After a year of movies and two months of hype over the cream of the crop, the prom of Hollywood, the Oscars, have come and gone... even though it took way too long to get to the gone part. The show clocked in at almost four hours, and I sat through the whole thing (except James Taylor's song) and was even late for work just to watch the last few awards. But before we break down the main awards from last night, I have a few of my own to give out.
BEST TIME FILLER
Hands-down this one goes to the hilarious trio of Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly and their outstanding musical comedy bit. I wasn't quite sure what to make of an afroed Ferrell just sitting on those stairs by himself, but the whole thing just turned out wonderfully. If the night had more material like this and less of the tribute montage things, the show would've been even better. Honorable Mentions: Academy prez Sid Ganis doing that whole thing about the Academy's other purposes in under a minute. Nice job, Sid.
WORST TIME FILLER
Those tribute montage things. Seriously, what purpose did they serve? They all had big-name filmmakers behind them, but what does that matter? They didn't MAKE all those films, they just picked some out and spliced them. A projectionist with access to a ton of movies could've done that. I don't know why every year they feel the need to celebrate these different aspects of movie history when they're really supposed to be celebrating THIS year's movies. Honorable Mention: those dancers that are apparently extras in Michael Bay's new Transformers flick. Weird...
BEST OSCAR COMMERCIAL
Easily Wes Anderson's hilarious MasterCard commercial where he explains the "process" of filmmaking while taking a brisk walk through the set. He even had one of his old cronies Jason Schwartzman here. While we did see too many too-long commercials, this one I had no problem with because it was actually entertaining. It was actually better than 95% of the Super Bowl ads, which were probably the worst Super Bowl crop in history. Kudos Wes Anderson!
WORST OSCAR COMMERCIAL
Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Honestly it wasn't a bad commercial, rather it wouldn't have been a bad commercial had they not played it 78,456 times (unofficially) during the four-hour telecast. I went from loving the commercial and maybe wanting to buy the product to hating the commercial and wanting to set the Apple headquarters on fire in those four hours. Quite remarkable. Tone it down about 20-fold, you knobs!
I really liked the exchange between The Devil Wears Prada's Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway, with a wonderful assist from Meryl Streep. I actually forgot what award they presented, that's how good it was. Honorable Mention: the tykes Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith presenting the Animated and Live Action Short awards. They both played off some miscues nicely in their Oscar debut.
Clint Eastwood. Sorry, Dirty Harry, but you looked a little lost up there when you presented the special Oscar to legendary "scorer" Ennio Morricone, who's composed some of the best movie scores in the history of cinema. For my money, I don't think there's a better opening theme than Morricone's amazing theme for The Untouchables. Anyway, Clint just seemed all over the place before Morricone got up there, and it got worse when he translated Morricone's Italian for us. It just sounded so odd, and it seemed like he was unsure of the words himself. I love your movies, Clint, but I don't think you should be presenting anything anytime soon.
Penelope Cruz. I mean, wow. Didn't you see her? Damn.
Kirsten Dunst. She looked like a stick of Doublemint Gum with really bad hair. It just wasn't working, Mary Jane.
The marvelous Alan Arkin walking away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in one of the most competitive fields of the whole show. Djimon Hounsou, Eddie Murphy and Mark Wahlberg all gave probably the best performances of their career in their respective roles, and probably Jackie Earle Haley too, but I haven't seen his movie yet. But Arkin gave the performance of his career also as drug-addled grandpa, and while he certainly was deserving of this award, I was still surprised he got it, in such a tremendous field.
Melissa Etheridge beating out THREE songs from Dreamgirls to win Best Original Song with "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth. Even Etheridge was shocked she won. You could see it plain as day. While I'm not knocking her song at all, it just amazes me how much the fabulous Dreamgirls was snubbed during the whole show. I thought they had this one locked down and Jennifer Hudson's Best Suppporting Actress locked down as well, and it turns out I was 1 for 2 and, Dreamgirls went just 2 for 8 in the whole show. Maybe Hollywood just really doesn't want anymore musicals, or maybe it was just an odd year, but, at the very least, this great musical should've taken home Best Original Song.
Now lets get to the real awards. Ready... break!
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Winner: William Monahan, The Departed
Within not even two years, Monahan has gone from being a relative unknown, to having two of his screenplays produced (Kingdom Of Heaven was his first) and the second of those winning an Oscar for his screenplay and an Oscar for Best Picture. Rather amazing, eh? While the screenplay categories have tended to go to lesser-known indies that had no shot at Best Picture in the past, I just don't think there's any way they could've passed up Monahan's searing script. It was just too powerful for any of the other nominees to contend with.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Winner: Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine
Arndt is even more of a newbie than Monahan is, as this is his first produced screenplay. This one actually surprised me a little bit, because I thought they'd give this to Babel. Babel has the kind of unconventional structure that the Academy seems to dig in this category, and I thought they'd throw Babel this bone since it really didn't have much of a shot for Best Picture. Still, Arndt's script has such a perfect fusion of comedy and drama. While it didn't win Best Picture, I think the Academy, by giving this award to a comedy for the first time since probably Annie Hall, might be saying it's willing to broaden its horizons a little bit.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS]
Winner: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
This was really one of the few no-brainers of the night. Both the Babel girls, Rinko Kikuchi and Adrianna Barraza likely split their votes, Cate Blanchett won an Oscar last year and Abigail Breslin did probably have the best shot at taking this away from Hudson, but I couldn't really see that happening. Hudson's soulful knockout performance was Oscar-bound from the start.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner: Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
See: BEST SURPRISE entry...
Winner: Helen Mirren, The Queen
The biggest no-brainer of the night. She'd won practically every award on the circuit except the Razzie for her spellbounding title performance. You could even see it in all the faces of the other nominees. Everyone knew who was going to win even before the nominees were announced. If you haven't seen her astounding performance yet, yes, it really is THAT good, folks.
Winner: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
This was a no-brainer as well, but there was a little bit of doubt after the nominations. Peter O'Toole had been nominated for the 8th time and he has no wins, a record for most nominations without a win, and the Academy often likes to address past wrongs with an Oscar late in a career, usually not for that person's best work either. Ryan Gosling's performance in Half Nelson was turning a head or two as well, but in the end, the overwhelming favorite took home the little gold man. Due to the cinematic black hole that I reside in, I haven't seen this supposedly-wonderful performance yet, but it's way up on my to-do list once it hits DVD.
Winner: Martin Scorcese, The Departed
Finally! Finally I don't have to read or hear another stupid joke about Eminem or Three 6 Mafia or anyone else having more Oscars than Martin Scorcese! Yes, it certainly was a long time coming, but, honestly, I'm glad he got this award now, as opposed to his past two offerings, The Aviator and Gangs Of New York. While he was wronged in the past for this award, I don't think he was at all for these last two lengthy, syrupy offerings. Giving him this award now is so wonderful because this amazing movie brings us back to Marty's roots; showing us marvelous portrayals of the rotten underbelly of our culture. Giving him this award now not only rewards him for The Departed, which is easily his best film since Goodfellas, but it rewards him for going back to what he was amazing at. Bravo Marty! You certainly deserve it for this, and for the many great works of the past.
Winner: The Departed
For me, this was a HUGE no-brainer. This was easily the best movie of the year, although that quirky Little Miss Sunshine wasn't that far behind. But The Departed just plain and simple had it all. Action. Violence. Humor. Drama. Dialogue. All scripted magnificently and directed even more magnificently. The Departed is an instant classic, a film that will cement the legacy of Martin Scorcese with long-overdue Best Director and Best Picture Oscars, along with cementing performances from one of the best ensemble casts in film history. There was no doubt in my mind, whatsoever.
Well, that's all the big awards from this year's Oscars, and a few of my own. Take care folks and, always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free.