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Oscar rewind.

I think we can safely say, after watching last night’s Oscars, that Barack Obama will defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Otherwise, how else account for my incorrect prediction in the Best Supporting Actress category? And there are other reasons as well.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let me show how the Oscars unfolded for me and for my guest “YH,”  with our observations and conclusions. Note that all comments by “YH” will be indicated by: “YH.” 

Pre-Oscar Red Carpet show.

Samantha Harris interviews John Travolta. YH: “Has his hair been put on with a Sharpie?”

Harris, interviewing Ellen Page, observes that “Juno” “Is the little Indie film that could.” A statement that will be repeated with different variations and is false in just about every element.

Regis Philbin, interviews Helen Mirren, who comments on the performances in the male competition and laments that the women, as usual, haven’t been given such striong roles. Philbin quickly changes the subject to what Mirren is wearing.

Harris interviews Hilary Swank. YH: “Her forehead is just not right.”

Philbin wraps up the Red Carpet show by pronouncing Javier Bardem’s first name “Ex-avier.”

Oscar Broadcast.


Jon Stewart emerges from what looks like a giant silver toilet paper tube. Requisite writers strike jokes eliciting little response. YH: “I’m not laughing yet.”

First laugh: Stewart’s description of “Atonement” as a depiction of “the raw sexuality of Yom Kippur.”

Stewart trots out the requisite “exotic dancer” attribution for Diablo Cody. Shot of Cody. YH: “She’s dressed like Wilma Flintstone.”

“Gadolf Titler” gets a laugh.

First Best Song peformance. Catherine Heigl bravely takes on “Happy Working Song,” the first of three from “Enchanted.” YH: “I don’t think this song is going to win. It has the word ‘toilet’ in it.”

The Rock presents the award for Best Visual Effects. Makes reference to melting face in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” which, after Barbara Walters's earlier “interview” with Harrison Ford and several subsequent gratuitous Spielberg references in the course of the ceremony, makes the whole shebang seem like a big plug for the upcoming “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” The utterly inert “Golden Compass” wins the award. YH on the Rock: “He’s got a Sharpie head, too.”

Bardem gets Best Supporting Actor. Yes! My first prediction right. The whole speaking to his mother in Spanish bit makes us cry! Stewart confirms that  it “was a [Oscar] moment.” Good call, Jon.

Owen Wilson, suicide survivor, presents an award for something or other, without any visible stir from the audience. He is just too pre-Heath Ledger.

The “little Peter” marionette carried by the filmmaker who won the award for Best Animated Short for "Peter and the Wolf" is very disturbing.  Didn’t somebody do something like that last year with a toy penguin? Bad trend.

Best Supporting Actress award won by Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton.” I mean, I admire Swinton and believe she’s one of the great unrecognized actresses but this has got to be her most demeaning role ever, a female Uriah Heep with damp armpits who embodies all that is venal and destructive in today’s universe.

It’s my first failed prediction, and it’s not like I wasn’t warned. My theory on Swinton winning? I think it’s a reflection of Hollywood’s regard for powerful women in professional positions, i.e., Hillary Clinton. Such women are regarded, in short, as evil incarnate. And so in the big picture, this is a vote for Obama.

Coens pick up Best Adapted Screenplay. Ethan, after much delay, says “Thank you,” and nothing more. How long can he keep up the enigmatic, flaky persona with all this exposure?

Infomercial about Academy voting procedures, another symptom of the sparse material available for the program due to the just ended writers strike. YH on Travolta comment: “Did he just say ‘hither’”? Another symptom of the strike is the belabored Seth Rogen/Jonah Hill //Halle Berry/Judi Dench routine. The real Berry and Dench would have been funnier.

Colin Farrell introduces the Best Song nomination from “Once” -- “the little movie that could” -- Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard perform “Falling Slowly,” which ranks up with Bardem’s mother as the best thing in the show so far.

Best Foreign Language Oscar goes to “The Counterfeiters,” which is the only film among those nominated that I have seen. I can’t imagine that the others were any worse. It makes me think that even if “4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days” got nominated it wouldn't have stood a chance against such entrenched mediocrity.

“Once” wins Best Song. A blushing, humbled Hansard says how tiny the movie was and how awed he is to be there and how it proves that dreams can come true and so on. Yes We Can! Obama could not have put it better, which is another indication that Hillary is not going to fare well, at least among Hollywood voters. Stewart gets one of his biggest laughs by remarking afterwards, “That guy is so arrogant.” Scores more points by bringing back Irglova who  was shunted from the mic before she could give an acceptance speech. An Oscar first, maybe. At least another “Oscar Moment.”

Here’s what might have seemed like a good idea that didn’t work so well. Live from Baghdad, US troops introduce the Best Documentary Short nominees and present the winner (too bad the winners didn’t go to Baghdad to pick it up; one of them was a gushing basket case who was excruciating to behold). Next, Tom Hanks announces the Doc Feature nominees, which include two films critical of the Iraq War (“No End in Sight” and “Operation Homecoming”) and one about torturing prisoners (“Taxi to the Dark Side”). “Taxi” wins. 

Now that all the songs and bogus montages are done ,the awards are coming out like clockwork. Marion Cotillard for Best Actress? Who knew? My colleague Jim Verniere at the Herald, for one. I’ll never hear the end of it. As YH notes, it's No Oscar for Old Women, except when assisted by Oscar winning make-up effects (that award should have been the tip-off). But I’ve got my own explanation for why Christie lost; she blew it at the SAG Awards when in her acceptance speech she said that if she forgot to thank some people, then it was because she was still in character. That’s the kind of remark  the Alzheimer’s people don’t forget. And another Obama note -- the flashback to this year's Best Actress presenter and last year’s Best Actor winner Forest Whitaker’s acceptance speech and his moving comment about how a kid from South Central could, etc. Yes We Can! in other words.

Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, as expected. Ditto Cody for Best Original Screenplay (among the things we have decided should no longer be joked about, including George Clooney’s Batman suit nipples and Angelina Jolie, is Diablo Cody). Coens for Best Director (Ethan: "I have nothing to add to my previous comments”). And of course Best Picture for "Old Men".

So, four out of six. Or six out of eight, including those casually tossed out.

Maybe I’m just predicting the wrong categories. During the broadcast I predicted off the top of my head the winners in Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Editing.“The Bourne Ultimatum” won all three. Come to think of it, why wasn’t “The Bourne Ultimatum” nominated for Best Picture? Then people might have actually been interested in seeing the show.

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  • nlebou said:

    Who wants to watch a bunch of liberal snobs pat each other on the back?

    February 26, 2008 1:45 AM
  • Isorski said:

    I am very happy that they won! Truly deserving. I posted a review of Glen and Marketa's concert in Portland, a Once movie review and also a bit about last night on my blog. You’ll just have to scroll down on the right side and click on the “Glen Hansard” label to find all of it. //

    February 26, 2008 2:04 AM
  • Isorski said:

    I meant I was glad Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won, of course!

    February 26, 2008 2:05 AM

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