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Published: Sunday, 2/21/2010

Welcome to the Oscars blog ...

"...as human beings we are capable of making sense of situations based on the thinnest slice of experience."

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point.


It wasn't a particularly memorable Oscars, from the winners to the presentation. It was very much by-the-books by the voters and the Academy Awards show producers. There wasn't a water cooler moment either. The celebs kept it conservative in what they wore and in what they said. What the 81st Annual Academy Awards will be remembered for is the Slumdog domination and Penn's victory over Rourke. And, of course, for the number of ABC programming promos for shows that six months from now will be remembered even less than tonight's Oscars.

It's now past midnight and time for those of us on the East Coast without a glamorous Oscar party to attend to hit the hay. Thanks for reading along for those who did, and thanks to those who will read this after the fact. Will do it again next year.

Again, no surprises here. Penn's win makes sense now, since Academy voters considered it a way of acknowledging Milk.

Great to see the cast and others involved in the film crowd the stage along with Boyle and Slumdog Millionaire's producers. Twenty years from now, I'm not so convinced the film will be as well regarded as it is now, but tonight anyway, Slumdog Millionaire is the best film.

Hugh is signing off about 25 minutes late, assuming the show is scheduled to run three hours.

Wow ... stunning. I really thought Rourke was going to win this. I wanted Penn to wiin, but didn't think it would happen. You gotta feel bad for Rourke.

Witty speech from Penn, from you "Commie-loving sons of guns" to his admission of knowing "how hard I make it to appreciate me."

Penn will be back in other great roles -- not sure if he'll ever top this. But I sincerely hope that Rourke follows up his comeback performance with equally great roles. I'm not sure if he'll ever find a role that so perfectly suits him, though, in appearance and personal history.

A nice nod to Rourke too at the end. I'd read they'd patched up whatever differences they may or may not have had.

And now onto Best Picture.

Looking around the stage with DeNiro, Douglas, Kingsley, Hopkins ... Adrien Brody has to be wondering how he ended up as a fellow presenter.

And so, for the last big surprise of the night ...

who is very deserving of this if you count both film roles (The Reader and Revolutionary Road), which I do. She's a remarkable actress and it's nice to see her get her due. Great heartfelt speech. Loved the whistle-out from her dad. A genuine moment in a land supposedly full of phonies.

Wow, some star power onstage. Sofia Loren looks amazing. Shirley McClain, though, is looking old to me. Her age has finally caught up to her. Funny to think about one of these nominees being up there like this in 20 years from now.

I'm feeling really good about Winslet winning this.

OK, now that I see a clsoe up of Loren, I take back what I said. The camera should pan back for a more ... flattering picture of her.

Streep with 15 nominations during a 40-year film career. (wucikly does the math) ... that's a nomination every 2.6 years.

And the Oscar goes to ...

Danny Boyle. I typing this even before it's been announced, that's how sure I am.

And yes, I was right, so no need to hit delete.

Considering how Boyle was able to blend a cast of nonactors -- most of whom were children -- with actors so perfectly is a tribute to his ability and reason enough for him to win. So, one more for Slumdog to win, while everyone still wonders about the two remaining actor categories.

Oscar always gets the tributes right. This year's clips was particularly well done with a classy performance by Queen Latifah. It's also just nice to reminded of the talent that was lost last year.

And now the biggies ...

Departures. I thought it would go to Waltz with Bashir. Then again, I had someone try to convince me that Slumdog Millionaire should be in this category since it's not a strictly English-language film. I reminded him of Schindler's List. Sometimes it pays *not* to sleep during high school.

Meanwhile, Bollywood has taken over the Oscars. Frankly, these song-and-dance numbers are far more interesting than anything Jackman's done tonight.

best song is "Jai Ho" ... another Slumdog win. It's cool to see the performer sing the song and not even leave the stage to pick up the Oscar a few moments later.

At this point, the only drama left in the evening is Best Actress and Best Actor. Everything else will go Slumdog's way. It's funny how a small, endearing film with an uplifting message of triumph and undying love no one thought twice about six months ago and in an hour will be the toast of Hollywood.

Slumdog is unstoppable.

And now for the best song ...

wonder if they'll cut to Peter Gabriel, who is not performing tonight out of protest to his performance being cut to 90 seconds.

Eddie Murphy as the presenter was a nice choice, and not just for the fact he made another Nutty Professor. Lewis looks frail, but a still a lot healthier than the puffy steriods period.

OK, a short and sweet speech. Lewis may not be a genius, as the cliche about the French deem him, or maybe he is, but he's certainly deserving of this award for humanitarian efforts on behalf of those with MS. I hope this is how people remember him and not for some of the foot-in-mouth things he's said in recent years. If he could just stay off Larry King, Lewis would be fine.

So, we're well past two hours into the Oscars, but it seems even longer than that. Going to be a long night, methinks.

tonight at the Oscars as Slumdog takes the Best Editing Oscar. I thought Button and Knight were a bit long. I loved Frost/Nixon, but I really thought this category came down to Milk and Slumdog, neither of which wasted a frame of film. In another year, it would be Milk's time to shine, but it's all about the li'l film that could tonight.

Coming up the tribute to Jerry Lewis. Man, I can't wait to hear Lewis say something outrageous, as you know he most likely will. Maybe as part of the tribute, the Academy Awards will show a clip from The Day the Clown Cried, his unreleased Holocaust film about a clown in a concentration camp.

As much as I loved the effects of Dark Knight, it's the characters that you remember. The same thing for Iron Man. Plus, as great as the effects were, there wasn't anything particularly memorable about them. Benjamin Button, though, has memorable -- occasionally creepy -- age effects that were different from anything I've seen in a long time.

Then, just like that the Dark Knight strikes back for sound editing. Again, hard to argue this choice. Watching the film in Dolby/THX surround sound in the theater was simply amazing.

And now Oscar gets back on the track with another nod to Slumdog for sound mixing. The film probably won for the Bollywood dance numbers in the closing credits, which are worth the price of admission alone.

Man, Slumdog director Danny Boyle seems very pleased. He knows the best is yet to come, no doubt.

And finally, the film editing Oscar ...

They've jumped their cue a coupla times tonight already and possibly played the wrong song for a winning film. Maybe they're too concerned with cutting off the acceptance speeches of the winners.

Man on Wire. Great buzz about this. Definitely look it for on DVD.

The winner balancing the Oscar statue on his chin will undoubtedly be seen in future Oscar clips, ala Roberto Benigni's chair hopping en route to pick up his statue. The Academy Award winners say and do things onstage that no other award-show winners do. I have no idea why that is, but those moments are what make the show memorable and human. It's also what separates the Oscars from every-other award show.

On another note ... I used to love Bill Mahr, but ever since his movie I find him increasingly insufferable. And why do presenters always feel the need to promote their films? That's why we have commercials. And Entertainment Tonight.

Nice to see his family up there to pick up Heath's Oscar. A very somber audience. Not sure if I've ever seen the crowd that attentive and moved.

Ledger's role will live on for years, and has set a standard for not just comic book baddies, but villains period. Yes, he won as a supporting actor, but Ledger's performance so overwhelmed and dominated the Dark Knight, he could have easily been a Best Actor nominee. Fortunately, he wasn't -- can't imagine picking between Ledger, Penn and Rourke.

Anyway, it's a great way to remember Ledger.

Talk about an Oscar curse. Three of the five previous best supporting actor winners onstage have never done anything that lived up to their Oscar-winning performances.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. to Robert Downey, Jr.: "Brothers need to work." I wonder if Gooding's agent told him to say that.

So, now to the Ledger tribute ...

So the Oscar-nominated song performances were shortened to 90 seconds ... for this? Hugh and Beyonce? Say what you want about the pairing of Rob Lowe and Snow White, and Pee-wee Herman and Robocop, but at least they were memorable couples. Memorably bad, sure, but memorable.

This is just a bland reworking of some classic musical moments. Forget high culture, just make it entertaining.

So, we've got the cast of High School Musical, and Mama Mia up there, too.

They were right when they promoted the performance as "once in a lifetime." I hope I never see it again.

funny to hear Seth Rogan pronounce the foreign films.

Then, on cue, James Franco screws up the pronunciation of the winner, Spielzeugland (Toyland). "Speeglze-blad" You can't help but wonder how research they put into playing stoners in Pineapple Express.

Was placed oddly. It was sort of an Oscar filler, sandwiched between other categories. Basically, millions of people got up for the commercial break, heard the Oscars were back, ran back to their chairs, and three minutes later were wondering why they bothered.

Didn't think it was the best choice, but its victory just shows it's going to be Slumdog's night.

Back to the Joaquin joke ... it was probably something that seemed funnier when Ben was describing it to Natalie Portman than it ended up being. Still, if people would ignore Joaquin, maybe he would stop what he's doing, shave, and get back to being a decent-but-not-great actor that he is.

think audiences at home enjoyed it more than the audience at the Oscars.

The joke is running a bit long. Where's the orchestra when they're needed. In fact, the Oscar orchestra should be ready to cut off jokes when they go on too long.

So, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has won two Oscars. Can't see it winning much more than that. Would be crazy if it went on to win a lot more.

Romance collage ...

Y'know, I hated the new Coldplay when I first heard it, but everyone kept raving about it and I decided to give it another go. I think I missed the boat the first time.

Do enjoy these Oscar montages. Often they're the highlight of the show. If nothing else, it refreshes the memory of films from the year. It's a great time killer for the Oscars, too, not the show needs it.

And speaking of, we're at an hour into the show with only one major nominee handled, Looks to be a long evening. And where's Hugh? He's pretty much disappeared since the opening number.

Benjamin Button. So, the film won't be shut out. Considering how many decades the film covered, I'm not surprised it won.

I'd read that the celebs were going to tone it down this year with what they wore to the Academy Awards and that seems to be the case. I haven't noticed anything memorable, with the exception of Goldie Hawn's poor choice at showing way too much cleavage during her best supporting actress appearance.

And now we had the first Oscar orchestra "hurry along" of the evening, essentially shooing-off the art direction winners from the stage.

And now costume design ...

The Duchess. Funny, I remember thinking the film would be a likely Oscar winner for costumes while watching the movie. Oscar voters LOVE period pieces.

Huh, wonder if the orchestra played the wrong music. Seems that's what the Duchess costume designer indicated.

Everyone thought Keira Knightley would be nominated and she wasn't.

never understood the appeal of a fried piece of fish on a bun with tar-tar sauce ...

Now back to the show ...

Painful jokes by Jack Black and Jennifer Aniston. Funny that Black's up there since he was the star of King Fu Panda. Talk about awkward. At least, he acknowledged that WALL-E was going to win.

... and it did, as it should. Pixar really is the new Disney. Just watched a documentary about Pixar, which discussed how the company didn't make money for years and almost didn't make survive. Fortunately, for kids today, the company did. My daughter is growing up in a world where Pixar churns out better animated movies than Disney. Hopefully, with the two companies now joined at the hip thanks to Disney's purchase of Pixar, things at the Mouse House will change.

Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire. And so the domination begins.

And now best animated feature ... surprisingly Clone Wars was not nominated, although I think I'm the only critic in the world who thought it was pretty decent.

I'm hoping for Milk ...

Dustin Lance Black won for his amazing script. It took years and several attempts -- and scripts -- to get Milk's story made. Black's speech was eloquent and matched the film's purpose. Milk's message of tolerance really is a film for our time. Still, I wonder how many people dismissed his acceptance speech as yet another Hollywood liberal using the Oscars as a forum.

maybe his job as a co-presenter is a consolation prize for not hosting this year.

Or, as I like to think, 0-for-1 for me. Nice speech with a bit of history. Waiting for her to be cut off, though, since it's long. Fortunately, that didn't happen. I think a lot of people -- Oprah included -- thought Viola Davis would win it for Doubt, but she maybe had 10 minutes of screen time.

Anyway, so much for my theory that it would be an Oscar comeback story, with statues to Tomei and Mickey Rourke.

way to present best supporting actress nominees. But, it's cool to see the former winners onstage. I think I'd rather see the film clips, though, rather than someone explaining the parts.

Love to see Marisa Tomei win it. Bit I think it will be Penelope Cruz.

Nice, and justified, but the bit was pretty lame. The dancers reminded me of something you'd see on SCTV, the Lola Heatherton special. I bet this is the only blog today that throws out a Lola Heatherton reference.

Back to the jokes ...

Wonder how much of the American viewership not understand him with his Aussie accent.

Appreciate his singing ability, but I miss the opening jokes. Never thought I'd write this, but I miss Billy Crystal. In fact, this is just like Billy's opening ceremony gag, only with dancers. Give Jackman this, the man is talented, but this bit is like a bad off-Broadway spoof of Hollywood.

Do like brining Anne up here. She's got a great voice, too. Again, too bad it's wasted.

Ok, let's past the commercials and do this ...

Not sure who the guy is, but he's already had a cringe-worthy interview with Jack Black, which he followed up with a "what tree would you be?" question to Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow about what celebrities they would save if there was a disaster during the Oscars ceremony. Millions of people outta work, and ABC hires that guy.

Frank Langella and Meryl Streep brought their daughters to the Oscars. Guess the other nominees didn't get the memo.

Tim Gunn seemed desperate to land Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for the cameras. So, when they stopped for him, he simply gushed that they were the most beautiful couple on the red carpet this night. So much for the hard-hitting question about what designer Jolie is wearing.

Love Kate Winslet's line about what all Oscar-nominated women are thinking if they win: "not tripping."

Rod Lockwood


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