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!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2009: Episode Two

We return to our odyssey of the 81st Annual Academy Awards, as we greet Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyreid, who presented a look at the Year in Romance, followed by the Cinematography and Film Editing segements. I imagine Editing went first, followed by Cinematography. Of course, Chris Dickens thanked everyone who dared to vote for him (how remarkably bold!), then he took his remarks a step further: "I just wanna say that I had a fantastic time working on Slumdog Millionaire. It was, um, I really didn't want it to end ... So, I, um, thank you and, um yeah, you really inspired me. I'm really proud."

For those who feel the need to meet Chris upclose, ye need but know that when he was a kid, he wanted to follow in his dad's footsteps as a scientist; by his teens, painting and sculpting tickled his particular fancy. As an editor, one of the challenges he faced while working on Slumdog involved the various elements, from timeline to story structure, the better to give each element a feeling of seamlessness. Editors, I suppose, are into such things. We Wizards, on the other hand, used to have a profound way to edit back in ye day. Our Exalted Father, Merlin, was the expert on this. He called it spellcasting.

Oh, now I remember! Cinematography found Natalie Portman next to a bearded Ben Stiller, riffing off angry Joaquin Phoenix and his need to leave acting behind. Anwyay, Anthony Dod Mantle:

"I found it very inspiring, Natalie and Ben. If I could use as few words on a set on a film like Slumdog and get away with it, I wish I could. Fantastic! I, of course, have to thank the Academy. I'm very honored with this beautiful thing. I need to thank everyone in the blue corner who has worked with me on this film, and all those who've worked with me on all the films I've done for the llast 20 years. They're with me tonight. I'll try and thank you every day from now on.

"There's something that goes hand-in-hand with the way the Academy opens doors like this. In my case, that's my wife, because she keeps her doors open when I come back. She's an amazing lady, and a mother of two boys, August and Clements, who are probably watching me here tonight. Now get to bed! You're not meant to be up on the other side of the ocean...."

Then, Jessica Biel gave the usual shoutout to this year's Sci-Tech Oscar winners --- those the live telecast never has time for. Actually, she saluted only one: this year's recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, Ed Catmull, one of the founding fathers of Pixar, and currently Lord and Master of all that is Disney/Pixar. For those of you who are amongst the brainless, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award is presented to the dude and/or dudette whose technological contributions have made the industry into what it is today.

The other major Sci-Tech Oscar to consider is the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation; this year's medalist is Mark Kimball, computer scientist and film technologist, who, for nearly three decades, has been at the very forefront of technological film advancements. Cool!

Even cooler are these other Sci-Tech Oscar winners:


Steve Hylen, for his concept and pioneering leadership in developing the Hylen Lens System for motion picture effects photography.


  • Erwin Melzner for the overall concept, including optical and cooling systems; Volker Schumacher for the optical design, and Timo Muller for the mechanical design --- of the Arrimax 18/12 lighting fixture, as used by professional chief lighting technicians.

  • Jacques Delacoux, concept and electronic design, and Alexandre Leuchter, software and additional electronic design --- for their Transvideo Video Assist Monitors.

  • Bruno Coumert and Jacques Debize, optical designers; and Dominique Chervin and Christophe Reboulet, mechanical designers --- for the compact, lightweight Angenieux 15-40 and 28-76 zoom lenses for hand-helm digital motion picture photography.

    These, dearests, are the nerds you will want to grow up to be should you ever desire to pursue a career on the technological side of the film industry. And on that note, Hour One comes to its close. Hour Two, meanwhile, kicked off with Judd Apatow's rundown on the year in screwball (read, teen) comedy, featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco, with special appearance by --- Janusz Kaminski? Who knew that the double Oscar-winning cinematographer had a weird streak? Then, the three came out and presented the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short.

    For producer-director Jochen Alexander Freydank, winning the award for his 14-minute journey into Toyland was almost surreal, young Jochen having grown up in East Germany, behind the Wall. "So West Germany was really far away from me. And Hollywood --- that was really far away --- and the Oscar now, it's incredible. I spent four years of my life working on this 14-minute movie, and it was a story I really wanted to tell. I thank my co-writer, Johann Bunners, my cinematographer, Cico Nicolaisen and my compsoer, Ingo Frenzel --- And of course, I hope this ol' bald head here is gonna help all of us in our future career. Thank you very much."

    This was followed by the moment people will love/hate Baz Luhrmann for forever: Hugh and Beyonce Knowles headlining Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, and probably the rest of the High School Musical crew in a twisted, insane number that made most of the New York audience scream, in no uncertain terms: "Aaaaaaah! For the love of God, make it stop!!!"

    Well, after about inflicting 6, 7, or very likely 8 minutes of pain and suffering on us, we returned to the new and the current, as five previous Best Supporting Actor winners gathered to comment on each of this year's nominees in this category. But since this year's winner was a posthumous no-brainer, I think the words of the Ledger family should speak for themselves, starting with Kim:

    "First of all, I must say this is ever so humbling. Just being amongst such wonderful people, such a wonderful industry. Firstly, I'd like to thank the Academy for recognizing our son's amazing work; Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan in particular, for allowing Heath the creative license to develop and explore this crzay Joker character. And to Steve Alexander, Heath's mentor, agent and special friend for some 10 years. We love you, Steve. This award tonight would have humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers, within an industry he so loved."

    Now, Sally Bell: "Heath was such a compassionate, generous soul who added so much excitement and inspiration to our lives. We have been truly overwhelmed by the honor and respect being given him with this award. Tonight, we choose to celebrate and express our happiness for what he has achieved."

    And finally, Kate: "Heath, we both knew that what you had created in the Joker was extraordinarily special --- and we'd both even talked about being here tonight. We really wish you were here, but we are more than proud to accept this award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda."

    That, by the way, would be Heath's three-year-old little girl, who, one hopes, will one day grow up to understand the very special magic her father weaved for her.

    Well, leave it to someone angry to share the Documentary Oscars with us, and as fans of HBO's Real Time will tell you, they don't get more pissed off than Bill Maher. He started the segment with a look at the year in documentaries, from the perspective of those wacky Maysles Brothers, the guys who sought shelter, if I recall correctly, only to end up witnessing the Rolling Stones' Altamont nightmare. Then Bill got on to the business of revealing the Documentary Feature nominees; before we hear from Simon Chinn, Man on Wire's producer, let me tell you that when Simon was little, he wanted to be anything that began with the letter F --- fireman, fisherman, farmer, et al. The documentary, which tells the story of wire-walking legend Phillippe Petit, is based on Petit's autobiography, To Reach the Clouds; after much fine wine and intense discussion, Monsieur Petit gave Simon a personally-autographed copy of his book, upon which he had written simply: "Let's do it!"

    Know, then, the happy result, beginning with director James Marsh: "It doesn't feel right for me to be up here on my own, so Phillipe, you got about 20 seconds to get up here, as you do, so thanks to my wife, Anne Mette, and my daughters, Anna May and Ida....."

    Simon: "I wanna thank my beautiful wife Lara and my sons Haroun and Jonah. May they continue to have big dreams, but may they please not do what this man does."

    That man, of course, is Phillippe Petit. His shortest acceptance speech in Oscar history ("Yes!") had these words added: "This film would not have been made without my Kathy; and also, Werner, I always carry the coin you gave to me, and you were right, and we won, so now it's time to thank the Academy for believing in magic!"

    Oh dear, we almost forgot Documentary Short Subject, didn't we? Here's the wisdom of Meghan Mylan: "Wow, to be in a room with all this talent! Lucky me! And to be able to tell stories for a living! Lucky me! And having a family and friends who love me and my movies totally unconditionally. Like all filmmaking, documentary is a team sport, so thank you my editor Purcell Carson, cinematographers Nick Dood and Jon Shenk, field producer Nandini Rajwade, and from HBO, Sheila Nevins and Lisa Heller. The same kind of magic that happens in our film happens each day for children with clefts throughout the world because of a terrific organization called the Smile Train. But most importantly, for documentary filmmakers, it's gotta be our subjects --- the incredbile Dr. Subodh and his team, Ghutaru Chauhan --- and our heroine, Pinki Kumari. Thank you so much for letting me tell your inspiring story."

    Well, Mortals, it appears this year's session of Blackwolf @ the Oscars is gonna be a trilogy --- again! Next time, Hour Three kicks off as Eddie Murphy presents the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Jerry Lewis; then, the Best Original Song medley (which your Dragonmaster knew wasn't gonna work!); plus Liam Neeson; Queen Latifah and the Oscar Necrology; Reese Witherspoon and the Best Director Oscar; and the Amblin man (that would be Spielberg) wraps it all up, kicking off a Slumdog celebration! Be here!