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