So the Oscars are less than an hour away, and here at WHAP we’re putting on our best dresses and getting ready to party. This year’s show, for better or for worse, has become one of the most hyped in recent memory: first we thought it wasn’t going to happen; then we really thought it wasn’t going to happen; but now it’s back on and we’ve made our predictions (here and here). Stay with us for the next three hours for extensive Oscar coverage, including Bryan and Jon’s liveblog of the telecast, Brett’s post-show reaction and even an all-Oscar edition of The WHAP Wrap. To start things off, click below the pic for our 80th annual Academy Awards liveblog.
Bryan: So what do you think is going to be the surprise tonight? Everyone is saying this Oscar race locked itself up more than the usual one, but I don’t buy it. Somewhere, we’re going to be shocked. Although, maybe the biggest shock will be that Gary Busey got an invite to the Oscars, or in about 4 hours, that Ben Affleck is up for murdering him.
Jon: Firstly, Jon Stewart went on Larry King Live this week and hinted at some unconventional hosting methods because of the short time he had to work on the show: “You don’t know what we’re planning for this year’s show…remember, we didn’t have that much time to write it.” So I’m expecting some bells and whistles from him; perhaps a homoerotic bedroom scene with George Clooney. (Oh wait, he did that.) Otherwise, this thing should be pretty tame outside of some wild remarks from Michael Moore (if he wins). So on that note, I ask you: who gives the best acceptance speech? And the worst?
Bryan: Well at this point, anyone giving the best acceptance speech other than Daniel Day-Lewis would be a surprise. He always seems to be the most eloquent person in the room. But if we’re talking about raw emotion, I think Cate Blanchett certainly would have the potential to be the most memorable. I’m just hoping Ruby Dee doesn’t get up there and further promote her book. By the way, part of me is expecting a No Country dominance tonight, and the other part is thinking the Academy might give No Country the Best Picture and Best Supporting awards, and then slight them on others. I really wouldn’t be shocked if Schnabel and P.T. Anderson each take a win in the Coens’ categories.
Jon: Yeah, that could happen. And not to get too contemplative, but as we approach the ceremony I’m left thinking one thing: this may be the best single year for cinema of the last twenty years, certainly of this decade. But there’s no one film that seems to stand out as a great movie of all-time. Sure, we have Danny Day-Lewis in one of the top five feats of acting we’ve ever seen, and even Juno as one of the greatest pop-culture juggernauts in the modern era. But does this year have a film like 1993 had Schindler’s List, or even like 1997 had Titanic? I’m not so sure. But onto the show…
JON STEWART’S OPENING
Jon: Last time Mr. Stewart hosted the Oscars, he opened with a bloated video that landed him lukewarm reviews from critics. This time, he keeps it simple…though we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s not due to the lack of time to write the show. (And the political jokes were expected, but four of ’em?) That said, here are his best lines:
–On the WGA strike: Tonight, welcome to the makeup sex.
-[Away From Her] was a movie about a woman who forgets her husband…Hillary Clinton called it the feel good movie of the year.
-This year, even Norbit got a nomination…too often the Academy ignores movies that aren’t good.
-[Diablo Cody] used to be an exotic dancer, and now she’s an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. I hope you’re enjoying the pay cut.
-Normally, when we see a black or woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the statue of liberty…how will we know it’s the future?
ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN: “Elizabeth: the Golden Age”
Bryan: I read somewhere that “Atonement” was a favorite here, but it seems like if you look backwards at the winners of this award, the Academy does love period pieces. While Elizabeth may have been the worst movie of the bunch, for a movie like that to have any success at all, it needs to look natural. I suppose it did. Glad to see we’re 1-for-1. The real question if “La Vie En Rose” losing made Marion more or less likely to win Best Actress.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: “Ratatouille”
Jon: Brad Bird, in one acceptance speech, hit perhaps all the Oscar don’ts: he gave the impression that he had prepared extensively; he slipped in a not-so-subtle screw-you to movie execs; and he made the night’s first reference to the wrap it up sign. That said, Ratatouille more than deserved to win, and it’s been a lock in this category for months now. But I hate it when the mastermind behind an innocent kid’s movie gets up and acts so jaded.
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKE UP: “La Vie En Rose”
Bryan: I started writing my review of this win before Katherine Heigl stammered out the winner. Seriously, what was happening there? Maybe her and Seth Rogen’s awkward interaction was normal. Anyway, this was such an obvious Oscar — they took a brilliant Cotillard, and they made her ugly. It’s sort of sad we celebrate that. BTW — why did Cotillard look so surprised? Didn’t someone tell her this was obviously going to happen?
BEST SONG PERFORMANCE: “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted
Jon: So this year’s Oscars are on ABC — which is owned by Disney — and three of the Best Song nominees come from Enchanted, Disney’s biggest hit from 2007. (I’m not suggesting a conspiracy, but when Enchanted’s soundtrack and DVD sales thrive next week, we’ll know where to look.) The first of those three songs is “Happy Working Song,” which Amy Adams performed in character without a hitch. The film’s next songs will bring costumes and dancers and the whole nine yards, so “Happy Working Song” was more or less a tease.
Bryan: It was asking a lot to have Adams go up there, by herself, and perform this song at the front of the Kodak Theatre. In fact, so much that they thought about having Pushing Daisies‘ Kristin Chenoweth perform it, given her background in the stage performance of Wicked. But Adams stepped up, and she showed good personality I thought. More power to her.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: “The Golden Compass”
Bryan: That was literally the best acting The Rock has done since he last fought Stone Cold. But Jon, congrats on picking that winner. The Transformers was the obvious favorite there — what with the Golden Compass’ religious insinuations. The Transformers is the favorite in a few other awards tonight, so it does make a little sense the Academy didn’t want Transformers to win 3 awards and walk away one of the big winners for the night.
BEST ART DIRECTION: “Sweeney Todd”
Jon: Of all the great films from 2007, Sweeney Todd was the least talked-about leading into today’s ceremony because it was overlooked in both the Best Picture and Best Director categories. But that didn’t keep it from taking this award, which gives us tonight’s first “unexpected” moment. That said, Tim Burton is just as much an art director as he is a film director, so we should have seen this one coming. But put it down as the first big miss for many Academy predictors, ourselves included.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”
Bryan: And Jennifer Hudson’s breasts just became the storyline of the night. No, really, you try to come up with something exciting to say about an award that was wrapped up six months ago. The one thing I really like about No Country for Old Men — which has nothing to do about the movie — is that you can tell this cast really, really liked each other. Bardem deserved this, so good for him. “And that’s all I have to say about that.”
Jon: Not even an accomplished performer like Javier could act surprised that he won this one. But I loved when he started to speak his native tongue in the acceptance speech, because all the left-wing, illegal-immigrant supporting celebs collectively realized that none of them know Spanish.
BEST SONG PERFORMANCE: “Raise It Up” from August Rush
Bryan: For a long time, there was a rumor that “Falling Slowly” from Once, the favorite to win this award, would be deemed ineligible because it had been conceived prior to the movie. It didn’t happen, but the conspiracy believer in me thinks that the Academy might penalize it by not giving it the award. If it does, this song becomes the favorite — as Enchanted effectively cancels itself out with three nominations. Typical, unremarkable gospel song.
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM: “Le Mozart Des Pickpockets”
Jon: There’s something very noble about a short film — they have little commercial appeal, small actors and even smaller budgets. So congrats to Le Mozart Des Pickpockets, a true work of art awarded on a night that will inevitably honor big-budget, big-business schmaltz like Transformers.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: “Peter and the Wolf”
Bryan: So “Bee Movie” isn’t even ruled good enough to gain a nomination in a category with three nominees, but they let “it” present? We were forced to see NBC inundate all of their programs with “Bee Movie” for an entire month, and now we’re subjected to more of it. But, props to “Peter and the Wolf”, and the somewhat creepy dude who brought up ‘Peter’ to accept.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton”
Jon: So here it is, wrapped up nicely for all of us to see: tonight’s huge upset. Even Tilda was surprised; she evidently didn’t make time to do her hair. But seriously, where is the Academy’s evidence for this vote? Cate won the Globe, Ruby won the SAG, Amy took the critical awards…ah, it must have been a split vote. But all my harsh words aside, I’m the lone guy who actually liked Michael Clayton, so I’m ecstatic for Tilda’s big win. The scene in Clayton where she practices a speech over and over — just her and the camera for a good five minutes — must have been the impetus behind this award.
Bryan: Bummer. Bummer, bummer, bummer. Bummer Heath didn’t have someone speak on his behalf. Bummer we were endured to hear about Tilda Swinton’s agent’s ass. Bummer the fourth best actor in any movie can win an Academy Award. But if this teaches us anything, it’s that screen dominance is important to the Academy. That was, to me, all she had over her other nominees.
JESSICA ALBA READS HER TECHNICAL AWARDS
Jon: And suddenly science is so, so hot.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”
Bryan: With what I said earlier about how cool it was that the NCfOM staff tends to get along very well, sort of lame decision by the Academy to let Josh Brolin give the award to his own team. I’m not going to complain that this wasn’t deserving, but this was a loaded field, so the Coens winning means one of two things: No Country will win everything tonight or Julian Schnabel will win an Oscar. And the latter Coen that spoke, as Jon said to me via IM, was clearly saving his words knowing he’ll win something later. They’re just trying to make me like the movie less.
PERFORMANCE: “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
Jon: Ah, now this is Disney. More on my conspiracy theory: Miley Cyrus (Disneyfied star of Hannah Montana) gets up to introduce Kristin Chenoweth (star of ABC’s Pushing Daisies) to sing a song from Enchanted. What, was Stuart Scott (of Disney-owned ESPN) too busy to do some background dancing? And speaking of those dancers, I get the feeling that this song is the one the Enchanted folks are really pulling for – they really went all out with that performance. But is it possible to win Best Song when you have three nominees in the category? I don’t think so.
BEST SOUND EDITING: “The Bourne Ultimatum”
Bryan: Apparently, this was the greatest edited movie of all-time. “Bourne” is the overwhelming favorite for Film Editing, and then this upset (in a category I don’t understand) signifies the editing was suburb in a movie Paul Greengrass almost fucked up.
BEST SOUND MIXING: “The Bourne Ultimatum”
Bryan: Without writers, we could not have managed that wonderful Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill conversation. But while my Rogen dislike has been said, “We look exactly alike!” did make me laugh out loud. OK, maybe it wasn’t the best edited movie of all-time, but the best sounding movie? I don’t know, but if Bourne can win Film Editing, it will go down as one of the night’s biggest winners.
Jon: Ah, how quickly we forget. The Academy loves the third movie in a trilogy, especially when it’s critically respected and massively successful. (Lord of the Rings, anyone?) That’s pretty much Bourne’s resume, so I guess we should have foreseen this potential sweep in all its nominated categories.
BEST ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, “La Vie En Rose”
Jon: Once again, the Academy proves that it loves when you sing and dance for them. Cotillard, in a win even more unexpected than Tilda Swinton’s, took to her acceptance speech like a deer in the headlights — and by all means, she should have. This has been Julie Christie’s category for months now, but the legendary British actress couldn’t take home the top acting honor for her work in Away From Her. Bryan said this before, and I’ll say it again: the Academy takes note of screen time, maybe more than we ever thought. Both female acting awards went to the actress who spent the most time on camera.
Bryan: I haven’t seen “La Vie En Rose”, so I can’t speak to Cotillard’s merits I know I will never forget Christie as Fiona or Page as Juno. But Cotillard seems like a sweetheart, so I don’t really care. But honestly, the Academy’s obsession with physicality is getting a bit ridiculous.
PERFORMANCE: “Falling Slowly” from Once
Bryan: What a beautiful song that is. Glen Hansard is really a very good singer, songwriter and a good performer. It will be a real shame if this doesn’t win the Oscar. Little fact: Glen and Marketa, the two that performed, were friends long before Once. Glen actually recruited Marketa after finding out John Carney needed an Eastern European.
FILM EDITING: The Bourne Ultimatum
Jon: So now I’m mad that I never saw this film, because the first two Bourne movies were a little nauseating to me due to choppy editing. (Like, physically nauseating.) But this one took the ACE, so it was apparently a lock in this category. (News to me; I picked There Will Be Blood, which is slowly turning into tonight’s Academy kryptonite.) But congrats to the Bourne guys, who are making damn sure that Transformers goes home empty handed.
HONORARY OSCAR: Robert Boyle
Bryan: I always feel bad for the person who receives the Honorary Oscar, because rarely do they make it to the next Oscars. Boyle seemed like a sweet guy — thanked everyone in the world and Alfred Hitchcock 13 times — but really, it looks like the days are numbered.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Counterfeiters, Austria
Jon: Don’t they speak English in Austria? Apparently not, as The Counterfeiters — the clear frontrunner in this category — takes home Best Foreign Language Film. It’s the touching story of resistance to and escape from the Nazis in WWII, which, if you haven’t caught on, is Oscar gold. But seriously, someone enlighten me as to what broken pidgin language those Austrians mumble in…
PERFORMANCE: “So Close” from Enchanted
Jon: This is the third of three nominated songs from Enchanted, all of which will inevitably nosedive to that great song from Once. A note to Academy-seeking songwriters: if you’re doing the soundtrack to a movie, write a bunch of crappy stuff and one big, glowing piece of power pop. Not a bunch of mediocre nominee-worthy songs that won’t do anything but split the vote.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Falling Slowly” from Once.
Bryan: Thank god. Truly this category was not particularly close this year, as this was the best song from a movie about musical. This was a song that showed such a passion between the two main characters, Glen and Marketa, while showing inspiration (not love) was their connection. And, by the way, “that guy is so arrogant” is probably the line of Jon Stewart’s night.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: There Will Be Blood
Jon: If you want to talk Oscar cold streaks, go talk to Roger Deakins — now nominated nine times for cinematography without anything to show for it. This year, his work in both The Assassination of Jesse James and No Country was overlooked for There Will Be Blood. This is particularly embarrassing for, umm, me, as I boldly proclaimed that No Country deserved the cinematography award over all its other nominations. But I can’t be too surprised that TWBB took it — after all, it had to win something. Its eight nominations without a victory would have been, well, almost as bad as Roger Deakins.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: “Atonement”
Bryan: Since we knew “Atonement” was going to do particularly well tonight, we did know that Dario Marianelli would pick up an Oscar for his thrilling score. Say what you want about “Atonement”, but as Dario walked up to accept his award, and the orchestra played his music, we all thought back to the movie. Some of us might always remember Atonement and think of the word cunt, but most of us will think and remember the chilling music of Marianelli.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: Freeheld
BEST DOCUMENTARY: Taxi to the Dark Side
Jon: As is tradition, the Academy gets uber-political with its documentary awards, giving the first to a film about gay rights and the second to a film about our country’s torture techniques. As for Freeheld, director Cynthia Wade gave probably the most erratically passionate speech of the night. And as for Taxi to the Dark Side, director Alex Gibney made a questionable comment about wanting to make a romantic comedy. But all joking aside, Jon Stewart’s political puns ain’t got nothing on these two filmmakers.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Diablo Cody, “Juno”
Bryan: THANK GOD. Not just a little bit. If there was one award tonight that I cared about, it was this. Diablo has taken a beating for this during the season, and she’s been judged pretty harshly in a variety of circles. But like I’ve said before, focus on the story. Focus on the characters. It really wasn’t close. Tamara Jenkins wrote something we’ve read before. Tony Gilroy wrote something we’ve seen before. Diablo Cody wrote something unique, something honest and something beautiful. Bless her.
Jon: Note to all current strippers: Diablo Cody winning this award does not mean that your screenplay for Showgirls 2 is gonna get any attention. (But seriously, what a great moment Diablo had in her speech.)
BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Jon: At this point, it’s not really an overstatement to say that this category has been locked up since the day Upton Sinclair finished Oil!. But Danny Day, as classy as he is, doesn’t disappoint with what must be his 115th acceptance speech since January. In this one, he gives us a little bit of his mad devotion to character — going so far as to refer to his wife as “Mrs. Plainview.” But the theme of this speech was fathers and sons, and his various relationships he had while filming TWBB. Please, Daniel, keep acting to keep gold out of George Clooney’s hands.
BEST DIRECTOR: Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”
Bryan: Well, thank god Joel saved his words upon their first victory for this! Try as I might, I don’t understand the praise for the movie as a whole, but I do understand why they receive praise for their actions as directors. This was a chilling movie, and it was chilling for two reasons: Javier Bardem, and the movie’s directors. Congrats to the Coens. Now go away, please.
BEST PICTURE: “No Country for Old Men”
Jon: And the best acting of the night goes to the Coen brothers for the following statement: “This is an unbelievable honor and a complete surprise.” A surprise, eh? Even though your movie was the frontrunner for months in this category? And even though you picked up top honors for screenwriting earlier and directing literally minutes ago? It certainly wasn’t a surprise to me or Brett or Bryan, regardless of our individual feelings toward the film. (If you haven’t caught on, Bryan thinks all the hype is garbage.) But it is what it is: No Country for Old Men is the best picture in the best year for film this decade.