Archive for March 7th, 2010

Liveblogging The 2010 Oscars

Posted on March 7th, 2010 in Culture | No Comments »

10:26:26 PM: Twitter, Facebook and my blog will all be mashed-up in Oscarland from midnight GMT onward… Join me. #oscars

11:26:11 PM: Freshly-popped popcorn ready, red carpet coverage about to begin. Here we go. #Oscars

11:43:52 PM: “Oh my god, Claudia, it’s The Oscars!” (It’s the sheer professionalism of the Sky One presenters I respect) #oscars

11:59:11 PM: I gather Nick Park’s homemade bowtie is up for Best Adapted Neckwear. #oscars

12:26:49 AM: This Sky One bimbette needs to stop saying “obviously” in every sentence. She really needs to stop. #oscars

12:38:39 AM: Is George Clooney drunk already? Or tired? Or just tired of talking to Sky One bimbettes? #Oscars

1:22:48 AM: You’re not a presenter. You’re a stalker with a microphone. #Oscars

1:34:12 AM: What!? #Oscars

1:34:43 AM: Here’s our big opening. First all the acting nominees stand around awkwardly for 120 seconds…

1:35:17 AM: Then Doogie Houser sings inaudibly while 70s TV dancers spiral around him. It’ll be a smash! #Oscars

1:39:26 AM: Either there’s something up with Alec Baldwin’s mic or he can clap *really* loud. #Oscars

1:45:35 AM: Creditable gags rather than a barnstorming performance from Baldwin and Martin. What was up with George Clooney? #Oscars

1:45:58 AM: Surely Christoph Waltz? #Oscars

1:49:06 AM: Exactly so! #Oscars

1:50:54 AM: Eloquent, concise and generous speech from Waltz. #Oscars

1:51:41 AM: First of ten – fuck me, ten! – Best Picture nominees. The Blind Side, which I haven’t seen yet. Is it any good? #Oscars

1:59:17 AM: Wonderful Best Animated Feature nominees. Funniest – Up. Second funniest – The Princess and the Frog. Good predictor? #Oscars

1:59:43 AM: Up wins. Beautiful movie and well deserved. #Oscars

2:01:24 AM: “Our next two presenters are two young actresses who have no idea who we are!” #Oscars

2:03:13 AM: No production numbers for the Best Song nominees?? Shame. That always used to break up the show a bit. #Oscars.

2:07:42 AM: Crazy Heart wins and the girls here are swooning over Colin Farrell. #Oscars

2:13:24 AM: What does a writer look for in an actor? Memorizing. #Oscars.

2:15:10 AM: Hurt Locker’s only chance for a win without Avatar breathing down its neck. #Oscars

2:16:55 AM: Hurt Locker does it. This could be its only gong all night if Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t make it. Well deserved though. #Oscars.

2:18:26 AM: What the rubbery fuck has happened to Molly Ringwold? #Oscars

2:18:56 AM: “Hey Ferris, is it your day off?” Apparently Matthew Broderick never gets tired of that one. #Oscars

2:23:42 AM: The Brat Pack reassembled – now the Middle Aged Spread Pack. #Oscars

2:25:15 AM: If you think Up has a chance in hell of winning Best Picture, put your hands up in the air (which only has a slightly better chance) #Oscars

2:29:41 AM: Short films. Ah, who cares. #Oscars

2:32:50 AM: Nick Park fumbles it! Disaster! #Oscars

2:34:42 AM: At least we’re sprinting through the shorts in one compact package. Good-o. #Oscars

2:39:00 AM: Ben Stiller dressed up as a Na’vi FTW! #Oscars

2:42:54 AM: Best Trek wins Star Make Up. Getting tired now. #Oscars.

2:51:07 AM: Precious nicks its first statuette of the night. #Oscars

2:55:31 AM: Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall pick up their honorary awards. I’d love to see a film directed by him and starring her. #Oscars

2:56:56 AM: Everyone says its Mo’Nique for Best Supporting Actress. Even Penelope Cruz. #Oscars

3:00:08 AM: For once, everyone is right! #Oscars

3:07:09 AM: If Avatar doesn’t bag this, then we could be looking at a major upset. #Oscars

3:10:29 AM: Sarah Jessica Parker – a whore and a lightweight apparently! #Oscars

3:11:38 AM: Avatar not up for this one, so I don’t care. (I have a fiver on Avatar winning all nine Oscars it’s up for.) #Oscars

3:12:18 AM: “I already have two of these…” Just one step down from “Thank you for awarding me my first Oscar.” #Oscars

3:18:31 AM: Prefilmed Baldwin/Martin sketch. After the Morcambe and Wise-esque dance routine at the beginning, now they’re sharing a bed. #Oscars

3:21:53 AM: The Academy’s tribute to… movies in which scantily-clad women scream a lot. #Oscars

3:26:10 AM: That kills my 9/9 Avatar bet. Bollocks. Could be The Hurt Locker’s night though, which would be nice. #Oscar.

3:28:21 AM: And that kills my insurance bet on 8/9 for Avatar. Happy for the Hurt Locker, and I suppose for Paddy Power. #Oscars

3:35:45 AM: “Please welcome my dear friend – and by that I mean I’ve never met her – Sandra Bullock!” #Oscars

3:37:12 AM: Avatar finally gets its act together, but too late for it to even be exciting for me. #Oscars

3:38:56 AM: First the tribute to horror, now the role-call of the dead. Morbid much? #Oscars

3:39:24 AM: Sorry, that should have been “maudlin” – James Taylor is on stage. #Oscars

3:47:24 AM: Here’s our missing production number. Achievement in Irrelevant Dancing. #Oscars

3:48:44 AM: Is this the Los Angeles chapter of Diversity? #Oscars #Britainsgottalent

3:53:47 AM: Really, really tired now. Need some balloons to help me stay upright…. #Oscars

4:03:56 AM: Er, Food Inc probably? Don’t really care. Tired now. #oscars

4:11:00 AM: Hoo-ray for Hollywood! Boo for time differences! #Oscars

4:26:41 AM: The dude abides… #oscars

4:33:45 AM: Jeff Bridges, unless i’m having very predictable dreams. #oscars

4:46:13 AM: Somebody get Oprah a trowel so she can lay it on even thicker. #Oscars

4:47:58 AM: Why can we never hear Voice Over Announcer Woman properly? #Oscars

4:49:30 AM: Has Sandra Bullock come dressed as Anne Hathaway? #Oscars

4:56:40 AM: Bigelow’s done it! Yay! (zzz) #Oscars

4:59:27 AM: James Cameron = King of Nothing! #Oscars

5:01:20 AM: That’s it, folks. Analysis in the next few days. Night all.

Best Picture Nominees

Posted on March 7th, 2010 in Culture | 2 Comments »

This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences attempted to up the excitement factor by giving us not just five nominees for Best Picture, but ten – divided neatly into five which are in with a shot (with two clear favourites) and five also-rans. Yay Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!

I’ve (almost) succeeded in my mission to watch all ten before the ceremony, and here are my thumbnail reviews. For my predictions as to the Oscar winners, see my earlier post here.

AVATAR (wd. James Cameron; starring Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana)
Synopsis: Paraplegic marine Jake Sully is dropped on alien world Pandora and given an “avatar” to control so he can better mingle with the 10 foot tall, bright blue natives. If you know the story of Pocahontas, you pretty much know what comes next.
Review: James Cameron creates a jaw-droppingly, eye-poppingly convincing world, populated with not just the slender yet muscular Na’vi, but a whole da-glo managerie of hexapod creatures, sentient trees and much else besides. The story is pretty much by-the-numbers, with a somewhat static middle third, but everything does pay off and there are even some grace notes in the script, and some bright performances – hello Giovanni Ribisi!
Fun facts: James Cameron’s first film since 1997’s Titanic, but he’s been talking about it pretty much since then.
Oscars: Nominated for nine and could win them all. Big favourite for Best Picture.

THE BLIND SIDE (w. Michael Lewis, John Lee Hancock; d. Hancock; starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Kathy Bates)
Synopsis: To follow
Review: To follow
Fun facts: To follow
Oscars: Also-ran, except for Sandra Bullock

DISTRICT 9 (w. Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell; d. Blomkamp; starring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James)
Synopsis: In Jo’burg, a civil servant responsible for rounding up alien “prawns” eventually starts to see things from their point of view when he becomes accidentally infected.
Review: Probably my favourite film of the year – witty, fast-moving, exciting, satirical and intelligent. It gleefully steals from the very best to make something which feels entirely fresh, and the special effects are so good you forget they’re there.
Fun facts: First-time actor Copley improvised virtually all of his dialogue.
Oscars: Nominated for three more besides Best Picture, which it won’t win in a thousand years. In with a shot for Adapted Screenplay. Would have won for Effects in any field which didn’t include Avatar.

AN EDUCATION (w. Nick Hornby, book Lynn Barber; d. Lone Scherfig; starring Carey Mulligan, Emma Thompson, Peter Sarsgaard)
Synopsis: In 1961, 16 year old schoolgirl Jenny discovers that working hard to get into Oxford seems rather less glamorous next to her exciting new older boyfriend who whisks her off to Paris and pinches artworks from old ladies.
Review: Perfectly amusing, with a winning turn from Carey Mulligan, but entirely inessential and unextraordinary. A Channel 4 film which has been inexplicably nominated for an Oscar. Bizarre.
Fun facts: Screenplay by novellist Nick Hornby, based on Lynn Barner’s memoire.
Oscars: Also-ran. The kind of dull-but-worthy British film that won for Goldcrest in the 80s, but those days are over.

THE HURT LOCKER (w. Mark Boal; d. Kathryn Bigelow; starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty)
Synopsis: Under the command of a new and apparently reckless team leader, a three man bomb disposal squad goes about its work in Iraq.
Review: For the first three quarters, Bigelow and Boal trust that their characters and the episodes of their working lives will be strong enough, and they’re right. When a more melodramatic plot arrives, late in the day, it seems irrelevant and upsets the tone so masterfully maintained up till then.
Fun facts: Bigelow is James Cameron’s ex-wife, so it’s not just that Bigelow is only the fourth woman ever nominated for Best Director – this time it’s personal.
Oscars: Nine nominations, same as Avatar, and competing head-to-head in every category.

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (wd. Quentin Tarantino; starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender)
Synopsis: Demented fairytale, set in something which looks an awful lot like World War II, but not quite enough like it to be mistaken for it.
Review: Far more about cinema than about warfare, Tarantino’s latest is also his most juvenile, but at the same time probably his most fun, mixing agonising suspense with bravura imagery and a shockingly devil-may-care attitude to history. Provided you aren’t looking for maturity, you are unlikely to leave the cinema disappointed, but let’s face it – Up has a better chance of winning Best Picture.
Fun facts: The soundtrack is compiled from other war movies, for which Jonathan Ross castigated Tarantino on his chat-show. Tarantino was forced to admit that because he doesn’t compose music himself he prefers to choose music from stock because otherwise he feels he’s handing over too much control to another artist.
Oscars: Will win exactly one, for Christoph Waltz.

PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL “PUSH” BY SAPPHIRE (w. Geoffrey Fletch, novel Sapphire; d. Lee Daniels; starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey)
Synopsis: Barely-literate, abused, single teenage mother Clarice Precious Jones struggles to rebuild her life with the aid of a sympathetic teacher.
Review: Deeply moving drama which transcends its movie-of-the-week logline due not least in part to a series of bravura directoral flourishes.
Fun facts: Mariah Carey was a last-minute replacement for Helen Mirren.
Oscars: Up for a staggering six Oscars, but only likely to win for one of the lead actresses or just possibly its screenplay. A long-shot for Best Picture, but not an also-ran.

A SERIOUS MAN (wd. Joel and Ethan Coen; starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Wagner Lennick)
Synopsis: In 1967, physics professor Larry Gopnik becomes a latter-day Job weeks before the his son’s barmitzvah as he faces the collapse of his marriage, questions over his professional ethics and the bewildering advice of a variety of Rabbis, old and young.
Review: The Coen Brothers on doggedly quirky form, for much of its running time this is original, funny and moving stuff, but the what-the-hell ending is a huge disappointment, even if it is somewhat in keeping with the overall message.
Fun facts: Lead actor’s first film after a substantial stage career.
Oscars: The slimmest of chances for Best Picture.

UP (w. Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Thomas McCarthy; d. Docter, Peterson; voices: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer)
Synopsis: Elderly Carl Fredricksen floats away from a grim retirement home in search of the adventures he and his late wife dreamed about.
Review: Beautiful stuff, as ever from Pixar, with humour, visual appeal, story and drama expertly balanced. The 3D is not instrusive and the characters beautifully rendered. Possibly not their very best – the narrative splits into three chunks fairly gracelessly (on the ground, travelling, fighting) – but the wordless opening sequence might be one of the best pieces of animation ever.
Fun facts: John Ratzenberger, Pixar’s lucky mascot, can be heard as a construction worker.
Oscars: Will scoop Best Animated, but that’s yer lot. An also-ran in the Best Picture stakes.

UP IN THE AIR (w. Sheldon Turner, Jason Reitman, book Walter Kirn; d. Reitman; starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick)
Synopsis: Ryan Bingham is happiest when flying across the United States and very good at his job – firing people who work for other companies. His life is upset by the presence of two women, one who admires his lifestyle and one who threatens to destroy it.
Review: A very near miss, full of smart touches and another breezy-yet-angsty performance from Clooney. It loses energy towards the end and the plot doesn’t quite serve the characters as strongly as it could.
Fun facts: Most of the firees were genuinely made redundant and asked to re-enact the moment on camera.
Oscars: Has a chance of picking up an acting or screenwriting award. Hardly an also-ran for Best Picture, but certainly not a favourite.