Oscar 2008: Wrap-up

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Article by Mark Dujsik

Three hours and twenty minutes without any obvious embarrassments, the 2008 Academy Awards also had a couple of surprises (So sorry if you took my advice in your office pool; I'll be feeling my 46% correct in my own, if it's any consolation).  The two predicted locks were indeed, and thank you, Academy, you got it right in the top two categories.  Something was woefully missing from Jon Stewart's second time around (Remember the "no gay Western before Brokeback Mountain" montage and the negative ad campaigns from his first time?), but hey, there were no stupid interpretative dance numbers to the Best Original Score nominees.  Montages were kept to a minimum, and the individuals in group winners actually had a chance to talk (for a while, at least).  A well-paced show but certainly an underwhelming one.

Some observations:

Most shocking loss: It might seem a small point, but how does No Country for Old Men lose both sound categories and the editing categories to The Bourne Ultimatum?  It's been a while since sound was so necessary to the success of a film, and the perfect pacing and tension-building of the Coens' masterpiece definitely deserved a win.  I'm starting to think the Academy just votes on the action movie in these categories without thinking.

First they didn't get to play the whole song...: "Falling Slowly" won.  First off, that's fantastic.  Second off, it sounded great.  Third off, though, why did Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová have to play an edited version of it?  It's not a long song.  Then, to add insult to injury, poor Irglová gets cut off before she can say anything (this after the group winners in the technical categories each get a turn).  Stewart's best moment of the night was bringing her back on stage to give her speech.

Most shocking win: The female acting categories were up in the air, and man, I was off on both counts.  I swore it was between Ruby Dee and Amy Ryan in the Supporting category, then Tilda Swinton is called (I heard rumors, but I figured that's all they were).  Then, I knew it was a three-way battle between Julie Christie, Ellen Page, and Marion Cotillard for the lead award, but Cotillard was the last person I expected of them.  I am glad, though.

Not the worst speech: Again, there were some dull ones (What happened to the rule that if you start listing names, you'll get played off?).  The best were the actors, particularly Cotillard, whose genuine excitement and shock was absolutely palpable, and Diablo Cody.

Classiest acceptance speech: Javier Bardem talks directly to his mother in Spanish.

Will still never be classy: I sound like a broken record, I know, but the words "Please hold your applause until the end" will make the "In Memoriam" tribute into what it's actually supposed to be and not a popularity contest.  Speaking of which: Where was Brad Renfro?

Zing: Stewart on Norbit's nomination for Best Makeup: "Too often the Academy ignores movies that aren't good."

Stewart as Stewart moment: Before the awards start being handed out, "Let's take a moment to congratulate ourselves."  Funny, especially if you remember last year's, let's applaud all the nominees thing.

Keep it: The relatively minimal song presentations actually let us focus on the songs, and made me really, really believe that every spot on that list should have been filled with a song from Once.

Didn't think I'd hear that song again: George Clooney jokes about one consistency in the history of the awards: "It's long."  Then he introduces a montage of great Oscar moments, which helps inflate the running time.  Then "My Heart Will Go On" starts playing, and my head hurts a bit.

Haven't heard that song since last year (and probably a movie trailer in between): That theme from Dragonheart might be the most overused piece of music when it comes to the Oscars, and here it is again in the roundup of all 79 movies that have won Best Picture.

What happened to my ability to guess Foreign Language Film: Since I started predicting the Oscar winners in 1993, I always got the Best Foreign Language Film category correct.  Until last year.  And this year.  The Counterfeiters was the only one of the nominees I saw, so it should have been my obvious prediction.  Nope.  Anyway, it deserved the award; go see it.

The Coens were made to make movies: But acceptance speeches aren't their thing.  I don't care, because Joel's, "Thank you for letting us play in our corner of the sandbox" line was priceless.  Then again, so was Ethan simply saying, "Thank you" for whatever his reasons were.

A repeat of last year's unsolicited advice: Eddie Izzard should still host the Oscars.  And soon.

Copyright © 2008 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.


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