The 2011 Oscars – a live recap

The 2011 Oscar ceremony is actually shaping up to be quite an exciting event. Six months ago, I would have predicted an easy victory for The Social Network. I still expect it to do well, but The King’s Speech (which just missed out on being in my top ten of 2010 because of a late release date) has also been doing well on the awards circuit. It will come down to those two films. Hopefully, there will be some surprises as well. Ultimately, there is something unusual about the Oscars that I find this year. I do not want them to a popularity conquest (you heard no louder cheers than from me when The Hurt Locker won) but I do feel that the films that are nominated are not easily accessible to the public. As I said, The King’s Speech did not even open near me in time for my top ten list, and neither did 127 Hours (a film I did not think was perfect, but still thought was great). They were only released after advanced buzz had been built up, and the nominees were announced. Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable if the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (hereafter AMPAS) were discovering the films right along with the rest of the public? I wish the public knew more about these masterpieces that will be highlighted tonight.

Luckily, many of them do. The Social Network and Black Swan were hits, as were many of the other Best Picture nominees. Toy Story 3 is the highest grossing animated film of all time. If this is what moviegoers flocked to see regularly, then films would be a lot better. Still, this years nominees are a significant improvement over previous years. I only hope this decade continues that level of quality.

As usual with my live updates, please refresh the page constantly. I will be continuously be making updates during the entire broadcast, as winners in each of the categories are announced. I will also be consistently editing during the ceremony. If I do not identify a presenter correctly (as sometimes happens when I miss their names being announced) I will do my best to rectify the problem as soon as I can.

And now for the opening ceremony. No, I did not watch the red carpet shebang – I rather don’t care who is wearing what. Contact me when of the stars decides to forgo the whole procedure and walks down the red carpet naked. THAT would be something worth reporting. Anyway, the award opens with clips from each of the nominees (shown in widescreen format, thank God) to the tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” It’s an exciting montage and hopefully it means the evening will not grind to a halt as they show more footage from the evenings. Plus it is always good to hear Reznor and Ross’ score. Anyway, the opening with hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway inserts them into clips of  Inception. Apparently, the hosts want to go into Alec Baldwin’s mind to get hosting tips. They go into his dreams (which involve all of the nominations for Best Picture) where they ask Jesse Eisenberg for help and the two faking Boston accents to the cast of The Fighter. It’s cute, but frankly the joke is over very quickly. I mean, who cares about Tron jokes? And Morgan Freeman narration jokes? The Anne Hathaway ballet bit is kind of funny. These clips end with them talking to Alec Baldwin saying they “already have everything they need” to host. And then they find themselves in Back to the Future for some reason. I don’t know why…25th anniversary celebration, maybe? Also, Michael J. Fox is totally standing on an open fire. Well, Anne Hathaway and James Franco are on stage, e (and we are under way.

Both are seemingly awestruck about the fact they are hosts. They also joke about how they were selected so people my age (and younger) know how they are. I mean, Freaks and Geeks was a good show, but still. I kinda miss John Stewart. Anne Hathaway makes a joke about how getting naked is a key to getting a nomination. James Franco wants money with his Oscar. He is pulling out his stoner persona from Pineapple Express. And Anne Hathaway’s mom is there telling her to “stand up straight.” I like the chemistry, but it falls flat. Simply put, this is not one of the better speeches, although it is a cute idea. And yes, Anne Hathway, it has been “a great year for lesbians.” They also show a clip from….Gone With the Wind? Huh…no clue why.

Tom Hanks presents the two awards of the night. The first is for Best Art Direction. The second for Cinematography. I am surprised he did something so soon. Someone like him needs to present one of the big five. He is apparently quite knowledgeable about the awards – but he just HAS to remind the audience of Titanic. The 1997 Oscars were some of the worst in history. James Cameron should be forced to give his Oscar to PT Anderson.  Anyway, the award for Best Art direction goes to Alice in Wonderland. Well, that is Tim Burton’s forte. And he is there with his partner Helena Bonham Carter. Well done – the film certainly looked great, even if it was poorly written.

The people thank Tim Burton in their speech, and insist that “half the award” is his. Anyway, the next award is for Cinematography. I imagine Inception will win this one. And the Oscar goes to Inception. A well deserved award – the film was excellent in its camerawork. Check out the hallway scene. It was one of the best of the year, and so much had to do with the cinematography.

We have our first commercial break. The Supporting Actress winner (the one I am the most unsure about) is coming up soon. So far, a strong start, even if the speech was a little weak.

And we are back. James Franco and Anne Hathaway make more light banter. They introduce Kirk Douglas (walking with a cane) to the stage. Wow…now that is classy to see him. It is also tragic to hear him speak now. He still tries to keep it light – lusting after Anne Hathaway. By the way, he did have a stroke a few years ago. No jokes, please. He is here to give the Supporting Actress award (where is last year’s winner Mo’Nique?). And the winner is…well after a little delay, Kirk Douglas announces Melissa Leo for The Fighter. Frankly, I thought Amy Adams did a better job in that film. Of course, Leto was the favorite in many circles. She asks Douglas to “pinch her.” She looks so enthusiastic. And I am wrong in my predictions already. But I do not mind. I am always happy to see surprises.
Wow, time delay too. She swears quite a lot during the speech. And she gives the “thank the Academy” speech. It’s nice to see.

Hathaway and Franco introduce Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Kunis looks dazzling. Timberlake seems to think he is Banksy (is he actually in the audience tonight? I hope his documentary wins).

The two are here to introduce the Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short Film – after changing the background to look like Shrek’s animation. Short film is first. Day and Night was nominated. I am unfamiliar with most of these films. I have no comment, except to say the winner is The Lost Thing. I do want to see these films and wish they were more easily accessible. Oh well.

Before the inevitable winner for Best Animated Feature is announced, may I just say Toy Story 3 was overrated. I have not seen The Illusionist, but it looks far more interesting. A script by Tati? I would rather watch that. Anyway, the winner is Toy Story 3. Timberlake doesn’t even bother to read the winner with any sort of enthusiasm. What’s the point? It was going to win, but I am not convinced it should have.

By the way, did you know Joss Whedon co-wrote the original Toy Story? I thought that was an interesting bit of trivia.

We are at a commercial break. The Original Screenplay nomination is next – the bumper emphasized The King’s Speech. Does this mean it will win? Well, the winners are kept an absolute secret – they are in those envelopes until they are opened. They are not even on the teleprompter – such information could leak. So, I wouldn’t read too much into the bumpers for any particular thing. Still, I did find it interesting.

And we are back. Hathaway discusses the first Academy Awards ceremony. They show pictures from the ceremony. Then, she introduces Josh Brolin and Javier Bardhem – making it a No Country for Old Men reunion. They are there to give the Screenplay awards. I feel this should be done later in the ceremony. They are important. But we are at Adapted Screenplay. And the winner is Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network. This was a definite.  Sorkin is a very smart man and even references Paddy Chayefsky in his speech. He is a very classy individual -I am glad he won an Oscar.

Now for Best Original Screenplay. This one is a little more difficult to determine. I want Inception to win, but I think King’s Speech may get it. And the winner is The King’s Speech. A shame, really. I did not think it was as well written as Inception. But then politics certainly play a role in the winners. I can imagine Christopher Hitchens having a conniption right about now.

Well we are at another commercial break. Soon is Best Supporting Actor, but after that it is somewhat of a lull in the ceremony.  I hope there are more surprises waiting around the corner. I also wish Christopher Nolan had been given his due – he is a better screenwriter than David Siedler. I will laugh when The Dark Knight Rises wins Best Picture. Can you imagine?

We are back. Hathaway is in a tuxedo. She sings a version of “On My Own” from Les Miserables. It is kind of funny, I will admit. Hathaway has a great set of pipes and takes a few swipes at Hugh Jackman. This is the best part of the hosts’ bits so far. James Franco then comes out in a Marilyn Monroe dress. Which is even funnier, as he talks about the texts he receives from Charlie Sheen. They introduce Russell Brand and Helen Mirren.

This will give you an idea

Helen Mirren speaks French, Russell Brand translates incorrectly. They are here to give the award for Best Foreign Film. Biutiful may take this award. But the actual winner is Denmark’s In A Better World. Again, I must confess, I am not familiar with these films. I have some Netflixing to do.

Reese Witherspoon then comes out to give the award for Best Supporting Actor. Again, where is Christoph Waltz? That is the tradition, after all. Last year’s winner gives the award. And this is the first glimpse of Geoffrey Rush’s shave head I have had. Anyway, the winner is Christian Bale for The Fighter. He has deserved an award for some time. I am sure many Americans are now hearing Bale’s accent and scratching their heads. He is Welsh, people.

And we are at a commercial/bathroom break. Best Original Score (ie, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross giving a speech) is up next.

We are back. The President of the Academy and The President of ABC are onstage. It is pretty much a “thank you” for ABC. Yea, they just renewed their contract, extending it to the year 2020.

Hathaway is back in her third outfit change. Hugh Jackman is introduced, as is Nicole Kidman to first give a history of sound in the cinema (including the orchestra playing the Star Wars theme – is that officially the most iconic score in history now? They also play West Side Story ) and give the award for Best Original Score. The orchestra plays excerpts from each. It’s great to hear a techno score (The Social Network) played by an orchestra. The winner is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross!! So hilarious to see him in a tuxedo. Longtime Nine Inch Nails fans will know what I mean. Will they have to censor another F-bomb? It’s also funny to hear his deep mopey voice on the Oscar stage.

This man has an Oscar now.Go figure

Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johansson (those are way to hard to spell)  are here to give the award for Sound Mixing. The Oscar goes to Inception. I had a feeling Inception would win most of the technical awards. 2001 won for Special Effects – and was Stanley Kubrick’s only Oscar.

The same two presenters are also on hand to give the award for Sound Editing. The Oscar goes to Inception. Now, Mr. McConaughey, please vacate the Oscar stage. I know it is the closest you will get to winning an Oscar, but still. How are you relevant to the awards?

Something about this guy being at The Oscars doesn't seem right

I am being informed I should warn people about the video I posted. Well, as with Melissa Leto, F-bombs may be dropped in that video.

Anyway, we are back. The hosts are back on hand. Franco looks stoned. He always looks stoned. Marisa Tomei is on hand to introduce the next award. She goes over the Science and Technology Awards that had been given previously. Congrats to all the winners – wish the telecast would state your names and not call you “nerds.”

Cate Blanchett comes out next. She is here to give the award for Makeup and Costumes. Of course, she discusses her experience in Lord of the Rings. Makeup is first, and I have a feeling The Wolfman (a terrible film) will win. And the Oscar goes to The Wolfman. Rick Baker is onstage (didn’t he do An American Werewolf in London?) Baker has won seven times before and with the death of Stan Winston, is keeping the physical affects alive.

The superior werewolf film with Rick Baker makeup

Now for Costume Design. Alice In Wonderland may take this. And it does – Alice in Wonderland wins.

Now there is a video montage of movie songs. Most are terrible. Obama comes out (via video) to talk about “As Time Goes By.” Say what you will about the President – he has impeccable taste. Kevin Spacey comes out to introduce each of the songs. First is Randy Newman. You know, the man who can’t sing. None of the nominees this year are any good. I would have loved to see Russell Brand onstage performing “Furry Walls” from Get Him to the Greek. In fact, that is probably may favorite song from a film in the last year.

Anyway, the song from Tangled is next. It’s adequate, but not memorable. Surprising – Alan Menken wrote the score to The Little Mermaid and Little Shop of Horrors. Actually, I just want to show you this video of a guy impersonating Randy Newman singing “Part of Your World.”

And there is a commercial before the last song can be played.

May I just say thank you to everyone who is reading this? I officially have the highest traffic numbers I ever have had, and the ceremony is not even finished. Thanks to everyone for reading.

We are back. Best Documentary Feature will come soon, I believe. This may mean we get to see Banksy. I have not seen any of the other nominees. Yet maybe the Oscars will give it to him just for the spectacle? Anyway, James Franco introduces Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. They are on hand to introduce Best Documentary Short Feature. This is another category I wish was more available to the public. The winner is Strangers No More. I will have to seek this film out.

The two presenters next present the award for “Live Action Short Film.” I mainly get upset when these awards I presented. I never can see them in time. God of Love, from the clips, looks the most interesting. The winner is God of Love. Well then…apparently I can determine a film’s quality from a five second clip. Or else I am just really cocky man.

The hosts are back to do this rather bizarre version of “Autotune The News.” Like the YouTube videos that inspired them, it is kind of amusing. Toy Story 3 actually does sound like a musical. It’s good for a laugh, if nothing else. But why must we be reminded that Twilight exists?

The hosts then introduce Oprah Winfrey. Every woman in the Midwest just died screaming for joy. She is here to present the Documentary Feature of the year. Why does Oprah present this? Why not, say, Morgan Spurloch or a past winner? Probably something to do with ABC. Anyway, the winner is Inside Job. Frankly, I am kind of disturbed by this. I have not seen the film, but the premise bothers me. Yes, the financial collapse was terrible. The advisers were greedy and it was disgusting for the U.S. government to reward their failure. But it seems like an hypocrisy for a film about them to win an Oscar. Why? Well, let’s tally up how many stars make $20 million per film and then discuss “greed,” shall we? The documentary filmmakers are also the most politically charged. They are entitled to say whatever they want, but it always just feels slightly inappropriate. Still I do want to see their film. I also would have loved to see Banksy onstage.

Anne Hathaway introduces Billy Crystal – “one of the greatest Oscar hosts of all time.” I have always been a stickler for Steve Martin, myself. But Crystal is funny. And he is here to joke about his age and the first televised Oscars. He also discusses his admiration for the late, great Bob Hope. They then show clips of Bob Hope hosting, and…well, it looks like he is on stage. Wow. It’s quite a neat trick. Hope also introduces Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law (no joke).

They are here to give the award for Best Visual Effects. Downey makes jokes about how obsessive the technicians are, Law makes jokes about Downey’s personal life, particularly his drug addled phase. Something about a prostitute dressed as Wonder Woman? Anyway, the winner is Inception. A well deserved award. Alice in Wonderland would be my pick for runner up, but Inception is the best pick.

Law and Downey are still onstage to introduce the Film Editing Award. Downey also announces he will not be giving Law a ride home after the ceremony. The winner is The Social Network. Interesting pick…I would have voted for 127 Hours myself. But then, there were some great moments and montages in The Social Network that should not be overlooked. And is it just me, or has The King’s Speech come away with relatively few awards so far?

We are at a commercial break. The Award for Best Original Song is coming up soon. As are the “big four” soon enough. We are back. Franco discusses how some movie titles (Winter’s Bone) are inappropriate. The present the other two nominated songs and introduced Jennifer Hudson to present the actual award.  Hey – it’s Florence. From Florence and the Machine. She is one great singers currently working, although she is not really given much to work with singing this song. Still she gives it her all and I suddenly want this song to win.

Anyway, the winner is “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3. I am not sure if he truly deserves it. It is great how Randy Newman talks like he sings. But still…persistence is the only reason he is considered a legend. He is not that good of a songwriter. Although, in his defense, his song was the most energetic and “rocking” song of the nominees.

Well, another commercial break. It appears the annual tribute will be up next. I get depressed when I see these – it’s a reminder of how much talent the medium of film truly lost in a year.

Well, we are back, and it starts right away with the saddest music they could think of. In this case, it’s Celine Dion (ick) singing Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” Wow…John Barry died this year? And Lionel Jeffries? And Sally Menke? And Arthur Penn? I had forgotten about those. So much heartbreak in such a short amount of time. Of course, they show Leslie Nielsen. And Tony Curtis. And one of the best stars ever, Dennis Hopper. It is a moving tribute to some very talented people.

Rest in peace to all of you icons. You made the industry more fun. I must ask though – why is Lena Horne given special accommodation and a speech from Halle Berry? She is iconic, sure, but so are some of the others they showcased. I think that this the Academy playing nice after the controversy over the fact that there were no black nominees this year.

We are at another commercial. Oh, by the way, they did leave child actor Corey Haim out of the montage. I can already hear the screams online.

We are at the Big Four now. But first, we get Anne Hathaway in a stunning blue dress. Hilary Swank then comes to the stage to present Best Director with Kathryn Bigelow. I hope that David Fincher wins this award. He deserves it the most. And the winner is…Tom Hooper? Really? Really? I have said this before and I will say it again – The King’s Speech was not that well directed. It was a movie made by its actors. Tom Hooper was more of a hired hand with very little vision. Fincher directs the hell out of his films. That is the only way to describe it. I am sorry, Fincher. This should have been your award. You are the superior director.

Franco welcomes Anette Bening to the stage to present the Governor’s Award. Warren Beatty cheers her on. Jean Luc Godard, sadly, was not there. Eli Wallach (Tuco) was.  I wish he was – he is one of the best directors of all time. Francis Ford Coppola also wins an award. Congratulations to all of the winners.

Actually, the winners (minus Godard) now come on stage to be recognized. And we have another commercial. Actress and Actor Awards are coming up next.

We are back. I am still fuming about David Fincher’s loss. It should have been his Oscar. He is not only the better director, but he made the better film. Still, it seems obvious what will win Best Picture now. Anyway, the hosts now invite Jeff Bridges to the stage, to give the Best Actress award. Good to see The Dude still abiding. He also gives each of the nominees personal heartfelt messages. And the winner is Natalie Portman for Black Swan. Everyone is applauding, include Annette Bening. Portman can barely stay composed, but who can blame here. I can never blame someone for crying after winning.

Now onto Best Actor. It’s going to be Colin Firth. Although..well, something interesting has happened. Twice tonight, ABC has highlighted specific nominees in the bumpers. Those nominees have gone on to win. In the last bumper, Eisenberg was highlighted. Does it mean anything? Probably not. Anyway, Hathaway introduces Sandra Bullock. I still have not seen The Blind Side. Same situation as before – she gives personal messages to the actors, with some cheesy jokes about their characters. And the winner is Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. As I said, this was the sure thing of the evening.

One more award left to go. The King’s Speech will probably get Best Picture now. The Social Network still deserves it more. Steven Spielberg will present the award. And there is a public school choir that will perform a finale. Forgive my apparent oversight, but who exactly are these kids?

Anyway, Steven Spielberg is on stage to present the award. He jokes about the films that have lost Best Picture. I agree with him. We get another montage of the films. It is set to the final speech from The King’s Speech. Hey, I just got that title. It’s actually very well crafted. I wish I could put it on this blog (and may at some point). Looking at this, I realized how good 2010 was for films. There are many great ones. I hope that they will be remembered for all time. Anyway, the winner is The King’s Speech. As I said, I wish that The Social Network had won. Apparently, though, The King’s Speech only won four of its twelve nominations.  The Social Network will be looked back upon as the right film at the right time that capture this generation. The King’s Speech will be remembered, but I am not sure if it will be remembered as fondly.

Well, now we are at a closing speech. And this fifth grade chorus comes onstage (not in the proper attire) to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” These kids can sing. That cannot be denied. And the longer it goes on, the more I like it. Especially as all of the winners for the evening come out to join them. It would be funny to see Trent Reznor sing with the kids. With that, we are out. Congratulations to all the winners. And to those who didn’t win – well, in some cases that was a terrible oversight. Regardless, each of you will continue to make great films.

Well, with the Oscars signing off, I will be doing the same. Goodnight everyone. I will have one final analysis tomorrow on the winners tomorrow.

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