February 27, 2005

Simulblogging the Oscars.

5:51 Central Time. There is still an hour to go before the big Oscars show begins, and I will be going strictly live beginning then. No TiVo tomfoolery once the official broadcast starts -- that's a rule enforced chez Althouse, but not by Althouse. But I want to watch on HDTV anyway, so I guess that would be my rule too, even if it were up to me, which it's not, because I share this old house with someone who is much more serious about film and all of its accoutrements than I will ever be. But pre-7, I'm going to catch up on what the TiVo dragged in: E! Live from the Red Carpet. This show for me, is all about the absence of Joan Rivers. Yes, I know that Joan lives on over at the TV Guide channel, but that show is sad and low energy. I want the old Joan back -- Joan before she was tossed aside by E!. So, what we have is Star Jones, reading her lines and not even pretending to be interested in anything but selling her $20 shoes, and Kathy Griffin trying to do comedy even though her face is disturbingly immobilized.

6:10. Jones interviews Morgan Spurlock. The bodice of her dress fits so badly, so loosely! Here's Carlos Santana. "Che Guevara! That's the luck right there," says Star Jones, after she asks him what he's wearing for luck and he opens his black jacket to reveal a Che Guevara T-Shirt. He is promoting "Motorcycle Diaries," so perhaps we shouldn't be so hard on him. Don Cheadle, not nervous? "I took the right meds before I got here, so I think everything will be smoothed out the rest of the night." Melanie Griffith is wearing a blue-gray dress and carrying a cane -- she's broken her leg! Antonio Banderas has very stringy greasy hair tonight.

6:29. Leonardo Dicaprio! He doesn't care about fashion, but for the Oscars: a Prada suit. What would the little girls out there find surprising about you? "I'd say just about everything." Hilary Swank in a dark blue looks-like-it's-on-backwards dress provokes Jones to say "You are on my list as a perpetual Glamazon." Swank says hi to her fifth grade teacher. Virginia Madsen brings her glamorous mother. Mother and daughter have big swinging earrings. Scarlett Johansson looks incredibly light pink with nearly white poodle hair. The dress is black, a very dramatic contrast. "Aging is about wisdom and grace," Drew Barrymore informs us, with the perspective of her thirty years.

6:48. Spike Lee is wearing a white suit, with a black shirt and tie -- and a black fez! So far, on the hat front, we've seen Carlos Santana in a Che beret and now Spike Lee in a fez! Salma Hayek shows up and suddenly ranks at number 1 on the home voters' best fashion list. Her dress is another dark blue dress -- what's with all the dark blue? -- and it's got black bows and other black trimming all over it. Alan Alda says Morgan Freeman is going to get the Supporting Actor Oscar and he's just there to have fun. Kate Winslet in bright, medium blue: beautiful! She's talking to the other Cate -- Cate Blanchett. Cate is impossibly fragile, with translucent skin and a lemon-sherbet-colored dress. Johnny Depp! He's in dark blue. He's still got some gold teeth from the pirate movie. His wife is beautiful and, actually, looks a lot like him.

7:00. Now, I go to live-blogging, and to HDTV. I love the red carpet on wide-screen, and it's great to get a chance to see all the flaws on the stars. Annette Bening is beautifully crinkled – presumably with grace and wisdom. Jamie Fox is proud to have "cracked open" the love for Ray Charles that was hidden underground.

7:13. Orlando Bloom is asked why everyone admires Johnny Depp so much. Bloom, who's doing the new pirate movie with Depp, starts to explain something slightly complex about integrity, and the interviewer talks over him and shoos him along.

7:34. Nice clip show to begin. I hope they do more montages, less on-stage entertainment. Now Chris Rock comes out and gets a standing ovation. Why a standing ovation? It makes no sense. It's as if they were warning us about all the overpraising we've got coming tonight. "There's only four real stars, and the rest are popular people." Rock is yelling his routine. It's about how moviemakers should wait for the real star to be ready to film. Don't make "Alexander" with Colin Farrell. "If you're doing a movie about the past, you need to get Russell Crowe's ass." Rock loved "Fahrenheit 911," he says, and we see numerous stars in the audience clapping solemnly. Rock talks about Bush: imagine seeking a job, and while you're seeking that job, there's a movie playing everywhere about how awful you are. He goes into a long Bush-bashing tirade, and we see the audience cracking up and clapping. He ends the routine, though, by sending out love for all the troops.

7:44. "The Aviator" gets the first award, for Art Direction. The nominees are all made to stand on the stage, which seems a little sadistic, but does allow the women to show off their gowns. Renee Zellweger comes out in a stiff red dress. She moves like an inchworm. Her hair is dyed black. Best Supporting Actor is next. They don't make these guys line up on the stage. Based on the clips, I said "Anybody but Church." Morgan Freeman wins. He thanks everyone, especially Clint Eastwood. "This was a labor of love."

7:54. Robin Williams comes out with white tape on his mouth, presumably symbolizing censorship. He rips it off and does a little routine about how various cartoon characters -- other than Sponge Bob -- are gay. Donald Duck, with that sailor suit and no pants. Best Animated Feature: "The Incredibles." Cate Blanchett announces the makeup award from the audience, not from the stage -- innovative! "Lemony Snicket" wins. Drew Barrymore announces the first performance of a nominated song. My suggestion for a better Oscars show: just get rid of the song award altogether. Beyoncé sings in French with a boy choir. She looks great, with lots of green eyeshadow, but the song is absolutely deadly.

8:07. Chris thinks Beyoncé sang that song just great. We argue through the commercial about this, with me taking the position that it demanded more of an operatic voice and was not suited to Beyoncé, who I'm willing to believe is an excellent pop singer.

8:10. Chris Rock goes downtown to ask ordinary people what their favorite movie was. "I'm not going to lie, and I'm not going to front to these people," says one guy as he admits he didn't see "Sideways." Scarlett Johansson announces the scientific and technical awards, and I suddenly feel that I understand her dress. Pierce Brosnan announces the Costume award with that fashion character from "The Incredibles," causing me once again to regret that I didn't have a child of an age that could have justified my going to a cartoon this year. On seeing the clips, I mutter "The Aviator," and I'm right, and I take that to mean that "The Aviator" will win the most awards, including Best Picture. Tim Robbins -- who bores us to death with his politics, per Rock -- announces Supporting Actress. Oh, I love them all. And my Cate wins!!!

8:26. A tribute to Johnny Carson, with horrendously smarmy music. Leonardo Dicaprio introduces the Documentary Feature award. The nominees are lined up on stage. One expects Spurlock to win. I saw that movie and thought little of it. So I'm thinking: anybody but Spurlock. And I am satisfied. It's "Born Into Brothels." Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom come out to do the Editing award. If "Aviator" gets this, the handwriting is on the wall. And it does!!!

8:42. Adapted Screenplay: "Sideways." Not surprised. I've like Alexander Payne for a long time. He accepts the award knowing all of his actors missed out. Visual Effects: "Spiderman 2." Didn't see it, but the clip made me laugh with delight. Now we reach the great slump section of the night. Everyone goes into a coma now, and maybe later we will emerge and think, why am I so tired? when will it all end? I like Al Pacino but spare me the awards that don't relate to the past year!

9:08. Struggling to emerge from the coma. What was that? Beyoncé again! Yes, that was Beyoncé, but was that a song? I can't tell you one word that was in that song or remember a single musical phrase. Jeremy Irons ad libs "I hope they missed" when we hear a sound like a gunshot. Best Live Action Short -- a pointless category. "Wasp" wins. I have no idea if it's about the insect or not. Short Animated Film - well, could you show a clip, maybe? Wouldn't that be a better use of time than those damned songs? Something called "Ryan" wins. No one cares. Kate Winslet! We love her chez Althouse. Cinematography is the award. I predict "The Aviator," because it's been an "Aviator" night. And so it is.

9:20. Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz side by side. Fascinating! Another line-them-up-on-the-stage-award, that is, a low-valued award. What is it? Sound mixing. Who cares? The award is announced but the movie isn't named, so we're all confused. What won? Oh, it's "Ray." Now, Sound Editing. What the hell's the difference between that and Sound Mixing? No one knows or cares. Why isn't this grouped with the technical awards that are done in a separate ceremony? The coma continues... Okay, it's "The Incredibles." Here's where I miss using the TiVo assist. The acceptor says these aren't "technical" awards, these are for "artistic decisions." It's as if he heard my bitching. And now, another damned song. Salma Hayek not only announces the song from "The Motorcycle Diaries," she translates the words into English. Carlos Santana plays guitar and Antonio Banderas sings. It's the sort of thing where if you wandered into a bar and this was going on, you'd turn around and walk out.

9:34. Here's Natalie Portman in a dress that requires her to stand perfectly upright. Best Documentary Short Subject, the low point of the evening. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Original Score is next, and John Travolta does us the kindness of speaking very fast. "Finding Neverland" wins. That's one of the movies I saw, but I have no memory of the music.

9:47. Okay, I've ignored the humanitarian award. Annette Bening introduces one of my favorite sections, the memorial to dead filmfolk. Yoyo Ma plays the cello to set the lugubrious tone. Reagan is first, and we hear only applause. Good. It ends with Marlon Brando, with a series of clips. Clearly, Brando is the greatest actor to have died in the past year.

9:56. Sean Combs introduces another boring song, again with Beyoncé. What is the pont of this overuse of Beyoncé? The song is awful, the thing from "Polar Express." Combs tells us we should listen to the words, that they have some important message especially relevant today. I think he may have said that it's "hip." But the song is about how you should believe in your dreams! "Believe in what you feel inside, and give your dreams the wings to fly." Oh, how I hope that song loses, even though none of the other songs made any impression on me. And now, it's Prince! Pink pants, blue jacket. Sparkly hair! He just reads his lines -- doesn't do anything odd. The "Motorcycle Diaries" song wins. Good! Get it over with. The guy who accepts re-sings the damned song. As if we care! At least he doesn't talk. No more songs!!! Finally, we are at Best Actress. Announcing the award is Sean Penn. He tells us Jude Law is one of our finest actors, which he says to contradict Chris Rock's insult to him in the opening routine. Ha! Humorless Sean Penn -- but he was right about that! As expected, Hillary Swank wins. "I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream."

10:12. Gwyneth Paltrow comes out to give the Best Foreign Language Film. "The Sea Inside." Samuel Jackson gives the Original Screenplay Award. Some good films here. "Eternal Sunshine." Charlie Kaufman. Good! He seems like a sweet guy, and he really is doing something that no one else does. And it makes Kate Winslet happy, so... "It's the one thing that really deserved it," says Chris.

10:22. Charlize Theron, in a fluffy light blue dress, introduces the Best Actor nominees. As expected, Jamie Foxx wins. Standing O! But the standing O was cheapened earlier in the night. "Thank you, Ray Charles for living." Love! Love! Love! He praises his grandmother for beating him and that gets a big laugh. Ah, but grandma is dead and he's crying over her. So, love! I'm sure there are some people who beat their kids who are sitting at home thinking, see, I'm right, it does the kids good, and they'll thank me for it some day.

10:32. Julia Roberts introduces the directors, who bring their visions to the "scream." Clint Eastwood wins, so we can continue to talk about how Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar. Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand (dressed in dark blue) come out to give the Best Picture award. Hoffman seems to be in a weird trance. Seeing Streisand reminds me that no one (other than Rock) brought up politics tonight. "Million Dollar Baby" wins.

10:40. That's it!

UPDATE: Here are my morning after thoughts.

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