Oscar Wrapup 2007

Well, I whiffed the Best Picture category both times, first in my initial guess of Babel and later for my last minute hunch that Letters might be in the envelope. But I pretty much nailed everything else, including the Best Supporting Actor going to Alan Arkin and Best Animated Film going to Happy Feet, which means I nailed most of the surprises. So overall I feel pretty good about my continuing ability to do Oscar predictions.

A couple of thoughts:

* I guess the Academy voters decided they didn’t actually like Dreamgirls after all. Going with Arkin over Murphy is one thing; not giving the film the Oscar in the Best Original Song — in which it had three nominations — is another. I suspect Melissa Etheridge was probably the most surprised winner of the evening.

* Likewise, Babel walking out the door with just the Original Score Oscar is a bit of a poor showing for a Best Picture nominee touted as front runner going in (Letters got just Sound Editing, but no one except crazy people thought it was going to win). I guess this is the Academy saying “we had our spinach last year,” because while The Departed is many things, “spinach” ain’t one of them.

* Having said that, no one’s under the illusion The Departed winning Best Picture is anything more than the Academy deciding to make the drapes match the carpet, right? Apparently enough voters in the Academy went “well, as long as we’re giving Scorsese Best Director…” and then scribbled The Departed into the Best Picture line on the ballot. It’s not to say it’s not a good film, merely not the best picture on the slate. But, eh. It was “Let’s make it up to Marty” night. There are worse things.

* Mildly surprised that Pan’s Labyrinth didn’t get Best Foreign Language film (although The Lives of Others has been steadily building buzz, so not too surprised), but inasmuch as the film walked out the door as the second most Oscar-honored film of the night, including as the winner for Best Cinematography, I don’t think anyone should complain too much.

* Just as technical note, Al Gore himself did not win the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, it went to director Davis Guggenheim. The clock for rabid foaming conservatives to try to nab him in an either real or imagined “I invented the Internet” moment regarding to whom the Oscar belongs to starts… now.

Your post-Oscar thoughts?

53 thoughts on “Oscar Wrapup 2007

  1. The Oscars were televised in Vienna at 2am and I am not that hardcore a movie guy to watch them that late. I did catch the news this morning on CNN intl and I am glad Forest Whitaker got one. I really can’t think of a movie that I say him in that I didn’t like.
    Tonight at 9pm they will be televising the highlights in Vienna and I rekon I will watch that. Seems like a good way to prepare for a interview for a Bay Area job wouldn’t you say?
    :)
    Wish me luck!

  2. I think you’re actually a member of the Stonecutters, and you whiffed on Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture to throw us off the scent.

    I watched ‘Lives of Others’ yesterday afternoon and thought it was excellent. I would have had a hard time deciding between it and Pan’s Labyrinth.

  3. As someone who, in high school, dreamt of one day working in animation, I’m bummed that Happy Feet won. Motion capture is special effects, not animation. Rampant 3D is bad enough, but at least Cars wasn’t made by running automobiles around with little data point sensors stuck all over them. I don’t think.
    The winner for Short, however, The Danish Poet, was made with ink and paint. Yay, NFB!
    As for the program: 1) The one major art form I’ve never, ever “gotten” is modern dance. Blehh. The interstitial shadow plays by Pilobolus, while admittedly clever, still had me rolling my eyes. 2) I love the widely derided clip segments. Always have. And that includes the memorial round-up. Godspeed, Don Knotts. “Das ist Limpet!”

  4. I’m thrilled for Helen Mirren. Loved seeing whatshername (I just got out of bed, so back off) winning for best supporting actress.

    Beyonce looked fabulous. So did Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Reese Witherspoon (though I’d have liked her dress better in a deep burgundy or purple or blue), and George Clooney. When I mentioned how fabulous Beyonce looked, my husband said, “She’d look fabulous in a sack.” I allowed that possibility and added that so would George Clooney.

    Memo to Philip Seymour Hoffman: Next year, when you’re getting ready for the Oscars, do us all a favor and brush your hair. Thanks.

  5. I suspect that the Best Song award wound up with the Dreamgirls votes split, allowing the dark horse through. It’s a classic result in, for example, Most Valuable Player voting in sports.

    Having not seen The Departed, I can’t judge it on its merits. But it did rather seem as if the Academy were presenting the Director and Picture awards on the basis of accumulated merit. (And did you get a load of Jack Nicholson’s face at both of those announcements? The cat who’d had several canaries with a little sugar on top, pleased for his buddy. :-) Good for Scorsese, finally.

  6. I was happy for Martin Scorsese. He deserves to have 3 or four of those thing. I vote every year for the Writer’s Guild Awards. Used to be great–you’d get all these videotapes in the mail. These days I only get the ones in DVD release and scripts. Like I’d want to read another damned script.

  7. I didn’t watch last night, so I went to the official website at oscar.com to find out who won what. It was a complete revelation for me — I had always naively assumed that the Academy Awards were about awards. Apparently, to judge by the website, it’s about the clothes, the people, and the speeches. I couldn’t even find a link to the winners on the front page….

    I hate to admit it, this is the first year in which I haven’t seen any of the nominees for any of the big awards.

  8. I’m guesing that Dreamgirls didn’t make it for best song category is that they were nominated for three songs so the points got spread out too much.

    And I think Ellen Degeneres did a pretty good job as host.

  9. I had always naively assumed that the Academy Awards were about awards.

    Nahh, not since 1936 or so.

    I can’t figure out how the same body of people selected Pan’s Labyrinth for so many awards but then thought that overall it wasn’t that great. Very bizarre. So I missed on that pick, and I missed on cinematography because I simply thought Children of Men was better (I loved them both, but the camerawork in CoM is probably the best of any movie I think I’ve ever seen) and so, well, whoops.

    I thought Cameron Diaz looked much better than anyone is saying she did.

  10. Tim,

    I’m not sure that people disliked “Pan’s Labyrinth.” The just liked “The Lives of Others” better.

    And it wasn’t exactly the same voters. While all members of the Academy could vote on cinematography, set design, etc., only those who attended certified screenings of all of the Foreign Language nominees could vote in that category. It makes that category a bit less susceptible to popular buzz.

  11. My score (on categories I predicted):

    9 correct
    9 wrong (including Best Picture and Best Animated Feature).

    Celine Dion is truly scary. What’s with the faces she makes? And the Dreamgirls mopped up the stage with her, performance-wise.

    I liked the back-lit contortionists, but I have no idea what the sound effect choir was up to.

    Ellen? Meh. Not bad, but not good.

    And as to watching the highlights show in Vienna? It’s gonna be a kinda short show.

    Last, but not least, how long will any of us remember who won anything. It always freaks me out that when watching Jeopardy, I do really well on the “New Testament” category (in spite of being Jewish and never having read it), and I never get ANYTHING right in the “Academy Awards” category, (in spite of having made a living in the BIZ for almost 20 years).

  12. Here’s an interesting tidbit from Entertainment Weekly regarding vote-splitting in the Best Song category: the two other times there was a triple nominee (Beauty and the Beast, Lion King), a song from that film won.

    http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20012095,00.html

  13. Nathan: “… I do really well on the “New Testament” category (in spite of being Jewish and never having read it)…”
    Hey, same as Jesus!

  14. Jeff Hentosz,

    You are so right, motion capture needs to be considered in the Special Effects Oscars, not Animation. It’s all about actors, not animators.

    You’re probably right that Cars was not made with mo-cap on live automobiles, but the other films (see the closing credits for Cars) like Car Toy Story and Monster Cars, Inc., were of a much lower grade; clearly mo-cap :-)

  15. John, you so crazy…

    As for the double-dip for Marty, I think many voters were out to make sure he got at least one of the awards. Of course, it helps that the movie was pretty damn good…

  16. Luved Ellen DeG. Thought her relaxed, loose style was just the right thing. As far as the winners? I only saw one of the films, but I’m thrilled that Marty finally got his statue.

  17. Jeff Hentosz: “I’m bummed that Happy Feet won.”

    Me too. It was a little creepy the way they made Mumble look like Elijah Wood. And I thought that, for a kids movie, some of the content was a bit disturbing – sea lions with sharp pointy teeth, killer whales playing ‘toss the penguin’, and showing Mumble going crazy in the zoo was a bit much…

  18. I haven’t seen Letters from Iwo Jima, but I thought Departed was far, far better than Babel. When I saw Babel, I was so underwhelmed it never even crossed my mind that it would be nominated.

  19. Cameron’s dress was fabulous, I thought; simple elegance. She looked great. Helen Mirren had my favorite outfit/look overall, with a close second by Gwyneth Paltrow, who looked much better on stage than on the red carpet (my goodness, but her hair is long – Nicole Kidman did the same hair style but didn’t pull it off as well). I loved the homage to Helen by Jack Black, etc. during their comedy bit. I didn’t watch the whole show, but appreciated Ellen’s performance as being very laid back. Dicaprio’s bit with Al Gore was also funny, mostly because you could see, especially from the backstage shot afterwards, that they were having fun with it. The “sound effects chorus” was cute but went on too long.

    As to who got the awards, I haven’t seen most of the nominees, so I wasn’t that invested. I have seen The Departed and Dream Girls, so I wasn’t surprized at what they got and didn’t get. I’ve also seen An Inconvenient Truth, but I didn’t particularly like the song by Etheridge, so… hmmm. Nothing I’ve seen, including the bits of animation before and during the awards, have convinced me to see Happy Feet. I might watch Little Miss Sunshine but I won’t go out of my way. I was delighted at who got the best short animated film, from what I saw of it, and also that it was low tech. I’m glad they continue to give awards for short work. Which reminds me, have you seen the BMW Hire film series? that was another thing I watched yesterday. I’d seen some of their first series, but not the later ones with celebrities in them. Pretty nifty.

  20. I wanted Scorsese to win and he did. I felt bad for O’Toole but the guy beat him (Whitaker) probably deserved it more. Has he EVER not been brilliant? I loved Mirren’s performance, but Best Actress was the toughest category, I thought, as all the nominated performers I saw in that category blew me away this year.

    I thought Ellen was spot-on perfect, as she was simply herself and did what she does best. Her brand of humor allows other people room to be charming and funny. I thought her moments in the audience with Scorsese and Eastwood and Spielberg were delightful.

    Oh, and I thought the film montage about the writing process was hysterical. :-)

  21. no one’s under the illusion The Departed winning Best Picture is anything more than the Academy deciding to make the drapes match the carpet, right?

    Nonsense. Of the five Best Picture nominees, four were strong nominees. (Little Miss Sunshine is the only one which really didn’t belong there.) The Departed was highly stylized and operatic, two characteristics of Scorsese’s best work. I’ll grant that the race was tight, but that’s no reason to undercut the winner.

  22. I have to go out on a limb here.

    I love “Happy Feet” and I’m glad it won. I mean, it’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” With penguins. How cool is that?

  23. My thoughts:

    * Someone should tell Al Gore there’s a difference between charming self-deprecation, and the kind of self-abuse you should only o in private.

    * I hope Jennifer Hudson and Al Gore both Tivo’d Helen Mirren’s acceptance speech. That’s how you do it, bitches – class without the silent Cl.

  24. Forty-five minutes into the Oscars our power went out from the winter storm. Two hours and fifteen minutes later, it was still going on, having only gotten to Best Song. (grin)

    My personal fave Kate Winslet is swiftly becoming the Peter O’Toole of the Actress categories. 0-for-5 so far. But… at least there’s the acknowledgment you have to be damned good to get five noms!

    I thought the montage segments (or at least those we saw) were particularly good this year — and I’m sorry the power went out just as we were to be entertained by a Special Effects Chorale… Unlike the Tony Awards, which are timed to the split second, the Oscars don’t mind running way long, and just as you want to go to bed they have to start Yet Another long set piece bit.

    Of course the computers were safe, hooked up to UPS units, and were shut down without any loss of data. Then in the dark, I used a lightwedge booklight and started to read Old Man’s War to my wife. We got in the first three chapters. There’s something perverse about reading about the Colonial Union’s technological superiority in a house lit by candlelight. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

  25. I’m a little bummed that Children of Men didn’t receive any awards and that Marie Antonette was only nominated for best costume… Personally, I saw both of them as the strongest movies I’d seen that year or in a number of years.

  26. My wife and I both thought that Ellen was not on, and most of her stuff fell flat.

    Best speech of the night: Ari Sandel for West Bank Story (Winner Best Short Film, Live Action). He pointed out that his film’s subject was a serious issue even though it was a comedy. Then summed up and thanked the proper folks before time ran out.

    And what’s the deal where every award show has to have a 6 foot tall woman come out on stage and wait behind the award winners. I guess somebody has to bring the statuette out on stage, but come on.

    I liked the montages, but there seemed to be too many of them (especially after the show had already gone long).

  27. I just wish that the Oscars were more about good film and less about furthering a political agenda.

    Kudos to Al Gore (or his director, whatever) for winning in the “Propaganda” category for his glorified Power Point presentation.

  28. Count me in the disappointed category for “Children of Men” not getting any love.

    The highlight was the Sound Effects Chorus (or whatever their name was). Fifty Foley artists working together? Rawk.

    And for all the PP-haters: just wait until next year when we get Excel – The VLookUp Of Doom.

  29. 1. I thought the highlight was the number with Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly.

    2. I thought that the “obervational humor” style of DeGeneres (whom I like) was ill-suited. The interplay in the audience was painful. For an example of how to do it right see Billy Crystal’s opening in the 25th Anniversary SNL show.

    3. The Departed was a good movie but it was not the second coming of the Godfather nor even Goodfellas. I concur with the opinions above saying it was a “twofer” for Scorsese.

    Personally I thought “Letters” was a far more powerful movie.

    4. Other than for Scorsese not much emotion or excitement. Where is Sacheen Littlefeather when we really need her?

    Old Jarhead

  30. I did a record-best 18 out of 24 last night, missing only actor (I really thought O’Toole would upset), cinematography (Children of Men seemed like a lock), costume and the three shorts. When I set down and look at the ballot, all of these logical upsets just seemed clear: The universally beloved The Lives of Others sneaking past Pan’s Labyrinth, the Academy over-committing to Inconvenient Truth by giving Etheridge an Oscar, Happy Feet sneaking past Cars on similar grounds (plus being the more recent release), Departed winning Best Picture as part of the Ethan Hawke effect (cf. his nomination for Training Day because so many nominators went to see the movie for Denzel’s performance), Murphy losing to Arkin …. It was a good bit of prognostication. I’ll try to be as on the ball next year. (And, of course, in almost no case did I tip the movie that I actually *wanted* to win, although I’ve seen scandalously few of the nominees — see http://www.flakmag.com/film/07alsorans for a very different looking set of choices.)

  31. I have to second Old Jarhead about the Very Funny Farrell/Black/O’Reilly musical number. On the other hand, I though Seinfeld’s schtick was completely out of place. That may seem inconsistent, but at least the F/B/O’R song wasn’t supposed to be a preface to an award.

  32. Actually, it wasn’t “rabid conservatives” who hung that “invented the internet” canard on Gore — it was the (mostly liberal) MSM. If you’re interested in learning how the press lost the election for Gore, check out the blog Daily Howler. Bob Somerby dislikes Bush as much as anyone, but there’s one thing he hates more — a mainstream media that bungles its job.

  33. Can we also be clear that’s Apple Keynote Gore’s rockin’, and probably a beta of Keynote 4, at that.
    “PowerPoint.” Please.

  34. Children of Men had some of the most amazing cinematography I’ve ever seen. Some of those long takes were just impossible!

  35. Sean:

    I wasn’t surprised Murphy lost – gee, if I was an Academy voter with those truly vile Norbert billboards to remind me what a misogynistic asshole the man is… I’d have voted in a heartbeat for the actor playing the heroin-snorting, suicidal fag-baiting, ‘nasty’ porn hound Gran’pappy whose Hallmark moment is teaching a seven year-old girl to shake her coochie like she’s auditioning for the Nickelodeon version of Showgirls too.

  36. “My personal fave Kate Winslet is swiftly becoming the Peter O’Toole of the Actress categories. 0-for-5 so far. But… at least there’s the acknowledgment you have to be damned good to get five noms!”

    Yeah I felt sorry for Kate she was working some serious stiff upper lip during Mirrin’s acceptence speach. But cheer up Kate! As evidenced by Mirren winning and Dame Judi Dench 6th nomdination, if you’re British and you’ve got chops then you’ll probably be up for awards until you’re in your 70’s.

  37. I enjoyed the evening, and I rather like Ellen when she isn’t dancing.

    My main disappointment on the evening was Children of Men going 0 for 3. I thought CoM was the best picture I saw from last year. I’m glad Pan’s Labyrinth got a fair number of awards.

  38. I almost fell asleep during the “Dream Girls” unending music piece. They all sounded like the same song, which is maybe why the “Inconvenient Truth” song won.

    I thought it was funny when the visual effects guy picked up on Ellen’s ‘give them a story about being a poor kid from Brooklyn, etc.’ bit, as he opened his acceptance with, “Who would have thought four blind kids from Brooklyn would win the Oscar for visual effects?” The audience didn’t seem to get the joke. And then, of course, Forrest Whitaker did a real version of that.

    Overall, a kind of flat awards. But then again, I’m seeing far fewer films in the theater the last couple of years, in part because I just don’t seem to be interested in what Hollywood is selling and in part because I don’t like paying $11 for the privilege of listening to overly loud commercials before the show, and morons on their phones, their ill-mannered children, etc.

  39. Sue:
    When I mentioned how fabulous Beyonce looked, my husband said, “She’d look fabulous in a sack.” I allowed that possibility and added that so would George Clooney.

    Ya know, it’s funny you say that: I actually ran into Beyonce coming out of the Manhattan Mall in midtown a few months ago. There was a small crowd of people holding signs & cheering, and she came out of the mall with a small group of people, waved to the crowd, got into a towncar and pulled away.

    She was wearing jeans and a rather plain winter coat, and looked…well, average. I actually had to ask one of the sign-holders which one of the women in the group was Beyonce, just to be sure. I was also amazed by how short she is – I’m 5′ 5″, and she can’t be much taller than me, if at all…

    So now I’m wondering: is she that good at dressing down when she’s out on the town, or is she that good at dressing up when she’s on stage, in photoshoots, etc.?

  40. Am I the only one who is getting just a little tired of actors being fawned over for roles that are essentially imitations? Both Mirren and Whitaker’s roles were essentially impersonations and while both were good I’d think it would be tougher to create a role of a truly fictional character.

    I thought O’Toole should have won going away (and Whitaker missed a true classy moment by failing to acknowledge him during his speech). Oh well, there’s still hope of Ron Santo getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame…wait a tic…blast!

    It’s been a tough week for the perpetually stiffed old-timers.

  41. I had to be away, so I set my recorder. Unfortunately the program went longer than the guide listed, so I missed the last 1 and 1/2 hours. Will it be shown again?

  42. On the sound effect choir, me and a friend came out with (in unison): “That was nice, but Bobby McFerrin could have done the same thing all by himself.”

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