Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2007, Episode Three
"No way I'm gonna be able to do this by memory, so we congratulate Bill Condon, who crafted a film that was filled with dazzling performances, unforgettable songs from Henry Krieger, the stylish effects from Richard Yawn, electrifiying editing from Virginia Katz --- and some smokin' sound! Bob, Willie and I are so honored by this award, and we thank all those who collaborated with us on the mix, and we extend our love and appreciation to those in our families who bring us harmony in our lives." Ah, Harmony! Would that every Oscar telecast be packed with that!
By tradition, last year's winners in the Acting categories present the new year's nominees in the Lead and Supporting roles; and this time, it was Rachel Weisz's turn to present Best Supporting Actor --- and what a surprise when Alan Arkin pulled off the upset of the evening, triumphing over the favorite (Eddie Murphy), and letting the fans of Little Miss Sunshine's beloved old Grandpa have the proverbial party of their lives. To Arkin, acting was, and is, a team sport: "I cannot work at all," said he, "unless I feel a spirit of unity around me." Clearly, the sense of family was in vogue throughout the filming of Little Miss Sunshine; no doubt he wanted everybody to know it. Moments later, Ellen DeGeneres was back in the audience, this time asking Martin Scorsese to read a "script" she'd apparently written. It was a rather silly moment, but it was perfect in that Ellen wanted to remind us that all through the night the members of the famous Pilobolus Dance Theatre were on hand to create humanoid icons of the movies involved in this year's Oscar show.
Next, Leonardo Di Caprio commented on his role in The Departed; then Sweet Baby James himself --- James Taylor came out to croon Our Town from Disney/Pixar's Cars, the first of the five nominees for Best Original Song. At the piano, no doubt, was the song's composer-lyricist, Randy Newman. An enjoyable performance, needless to say. This was followed by the evening's second Best Original Song nominee, Melissa Etheridge singing her own composition, I Need to Wake Up from An Inconvenient Truth. (Your Dragonmaster sensed --- rightly so, as it turned out --- that ultra-angry talk radio host Mark Levin would have a field day should Davis Guggenheim's Al Gore lecture win Best Documentary Feature!) Then, Leo and Al took to the Kodak Theatre stage to explain that, for the first time in Oscar history, certain environmental aspects have been integrated into every aspect of the entire telecast.
Supplies and services were used and selected with a sensitivity toward reducing the threats we face in light of global warming, species extinction, deforestation, toxic waste, hazardous chemicals in our food and water. In this process, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science received the assistance of the Natural Resources Defense Council. You know, Laura Ziskin, you could have started this by plotting a remake of Time Warner Presents the Earth Day Special, available on VHS only in second-hand video stores.
(Oh yeah, before I forget, they did manage to get stupid and try to get a laugh outta the idea that Al Gore was gonna run for President. I was clearly not laughing, dearies. Bruce Vilanch, your writing staff was clearly in serious need of a timeout, say I!)
Anyway, next up was Ellen making a minor reference to the early aspects of her career and how Gilligan's Island was somehow involved therein; then Cameron Diaz hit the stage to present Best Animated Feature. She warned the nominated CGI characters to remain in their seats, as this award was to be presented strictly to the 'humans'. Director George Miller, who had shaped the Happy Feet penguins to his will, told the audience: "I asked my kids, 'What should I say?' They said, 'Thank all the men for wearing penguin suits.' They even gave me a lucky penguin, but my real good luck was to work with hundreds of amazing people, the wonderful cast, some great artists, computer wizards, studios that were passionate, people who cut the trailers, dubbed the movie, and got it into the theaters...." Yeah, yeah, yeah --- the really invisible folks behind the cameras. We know, by Merlin's beard!
Ben Affleck then introduced the next film package, written and directed by Nancy Meyers. The topic: writing! Following that, nominee (I mean Her Majesty! Gulp!) Helen Mirren teamed up with Tom Hanks to share with us Best Screenplay Adaptation. Here's what winner Bill Monahan said:
"I was gonna cut off the beginning of this speech and make it brief, but now I'm gonna put it back in and say that the movie that made me wanna be a screenwriter was Robert Bolt's Lawrence of Arabia. And I don't know what could have happened in the Universe to make me end up here with the same Oscars as Peter O'Toole! Y'know, it's all so crazy. He's here tonight, and I've seen him. Anwyay, thanks to the Academy, everyone at Warners, Alan Mak and Felix Chong for writing Infernal Affairs, everyone who made The Departed such a success. And thanks to Marty and Leo for reading the script, calling each other up and saying 'Let's make it.' And Thelma, too."
As we threw to the next set of commercials, I wondered what the hell Chris Connelly was doing back on the main show. I thought he was done for the evening after the Arrivals thingie, but apparently they wanted him to do a few commercial teases, in case the show ran long. Well, that's Louis J. Horvitz for ya: make snap decisions on the spur of the moment and unexpectedly screw up a whole telecast into the bargain! Ah, me.
I was riveted by one spot for American Express, featuring filmmaker Wes Anderson, directing a movie and a commercial at the same time! (Interesting!) Up next was Ellen doing something remarkably weird, followed by the presence of Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway. They presented Costume Design, with the five nominees in that category being represented by a spectaular on-stage fashion show starring all the nominated costumes! Well, the winner, Marie Antoinette's Milena Canonero, was happy to be there, but it was also frightening for her to be on the Kodak Theatre stage. She didn't say too much, other than dedicating her Oscar to her mother and her two heroes, Stanley Kubrick and Hugh Hudson....
...but then, HE had to show up! When last we'd seen ol' Cruise, he was licking his wounds after ol' Sumner had fired him --- waitaminnit, I'm forgetting, Cruise ain't got wounds to lick. If I remember correctly, he and Paula Wagner have their own studio now. I believe it's called United Artists! Anyway, the Academy's Board of Governors had asked Tom to present the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to veteran producer and studio executive Sherry Lansing. "I am deeply honored to receive this award," said she, "but I must also admit that it feels a little strange to be singled out. So many of you here tonight have causes that you are all equally passionate about. That really is what is so wonderful about this industry: not only do we get to make movies that matter, we also work in a culture we get to speak out. We may not always agree, but we do always care." Indeed! And that's why we all need more Sherry Lansings in our lives, I suppose. The world needs its share of loose cannons, I once told Sir Clisto Seversword. Sherry, for my money, is as loose as they come.
That'll do it for now, I think. Be here for the next thought-provoking episode of ---- Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2007!