8:40 pm: Nobody expected the 2021 Oscars to be anything too special or riveting, but I was intrigued by what Soderbergh might do with it. Whatever he did, it sure as hell wasn’t like a movie. As the show finally turned out, it was just kinda “meh” and not funny or pizazzy enough and the only big surprise, really, was the Hopkins win. How did Viola Davis manage the Best Actress SAG win while losing the Oscar? The simplest answer is that SAG-AFTRA allegiance is not synonymous with Academy worship.
8:10 pm: Time for the keenly awaited Best Actress presentation — the big moment. And the Oscar goes to Frances McDormand! Okay, that’s a wee bit disappointing. But okay — Nomadland‘s third Oscar, and McDormand’s third also. “And I like work…hah-hah! Thank you for that.” And The Father‘s Anthony Hopkins wins for Best Actor! The show was jiggered to end on a big emotional note with Chadwick Boseman winning, and then Hopkins takes it and he doesn’t show up. And the show’s over. They managed to push the running time to 3:17 without songs or dancing or a jokey monologue.
8:01 pm: Wait…Rita Moreno is presenting the Best Picture Oscar now? Before the Best Actor and Best Actress presentations? Okay — the second Nomadland Oscar. I’m fine with this. We all expected it. It’s a well-made film. Fran’s coyote yell worked. That and “see this movie on the biggest screen,” etc. Who expects to see an IMAX version of Nomadland sometime this summer?
7:57 pm: The pace of the death reel was steady at first, then it went faster and faster, and then it slowed down at the end to acknowledge the passings of Sean Connery and Chadwick Boseman. They seemed to include everyone. I guess the show is going to last 3 hours and 15 minutes, something like that. No worries on this end.
7:37 pm: Zendaya presenting the Best Score Oscar, and the winner is Soul. Jon Batiste is cool. H.E.R. wins the Best Song Oscar for Judas and the Black Messiah — “Fight For You.” What’s with all the time-killing chit-chat…the padding? At least Glenn Close is getting into it.
7:27 pm: Tyler Perry accepting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. “Refuse hate…don’t hate anyone,” he says, “because they’re black or white or Asian,” etc. How about wokesters not hating centrist types? How about not trying to destroy the lives of people who aren’t woke enough, or who might have tweeted the wrong thing ten years ago? Do they count?
7:18 pm: Time for the Best Editing Oscar. How is silvery Harrison Ford going to play Indiana Jones again? He seems a bit frail; sounds wheezy. Wait…Sound of Metal wins! Who saw that coming? Congrats!
7:07 pm: The Best Cinematography Oscar goes to Mank‘s Eric Messerschmidt! That’s a bit of a surprise, no? Friendo: “So now things get interesting. Will Nomadland only win Best Picture and Best Director? Will it win best Editing also? Will McDormand win through?”
7:05 pm: We’re now in the final hour (55 minutes to go), and Mank has won the Best Production Design Oscar…congrats! Why does this show have no clips?
6:56 pm: Brad Pitt hands the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Yuh-Jung Youn, the spunky Minari grandma who burned the barn down. The first Asian actress to win in this category since Sayonara‘s Miyoshi Umeki, and the first Korean actress ever. She’s going on a bit. An elegant lady, nicely dressed, amusing…class act.
6:51 pm: The Visual Effects Oscar should go to Tenet, I feel, and it does!
6:40 pm: Time for My Octopus Teacher to win the Best Feature Documentary Oscar…right? Correct. What happened to “this show will feel like a movie?” I thought that meant that nominees and winners would perform snappy dialogue with the camera darting in and out. I thought that meant that some kind of light narrative would develop. Something along those lines. The winning Octopus couple is going on and on. Friendo: “Oh, for the days of Joe Pesci when a simple ‘Thank You’ was sufficient.”
6:35 pm: Best Documentary, Short Subject Oscar goes to Colette. I’m sorry but this show is just plodding along…it’s not zippy, funny, nervy, irreverent. The tone of sincerity mixed with “earnest” and “heartfelt” is almost suffocating. It feels like a meeting of kindly, friendly Trotskyites in formal wear.
6:26 pm: Reese Witherspoon reading off the Best Animated Feature nominees. I’m sorry but I hate animation. The Oscar goes to Soul — a film that I didn’t much care for. Excerpt: “Soul betrays its audience by (a) encouraging them to identify with and believe in Joe Gardner‘s long-denied dream about becoming a jazz musician instead of a frustrated middle-school music teacher, only to (b) pull the rug out on Joe’s dream in Act Three and end things with Joe feeling uncertain about what he really wants to do with his remaining time on earth. Possibly jazz, possibly teaching…who knows?”
6:15 pm: Two Distant Strangers wins for Live Action Short. We are reminded that cops will continue to shoot people of color on a disproportionate basis. The Best Animated Short winners (“If Anything Happens I Love you”) also deplore gun deaths at the hands of police.
6:12 pm: This show doesn’t feel “like a movie” at all. It feels like a dud-level Kiwanis Club awards event in a mid-sized restaurant. The vibe is pure Spirit Awards, but without the jokes. The most touching acceptance speech so far has been given by poor Thomas Vinterberg (what a terrible loss) — the others have been (here comes that word again) solemn.
6:08 pm: And the Best Sound Oscar, announced by Riz Ahmed, goes to Sound of Metal….thank you! Fully and completely deserved, if I do say so myself.
5:59 pm: The Best Directing Oscar goes to Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao. Her hair is quite ungussied and un-styled — middle part, Pocahantas braids, large ears. She’s wearing a somewhat plain gold-champagne colored gown with white sneakers. Where’s the jean jacket?
5:47 pm: I have to be honest — the Soderbergh Oscar atmosphere feels a bit curious. Solemn, doleful, downbeat, no jokes. Emphasis on the solemn. In years and decades past, the Oscar elite (nominees, plus-ones, ticketed guests) were the usual Anglos with a smattering of Black, Latino, Asian, etc. Tonight the visuals are diverse-plus…mostly (am I allowed to notice this?) people of color, it seems, with a smattering of palefaces. Okay, more than a smattering but fewer, for sure. 60-40? Plus the absence of jokes and general mirth…what can I say? The words “fun” and “lively” will not be used to summarize this show after it’s over.
5:42 pm: Best Makeup and Hairstyling goes to Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. And Ma Rainey‘s Ann Roth wins the Costume Oscar.
5:38 pm: I have to admit that those clips of Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story (due eight months hence) are alluring. A little Robert Wise-y, but more arthousey. The cinematographer is Janusz Kaminsky, but the default milky desaturated thing has been put aside.
5:28 pm: Dern again, presenting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor…Daniel Kaluuya, Leslie Odom, Jr., Lakeith Stanfield, Paul Raci, Sascha Baron Cohen…and Kaluuya wins, as predicted. I would’ve chosen Stanfield, as indicated previously. Kaluuya’s thick accent, fast slurring and murmuring, heavyish appearance, etc. He was too old to play the 21 year-old Fred Hampton, and didn’t resemble him otherwise. Nobody minded.
5:21 pm: Laura Dern announcing the winner of the Best International Film Oscar. HE is rooting against Another Round, due respect, and for Quo Vadis, Aida or Collectiv. Thomas Vinterberg‘s Another Round, an underwhelming film, wins. Vinterberg alludes to his (and more particularly his daughter Ida‘s) highway tragedy in 2019. Very sad….”Ida, this is a miracle that has happened, and you’re part of it…this one’s for you.”
5:08 pm: Despite the last-minute Bo Burnham switcheroo at the end of Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell wins for Best Original Screenplay. An omen that might indicate a Mullligan win later on? These origin-story speeches are definitely going on a bit. Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar about to be announced…and the Oscar goes to the co-writers of The Father, Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller. Zeller, speaking from Paris at 2:14 am, is holding an Oscar statuette. Makes logistical sense.
5:04 pm: One Night in Miami‘s Regina King tracking shot through the sparsely attended Union Station festivities, and then up to the stage. First thing out of her mouth — this has been a painful year and people of color are not safe, or words to that effect — “This of this as a movie set…” Friendo: “Mentioning racial anxiety at the very beginning of the telecast…millions of Americans just switched to the other channel.”
2:42 pm: HE’s live-blog commentary on the lowest rated, most who-gives-a-shit? Oscar award ceremony in Hollywood history (although possibly the most inventively staged and written, courtesy of Steven Soderbergh) begins at 5pm Pacific / 8 pm Eastern. Tune in, turn on, check your tweets.
Here’s one reason why Hollywood Elsewhere has such a high regard for Spectrum service:
4:45 update: Signal issues persisted, so I downloaded the Spectrum app on my Apple TV box and am now using this — good to go.
Leo Carax‘s Annette (7.6.21) is about how the lives of a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and his world-famous soprano wife (Marion Cotillard) are jarred and turned around when they discover that their daughter Annette has been born with a unique gift.
The trailer doesn’t say what the gift is, but it might have something to do with…you tell me. Nice tease. Great looking film.
Filming began in August 2019 (Los Angeles, Brussels, Bruges, Münster, Cologne, Bonn), and wrapped in November of that year.
I don’t agree with this but….
“Nomadland is a well-polished, very sly mea culpa for corporate capitalism. Only the daughter of a Chinese billionaire could have made it, and, lo and behold, she did. Style = substance. Watch it again and focus on what it LOOKS like, not what is being said. Focus on the feeling it’s trying to engender in you, not what you think you should be feeling.
“Nomadland is a palliative, made for some of the richest people in the world, and guess what — they’re going to festoon it with awards tonight. Because it pushes the message they want pushed, which is this: Love your servitude, for it is beautiful.” — Posted earlier today by HE commenter “Jak Shoulder.”
So according to Esquire‘s Tom Nicholson, a British writer, the top two Best Picture Oscar winners — the most highly placed, best liked and most revered by today’s standards — are Moonlight and Parasite. This is how things are right now.
I’m telling you right now Nicholson needs to be straightened out and maybe even slapped around. This kind of thinking…words fail. I worship Hitchcock’s Rebecca but it can’t be proclaimed as the fourth-best…stop it! Amadeus and The Shape Of Water in the top 20? Get outta here! And Moonlight at #1? This is almost too asinine to take potshots at. Nicholson’s list is beyond ridiculous — an expression of woke mental illness.
Herewith is my own Best Picture Oscar Winner list, and I’m certainly going to use the criteria that most…okay, a significant percentage of winners have fulfilled or satisfied to some degree, at least in an aspirational sense in addition to the usual political motives and moment-in-time considerations…
Not just (a) films that sought to achieve (and in some cases DID achieve) a stand-alone, movie-craft refinement or at least a kind of declarative, honed-down clarity or wholeness on their own terms, or…
(b) Films that captured or reflected something poignant (at least in passages) about the times in which they were made, but most fundamentally…
(c) Political winners-of-the-moment that hit or touched certain emotional G-spots that moved large swaths of the culture (not just the Hollywood community but moviegoers all over), movies that said “this, to some extent, is a concise, respectable and in some cases profound presentation of who and what we are, or at least what we’ve recently been through or would like to be…this Best Picture winner contains pieces of our saga, shards of our collective soul, elements of who we believe we are or would like to be deep down.”
The difference between then and now, of course, is that the “large swaths of nationwide movie culture” aspect has been removed — today’s Oscar nominees are totally about the uncertainties and preferences of a small community of terrified political sidesteppers who don’t know what to say or think but are totally terrified by what might happen if they say (or even think) the wrong thing. The sentiments of the rest of the country has been a side issue for a good 20 to 25 years…be honest.
Reasons to disagree or tell the Esquire guy to go fuck himself…
In some respects Gone With The Wind is a racist relic, obviously, but it still matters and is, in fact, still great because of the last half of Part One (the agony of battered Atlanta to “I’ll never be hungry again!”) and because it is NOT, in a deep-down sense, a saga of the Civil War but a reflection of the deprivations and terrible hardships of the Great Depression. And so I will certainly include Gone With The Wind somewhere in the top 30….you can beat me with bamboo sticks all you want but Hattie McDaniel‘s Mammy, at least, was a vivid and passionate human being who took no shit from anyone, least of all from Scarlett O’Hara.
Green Book is not a great film, but I will not dismiss or degrade it in any way, shape or form. It also belongs in the top 30.
And I must again remind that the last third of Moonlight (and particularly the casting of Trevante Rhodes) doesn’t work at all (sustained for years by one adolescent handjob on the beach!) and that it won largely if not entirely because of a collective, politically-driven, industry-centric need to refute the #OscarsSoWhite meme.
And I will certainly not give Parasite a high ranking because of the stupidest plot turn in the history of Best Picture winners…because of that drunken family of con artists deciding to admit into the home THE ONE PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET WHO COULD & ALMOST CERTAINLY WILL BLOW THEIR SCAM OUT OF THE WATER…cut the shit and admit that Parasite won because the industry wanted and needed to celebrate a filmmaker of color as well as a charming genre purveyor (monsters! a giant pig! a runaway train!)…a director who was a much better fit in these times of necessary wokeness than Martin Scorsese and his aging goombahs and his “Wild Strawberrries with handguns”…nope.
Friendo: “I can’t believe how much the political climate described in Albert Marrin‘s “A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War” is like right now.
“The only difference is that it’s all totally flipped. The fear of Communism and Communist association has become the fear of racism or racist taint or anything offensive to the Left, or even that which seems to argue with Critical Race Theory…anything in that realm. But the methods are exactly, and I mean EXACTLY the same. Except for the absence (so far) of a HUAC-like Congressional examination and indictment committee.
“It’s not enough to succeed — one’s friends must fail.” — Somerset Maugham.
By the same token it’s vaguely or mildly satisfying to correctly predict Oscar winners, yes, but the real joy (or my real joy) comes from knowing that certain Oscar prognosticators or advocates got it wrong.
Like when Green Book won the Best Picture Oscar — a nice, emotionally poignant film about a parent-child relationship on the road had triumphed, fine, but the joy was in knowing that the Green Book haters (including Ingkoo Kang and Guy Lodge and the Indiewire wokesters) had been told by an Academy plurality to go fuck themselves.
The only Oscar moment that will deliver any kind of real suspense tonight is the Best Actress face-off between Viola Davis and Carey Mulligan.**
The bottom line is commonly understand all around: this is not a good year to be a white Oscar nominee, and so Viola, whose performance in Ma Rainey was, is and always will be a chore to sit through, probably has it in the bag. Unless Frances McDormand takes it, and that, no offense, will be a totally deflating “oh, God” moment if there ever was one.
But I’m hoping and praying for a Mulligan upset, not just because she and Emerald Fennell caught some kind of bottled lightning with the chilly but hardcore Promising Young Woman, and not just because I’ve been a Mulligan fan since I first saw her in An Education in January ’09, but also because — it almost makes me giddy to think about this — Variety‘s Clayton Davis has totally written Mulligan off.
So if Mulligan wins, great. But the real ecstasy will come from imagining the look on Clayton Davis’s face when and if Mulligan’s name is announced. I know it probably won’t happen, but a little voice in my chest is going “please please please please please.”
** Yes, I 100% concur that Andra Day gave the richest, most-lived-in lead-actress performance but it’s not in the cards for her, largely because The United States vs, Billie Holiday is no one’s idea of a good film.