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!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2009: Episode Three

And now, the (somewhat) exciting conclusion of Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2009 --- starting things off with Eddie Murphy presenting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to comedy legend Jerry Lewis, who, for some 40 years onward, has diligently --- defiantly, I would wot! --- made it his business to battle the forces of muscular dystrophy, as National Chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, presently headquarted in Phoenix, Arizona --- and as the face of that organization's annual Labor Day Telethon. Jerry, as always, was not one to mince words:

"For most of my life, I thought that doing good for someone did not mean that you would receive commendation for the said act of kindness, at least until now. This award touches my heart and the very depth of my soul because of who the award is from, and because of those who will benefit as a result. The humility I feel is staggering --- and I know that it will stay with me for the rest of my life. And so I thank the Academy and all of you people from the movie business. It's such a joy being a part of you, and being a part of everything that you do. Thank you, and good night."

Well, we're now up to the production number that aroused probably the most controversy, the number I had long feared would be the telecast's downfall, as the three nominees for Best Original Song were squashed into an extended medley. As I warned some of you, both O Saya and Jai Ho! were performed in their original Hindi language, and worse, those who saw the show and yet could not speak Hindi were denied the privilege of having English subtitles placed on the screen. Further, I was unable to identify the performers of these two nominated tunes from Slumdog. As for the third nominated song, "Down to Earth" from WALL*E, John Legend and the Community Choir of Soweto did a masterful job.

Well, world, now A.R. Rahman has something methinks ye should give him from now on --- respect! Fans of A.R. throughout the cosmos (and you know who you are) were aquiver with anticipation, if I recall correctly when the Saul Zaentz Company chose him to do the score for The Lord of the Rings: Live on Stage; now, someone simply must find the balls to put that baby on Broadway, New York City. Till then, here's A.R.'s thoughts on landing both Original Score and Original Song honors, with Zac Efron and Alicia Keys presenting him with both:

"Before I came here tonight, I was both excited and terrified. The last time I felt like that was during my marriage. There's a line of dialogue from a Hindi film called Mere Paas ma Hai, which means 'I have nothing, but I have a mother.' So Mom is here, and her blessings are here with me. I am so grateful for her to have come here all the way. I want to say something in Tamil, which I normally say after I've won every award, and that is: Ella puhazhum iraivanukke --- God is great. ... The essence of Slumdog, which is about optimism and the power of hope in our lives; all my life, I've had the chance to choose between Love and Hate. Fortunately, I chose Love, and that's how I got here. God bless you all."

Up next was Liam Neeson to present Best Foreign Language Film --- and in a rare shocker, the award went to Departures, the adventures of a cello-playing cremationist named Daigo Kobayashi. When he and his wife return to Daigo's ancestral hometown, he responds to an ad that he thinks was placed by a local travel agency. When he finds out that the ad was looking for someone to help prepare corpses for cremation, Diago discovers to his unexpected surprise that he has somehow developed a unique aptitude for the job.

This is the first major win, and the 12th straight nomination, for a film from Japan. Prior to that, three consecutive Japanese films --- 1951's Rashomon, 1954's Gate of Hell, and 1955's Samurai: The Legend of Musashi --- were all presented with Honorary Foreign Language Awards.

Speaking for the Departures cast and crew was the film's director, Yojiro Takita: "Thank you to all the Academy, and everybody who helped me with this film. I am here because of films. This award represents a new departure for me --- and I will --- we will be back, I hope."

Now, while some have said that this year's Oscar Necrology bordered on tastelessness, your Dragonmaster will go out on a limb, if thou wouldst, and simply say to you that Queen Latifah's performance of "I'll Be Seeing You" was very tastefully done; besides, that tune happens to be one of my favorite songs. Besides being best-known as the sign-off song for Liberace's weekly television series, the definitive arrangement of the tune is featured as part of the end credit sequence of the 1979 drama Yanks, directed by John Schlesinger, and starring Richard Gere.

And if you must know, the honorees in Oscar's 2008 Necrology were:

  • Cyd Charisse
  • Bernie Mac
  • production executive Bud Stone
  • Disney legend Ollie Johnston
  • Van Johnson
  • sound editor J. Paul Huntsman
  • Jurassic Park curator, writer-director Michael Crichton
  • Nina Foch
  • Pat Hingle
  • screenwriter Harold Pinter
  • Woody Allen's longtime producer, Charles H. Joffe
  • director Kon Ichikawa
  • Ray Harryhausen's producer and partner, Charles H. Schneer
  • screenwriter and Kojak creator Abby Mann
  • Roy Scheider
  • cinematographer David Watkin
  • director Robert Mulligan
  • Evelyn Keyes
  • Richard Widmark
  • producer-director Claude Berri
  • Maila Nurmi, a/k/a Vampira
  • Isaac Hayes
  • composer/conductor Leonard Rosenman
  • Ricardo Montalban
  • film critic Manny Farber
  • Robert DoQui
  • actor/director Jules Dassin
  • Paul Scofield
  • screenwriter John Michael Hayes
  • veteran publicist Warren Cowan
  • producer-production manager Joseph Caracciolo, Sr.
  • makeup and visual effects icon Stan Winston
  • Universal Pictures boss Ned Tanen
  • James Whitmore
  • writer/producer/director Anthony Minghella
  • producer-director Sydney Pollack
  • Paul Newman

    So now, there's one last thing to deal with before we get to THE big awards, and that would be Best Director. Resse Witherspoon has the honor of taking that on, and of course, the correct answer is D --- Danny Boyle.

    "My kids are too old to remember this now," says he, "but when they were much younger, I swore to them that if this miracle ever happened, I would receive it in the spirit of Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh; and that's what that was. You've been so generous to us tonight, and I wanted to thank everybody for that and for what an extraordinary, beautiful show you've done. I don't know what it looks like on television, everybody, but in the room, it's bloody wonderful, really.

    "Just to make, uh, Grace, Gabriel and Caitlin, my kids; and their wonderful mom, Gail --- thank you so much for lettimg me be Tigger for so long. My dad, Frank, my sisters Maria and Bernadette and everybody at St. Mary's Social Club in Radcliffe. I've got to thank Tessa Ross; everbody at Celador; Francois and Cameron at Pathe; everybody at Warner Bros. for having the good graces to pass the film on to the extraordinary guy at Fox Searchlight, Peter Rice, and all his team. I forgot to mention the guy who choreographed the dance scene at the end oof the film. He's called Longiness. I forgot him off the end credits, and I only found this out just two weeks ago. I'm an idiot, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart, Longiness.

    "Finally, just to say to Mumbai: 'Unending, inseparable, unborn.' All of you who helped us make the film, and those of you who didn't --- you all dwarf even this guy."

    Once more, we are greeted by five previous winners in the category Best Actress in a Leading Role, each of whom has something to say to this year's nominees.

    Kate Winslet: "OK, that fainting thing, Penelope. I'd be lying if I hadn't made a version of this speech before. I think I was probably 8 years old and staring into the bathroom mirror, and this would've been a shampoo bottle. Well, it's not a shampoo bottle now!

    "I feel very fortunate to have made it all the way from there to here. There was no division between the cast and crew on this film, and that's what made it all so special. To have been surrounded by a remarkable group of people who provided an unbroken chain of support --- oh! And I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children who let me do what I love and who love me just the way I am.

    "And I want to acknowledge my fellow nominees, these goddesses. I think we all can't believe we're in a category with Meryl Streep at all. I'm sorry, Meryl, but you have to just suck that up!"

    And then, five previous winners in the category Best Actor in a Leading Role had their own comments for each of this year's nominees. Here's Sean Penn:

    "You Commie, homo-lovin' sons-o'-guns! I did not expect this, but I, and I want this to be very clear, that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often. But I'm touched by that appreciation, and I hoped for it enough that I did want to scribble it all down, so that I had all the names right, in case you were Commie, homo-lovin' sons-o'guns, so I wanna thank my best friend, Sata Matsuzawa. My circle of long-time support, Mara, Brian, Barry and Bob. Cleve Jones, Lance Black; Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks.

    "For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think this is a very good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit down and reflect and anticipate their great shame as well as the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they go about continuing that way of support. I'm very proud to live in a country that is willing to elect an elegant man as their President, and who, for all its toughness, can still create courageous artists." Precisely why your humble Dragonmaster chose eight of them to join me as heirs to Moondog's legacy, to be blessed with the sobriquet Champions of the Imagination!

    And finally, Best Picture! Huzzah and hurrah! And of course, we must have only one man around to open that envelope. That would, of course, be Steven Spielberg. And once the final answer was revealed, practically the entire cast of Slumdog Millionaire leapt onto the stage, surrounding their heroic producer, Christian Coulson:

    "As you can see, our film was a collaboration between hundreds of people. I'm so happy that so many of them could be with us here tonight to share this moment. Togehter, we've been on an extraordinary journey. When we started out, we had no stars, we had no power, we had no muscle. We didn't even have enough money, really, to do what we wanted to do. But what we had was a script that inspired mad love in everyone who read it. We had a genius for a director. We had a cast and crew who were unwavering in their commitment, and whose talents are up on the screen for all of you to see. We had partners in Film4, Celador, Pathe and in Fox Searchlight who had the courage to support us. And we all had a shared love for the extraordinary city of Mumbai, where we made the film. But most of all, we had the passion, and we had belief --- and our film shows that if you have those two things, truly anything is possible." Hmmm.... y'know, I seem to remember a fellow named Ilya Salkind who said the exact same thing to me.

    Wrapping things up was a sneak peek of some of the films you'll be seeing the rest of this year. While I wasn't able to properly share the show credits with you, methinks it'll suffice. Well, kids, that's it for Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2009! Hope you enjoyed it. Now, I have to find a way to get back online before I have to do me bloomin' food-shoppin'. (Even for a Wizard, priorities must always come first!)