DeLeo, you'll get musicked off the stage! (Whew, she made it.)

Naomi Watts and Alec Baldwin (eh... no swoon for me) present Best Documentary Feature: Capturing the Friedmans, The Fog of War, My Architect, The Weather Underground, and one film title I missed. The Fog of War wins. As I recall, it had a rather high profile in terms of media attention. The director makes political commentary (on going down the rabbit-hole of war), but keeps it short and sweet and related to his film and the role of a documentary filmmaker to make people examine their world.

Frank Pierson, president of the Academy, discusses the career of Gregory Peck, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Then follows the part where I cried like a baby during the SAG Awards—clips of all those actors and filmmakers and technicians who passed away during the last year.

A little over a half hour left to go.

Sting and Phil Collins thank the musicians and music director, present nominees for Best Original Score: Big Fish, Cold Mountain, Finding Nemo, House of Sand and Fog, ROTK. Pirate had in my opinion brilliantly conceived movie music, hearkening back to the Technicolor Cinemascape epics, but with ROTK Howard Shore finally developed his themes and produced something splendid. And the Academy agrees.

Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan present Achievement in Film Editing: City of God, Cold Mountain, ROTK, Master and Commander, Seabiscuit. The winner: James Selkirk, ROTK. Oh my oh my. I'm worried now—ROTK can't win everything, and the Academy might give it everything but... and deny it Best Picture and, what it truly deserves, Best Director.

Jamie Lee Curtis is the next presenter, walking onstage to Halloween music, to present the nominated song from A Mighty Wind—which was a mighty (though small) movie, directed by her husband Christopher Guest. "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" is performed by the folk duo "Mitch and Mickey" of the movie (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara)—a beautiful little love ballad from a sad, funny, surreal film. Outside Food critic loves pseudo-documentaries. "Belleville Rendezvous" from Triplettes of Belleville is performed by the composer. The singer has astounding hips in red sequins—a woman's hips, goddess hips, not "I lost 40 pounds to be stick thin in spangles in Chicago" hips.

Will Farrell and Jack Black will (finally!) be presenting best song. They reveal the lyrics to the "get the heck off the stage" music. Okay—that's funny. Nominees for Best Original Song: "Belleville Rendez-Vous" (Triplets of Belleville), "Into the West" (ROTK), "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" (A Mighty Wind), "Scarlet Tide" (Cold Mountain), "You Will be My Ain True Love" (Cold Mountain). And the Oscar goes to: ROTK: "Into the West." yegads! Annie Lennox accepts breathlessly, and dedicates her performance to her late mother and a friend who also passed away. Fran Walsh, whose hair appears to have been done by the same clever birds who did Elrond's, squeezes in a brief thank you, too.

I fear Best Picture and Best Director are lost.

Best Actress nominee Charlize Theron presents Best Foreign Language Film. I'd better pay attention to get the titles right. Les Invasions Barbariens (Canada), Evil (Sweden), The Twilight Samurai (Japan), De Tweeling ("Twin Sisters"; the Netherlands), Zelary (Czech Republic). Winner: The Barbarian Invasions. The trailer underwhelmed me, but I'm a bit of a barbarian. "We are so thankful that Lord of the Rings did not qualify in this category," begins the director in her acceptance speech. Merci beaucoup à tous le monde!

Uma Thurman and Jude Law present Achievement in Cinematography. My fave! City of God, Cold Mountain, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Master and Commander, Seabiscuit. I think Robin mentioned rooting for City of God, but Master and Commander wins. Hmm. Well. There was a lot of sea. Russell Boyd, the cinematographer, points out that his accent is actually Australian.

Only a few minutes left to the broadcast (although I doubt it is running on schedule); Best Director should be up next. And I am pleased to inform you that the lost dog in the Master Card commercials is finally home. Priceless.

Sofia and Frances Ford Coppola are the next presenters. Pardon me while I am hideously jealous I couldn't follow my famous filmmaker father into directing. (Okay, so she apparently has talent, too.) Best Adapted Screenplay: American Splendor, City of God, ROTK, Mystic River, Seabiscuit. My money is on American Splendor. I would be wrong. ROTK wins again: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. Philippa Boyens is absolutely glowing, and gorgeous. Fran's hair is still peculiar.

Tobey Maguire presents clips from Seabiscuit. He looks either tired, or caffeinated. It's hard to tell; the wild-eyed stare can be similar. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon present Best Original Screenplay. [Robin notes: when Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins came on, the music was "Blowin' in the Wind." I know Peter, Paul and Mary recorded that, but Pete Seeger may be the writer.] The nominees are: The Barbarian Invasions, Dirty Pretty Things, Finding Nemo, In America, Lost in Translation. Sofia Coppola for Lost, I think. Dang, I'm good at the one-minute-beforehand prediction!

I predict this is what she gets instead of Best Director.

The announcer promises us Best Actress in a Leading Role next. Commercials ensue. The presentation is now ten minutes into overtime.

Tom Cruise will present Best Director. I'm all a-flutter. This is the big one. City of God's Fernando Meirelles, Peter Jackson (ROTK), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation), Peter Weir (Master and Commander), Clint Eastwood (Mystic River).

Peter Jackson. He dedicates his win to his late parents, Bill and Joan.

To deny his achievement, no matter what one thinks of genre or epic films, would have been... unthinkable.

Adrien Brody presents Best Actress in a Leading Role: the young and astonishing Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), Diane Keaton (Something's Gotta Give), Samantha Morton (In America), Charlize Theron (Monster), Naomi Watts (21 Grams). Monster is the Outside Food bet. Adrien Brody takes a swig of breath freshener and announces: The winner is Charlize Theron for Monster. Since everyone in NZ has been thanked, she says, she'll thank everyone in South Africa, where she is from (I didn't know that).

Best Actor in a Leading Role is up after the break, and Best Picture to be presented by Steven Spielberg.

Moving toward a half hour overtime. Now I remember why I don't watch the Academy Awards live.

Last year's Best Actress, Nicole Kidman, presents Best Actor in a Leading Role, with the usual sort of preamble: Johnny Depp (swoon! swoon!) for Pirates of the Caribbean, Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog, Jude Law in Cold Mountain (I should be swooning, but the face fur in that movie puts me off), Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), Sean Penn in Mystic River (I'm afraid histrionics are too easy to act to merit a Best Actor award). And yet, Sean Penn wins. Outside Food critic is disappointed that such an easy and obvious performance should win. But, when a man cries and shouts and emotes over his daughter, I guess it's easy to see the Acting going on. Outside Food critic disapproves, but will get over it.

Sofia Coppola and Sean Penn having their awards bodes very well indeed.

Steven Spielberg takes the stage, so this is it. They even play the Indiana Jones music. ROTK, Master and Commander, Seabiscuit, Mystic River, Lost in Translation.

And the winner is...

It has been a long time since I've been this excited by the Oscars.

The Oscar goes to: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Tying the record for the most wins with Titanic and Ben Hur.

I'll live vicariously through this for a while.

Thank yous to Robin for the blow-by-blow proofreading of the blow-by-blow reportage (until she wore out and had to go to sleep!).

Posted by OutsideFood at February 29, 2004 08:56 PM

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