What Lisa Watched Last Night: The 83rd Annual Academy Awards


Last night, I watched the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.

Why Was I Watching It?

Why was I watching it?  I was watching it because I love awards shows.  I love them in all of their tacky, silly glory.  I was watching for the clothes, the celebrity meltdowns, and the infamous acceptance speeches.  I was watching because James Franco is hot and Anne Hathaway is adorable.  I was watching because I loved Black Swan and I was only mildly impressed with the Social Network.  I was watching because, as a film lover, my year starts and ends with the Oscar ceremony.  You boys have got your super bowl.  I’ve got my Academy Awards.

What Was It About

This year, the big question was would best picture be taken by the Social Network or by the King’s SpeechI predicted that the Social Network would win and I was wrong.  The Academy gave best picture to The King’s Speech which, unlike Black Swan (my personal choice for best picture), is a film that is very easy to love.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved The King’s Speech and, seeing as how I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of The Social Network, I can’t complain about the Academy’s decision (though apparently almost everyone else can).

By the way, as far as my Oscar predictions went, I ended up going 15 for 22.  I correctly predicted all of the categories except for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Cinematography.  So, in other words, I correctly predicted all of the awards except for the ones that actually mattered.  However, I am proud to say that, as the broadcast started, I predicted that it would last for 3 hours and 15 minutes and by God, I was right.

So there.

What Worked

Roger Ebert called last night’s ceremony the worst he had ever seen so I guess it’s no surprise that I actually enjoyed it.  I certainly felt it was an improvement over last year’s ceremony which was pretty boring except for when Kathryn Bigelow won best director.  There weren’t any endless tributes, self-congratulatory speeches about how important the film industry is for the survival of the world, and we didn’t have to sit through any pre-scripted, awkward banter between poorly matched presenters. 

As for the hosts, James Franco appeared to have mentally checked out before the show actually started but he was nice to look at.  Anne Hathaway, meanwhile, was a bundle of nervous energy and you know what?  I would have been too.  For the first time in my history of watching the Oscars, I could actually relate on a personal level to what was happening on the stage.  I’ll take the charming awkwardness of Franco and Hathaway over Hugh Jackman any day.  Ebert disagrees.  He apparently tweeted that Kevin Spacey should host.  And, if I ever felt like spending three and a half hours watching some smug jackass singing Under the Sea, I’d agree with him.

I liked the opening film montage, which featured Hathaway and Franco going into Alec Baldwin’s dreams in order to learn how to host the show.  If nothing else, it paid tribute to just how much of a cultural phenomenon Inception actually was last year.  (At the same time, it also pointed out just how ludicrous it is that Christopher Nolan — who is hot along with being a genius, by the way — was not nominated for best director.)

Probably my favorite presenters were Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.  Kunis looked great and Timberlake won my heart all over again by announcing that he was actually Banksy.

The In Memoriam Tribute was actually pretty touching this year and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the audience has finally figured out how inappropriate it is to break out into applause in the middle of it.  A lot of viewers were apparently angered that Corey Haim wasn’t included.  Personally, I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see that Jean Rollin was left out.

For me, the best acceptance speech came from David Seidler as he accepted his Oscar for writing The King’s Speech.  His speech touched me as a former stutterer but on top of that, he delivered it with just the right amount of humility and humor.  Aaron Sorkin could learn a thing or two from Mr. Seidler.

Finally, I said earlier that I was hoping for just one upset win to keep things interesting and, to my surprise, the show provided me one when Tom Hooper beat David Fincher for best director.  Even among those who expected the King’s Speech to take best picture, the general assumption seemed to be that Fincher would win best director.  Personally, I think Fincher would have won best director except for the fact that people tended to think of The Social Network as being an Aaron Sorkin film as opposed to a David Fincher film.  In all of the preliminaries leading up the Oscars (the Golden Globes, the critics awards), the emphasis was always put on Sorkin’s screenplay as opposed to Fincher’s direction.  David Fincher was almost treated as an after thought and, as a result, Tom Hooper won best director.

(Of course, personally, I was rooting for Darren Aronofsky.)

Of the nominated films, Black Swan was my favorite, followed by 127 Hours, Inception, Winter’s Bone, and the King’s Speech.  I thought The Social Network was a good film but certainly not a great film and, to be honest, I’ve come to resent being told again and again by various online, self-appointed film gurus that my refusal to unconditionally love The Social Network is somehow an indication of a character defect on my part.  Seriously, some of these Social Network partisans make the Avatar people look tolerant by comparison.  I’m sure these people have spent last night and today ranting their little hearts out about how the Academy sucks and how The Social Network is clearly the greatest film ever made.  And to them, all I can say is get over it.  If you were watching the Academy Awards because you seriously felt that the awards actually mean anything, then you’ve obviously still got a lot of growing up to do.

That said, I make no apologies for being ticked off over the award for Best Feature Documentary but more about that below.

What Didn’t Work

Well, I’ll get the big one out of the way first.  This was the only time I actually got angry while watching last night’s show.  I’m talking, of course, about Inside Job winning best documentary.  This upset me even though I had actually predicted that Inside Job would defeat Exit Through The Gift Shop.  My objection comes down to this — Inside Job was the Capt. Hindsight of documentaries this year.  Inside Job was basically a documentary that told us what we already know and then encouraged us to pat ourselves on the back for agreeing.  In a year that was actually a pretty good one for documentaries, Inside Job was the least challenging of all of the nominees and therefore, I guess it’s not a shock that it won.  Meanwhile, Exit Through The Gift Shop — a film which should have been nominated for best picture — was ignored.

Add to that, I was really hoping for a chance to see how Banksy would accept the award or if he would even show up at all (or if he would turn out to be Justin Timberlake).  Instead, I got the director of Inside Job going, “You know, nobody’s been arrested for the bad economy yet.”  Well, if that’s what you think should happen then go to talk to the people who make and enforce laws.  But you’re on an awards show, buddy.  And if you think anyone watching an awards show is going to take action just because of some comment you weakly muttered during your acceptance speech, then you really are out of touch with reality.

We were reminded one too many times that we were watching “the young and hip Oscars.”  The young and hip Oscars would not have featured Celine Dion singing.

I really wish the Oscars would stop trying to force some artificial “theme” on each year’s ceremony.  This year, they took time to celebrate “the greatest films” of Oscar Past.  The problem, of course, is that most of the greatest films of Oscar past didn’t win best picture.  Usually, they ended up losing to movies like How Green Was My Valley, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Crash.

Aaron Sorkin won best adapted screenplay as we all knew he would and, as usual, he came across as smug and condescending during his acceptance speech.  The whole, “Daddy’s an Oscar winner now…” thing would have been touching if not for the fact that it’s been used at least once at every single Oscar ceremony in history.

Trent Reznor did not say, “I want to fuck you like an animal” while accepting his award for scoring The Social Network.  However, I must say, Trent cleans up well.

Technically, yes, James Franco was not real impressive as co-host.  The general consensus on twitter was that he was stoned but I can’t say too much against him because he’s James Franco.  Even when he showed up in drag, he was still James Franco.  I know some people looked at Franco last night and thought, He’s not even trying.  I looked at Franco and thought, yum…..

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

There were a few and most of them had to do with Anne Hathaway.  Most of the comments on twitter concerning Hathaway’s performance as host were not kind but I don’t care.  I love her and I think her lack of polish was actually rather adorable.  If I was hosting the Oscars, I would probably take a few moments to brag about my dress as well.  I know I’d certainly probably start giggling at random moments.  I also know that I’d probably get a little bit annoyed with James Franco’s lack of commitment to the show as well but you know what?  I’d still get all sorts of naked with him after the show because he’s James Franco and he just does things to me.

(If anything, last night’s show proved that the difference between a hot guy and all other guys is that a hot guy can get away with it.)

My other big “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment came when Melissa Leo won for best supporting actress for the Fighter and dropped the F-bomb on national TV.  I would so do that too.  I mean, it’s an Oscar!  God knows what I’d end up saying if I ever got one.

Lessons Learned:

I’ve seriously got a thing for James Franco.

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions


The Oscars are tomorrow and I know I’ll be watching it and tweeting about it over on my twitter page.  That’s assuming, of course, that twitter doesn’t go all screwy and spend the entire night putting up that cute little picture of the fail whale.

Anyway, I guess I’m a bit overdue in posting my predictions of what and who will actually win tomorrow.  I guess that’s because this year’s Oscar race looks to be one of the most predictable ever.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like quite a few of the nominees and Black Swan is a contender for my favorite film of all time.  It’s just that this year, the winner’s are so predictable. 

Let’s be honest, we don’t watch the Oscars because we really think that the best film or performer is going to win.  We watch the Oscars for all of the WTF moments and acceptance speech breakdowns.  We watch the Oscars because we want to see something weird happen, like a shocking upset win that leaves us all outraged and shaking our heads.

This year, though, the only suspense seemed to center around the Best Documentary category.  Will Exit Through The Gift Shop win and if it does, will Banksy be there to accept it?  And if he is there, will he wear a monkey mask while accepting it?

Anyway, here’s my list of predictions.  These are the movies and performers that I think will win.  They’re not necessarily who and what I personally would want to win.  (That list can be found here.)

Best Picture: The Social Network

Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network

Best Original Screenplay: The Kids Are All Right

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3

Best Foreign Language Film: Buitiful

Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland

Best Cinematography: True Grit

Best Costume Design: The King’s Speech

Best Documentary Feature: The Inside Job (bleh)

Best Editing: Black Swan

Best Makeup: The Wolf Man

Best Original Score: The Social Network

Best Original Song: “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3

Best Sound Editing: Inception

Best Sound Mixing: Inception

Best Visual Effects: Inception

Who the Hell Are These People?


With the Golden Globe nominations set to be announced on Tuesday, I figured now would be a good time to recap which films and performances have already been honored by the various critics groups. 

One thing that I discovered as I researched this is that there are a lot of critics groups out there!   I don’t know who half these people are and most of them probably won’t have any bearing at all on who is actually nominated come Oscar time.  But since I’m a lover of trivia and lists, there you go.

The following films and performances were honored by either The National Board of Review, the D.C. Film Critics, the Boston Society of Film Critics, The New York Film Critics Online,The Los Angeles Film Critics, The Indiana Film Journalists, The Southeastern Film Critics, The New York Film Critics Circle, or the San Francisco Film Critics.

Best Picture:

The Social Network (All.  That’s right, it’s a clean sweep for an above average film.)

Best Director:

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (S.F)

Olivier Assayas for Carlos (LAFC)

David Fincher for The Social Network (BSFC, DC, NBR, NYFCC, NYFCO, SEFC, S.F.)

Christopher Nolan for Inception (IFJ)

Best Actor:

Jesse Eisenberg (BSFC, NBR)

Colin Firth for The King’s Speech (DC, LAFC, NYFCC, SEFC, S.F.)

James Franco for 127 Hours (IFJ, NYFCO)

Best Actress:

Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (NYFCC)

Kim Hye-ja for Mother (LAFC)

Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone (DC)

Lesley Manville for Another Year (NBR)

Natalie Portman for Black Swan (BSFC, IFJ, NYFCO, SEFC)

Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (S.F.)

Best Supporting Actor:

Niels Arestrup for A Prophet (LAFC)

Christian Bale for The Fighter (BSFC, DC, IFJ, NBR, NYFCO)

John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone (S.F.)

Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (NYFCC)

Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech (SEFC)

Best Supporting Actress:

Melissa Leo for The Fighter (DC, NYFCC, NYFCO)

Juliette Lewis for Conviction (BSFC)

Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (IFJ, SEFC)

Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (LAFC, NBR, S.F.)

Best Documentary:

Exit Through The Gift Shop (DC, IFJ, NYFCO)

The Inside Job (NYFCC, SEFC)

Last Train Home (LAFC)

Marwencol (BSFC)

The Tillman Story (S.F.)

Waiting For Superman (NBR)

Best Animated Feature:

How To Train Your Dragon (IFJ)

The Illusionist (NYFCC)

Toy Story 3 (BSFC, DC, LAFC, NBR, NYFCO, SEFC, S.F.)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Social Network (BSFC, DC, IFJ, LAFC, NYFCO, SEFC, S.F.)

Best Original Screenplay:

Inception (DC)

The Kids Are All Right (NYFCC)

The Kings Speech (SEFC, S.F.)

  

The New York Toadsuckers Have Spoken


As I mentioned in my last post, the New York Film Critics Circle voted on and announced their picks for the best films of the year today.  Looking over the winners, all I can say is — YAWN!

Best Film:
The Social Network

Best Director:
David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Screenplay:
The Kids Are All Right

Best Actress:
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Best Actor:
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress:
Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actor:
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

Best Cinematography:
Black Swan

Best Animated Film:
The Illusionist

Best Non-fiction Film:
Inside Job

Best Foreign Language Film:
Carlos

Best First Feature:
Animal Kingdom

Over on Awardsdaily.com, the response to the New York Critics was: “NO ONE  wrote a better screenplay than Aaron Sorkin this year.” 

(And yes, they specifically put that statement in bold print with NO ONE capitalized, just to make sure that the point came through.)

Really?  NO ONE?  It’s time to admit the truth — The Social Network has gone from being a movie to being a cult.  Apparently, even suggesting that any other movie might deserve an honor or two this year is an act of heresy.  Sorry, New York Film Critics.  Prepare yourself to be eaten by lions while the Sorkinites watch and cheer.

That said, the screenplay for The Kids Are All Right had all the depth of a sitcom.  And Mark Ruffalo’s supporting performance was good but nothing that couldn’t have been done by just about any other scruffy actor in Hollywood.  And while Annette Bening did a good job with her role, this is the year of Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Noomi Rapace in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank, and Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone.  This was a year in which so many actresses gave unique, unexpected performances in roles that redefined the stereotypical cinematic female lead.  Annette Bening was good but so many were great.

It’s also interesting to note that The Illusionist (which I haven’t seen and know very little about) was named best animated feature as opposed to the presumed favorite, Toy Story 3.  Just a few months ago, the general assumption seemed to be that Toy Story 3 would easily pick up a best picture nod but it seems like that storyline’s been forgotten in all the hype surrounding The Social Network.