Sunday, February 22, 2009

81st Academy Awards


On Sunday, February 22, 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds its 81st Academy Awards ceremony at the Kodak Theater. There was a brief “Red Carpet” prequel at 5 PM PST. There was a lot of talk about scaling down the celebration because of the recession, but that hardly seems to be happening. Two homely male accountants from Price-Waterhouse walked down the carpet in formal wear, with the envelopes.

The ceremony is offering a number of “featurettes”, some of them described here. There was also a “Comedy 2008” featurette where two men (Seth Rogen) watch comedy while being filmed themselves.

The most moving point in the evening so far was the acceptance of screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, 35, for Best Original Screenplay for “Milk.” Black told the story of his Mormon upbringing and moving back to California as a young adult. He spoke of equal rights soon, including the right to marry, and of not being regarded as “less” than others. One of Black’s most impressive earlier films is "The Journey of Jared Price" (2000), with Corey Spears as the most appealing lead; Black also directed that film.

The best adapted screenplay was "Slumdog Millionaire", written by Simon Beaufoy from a novel by Vikas Swarup.

During the screenplay awards, the show presented the “Final Draft” industry sceenplay format of sample screenplay lines as they were read from each nominated film. (Somehow that reminded me of "Barton Fink" or even "Adaptation"). From “Milk”, Sean Penn’s “recruitment” scene was chosen.

Please note the Academy link for the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.

Spielzeugland” (“Toyland”), from Jochen Alexander Freydank won best short subject (I saw the screening at a Landmark Theater).

Imdb.com is announcing the awards immediately on line as they occur.

As of yet, I have not noticed "best song" nominees or "best picture" nominee segments being sprinkled throughout the show. Later, however, the three nominated songs were performed together on stage with "Bollywood" dance (reminds me of an episode of "Passions"), and Slumdog's "Jai Ho" (translates as "Be Victorious", ironically!) won handily.

The orchestra played excerpts from the scores of the five films nominated for best original musical score; Slumdog won, but Defiance looked quite impressive.

Hugh Jackman (Australia) is the MC.

Before Sean Penn got the award for best actor, De Niro posed the question as to how he had gotten so many roles playing straight men (like "Dead Man Walking"). Penn gave an impassioned acceptance speech, for equality.

I’m 90% sure that “Slumdog Millionaire” will win Best Picture. It did win. "Yes we can!"

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There is still a lot of talk about SAG. It’s website now offers a trailer from “Behind the Masks”, a film about the Guild. SAG has reportedly rejected AMPTP’s “best and final offer” (press release). I do understand the battle of residuals for Internet reproduction, as the same battle has occurred in the National Writers Union. The “free content” issue on the Internet has some bearing on the problem, and on those less established actors (and writers) who depend on this for a living.

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Has anyone looked a p 176 of the current Gentleman's Quarterly (GQ)? Justin Timberlake has been "restored" (after what happened to him before "Alpha Dog" and "Southland Tales".)

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ABC News offers Barbara Walter's Oscar Special Preview video (no direct URL) from its main site. The best part of the show was the interview with the Jonas Brothers; also interesting was Mickey Rourke's return.

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