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Quick and Dirty Oscar Highlights

Instead of an exhaustive blow-by-blow of Oscars 2010, here are some of the moments that stood out to me during the evening. Keep in mind: I was multitasking, working on the Wild Violet redesign, so I might have missed a few things.




  • Neil Patrick Harris -- surprise! -- does the opening number, with Busby Berkeley-style choreography from a stable of dancers. Eww! Gross joke about prisoners dropping the soap because “No one wants to do it alone.” They should have asked Joss Whedon's team from Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog to write the lyrics.
  • Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin descend to the stage on a platform, holding hands. Heaven! I'm a long-time fan of Steve Martin and a recent convert to Alec Baldwin's comic brilliance. The two take turns trading jokes and punchlines.
  • Steve mentions the Best Picture category has doubled this year, leading people all over Hollywood to wonder: “What’s five times two?”
  • “Is that James Cameron?” one of them asks.  Steve and Alec don 3D glasses to take a better look, the first of many Avatar jokes. The Hurt Locker may have won the top awards, but Avatar got the most laughs.
  • After tweaking several performers in the audience, Alec turns his attention to George Clooney, who gives him a grim look. Alec pretends to be intimidated: "Who's next?” As Jon Lovitz would say, acting!
  • Weakest joke of the opening tag-team monologue: Alec says, "The moustache Brad Pitt wore in Inglourious Basterds was the same one Salma Hayak wore in Frida.”
  • Funniest joke of the monologue to transcribers like myself: Steve says, "If you’d like a transcript of tonight’s show, you should seriously consider getting a life.”
  • Penelope Cruz, in a beautiful rust-colored gown, presents the best supporting actor award to Christoph Walz for Inglourious Basterds.  Seemingly overwrought, Christoph calls director Quentin Tarantino a “fearless explorer.” A reaction shot at the close of the speech shows Quentin turning to his neighbor and mouthing, "That was nice."
  • The Best Animated Feature awards are introduced by Steve Carrell and Cameron Diaz. Steve: “When you’re as beautiful as Cameron and I, it is somewhere between irony and tragedy to appear in films where people can’t see our faces.” A prerecorded segment showing behind-the-scenes "interviews" with characters from the nominated films makes another George Clooney joke. This time, the fox he voiced in Fantastic Mr. Fox is cross upon learning he's only up for Best Animated Film, not Best Picture.
  • My favorite in this category, Up, wins, and the producer is exuberant. Hope he throws that energy into his next film!
  • Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. introduce the award for best adapted screenplay with a comic dialogue about the differences between writers and actors. Tina: “We writers dream of a future when actors are mostly computer generated.” Robert: films are a collaboration between “handsome, gifted people” (actors) and “sickly little mole people” (writers). Tina: “You should just say whatever we type.” Robert needs to do another comedy, now!
  • A frozen-faced, almost unrecognizable Molly Ringwald and a twinkly-eyed Matthew Broderick introduce a tribute montage to director John Hughes, one of the few of the night. Matthew: “Thanks to him, for the last 25 years, someone comes up to me, taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘Hey, Ferris, is this your day off?’” Afterwards, members of the Brat Pack (Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson), join Macaulay Culkin and Matthew Broaderick to share thoughts about the late director and acknowledge members of his famly seated in the audience.
  • Ben Stiller, in makeup as one of the blue-faced Na'vi from Avatar, “speaks” for several minutes in a strange language, then translates, “That means, this seemed like a better idea in rehearsal.” Ben presents the award for Best Makeup, saying, "After I announce the winner, I will try to stand as far away from them as possible so as not to demean their triumph.” The winner: Star Trek. Avatar, of course, was not nominated in this category, since the Na'vi were computer-generated.
  • Queen Latifah introduces a montage honoring this year's Governor’s Award recipients: Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall. They don't get time to speak??? Shabby, producers!
  • Sigourney Weaver announces the winner of Best Art Direction, Avatar. One of the recipients tells a moving story about how, 15 years ago, doctors told him he wouldn’t survive a life-threatening illness. Amazing moment for him, and one of only three Oscars that would go to Avatar.
  • Best Costume Design winner for The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell, dressed impeccably in a vintage-inspired multicolored earthtone dress, complete with a hat, purrs, “I already have two of these, so I feel greedy.” She dedicates it to all the costumers who don’t do movies about monarchs or musicals and presumably have less chance of winning. But she laughs naughtily and says, "But I'm taking it home tonight." Costume designers all over Hollywood hiss.
  • Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. Introduce a tribute to horror films. There was time for this but not to let Roger Corman speak?
  • Best introduction of the night: Steve Martin introduces Sandra Bullock. After listing a couple of her triumphs, he adds, "You thought she was just OK in Miss Congeniality 2." It's OK because we know she'll win Best Actress.
  • Demi Moore introduces the montage of those we’ve lost this year. James Taylor performs live under the film montage. Classy and sweet.
  • Jennifer Lopez and Sam Worthington introduce dancers who will perform to music from the score nominees. She’s wearing a really weird side bustle. The image is burned in my mind, but the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers and their creative choreography help to dull the pain.
  • Matt Damon introduces the nominees for Best Documentary Feature. The winner: The Cove, about abuse towards captive dolphins in Japan. Depending on when voting took place, the film could have been aided by the prominence of dolphin trainer Richard O'Barry on the talk-show circuit, following the recent tragedy when a killer whale drowned a trainer at SeaWorld.
  • Tyler Perry introduces the award for Best Editing, directing the in-studio cameras to demonstrate different types of shots. An executive somewhere realizes Tyler Perry can be funny even when he's NOT wearing a dress. The Hurt Locker takes another golden boy home.
  • Several actresses and actors introduce the Best Actor nominees. I miss Jeff Bridges getting his award because I was watching it on delay using my DVR, and the show officially ran long during the Best Actor award introduction. Curses!
  • Sandra Bullock wins Best Actress for The Blind Side. “Did I really earn this, or did I just wear you all down?” Nope, you're simply joining a long line of comic/action actors who play a serious role and are finally taken seriously. She thanks the usual suspects, as well as "everyone who was mean to me... George Clooney threw me in a pool years ago. I’m still holding a grudge.” She gives an emotional thank-you to one of her childhood caretakers for her support and ends with “My love for Meryl Streep.”
  • Barbara Streisand, who was NOT nominated as Best Director for the Best Picture-nominated Prince of Tides, takes great satisfaction in announcing that this year, "The winner could be, for the first time, a woman, or for the first time, an African-American." Kathryn Bigelow wins, putting the hurt once more on ex-love James Cameron.
  • The Hurt Locker wins Best Picture.
  • At the conclusion of the show, Steve reaches for one of Kathryn Bigelow's Oscars: “I’ll take one of those.” She won’t let go and smiles as she struggles to reclaim her award.
  • One last Avatar zinger as the hosts say goodnight, nearly half an hour past the scheduled end of 11:30: Steve says, "The show went so long that Avatar now happened in the past."


For a complete list of award winners and nominees, plus video and other extras, visit the official Academy Awards site, Oscars.com.

Moral:
Even when they try to cut down, the Academy Awards telecast is about excess.


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Tags: movies, oscars, television
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