Talkin’ Oscar: Retrospective and Review

Four hours, twenty minutes, 16 out of 24 predictions (66.6% accuracy rate, not bad) and 7,398 liveblog words later, Oscar night is over. Marty finally won his Oscar, and Peter O’Toole was left out in the cold as the Academy preferred heroin-addled grandfather to creepy old pervert. The Actresses long anointed to victory took to the stage with grace, and the Oscars went Green with victories for both Al Gore and climate-conscious penguins. And, despite a few surprises, the moral of the story was “Go Green, Go Safe.” This was the story of the 79th Academy Awards.

Ellen Degeneres is a fantastic talk show host, but she isn’t an awards show host. Her monologue was tepid, her gags clichéd. And yet, due to her general nature, the end result was an engaging host who was capable of breaking the tension and the monotony. With the Supporting acting awards pushed later into the evening, it was necessary for Ellen to break up the technical awards, along with some elaborate staging for Costume Design. Through it all, Ellen elevated her constructs with her good nature and adlibbing abilities. Throwing her into the crowd is something that could kill a host dead, but she handled her screenplay gag with Marty and her picture with Clint with ease, especially when giving Spielberg Framing tips. As the show started to wear down on us with video packages, she knew that her job was to break up that monotony with vacuuming, of all things. Perfect? No. As biting as Jon Stewart? No. But, unlike Chris Rock who was pedestrian against expectation, Ellen IS pedestrian and that’s what makes her good for the job.

The show on the whole was dragged down by video packages, despite the fact that they were all really quite well done. While there were attempts to jazz things up with elaborate musical performances, Celine Dion cameos and some silhouette performances (The best of which was clearly the amazing Snakes on a Plane one), none of it kept it from feeling like just another Academy Awards ceremony. This isn’t really that surprising, but at the same time it hurts to see them clearly try to break out of that barrier with no success. It’s a futile fight, there’s no question about it.

As for the awards themselves, the lesson I have learned is, as I said, “Go Green, Go Safe.” While Ellen and the producers wanted us to note the international flavour of the awards, that never really took hold within the winners themselves. I went mostly green, as I predicted the environmentally conscious Happy Feet to take Best Animated Film over the fossil-fuelled Cars and for An Inconvenient Truth to take home Best Documentary Feature. However, it even extended to Best Original Song, where Dreamgirls continued to be shunned as Melissa Etheridge took home the award for her mediocre song from Al Gore’s pet project.

In terms of going safe, outside of Alan Arkin’s win in Best Supporting Actor every major award went to the choices that were the safest for Academy Award members to make…actually, even Alan Arkin was safer than favourite Eddie Murphy considering Murphy’s history of crappy movies dating back as recently as Norbit. From Mirren to Hudson, from Whitaker to Marty’s time to shine, and The Departed won Best Picture because it had everything the Academy expected, rather than desired.

I didn’t quite get this ahead of time, although I was fairly safe on the whole; I should have realized that it was about what was least offensive to voters, those with the least problems or caveats. As a result, while my predictions did alright outside of the usual headscratchers that are withstanding from my general theme of the evening (Such as Pan’s Labyrinth losing Best Foreign Film to The Lives of Others, or winning cinematography over Children of Men), they could have been better. Still, though, I’m happy with my overall performance, and if I had updated my pool ballot I would have totally won. Curse you, hindsight!

Thanks to everyone who’s been following Talkin’ Oscar. Here’s some links to the various posts involved, and after the jump you can check out the Oscar winners and my predictions for each category against one another.

Bold – Winner

Underline – Myles’ Prediction

Best motion picture of the year

BABEL
THE DEPARTED
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
THE QUEEN

Achievement in directing

BABEL
THE DEPARTED
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
THE QUEEN
UNITED 93

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Leonardo DiCaprio – BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling – HALF NELSON
Peter O’Toole – VENUS
Will Smith – THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Forest Whitaker – THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Alan Arkin – LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jackie Earle Haley – LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou – BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy – DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg – THE DEPARTED

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Penélope Cruz – VOLVER
Judi Dench – NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Helen Mirren – THE QUEEN
Meryl Streep – THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Kate Winslet – LITTLE CHILDREN

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Adriana Barraza – BABEL
Cate Blanchett – NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Abigail Breslin – LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jennifer Hudson – DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi – BABEL

Best animated feature film of the year

CARS
HAPPY FEET
MONSTER HOUSE

Achievement in art direction

DREAMGIRLS
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
PAN’S LABYRINTH
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST
THE PRESTIGE

Achievement in cinematography

THE BLACK DAHLIA
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE ILLUSIONIST
PAN’S LABYRINTH
THE PRESTIGE

Achievement in costume design

CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
DREAMGIRLS
MARIE ANTOINETTE
THE QUEEN

Best documentary feature

DELIVER US FROM EVIL
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
JESUS CAMP
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY

Best documentary short subject

THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT
RECYCLED LIFE
REHEARSING A DREAM
TWO HANDS

Achievement in film editing

BABEL
BLOOD DIAMOND
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
UNITED 93

Best foreign language film of the year

AFTER THE WEDDING
DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGÈNES)
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
PAN’S LABYRINTH
WATER

Achievement in makeup

APOCALYPTO
CLICK
PAN’S LABYRINTH

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

BABEL
THE GOOD GERMAN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL
PAN’S LABYRINTH
THE QUEEN

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“I Need to Wake Up” – AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
“Listen” – DREAMGIRLS
“Love You I Do” – DREAMGIRLS
“Our Town” – CARS
“Patience” – DREAMGIRLS

Best animated short film

THE DANISH POET
LIFTED
THE LITTLE MATCHGIRL
MAESTRO
NO TIME FOR NUTS

Best live action short film

BINTA AND THE GREAT IDEA (BINTA Y LA GRAN IDEA)
ÉRAMOS POCOS (ONE TOO MANY)
HELMER & SON
THE SAVIOUR
WEST BANK STORY

Achievement in sound editing

APOCALYPTO
BLOOD DIAMOND
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST

Achievement in sound mixing

APOCALYPTO
BLOOD DIAMOND
DREAMGIRLS
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST

Achievement in visual effects

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST
POSEIDON
SUPERMAN RETURNS

Adapted screenplay

BORAT CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
LITTLE CHILDREN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL

Original screenplay

BABEL
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
PAN’S LABYRINTH
THE QUEEN

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Filed under Academy Awards, Award Shows, Cinema, Oscars

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