Oscar Night 2009 (once AGAIN, I’m not nominated)

One of the funniest things I've read about tonight's impending Oscars comes from Bruce Villanch, the man who has written the past 20 Academy Awards shows.  An interviewer asked what constraints he had, and he lamented that he had to contend with TV censorship rules:  "I mean, you can't come out and say, `Now, the award for best new tits.'"

In Hollywood, that would be a competitive category. 

Herewith, my predictions for the major categories, and my reasoning behind them.

Slumdog Millionaire.  Why? Simply because it's won just about every other possible award.  It's an uplifting story, and none of the other nominees made as much of a splash.(I was pulling for this one, and I thought it was awesome they got all those cast members up onstage.) 

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.  Big movie, small budget, plus the Best Picture winner usually also wins Best Director.  Frost/Nixon was supposed to be pretty good, but Ron Howard already has a directing Oscar.  The dark horse is Gus van Zant for Milk.  I doubt it though. (I loved his speech, how he'd promised his kids he'd accept as Tigger, and then bounced up and down a few times.  Clearly, this film was a labor of love)

Tough one.  I think it will be Mickey Rourke, who was amazing in The Wrestler.  Sean Penn won the SAG award for Milk, so I wouldn't be stunned if he won, but he won recently for Mystic River.  The only other possibility I can imagine would be Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon.  His performance was well-received, and it would fit with Oscar's love of voting an Oscar for career achievement over the virtuosity of one performance (Paul Newman's Oscar for "The Color of Money," eg).  Still, Hollywood loves a comeback, and thus I think Mickey Rourke will win. (note: best-friend John (as big an Oscars geek as I am) says that Penn will win, because "He's up against the only person in Hollywood who's pissed-off more people than he has." Fair point, lanky teacher man.  We'll see.) (Score one for best-friend John! I was glad he won, despite having just gotten an Oscar a few years ago.  You can see the documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" on hulu.com, and it's eerie how much Sean Penn and nominee Josh Brolin look and sound like Harvey Milk and Dan White.)

Kate Winslett for The Reader.  She is long-overdue for an Oscar, and she was (by all accounts) tremendous in this one.  The dark horse would be Meryl Streep for Doubt.  She's one of the all-time greatest, and who knows how many more Oscar worthy roles she'll get.  Oscar thinks this way (see Paul Newman for The Color of Money again), but I think it will be Kate. (About damn time.  I wanted her to win even more after watching her tear up during her tribute thing from Marion Cotillard) 

Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road
I kid, I kid.  The seeming lock is Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight, and he was awesome.  The dark horse in this race is Robert Downey, Jr, for Tropic Thunder.  Not only has Downey mounted a lovely Hollywood comeback from drugs and other misbehavior, he gave two excellent performances in very successful films this year (Iron Man and TT).   I wouldn't be surprised if he won (I'd be ecstatic, quite honestly).  I also wouldn't bet against the Joker.(I thought the acceptance speech by his family was nicely done in a situation that had to be intimidating and uncomfortable.  Kevin Kline did a lovely job with his brief tribute.  To me, Christopher Walken should win this award every year, just because he's badass that way) 

I'm going to say Amy Adams for Doubt.  She's an excellent young actress, and Oscar frequently uses this like an ingenue award.  Penelope Cruz could sneak in for the "career recognition" win, but I'm thinking Amy. (note: Again, John dissents, saying that Viola Davis will win for Doubt.) Okay, so Penelope Cruz did win.  I give myself partial credit for saying she was my dark horse.  I liked her speech, too. Great actress, nice speech.  Seeing the five assembled previous winners, I was struck by two things.  First off, Eva Marie Saint looks amazing for being almost 85.  Second, holy CRAP! Goldie freakin' Hawn has an Oscar? Yikes.

SCREENPLAY (Original):
Dustin Lance Black for Milk.  Hollywood loves Harvey Milk, the heroic, assassinated San Francisco politician who was the first openly gay man elected to a major office.  "The Times of Harvey Milk" (a documentary on his life) won the best doc Oscar in 1984, and this film is supposed to be splendid.  Also, most of the other Original Screenplay noms were non-starters, except for Wall-E, which I can't imagine winning.(I loved his speech.  "Thank you, God, for Harvey Milk." Very gracious.)

Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon.  This film is entirely about dialogue, and it's adapted from an award-winning play.  Slumdog Millionaire might win (if it's a landslide), but I wouldn't be surprised to see Frost/Nixon take the statuette. (note: John says it will be a "Slumslide," and that this category will be no exception)(John was right; it could just be a Slumslide.)

DOCUMENTARY (feature):
Man on Wire.  I'm saying this, because it's the only time I've actually seen a documentary nominated in this category before the award show.  (Michael Moore is such an officious prick that he submitted Fahrenheit 9/11 for Best Picture consideration, instead of taking the lock for Best Doc)  Wire tells the amazing story of how Phillipe Petit set out to walk a high-wire between the Twin Towers.  The little Frenchman has gigantic brass balls, not only for walking the wire, but for all the subterfuge and planning that went into his stunt.  (I reckon his big brass ones help him  balance as well)  I know nothing about any of the other Documentary nominees.  I'm picking this one because I saw it, and it did get some general release. (Oh, hell yes! Phillipe Petit was there, and balanced the Oscar on his chin.  That's entertainment.)

Waltz With Bashir.  It's the only one I've heard of, and it sounds like something that would win–Middle East-themed films do well in this category.  Also, Israel has been nominated seven times without winning, and by Yaweh they're due.(I'm a little surprised, but nothing in this category is too shocking, considering you have to attend a special screening to vote)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  It must have been tough to make Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett un-hot.  This is the one I'd bet on, but I wouldn't rule out The Dark Knight. (Makes sense.)

A.R. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire.  Hooray for Bollywood.  I haven't seen any of the films, but I always like the music in Indian films, and I think this will be part of a Slumdog mini-landslide. (I loved this guy's attitude and energy, and I'm glad he won)

"Down to Earth," from Wall-E.  Two words: Peter freakin' Gabriel.  Also, the other two nominees are both from Slumdog Millionaire, and I think they'll split.  Typically, this is the category where Hollywood gets to kiss the ass of a rock star, thus giving Oscars to Springsteen, Phil Collins, Prince, et al. (Yeah, I said Peter Gabriel would win, but I was pulling for A.R. Rahman from "Slumdog." Those songs rocked, and I wanted to see him win another award.) 

I think "The Dark Knight" will win this one.  Amazing editing, lots of effects, good stuff.  Slumdog could win if it's a landslide, but I think TDK will get this one. (The Slumslide continues)

The Dark Knight.  Lots of well directed art.  Also, in addition to being a really good film, TDK just went over the one BILLION dollar mark worldwide.  That's more than ten times the combined budgets and box office of the other four nominees in this category.  I think that will count for something.(And it didn't count for shit.  Another for Benjamin Button)

Slumdog Millionaire.  From what I've seen, this is a beautiful film to watch, vibrant and alive.  The Dark Knight would be my dark bat, er horse in this race, but I'd bet on Slumdog. (I'd have won.  I liked the British guy who won.  Also, the bit with Ben Stiller aping Joaquin Phoenix's space cadet appearance on Letterman was priceless)

Wall-E.  It was nominated for other things, so it should at least win this one. (I liked the guy's speech when he won, how he thanked his high school drama teacher for casting him in"Hello, Dolly.") 

Australia.  God forbid Milk wins for resurrecting the polyester nightmare that was 1970's clothing.  Australia was a non-stodgy period piece, and I think it will win. (The Duchess? Okay.  All I could think of was the Duchess in Tom Robbins' "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues")

SHORT FILM (Animated):
Presto.  It has a bunny in it (FIX! THE BUNNY WAS ROBBED!)

Spielzeugland.  Just because I want to see the presenter have to say "Spielzeugland." (SHPEELT-soy-glahnd) (I admit, I was a little worried when Seth Rogan said it correctly while announcing the nominees, but James Franco hooked me by butchering the name when it won.  Liked the guy's speech, too, about how he grew up in East Germany, and how West Germany seemed far away, then Hollywood reeeeally far away, and how winning the Oscar was amazing)

That's about it.  It should be a long, tedious show.  I may live-blog it.  We'll see if I can stay awake.

(Well, another year's Oscars is in the books.  I thought the show was pretty good, although I could've done without the big musical number.  Also, I've never liked Jerry Lewis' films, so I cleaned the litter box while they ran his tribute.  Finally, I thought they absolutely butchered the "In Memoriam" part.  Queen Latifah's singing was fine, but having a vocal there was superfluous, and the camera work was horrible.  They should have focused on the screen and let us read the people's names.  Good Lord, some of these people worked in films their whole lives, and this would be their only scrap of glory, a chance for a polite smattering of golf-clapping during the Oscars.  Instead, they get shunted to the background of Queen Latifah.

All I can say is, Hey Brown Suga': when you win one in a few years, you'd better remember to thank me.  😉

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8 Responses to “Oscar Night 2009 (once AGAIN, I’m not nominated)”

  1. I can't believe they passed you up again. What do these people know about talent, anyway?

  2. Altho I thought Ben Stiller's impersonation was funny, I felt like it sort of took away attention and respect to the actual award being given. I didn't listen to a damn thing that woman said while the Stiller/Phoenix character did his thing. Not. a. word.

  3. Yeah. Fair point. They should have done it for a smaller category (makeup, eg). What really pissed me off was the Queen Latifah/wandering camera thing on the "In Memoriam" segment. I couldn't read half the people's names or jobs. I did sort of like the way they did the acting awards, with a previous winner doing a bit on each nominee.

  4. Yeah, Jerry Lewis…shudder. The thing that interested me about the Heath Ledger shoe-in, it pretty much establishes that the Oscars aren't particularly about any given performance so much as they are about the idea of a particular actor/film/cultural zeitgeist.

  5. You're absolutely correct. That's why freakin' Cher as a best actress Oscar for "Moonstruck," Whoopi Goldberg for "Ghost," etc. Glenn Close got robbed a few times in the 80's, just because she wasn't Hollywood-popular.

  6. So Gus van Zant won for Director? Cool! I haven't seen Milk yet, but every preview I've seen looked amazing! I am glad Sean Penn won. And Slumdog the screenplay adaptation YES! and original screenplay Milk YES!!! (I loved his speech, too..it made tears come to my eyes). I loved the past winners presenting the supporting actresses, too! I went to bed as soon as they mentioned Jerry Lewis so I missed the In Memoriam thing, too. I loved Phillipe Petit balancing the award on his chin, too! What a hoot. In short, I enjoyed this year's show more than any one I can remember! I have never been all that interested in watching, but this one was lots of fun until I pooped out at 10:30. :)Thanks for your views. I agreed with almost every one! 😀

  7. No. Danny Boyle won for director. People do seem to win for his films, though: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won for the Good Will Hunting screenplay, and Robin Williams got his Supporting Actor Oscar too. Phillipe Petit is a character. Watch "Man on Wire" if you can. I rented it on iTunes. Fantastic story, and just amazing film of his various shenanigans. I'm so glad you're back, Lauri. Vox was just so boring without you. 🙂

  8. Oh! I am really glad Danny Boyle won!!! He did such a fantastic job weaving the whole story together!I loved Slumdog and I am glad it was a Slumslide! :DI walked out of that movie raving about the score, too! And it won! Wheeee!!!I remember being delighted when Crash won….back whenever that was….I'm glad to be back, too, tom!!! 7 days is long enough to be away from home…and Vox! 😉

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