Sunday, March 07, 2010

"The Hurt Locker" wins best picture, director; but what a night for a lot of comments; I give away some of my own "plans" here!

Well, Barbara Walters started her pre-game Academy Awards preview tonight by saying this was her last year of doing it because “she was sick of it.” What a whiner! She interviewed Mo’Nique (from “Precious”) who talked about not shaving her legs because people lose it and go bald on the legs as they get older anyway. What a conversation!

As for the Kodak theater ceremony, I have a lot of ad hoc remarks. Here is the best link for the videos.

Steve Martin (“The Spanish Prisoner”) and Alec Baldwin (who could have played “The 40 year old virgin”; brother Stephen is tamer) hosted this year, and both joked that Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner (who had to buy a suit, poor thing!) would look like them in five years. I doubt it. There was discussion that making a short film can be the best way to get good attention as a filmmaker.

KTLA offers an embeddable YouTube video of Zac Efron on the Red Carpet, “I’m presenting.”

The Kodak Theater has a UFO hanging from the ceiling, if anyone wasn’t too preoccupied to notice.

I was a bit pleased to see “The New Tenants” (the gay couple) win best live action short. And Logorama looks like a fascinating model world to explore. There was a bizarre incident when Elinor Burkett (author of "The Baby Boon") interrupted the acceptabce speech by Roger Ross Williams as winner of the Oscar for best documentary short "Music By Prudence" for which Burkett had also been a producer. The "Kanye Moment" is explained by David Itzkoff in the New York Times arts blogs here.

The best dance number seemed to be that throbbing number from “The Hurt Locker”.

There was discussion of “costume” was what takes an actor out of himself and into his character.

Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Productions, probably the next owner of MGM!) gave an accolade for Gabourey Sidibe form Lionsgate’s “Precious”. (Oprah was one of the film's executive producers.)

Ben Stiller dressed in blue and spoke in Na'vi, a real language.

Michael Cieply has an interesting piece in the New York Times, front page, March 4, “For movie stars, the big money is now deferred,” link here. The HTML title says that Hollywood is getting “tightfisted” in deals with stars.

I know that “Avatar” is politically important (as if Iraq = Pandora) and cost $300 million; but the emerging situation today is you want to make a politically important film about a major problem (my favorite is “don’t ask don’t tell” -- expanded beyond the reach of the military into even “online reputation”), you want an “arthouse” label release (you’re talking about companies like Summit, Lionsgate, Roadside, Overture, TWC, Magnolia, etc), but you want a big director and big stars. (Okay, my fantasy is Robert De Niro plays the Dean of Men, Meryl Streep is the high school principal (who else?), Leonardo Di Caprio is the Army drill sergeant or rather first sergeant, and well, there is Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, John Malkovich, etc to cast – not to mention all the younger actors under 30). Okay, somebody with a CSA does the casting. Somebody is the script supervisor. Somebody does the legal clearances (and music copyright releases) and completion bond. Okay, it’s believable to me that overturning DADT could raise a few tens of millions (and plenty of people in Hollywood will support overturning both “don’t ask don’t tell” and Proposition 8) but even with $40 million or so (a reasonable cost for a larger indie film for the festivals and chains like Landmark and AMC Select) you just can’t pay big stars advances. So, Big Star (or “A-lister”), if you believe in a cause, social justice, you’ll sign on for a deferral. These kinds of films do work.

Who are my favorite directors? Clint Eastwood, Pedro Almodovar (for his ability to tell layered stories about sexual intrigue, like "Bad Education"), Joe Wright (again, the layering really works in "Atonement"), Brian de Palma ("Scarface": he wants audiences to know what is going on), and, yes, Kathryn Bigelow (“Strange Days” held me riveted; at the time, I thought it was revolutionary – by the way, husband Cameron wrote the story!), and Paul Thomas Anderson (epic storytelling in “There Will Be Blood”, and layering and mixing in “Magnolia”). Actually, for James Cameron, what strikes me is the “sweep” of "Titanic", but the daring concept of “The Abyss”. I really like the intent of Tom Ford’s “A Single Man”.

Okay, maybe it’s giving too much away, but, yes, I’d like to “make” “Do Ask Do Tell”. The title is too obvious not to attract attention. But I have a couple of other titles developed into scripts – “Make the A-List”, and “69 Minutes to Titan” (that is the moon of Saturn, and it’s weird). The most controversial is “The Sub” (but there have been a variety of movies about substitute teachers, some called that; this is not "K-19"; no pun here).

Bigelow told USA Network ("Characters wanted") that "The Hurt Locker" should make the moviegoer experience being in a combat unit in Iraq, and come out of the theater feeling virtual sand in his clothes. In "Strange Days" we experienced the world of Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) through the imprint of a CD viewer and "squid recordings" on his mind, literally.

Winner: Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker
Winner: Best Picture: The HURT LOCKER. Summit Entertainment carries the night.
Martin: “The show is so long that Avatar takes place in the past!” (I had typed it in as best picture, but didn't post!!)

I’ll close these rambling remarks with this: I like pie charts, too.

(Picture: Mine, Biblical sheaves, along the Shenandoah River, Virginia).

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