Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2007, Episode Five
He was one of Canada's most famous animators, and for nearly three decades was a remarkable asset to the National Film Board of Canada. He was Ryan Larkin, who, in 1963, at the tender age of 19, began working at NFB, began his tenure as a top apprentice to the legendary Norman McLaren; six years later, he was nominated for an Oscar for his animated short drama, Walking. In all, Ryan would spend 14 years with the National Film Board; but as his thirst for creativity began to wane, he frequently succumbed to alcohol and cocaine abuse, ultimately finding his way onto Montreal's version of skid row --- until animator Chris Landreth propelled him back into the spotlight by telling his tragic story in Ryan, 2005's Oscar winner for Best Animated Short.
Living in temporary quarters with his friend/manager, Laurie Gordon, Ryan spent his few years panhandling on Montreal's streets. Ryan Larkin died in his sleep last month at Ms. Gordon's home in the Montreal suburb of St. Hyacinthe. He was 63. At the time of his death, he was working on his first original animated material in over 15 years, a short film entitled Spare Change, and had completed three separate 5-second station IDs for MTV Canada.
Please join your Dragonmaster and the Academy in expressing our joint condolences to Ryan's surviving family members and their friends. And now, the conclusion of Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2007.)
So now, we have made it to the last half of Hour Three (wonderful!), and the next-to-last time we get to hear Don LaFontaine growl: "The 79th Annual Academy Awards will continue in a moment, here on ABC!" So afterward, the passengers and crew of the Little Miss Sunshine bus discuss the amazing ride they embarked on; followed by Ellen DeGeneres' intro of Will Smith, who in turn introduces the next set of clips. Wriiten and directed by Michael Mann, the segment is an exploration on the theme "America @ the Movies" (and frankly, who hasn't spoken or written Merlin knows what about America at the movies, say I!). After that, Kate Winslet takes to the stage to present Best Achievement in Film Editing. Look who's on stage again: why, it's Scorsese's editrix wench, glorious Thelma Schoonmaker. It's the third film [in this category] the Academy has given to a Martin Scorsese picture, said she, "and believe me, I know I wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for him. Working with Marty is tumultuous, passionate, funny and it's like being a part of the best film school in the whole world. I feel very honored. Thank you so much." Thelma, Thelma, Thelma --- do you ever get tired of working with ol' Marty boy, I wonder?
Jodie Foster now takes to the stage. It's time to get extremely serious. Oscar's 2006 Necrology, wherein we pause to pay solemn tribute to those who left us since the previous year's telecast. The passing of giants is never a thing to be taken lightly, and, as usual, we don't. Straight to commercial, then.
"Well, that's our show for tonight," Ellen says before realizing that she's come dangerously close to jumping the gun. In the realm of awards shows, that's a major no-no --- and you definitely DO NOT jump the gun like that on Oscar Night! "I've just been told that we have a few more awards to hand out," Ellen recants quickly. There you go, Milady. Indeed, we've got four of them to deal with, actually. The Big Four, to be more precise, starting with Actress in a Leading Role, presented by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Herewith, Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne:
"Y'know, my sister told me that all kids love to get gold stars --- and this is the biggest, best gold star that I have ever had in my life. I wish to share my gold star with my fellow nominees, those brilliant actresses who gave such amazing performances this year. Now, you know, for 50 years and more, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle. She's had her feet planted firmly on the ground, her hat on her head, her handbag on her arm, and she's weathered many, many storms --- and I salute her courage and her consistency. I thank her because if it wasn't for her, I most certainly would not be here. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you --- THE QUEEN!"
To which your Dragonmaster can only add, quite simply: HUZZAH!
One last in-the-audience gag from Ellen, then --- what the hell was she doing with a bloomin' vacuum cleaner, I wondered! Uh oh --- no time to find out, Reese Witherspoon is next up, to present Actor in a Leading Role. Forest Whitaker --- The Last King of Scotland --- recounted in his remarks how he and his family once spent their time at the movies --- seeing them in the drive-in, from the backseat of the family car. "Receiving this honor tonight tells me," he went on, "that it's possible for a kid from Eastern Texas, raised in South Central L.A., in Carson, who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with all his heart, to touch them, and to have them happen. You see, when I first started acting, it was because of my desire to connect to everyone." (The very desire espoused constantly by your Dragonmaster!) "To that thing within us all --- the light that I believe exists within every one of us. For me, acting is all about believing in that connection: a connection so strong and so deep that we feel it. And through that combined belief, we can create a new reality." Oh, enough already with the Zen acceptance speeches!
Gina Tottle called them "the Original Three Amigos" --- George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. Ah yes, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of modern American popular entertainment as we know it, there to present Best Director. There was a little bit of silly chatter among the Powers That Be --- but in seconds, there was no denying what they were to do! Indeed, the following morning's New York Post headline pretty much said it all: MARTY SCORES!!!!
"Could you double-check the envelope, please?" he did quip. "I'm overwhelmed with this honor from the Academy, and also the honor of being presented by my old, old friends. We go back some 37 years. I'm so moved! I gotta thank Warner Bros.' Alan Horn, Dan, Jeff, our producers Brad Grey, Graham King and Mac Brown, my ol' friend Joe Reidy, we're working together 20 years. That crazy script by Bill Monahan that got me into all this trouble in the first place. I just wanna say, too, that so many people over the years have been wishing this for me. Strangers --- y'know, I go walking in the street, people say something to me. I go in a doctor's office, whatever, elevators, people saying: "'You should win one!' I go for an x-ray, 'You should win one!' Friends of mine over the years, and friends who are here tonight, who've been wishing this for me and my family. And I also wanna thank our little Francesca, who's 7 years old, and who's watching right now. Francesca, stay up for another 10 minutes, but then, get ready to jump up and down and make a lot of noise at the hotel. OK, I'll see you in the morning."
And that left Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson to present Best Picture --- and needless to say, when they told the world that The Departed had been chosen as the Best Motion Picture of the Year 2005, one may assume that indeed, little Francesca Scorsese jumped up and down and made a lot of noise at the hotel. (Heh-heh!)
But it was Graham King who the got the last words in, thanking Warners, Kevin McCormick, who takes Graham's 15 phone calls per day, and everyone else who he drove practically nuts.
And, in the end, Ellen wrapped it all up with: "It's been a pleasure to be your host tonight. Good night." And so, when all was at last said and done, we'd made it through 4 hours and 20 minutes --- probably the longest Oscar telecast in recent memory. Oh brother! And will this foolish old Wizard blog about the Acadmy Awards again within a year's time, say you? Now what in thunder do you think, you sillies? Bottom line, dearies: hope you enjoyed Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2007! Back to our usual silliness --- including a few St. Patrick's thoughts --- next time! And now, if you don't mind, I think I'm going to konk meself out. See ya!