It’s 2 AM on Sunday night. This may be the first time I’ve been up this late on a Sunday, and it’s all for the grainy image I’m now watching on a friend’s laptop.
2:16 AM Right now, RDJ and Tina Fey are reminding Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin what genuinely funny speeches are. I can’t tell if the two hosts are trying to be bad, or if they have actually gone senile. I didn’t like the showgirls, and hope that Bigelow wins to spite the awards for introducing her as Cameron’s ex-wife.
The winner for best original screenplay is The Hurt Locker, beating out Inglourious Basterds. Mark Boal is a journalist new to the Awards circuit, and apparently the whole ordeal has been a bit of a shock to him. As he said, “I was a reporter back from Iraq with an idea for a story.” I’m still in shock that the same studio that made Twilight could also produce The Hurt Locker–it’s almost enough for me to forgive them.
2:19 AM An amazing Hughes’ montage. Screaming, an interview, and a more serious montage of Hughes’ most profound, piercing lines. His entire posse of actors is there! I haven’t seen any of them in ages; this is a very thorough tribute. And his family! Now, changing gears, we move onto an animated comedy. Interesting.
2:25 AM The kind voice over asks me to stay tuned over the break to see who’s won Special Effects–could it be Avatar? What a cliff hanger. I definitely won’t touch my remote now. “Not that we have one,” says my viewing buddy and fellow screenwriter, “we’re streaming it online.” Noted, Charles. I’m beginning to doubt my ability to stay mentally sharp as the night goes on. I think the terrible commercials and Martin/Baldwin commentary are slowly dulling my mind.
2:29 AM As Jezebel has noted, playing “Thank Heaven For Little Girls” when Carey and Zoe walked down the stairs is almost as uncool as the showgirls they used at the beginning, and at least 12 times as creepy. Carey Mulligan’s earrings are waving like bloodhound ears and Zoe’s dress looks Pandora-inspired. So excited about the best short! They’re starting with explaining how important it is, a list of filmmakers who have won and gone on to successful feature careers. As David Frankel said, “it’s like getting drafted into the pros.” The segment also included a nice lesson for directors on storytelling; I guess they realize the only viewers who care about the category are amateur filmmakers. Logorama wins! So subversive! “I have to thank the three thousand non-official sponsors,” very funny.
2:34 AM Best documentary short. My money’s on China’s Unnatural Disaster! Charles guessed GM. We’re both wrong: Music by Prudence has been selected. “Oh my God! This is amazing! I never imagined in my wildest dreams I’d be here!” The earnestness is killing me. And then they were dragged from the stage. The New Tenants, the one with the crowbar, wins. The shorts filled with adorable children lose out–something is wrong! I really enjoy how the producer keeps hurrying the director along on this one, like, “oh, shut up.” And they cut off the producer! No! Music went off just as he went to the microphone. They give them just fifteen seconds! An outrage! Things like that just make the show seem cold and heartless, a giant commercial sham. Compare to this:
2:39 AM The fun really begins as we watch Cameron try not to explode at Stiller’s impression of a Na’vi. I’m really enjoying the scowl on his face. “This is much cooler” than Spock, he says. Stiller is a brave man. “I want to plug my braid into your dragon.” Happy days for Star Trek. “It takes them as long to get up to the stage as they have speaking,” says Charles.
2:45 AM I think they reused the beaded stage shroud thing from the 2008 Oscars.
2:49 AM Why are all the women dressed like mouldy cupcakes? Why the big ballgowns? Why? WHY? Best Adapted Screenplay. Precious or Up in the Air or, in a massive upset, the massively funny In the Loop? This is one of the tightest categories. PRECIOUS! The writer’s first nomination. If they cut him off I’ll… I’ll… Keep watching this illegally.
2:53 AM Queen Latifah is the only one who knows how to dress. 2010 Governor’s Award winners–now, this dinner looked like fun. What the hell is that ugly backdrop behind Robin Williams? Lamps? I love lamp. But not like this.
2:58 AM If Mo’nique doesn’t win, I’ll die of shock. Twice. Next closest contender? Anna Kendrick? But that character had no depth. Big applause. “It can be about the performance, not the politics.” WHAT IS WITH THE LAMPS? Is the Academy really that broke? Did they send their set designers to a rummage sale? “Hey, you know what we could get for cheap, that could also be misconstrued as classy and inventive?” They thought lamps, and they were wrong. Lamps are NEVER THE ANSWER!
3:05 AM The plethora of JC Penney adds just make me want to festoon myself in khaki and terrible vests.
3:07 AM An ironic follow-up to the lamp travesty, the next category is Art Direction. And the winner is… Avatar! I think I just saw Cameron get up and point at the nominees, directing them to the stage. They bring the music on early, and only two usually get the chance to talk.
3:10 AM And now we have a spinning bookcase behind SJP and Tom Ford. “Hey, but what are we going to do with all the lamp bases?” “I know! Give them to Bookcase Bill!” An elaborate period costume drama wins, how shocking. She’s won three Oscars! And won at the BAFTAs for The Young Victorian.
3:15 AM Precious, “a film that defies the odds.” Charles and I have decided that we’re starting to feel it. It’s LATE. My use of CAPITALS will only INCREASE with my EXHAUSTION LEVEL.
3:18 AM THeirs is definitely Old Man humour in the first degree. Har har, ho ho. The Paranormal Activity bit is okay. “It’s actually funny,” Charles says.
3:20 AM “Give horror films their due,” so much better than the Musicals tribute a while ago. The whole stage is blood red! I love how literal the stage designer is. Thanks for that montage of scary masks and murders, tonight I’ll go to bed at 5 AM and have horrible nightmares until 11, when I have to get up for the library. Jesus, this is long. What’s with the new drive to include everything? 10 picture nominees. Every ugly lamp in Los Angeles. And now this. DO I really have to see every drop of blood spilled in a horror film ever? Cut to Tarantino, looking satisfied. And George finally looks cheered up! No more grouch face. What a twisted, twisted man.
3:24 AM Sound editing, the one we’ve all been waiting for! Freeman’s explanation is actually interesting. “I like how they’re actually showing how they do stuff,” says Charles. I concur. Zac Efron looks both disoriented and constipated. It’s probably just fear. The Hurt Locker for both! Take that Cameron. WUT NOW? The NY Times had their money down on The Hurt Locker.
3:29 AM Elizabeth Banks is REALLY EXCITED to be here! Science and Tech! WOW! It almost makes me excited about the category. “We congratulate all the winners.” I like that. Very succinct. Who belongs to that fantastic haircut behind Tarantino?
3:36 AM Sandra Bullock, dressed like an Oscar, takes the stage. “These five nominees have done real good.” Thanks, Sandra. Do we not get to see what they look like? No. Avatar wins. The BAFTAs gave the same award to The Hurt Locker. “I’d like to thank the visionary Jim Cameron for an amazing vision.” This segment has been a lesson in poetics.
3:39 AM James Taylor for the in memory segment. How quickly they pass over them! Reminds me of “Ozymandias.” Some just get so little applause! The dialogue as its own chorus is a nice touch. MJ right next to Natasha Richardson, another interesting choice, about as smart as the choice of lamps and equally offensive. And then cutting straight to an ad! Lack of sensitivity on all fronts, well done!
3:47 AM WTF moment #372: “Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Lopez and Sam Worthington. Step on her hideous dress, Sam! Don’t settle for standing behind the tumour it’s sprouted on its side. And now, a ballet. With breakdancers! Which movie is this? This is pretty neat. Comparing the scores to classical music through ballet sort of elevates it in a cool way. “How are people breakdancing to the score of The Hurt Locker?” Good question Charles. Nevermind, this is The Hurt Locker. Labels, anyone? This knocking people down as if they’ve been shot is much more fitting. More lighthearted breakdancing for Fantastic Mr Fox. “It’s springy, like little animals in a forest!” Well said, Charles. I hope Up wins, the music kind of makes the opening sequence that made everyone cry. It also makes what follows, Avatar, sound like a poor imitation of the Lion King soundtrack, or Lion King meets Titanic. And George just motioned the camera away from him, as if swatting at a pesky fly. Is he in mourning or something? Up wins! Everyone at Pixar is a natural storyteller, it comes out in their speeches.
3:55 AM Too much heat to handle. Too hot to handle? It’s really late. Butler and Cooper. Together. Visual effects… could it be Avatar? And to all the Pandora-obsessed nerds, “just remember that the world we live in is just as beautiful as the one we’ve created for you.” I’m guessing that’s to prevent things like this:
4:03 AM Best doc! Burma VJ… or The Cove? The battle of the festival darlings. Human interest story or political thriller? Or Food Inc? Or The Most Dangerous Man in America? Or the doc version of Sin Nombre? The Cove! And we’re cut off at Text Dolphin to 44144. Boo! The music man is really starting to piss me off. I know they have a time limit, but they should really just have other awards on a different day to give the winners a chance to breathe.
4:07 AM This is kind of cool, all the different shots… and snuggies. They coordinate perfectly with the lamps. The Hurt Locker! Nicely done; this is a bigger category. A husband and wife team! They’re pretty adorable.
4:10 AM Charles’ reaction to Keanu Reaves: “Oh God.” Well, I guess he was in Point Break. Why is the Avatar music back on? Oi vey.
4:16 AM Almodovar and Tarantino, together! WITH THE LAMPS! Good lord. Forcing artists to make terrible jokes, in front of a hideous tableau of lamps, is unforgivable. The Secret in their Eyes? Cool. I’m realizing now how hard it must be for the band to play only until people get to the front, I’m guessing that they have to improvise a lot. More yelling at the conductor! Yes. Well deserved.
4:21 Am Avatar gets an epic introduction. Who will win? As it gets later, I become more susceptible to the advertising. I’d really like a Diet Coke, I firmly believe that drinking one will save the environment and give a scholarship to a needy child, and I’d also like some khakis, Cottonelle, and a sledgehammer so I can destroy every lamp and bookcase I come across. Charles is similarly deteriorating, “my brain is beginning to work against me and my brain isn’t working anymore and I’m seeing things in pink… I hate magnetics.”
4:25 AM Best Actor time! Liking the montage that mashes them all together. It’s the thing from last year! With everyone presenting to the winner, except with costars in their films? Past costars? Wow. This way, eight people can be disappointed instead of four. This is going to be long… Five sentences per person? The people who were cut off could’ve used a few of these seconds. I guess they just keep talking until the nominee being flattered cries. George laughs! The “warmth” has been absent this evening, but I guess we’ll take Vera’s word for it. He’s trying to smile really, really hard. Now on the third speech, I just want to jump out a window. The one thing where we want to see longer clips, and we’re denied. Thank God for Ted, introducing a bit of laughter with a genuinely clever speech. Titanic music over Kate Winslet’s entrance? Really? Another wonderful WTF moment. And now she’ll re-announce the nominees–boring or suspenseful? A bit of both? Bridges, for Crazy Heart! 2/3 of the people who entered the amazing Saint contest, for three free movie rentals and a tub of ice cream, got this right.
He’s been nominated five times, and the entire audience is on its feet. Bonus points for the use of the word groovy; I had an groovy art teacher that would be very pleased. I kind of like the periodic cuts to George Clooney’s bitter rictus; they’re pretty entertaining.
4:41 AM Oprah! In the middle, of course. More speeches. “It’s all mushy, isn’t it.” Well observed, Charles. Neither Charles nor I want Carey to win. Her tribute speech was really condescending and weird. Now Oprah for Gabourey; so much better, with tons of applause! Well, until the Cinderella reference. Oi vey. “Meryl. What can I say.” I wish all the “in love” and “you’re so beautiful” would stop, though. Big applause when they re-announce Gabourey. Bigger applause for Bullock! I liked how Meryl kind of clawed after her. Another standing ovation!
Nice comments to everyone… I think she knows she won’t get cut off. A tribute to thankless toil of parenthood – and her own parents, and everyone, and her “lover, Meryl Streep.”
4:54 AM For the first time, the winner of Best Director could be a woman or an African-American… It’s about time? But why is she presenting? “The set is church, he is god, and no heretics allowed.” – Brad Pitt on Tarantino. For all the collaboration-supporting speeches and awards, this category definitely pumps auteur theory. Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker! Take that, Cameron! And credit to the screenwriter, this really is a happy moment. For me, not for Cameron, who is probably evaporating right now. “I think the secret to directing is collaborating.” Was that a slight headshake from Cameron?
5:00 AM It really is about time. Apparently in 1943, they used ten nominees… Stop trying to justify it. THE HURT LOCKER! That was the speediest process ever. The Hurt Locker really kicked Avatar back to Pandora. Or something. It’s 5 AM, okay? Don’t judge. So many statues! The little film that could, according to their speeches. Bigelow is obviously totally overwhelmed, and I love it! Avatar only won for special effects. Art over $! It’s a miracle.
Four hours and forty minutes. That’s dedication. Nap time!