2008 Oscar Wrap-Up

It was one of the shortest ceremonies in memory (roughly 3 hours and 20 minutes) and not without a couple of jolting surprises.  The 80th annual Academy Awards were a mix of predictability and shock, originality and recycling, humourous quips and earnest, heartfelt sentiments.
 
As expected, the big winner was No Country For Old Men which took home Best Picture.  Joel and Ethan Coen picked up golden statues for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director.  The last time they accepted an Oscar was in 1997 when their overrated Fargo won for Best Original Screenplay.  Javier Bardem, who attended the ceremony with his Spanish-speaking mother, picked up the Best Supporting Actor trophy.  He played Anton, the serial killer with the strange haircut and bad limp.  All in all, the film won four Academy Awards, the most of any movie nominated this year.
 
The highly acclaimed summer blockbuster, The Bourne Ultimatum, won everything it was up for:  Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.  Considering how strong the critical reviews were for this three-quel, one wonders why it didn’t receive further recognition in the major categories.
 
Other expected victors included Ratatouille for Best Animated Feature (this marks the third Oscar for Pixar in this category), The Counterfeiters for Best Foreign Language Film, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age for Best Costume Design.
 
But there were four major upsets.  Both Julie Christie and Ellen Page had to watch the ravishing French actress Marion Cotillard warmly embrace Best Actor winner Forest Whitaker on stage before she accepted the Best Actress award for her well received performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose.  “It’s true there are angels in this city,” she concluded.  The film also won for Best Make-Up.
 
Best Visual Effects didn’t go to Transformers, the presumptive favourite.  Instead, it went to The Golden Compass.
 
The Best Documentary Feature Oscar went not to Sicko or No End In Sight, but to Taxi To The Dark Side.  Alex Gibney gave a short, compelling speech about how his father, an outraged member of the American military, urged him to make this movie about torture in Afghanistan so that the country could start coming out of the darkness “and into the light”.
 
And in the wide open Best Supporting Actress race, Tilda Swinton looked stunned as her name was announced as the winner for her work as a slimy CEO in damage control mode in the well reviewed but little seen Michael Clayton, which just recently became available on DVD.  How fitting that last year’s Best Supporting Actor Alan Arkin (himself, an unexpected victor) presented the award.  In one of the best speeches of the night, the redheaded Brit promised her American agent the award who she said resembled the Oscar trophy itself, especially, “the buttocks”.  She also gave George Clooney one more humourous reason to be embarrassed about his failed Batman And Robin.
 
A clearly touched Diablo Cody dedicated her Best Original Screenplay Oscar to the writers and unlike most winners this year, she thanked her fellow nominees in her category.  Classy babe.  The first-time writer of the beloved Juno failed to fight back tears as she wrapped up her brief acceptance speech.  When she told Best Director nominee Jason Reitman that he was like family to her he had a difficult time keeping his eyes dry, too.
 
Daniel Day-Lewis won his second Best Actor trophy for his work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, another expected win.  (The film also won for Best Cinematography.)  He graciously embraced fellow nominee George Clooney on his way to the stage where he then went down on one knee for last year’s Best Actress winner, the regal-looking (and hot) Helen Mirren, who good naturedly “knighted” him with his Oscar.  He went on to thank his lovely and talented filmmaker wife, Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity), and dedicated the award to his grandfather, dad and three sons. 
 
97-year-old production designer Robert Boyle won an honourary Oscar for the many, many years of work he put into numerous Hollywood productions over his long respected career.  During his speech, he thanked the late Alfred Hitchcock and Norman Jewison for hiring him for jobs on North By Northwest, Shadow Of A Doubt and Fiddler On The Roof.  The best moment, though, occurred right at the start after a minute-long standing ovation.  When it died down, he quipped, “That’s the best part about getting old.  I don’t recommend the other.”  (For the complete list of winners, scroll down to the bottom of this entry.)
 
After receiving some unfair criticisms for his first hosting stint two years ago (I thought he was funny), Jon Stewart actually performed better during his monologue this year.  Not that it really matters, but the audience appeared more receptive this time than in 2006.  And it was nice to hear the words “Gadolph Titler” for the first time in quite a bit.  (I’m fairly certain that’s a recycled punchline from The Daily Show.  I don’t care.  It’s still hilarious.)  Mixing politics with material about the Oscar nominees was a wise choice.  (I counted only two jokes that didn’t work.  Pretty damn good.)  And there were some funny bits sprinkled throughout the show, as well.  Goofing on the “rejected” film montages, Bad Dreams: An Oscar Salute and a compendium of clips featuring binoculars and periscopes, worked well.  Some bits and intros fell flat, though, but mostly, he did as good a job overall as he did in ’06.
 
Some other observations and unanswered questions:
 
What’s with those three very noticable holes in singer/guitarist (and co-winner of the Best Original Song Oscar) Glen Hansard’s diseased acoustic guitar?  Maybe I should see Once since it’s the same guitar from the movie.
 
Who knew helium-voiced Kristen Chenoweth could sound so womanly when she sings?
 
Josh Brolin and James MacAvoy amusingly spun around during their loose presentation.  After doing an impression of Jack Nicholson, Brolin rather endearingly apologized to him directly for not nailing it.  The always smiling Jack didn’t seem to mind.  Honestly, what could possibly piss off Jack Nicholson at this point?  Right.  The end of Viagra.  My bad.
 
If the Best Original Song and Best Original Score categories disappeared, would anyone miss them?
 
Does Colin Farrell only announce Irish Best Original Song nominees?  (In 2003, he introduced U2’s nominated song, The Hands That Built America, from Gangs Of New York.)  I don’t remember him doing anything else at the Oscars.
 
How nice was it for Jon Stewart and the Oscarcast to allow Marketa Irglova, co-winner of the Best Original Song award, a second chance to say thanks after she was rudely interrupted by that infernal Bill Conti and his dopey orchestra?  It’s too bad she gave Russell Crowe’s Best Actor speech from 2001.  (You know, if you have a dream, it is possible.  For you, maybe.)
 
Even with those ridiculous black feathers, Penelope Cruz is still ridiculously beautiful.
 
How come Brad Renfro wasn’t mentioned in the annual In Memoriam clip montage?
 
That 11-year-old August Rush singer is remarkably good.
 
Michael Bay is an Academy member?
 
 
The complete list of winners:
 
BEST PICTURE – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
 
BEST DIRECTOR – Joel and Ethan Coen (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN)
 
BEST ACTOR – Daniel Day-Lewis (THERE WILL BE BLOOD)
 
BEST ACTRESS – Marion Cotillard (LA VIE EN ROSE)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Javier Bardem (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Tilda Swinton (MICHAEL CLAYTON)
 
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – RATATOUILLE
 
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE MOVIE – THE COUNTERFEITERS
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Diablo Cody (JUNO)
 
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Joel and Ethan Coen (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Falling Slowly (ONCE)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – ATONEMENT
 
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
 
BEST MAKE-UP – LA VIE EN ROSE
 
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – THE GOLDEN COMPASS
 
BEST ART DIRECTION – SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
 
BEST FILM EDITING – THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
 
BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING – THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
 
BEST SOUND MIXING – THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – THERE WILL BE BLOOD
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – FREEHELD
 
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – THE MOZART OF PICKPOCKETS
 
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – PETER & THE WOLF
 
 
Special Oscar
 
Honourary Oscar – Production Designer Robert Boyle
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 25, 2008
2:13 a.m.
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Published in: on February 25, 2008 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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