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Oscars: The Weeners and Thoughts

I put in some serious time yesterday and last night communing with the Oscar groove, letting the E! pregame show wash over me in all its splendorous vacuity as various overdressed hobnobbers interviewed Oscar-related designers, chefs, jewelers, observers and hangers-on.

I learned:

“You should wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear you.”

I wonder how Joan Rivers — who was nowhere to be seen — feels about “who are you wearing” being her lone enduring contribution to the culture.

Wolfgang Puck makes all those edible chocolate Oscars you see everyone stuffing in their pockets.

Star Jones Reynolds — who hosted E!’s red carpet show — has lost a LOT of weight and has a nice speaking voice – I’ve never really watched her before.

Kathy Griffin, who was on board for, I presume, the sake of levity, should drop the fake phone call routine: Bob Newhart pretty well used up that technique 40 years ago.

E!’s coverage of the Michael Jackson trial, which begins in earnest today, is going to be creepy as hell with actors “reenacting” the day’s testimony on a set “identical” to the real courtroom.

The Academy Awards have been around for 77 years, which makes the other awards shows and the Super Bowl look callow. Mickey Mouse and bubblegum were created the same year as the first Oscars.

Star likes the word “glamizon,” which I presume to mean “dominant female fashion plate.”

I am amused by the stalling and stretching at the beginning of E!’s red carpet coverage, which is 3pm local time (Pacific), 2 and 1/2 hours before the awards show is to begin: who arrives 2 1/2 hours early? Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me is the answer to that question.

Beyonce arrives early also: she has three nominated songs to perform – she’s a working girl tonight.

As always, it’s drought or flood: after the initial trickle of red carpeters for the first hour or so, there is wave after wave of the famous and hopeful, crashing over each other, creating whirlpools, slipstreams and eddies of celebrity. By 4:30 (PT) everyone is being interviewed all at once.

Antonio Banderas looks like Chris Kattan doing Antonio Banderas, and Melanie Griffith had that goddamned lip thing done. Who thinks those swollen, bee-stung lips look good? They are everywhere: why do these women want to look like Mick Jagger?

Sean “P. Puffy Diddy Daddy” Combs seems intent on doing to film and fashion what he has done to music (although host Chris Rock does look pretty sharp in his Combs-designed tux).

Laura Linney porked up on doughnuts for her role as Kinsey’s wife: glazed Krispie Kreme are her faves. Star approves lustily.

Leonardo arrives still in character from The Aviator.

Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe get a little too chummy with the “zip her in, and zip her out of her dress” talk. Chad’s job seems to be to ogle his wife in a reassuring manner.

Scarlett Johansson, who hosted the technical awards presentation earlier in the week, looks very blond and lovely.

Drew Barrymore at 30 is still infectiously axiomatic but looks pretty crappy in dark hair, very pale skin, and excess puffiness.

And then it’s time to switch to ABC for their half-hour of taped interviews with the same red carpet suspects, and then to the big show itself.

I can really feel the depth of the theater via the high-def broadcast, like you could just walk right into the screen. I try it, am rebuffed.

Chris Rock starts off with a bang, high energy, he’s in standup mode riffing on the cartoonishness of most black-oriented movies (“those aren’t titles, they’re locations” re Barbershop and the like); he notes the nomination of four black performers, calling the show the “Def Oscar Jam”; he notes the new rules that Jude Law must appear in every movie, and if he isn’t onscreen he’s in credits for baking cookies or something. He also wails on Tobey Maguire, Colin Farrell, Cuba Gooding Jr., and others I can’t recall at the moment.

Rock’s “Gap vs Banana Republic go to war” schtick, in the middle of his “Bush is a better actor than anyone in this room because he won back his job back despite not doing so hot” routine is pretty clever and funny.

Other than his taped visit to the black-oriented Magic Johnson cineplex to interview the peeps regarding their preference for genre and horror over, um, artistry, Rock has essentially nothing to do the entire rest of the show, although he has a nice comment about the new technique of handing out a few of the awards from the seats, saying, “Next we’ll be handing them out in the parking lot, ‘an Oscar and a McFlurry to go, please.'”

The acceptance speeches are quick, they are brisk, they are brief, they seem to be largely devoid of personality as a result: yes, speed up the show which at 3 hours+ is inevitably long, but don’t let the effort wag the dog, allow us some sense of who these people are, how they feel about winning, what it means to them. Isn’t that what the show is about?

When did Sideshow Bob join the Counting Crows?

I miss Johnny Carson.

Beyonce can really sing and having her do three of the five songs doesn’t seem absurd as she does them.

Antonio Banderas is not a great singer – having Carlos Santana noodle along with him on electric guitar is pretty pointless.

What the hell is up with that rack on Sidney Lumet’s daughter? I’m not sure one should so prominently display what is so clearly not of nature’s doing.

Hilary Swank thanked her freaking LAWYERS – ah yes, it is this kind of nonsense that spurred the speed-up efforts

Scorsese loses again, out-legended by Clint Eastwood, who is always strangely affectless when not in character.

As it always does, the show ran out of steam long before the end; other than in the opening, Chris Rock was generic and uncontroversial. I’d like to see more clips from the movies nominated in the major categories and a little more leeway given the acceptance speeches. If they want a shorter show, cut down on the categories given out live. Sorry editors, costume designers, art directors, etc, very few people out of the millions watching give a fig.

And the winners are (in alphabetical order, no less):

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jamie Foxx
RAY

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Morgan Freeman
MILLION DOLLAR BABY

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Hilary Swank
MILLION DOLLAR BABY

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Cate Blanchett
THE AVIATOR

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
THE INCREDIBLES
Brad Bird

ART DIRECTION
THE AVIATOR
Dante Ferretti (Art Direction); Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration)

BEST PICTURE
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy and Tom Rosenberg

CINEMATOGRAPHY
THE AVIATOR
Robert Richardson

COSTUME DESIGN
THE AVIATOR
Sandy Powell

DIRECTING
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clint Eastwood

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BORN INTO BROTHELS
Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
MIGHTY TIMES: THE CHILDREN’S MARCH
Robert Hudson and Bobby Houston

FILM EDITING
THE AVIATOR
Thelma Schoonmaker

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
THE SEA INSIDE
Spain
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar

HONORARY AWARD
Roger Mayer

HONORARY AWARD
Sidney Lumet

MAKEUP
LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
Valli O’Reilly and Bill Corso

MUSIC (SCORE)
FINDING NEVERLAND
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

MUSIC (SONG)
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
“Al Otro Lado Del Río”
Music and Lyric by Jorge Drexler

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
SIDEWAYS
Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman; Story by Charlie Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
RYAN
Chris Landreth

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
WASP
Andrea Arnold

SOUND EDITING
THE INCREDIBLES
Michael Silvers and Randy Thom

SOUND MIXING
RAY
Scott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer and Steve Cantamessa

VISUAL EFFECTS
SPIDER-MAN 2
John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier

(click over to Oscar.com for links to transcripts of the acceptance speeches and video of post-win interviews)

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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