8:56 pm: Jack Nicholson introduces Michelle Obama from the White House to pass along general congrats to the nominees — an Oscar first. And then Nicholson takes it back to read the nominees, and back to Michelle and the announcement that Argo has won the Best Picture Oscar. An emotional Grant Heslov goes on a bit. Ben Affleck: “[Here’s to] eight great films that have as much of a right to be up here as we do.” Affleck is speaking right from the heart, openly, from his life. “Everyone gets knocked down,” or words to that effect. “All that matters is that you’ve gotta get up.”
8:48 pm: Daniel Day Lewis, a total lock for Best Actor for many, many weeks, is genuinely moved by his win. The Margaret Thatcher-Abraham Lincoln role swap between DDL and Meryl Streep is fairly funny. A touching speech. He’s an elegant man. “For my mother….thank you very much.”
8:43 pm: Silver Linings Playbook‘s Jennifer Lawrence wins Best Actress Oscar, and vulnerably, touchingly falls on the steps going up to the stage. Good moment, sweet, satisfying.
8:39 pm: Life of Pi‘s Ang Lee wins for Best Director. Nice effort, very pretty, drowned in CG-looking CG, maddeningly obtuse. I don’t emotionally agree with any of what’s happened tonight. It’s a kind of nightmare for me. Lee is a sweet, intelligent, obviously gifted man. But Life of Pi is not and never will be a knockout film, and…I don’t want to talk about this any more. Waltz! Tarantino! Lee! Fuck me.
8:24 pm: I’m taking this opportunity to remind everyone reading this column that Quentin Tarantino‘s original screenplay of Django Unchained (a riff on Italian spaghetti westerns by way of rehashing his revenge scenario from Inglourious Basterds in a slavery context…not too original!) doesn’t hold a candle to Mark Boal‘s brilliant screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty or Michael Haneke‘s for Amour. There’s just no comparison, and there’s something really, really wrong with this year’s Oscar awards. Something diseased, I mean. The Academy has really “shit the bed” this year, in the words of Sasha Stone.
8:24 pm: Dustin Hoffman and Charlize Theron presenting the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar to Chris Terrio for Argo. I guess most of us saw this one coming. I’m nto feeling it. I’m not feeling this whole show, if you want to know. It had a surprise at least — Waltz!
8:21 pm: The three-hour mark is approaching. There might be…what, 20 or 25 minutes remaining?
8:17 pm: Has Chicago been promoted fully enough? Chicago — one of the greatest and most beloved movie musicals of all time! Congrats to Adele and whatsisname, the co-creators of the “Skyfall” song, for their Best Original Song Oscar.
8:14 pm: Nora Jones isn’t belting it. Her voice is too quiet. She’s almost murmuring.
8:10 pm: Life of Pi wins for Best Original Score. This again reiterates the likelihood of Ang Lee winning fthe Best Director Pscar.
8:06 pm: McFarlane: “In a few minutes Rex Reed will be out here to review Adele’s performance of Skyfall!” — funny! Plus that line about “this show being gay enough.”
8:01 pm: And the late Marvin Hamlisch gets the biggest tribute — a segue out of the “In Memoriam” reel with Barbra Streisand singing “The Way We Were.” Sorry but her voice isn’t as strong as it used to be. Not soaring or flying.
7:48 pm: Co-presenter Kristen Stewart appears to have put on a little bit of weight, and she seemed to be hobbling on her way to the mike. Right? The Best Production Design Oscar goes to Lincoln? Okay.
7:40 pm: Robert DeNiro lost to Christoph Waltz? Tommy Lee Jones lost to Christoph Waltz? Philip Seymour Hoffman lost to Christoph Waltz? I can understand people preferring Waltz to Alan Arkin — I can sympathize with that. But otherwise…
7:36 pm: Adele is a big girl in a nice sparkly dress, but her great voice and general aura of confidence and command are what matter. The chorus and the string section are a nice touch.
7:32 pm: Sandra Bullock announcing the Best Editing Oscar. Argo is expected to win this. And it happens. William Goldenberg (who also edited Zero Dark Thirty) accepting.
7:27 pm: Les Miserables has gotten a huge bump out of this show so far. You know that producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are big fans, and they’ve showed it.
7:20 pm: Christopher Plummer deftly strolls out to announce that Anne Hathaway has won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. “It came true!” Graciously acknowledges how good her four competitors are. A generally gracious and humble speech. Good for A.H. And now that that’s done…
7:18 pm: A Nazi joke! We knew it was coming!
7:12 pm: The Oscar for Best Sound Mixing goes to Les Miserables. There’s no live orchestra playing inside the Dolby theatre? Jewish joke from Mark Wahlberg and Ted (meh)….Best Sound Editing Oscar decision is a tie — one for Zero Dark Thirty, another for Skyfall. The Oscar telecast has been going for just over 105 minutes and the pace feels fine.
6:58 pm: You can have this big, passionate, showstopping Bob Fosse/”All That Jazz”/Dreamgirls/Jennifer Hudson/Les Miserables/Hugh Jackman extravaganza. Wait, I take part of that back — the Les Miserables portion is pretty good, actually. Russell Crowe walks out and sings on stage! This is actually terrific. What a promotion for the film…what a score! I liked the last 40 minutes or so of Tom Hooper‘s film, but this number was better. Okay, as good.
6:51 pm: Amour, totally predicted and universally agreed upon, wins Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar. I take it back slightly about director Michael Haneke slightly resembling George Clooney, or vice versa. He does, they do. But Haneke has a bald spot, looks a bit older. And he says “sank you” when saying “thank you.” Amour is a rough but very powerful film. Hats off.
6:44 pm: Best Documentary Feature Oscar goes to Searching for Sugar Man — totally predicted. Fine. No complaints. Director (whom I met in Santa Barbara) is a cool guy.
6:41 pm: “The guy who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth. Still too soon, huh?” — Seth McFarlane.
6:37 pm: Liam “Paycheck” Neeson takes the stage to present the next array of Best Picture nominee promos.
6:35 pm: Curfew has won the Live Action Short Oscar. And the Documentary Short Subject Oscar voes to Inocente.
6:23 pm: James Bond tribute…meh…reminds us all that the early Connery’s were the coolest. I was going to say that Shirley Bassey‘s voice isn’t quite what it used to be. But she’s all right, I guess. It just seemed that the punch and the snap and the ferocity weren’t there at first. But she’s okay. Big applause. I guess I’m still recovering from Waltz.
6:18 pm: Jacqueline Durran has won the Best Costume Design Oscar for Anna Karenina — deserved. And the Makeup and Hair Style Oscar goes to the Les Miserables‘ Lisa Westcott and Julie Darnell. Both of whom take forever to get to the stage.
6:07 pm: The Avengers guys aren’t funny. Mark Ruffalo looks a little bit heavy. Give ’em all the hook. The Best Cinematography Oscar goes to Claudo Miranda for Life of Pi. The winner should have been Anna Karenina. All right, fine…fine! Ang Lee is going to win for Best Director. Best Visual Effects Oscar goes to Life of Pi….well, what other contender were they going to honor in this category? I’m just not feeling this Pi stuff. None of it. John Williams‘ Jaws music used as warning?
6:05pm: Bearded George Clooney looks like Amour director Michael Haneke. He just needs a pair of wire-rim glasses. They should pose together.
6:04 pm: Why are they running short tributes to the Best Picture nominees this early in the show? The first three, I mean. Curious.
5:58 pm: I never saw Paperman, winner of the best Animated Short. Very few have. If you were to send me a screener I’m not sure that I’d watch it all that quickly. But good for the guy who made it. Good God! Brave, which I saw and didn’t like all that much and which isn’t all that novel or clever, has won the Best Animated Feature Oscar. This and Waltz — two bad calls so far. Is this is going to be as rough of a night as I’m afraid it might turn out to be?
5:41 pm: Oh, my God! They gave the Best Supporting Actor Oscar to Christoph Waltz for giving the exact same kind of performance in Django Unchained that he gave in Inglourious Basterds? No!!! Jack Nicholson is stunned. I’m on the floor. They did this! They gave it to Waltz! What…the….fuck? This doesn’t bode well for David O. Russell winning Best Director. I’m detecting the faint whiff of an Ang Lee win.
5:41 pm: “We Saw Your Boobs!” sung by Gay Men’s Chorus — perfect. Okay, mildly funny. Flight re-enacted by sock puppets…decent. Flying Nun Sally Field bit. This is McFarlane’s persponality but it’s also kind of Vegas-y and ….gay? “You know they’re going to give it to Anne Hathaway.” McFarlane can sing. “Story of Argo is so top secret that the director is unknown to the Academy.” Jean Dujardin insult joke. This is 90. Roman Coppola anguish. Django Unchained: Chris Brown and Rhiannon date movie. Screenplay is loosely based on Mel Gibson‘s voicemail. Cpt,. Kirk to the rescue. “Your jokes are tasteless and inappropriate and everyone hates you. Why couldn’t they just get Tina and Amy? Channing Tatum‘s spats don’t look as good as George Raft‘s. JGL and Daniel Radcliffe…if you say so. What’s with Robert De Niro‘s hair?