The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007 TV Special)
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Lets face it, 2006 wasn't the greatest year for movies. Sure there were some great movies released but not exactly the type of movies that will grown into becoming classics. There also wasn't really one movie or person this year that I hoped would win. I didn't really felt much for any of the nominations this year, with perhaps the exception of the more 'smaller' awards, like best visual effects.
The ceremony also wont be remembered as the most hilarious or legendary one. Nevertheless it's good to see that they brought back the show-element and the entire ceremony felt less organized and scripted. The ceremony felt like one big whole this year and was more personal and natural, with presenter Ellen DeGeneres actually walking between- and talking to the stars and taking part of the show elements, without feeling the constant obligation to constantly talk after, between and before the handing out of every single award. Normally there is a tense atmosphere, this year it was more relaxed, which was i think due to the presenting skills of DeGeneres and the flow of the entire show. Normally the comedy of the show is more of a spoofing caliber, it now felt professional and well thought out, with some fun moments with comedians Will Ferrel and Jack Black. But of course that all doesn't mean that DeGeneres also doesn't take time to make fun of some of the stars. I love the Oscars for that, it's the only time of the year you can say anything straight into the face of those persons, knowing that you can get away with it.
The award presenters were all good. None of them really did their best to make a lasting impression, which I take as a positive thing. I mean after all, this is THE evening of the nominees, not of the presenters. Most memorable the duo Jaden Smith and Abigail Breslin, with Smith messing up his lines but still staying cool and funny under it and continue with presenting. Not bad for an 9 year old, who obviously has his parents talents. Also fun was Robert Downey Jr. who wasn't too embarrassed to make fun of his own drugs past. Clint Eastwood seemed very nervous presenting and messed up his lines, which was odd to see from a person of his caliber and acting past, though he would claim it was because of he forgot his glasses. It was good to see that the old American Zoetrope-gang, Lucas, Spielberg and Coppola were the ones to hand out the best director award, which went to their old friend Martin Scorsese. It was the bald(!) Jack Nicholson that had the honor of presenting the award for the best movie of the year.
The evening didn't had that many big surprises. The acting awards went to the most predicted ones, with the exception of the best supporting actor award that went to Alan Arkin instead of favorite Eddie Murphy. No big surprise that Helen Mirren won an Oscar, which was perhaps the most in advance predicted winner of the evening. Same goes for Forest Whitaker who did the best speech of the evening, though he of course was also the one that could prepare himself the best, since it almost was a formality for him to pick up the award.
There were some memorable events the evening, such as Ennio Morricone getting an Honorary Award. Just like Scorsese, he should already had won an Oscar years ago for at least 3 of his works but nevertheless it was great to see that he finally got the recognition he deserved from the Academy before his death. Because lets face it, the guy is almost 80-years already and he has his best years behind him, though he himself would probably disagree with me. Morricone wasn't too happy in advance that he received this Honorary Award, claiming that it would look like as if his career was over already but nevertheless he seemed emotional and touched by this honor when he stood on the stage, next to his friend and interpretor Clint Eastwood, since Morricone himself (still) doesn't speak a word English.
Another highlight was Scorsese getting a standing ovation, not necessarily for his win for "The Departed" but more for his career and the fact that he finally won an Oscar, after being nominated 7 times already. Of course "The Departed" is not his best or most influential works, so it's sort of a double feeling that he won his long deserved Oscar for this movie. For him "The Departed" obviously was a movie for 'in between', who could had ever thought that this would be his movie for which he would win the biggest awards. But on the other hand I'm of course glad that he now will always be remembered as Oscar winner-Martin Scorsese instead of 8(+ probably) time Oscar nominee.
Too bad that the ceremony turned a bit too political at times with a too prominently present Al Gore. It was also weird to see Gore holding an Oscar, though the cause he fights for is of course a good one. Nevertheless, politics and Oscars should never mix in my opinion.
Not the best year for the Oscars but a memorable enough evening nevertheless.
Students of film will recall when the Mac was introduced in 1984, by the famed Superbowl ad. It was sixty seconds or so, made by Ridley Scott who had already turned the world of science fiction upside down with "Alien" and "Bladerunner." The legend of the ad was that it was aired just that once. It may be the most famous ad in TeeVee history. When the board of Apple balked at the cost, Jobs paid for it personally. Since then, the whole world has copied (in better or worse fashion) what was introduced by that woman runner.
This Oscar show may have been worthwhile in itself, not because of the awards but because we see film personalities playing the hardest role: themselves. But this iPhone ad, and the surprise of it meant that you were there. Its like seeing Jack Ruby shoot Osward live, or see the first step on the moon.
To appreciate the beauty of it, you have to realize how the Oscar show is assembled. The tone of the thing is that there is the Academy who presents itself as the champion of film history: each award of the year is in the context of a hundred years, all of which the Academy members supposedly know and honor. This is underscored each year with several montages, collections of film snippets assembled around a theme.
This is in the midst of other "entertainments." The host tells jokes, some nominated songs are sung, and there is usually another thin thing, this time Philobus shadow imagers. The montages are inserted as entertainment, and edited as such, so that we can guess the origin of the clip. But you have to be fast.
So this ad started and we all thought it was part of the show: clips that showed characters answering the phone. Only after it was over do you see it was an ad, indicated by the word "hello" and an image of the iPhone. The device won't appear for 4 months after I write this, but I will make a prediction about the product that will make this ad seem important in retrospect.
I predict as with many others, you will be able to buy ringtones from the iTunes Music Store. That's a bit obvious. I predict further that you will be able to buy "hello" video clips that will play on the caller's iPhone when you answer. Why do I think that?
Because I know it possible with the changes Apple is forcing on ATT/Cinglaur for video voice messages. But more because I know that Hollywood has been studying methods for fractional licensing of movies. The same person who would shell out $3 for two seconds of Bogart answering a call from his girlfriend would have trouble paying the same $3 for the entire movie to watch. Films will become marketing platforms in the future for snippets of themselves. I'm actually entering this side of the business and think it will be huge.
But it will also change film forever. Starting that night, with that ad.
So far as the show itself: hey, so the Academy gets to make awards based on who they like if they can also bend in some lessor awards to the Latino and Black ticketbuyers. Ho hum.
The clip from this show that will last is probably the host's declaration in Bush's face that there would be no awards without Jews, Blacks and Gays. Maybe that's a milestone too.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
What do I think of Ellen DeGeneres as a host? Well, after Jon Stewart last year, I guess that anyone might seem a little weak, but I liked how she did (particularly that trick with Scorsese). Even if she's not the best host ever, she's gotta be better than Bob Hope.
I notice that Best Actress went to Helen Mirren - who's also deserved an Oscar for years - for playing a queen, and Best Actor went to Forest Whitaker for playing a king (the last one of Scotland, that is). Jennifer Hudson's win is the perfect slap in the face to "American Idol" (they kicked her off, believing that she had no talent).
As is often the case, the best parts are the montages. I liked that the writing montage included scenes from "The Shining", and the history montage included a scene from "Dr. Strangelove". Good that they included Robert Altman in the "In Memoriam", but I think that he should have gotten his own montage.
I bet that this ceremony must have really irked the right-wingers. Aside from the fact that a lesbian hosted, a lesbian won for Best Original Song (and for a documentary about global warming at that), honorary winner Sherry Lansing sits on a stem cell research board, and they gave some awards to "Babel" and "El laberinto del Fauno/Pan's Labyrinth" (both by Mexican directors). I hope that tomorrow night, Stephen Colbert - in his right-wing commentator persona - rants against the Academy for all this. In fact, they ought to have him host the Oscars next year; he would probably be better than Jon Stewart.
So, it was a great ceremony. Each of the Best Picture nominees received at least one Oscar. If Scorsese really meant that "The Departed" was his first movie with a plot, then it paid off. A fine few hours. But what did Cameron Diaz do to her face?
Anyway, we move into the show proper and I can only assume that Ellen DeGeneres was terrible because Sky cut it back to nothing. Regardless though, what little of her I did see left me pretty unimpressed and I didn't think she was that suited to this big event and was not particularly funny. The musical numbers were a bit too long but they were a welcome addition compared to the dance interpretations of various films my god they were cringe worthy (and what bad taste to have a "devil" dancer following the "in memoriam" section). As usual some of the presenters are given terrible lines to deliver and some of them can do nothing with it those presenting with someone else seem to struggle the most as they deliver unfunny "routines" with barely a touch of chemistry.
The winners themselves were a rather mixed bunch but nothing really too contentious. The main awards mostly fell as predicted. Did anyone on Earth doubt that Mirren would take it, but her acceptance speech was a bit weird. Meanwhile Whitaker deserved it for a great turn. I'm not so sure about Hudson but I have not seen any of the films in the "supporting actress" category so I cannot really comment. Arkin is always a class act and I'm glad he picked one up for Little Miss Sunshine also giving that film exposure. Although I wasn't all that taken by The Departed, it was a solid "best picture" and was a good opportunity to give Scorsese his Oscar he deserves it more for other films but he deserves one, full stop. Talking of legends, the Honorary Award for Morricone was a good one and well deserved when you think back over how memorable his work has been down the years. Of course I say this without actually having seen his award because, along with about 12 other awards, Sky neglected to show the presentation or even give a quick recap of "other" awards. Why they chose to not even spare 60 seconds for these I cannot say but it was shoddy and yet another reason I regret them being able to bully their way into every series or event they chose. A more cynical reviewer may suggest that the halfassed way they have covered the Oscars in recent years might be because they only bought it to prevent others having it, but luckily I am not cynical (although their childish spat with the equally childish Virgin in the UK at the moment might change that for me).
Overall then a solid show with mostly good winners. Personally I think The Departed was flattered a little but otherwise the best people did win the big awards and, although it wasn't particularly tense or surprising, it did make for an OK year.
It really is about time for him to win an Academy Award. I mean, he directed Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Casino, so it is about time for him to win. Anyway, this is a typical Academy Award show that has some very funny moments. There are some movies and actors that deserved to win an Oscar, but some did not. I also like the scene in which Ellen DeGenerous makes Steven Spielberg take a picture of her with Clint Eastwood. Also, the Departed won Best Picture.
This is a typical Academy Award show that is hosted by Ellen DeGenerous. The usual awards are given out. You know, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Animated Film, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Score, Best Song, Best Costume, Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Short, Best Visual Effects, Best Foreign Film, and Best Documentary. Wow, that was a mouth full. There are also the usual Oscar surprises, such as Jack Black and Will Ferrell singing. Like always, also, this goes far beyond of how long it is supposed to be.
Overall, this is a regular but fun Academy Awards show. Some of the winners totally deserved it, such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest definitely deserved to win Best Visual Effects, and it did, but some did not deserve it. Pan's Labyrinth should have won best Foreign Language Film, and not the Lives of Others. I am also glad that Happy Feet won Best Animated Picture. There is one thing I would like to point out. Will Smith should have won Best Actor. I mean, he definitely deserved to win, but he did not! Anyway, some choices are good, some choices are bad, and this is like every other Academy Awards show, but they are always fun to watch.
Recommended Award Shows: The Emmys.