February 26, 2007

...the day after the show...

A few misses in yesterday's predictions, but not many. Granted, I made things easier on myself by not predicting the technical categories, where I don't feel competent to judge; I don't think I could explain the difference between sound editing and sound mixing, much less decide which movie hd done either one better. I feel no shame about missing Best Picture in an unusually competitive year; I missed both of the music awards, but the Academy made very weak choices in both (though if Babel had to win something, the score was the strongest thing in the movie). And I'm very happy to have gotten Animated Short wrong; the win for "The Danish Poet" was my happiest surprise of the night.

The show itself was as dull as any I can remember. Ellen DeGeneres was blandly harmless; her best moments came when she wandered through the audience, joking with Scorsese or Eastwood. Her advice to the winners -- "we have time for long speeches, what we don't have time for is boring speeches" -- was ignored by everyone.

The Pilobolus contortion routines were amusing, but could have more effectively been condensed into a single segment. The sound effects choir was a lovely idea (and like Pilobolus, had been seen in a car commercial within the last six months or so; apparently that's where producer Laura Ziskin got all of her ideas), but probably sounded better in the theater than it did on TV.

All of the film montages -- Errol Morris' pointless race through the nominees, most of whom were anonymous faces; Nancy Meyers' look at writers in the movies; Michael Mann's bizarre look at America in the movies (an odd choice, given that "the international Oscars" was a theme of the show) -- could have been cut with no ill effect, which would have allowed a longer tribute to Morricone's music than the perfunctory one we had, and a more respectful one than Celine Dion's butchering of his lovely melody.

There were a few bright spots. The Ferrell/Black/Reilly musical number was clever. Abigail Breslin was charming throughout, and covered nicely for Jaden Smith's small blunder. Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway were funny (and looked fabulous)in presenting the Costume award, and the joke was sold by Meryl Streep's playing along from the audience (does anyone know if she was in on it, or was she ad-libbing?).

And the best joke of the night was the orchestra "cutting off" Al Gore as he was about to make his big announcement. It was funny enough to make up for the fact that the rest of the Gore-DiCaprio speech was pompous sanctimony.

Creepiest surprise of the night was James Taylor, who I hadn't seen in some years; time has not been kind. (Ladies and gentlemen, your Best Actor winner in two years: Jackie Earle Haley in The James Taylor Story.)

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