Tag Archives: Oscar Awards

Fair warning

Weeks before the 2011 Academy Awards hit the air, the producers warned everyone in pre-show interviews that their young hosts weren’t comedians, so we shouldn’t expect jokes.

Anne and James weren’t bringing the funny.

And they were right.  They didn’t.

Anne did bring an overly energetic brightness to the stage that became grating.  Her big number went well, but I’m sure Hugh Jackman is even happier today that he dodged that bullet.

James, on the other hand, was quiet and appeared stoned.  He even had trouble reading the teleprompter.  (Hey, it’s a skill not all people can master.)  I think he regretted taking job #1,714 as soon as he stepped on stage, and his partnership with perky Anne even more so.

Oil and water, those two.

It made me even more grateful for the moments to come in the Oscar acceptance speeches.

Moments of wonderful self-deprecation from Best Actor winner Colin Firth:
“I have a feeling my career’s just peaked.”

…and NYU student Luke Matheny, upon winning the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film God of Love:
“Oh, I should have got a haircut!”

Entertaining shout-outs to family members, including Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network:

“Roxy Sorkin, your father just won the Academy Award, I’m going to insist on some respect from your guinea pig.”

…and Tom Hooper, giving credit to his mother for finding The King’s Speech during his Best Director Oscar acceptance:

“The moral of the story is, listen to your mother.”

And perhaps most inspiring of all — especially for Sticky Eggs like me — were David Seidler’s words upon receiving his Best Screenplay Oscar for “Speech.”

“My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer.  I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award.  I hope that record is broken quickly and often.”

Now, that’s what we needed to hear.

Oscar unworthy

I’m headed to Los Angeles this weekend — for work,  of course.  But my hotel is located right next door to the Grammy Awards venue.

I know, right?

Another red carpet, another round of celebrity self-congratulations.  And as the Academy Awards draw ever nearer, I have to say — this year’s awards season seems even more shallow than usual.  The nominees, the producers, the directors, and even the Oscar voters, I dare say, have abandoned even the appearance of giving out the statutes based on quality.

You just gotta be popular.

Producers always run elaborate pre-Oscar marketing campaigns for movies and their stars, but this year, even the actors are purchasing full-page ads in industry publications ‘for your consideration.’

Case in point: Melissa Leo, Best Supporting Actress nominee for her gritty performance in  “The Fighter,” (which has already garnered her three other trophies).

Chillax, Melissa.  You’ve been considered.  And shee-shee pics like these may swing opinion in the other direction.

The popularity of  the leading actors in The King’s Speech is also one of the main reasons it has of late pulled ahead of The Social Network in the awards race — not because Speech is a better film.  (It’s not.)  This became especially clear during the SAG Awards telecast.

When the casts of both movies appeared on stage during the show, the good feelings that washed over the cast of The King’s Speech were palpable…. whereas the young entourage from The Social Network was prickly, awkward and off-putting.

Heck, I wanted TSN to win, and I didn’t like their attitude that night much either.  But I would hope — if I had the opportunity to vote for any of the awards — that I could separate my personal feelings about any of the nominees from their work in the films.

If the Oscars are going to mean anything now and in the future, the voting community has to man up, act like adults and vote based on the quality of the filmmaking…not just ‘who’s their buddy.’

But then again, maybe none of them are that good of actors.

True friendship

Back before Sandra Bullock was “Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock,” she took some time off from doing romantic comedies because she wasn’t happy with the quality of her work.

She returned to the genre in 2002 to do a film with Hugh Grant called “Two Week’s Notice.”  While the film wasn’t a huge success, their pairing was, and the two became great friends off-screen.

Hugh proved that fact this very week.

The tabloids have been filled with news of the affair of Bullock’s husband, Jesse James, and her move out of the family home.  Mere weeks after she dedicated her Oscar — and every other acting award — to James, his admitted infidelity has taken the shine off of her awards season.

Helping to divert attention from his good friend’s troubles, Grant stepped in Wednesday night and got into a tussle at a society party in London with his former PR manager Matthew Freud.

Grant said he didn’t want to speak to Freud — who handled the publicity around Grant’s run-in with a prostitute way back in 1995 — and called him a derogatory name.  Freud responded by smearing chocolate cake on Grant’s white shirt.  Grant threw a punch and a glass of white wine.  Freud volleyed by emailing pictures of the besmeared Grant to friends.

Affair?  What affair?

I hope Sandra appreciates Hugh’s gesture.  It won’t stop the media frenzy, but it created a nice diversion.

No one can resist a food fight.

Oscars fixed?

No, they weren’t fixed.  They were quite broken.

That’s why the ceremony lasted until past midnight ET, had not even one surprise winner and was a big ol’ fat yawn.

The only surprise of the evening was the appearance of Neil Patrick Harris in the opening number.  Martin Short was scheduled to do the honors, but had to pull out just days before the show due to ‘personal reasons.’  So, Harris was the unannounced fill-in.  My hopes soared.

And then were slowly suffocated by the standard awards show jokes and parade of predicted winners.


So I propose the following fixes for the next decade of Academy Award broadcasts.

  1. Go back to five Best Picture nominees.  You upped it to 10, and there were still less than five legitimate contenders for the award.  You simply made the show longer, not more competitive.
  2. Hire new writers for the broadcast. We have all these great sitcoms doing really creative television.  Can’t we find a new way to be funny in a televised awards show other than to put the nominees in the audience on the spot?  I hate that.  They hate that.  And nine times out of 10, it’s just not that funny.
  3. Skip the long tributes to the nominated actors/actresses. Some of them were quite good.  Most of them sucked.  Show a longer clip of the nominated role instead.  You might actually get people to go to the movies.
  4. Hire permanent hosts. Have Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman alternate years.  Guaranteed charm, talent, good looks and triple threats.  I’m happy.
  5. Guarantee interesting shows. If all predicted winners win after the votes have been tabulated, randomize a minimum of five categories for the shock value alone.  The audience will stay tuned if they know that might be coming.

Now that sounds like an award winner.

My reward

Some weeks are all about work.

This has been one of ’em.

I’ve sat at my computer all day, every day, and most of the evenings, too, just trying to get it all done.

But today is my reward.  Today is all about play.

I have the UK-Florida basketball game at noon, which is being broadcast on national TV (thank you, CBS).  I have tickets to see “A Little Night Music” at the matinee at 3pm.  And then tonight, there’s the Oscar red carpet and awards show telecast, which will start even before I get home from the theater.

Entertainment extravaganza to the max!

I feel like I live my life to extremes — either all work or all play.  This week is a perfect example.  But since today is the play day…well, I’m okay with it.

(I’ll go for balance next week.)

The hardest job

With coverage of the upcoming  Oscars seemingly everywhere, it may appear that winning awards is the most difficult job in show biz.

But for anyone who has tried to work on stage, TV or movies, you know that auditioning is the real work.  It is the only thing the actor can control, and they must be performance-level, regardless of the room, audience or questions still rolling around in their head.   Of course, it is at the same time totally outside of their control because of all the unknown factors that go into the final casting decision.

I was reminded of this yesterday while watching the documentary “Every Little Step” on Starz OnDemand.  It tells the story of the casting of the 2006 revival of “A Chorus Line” on Broadway, while giving insights into the original cast, workshop and production some 30 years earlier.

You sweat right along side the dancers as they go through the initial cattle call and months of callbacks after callbacks.  Most nervewrecking is the final callback — where the roles are down to two people — and seeing that final cut made.

Maybe they should give an award for Best Audition.  Goodness knows a lot of good actors — and performances — never get past that claustrophic little room.

Wouldn’t it be nice…

“I still think awards are stupid…but they would be less stupid if they went to the right people.”
— Ron Swanson, Parks & Recreation

I have a dream….

That the 2010 Oscars aren’t a  boring repeat of the Golden Globes and SAG Awards and every other awards show that has gone before them…

That I will be rewarded for the hours I devote to the red carpet coverage and show telecast with actual entertainment.

That the actors and films I like get the statuettes they deserve.

So this year, instead of making Oscar predictions — which at this point is pretty darn easy — I am listing my Oscar favorites….because if someone else wins, it won’t change my mind.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Anna deserves it.  She went toe-to-toe with George Clooney and made the movie.  I know Monique is going to win, but we’re talking who I like, remember?

SUPPORTING ACTOR — Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
I boycotted this movie (long story), but I have loved his interviews.  Bet his acceptance speech is killer.

ACTRESS — Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
I love Sandra, but the “The Blind Side” being nominated for best picture Oscar was not legit.  “An Education” was…and so was Mulligan.

ACTOR — George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Jeff Bridges is gonna win, but Clooney’s performance was original and emotional. “Crazy Heart” is just “The Wrestler” with a guitar.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM — “The Secret of the Kells”
I hadn’t even heard of this film until a week or so ago, but I’m intrigued.

I correctly picked this film to win the Golden Globe based on a trailer, and I’m sticking with it.

ORIGINAL SCORE — “The Hurt Locker”
It takes a special score to accompany bombs bursting in air.

ORIGINAL SONG — Take It All, “Nine”
I loved all the music in this movie.  Too bad the movie didn’t live up to it.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY — Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”
Relevant to today. Emotional. Authentic. Didn’t steal from “Dances with Wolves.”  Give him the Oscar!

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY — Quentin Tarentino, “Inglourious Basterd”
If we can convince him he’s a good writer, maybe he’ll stop directing such gore fests.

DIRECTOR — Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”
I think a director who can write and direct a story in an original way that speaks to everyone — and who doesn’t need to use CGI or bombs or scalping to keep your attention — is Oscar-worthy.

PICTURE — “Up in the Air”
I’ve seen it twice.  Would see it again.  Can’t recommend it enough.

Let’s roll

Matt Damon films are usually a good bet.

Just look at his filmography on imdb.com.

His breakout role in “Good Will Hunting” (Oscar, Best Original Screenplay)
“The Talented Mr. Ripley”
The “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise
“The Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum”
“Stuck on You” — a personal favorite
“The Good Shepherd”
“The Departed” (Oscar, Best Picture, Best Director)
“The Informant!”

Yeah, Matt brings it.

But based on the trailer for his latest movie “The Green Zone,” I’m afraid the screenwriter didn’t.

The movie is very Bourne-like, which plays to Matt’s strengths. It’s got Greg Kinnear in it, too, which makes me happy. But the trailer is a literal cliche fest.

How are we supposed to get excited about a film that promotes itself with lines like…

“Let’s roll!”

“I came here to save lives!”

“Put your game face on!”

“You’re my prisoner. I’m taking you in!”

“People are dying out here. I want to know why!”

“You have no idea who you’re dealing with!”

Brian Helgeland wrote “The Green Zone.” He won an Oscar for the “LA Confidential” screenplay and also wrote “A Knight’s Tale” (one of my personal favorites).

Maybe this just wasn’t one of Helgeland’s best efforts.

Or the trailer editor wasn’t in the zone…

Grand gesture

The 82nd Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday, and for the first time in the show’s history, the “Best Motion Picture” category was expanded to 10.

And the nominees are:

“The Blind Side”
“District 9”
“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“A Serious Man”
“Up in the Air”

By increasing the field to 10, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences theorized that they would be able to recognize ‘more truly deserving films.’

Who are they kidding?

The directors, producers and actors recognized will be able to add “Oscar-nominated” to their resumes and demand higher paychecks for their next projects.  And the ratings for the awards broadcast itself may go up a bit, with a few more box office favorites in the mix.

But one of the serious contenders for “Best Motion Picture” will still win the Oscar, and this year, there are still only five….so they could have avoided all the drama.

Just look at the Top Ten:

  • “The Blind Side” was slammed by the critics, but beloved at the box office.  Sandra Bullock’s nomination for “Best Actress” was recognition enough.
  • “District 9” seems like a bit of a stretch.  Indie sci-fi overachiever, maybe…but Oscar nominee?
  • “Up,” only the second animated picture to be nominated in the category, is not a serious contender.  (Count yourself lucky.  The producer’s speeches to date have been real snoozes.)
  • “An Education” is the foreign film rep.  Carey Mulligan’s nomination gives it credibility, but no real chance.
  • “A Serious Man”  is, in my opinion, an automatic inclusion.  The Coen Brothers seem to get a pass on whatever they produce and direct.  I’m not even sure the members watch their films anymore.

Which leaves us with…

“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Up in the Air”

These are your five serious contenders for the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture.”  The others?

Just filler.