I have been too stunned for days
… I don’t know how to react when the film I think the absolute best of the year wins the Oscar for best film. Not the year’s best American film winning, not the year’s best Oscar-bait film winning, not the best of the five nominees winning — the year’s best film winning. Only 2 1/2 of the 79 previous Best Film winners¹ was my favorite for that year and all of them happened only in retrospect, i.e., in the years from before I became a serious filmgoer: AMADEUS won for 1984 (23 years ago), LAWRENCE OF ARABIA for 1962 (22 years before that), and SUNRISE for 1927-28 (34 years before that). At that rate, I figure the coinciding of tastes should happen once more before I die.
Anyway, best speeches of the night:
(1) Brad Bird, accepting the Best Animated Film award for RATATOUILLE, telling the funny story of his guidance counselor — the kind of speech that actually says something interesting to an audience rather than a list of people;
(2) Marion Cotillard for Best Actress in LA VIE EN ROSE, probably the night’s biggest upset, and she certainly acted as thrilled, “you’ve rocked my life” to her director and saying, as only someone who didn’t expect to win could, that “there are some angels in this city” (it took a Romance-language speaker to think of that);
(3, the tops) Diablo Cody’s walkoff after winning Best Original Script for JUNO. Like with Cotillard, it was not what she said (thanking her parents) but how she said it and her breaking up over it, betraying a too-close-for-guile authenticity that can’t be faked.
Best free advice: Don’t compete against yourself, in any category. That means you, ENCHANTED (three songs) and Roger Deakins (two cinematography noms)
Best line of the night from host Jon Stewart: On NORBIT getting a nomination for best makeup, “too often, the Academy ignores movies that are no good.”
My Inner Blackwell: Tilda Swinton brought down the high, high reputation of Scottish wifies for fashion sense. Next time, Tilda, buy yourself a *complete* Hefty sack. And as for Diablo Cody — if I wanted to see a tattoo like that on a stripper, I’d go to the kind of strip club that caters to the other team. If I stuck a dollar in her G-string, I’d be looking for 90 cents change. At least.
High points of the night (unscripted funwise): Daniel Day-Lewis being knighted by The Queen, with Mirren being savvy enough to play along. Runners-up: Cate Blanchett wincing after they showed her clip of the “strip Spain bare” speech from ELIZABETH 2 in the Best Actress setup (she knew that was a ridiculous clip from a sucky movie), and Ethan Coen saying he had nothing more to say when the Coens won the directing award (after saying nothing accepting for script).
Low point of the night: Culture-war politics, of course. Two of the first awards of the night were given to ELIZABETH: L’AGE D’OR (costumes) and THE GOLDEN COMPASS (visual effects). I texted G-Money that perhaps next year, THE AWFUL DISCLOSURES OF MARIA MONK should be the front-runner for adapted screenplay. He responded that maybe they could redo last year’s awards to give everything to THE DAVINCI CODE. In the middle came the documentary awards and the expected awfulness — the short about a lesbian couple and the speech about the dying wish about making a difference against discrimination (one person I saw the awards with laughed out loud at that) and the feature about (what else) The Evil War by a man who ranted about how “I couldn’t make romantic comedies, after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition” (bullshit … great films have been made in that genre after the Holocaust. If *you* had it in you, you would get over much less). And practically the last words of the night were Scott Rudin following on Melissa Etheridge’s footsteps of “gay couples’ visibility” in his acceptance speech for producing NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Forget it, Victor. It’s Hollywood.
¹ SUNRISE is the “half.” Reason being that in its first year, the Academy gave out two awards — one called “Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production” (won by Murnau’s film) and “Best Picture, Production” (won by WINGS). So two awards, both called “Best Picture.” Still, it’s notable the Oscar montage on Sunday had the first Best Picture as WINGS.