ReelThoughts: March 08, 2010

"The Live Oscar Blog"

Commentary by James Berardinelli


Here, verbatim, is my live commentary from last night's Oscar telecast. I will post something more analytical in a day or two discussing my overall feelings about the entertainment value of the program and whether the night was as historic as is being touted. About 3/4 of the way through the ceremony, traffic in the ReelViews forums became so heavy that they crashed. They were down for about 30 minutes. This is reflected in the commentary and the abrupt drop-off in "side" comments is a direct result of my scrambling trying to get the forums working again while keeping an eye on the television. Sometimes, I wish I was better at multitasking. So here are my thoughts, as they happened, for those who don't want to wade through two-dozen pages of forum posts.

For those who want to explore further, here's the direct link to the forum thread, which is still active.

Post #1 (8:28 pm EST):

So we're off and running. What's the over/under for the end time? Midnight ET? That would make the telecast 3.5 hours. Too long for me but, going by past years, that sounds about right.

I'm ignoring the scintillating red carpet pre-show, which illustrates everything there is to hate about the Oscars and Hollywood.

Anyway, not much to say for now. That will almost certainly change as the evening wears on...

Post #2 (8:32 pm EST):

Roger Ebert thinks there will be surprises tonight. There usually is one, but I'm not certain what it would be. Even though I'm predicting AVATAR to win Best Picture, it wouldn't shock me if THE HURT LOCKER won.

Maybe Sandra Bullock is the weak link. Could this be the first win by someone wearing a bathrrobe? (Looks more like a Jedi robe to me.)

Post #3 (8:51 pm EST):

Interesting... a guest host to introduce the hosts.

The monologue/dialogue works better with two. They can play off each other.

Jeff Bridges looks like Colonel Sanders.

Award #1: Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz [1/1]

Acceptance Speech: ** out of **** - Kind of rambling. No real thank-yous, but plenty of names.

Ryan Reynolds introducing THE BLIND SIDE - doesn't indicate a very high "prestige" level as far as the program directors are concerned. (One of two Best Picture nominees not in my end-of-the-year Top 10.)

Post #4 (9:06 pm EST):

Were movie ads allowed during last year's ceremony? I know they used to be banned.

My nomination for next year's co-hosts: David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O'Brien.

Award #2: Best Animated Film - UP [2/2] - Another slam-dunk.

Anyone notice that Cameron Diaz said "And the winner is..."?

Acceptance speech: **1/2 out of **** - Slipped a few thank-yous in there, but it wasn't as rambling as Waltz's and it was short.

Amanda Seyfried and Miley Cyrus - also known as "The Hottie and the Nottie."

Wow - no actual song performances this year? There is a god! (Actually, I was hoping to see Marion Cotillard doing a strip-tease.)

Award #3: Best Song - "The Weary Heart" - [3/3]

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - So much for the "no thank-you speech" rule.

Missed opportunity - William Shatner and Chris Pine should have co-introduced DISTRICT 9.

Post #5 (9:24 pm EST):

Award #4: Best Original Screenplay - THE HURT LOCKER [4/4]

I guess they have officially gone back to "And the winner is..." Glad to see one small blow to PC.

Acceptance speech: **1/2 out of **** - he had something to say and limited the thank-yous.

Tribute to John Hughes - utterly unnecessary. In the grand scheme of things, Hughes was just an average director who made a few nice little films. All we needed of him is a nice little snapshot during the Obit portion of the show. Will Eric Rohmer be mentioned?

This thing just keeps going on and on and on...

Samuel L. Jackson for UP and not IB? Must be some irony there...

Post #6 (9:44 pm EST):

Time for the shorts - I don't pick these so I'll hold at 4/4 for the moment. One hour in and I'm starting to get tired.

Award: Best Short (Animated) - "Logorama" - beat out Wallace & Gromit!

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - Generic speech full of thank-yous.

Award: Best Short (Documentary) - "Music by Prudence"

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - kind of bizarre but long-winded. Short films should have short speeches.

Award: Best Short (Live Action) - "The New Tenants"

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - still waiting for a good speech. Two short people got played off.

Award #5: Best Makeup - STAR TREK [5/5]

Stiller's awarding of the statue - funniest moment of the night.

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - Back to the catalog of thank-yous. And apparently they have more for back stage.

The Dude for the Coens.

Post #7 (10:02 pm EST):

Award #6: Best Adapted Screenplay - PRECIOUS [5/6] Sometimes the screenplay awards are "consolation prizes." This would seem to indicate that UP IN THE AIR is going to go home empty.

Acceptance speech: **1/2 out of **** - very heartfelt. I don't think he expected to win. But it was basically just a list of thank-yous. You'd expect a writer to have a better speech prepared.

I guess all the special awards are now relegated to a montage - while a dead John Hughes gets one all to himself. Took the audience long enough to stand up.

Award #7: Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique [6/7] Another slam-dunk.

Robin Williams was surprisingly restrained. He's usually off-the-wall. I think he's lost his mojo.

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - I expected a lot more than a list of angry thank-yous from someone used to working crowds.

Colin Firth - a Brit introducing a British film. Fitting.

Post #8 (10:12 pm EST):

Award #8: Art Direction - AVATAR [7/8]

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - these speeches all sound like each other and every speech given every other year. Maybe there are no brilliant speeches any more.

Award #9: Costume Design - THE YOUNG VICTORIA [8/9] - No AVATAR or HURT LOCKER nominated, so something else had to win.

Acceptance speech: *** out of **** - She didn't thank anyone and kept it short! Best speech of the night so far!

I don't get the connection for Charlize Theron introducing PRECIOUS. Because of MONSTER?

Post #9 (10:30 pm EST):

Horror movies - What an abomination - two TWILIGHT actors honoring horror??? I don't know any true horror buff who has any respect for the TWILIGHT movies.

At least they didn't forget the classics. But it's still a colossal waste of time.

Award #10: Sound Editing - THE HURT LOCKER [8/10] First head-to-head for AVATAR/THE HURT LOCKER. I think it's particularly telling that THE HURT LOCKER won this and could be the first clue it's going to take the Best Picture Oscar.

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - Generic.

Award #11: Sound Mixing - THE HURT LOCKER [8/11] Consistency between the two sound categories is generally desirable.

Acceptance speech: **1/2 out of **** - mercifully short.

Elizabeth Banks came across as a snot.

Is this Travolta's first public appearance since the death of his son? I know he hasn't done publicity for any of his recent films. This also explains why Samuel L. Jackson didn't introduce IB.

Post #10 (10:42 pm EST):

THE HURT LOCKER's victory in the sound categories significantly diminished the anticipation associated with the BEST PICTURE finale. THE HURT LOCKER went from being even with AVATAR to being the clear front-runner with those wins.

Award #12: Cinematography - AVATAR [9/12] - It won't be a total HURT LOCKER bulldozer.

I was less than impressed by Sandra Bullock's introduction

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - thank you, thank you, thank you (in two languages, no less).

Dead people time... Totally botched up - having someone playing a song live is a mistake; it takes away from the moment. And you're telling me that John Hughes was more deserving of a stand-alone obit more than, say, Karl Malden??? Didn't they mess this up last year too?

Post #11 (10:58 pm EST):

It's getting to the point of the show when I feel like yelling at the screen "Get on with it!"

Award #13: Best Score - UP [10/13] - seems that Disney always owns this category

The Oscars giveth by not forcing us to sit through performances for Best Song, then taketh away by adding a performance piece for Best Score. Snooze. Get on with it!

Acceptance speech: **1/2 out of **** - no thank yous but a little long.

Award #14: Visual Effects - AVATAR [11/14] - if ever there was a more obvious selection...

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - usual batch of thank yous.

Jason Bateman introducing UP IN THE AIR - the first time an actor from a film has introduced the film.

Post #12 (11:10 pm EST):

Award #15: Best Documentary - THE COVE [12/15]

Acceptance award: ** out of **** - blah blah blah

Award #16: Best Editing - THE HURT LOCKER [12/16]

Acceptance award: ** out of **** - I'm really getting tired of these lifeless speeches.

Keanu Reeves for THE HURT LOCKER. I understand the Bigelow connection, but couldn't they have gotten someone bigger? Will Schwarzenegger introduce AVATAR?

Too many users on the forums caused a crash of the entire database, so here (for posterity's sake) is what was missed:

Post #13 (11:38 pm EST):

Award #17: Best Foreign Language Film - THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES [12/17]- I don't think anyone expected this. And I don't think anyone in this country has seen it.

Acceptance speech: ** out of ****

Award #18: Best Actor Jeff Bridges [13/18]

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - Soaking it in. The speech started out nice, but then the thank yous started and it just went on and on and on. Is there anyone he didn't thank?

Post #14 (12:02 am EST):

I think I'd enjoy these personal tributes to the actor/actress nominees if it wasn't so damn late. These are the kinds of things that would work for Oscar telecasts clocking in around 3 hours. Now that we're headed for something that will clock in at >3.5 hours, it's just too much filler. What amazes me is how good a job was done at cutting out a lot of the fluff and how badly the clock was still managed. This is still an instance of 2 to 2.5 hours of content being stretched out to 3.5 hours, and not by commercials.

Award #19: Best Actress - Sandra Bullock [14/19] - So there will be no real surprises. All four of the acting awards went as expected.

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - Probably the most gracious speech of the night, but she then launched into a neverending shopping list of thank-yous. When she got teary at the end, it felt like she was giving a performance.

Award #20: Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow [15/20] -

Is Barbra Streisand the "special guest"? I hope not. If that's the case, what a letdown.

Acceptance speech: **1/2 out of **** - generic stuff with about 20 thank yous.

Award #21: Best Picture - THE HURT LOCKER [15/21]

Was it just me, or was this rushed? Hanks didn't even read the list of nominees - just BANG "the winner is..."

Acceptance speech: ** out of **** - typically rambling.

15/21 is a little below my average for the past few years, but well within my usual range.

Some final closing thought in tomorrow's ReelThoughts column. I'll leave this forum open for a few days for comments. Hopefully, no more crashes.


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