Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jonathan Lack's Live Blog of the 2012 Academy Awards - Join us for a night of casual cynicism and snark!

The time has come.  The time when viewers nationwide will sit in front of their TVs to watch a lot of beautiful people present a stream of predictable, boring awards.  For some reason, we put stock in this, and call it The Academy Awards.  Chances are you know my feelings on the Oscars as an institution at this point, but I'm not going to spoil their big day with a soapbox rant.  Tonight, I'm going to watch the Oscars and simply try to have fun with them, as most viewers do, and if you'd like some lightly critical snark to go along with your Academy Award activities this evening, then have your internet browser set to this very post at 5:30 PM Eastern/8:30 PM Pacific to follow along with my first ever LIVE BLOG of the 2012 Academy Awards!  As the telecast airs, you can read my up-to-the-minute commentary right here; I don't have any fancy live-blogging software, though, so just remember to refresh the page every few minutes to read my latest updates!

THE LIVE BLOG HAS ENDED.  Please continue after the jump to read the completed Live Blog of the Oscars.  

Alright, the time has come, let's begin the LIVE BLOG!!!!

6:20 PM - I turned on the TV to a Google-plus ad featuring the Muppets.  The night is off to a darn good start.  Before we get in too deep, just remember that I don't have any fancy live-blogging tech, so you'll have to refresh this page yourself.  And if you spot any technical difficulties, please tell me in the comments!

6:22 PM - They're interviewing Natalie Portman!!! They're interviewing Natalie Portman!!! Her win last year for "Black Swan" was one of the most deserving wins in Oscar history, to my mind.

6:24 PM - Nice little segment with Tom Hanks.  He hasn't starred in a great movie in a while (does "Toy Story 3" count?) but it's still great to see him.  He's the "Mayor of Hollywood" for a reason!

6:25 PM - Chris Rock!  I wouldn't mind him hosting again.  He's a funny man, and even in this interview, he shows some good hosting charisma.  I'd love to see him do the show with his friend Louis CK.  That would be one hell of a show.

6:28 PM - I won't comment on commercials too much, but I want to be clear: "Mirror Mirror" looks like it may be the worst thing we, as human beings, have ever created.

6:30 PM - Alright, place your bets - who thinks Billy Crystal is going to do a song and dance?  Odds are....1:1?

6:31 PM - Morgan Freeman!  Interesting.  That's a classy way to open the show.  It's like God himself is blessing the Academy Awards.  Has he ever hosted before?  He should.

6:35 PM - When you open the show with an homage to "The Artist," you're not exactly leaving any room for surprises...just saying'.  Still, this is a funny little video, with Billy Crystal inside all the Best Picture nominees.  He got in a nice dig about George Clooney's "Batman" movie, so I'm happy.  In fact, Billy makes the whole shebang so much more pleasant than it's been in a few years.  Unsure why Justin Beiber is there.  And referencing the worst scene in "The Help" doesn' matters.  But we get a nice Hugo/Mission Impossible riff, which is actually pretty awesome.  Riffing on "Tintin" just seems cruel, though, after they ignored it in the "Animated Feature" category.

6:37 PM - On the whole, I think I enjoyed that intro video.  Not hugely funny, but Crystal, like I said, is a pleasant enough present that he makes it more palatable.  

6:38 PM - Billy's opening monologue, though....well, it's starting out slow, but the "Chapter 11" theater joke is a good one...and then it slows down again with a weird joke about how James Earl Jones says "baseball."  Umm...why?

6:40 PM - Yep, Billy's singing.  Told you so.  It's fairly lame, but the "War Horse" part of the song at least has some nice wordplay.  Singing about Jonah Hill's weight seems unnecessary, but the Scorsese part of the song makes up for it, if only to see Scorsese's face figuring out how to properly contort itself while he's serenaded.  Other than that?  Well....Jessica Chastain seemed very entertained in the audience, and she's awesome, so I suppose I have to love this song, right?  Only for Jessica...

6:42 - I'll give Billy this: he's moving things along at a nice pace so far.  Why are they wasting Tom Hanks right up front, though?

6:43 - At least Hanks is funny.  I'm saying this a lot, but why has HE never hosted?  He really should.  He's got charisma to spare.  Now let's present an award.  CINEMATOGRAPHY starts the evening.  "Tree of Life" should and probably will win this.  Let's see....

6:45 - And the winner is...Hugo, Robert Richardson.  Oh how I hate you, Oscars.  "Hugo" was brilliantly shot, this is true, but... "The Tree of Life" exists.  Best cinematography I've ever seen.  What's wrong with them?  Still, Richardson is a talented man, and his speech is good.

6:46 - Now we have Art Direction, and the winner is....Hugo!  This one it totally deserves.  Hugo had absolutely outstanding Art Direction, one of the most visually inventive films I've ever seen.  For winners unconfident in English, this is a nice acceptance speech.  They're moving pretty fast, aren't they?

6:48 - Commercial time! It looks like "Hugo" is going to be sweeping the technical categories.  I'm going to go ahead and change my prediction for Costume Design to "Hugo," and maybe the sound categories as well.  I already predicted it winning Visual Effects, so I'll get to say I told you so...

6:53 - I can't say Billy is funny, but he's pleasant and innocuous.  That's better than James Franco in drag.  Now we're watching a montage about....past Oscar winners?  Nope, they're using "Twilight" footage.  I think this is supposed to be about romance, but who the hell knows?  I was hoping they were done with these completely random montages after last year, but I guess not.  This one is horrible.  It has no theme, no motivation, no coherency....WHAT ARE YOU DOING, OSCARS??? WHAT?!?!?!?

6:56 - Alright, now we get Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez presenting Costume Design together.  What do they have in common?  They don't get Oscars....anyway, I like that we get to hear from the Costume Designers.  That's a really nice touch.  I'm predicting "Hugo," but the winner is...Mark Bridges, "The Artist."  Not a deserving win, (unless Tuxedos are awfully hard to design and I just don't know it), but whatever.  It's the Oscars.  I like "The Artist," so not a travesty.

6:57 - MAKEUP time.  This one's going to "The Iron Lady," I'm guessing, but I'm rooting for "Harry."  Again, we get interviews about the makeup, which is a really cool addition to the show.  And the winner is...."The Iron Lady".  No surprise.  The Oscars love old-people make-up.  The real surprise is that they let Cameron and Jennifer present while intoxicated.  Kind of embarrassing for all involved.

7:01 - Lots of really short speeches, huh?  If there were no crappy montages, maybe we could get better speeches...anyway, now we get a montage of actors explaining why they love movies.  Look, Oscars, let me tell you something....WE ALREADY LOVE MOVIES.  We're watching the Oscars because we think movies are cool.  You don't need to "sell" the idea of movies to us.  This is ridiculous.

7:07 - Sandra Bullock presenting the Oscar for "Foreign Language Film."  Wow, they're pushing this award early.  And Bullock is horribly, HORRIBLY unfunny.  Can we take away her Oscar from a few years back for this bad, horribly racist joke?  We really should.  Anyway, "A Separation" is going to win.  Let's see...the winner is...A Separation.  Yep.  Very deserved.  Phenomenal film, should have gotten a "Best Picture" nomination too.

7:09 - Asghar Faradi has a nice little speech about the people of his country and their hardships.  Good for him.  "A Separation" is such a beautiful portrait of his culture, and I'm glad he said this.

7:12 - Christian Bale and his British accent come out to "Batman" music to present Best Supporting Actress.  This one is going to Octavia Spencer.  And the winner is....Octavia Spencer, "The Help."  I love how casually Bale announces it.  Spencer was quite good in the film; it's not undeserved at all, even if I personally enjoyed other performances more. I'm actually quite excited to see what she does next in her career.

7:14 - Spencer gets a standing ovation.  There's real emotion in the room, and that's so much more special than the montages or songs.  Spencer has a good, emotional speech, one that doesn't feel forced or faked at all.  She's come a long way to tonight, and...WHY ARE YOU PLAYING HER OFF?  God, what a bunch of jerks.

7:15 - Seriously, if they're going to play all the winners off prematurely so they can show their terrible montages, then I'm going to get very grumpy very fast.  Grr.

7:21 - I'm still having a good time watching Billy, even if he's not really *funny*.  It's just not *painful,* which is a good change of pace from other Oscar shows.  And now we get a video about a "Wizard of Oz" focus group.  Unsurprisingly, it's not funny.  At all.  This is painful.  Again, why are we playing off Oscar winners for these unwatchably bad videos?  If this live-blog stops, it's because my brain has spontaneously erupted to save me from watching this garbage.

7:25 - Billy's speech thanking the people in the parody films is longer than any of the acceptance speeches.  This is wrong.  Anyway, Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper (um...okay) are out to present FILM EDITING.  Tina is funny.  She should host this one day.  This one is probably going to "The Artist," but I could imagine "Hugo" winning too, which would be far more deserving.  That's who I'm rooting for.  And I actually hated the editing in "Dragon Tattoo."  No idea why it's nominated.  Anyway...the winner is..."The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."  What the hell?  Really?  "Dragon Tattoo?"  Look, I think these guys are good editors - they totally deserved it last year for "Social Network" - but in "Tattoo," I thought they cut way too fast between Lisbeth and Mikael's stories, which really took me out of the movie.  Anyway, they seem like cool guys.

7:26 - SOUND EDITING goes to...."Hugo."  Interesting.  Not what I predicted the other day, but certainly a deserving winner.  Truth be told, they were all good.  The sound did an awful lot in this movie to build the world of the train station, so I have no complaints about this one.

7:28 - SOUND MIXING time!  The one I've been waiting for!!! (Not really).  Anyway, I'm betting on "Hugo" again.  These awards usually go in pairs.  The winner is....Hugo.  They're really cleaning up tonight.  Again, a well-deserved win.  No complaints.

7:35 - MUPPETS!! MUPPETS!! MUPPETS!!! Best part of the show.  Bar none.  They really should have hosted.  Instead of letting them perform, Kermit and Piggy get to introduce a Cirque de Solei performance. What a waste of Muppets.  Muppets are way better than Cirque.

7:38 - If this is what Cirque thinks going to the movies is like, they need to get off the LSD.  When I go to the movies, I sit in a chair.  I don't dance, I don't fly around the theatre...I sit and pay attention, like a good audience member.  George Clooney and Stacey Keibler are watching Cirque patiently, but they certainly don't seem entertained.  Just like me.

7:40 - I know I sound like a broken record, but if you cut meaningless crap like that, couldn't we have more time with the winners?  Anyway, we get another spiel from Crystal, which is pleasant and innocuous, and has some good age jokes.  Crystal saying "we're going to slam the 78-84 group" is the truest statement of the evening, cause I can assure you, young people aren't watching this.

7:43 - Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr.  Best duo of the evening so far, and Downey has a funny documentary gag, and uses his Tony Stark ego well.  Overall, this is the best sketch of the night so far.  They're presenting BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE.  I'm betting on "Paradise Lost 3," but it's a tough one to call.  The winner is..."Undefeated."  I haven't seen it.  I'm sure it's good.

7:44 - Special attention must go to the funny, heartfelt acceptance speech by the "Undefeated" crew.  Good job guys.  Too bad you're having to rush through it because of Cirque de Solei and other silly extra content.

7:47 - Chris Rock is here!  Awwww yeah!!!!  He's a funny man, and he makes some salient points about animation and voice acting.  "It's the easiest job in the world."  He's doing a darn good little stand-up routine. The Oscars have suddenly become funny!  See, good presenters are way better than montages or Cirque de Solei.  Anyway, he's doing BEST ANIMATED FEATURE, which is a tremendously weak category this year.  It'll go to "Rango."  And the winner is....Rango.  A deserving win, though I would have picked "Tintin" were it here.  Now, can we get some more Chris Rock?  He's the best part of this show so far.

7:52 - Melissa McCarthy doing a gag with Billy Crystal.  That should be funny, but it isn't.  Just an empty retread of "Bridesmaids."  Nothing new or particularly amusing.

7:57 - Yay Emma Stone!!!!  She seems genuinely excited...but I could be enchanted by her beauty.  Good thing Stiller is there to bring us all down.  Anyway, Emma is actually funny, riffing on all the different Oscar presenter cliches.  And most importantly of all, she's lively and interesting, which is more than can be said of much of this show.  AND she makes fun of Stiller's "Avatar" costume from last year.  Good on her.  BEST VISUAL EFFECTS - again, very nice to hear from the crews on how they use effects.  Very interesting.  And the winner is...Hugo.  HAH.  Told you so.  Everyone else predicted "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," but I was correct!!!!  A deserving winner, but I would have liked "Potter" to win.

8:03 - Melissa Leo is here to present BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR.  Christopher Plummer is probably going to win, and hot damn does he deserve it.  Absolutely broke my heart in "Beginners," and he deserves it for his whole career, too.  And the winner is....Christopher Plummer, "Beginners."  Yay!!!  This is his first Oscar win of his whole career, and he's apparently the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar.  The show is only two years older than him.  This is a genuinely special moment, as evidenced by the standing ovation.  They got this one 100% right, so I'm a happy camper.  He has a dignified, intelligent, moving, and above all else, humble speech.  He even pronounces French with aplomb.  Plummer is an awesome, awesome man.  This is one of the best speeches I've ever heard.  Thank God they didn't play him off.

8:09 - And we're back, with Billy making more age jokes.  They never get old (I think).  Billy is telling us what's on celebrities' minds, and it's actually a funny bit, making fun of Brad Pitt's many children, Morgan Freeman's narration, etc.  Martin Scorsese even plays along when Billy gets to him.  And Billy's Nolte impersonation?  Spot on.  And we get Uggie, the dog from "The Artist."  Not as funny, but cute.  This is Billy Crystal's best moment of the night so far.

8:11 - Yuck.  Now we have to listen to Tom Sherack's self-congratulatory speech.  Go away, Tom.  You're boring.  At least make this short.

8:14 - "Thank you for whipping the crowd into a frenzy."  Nice dig, Billy.  That made my night.  Anyway, time for some music, and Billy is unimpressed by the giant sheet music, as am I.  Penelope Cruz and Owen Wilson (Woody Allen standards) are presenting the award for BEST ORIGINAL SCORE.  It's a strong category this year, and Cruz and Wilson have good things to say about music.  Classy.  "The Artist" is going to win this one, and it won't be undeserving.  And the winner is...Ludovic Bource, "The Artist."  Like I said, good choice.  Very good score, and the whole movie is music, so why not give it a win?

8:19 - Will Ferrell and Zack Gal.....I'm not spelling his name.  That's not fair to me.  Anyway, they're playing the cymbals, and it's pleasantly amusing.  Zack can't say his own name, in the best joke of the evening so far.  They're presenting BEST ORIGINAL SONG, and they're doing a very funny bit.  This award damn well better go to "Muppets," or I'm smashing everything in sight.  And the winner is..."Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" by Bret McKenzie!  Hell yeah!  Flight of the Conchords has an Oscar!  This is my favorite winner so far, with Plummer being the possible exception!  McKenzie has a very nice speech about how much he loves the Muppets, just like the rest of us.  "He's just a normal frog," he says of Kermit.  He thanks a lot of people, but he forgets Jason Segel, writer of the movie.  That's sad.  But Segel is ready to applaud, and that's great.

8:28 - Billy Crystal is getting funnier as he goes along.  That's good.  Angelina Jolie is on stage to present BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, and she looks absolutely gorgeous.  Just saying.  More importantly, she has a good spiel about the art of writing, which is very nice to hear.  This is better than bad jokes.  Anyway, this one is going to "The Descendants," almost certainly, though I would favor "Tinker Tailor."  And the winner is..."The Descendants."  Good to see Jim Rash - one of my favorite actors on one of my favorite shows, "Community" - accepting an Oscar.  He's a cool guy, and looks funny on stage imitating Angelina's leg pose.  Good win.  Not my pick, but deserving.

8:30 - BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY time.  "Midnight in Paris" is going to win, and it absolutely deserves it.  One of my favorite screenplays of recent times.  The winner is...Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris," who doesn't come to Awards shows, so they accept it on his behalf.

8:31 - Another montage, this time with celebrities talking about what makes a great movie.  Kind of interesting, but also a waste of time, methinks.  Again, we don't need to be sold on the awesomeness of movies.  We all love movies.

8:38 - The dreamy, and slightly intimidating, Milla Jovovich is here to talk about the Scientific and Technical award ceremony.  Cool stuff, especially the part about Doug Trumbull, who should have been nominated for "Tree of Life" this year.

8:40 - The "Bridesmaids" actresses are here to be funny, beautiful (or handsome), talk about Penises, and present awards to Short Films.  BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM goes to The Shore.  Cool.  Haven't seen any of these, so I guess I'll trust the Academy's judgement.

8:43 - Before we move on, just wanted to note that the acceptance speech for Short Live Action was really good.  The Bridesmaids gals continue their Scorsese drinking game, to humorous effect.  Now we have BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM; one of the nominees, "Saving Face," was co-produced by some friends of mine.  Anyway, the winner is..."Saving Face."  Awesome!!!  Big props to my friends at Milkhaus productions, Davis and Annie Coombe!  Davis edited the film, and Milkhaus served as co-producers.  Congratulations everyone!!!

8:45 - BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM goes to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mister Morris Lessmore.  Again, haven't seen it.  Looks very cool.

8:53 - Michael Douglas is here to present BEST DIRECTOR.  This is awfully early, isn't it?  Directors are important enough to be the penultimate award, methinks.  Anyway, this is going to "The Artist."  I do like hearing about the Directors from the stars of the film.  That's really cool, and tells you about why these men deserve to be nominated.  Big applause for Terrence Malick, who totally deserves this award this year.  And the winner is....Michel Hazanavicius, for "The Artist."  Well, duh.  It's not who I would have chosen, but it's a very well directed film, and it's a film that relies heavily on direction, so I have no major complaints.

8:54 - I can't say this acceptance speech is good, but it's passionate, and that's better than nothing.  Kind of rambling.

8:56 - Billy Crystal screws up his math about Meryl Streep's Oscars, and then the woman herself comes out to discuss the Governor's Awards, recognizing three select Academy members - Oprah, James Earl Jones, and Dick Smith, a makeup artist.  Seems like it was a special evening.  Cool moment.

9:07 - Alright, it's time for the show to get sad...and Billy Crystal is making the transition like a pro.  It's time for the "Memorium."  I really don't like it when they do live performances over these, because it makes it less about the deceased we're supposed to be honoring and more about the singer.  I find it disrespectful.  Anyway, the presentation of the names itself looks nice, though my Dad felt the text was hard to read, so I guess it depends.

9:11 - STOP IT.  We don't need montages of actors talking about movies.  We know about movies.  Grr....

9:18 - "I've never had any of those feelings."  Nice diss, Billy.  I'm really enjoying him as host tonight.  He's introducing Natalie Portman - YAY NATALIE!!!!! - so she can present BEST ACTOR.  It's nice that they're flipping Actor and Actress this year.  Natalie is doing a great job, as always.  She is the height of class and professionalism.  And eloquence.  And beauty.  Anyway, this one is going to Jean Dujardin, who did a great job in "The Artist," even though I would love to see Gary Oldman win.  And the winner is....Jean Dujardin, "The Artist."  A decent pick, but there were better options, both in and outside of this category.

9:20 - Despite his difficulties with English, Dujardin has a really strong speech, enthusiastic and spirited.  Michel and Berenice look very happy in the audience.  Ends with a nice bit of French.  Good speech.

9:30 - Billy continues to be amiable, and he introduces Colin Firth, last year's Best Actor winner, to present BEST ACTRESS.  Like Natalie, he's very professional and eloquent, but less pretty.  He has an awesome British accent, so that helps.  It's just downright fun to listen to him talk.  Viola Davis is going to win this one, and Firth's description of her performance is perfect.  It's easy to forget what a deserving nominee Rooney Mara is until you see how different she is in real life.  Firth's joke about "Mamma Mia" made me laugh very hard.  And finally, we have a nice little ode to Michelle Williams, who I believe should win this award.  And the winner is....Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady."  WHOA.  THAT is a surprise.  Total upset, and not a pleasant one, either.  So many other much better performances this year, but....Streep is Streep, I guess.  She puts on a funny voice and we throw gold at her.  Whatever.  I feel bad for Viola Davis, Michelle Williams, Rooney, and all the people who weren't nominated in this category.  I respect Meryl Streep, but give her an award when she deserves it, not now.

9:32 - Alright, let's wrap this up.  Tom Cruise is her to present Best Picture.  He should do it from the world's tallest building.  That would be cool.  Now we get a montage of the Best Picture nominees, just to delay the inevitable "Artist" win.  And the winner is.......The Artist.  Duh.  I like that Cruise didn't even pretend this was surprising, and threw the name out there like the sure thing it was.  And I don't begrudge "The Artist."  I loved the movie.  There were better films, but this isn't an embarrassment.

Now that the show is over, here are some final thoughts: I think this was a pretty good show this year.  None of it felt painful to watch, except for some of the awkwardly out of place montages.  The material wasn't all inspired, but much of it was genuinely funny, it moved along at a nice pace, and when they weren't playing people off prematurely, I liked the speeches.  And of course, Billy Crystal did a very good job as host.  Was he revelatory?  No.  But he was pleasant, entertaining, and kept things amiable from start to finish, exactly what this show needed after years off the rails.  The winners were almost uniformly predictable, but on the whole, not insulting, especially if you've detached yourself from Oscar silliness like I have.  Anyway, it's been a long night, so I'll say TTFN (ta-ta-for-now).  This was the best Oscar telecast in a very, very long time.  And if you enjoyed this live-blog, please consider donating via Pay-Pal to support the efforts of this website and keep it completely ad-free.

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1 comment:

  1. Rango is my favorite movie this year aside from Tree of Life, pleasantly unsurprised it won.