Monday, March 24, 2003

Oscar Wrap Up

Okay, just a quick overview. I didn't manage to blog what was happening because I was too tired, but I did watch it. On the whole the Oscar show was pretty restrained. A few people wore anti-war badges, and a lot of women wore black, but the most commonly expressed political sentiment was the very uncontroversial wish that the business in Iraq will end quickly and with minimal loss of life, and that American servicemen can come home safely and quickly. The two exceptions were Michael Moore's speech upon winning Best Documentary Feature, and Pedro Almodovar's speech upon winning Best Original Screenplay. Almodovar gave a relatively restrained antiwar speech, and Michael Moore was anything but restrained. (More on this later).

Thoughts on the winners. I did not do a very good job of prediction, getting only two of the top eight categories, although most of them fell into my possibles. When Chicago won for Art Direction, I started to think we would get a Chicago landslide, but this didn't eventuate. In the four acting categories, we got Nicole Kidman (good, and my pick, but not my choice), Adrien Brody (very good, and nobody predicted it - his speech was also the best of the night), Catherine Zeta-Jones (definitely not my pick, but still not an embarassment), and Chris Cooper (good, although I thought it might go to Christopher Walken at the lat minute). Screenplay awards went to The Pianist and Talk to Her.

The Pianist was clearly doing well, but I was amazed when Roman Polanski won for Best Director. Not that he didn't deserve it, but because of the certain infamy that the man has. (This is someone who was unable to attend because he would be arrested if he tried it). Given that I thought that this one would be much harder for The Pianist than Best Picture, I thought for a moment that The Pianist might be about to pick up that, too. However, Chicago got that. There has been a little bit of a tendency in recent years to give Best Picture to a "light" film and Best Director to something more "serious", and this followed that pattern again. (Previous examples: Shakespeare in Love and Gladiator for Best Picture, but Stephen Soderbergh for Traffic and Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan for Best Director). Martin Scorsese lost after a very dirty campaign waged for him by Harvey Weinstein, but managed to look absolutely delighted that Roman Polanski won. It must be just how much Scorsese loves the movies, I think. A great filmmaker who should have won a long time ago won the award after making a spectacular return to form. Scorsese's film on the other hand was one of his lesser ones, and he probably knows it. (I might compare this with the reaction of Ridley Scott a couple of years ago after losing for Gladiator who looked really disappointed. He wasn't ungracious. He just looked really disappointed).

In other categories, a suprisingly large number of things were got right. Miyazaki won Best Animated Feature for Spirited Away. Polanski won. And, amazingly, Eminem won Best Original Song for Lose Yourself from 8 Mile. The academy recognised anime and hip-hop. This is great.

Normally, the five nominees for Best Original Song are performed at the Academy Award ceremony. The producers try hard to get the people who performed the original songs to also perform them on the evening, and they usually get three or four out of five. (The performers are not necessarily the nominees, because the award goes to the songwriters). They get some quite famous people, and last night we had U2 and Paul Simon. For any songs for which they cannot get the original performers, they get a ring in, often someone like Faith Hill or Celine Dion. However, this presented a problem with Eminem, because he announced months ago that he would not attend. There was some speculation about who the academy would get to perform Lose Yourself, but is seems they ultimately decided that nobody but Eminem could do it properly, so they chose nobody. And given the conservatism of the academy, nobody expected Eminem to win. But he did. I am delighted he did, because it is a terrific song, and it was integral to the film. It was great to see Babra Streisand open the envelope, look at the winner, and go "whoa", too. His co-songwriter Luis Resto accepted the award, and demonstrated that if you are a nominee, you can in fact be admitted to the oscars wearing casual clothing. (The creators of South Park demonstrated a few years back that if you are nominees, you can get in in drag, too). Resto also had to climb over John Williams to get to the aisle in order to walk to the stage and accept the award. People who are expected to win normally are placed in positions where getting to the stage will be relatively easy. Not him.

Other brief thoughts are that despite Peter O'Toole's initial reluctance to receive a lifetime achievement award, he attended and gave a very gracious speech. His introduction, given by Meryl Streep, was also terrific, and my compliments to whoever wrote it.

Moore got applause when he got up to accept, a bit of a cheer when he started off, and then the booing got louder and louder as he started referring to Mr Bush as a "fictitious president who won a fictitious election" and attacking the war effort. The people booing clearly overwhelmed the people cheering. (Steve Martin then made a joke about the Teamsters outside having assisted Mr Moore into the trunk of his limousine). Moore was immediately followed by Jack Valenti to award Best Documentary short.. There is someone who I really would have liked to have booed.

No comments:

Blog Archive