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Oscars 2006

So, here we are on Oscar Night, liveblogging the Academy Awards. I'm nervous for Jon Stewart, because The Daily Show is so great, but this assignment has destroyed many funny people before him. OK, I'm not going to dissect the jokes in detail, but it was good. Perhaps some jokes we've heard before on his show, but some really good stuff. Best joke was about Good Night and Good Luck and Capote: "Both films are about determined journalists, defying obstacles in a relentless pursuit of truth. Needless to say, both are period pieces." Those are some of the funniest bits on The Daily Show, the softballs that journalists toss at politicians these days.

It is an annual tradition, at the legendary Oscar parties hosted by the Hollywood contingent of Ionarts, to have an awards pool. I'll keep track of my points, although Todd always wipes the floor with me. My score at the bottom of this post.

[20:28] Performance by an actor in a supporting role.
Ka-ching! My first correct pick: George Clooney in Syriana. Mrs. Ionarts and I finally saw it just last night. Together. In a movie theater. Without the children. It's a very entertaining movie. Clooney calls it in his speech: this is the sound of a bone being tossed in his direction. It's a contorted plot. Well, it's more like several twisted plots gnarled into a hopeless knot. Clooney's performance is excellent.

[20:39] Achievement in visual effects.
King Kong (Universal). I picked Narnia, but I didn't actually see King Kong. The visual effects in Narnia, the animals and mythological creatures, were just incredible.

[20:44] Best animated feature film of the year.
Another point for me! Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (DreamWorks Animation SKG), Nick Park and Steve Box. Since a colleague lent me the DVD of this movie, Mini-Critic and I have been watching parts of it together almost every day. He gets creeped out when we finally see the transformation into the were-rabbit, so we don't watch that part. It's a great flick.

[20:55] Best live action short film.
Six Shooter (Sundance Film Channel). No point. No comment.

[21:01] Achievement in costume design.
Memoirs of a Geisha (Sony Pictures Releasing), Colleen Atwood. I chose Pride and Prejudice but for no good reason.

[21:09] Achievement in makeup.
Good makeup joke by the introducers. Yes! Another point for me: Howard Berger and Tami Lane for Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Yes! Stewart went for the Russell Crowe joke.

[21:15] Performance by an actress in a supporting role.
Well, they picked Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener, a movie I didn't see. I was hoping that it would be Catherine Keener in Capote, whose work I have been admiring for a long time.

[21:24] Holy shit. Does Lauren Bacall not see the teleprompter? Abort! Abort!

[21:29] The Daily Show-style fake political commercials for Best Actress nominees are very funny.

[21:31] Best documentary short subject.
A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin. Corinne Marrinan and Eric Simonson. Didn't pick it.

[21:33] Best documentary feature.
March of the Penguins (Warner Independent Pictures), Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau. Point for me!

[21:45] Achievement in art direction.
Memoirs of a Geisha (Sony Pictures Releasing). Art Direction: John Myhre. Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau. I picked Good Night and Good Luck, but didn't see the winner.

[21:56] Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score).
Awesome! Itzhak Perlman playing with Bill Conti's orchestra! Even if he is mostly drowned out. I enjoyed Gustavo Santaolalla's music for Brokeback Mountain. Even though it was awfully plain, I picked it to win, because it's in Brokeback Mountain. It's almost unfair to have to compete against John Williams. Twice. The Munich excerpt sounds the best of the five. Itzhak rules. Santaolalla wins! He thanked his orchestrator. Nice.

[22:13] Achievement in sound mixing.
Again, I picked Narnia, but King Kong wins. I guess I need to see that movie.

[22:16] Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep are great, giving the very deserved Honorary Oscar for Robert Altman. I think I've seen most of his movies, but watching the clips I am now headed for my Netflix queue. As if the Academy still needed to prove its general irrelevance, they have never given Altman an Oscar for Best Director, although he has been nominated several times. Yes, nice dig at the Academy in his speech, which is charming and funny. "I've never had to direct a film I didn't choose or develop." That is worth honoring by itself. A touching and witty remark about his heart transplant concludes a great speech.

[22:20] It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp. This is disturbing on so many levels. Hoping for a cutaway shot of Itzhak Perlman during this. Alas, it was not to be! I loved the shot mistake of the crew taking down the street sign.

[22:25] Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song).
It's not so hard out here for a pimp. All the nominated songs were pretty awful. I chose In the Deep. Stewart can only laugh. "It just got a little easier out here for a pimp." Yes! the Perlman shot I wanted, because of a funny joke about the "3-6 Mafia getting into it with Itzhak Perlman's posse."

[22:28] Achievement in sound editing.
King Kong is cleaning up in the technical categories, which I should have expected. I should have chosen it more often, as I did here.

[22:39] Best foreign language film of the year.
The South African film Tsotsi (Moviworld) wins. Rats! Predictably, I chose
Joyeux Noël from France (Nord-Ouest).

[22:43] Achievement in film editing.
Crash (Lions Gate), Hughes Winborne. This is one of those points that I don't deserve to get, because my choice was completely random. I'll take it!

[22:48] Performance by an actor in a leading role.
Yes! An actor whose work I have also long admired: Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote (UA/Sony Pictures Classics). My second choice was the infinitely subtle performance of David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck.

[22:56] Achievement in cinematography.
Dion Beebe for Memoirs of a Geisha. That is the last movie I would have expected to win. I picked Brokeback Mountain, but it was a hard choice to make over Good Night and Good Luck. Both were beautifully shot movies.

[23:00] Performance by an actress in a leading role.
I picked Judi Dench, which was crazy, even I admit. Reese Witherspoon wins for Walk the Line. My points performance is going down the tubes.

[23:10] Adapted screenplay.
This one was a foregone conclusion, I think. It's daunting to try to make something out of an already brilliant story like Annie Proulx's. The screenplay is a great achievement: Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features), screenplay by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. What a great tribute to "the culture of the book, which we mustn't lose."

[23:15] Original screenplay.
Crash wins. I chose Good Night, and Good Luck. Boo.

[23:20] Achievement in directing.
Hooray! I chose correctly with Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain. He has made some of the most rewarding movies, in a variety of styles and genres. For action films, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon excuses Hulk. As for The Ice Storm and Sense and Sensibility, both of them wonderful for different reasons, I cannot believe that the director did not actually grow up in a 1970s American suburb and also 19th-century England. What an eye! He also gets funniest linguistic mistake for mentioning all the "gay mens and womens" in his speech.

[23:23] Best motion picture of the year.
Whoa, they are really ratcheting up the pace here to get this finished. Crash wins, which is a surprise, even for presenter Jack Nicholson, it appears. I picked Capote. Cutting out the speeches here, in favor of commercials, was a grotesque move.

Good night, indeed! My record: a miserable 10 of 24 awards correctly predicted.

This was apparently the night for music and culture bloggers to liveblog the Oscars. Other entries seen so far: Patty Mitchell at oboeinsight; Scott Spiegelberg at Musical Perceptions; and this excellent group liveblog hosted by Edward Champion of Return of the Reluctant.

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