I can’t properly say I begged off the Oscars tomorrow night, but I won’t be watching again this year; but I would consider live-blogging it from the internet, rather than from in front of the TV – and that might be fun, citing articles and posting links and pictures when they are out early…
So far, we know that Pink will be there – as presenter, as performer, or as audience draw we’ll have to wait and see tomorrow night. Bette Midler will be performing (and if it’s a replay of her performance of ‘WIND BENEATH MY WINGS’ from American Idol, I’d do better without. Sorry; love you, Bette, but.. that was a disastrous night. But I’ll be remotely rooting for you tomorrow night anyway. G*d, I love that woman. And speaking of women we love, ‘the mother of us all’, Liza, Lorna AND Joey are supposed to appear for a tribute to Momma. I will surely miss seeing THAT.
Well, la de da, la de da.
Countdown 2 hrs, 40 minutes.
Starting at 5:25 pm ET/2:25 pm PT, E! will kick off the livestream coverage; actually, television coverage started over an hour ago – at 10:30am, and the show isn’t until 5:00pm PST. It is so the American Excessive expressing itself; if a little is a lot (at first, a half-hour, then an hour; now it’s an all-day affair, with coverage continuing after the awards with the comings and goings at the after-parties – because no one will actually let them inside anywhere).
LESSON #1: As the hyperbole and hype grow, the value of the award itself diminishes. But then, at 86, it’s still the Grand Old Man of all the awards, that’s its prestige; it’s not about how much more successful Oscar winners are after winning – or not, but by now, it’s all about the lineage.
And I just realized my girl Idina Menzel is the lead in FROZEN, and she’ll be singing at the Oscars tonight! That is exciting, and I’m really pleased, just sorry to miss it. Maybe on YouTube afterward I can get to see it. I’ve been following her career ever since RENT and THE WILD PARTY, 15 years ago now?! Good for you, Idina.
So many people have utter disdain for the Oscars – or is the hoopla, which would be well-placed? But what is it about the Oscars that warrants such awe and ridicule? For me, and I’ve been very attentive to the awards for more than 50 years now, most of that time actively anticipating and watching. It’s always been more than an award show, for me. Maybe most of all, it’s a celebration of the movies themselves; after all, that’s what everybody has in common on this one night – either as performer, production team, theater owner, projectionist or audience member, everybody shares the movies, and this is our night of live TV to celebrate that. It’s got to be more than who wins – and who are the losers, how they’re seen to react, what they’re wearing; that’s all secondary, that’s all superficial – which is why it makes such good TV coverage. What we come to celebrate are the movies themselves, as a cultural artifact, as a cultural phenomenon, a touchstone of the culture, by celebrating the people that make them.
Sadly, I have been watching fewer and fewer films these past few years. Over the past three Oscar seasons, I’ve watched the nominated shorts in batches a few times, which I’d never been able to do before, to my knowledge, even when living in Los Angeles in the mid 80s, or maybe I just assumed it was all done in private screenings – but I read the papers; had they been advertised, I’d have noticed. Largely the reason for missing the movies is financial, as with so many of us in these waning days of Empire. The money isn’t getting to where it needs to go, because there’s never enough of it, so I can’t justify taking money away from paying bills to go to the movies. I have gone a few times this year: I saw THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, in 3D. $13! No Senior Discount! I also saw the Italian submission for Best Foreign Language Film, ‘THE GREAT BEAUTY’. And then I saw one from Chile that was understandably passed up for a Foreign Film nomination, ‘GLORIA’. And STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS. Of the entire list of nominations, those are all I’ve seen this year. No ‘GRAVITY’, No “WOLF’, No “SLAVE’. And we have a great art film house here in Santa Rosa that I never get to go to. Oh, boo hoo me.
I saw SMAUG in 3D, and apparently in the new 48 frames-per-second format, because it all looked rather … I don’t know … stark to me. No “glamour” to the image at all; what you get is what you see, that kind of thing. It’s hyper-realism is almost disturbing, I can see why people find it off-putting. When Best Picture AVATAR came out, I saw it the first time in IMAX; I was prepared to have my socks knocked off. My feet were firmly planted on the ground by the time he opens his eyes [SPOILER ALERT! oops, too late], and not because the theater floor was sticky neither, I loved the mythic aspect to the story, but I wasn’t bowled over. I went back a second time, to see it in ‘conventional’ 3D, and still found the image to be somehow cloudy, as if filmed by the lens last used on Joan Crawford, there was depth, but the image lacked clarity. Story still held up on second viewing. I had done the same with TITANIC. Went to see it in the theater the first time, just to get the full effect; liked it so much I went back and saw it a second time while it was still in theatrical release. But I wasn’t bowled over; it was an intense visual experience, some of the technical stuff did blow my socks off, but it didn’t bowl me over.
Jimmy Cameron deserved everything but the rancor he’d received both Best Picture-winning nights. He deserved the awards he got, and “I’m King of the Word” had been a running meme for the better part of the year – and Jimmy was perfectly justified in feeling that way, that night. He’s still an asshole, apparently one of the biggest assholes on the planet, and apparently nearly everybody in Hollywood despises him, but he delivers outstanding and groundbreaking work, so hat’s off to you, you arrogant bastard. It’s Hollywood, for Christ’s sake; Where is there room left for anyone to complain about any one else’s ego!?
13:08 hrs. Sunday afternoon before the show begins
Every year for a while now, I have been working up Oscar spreadsheets, based on category and nominated film as the X and Y axes. It serves no predictive purpose, I’ve never been more wrong than any other year, but it provides me a graphic display of the Oscar field; lately, I’ve been adding a Golden Globes page, and a Guild page (Actors Guild Awards, Directors Guild Awards). Just for comparison purposes. The actual award winners never make sense beforehand, it’s only afterward that one can figure out the logic of the voters. Who’s the sentimental favorite, and who wins for sentimental reasons are fundamentally different questions. Sentiment carries weight in the Oscars perhaps more than in any other contest, but who can predict the weight of sentiment, and in which direction it will fall, as they fill out their ballots? It’s only ever obvious after the fact. I’m adequately tech-savvy, but I’m not tech savvy enough to display the spreadsheet on here, anyway – it’s a humongous single sheet – 26 categories, 58 movies this year. One of these days, I will both figure out what use I can put the spreadsheet to, and how to display it.
Right now, the display order, according to the weighted (?) nominations, is
- American Hustle
- Dallas Buyers Club
- 12 Years a Slave
and between them, they have a total of 35 mominations, by my count.
Now, as to the question of weighting the nominations:
- The “Big” Awards, the primary awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and the four Actor awards are the majors; they’re the films that get all the attention.
- Secondarily, the Cinematography, Editing, Sound awards- – the basic technological awards.
- Third, the production and design awards – – production and set dressing, hair, makeup.
- The relative newcomer is Visual Effects; the latest addition, Best Animated Feature, is still sort of separated off to the side until more elements of production (including actors) are recognized with nominations – at present, there’s starting to develop animated and best song ghetto.
- And lastly, though certainly not in importance, but essential to production are the creative awards, for words and music (writing, adaptation and original, song and score).
This year, the exception proves the rule: the writing awards track with the Best Picture awards, except for one, ‘BEFORE MIDNIGHT’. The writing of a piece and its execution require many intermediate steps and many intermediary sets of hands to bring a screenplay to the screen, and the best scripts don’t always come from the “biggest” movies, so even this year this is one outlier Best Screenplay award. You can usually find the most striking films of any year by seeking out the writing on films that receive singular recognition but don’t reap any other nominations. But the question becomes, what carries weight with the audience? The acting is right out in front of the eyes, ears and emotions of the audience, so those nominees tend to be the best known. The reason Best Picture is considered “the big one” is reflected in its voting rules – everyone votes on nominations for Best Picture; it’s the only category whose nominees don’t come from each specific branch of the Academy, not only because everybody has an opinion, but because everybody has a part in putting a Best Picture up on the screen. It’s the most open of all the awards, and now with 10 possible nominees (9 this year?), a wider variety of opinions are represented, in the best of all possible worlds, that is. Academy politics, like Beltway politics aren’t about the same thing as politics on “the outside”; in the theaters, audiences judge more on what’s presented on the screen, either naively or with knowledge aforethought, while “inside”, it’s more about who you know, what you know about the nominees, what you think about what you know about the nominees, and what you think about the horse-race of who’s on first. Hollywood weights its own products differently than the Audience, and my prognostications are always wrong because, as familiar as I can be with the alliances and allegiances of the Hollywood set, i always think as an audience member first, with leanings based on knowledge of the nominees and their careers and reputations. There are actors I want to see win more than other actors every year, certain films I favor over others, but my preferences generally don’t match the professionals, in any case.
2014 0302 14:35 hrs on Oscar afternoon.
Oh, goodie! They’re live streaming COMMERCIALS! Exactly what I ‘tune in’ to see!
Best Actress previews and projections
Will tonight’s winner be Sandra Bullock or is Cate Blanchett a lock?
with your hosts and hostesses, Ryan Seacrest with Guiliana Rancic and Jesse Giddings and Catt Sandler; I’m sorry, I’ve had to track down names, because I just don’t know all these youngsters. And it IS awfully early; nary a gown or a celebrity in sight.
Pharrell Williams is auctioning off his hats to benefit From One Hand To AnOTHER (FOHTA), an organization that Pharrell founded to benefit underserved children – starting in his own community. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/02/23/pharrell-williams-the-ultimate-charitable-hat-trick/)
Best Song, only 4 nominated, with 1 nomination revoked for improper appeal to the voters, “Alone Yet Not Alone” (Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel)
well, E! certainly has cameras all over the place, they’re just not shooting anything worthwhile! and then, it begins right at the beginning:
and we’re off, I guess.
All the pretty people, and I couldn’t name 10 out of a crowd. And, of course, the video is of the carpet, the text is of the Twitter feed, so names don’t match up.
From Twitter: “Looking forward to Benedict Cumberbach and Ewan MacGregor – maybe together?” Once again, Lupita Nyong’o is lovely to look at, in pale blue. Very charming. Chrissy Teigen in a Monique Lhuillier dress which is beautiful, quite striking; black bodice falling into a tumble of what look like pink leaves in the very full skirt.
Is that Diane Ladd, with nominee Bruce Dern, and now-brunette daughter Laura Dern, in a pale pink strapless full-length gown? And what is this red thing with the mile-wide train?
Ethan Hawke plants a quick one on the cheek of Julie Delphy? Good luck wishes, perhaps?
Jared Leto arrives – in white, with Mom and brother! Sidney Poitier arrives! and our own Steve Coogan, all smiles! And here’s Harrison Ford’s grandfather, goatee and all.
Helen Mirren, lovely as always. And Kevin Spacey, as himself.
16:06 Will Sandra Bullock be the only actress tonight NOT to wear a gravity-defying strapless?
16:14 First Glimpse: Bette Midler on the Red Carpet in an off-white gown with red brocade. Stunning! You look fah-bul-ous!
Charlize Theron wore straps – nude straps, but straps nonetheless. There was a preponderance of black, early in the Red Carpet webcast, then a variety of colors started to show up, particularly around the time Lupita Nyong’o was first seen arriving. Now black seems to be making a resurgence.
Gravity seems to be winning Jennifer Lawrence in a red stapless gown; unfortunately, without text identifiers, I have few clues who I’m looking at. ‘Cept Leo, of course. Then, of course, when Jennifer Lawrence starts to trip, E! Entertainment is all over it with the instant replay and the recap of the replay.
For a further look at Oscar fashion: