Monday, March 01, 2004

Oscar reactions from a guy suffering LOTR burnout

Well, I didn't think of doing a diary until about 2/3 the way through, so just let me admit right off the bat that the various times come from this article on Zap2It.

8:00pm (All times Eastern) - I get home from some emergency (no soda, no breakfast food for tomorrow morning, no snacks) grocery shopping, and see that ABC is still doing the "Countdown To Oscar" thing. I put the pizza in the oven and pull out the latest issue of GAMES Magazine for some Paint By Numbers action.

8:27pm - My pizza finished, I turn the TV back on to see Keisha Castle-Hughes meeting Johnny Depp, like she said she'd like to do in the countdown. She looks nervous here, but whenever they cut to her in the broadcast, I think she's pretty cool; she knows she was lucky to be nominated and get flown to LA for a front-row seat at this event and an expensive dress.

8:30pm - Sean Connery makes a leaden introduction that still manages to sound pretty cool because Connery is saying it.

8:45pm - Billy Crystal is not funny. His schtick was funny once, but now it's tired and obnoxious. Why the general population seems to prefer him over the dry wit of Steve Martin when it comes to hosting this show is beyond me. The one funny-ish part of that montage was Michael Moore, and that was more a funny idea than funny in execution.

A few years ago, I was in an online discussion about who would make a good Oscar host, and my suggests were Steve Martin, Emma Thompson, and Kermit The Frog. I was told that having a puppet host would be undignified, but, really, does Kermit seem so bad compared to Crystal's mugging?

8:52pm - Tim Robbins gets a thumbs up; his accent was one I've never heard in 30 years of living in New England, but he got the character right. I was also impressed with his restraint on stage; there are a number of guys where you think letting them behind a microphone is like rolling a hand grenade onto stage, but a call for victims of abuse to talk is a fine use of the podium.

8:57pm - The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (henceforth referred to as ROTK, or, as the evening starts to wear on, "That Damn Midget Movie") wins its first award, for art direction. Checking the IMDB awards pages, it was nominated the previous two years but did not win. I wonder if every other art director in the industry would like three chances to win an award. Though, to be fair, each of the LOTR movies had distinct locations and sets to design. I still feel the award should have gone to Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World.

9:00pm - You know, animated features are never going to get the respect they deserve if the Academy keeps being so cutesy with how the award is presented. Robin Williams is someone I generally like, but I wish there were some indication that people took the category seriously. Still, I think Finding Nemo is a worthy victor; I haven't seen Brother Bear and really liked The Triplets Of Belleville, but Nemo's a great movie.

9:10pm - Renée Zellweger just isn't attractive, and no nice dress is going to change my mind. The second award for ROTK, but these guys have only been nominated once before, although for pretty much the exact same work. I didn't have strong feelings in this category, but still...

9:20pm - Supporting Actress was one of the categories I just couldn't get excited about; of the nominees, I only really liked Patricia Clarkson and Holly Hunter, and even them I wasn't passionate about. Zellweger was one of the more annoying parts of Cold Mountain, though.

9:25pm - Showing a bunch of clips of Bob Hope hosting the Oscars while we're subjected to Billy Crystal is just mean.

9:30pm - Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are a fantastic comedy team. I think they introduced the "Best Costume Design" category a couple years ago, and that was a hoot and a half. They get to have their cake and eat it too about how tacky using the Oscars as a promotional tool is.

They do the awards for the live-action and animated shorts, and the only one I've seen is Blue Sky's Ice Age spinoff. I was hoping for a "Destino" win, just for Roy Disney's speech. No such luck.

9:40pm - At first, I thought Liv Tyler looked incredibly hot with the glasses, but I sort of got turned off by how she was clearly working it. Still, I suppose it's something that glasses can be considered to bestow sex appeal, rather than take it away. She introduces the low-key "Best Original Song" nominees, gushing a little overmuch at the ROTK entry. I must say I was fascinated by that thing Sting was playing. I somehow resist pausing the ReplayTV and calling my brother Dan to ask what the heck it is.

9:55pm - Hmmm... ROTK wins for visual effects, with the same basic team that's won it the past two years. I wonder, internally, did WETA treat this as three seperate jobs or one big one? That said, these movies had a lot of them, so even if they were reusing models (both physical and digital), it's still a heck of a lot of work, and it's not like they had really great competition this year.

10:00pm - I know, the technical awards bore people. But I remember they used to describe what they were won for a little; give us tech geeks some love.

10:05pm - I love Jim Carrey; he always seems to have real affection for his idols, and even if this bit starts out weird, it gets better. And Blake Edwards grabbing his Oscar on the way by and crashing through a wall is hilarious (as was Carrey's aside that they don't let him touch the awards when Edwards asked him to hold the statue).

10:10pm - I love Bill Murray, too. Part of what makes him funny is that you can never tell when he's joking, as he repeats his bit about wanting to replace Sophia Coppola as the director of Lost In Translation enough to make you wonder if there's something to it.

10:15pm - Honest to god, I didn't recognize Scarlett Johansson. She's just got this amazing chameleonic ability. ROTK picks up another award, this one for make-up. Same people who won two years ago. I'm beginning to get annoyed; there were many great movies last year, and ROTK wasn't so heads-and-shoulders above everything else that it deserves to get all the awards, especially when some people are being recognized multiple times for the same work.

10:20pm - Someday someone is going to give the audience a clear explanation, in layman's terms, what the difference between sound editing and sound mixing is. ROTK wins the latter (first time in three nominations, but the movies did have seperate post-productions), Master And Commander wins editing.

10:30pm - Kate Hepburn, RIP. I like her more in these clips than I ever remember liking her in any full-length movie.

10:40pm - Haven't seen any of the documentary shorts, and only one of the features (though three others did play here in Boston). Errol Morris demonstrates why awards shouldn't be used as a soapbox - even though his movie offers a good chance for criticizing the war in Iraq, it feels awkward.

10:50pm - ROTK for best score. OK, I guess, though Big Fish and Cold Mountain were arguably better.

10:55pm - ROTK for best editing. This is the first unadulterated crock-of-shit award for ROTK all evening; reaching the end of this movie was torture, and it's in the same category as City Of God, which was never less than electrifying through its entire runtime. I now begin to dread hearing that damn midget movie's name.

11:05pm - The fun songs are performed, with Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara performing "The Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow" in character, and "Belleville Rendez-Vous" all colorful and splashy. I wonder if the sound mix is right on "Belleville", though, since all the percussion seems to be missing.

11:15pm - "Into The West" from ROTK wins, and I'm a wee bit angry. It's not a bad song, but it's the weakest of the five, and, damn it, don't parents teach their kids to share in New Zealand?

11:20pm - Gee, it's a good thing Peter Jackson didn't film ROTK in Elvish, isn't it? The Barbarian Invasions has actually been playing here recently, but none of the others have. I think the Academy should get the Oscar qualification rules for these movies in line with the others; the system excluded City of God last year and few can feel one way or another about the category aside from the executives who get to slap "Academy Award Winner" on the movie when they eventually do release it.

11:25pm - Master And Commander for best cinematography. Even if a lot of it was actually special effects, compositing the boat into the scene, they did actually shoot all the backgrounds; it's not CG water.

11:30pm - Seeing Francis Ford Coppola so obviously proud of his daughter just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that not even another ROTK award can take away (besides, I haven't seen half its competiton for best adapted screenplay).

11:35pm - And Sophia gets the best original screenplay. I might have gone with In America, but I love them both.

11:40pm - Peter Jackson gets best director. It's defensible, but I would have liked to see City Of God come away with something.

11:50pm - Adrian Brody is a good sport awarding the trophy for best actress, making a couple jokes at his own expense about his enthusiasm receiving the award last year. Charlize Thereon is a good sport for playing along.

I like her teary acceptance speech. I read a lot into these things, probably too much, but I really don't think she expected it, especially being up against Diane Keaton, Samantha Morton, and Naomi Watts. She's heard all the good things people said about her in Monster, but after doing so much mainstream, "pop" stuff, she probably only expected to open eyes to her being capable of more, not actually get the big award.

12:00am - Sean Penn for Mystic River. He was good, but Bill Murray was sublime. And as cool as it is seeing Penn get all weepy and touched, the shot of Murray was kind of sad. My brother Matt thought he looked angry, but I think it was more that he knows he won't get another part as perfect for him and as meaty as he had in Lost In Translation for some time, if ever. This was his big chance to be recognized as more than a goofball and it passed him by.

12:10am - It's somewhat fitting that Steven Spielberg, perhaps America's greatest sci-fi/fantasy filmmaker, gives ROTK its final award for Best Picture. I've already read a lot of how this legitimizes the fantasy genre, and I guess that's true. Still, as a fan of fantastic film, I can't help but think that it should have been Star Wars that did that.

Ah, well. It's a good movie, not the year's best, but the Kiwis deserve some shelf decoration for the massive endeavor. Now, Mr. Jackson, get to work on King Kong and maybe even something that's wholly your own.

1 comment:

dick said...

Jason's comments were far more interesting to me than the actual Oscar broadast. I'd like to get him as a regular.