Uneven Ellen Can’t Ruin Surprising Oscars

When you’re right, you’re right.  As predicted by this website it ended up being Martin Scorsese’s night.  The long suffering Italian-American master finally snagged the top two prizes at the Academy Awards.  His highly acclaimed blockbuster, The Departed (Richard Roeper’s favourite movie of 2006), was named Best Picture and Scorsese, himself, after many disappointing evenings, finally took home the trophy for Best Director.  The film also won for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.  It was the biggest winner of the night with 4 Oscars.
 
It was the first time in years that there wasn’t a sure bet for the top film of the year.  (In The Sunday Sun, all four critics selected four different titles to win.)  Many expected either Babel or the summer sleeper Little Miss Sunshine to win the top prize.  After screwing up last year’s Best Picture prediction it was nice to finally get one absolutely dead-on.  Just like Scorsese and company, I had a wonderful night.  For the third, consecutive year, I won the family Oscar pool.  (More on that shortly.)
 
Also unsurprising were the winners for Best Actor and Actress.  The incredibly elegant and good-natured Helen Mirren won for her portrayal of Elizabeth Windsor in The Queen, the sole award for that movie.  Not only did she look beautiful she delivered a nice speech with some funny moments.  Forest Whitaker redeemed himself at the podium (after blowing it big time at the Golden Globes) when he waxed eloquent during his own moment basking in the glory of his victory for playing the infamous Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland.  Smartly, he prepared a short, moving tribute to passionate dreamers and was truly grateful for being voted the best.  I was happy to see him win.  He’s been good in movies for so long it was terrific to see him get singled out by the Hollywood elite.
 
Even though she needlessly thanked God (twice), Jennifer Hudson was also a gracious winner taking the Best Supporting Actress prize.  She looked great and seemed completely overwhelmed by all the success she’s accumulated since the Christmas Day release of Dreamgirls.  I liked her speech very much where she singled out her grandmother, also a singer, who never got to enjoy the kind of career the young Hudson is already enjoying.  The only other prize that movie won was for Best Sound Mixing. 
 
In perhaps the most stunning upset of the evening, 73-year-old Alan Arkin, a previous nominee for Best Actor twice in the 1960s, garnered Best Supporting Actor playing the drug addicted patriarch of a dysfunctional family in Little Miss Sunshine.  All I could think about in that moment was how Hollywood must loath Eddie Murphy.  Maybe it was payback for Norbit.  We’ll never know.
 
Also shocking was Melissa Etheridge’s win for Best Original Song, the second year in a row there’s been an upset.  (Remember last year’s winner, It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp?)  Despite having 3 nominations in the category, Dreamgirls was completely shut out.  Etheridge, who looks uncannily like Hillary Clinton these days, won for writing and performing I Need To Wake Up for An Inconvenient Truth.  As expected, that movie took home Best Documentary Feature, and no, Al Gore, the star of the film, didn’t announce his intention to run for the Presidency next year.  However, with an admiring Leonardo DiCaprio by his side earlier in the evening, he proved to be a good sport by starting to make the announcement before being humourously cut off by the orchestra.  He seemed to enjoy host Ellen DeGeneres’ monologue quip about how he really won the 2000 election.
 
Also a surprise was Happy Feet’s triumph in the Best Animated Feature category.  Cars appeared to be the runaway favourite but that conventional wisdom proved to be false.  The other shocker was in the Best Foreign Language Film category.  The expected favourite, Pan’s Labyrinth (which won 3 trophies for Art Direction, Make-Up and Cinematography), was upset by The Lives Of Others, a well reviewed German film.
 
For the third year in a row, I won the family Oscar pool, something no one has been able to achieve previously.  Just like last year, I got 16 out of 24 correct.  This is my 8th victory overall.  It was a close race from the get go with my grandmother leading for much of the evening until the latter stages when I managed to pass her.  She ended up with 14 out of 24, a respectable total.  My mother finished third with 13 out of 24, also pretty good.  But, in one of the most disgraceful performances in the 15-year history of this betting pool, my father only managed to get one category right.  That would be the Best Animated Short Oscar which was awarded to The National Film Board Of Canada for their film, The Danish Poet.  Going against everybody else’s choices proved a disasterous decision.  My father now has two records with regards to this pool.  He has the most correct guesses in a single year (19 out of 24 in 2004) and the lowest amount in a single year (1 for 24 this year).  It’s likely both records will not be broken any time soon.
 
As for the show itself, as anticipated, Ellen DeGeneres was a hit-and-miss host, too safe and edgeless to really cause an impact.  She seemed funnier off the stage doing those impromptu, comic bits with Clint Eastwood (she had her picture taken with him) and Martin Scorsese (she handed him a script that she described “as a cross between Goodfellas and Big Momma’s House:  Goodmommas.”) than she did on.
 
Much funnier were Will Ferrell (he’s always great), Jack Black (ditto) and Oscar nominee John C. Reilly who did a hilarious song about how comedians rarely get their due at The Oscars.  At one point, Black and Ferrell threatened to beat the shit out of some of the nominees like Leonardo DiCaprio (who seemed greatly amused by it all), with the exceptions of Mark Wahlberg (who Farrell conceded was “bad ass” and “very talented”) and Helen Mirren (who seem flattered by the positive attention sent her way).
 
Also good was the 60-second, rapid fire speech by the Motion Picture Academy President who made Scorsese sound like a slow talker by comparison.  It was funny and surprisingly cool.  Great use of visuals during that pre-taped bit.
 
Other observations: 
 
Reese Witherspoon was the best dressed and the hottest looking broad in the Kodak Theatre.  (How and why Ryan Phillippe fucked up this relationship will forever remain a mystery to me.)
 
Philip Seymour Hoffman should comb his hair before being seen in public.
 
Jack Nicholson couldn’t be bothered to stand for the winners of Best Documentary Feature.  He wasn’t the only one but it seemed out of place when practically everyone else did rise to their feet.
 
The original “Three Amigos” – Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg – were loose and funny during their time presenting the Best Director Oscar.  It was a very telling sign when they came out on stage.
 
When Forest Whitaker won for Best Actor, both Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling, his fellow nominees, graciously and movingly rose to their feet to applaud his victory.  That was a wonderful moment.  Everybody else should’ve risen, too.
 
Jennifer Hudson had lots of jiggle in her wiggle during her wonderful performance when members of the Dreamgirls cast performed the three nominated songs.  (Her breasts were playfully dancing as she moved.  Me likey.)  Beyonce Knowles, who wasn’t nominated for Best Actress, seemed to force her vocals at times, especially during Listen.  Hudson proved once and for all that she’s the better singer.
 
Guillermo Del Toro, the director of Pan’s Labyrinth, looks like a Mexican Bubbles.
 
Celine Dion looked the best she’s ever looked.  She finally gained some weight and had a decent head of hair, for once.  I think she’s a great character and one of the more sincere performers out there.  I like her eccentric moments, too.
 
Gwyneth Paltrow also looked beautiful.  She, too, looks better with a little more weight on her.
 
Tom Hanks got off a funny, impromptu quip backstage just before a commercial break.  It was appropriately goofy.  People forget that this highly respected dramatic actor is extremely funny when he wants to be.
 
Finally, how about that really cool dance troupe that contorted their bodies into cool objects like the gun from The Departed, the poster image from Snakes On A Plane and the high heel from The Devil Wears Prada, among others?  They were simply amazing.
 
Here’s the complete list of winners:
 
BEST PICTURE – THE DEPARTED
 
BEST DIRECTOR – Martin Scorsese (THE DEPARTED)
 
BEST ACTOR – Forest Whitaker (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND)
 
BEST ACTRESS – Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Alan Arkin (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Jennifer Hudson (DREAMGIRLS)
 
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – HAPPY FEET
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
 
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Germany)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – I Need To Wake Up (AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – BABEL
 
BEST ART DIRECTION – PAN’S LABYRINTH
 
BEST MAKE-UP – PAN’S LABYRINTH
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – PAN’S LABYRINTH
 
BEST FILM EDITING – THE DEPARTED
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
 
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – THE DEPARTED
 
BEST SOUND MIXING – DREAMGIRLS
 
BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING – LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
 
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST
 
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – MARIE ANTOINETTE
 
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – WEST BANK STORY
 
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – THE DANISH POET
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT
 
 
Special Oscars
 
JEAN HERSHOLT AWARD – Sherry Lansing
 
HONOURARY OSCAR – Film Composer Ennio Morricone
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 26, 2007
2:38 a.m.
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Published in: on February 26, 2007 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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