Sunday, March 7, 2010

Live-blogging the Show

9:04 pm

Well that's the show. Thanks for hanging out here at Last Cinema Standing. Apologies for disappearing for the last half hour, but the show always enthralls me at the end. Check back tomorrow for a few more reactions and analyses.

8:37 pm

An interesting, eccentric speech by the Dude himself. A highlight of the night along with Michael Giachinno's statement that "It's not a waste of time."

8:22 pm

I'd like to take this opportunity to respond to commenter Michael Leydon, who asks about the lack luster effort by advertisers on the Academy Awards to create any memorable campaign.

There are a lot of answers. In the marketing world, the Oscars are referred to as "the Super Bowl for women." The ads tend to skew that direction and research shows that men respond to humor better than women in ads. Hence, not as many attempts at humor.

Also, in the last several years, ratings for the awards show have gone down precipitously. It is not as good of an investment at this point for advertisers. Until that trend reverses, it is likely to be a dumping ground for second-rate ad campaigns.

8:20 pm

Once again, the Academy ignores the challenging and innovative foreign films (A Prophet and The White Ribbon) and goes for the middle of the road, safe pick. It's a broken process.

7:47 pm

I am utterly speechless...wait...I've found the words: It's a travesty. Really. They've done away with the talented writers and performers who wrote the nominated original songs and replaced them with nameless dancers who have nothing to do with the films. Honestly-- an interpretive dance to a film about the uncertainties of war. I think I've found another word: disrespect. Disrespect all around.

7:33 pm

Commenter Sugar asks a wonderful question about why many of these Oscar-nominated movies never play in theatres near anyone.

The argument is that it is about money. The kind of art movies that win awards don't make money-- or, at least, that's the line. But, that's a catch-22. The movies don't make money so we don't put them in enough theatres to make any money? It doesn't make sense.

The sad truth is that producers don't believe audiences want to see these movies, so they fail before they have a chance to succeed. It's a cycle that is tough to break until a little indie film makes good on its promise.

More on this later...

7:29 pm

The Hurt Locker is three for three tonight. It's well on its way to victory.

7:19 pm

To paraphrase my friend Ryan, the reason horror movies don't get the rspect they deserve is because of people like Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart.

7:01 pm

For those confused about Mo'Nique's statement about the politics ("...showing that the award is about the performance and not the politics."), allow me to explain. Mo'Nique has taken flack all season for refusing to go out and campaign for an Academy Award. Others, who were campaigning, tried to use it against her. She is right, in this instace, that the performance was so strong it could not be ignored. However, in many cases, the politics win out, and it is a crime and a shame. The poignancy of Mo'Nique's statement will hopefully resonate with those in the Academy. It's about movies, not motives, performances, not politics, and talent, not talk.

6:55 pm

That was a nice moment for Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall. Also, a wonderful speech by Geoffrey Fletcher, a surprise winner for Precious.

6:37 pm

Surprise, surprise, they cut off the short filmmakers for an unfunny bit by Ben Stiller. For shame.

6:33 pm

Logorama really is an amazing film. If you haven't seen, seek it out.

6:25 pm

Samuel L. Jackson said that Up is the second film to be nominated for best picture and best animated film. That's not technically accurate. It is the first. In 1991, Beauty and the Beast was nominated for best picture, but the best animated feature category did not exist. Just to stop any misinformation from being spread.

6:19 pm

Does John Hughes really deserve his own tribute at the Oscars? He's been dead for months. He was never nominated for Academy Award. Far more interesting and talented people have passed in the last year. If the producers really wanted to shorten the show, this is what they should have cut. If you've seen the movies, you don't need the montage. If you haven't, then you don't care.

6:17 pm

A win in screenplay for The Hurt Locker-- look out for a sweep.

6:09 pm

I'm sitting here wondering who will be the first person to have a speech cut off. The producers this year promised to be Draconian about speech length and stop anyone, regardless of status, if the speech went over 45 seconds. We'll see if they stick to that.

6:05 pm

Promoted as "Oscars like you've never seen them" everything is pretty standard issue so far. I'm not complaining; I'm just saying.

5:50 pm

It's like that whole atrocious opening song was a justification for there being two hosts. Steve Matin was pretty damn funny though. Alec Baldwin, not so much.

And, Christoph Waltz's win, maybe the most predictable thing all night (until Avatar wins Visual effects). But, it was a sweet, humble, endearing speech. A fitting end to his awards run.

Live Blogging the Pre-Show

5:26 pm

Pre-show over-- thank god. Enough of these people.

5:21 pm

I'm pretty sure she just said Miley Cyrus has "mastered comedy." Now, that's funny.

5:11 pm

Christopher Plummer says, "You can still have fun after age 14." I hope next year's Oscar producers remember that and do away with presenters like Taylor Lautner and Miley Cyrus.

5:09 pm

Well, that was an anti-climactic end to the design competition.

5:02 pm

It's raining on the Oscars. And, they're starting with the supporting actress interviews. They've all gotten to know each other pretty well over the course of the season, and it shows.

Oscars Tonight

Oscars tonight, friends. If you know me, which sure as you are reading this blog, you probably do, then you know tonight is the culmination of six months of non-stop movie watching and following of every twist and turn in the Oscar race.

As with last year, I will be live-blogging the event from my friend Ryan’s living room where we will be eating lasagna and drinking home-made beer in celebration of nothing in particular. So, check back here every so often throughout the night for my thoughts.

An afternoon of re-watching Inglourious Basterds has me pulling for an upset for that film (though, if I had my druthers, the Coens would take the award for A Serious Man). If you don’t follow the race closely, I could tell you what to look for, but where would the fun be in that? It is much more fun to hope that what we like will, against all odds and logic, prevail.

In that spirit, the following are the awards as I would like to see them turn out, despite the unlikelihood. Keep in mind, these are not predictions.

Best Picture: A Serious Man

Best Director: James Cameron for Avatar, his dedication to bringing the planet of Pandora to life for the planet Earth is among the greatest achievements by a single individual in the history of filmmaking

Best Actor: Colin Firth for A Single Man, the most nuanced and affecting turn by any of the year’s lead actor nominees

Best Actress: Carey Mulligan for An Education, though the story lets her down in the end, Mulligan gives the most fully realized performance of the group and shows that her future is a bright one indeed

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds, “That’s a bingo!”

Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique for Precious, another character derailed by flaws in the story, the actress gives everything she has to the role and it comes out in the performance

The rest:

Original Screenplay: A Serious Man
Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air
Cinematography: The White Ribbon
Editing: The Hurt Locker
Art-Direction: Avatar
Sound Editing: Avatar
Sound Mixing: Avatar
Original Score: Sherlock Holmes
Original Song: “The Weary Kind,” from Crazy Heart
Make-up: Star Trek
Costume Design: Coco Before Chanel
Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon
Documentary: The Cove
Animated Feature: Up
Visual Effects: Avatar
Animated Short: Logorama
Documentary Short: China’s Unnatural Disaster
Live-Action Short: The Door

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Good Day for Some Music

Over the weekend, the International Film Music Critics Association announced its choices for the best in film music of the last year.

Michael Giacchino, the composer of Up, was the big winner. However, one of my favorites of the year took home two awards. Christopher Young, whom I mentioned briefly last month when he was nominated for Drag Me to Hell, won for best horror film score (no surprise there) and, in a bit of an upset, also won for best film music composition.

I couldn’t agree more. Check out this link to go to my previous post on Young with a link to his winning composition, “Concerto to Hell.”

This all got me thinking about the original songs from last year’s films. Often, the most egregious snubs at the Academy Awards take place in the original song category. This year was no different, and the producers of the awards show have announced that the nominated songs will not even be performed during the show, which is an astounding break from tradition.

But, I figured I would take this opportunity to link to some of the best songs to come out of the cinema landscape of 2009. Each song title is a link to where you can listen to the songs.

Help Yourself,” by Sad Brad Smith from Up in the Air

This song accompanied my favorite sequence in any film from last year, the wedding in Up in the Air. That one scene alone is reason enough to see the film, and Smith’s song is the perfect compliment to the bittersweet montage. It is a folksy, semi-ballad that brilliantly evokes the core of George Clooney’s lonely traveler.

Hideaway,” by Karen O from Where the Wild Things Are

A beautiful, tender, sad song from a beautiful, tender, sad movie, this track stands a cut above the rest on a soundtrack where every song is endlessly listenable. Karen O’s voice is heartbreaking.

Petey’s Song,” by Jarvis Cocker from The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Jaunty and irreverent, this song is the epitome of music written for a film, and with its twangy banjos and call-and-response lyrics, it wonderfully evokes the wacky fun of Wes Anderson’s latest effort.

The Weary Kind,” by Ryan Bingham from Crazy Heart

Even if you don’t like country, you can still appreciate this soul-searching ballad from up-and-comer Bingham. Essentially, the whole film is about the writing of this song. It is the only song mentioned here that is nominated for the Oscar.