8:38 pm: Three hours and 38 minutes, and the presenting of the Best Picture Oscar is the last item on the list. Warren and Faye take the stage. The clips are running, and the suspense is killing me. Please please please. The Shape of Water wins? Okay…if you say so. At least my nightmare didn’t happen, and thank God for that. Guillermo del Toro to future filmmakers: “You can do it. Kick in the door and come in.” The show is over, and it’s 8:49 pm.
8:21 pm: Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren announcing the winner of the Best Actor Oscar, which of course will go to Darkest Hour‘s Gary Oldman. And of course it is. We all love it when the Academy does exactly what everyone has predicted. Oldman goes on for too long. Best Actress Oscar presented by a towering Amazonian Jennifer lawrence or a shrimp-sized Jodie Foster…you choose. I would be happy if Sally Hawkins were to win. McDormand, of course, who, hyper and trembling, requests that someone pick her up if she falls over, etc. Everyone stands up with her. We all shine on. “Inclusion rider”?
8:13 pm: Three hours and 13 minutes, and four Oscars to go. Emma Stone announcing the best Director Oscar winner. Guillermo del Toro is the expected winner, of course, and he is, of course. “Erase the lines in the sand…we should continue doing that.” I loved his emotional last words (borrowed from James Cagney in Yankee Doddle Dandy): “My father thanks you, my mother thanks you, my brother and sister thank you, and I thank you.”
8:05 pm: Jill Messick makes the Death Reel…good. Sam Shepard, Martin Landau, Jeanne Moreau, Roger Moore, George Romero, Rance Howard, Don Rickles, Bernie Casey, Brad Grey, Jerry Lewis…still here, never leaving.
7:52 pm: “This Is Me” performance was a knockout — my favorite of all the songs. The Shape of Water‘s Alexandre Desplat wins for Best Musical Score. I wasn’t knocked out by it…sorry. And the Best Original Song goes to “Remember Me,” from Coco. Totally predicted.
7:46 pm: Sandra Bullock presenting the Best Cinematography, which will go to Roger Deakins, I presume. HE votes for Dunkirk‘s Hoyte von Hoytema. Deakins’ work on Blade Runner 2049 was fine, but he’s won tonight because of “give the poor guy an Oscar already!” sentiment. Because he’s been nominated so often. No worries.
7:44 pm: What’s with the tribute to military movies? A sop to the red states? Nothing against the military, mind — I’m just wondering why.
7:32 pm: Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar win by James Ivory…expected. Dignified acceptance speech. Best Original Screenplay pending…Get Out, right? And the Oscar goes to Jordan Peele. “I stopped writing this movie about 20 times…I didn’t think it was gonna work. To the cast and crew, I love you. And to everyone who went and saw the movie…who told friends to buy a ticket. I love you all, thanks so much, good night.” Please let this be it for Get Out…seriously. Give the Best Picture Oscar to Dunkirk. Yeah, I know.
7:22 pm: I wasn’t paying attention to the latest song, the one rapped by Common and sung by Andra Day.
7:17 pm: So Dunkirk is going to win the Best Picture Oscar because it’s won three Oscars already and winning for Best Editing is a strong indicator? Not buying it. If it happens, great, but I doubt it.
7:05 pm: That visit to the crowd watching a film at the next-door Chinese was fun but noisy. I felt lost. Chaos overcame the feeling. The bearded fat guy stumbled on the copy he was asked to read. Tiffany Haddish announces that Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, a portrait of Mindy Alpert‘s battle with mental illness, has won the Best Documentary Short Oscar. The Best Live-Action Short Oscar goes to The Silent Child.
6:55 pm: HE to Matthew McConaughey — movies are not “an illusion” — they’re more real than life, because it’s a constantly moving and transitional train and movies are forever. And Dunkirk wins the Best Editing Oscar. Three for that film so far.
6:52 pm: And Best Visual Effects Oscar goes to Blade Runner 2049.
6:43 pm: Daniela Vega introducing Call Me By Your Name song composter Sufjan Stevens, singing “Mystery of Love.” And his accompanists St. Vincent (totally in the background), Chris Thile, Casey Foubert, James McAllister.
6:35 pm: Nominees for Best Short Film, which Kobe Bryant‘s Dear Basketball won’t win because of the thing, right? No…it wins anyway! And there’s Bryant right on the stage. I thought #MeToo would take this one down. Second surprise of the night after the Icarus win. Best Animated Feature Oscar goes to Coco, of course.
6:27 pm: And here comes Allison Janney‘s Best Supporting Actress Oscar! HE would prefer a win by Lady Bird‘s Laurie Metcalf…nope! Janney takes it. “I did it all by myself.” Funny! Heartfelt and eloquent thanks to a long list of people, but delivered with speed and style. Three from the cast of The Last Jedi (Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, BB8, whatsername) awaiting their turn.
6:22 pm: Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Rita Moreno…what an entrance! Announcing the nominees for Best Foreign Language Feature, and the Oscar goes to A Fantastic Woman. Expected, no? Congrats to the Sony Classics guys, Daniela Vega…everyone.
6:14 pm: I loved this Rolex ad. Jack Morrissey called it “tacky”. I loved the paycheck appearances by Scorsese, Bigelow, Inarritu, Cameron + the cinematography, production values.
6:07 pm: The Shape of Water wins for Best Production Design. I respectfully disagree — Dennis Gassmer‘s production design for Blade Runner 2049 ruled a bit more. Who’s the guy with (a) the velvet tuxedo sleeves that don’t cover his arms and (b) who’s wearing those stunning white sneakers?? Imagine someone actually choosing to look like this on the Oscar stage.
6:07 pm: Kimmel to Steven Spielberg: “Do you have any pot?” Huh? “Do you have any pot?”
5:58 pm: Two Dunkirk guys win for Best Sound Editing. Deserved! Now the Best Sound Mixing Oscar — Dunkirk again! Deserved! This doesn’t portend anything. Okay, it portends that voters respect Chris Nolan’s film, and they want to give it what they can, knowing it won’t win for Best Picture. One of the winners waves to his family way, way up there. (Sitting next to Sasha Stone? Actually, she’s in the second mezzanine this year.)
5:53 pm: That montage-y dreamscapey essay about Hollywood emotionality and high conveyance…excellent. I’d like to see it again, post it on Hollywood Elsewhere, whatever. Who was the editor?
5:44 pm: Taraji P. Henson‘s dress is…uhm, nightgowny. Mary J. Blige, Best Supporting Actress nominee for Mudbound, singing “Mighty River”…nice delivery! Hats off to the choreograher, lighting designer…everyone. The chorus behind her really killed it.
5:39 pm: Greta Gerwig and Laura Dern announcing winners of Best Documentary Feature. Hollywood Elsewhere is rooting for either Icarus or Faces Places. And Icarus wins! A surprise! Hooray for director Bryan Fogel and Oscar strategist Lisa Taback! Most people were predicting Faces Places, no? Kimmel: “At least we know Putin didn’t rig this competition, right?”
5:37 pm: “You know what else Superman has always been besides white? Not real.”
5:17 pm: What is that burgundy blood tux Armie Hammer is wearing…red velvet? What is that sparkly chiselled stalagnite design above the stage? The Darkest Hour makeup guys have won, fine, but they’re going on for too long. Play ’em off! Eva Marie Saint, who looks great at age 93, talking about losing her husband, Jeffrey Hayden…sad. Announcing the Best Costume Design Oscar, which will presumably be won by Phantom Thread‘s Mark Bridges. Correct!
5:17 pm: A lot of classy build-up (excellent clips from the past and present) for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, which of course will go to Sam Rockwell. And it has! Rockwell’s “it’s grandma” story…excellent. “Everyone who’s ever looked at a billboard”…Rockwell went on just a wee bit too long, but he didn’t get played off because the show just started.
5:05 pm: Who advised Timothee Chalamet to wear that Good Humor man tuxedo? I love that Jimmy Kimmel raised the Mark Wahlberg vs. Michelle Williams payment-disparity episode…”if we can’t trust agents.” Black Panther‘s success was great for African Americans and Bob Iger.Kimmel: The world is watching us, and we need to set an example…and if we can stop sexual harassment, women will only have to deal with harassment in every other realm.” Or something like that. Guillermo del Toro and Nightmare Alley collaborator Kim Morgan sitting together. Helen Mirren caressing a brand-new lime-green Jetski.
The question is whether to bang out my usual live-blogging reactions to the Oscar telecast (starting at 5 pm Pacific or 85 minutes hence) from the comfort of my living room, or should I join HE’s own Svetlana Cvetko for a relaxed viewing opportunity at Soho House? What if the Soho House wifi isn’t optimum? What if we can’t find seating next to a wall outlet?
Jordan Peele: “This is the day, Jeffrey. It’s between us now.” Jeffrey: “Well, it’s obviously not between us, Jordan…you flatter me as I’m but a small fish in the pond, but yeah, this is the day. And if things go well for you, there won’t be much difference between myself and Stephen Boyd at the conclusion of the chariot race.” (Dialogue borrowed from William Wyler‘s Ben-Hur.)
It was almost exactly 12 years ago (sometime in early March of ’06) when Hollywood Elsewhere abandoned the two-columns-per-week thing and began banging out items and stories on a steady bloggy-blog basis. And as of 8.20.18 Hollywood Elsewhere will have been running as a stand-alone for 14 years. But a more important anniversary will be celebrated two months after that (or eight months from today), for October 2018 will mark my 20th anniversary in this racket. For I began my online adventure on Mr. Showbiz sometime around 10.10.98. I stayed there for a little less than a year (until August ’99), and then was hired by the Reel.com guys. I stayed with them for three years, and then leapt over to Kevin Smith‘s unfortunately named Movie Poop Shoot site. Smith cut me loose in June of ’04, but graciously kept me on salary for a few weeks more.
Snapped 18 years ago in the main dining room at Trattoria alla Madonna in Venice.
I’m not saying As Good As It Gets was a great film or even one of the best of the ’90s, but it has six or seven scenes that deliver a certain kind of emotional bull’s-eye satisfaction by way of first-rate writing and world-class acting. And on top of the long-lamented death of theatrical middle-budget adult dramas, this sort of high-polish, push-the-right-button-in-just-the-right-way confection (which cost $50 million or $77 million in 2018 dollars) is just about extinct, certainly in the theatrical realm. As extinct as screwball comedies or VistaVision westerns or counter-culture drug-dealing dramas.
As Good as It Gets was the last film in which the two leads (Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt) won Best Actor and Best Actress. The big night wasn’t exactly 20 years ago (it happened on 3.23.98) but close enough.
One of the reasons this James L. Brooks film got funded was a belief that fall awards buzz (or even an actual statuette or two) might really make a difference to the financial bottom line. But if Brooks, Nicholson, Hunt, Gregg Kinnear and everyone else were 20 years younger and As Good As It Gets had been released in ’17, it probably wouldn’t have struck the same kind of emotional chords and might have even been dismissed by the New Academy Kidz (“Representation!…genre films deserve respect!…let’s give some others a chance!”) as typical middle-aged awards bait. For the Oscars have more or less become the MTV Awards (hat-tip to the HE commenter who said this a couple of days ago), and this is the world in which we’re all
stuck in living.
Screenwriter Earl W. Wallace said the above after Witness, which he co-wrote along with Pamela Wallace and William Kelley, won for Best Original Screenplay. It happened 32 years ago, during the 58th Academy Awards telecast in ’86. For some reason I’ve never forgotten that confessional moment, and the laughter that followed. Wallace says it at 4:33.
What an awful realization or suspicion that everything you do from here on, no matter how hard you try, will never match this one shining moment of triumph. A couple of years later Wallace (who is still with us) hit the jackpot again with his script for the epic miniseries War and Remembrance, and he wrote several TV movies throughout the ’90s. But he was, by the currency of esteem, correct. It never got any better than winning for Witness.
Who among the major nominees for the 2017 Oscars might be nurturing this same concern, if and when they wind up standing at the lecturn tonight with all the world applauding? Answer: They all could be thinking this. Tomorrow is promised to no one. There is only the great and immediate now.
Posted on 8.7.13: If Gregory Peck had been clairvoyant and under the influence of a truth drug on the night he won the Best Actor Oscar for To Kill A Mockingbird in March 1963, he might have said, “Well, this is it…the peak moment.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play starring roles for the finest producers, directors and writers in the business for the last 18 years…Spellbound, Duel In The Sun, Gentleman’s Agreement, The Paradine Case, Twelve O’Clock High, Roman Holiday, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Moby Dick, The Bravados, The Big Country, Pork Chop Hill, On The Beach, The Guns of Navarone, Cape Fear…and it’s been wonderful.
“I’m saying this because for the next 40 years it’s going to be all downhill. Oh, I’ll make a few interesting films over the next couple of decades but my charmed career period is over and I know it. Some actors only get lucky for five or ten years or so. I nearly had 20. And for that I’m very grateful to the industry and especially to the public. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
From someone who was there: “Of the three winners for Best Original Screenplay for Witness, Earl Wallace and his wife Pamela were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce — the conflict had begun with a fight over her sharing ‘written by’ credit — and were not speaking. The third partner, William Kelly, wasn’t speaking to either of them. He did, however, thank the studio Paramount, not knowing that a few days earlier they had fired him off another solo project. Someone had requested that his agents not tell him until after the ceremony, for obvious reasons. Enough to make the Marquis de Sade cry.”
Larry Gelbart’s 1986 introduction: “The successful screenwriter, one who is the author of more than a set of clever license plates, is a poet pragmatist, ready at the drop of a [hat] to change the script so that the part of Mother Theresa can be played by Goldie or Dusty or Whoopie. And if the writer is ready and willing but considered unable, perhaps the problem of water on the brain that the director has no trouble walking across, the writer is either re-written or partnered with one or more collaborators, often unknown to each other until their hands meet over the same award. Here are this year’s triumphant survivors of a system that would have made the Marquis de Sade cry uncle.”
This Screen Junkies Dailies piece popped yesterday morning on Facebook. It’s a fair observation. I know Guillermo del Toro well enough to testify that everything he draws and imagines and eventually puts on screen comes from his creative subconscious. Then again popular movies have a way of blending into the collective unconscious, and it wouldn’t be a crazy leap to presume that Guillermo saw Splash in ’84 (when he was 20) and that an echo of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer‘s film was part of the creative combustion that led to The Shape of Water.
Colin Jost during last night’s SNL Weekend Update: “Hope Hicks, the White House Communications Director and one of his longest-serving advisors, said Wednesday that she planned to resign to pursue other opportunities. You know things are bad when a 29 year-old with no experience and who works directly for the President of the United States thinks, ‘I gotta get out of this dead-end job.'” And after serving in that job for only six months.