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!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2007, Episode Four

As we continue our journey through the 79th Annual Academy Awards, we rejoin our host, Ellen DeGeneres, in the audience yet again --- this time, saying hello to old coot Clint Eastwood (As your Dragonmaster said last year: "Blarsted Malpaso Company! They win EVERYTHING!"), and even getting Spielberg to try and take a shot of her and Clint for Ellen's MySpace place. [So Ellen has her own MySpace site! Who knew?] We then caught a glimpse of Gwyneth Paltrow, whose job now was to present Achievement in Cinematography --- one of my favorite Oscar categories. And when Pan's Labyrinth's Guillermo Navarro was called to the stage, he was a bit overwhelmed: "Pan's Labyrinth is the result of this narrative that has added up to finding the lok of the movie," he attempted to explain, "and the narrative to continue this incredible story that unfolds." (Here, I'm like, "Huh? What?") "The creative freedom that was needed to tell this story, to prerserve the integrity of the story and the point of view is what was more important for [the cast and crew]."

Some Oscar acceptance speeches are way beyond too Twilight Zone, even for a Wizard like me! On the other hand, there are a few commercials that are just too darn cute, like MasterCard's "Elephant" spot. I don't know of any other commercials in recent memory that has made me smile like this, but there you go. Anyway, time to throw it to Don LaFontaine: "The 79th Annual Academy Awards will continue in a moment, here on ABC!"

Cue Naomi Watts and Robert Downey, Jr. now, as we're about to go to Best Visual Effects. My dear shipmates at No Quarter Given are certainly happy at this juncture, as their beloved Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men's Chest, like everybody predicted, got the one Pirate treasure that REALLY mattered: the Best Visual Effects Oscar --- and it couldn't have happened to a squishier fellow than Davy Jones! "Y'know all those naysayers who said that four blind kids from the Bronx couldn't make it in Visual Effects?" said ILM Senior Supervisor John Knoll, A.S.C. "Well, here we are!" (The other three 'blind kids from the Bronx:' Associate Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Charles Gibson; Senior Supervising Animator Hal Hickel; and CG Senior Technical Director Allen Hall.) "I gotta thank Jerry Bruckheimer for entrusting us with this great big project," said our Mr. Knoll. "Bill Nighy, thanks for being such a wonderful partner in creating this character. Sorry about the deeply embarrassing computer pajamas, but we think it was worth it." (Hoist yer knickers, mateys, to, to find out just how they got Bill Nighy to wear said deeply embarrassing computer pajamas!)

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the permanent inclusion into the Oscars of the category Best Foreign Language Film, and to celebrate this milestone, the Academy asked France's own Catherine Deneuve and Japan's Ken Watanabe to present this very special one. No doubt a Foreign Language Film perennial got the nod --- the Germans, in the form of The Lives of Others, written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It was Germany's 7th such nomination and second winner in this category. Prior to the events of the German Reunification in 1990, the Federal German Republic had had 8 Academy Award Nominations, including one win; whereas the German Democratic Republic had had but a single nomination.

Florian thanked Ah-nuld for teaching him why the words I can't needed to be deleted from his vocabulary; his brother Sebastian, who helped him with the script; and his wife Christianne. "You're the greatest artists, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!"

OK, we're up to Supporting Actress --- and, as everyone had hoped, the American Idol reject made unexpected good: Jennifer Hudson, triumphant! (Beat that, my eternal and icky-poo enemy Ryan Seacrest!)

"I didn't think I was gonna win, but if my grandmother was here to see me now --- she was my biggest inspiration for everything," she said. And your Dragonmaster must plead guilty to shedding a few happy tears as I watched her. "Because she was a singer, and she had the passion for it --- but she never had the chance. And that was the thing that pushed me forward to continue. But I'm so grateful having my mother here celebrating with me. I don't know what to say, but I thank you all for helping me keep the faith, even when I didn't believe!" (By Merlin's beard, I really do love happy endings! [Sniffle!])

In one of the more sillier comedic moments, Ellen and the Pilobolus gang paid tribute to those mothafuckin' snakes on that muthafuckin' plane! Yes. there had to be time for that as well, dearies. And yes, even I bought it. George Clooney was next on stage, to take charge of Documentary Short. This year's winner: The Blood of Yingzhou District, and its producer-director, Thomas Lennon, for whom documentary filmmaking was a treacherous profession, especially when one part of him (and his colleague Ruby Yang) were in the Chinese village of Anhui, and the other part in Beverly Hills. Speaking in Chinese, Ruby thanked all the AIDS heroes and their friends who supported the project. Next, Jerry Seinfeld came on with a strange, bizarre mini-rant about .... something. (Damn, I wish I bloomin' knew what the hell it was!) Then we made it to Documentary Feature, and as I said previously in our saga, with the victory of An Inconvenient Truth as Best Documentary Feature, the talk radio denizens would be quite pissed off at director Davis Guggenheim for even filming Al Gore's global warming lecture!

"John Lesher released [this film] so beautifully, but we were all inspired by his 30-year fight to tell this Truth to all of us!" boasted Davis. "The climate crisis," Al Gore warned us, "is a moral issue, not a political one. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act! That's a renewable resource! Let's renew it!" And I thought I told you dum-dums to go and remake Time Warner Presents the Earth Day Special! Why don't you?

Next, the presentation of an Honorary Oscar for Outstanding Career Achievement. The lucky dude: Maestro Ennio Morricone. Prior to his remarks, Celine Dion premiered a brand new song composed by the Maestro, "I Knew I Loved You," with lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman. The melody was originally orchestrated as part of the Maestro's score for Leone's 1984 epic, Once Upon a Time in America. Maestro Morricone then took to the stage, speaking in his native Italian, and I was just about ready to grumble at the Academy for its failure to provide English subtitles --- but happily, who better to translate than Clint Eastwood himself, whose legendary Man with No Name saga, directed by Sergio Leone, brought Maestro Morricone to prominence: "His thoughts go out to those who have never recevied this honor. And even though they work with enormous commitment and talent, to them all, he wishes that their work would be recognized as his tonight," quoth Mr. Malpaso himself. "This Oscar is not a point of arrival, but rather, a starting point to continue composing with the same passion and dedication that he's had since the very beginning on the screen."

Perfect way to segue into the Best Original Score category. "In our soul rests, I think, our own true identity --- beyond languages, countries, races and religions," commented Gustavo Santaolalla. "I'm so proud to have worked in Babel, a film that has helped all of us to understand better who we are and why and what we are here for." Uh huh. Zen Oscar acceptance speech. Go figure. Ellen returned to the audience one more time to spend a few minutes with a rather Britney-esque Jack Nicholson (Oh my word.); then --- and this was for the benefit of those who were really bored by this show now --- the next clip package gave Academy President Sid Ganis the challenge of telling us what the Academy was up to and where they were going next. The challenge was that he had precisely a minute to tell us all about it.

The Spider-stars, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, came out next to do Best Original Screenplay. Alas, Michael Arndt's voice was totally shot! "A writer is only as good as the people with whom he works," he said, "so I have to share this with Bill Weinstein and Tom Strickler, who read this script when no one else wanted to read it. When I was a kid, my family drove me 600 miles in a VW bus with a broken clutch. So it ended up being one of the funniest things we did together. To my brothers, my mom who's here tonight, and my dad, who's with us in spirit, this is for you."

Pilobolus came out one more time to do their take on The Devil Wears Prada. After that, J. Lo introduced the epic Dreamgirls medley, staged by the film's writer-director, Bill Condon (and I think you had to wonder if Bill could do a better job, I suppose, than Debbie Allen)! Queen Latifah and John Travolta were then brought out to recap the Best Song nominees --- and the Climate Crisis warriors scored again, as I Need to Wake Up from An Inconvenient Truth beat out even the Dreamgirls! My word!

"I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring me and us," said Melissa Etheridge, "and showing that caring about our Earth is neither Republican nor Democrat. Nor is it red or blue, we are all green." All right, I'm not gonna say this again: REMAKE TIME WARNER PRESENTS THE EARTH DAY SPECIAL, DAMMIT!!!

(And while you're @ it, be here for the exciting conclusion of --- Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2007!)