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Monday, March 8, 2010

Post-Oscar 2010 Recap

So, as I noted before, this was rather an off-year for us as far as Oscar Season went. Thus, we didn't Live Blog the ceremony as in past years. Fear not, however, faithful readers, we most certainly did settle in for one of our favorite evenings of the year! A bottle of Coppola Rossi accompanied some delicious ravioli during the E! Live from the Red Carpet pre-show and many M&M's were consumed during the Oscar ceremony itself!

Fashion-wise, I hated Zoe Saldana's dress - the one that looked like several french poodles had been dyed purple and stuck to the train - and also wasn't too fond of the supporting actress nominee who looked like she had been wrapped in one giant red ruffle from head to toe. A runner-up for displeasing dress was Sarah Jessica Parker's odd butter-cream number - if it had either had the halter-neck or was just strapless, it might have been okay, but having both was weird and the dress seemed to change color depending on the light, which often looked worse than it should have. Oh yes, speaking of lousy color choices, Charlize Theron's "look at my boobs" fuschia dress with the big pink circles around her individual bosoms was another clunker. The good looks of the night were Kate Winslet and Sandra Bullock - both of whom wore stunning, classy gowns with just the right hairstyles and jewelry.

I have to mention that I thought that both Mo'Nique and Gabourey Sidibe looked fabulous. They had just the right gowns for full-figured women, in good colors for them. Gabourey was hilarious, too - if you caught her on E's show, by the time she reached the ABC booth, she was pretty much repeating rehearsed lines, but on E she was fresh and personal and just a delight. And, of course, I can't leave out our girlfriend, the always-stunning, Queen Latifah, who once again looked fabulous.

The men were pretty much all wearing tuxes. The worst tux of the night was on the fashion critic guy from E, who looked like he had made his (well-fitted!) suit coat out of a grey paisley upholstery fabric. George Clooney - hot, Keanu Reeves - still my cool breeze over the mountain. Best tux of the night? Robin Williams, just plain classy.

As far as the awards went, I was shocked that The Hurt Locker won the biggies. I was rooting against Avatar just because I didn't think it had everything it needed to be the big winner, but I wasn't all that into Hurt Locker either. I was surprised and thrilled when Sandra Bullock won for Best Actress, I really thought the award would go to Meryl, but I liked Sandra in The Blind Side (and have liked her for a long time, actually) so that was cool. What we were happiest about was that both the short films (animated and live-action) that we liked actually won!

Speaking of short films, dang the lady who interrupted the documentary short winner was annoying! Bad blood, much? Also annoying, the multiple audio problems and the lousy presentation of the In Memoriam reel (shots too wide to read the names of the deceased, montage left out important people), and the consistent playing off of any co-winner unfortunate enough to have to give their acceptance speech second.

Overall, I thought the ceremony was only so-so. The opening number with Neil Patrick Harris was awesome. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are very funny, although their opening shtick seemed redundant after the opening musical number - sort of like, "oh, we're obliged to make fun of the nominees now." The show started out strong nonetheless, and was running at a really good clip for about the first hour. Suddenly, despite shortening a lot of the traditional elements (like presenting the lifetime achievement awards separately and just acknowledging them during the show, or eliminating the performances of the Original Song nominees), despite cutting off any winner not the first in their group to speak, with fewer montages, and a much-shorter Memorial reel, the show still managed to slow to a crawl and drag itself well past midnight, and then end abruptly with an impromptu wrap from Martin and Baldwin.

Okay, so it wasn't Rob Lowe serenading Snow White and Bjork didn't show up wearing a swan-dress, but it still wasn't Oscar's best year ceremony-wise. And we weren't all that thrilled with the selection of nominees, despite the expanded Best Picture category, but it was a fun night overall.

Now it's on to prepping for next year!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here Come Oscars 2010!

It's nearly that time again...Oscar Night is practically its own holiday here at Chez Loebrich South! As usual, we've been out and about in our Annual Oscar Push, although it has been a little hindered this year. The Winter Olympics always impede our Oscar film viewing because, rather than going out to the cinemas, we're staying home watching figure skating or hockey (or bobsled, or luge, or freestyle aerial skiing, or...). The Oscars also always fall during Pledge Drive, so my work schedule doesn't always allow us enough time to go to the movies. Then there is the historic change to 10 nominees for Best Picture this year, which was done in the hopes of allowing more "blockbusters" into the nominations to attract more viewers/ratings.

That said, it has been an very odd year for movies. Most of 2009 we were going out around 2 times a month to see movies with our friends, we actually saw quite a lot of movies overall. And most of those films were our standard fare, that is to say "popcorn flicks" rather than the more "cerebral" movies the Academy usually notices. Nonetheless, we were doing pretty well when the nominations came out, making it fairly easy to pick up several others. Movies On Demand from the cable company also helped out quite a bit, and was way cheaper than the cinemas!

We've only seen about half of the Best Picture nominees, but this is a pretty easy one to predict. In fact, I kind of wonder whether the 10 nominees plan is going to backfire on the Academy, solely because Cameron released Avatar this year. If you think anything else is going to win this category, you're nuts, it is an amazing cinematic achievement. That said, I'd rather see almost any of the other films win myself. I found Avatar to be beautiful, technically amazing, but plot poor and predictable with flat acting. I was not really taken with The Hurt Locker either. I already knew that war is hell, and that all the military personnel involved are brave and talented people who are being affected in more ways than we can understand. Inglourious Basterds was brilliant, and I love Quentin Tarantino, so you'll see me holding out hope for him here, even though I know it's pointless.

In another unusual development this year, Up is nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Picture. I don't think that has ever happened before. The Best Animated Feature category came about after Beauty and The Beast was nominated for Best Picture and didn't win. The uproar was such that the Academy decided there should be a separate category. Up is definitely the Best Animated Feature of the year, but I wonder what the ramifications would be if it were to win in both categories. Unlikely, and something I really don't think *should* happen, thus I'm rooting for it in the Animated category and against it in the Picture category.

When it comes to Best Director (my sentimental favorite category), you know I'm rooting for Tarantino. In this case, he's a good bet. I'm hearing a lot of "sympathy vote" buzz for him (also in the Original Screenplay category). Could go to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, but I wish it wouldn't. And James Cameron bugs the heck out of me, he's like Juggernaut or The Tick - nigh indestructible.

The acting categories are where we lost a lot of ground this year. I think that Jeff Bridges has a really good shot for Best Actor. Crazy Heart was awesome and he was spot-on perfect in it. All the buzz I'm hearing about Best Actress says Meryl Streep, and I love her in general, but I haven't seen Julie & Julia, although "biopics" are always a good way to get an Oscar - if you have a meaty enough character to sink your teeth into, you can do a really good dramatic turn. Everybody knows Mo'Nique is going to win the Supporting Actress category. I have not seen Push either, but I hear she's brilliant. When it comes to Supporting Actor, I've only seen two of the nominated roles. Matt Damon is pretty, but, amazingly, that's almost all he does in Invictus - be pretty, oh yeah, and play rugby rather well. The guy from Inglourious Basterds was really good.

Our standard category, the one in which we have usually already seen all the films when the nominations are announced, is Visual Effects. Yes, we had it done again this year. Guess what is going to win. Come on, you know this one!

Amazingly, the other categories we usually have locked up early on - Art Direction, Costume Design, and Cinematography - are ones in which we fell short this year. We also only saw 2 of the Animated Feature nominees, and none of the Foreign Film nominees. Like I said, we had rivals for our attention this time around.

Then, we got an unexpected bonus - the Oscar-nominated live-action and animated short films came to town on tour *before* Oscar Night! We squeezed those in around my Pledge Drive shifts last week and had a great time. We pretty much agreed on our favorites, too. If any of you regular readers have the opportunity to catch the Short Films, do it! There are some good ones in there. Our faves? Animated: Logorama. Live-Action: The New Tenants.

Tonight, we start getting ready for *next* year's Oscars - we're going to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D! Then, Sunday night we'll be settling in with our popcorn, M&M's, and bottle of Coppola wine to see who takes home the Golden Boys.