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A Night in Front of the Television - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
A Night in Front of the Television
I had more fun watching the Academy Awards this year than I've ever had, I think. The festive atmosphere of Sami's visit helped. My relief at having returned from Louisville safely -- the weather yesterday was alarming and the plane a cork bobbing in rapids -- did too. But the biggest reason was that Bean watched the whole show with us for the first time.

Whoever planned this year's installment did a fine job. To be sure, there was a lot of room for improvement relative to previous years. But the pre-recorded segments were actually interesting -- I especially enjoyed Michael Mann's gloss on American cinema -- and I actually felt like I was learning something when they showed behind-the-scenes clips for awards like Sound Editing.

While Little Miss Sunshine wasn't close to being my Best Picture, I was happy Alan Arkin won. I really dig his manner. And I was excited to see Pan's Labyrinth pick up awards it deserved and even more excited to see Latino filmmaking get more recognition from the Academy than ever before.

Cate Blanchett looked fabulous. Clive Owen looked like the sort of man I'd die for if I weren't at the far end of the Kinsey scale. Kate Winslet looked like the sort of person I'd actually like to, um, know. And Peter O'Toole, sadly, looked like a man who wouldn't live to see next year's event.

Speaking of sadness, there was a strange moment when, while we were watching the nominees for Editing being announced, United 93 came up. Sami made a comment about not wanting to buy into the film, which led me to explain, since he hadn't seen it, that it's not nearly as exploitative as it first sounds and is actually a well-made, if confused, film. That discussion piqued Skylar's interest, leading her to ask a series of questions about the film.

At first we equivocated. But eventually we told her as much of the truth about the film's topic as we could. She seemed to be affected by the story, but was cheered up by the thought that she knows a Mark named after Mark Bingham. I even got out the biography and showed her the photo of Mark and cpratt, which further brightened her mood.

It was deeply amusing to see my partner flood with fury whenever anything to do with Clint Eastwood came on the screen. But, personally, I was sort of pleased to see him make the effort to semi-translate Ennio Morricone's acceptance speech for the audience. The latter moved me greatly with his heartfelt thanks to his wife.

Although it was nice to see Martin Scorcese finally win an Oscar, I didn't think The Departed deserved to be Best Picture. The editing, though, was superb, so that award made sense to me. As my partner pointed out, it would have been astonishingly cruel to have Coppola, Spielberg and Lucas out there to present the Best Director award and then hand it to someone else. Personally, I would have preferred to see him win that award, but have another picture win Best Picture.

The musical number with John C. Reilly, Jack Black and Will Ferrell was funny, as those things go. The nominated songs themselves were nothing special. I got sick of seeing Jack Nicholson. Helen Mirren may have been the hottest woman in the audience. She certainly had an awesome dress. The respect paid Al Gore seemed both genuine and a little creepy. Maybe he should make a movie about hunger and disease in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I noticed that the commercials were more noteworthy and, for the most part, good -- at least in a formal sense -- than in years past. I guess the Oscars are becoming more like the Super Bowl in that regard. I'd have to say that the Wes Anderson spot for American Express -- a whole two minutes long -- was one of my favorite commercials ever. I suppose its quality could be used as an argument against Anderson's aesthetic, since he was able to distill so much of it into a craven short. Still, I've watched it several times and remain deeply amused:

You could teach an entire class devoted solely to analyzing the layers in that baklava of irony. Maybe I will.

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flw From: flw Date: February 26th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

pity party.

The Scorcese movie won Best Picture because the voters were afraid that Scorcese wouldn't win Best Director for like the seventh time or whatever. And it ended up getting both.

I am (somewhat) glad that the Academy figured out the trick to make sure that every award doesn't go to the most pitiable and politically correct minority nominee... put TWO pitiable, PC nominees in every category. That way, the PC pity-party will be split. AND you get double PC pity-party points!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 27th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: pity party.

Sorry I missed this. Until now, I mean. I like your analysis of the Scorcese situation. And I know what you mean about the pity party, though I think some of the nominees this year were very deserving.

Hope all is well on your end. . .
flw From: flw Date: February 27th, 2007 07:33 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: pity party.

Sure, they were all deserving. Everybody deserves it. Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of the Best Actress category where they had the two "ethnic" women from Babel nominated. And there was the Best Song Category, where they nominated THREE songs from that one movie, Randy Newman, and Melissa Etheridge. Everyone acted surprised... it was completely OBVIOUS that Melissa Etheridge was going to win. That was the easiest category this year!
From: cut_dead Date: February 26th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The only real surprise of the Oscars this year was the fact that Children of Men didn't win for Best Cinematography. I loved Pan's Labyrinth, but the camera work was hardly on the level of the former.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 26th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I agree completely! Pan's Labyrinth deserved the costume award, but Children of Men was more interesting in terms of camera angle, depth of field etc.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: February 26th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That commercial is absolutely awesome. Thanks for posting it; I would probably never have seen it otherwise.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 26th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Apparently, they showed it last year as well. But I don't usually pay much attention to the commercials. It makes me want to see a new Wes Anderson film. I thought Life Aquatic was a good deal better than most critics said it was.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: February 27th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I don't actually know what the critics said about Life Aquatic, but I thought the movie was absolutely pure mad genius. It was like a "hidden pictures" page of comedic brilliance. I don't know how many times I watched that movie, always sure that there would be more to find in each viewing.
masoo From: masoo Date: February 26th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I have nothing against Alan Arkin, a fine talent. But not awarding Eddie Murphy was perhaps the biggest mistake of the entire night, at least given the actual nominees (there were bigger mistakes, but they didn't even get nominated ... hello, Dave Chappelle, maybe next time YOU should make a movie about global warming ... speaking of warming, Block Party was the most heart-warming movie I saw all year, and while I don't like heart-warming most times, that movie even won me over, the guy who likes to refer to Arkin's movie as Little Miss Fucking Sunshine).

Totally agree with you about Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 26th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I definitely liked Little Miss Sunshine a lot more than you did and more than KDD did as well. And I didn't see Dreamgirls, so I can't make a valid comparison. Of course, everything I saw about Dreamgirls, from previews to interviews to television coverage, made it seem like the sort of movie I wouldn't miss seeing. But I'm willing to take your word on Eddie Murphy's performance. I think Arkin won, in part, for the reasons Scorcese won.

It's a good Oscar year when there are so many smart, attractive women who play smart, attractive women getting nominated and winning.
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