Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscars 2007: Surprisingly Predictable

So, the morning after...

In the end, I didn't bother posting predictions, but I almost wish I had - that way you'd believe me when I say I probably would have gotten them all right.

This had to be one of the most predictable Oscar shows in a long time, especially coming on the heels of last year's Crash fiasco.

And yet it could have been so much more interesting. On the surface, this appeared to be the most wide open awards show in recent memory - but then the Academy followed the lead of the bulk of the lead-up awards shows and it soon became apparent this was going to be colour-by- numbers: Departed, Scorsese, Whitaker, Mirren, Hudson. (Was it my imagination or was Helen Mirren the hottest gal in the theatre? I might have to take her off my all-time list and put her back on the active roster!)

The only surprise for me was the fact that one of the no-name backstage interviewers kept mentioning the amount of "surprises"; what show was he watching? And yet this morning even the Star is singing that refrain: surprises, surprises, surprises.

Right down to the wire and past the midnight hour Toronto time, no one could guess where the top prize of the 79th annual Academy Awards was headed. It was the most contested Oscar event in recent memory, with surprise winners all night long and with no film winning more than three awards until near the end.


The only mild surprise came when Alan Arkin won for Best Supporting Actor. But even then I figured when in doubt - give it to the old guy. But, seriously, his only competition was Djimon Hounsou. Did you really think Eddie Murphy was gonna win?

Even the Oscar win for the Hollywood neophyte was predictable. Jennifer Hudson was favoured to win Best Supporting Actress, though I'd argue her merits even though I haven't seen the film. I don't think you can judge an actor's performance until you see them in several movies - otherwise, you may just be seeing "them"; and that's not a performance - that's just them.

Pan's Labyrinth won in 3 categories (Make-up, Cinematography, Art Direction) which was well deserved. It didn't win for Foreign Language Film, but the critical acclaim The Lives of Others has been getting made that predictable as well.

There may have been a sense that Melissa Etheridge was an underdog, facing three songs from Dreamgirls, but I think that actually played in her favour. The three Dreamgirls songs were practically indistinguishable, so how could you single out a winner? Etheridge's song stood out - especially in light of the usual fare served up by perennial nominee Randy Newman.

Even Marie Antoinette winning for Costume Design (its only nomnation) wasn't a shocker simply because it's so utterly unorginal for a Renaissance "period piece" to claim that category.

I'm almost sorry to report that Babel was not shut out. Although I wouldn't have minded seeing one of its Supporting Actresses win, it picked up its only Oscar for - get this - Original Score. That's a kick in the balls, man.

As for Best Picture, I figured it was gonna be The Departed's night when it won for Film Editing. When a Best Picture nominee wins in a category it has no business being in, then you know the voters chose it "when in doubt"-style (Titanic...I'm looking in your direction...). Although I didn't want it to win and I thought there was still a little room for one of the other flicks to pull off a shocker, I didn't particularly think any of the other nominees were worthy either. So I guess I'm ok with it winning...

...I guess.

(Editing? EDITING?! Are you shi**ing me? There's nothing remarkable about the editing in that film!! And I still don't think Scorsese deserved to be nominated - there's nothing interesting/remarkable/unusual about the direction in that film; exactly what is the criteria here?! Who's gone the longest without winning?)

Oh, right and then there was Ellen. She did an ok job, I guess, but I hope she never hosts again. She is one of the reasons the show ran long (as well as - and I can't believe I'm gonna say this - too many montages). Did we really need to watch her hand Scorsese a script or get her picture taken with Eastwood, or - wtf? - vacuuming the front row? Get on with it! I think she lacked a little class, a little distinction, you know? I mean, there's self-depricating and then there's common. Billy Crystal is still easily the best host of my lifetime and I hope he decides to come back again. Or, failing that, ditch the host concept altogether. Have the announcer introduce the podium speakers and let them do a little intro - the end. Those little host moments really aren't necessary.

Ok, that's it for another year.

...By the way: 300 opens on the 9th! Booyah!

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