Blackwolf the Dragonmaster's Diary of Magecraft

Being a Chronicle of the Inner Secrets of, and Spells of Magick as Wielded by, the Philosopher of the Internet and Unofficial Sorcerer-in-Residence of the City of New York

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Location: New York, New York, United States

As New York's Unofficial Wizard, my mission is to encourage the Mortals of Manhattan to imagine responsibly!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2006, Part Two

Coming out of the next set of commercials, we found our host, Jon Stewart, caught in the act of a riff against those Scientology sillies (those would be the Tom Cruise people). Suddenly remembering that we were back on the air, Jon paused long enough to introduce the Wilson boys. At that point, Luke and Owen took to the stage to introduce Best Live-Action Short Subject. And Marty McDonagh stepped to the mic to accept his Oscar for having written and directed Six-Shooter, in which this guy traveling home by train after having attended the funeral of his wife finds an already tragic day taking a few serious turns for the worse.

Marty thanked those involved in the short, particularly Brendan Gleeson and Ruaidhri Conroy. One of those few rare moments of triumph for the Irish, given that this happens to be St. Patrick's Month! (I should talk; as you know, my own roots are somewhat Irish, having entered this world as young Padraig of Abbeyleix.)

In a brief CGI sequence, two of the stars of Disney's Chicken Little --- Chicken Little himself and Abby the Mallard --- presented the nominees for Best Animated Short Subject, giving the trophy to John Canemaker, one of animation's most respected filmmaker/historians, for his autobiographical half-hour drama, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, in which Canemaker uses his own turbulent relationship with his dad to explore how fathers and sons tend to annoy each other at times. Since Sheila Nevins was among those whom John thanked, I suspect that HBO, who doubtless had a hand in creating the film, will air it next year. Peggy Stern, John's partner in the making of this one, thanked her brother Tom, husband Alan Ruskin, mother Joanne and kids Ben and Emma --- yeah, the standard thanks-to-the-family routine. Typical.

What next? Ah! the fascinating Jennifer Aniston. Her segment was Best Costume Design, and Colleen Atwood, C.D.G. --- whom everyone has been talking about of late --- was honored for her spectacular Memoirs of a Geisha threads. In additon to director Rob Marshall and all else involved, Colleen dedicated her win to all the people of Japan, for giving her so much knowledge and grace. Konnichi-wa, indeed, Colleen-san! Rounding out this segment of the show was angry Russell Crowe, who introduced the next piece by Chuck Workman, on biopics (that would be 'biographical epics,' for ye what be unschool'd in film wordings and such). The next major commercial afterwards, from
JCPenney, was set to a tune I recall from my youth that gave this foolish old Wizard a particular groove: "Bang a Gong (Get It On)," the difference being that the version of this tune that I remember extolled the virtues of Showtime!

Will Ferrell and Steve Carell hosted the Best Makeup segment next, and were obviously made up (in make-up, of course) to look fabulously silly! I don't know if I laughed or was as shocked as everyone else, but two of those who were not shocked were winners Howard Berger and Tami Lane. They won for, among other things, giving Kiran Shah's Ginarrbrik Narnia's best kick-ass beard!
"I'm just glad Clooney doesn't do makeup," quipped Howard. "So it worked out pretty well. I wanna dedicate this to my parents Kenneth and Susan Berger; right now they're looking down upon me, saying 'We're proud of you that you're living with the monsters, running through the forest with the wild things.' Thank you."

Hey, Howard --- running through the forest with the wild things is my job! I didn't get this Wizard gig merely on me good bloomin' looks, y'know! Anywho, before Jon bought out Rachel McAdams, he asked Louis J. Horvitz in the booth to get a shot of one of the big Oscar models which were a huge part of production designer Roy Christopher's set. Jon wondered, "If we were to pull this thing down now, would Democracy flourish here in Hollywood?"

Anyway, Rachel's segment saluted the Scientific & Technical Oscar winners, notably the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, presented to Gary Demos for his constant pursuit of scientific issues in the film community, an adventure that Gary has undertaken for over 30 years. Gary was given the Sawyer on February 18th, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, along with sound editor Don Hall, who won the John A. Bonner Medal to honor his over 50 years, and over 90 feature films, wherein he has served as one of the foremost innovators in the field of sound editing.

And here are the other Sci-Tech Oscar winners the telecast didn't have time to recognize:

David Grober for the concept, and Scott Lewallen for the electronic & software design, of the Perfect Horizon camera stabilization head.
Anatolly Kokush, Yuriy Popovsky and Oleksly Zolotarov for creating the Russian Arm gyro-stabilized camera crane and Flight Head.
Anatolly Kokush again --- this time, for his creating the Cascade series of motion picture cranes.
Garrett Brown for his legendary Skycam flying camera system --- the first-ever use of 3D volumetric cable technology for motion picture cinematography.
David Baraff, Michael Kass and Andrew Witkin for their pioneering work in physically-based computer-generated techniques used to simulate realisitic cloth in motion pictures.
Laurie Frost, Peter Hannan and Richard Loncraine to mark the 25th Anniversary of their remote camera head, the Hothead!

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT (Academy Certificates):
Gary Thieltges for creating the remotely-operated, lightweight camera head, the Sparrowhead.
Frank Fletcher and Dave Sherwin, for their introduction and continuing development of the PowerPod modular camera head system.
Alvah J. Miller, Michael Sorensen and J. Walter Adamczyk for creating their Aerohead motion control camera head, and the J-Viz Previsualization System.
Scott Leva for his Precison Stunt Airbag for motion picture stunt falls. (Kids, don't try this at home! [Sorry, I had to get that one in there! Heh-heh!])
Lev Yevstratov, George Peters and Vasiliy Orlov for developing the Ultimate Arm Camera Crane System for specialized vehicle photography.
Jim Rodnunsky, Alex McDonald and Mark Chapman for their Cablecam 3D; and Tim Drnec, Ben Britten Smith and Matt Davis for their Spydercam 3D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies.
John Platt and Dimitri Terzopoulos for their pioneering work in physically-based CGI techniques used to simulate realistic cloth in motion pictures.
Ed Catmull, late of the Pixar family, for his original concept; and Tony DeRose and Jos Stam for their scientific and practical implementation of subdivision surfaces as a modeling technique in film production.
Harold Rattray, Terrence Claborn, Steve Garlick, Bill Hogue and Tim Reynolds for designing, engineering and implementing Technicolor's Real-Time Answer Print System.
Udo Schauss and Hildegarde Ebbesmeier for the optical design, and Nicole Wemken and Michael Anderer for the mechanical design of the Cinelux Premiere Cinema Projection Lenses.

Now, is that a roll call, or what? By Merlin's beard, no wonder they never have time to recognize these folks on the live telecast! But, luckily, your Dragonmaster knows how to make time for all these good people. They do have families, too, y'know!

So, what else can I tell ya about the Oscars? Oh! Morgan Freeman, that Penguin's best friend (way long way from Easy Reader, eh what?), revealed to us the contents of the Best Supporting Actress envelope; when we found out that it Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener, well, the applause was just action-packed! Rachel thanked, among others, the author, John le Carre, for writing "this unflinching, angry story [in which he] really paid tribute to the people who are willing to risk their own lives to fight injustice, and [who are] greater men and women than I." Even in a so-so movie year, my friends, Oscar can sometimes bury some very wise words into the live telecast. You need only stay tuned, as you must now do for the next exciting episode of Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2006!


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