Live Tweeting the 2011 Oscars

I’m not sure what’s dorkier – live blogging or live tweeting an awards ceremony…but nonetheless, I’ll be live tweeting my comments on the 2011 Academy Awards tonight! Last year, it was extremely stressful and distracting to keep up with Twitter and updating the blog (yes, I’m actually being serious), so I will just be leaving comments there! And by “comments,” I mean, mostly catty observations and unnecessary outbursts of joy and/or anger.

So if you have a Twitter or you’re just looking to browse, feel free to check out my tweets here!

‘Live’ Blog: Oscars 2010 Commentary!

5:24: So, this is a “live” blog with quotation marks around it because I don’t really have somewhere important to be tonight for the Oscars. It’s not like I’m on the red carpet, or at the Vanity Fair party later. But, tune in if you are interested in hearing my running commentary (ranging anywhere, I’m assuming, from catty to insightful – but probably mostly catty), and PLEASE share your thoughts in the comments!

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Best Oscar Speeches

With the 82nd Academy Awards airing this weekend (March 7th), there’s bound to be some memorable speeches as always. Maybe James Cameron will win and make a complete egotistical jackass of himself, or surely Gabourey Sidibe will give an amazing speech if she wins (fingers crossed!) Who will get the music (everyone but Meryl Streep), and who will deliver the most noteworthy speeches of the 2010 Oscars? We’ll have to wait and see, of course. But in the meantime, here are my picks for some of the most interesting, most poignant, most ridiculous, but overall most memorable acceptance speeches.

Cuba Gooding Jr., winning in 1997 for Jerry MaguireJovial and genuinely ecstatic, Cuba Gooding Jr. is enjoyable to watch during this speech. Unfortunately for him, that year’s Oscars were heavy-handed with the rude “hint to get off the stage” music during everyone’s speeches. But Cuba? He doesn’t care – he just keeps on going. As one YouTube commenter said, “It’s almost like the music was designed to go with his speech.”

George Clooney winning in 2006 for Syriana“Alright, well I guess I’m not winning DIRECTOR,” the charming Clooney jokes. While he won for this role in Syriana, he was also nominated in the Best Director category that year for Good Night, and Good Luck. It starts off on a light note, but Clooney takes the opportunity to also give Hollywood more credit than it’s usually given – “This academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when Blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters.” This probably gets the award for least “all about me with 1,000 people to thank” acceptance speech. Clooney used his time in a different way.

Tom Hanks winning in 1994 for PhiladelphiaTom Hanks gave one of the classiest, yet profoundly candid speeches with this one for Philadelphia. Since his role in the film was a gay male living with AIDS, he was very careful to speak respectfully and appreciatively of gays and people living with HIV or AIDS. This one is a tear-jerker, especially when he pays homage to his two gay theatre teachers.

Catherine Zeta-Jones winning in 2003 for ChicagoThis one’s just cute. Catherine Zeta-Jones gets up onstage – extremely pregnant, but looking gorgeous – and admits that the combination of things is too much for her hormones, which gets a laugh. The other great part is when she tells her husband, Michael Douglas, that she shares the award with him “and this one too.” Though the camera cuts away in a most untimely manner, we can only assume she’s pointing to her belly.

Dustin Lance Black winning in 2009 for MilkWhen Dustin Lance Black got onstage to accept the award for Best Original Screenplay for the biopic about gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, the first thing I was struck by was how young and handsome he appeared. Then, I proceeded to bawl my eyes out as he gave a very touching (understatement) speech about how Harvey Milk helped him personally growing up as a gay male in a conservative family. He also shares some empowering words ensuring young gay Americans that one day they will have the federal rights they deserve. A truly beautiful and incomparable speech. It makes me cry every time I watch it.

Halle Berry winning in 2002 for Monster’s Ball - You really can’t talk about Oscar speeches without mentioning Halle Berry’s. “74 years here, I gotta take this time!” she shouted as she became the first Black woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actress. In her shocked and vulnerable state, she poured her heart out and made all of her fellow nominees cry along with her. This is now a historical Oscar acceptance speech, and might just be the most memorable and noteworthy of them all. Not only did she fully deserve the award for her amazing performance in Monster’s Ball, but she made history when her name was called.

Oscars 2010 and the Spanish Snub

Originally posted on my Open Salon blog.

When I think of the best foreign films of 2009, the very first film to come to mind is Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos). Starring his muse Penelope Cruz and actor Lluis Homar, this Spanish film told the story of love and the love of film in the style of neo-noir.

Though I had a personal beef with Almodovar for being one of the first to sign the “Free Polanski” petition at the end of last year (a whole ‘nother story all in itself), I’ve been a long-time fan and have a special place in my heart for this particular film of his. The story behind my first viewing of this movie is somewhat magical: I was a senior in college studying film, and I got into this studio’s 2-week Cannes Program. Ecstatic and beyond honored, I got to stay in the South of France with ten other filmmaking kids, work on the studio’s screening, and best of all – attend some of the events at the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival.

I’ll stop the bragging here, I promise. My only reason for bringing it up is that I somehow lucked out in getting into the premiere of Broken Embraces. (And by “lucked out,” I mean “clicked refresh a hundred dozen times on the ticketing webpage.”) Anyway, the experience and the film were both glorious.  It was very Almodovar-esque in terms of beautifully ridiculous plot twists and turns, but overall it was just…scrumptious. Cruz was at her best since Volver (another recent Almodovar masterpiece), and the director himself got to really express his love for cinema and writing in this movie about a blind writer and filmmaker who gets the chance to finish his last movie from 14 years ago.

But, le sigh, this all means nothing to the Academy, seeing as how the film was completely overlooked from the nominations for the 2010 awards. Alright, alright, the snub from the Best Foreign Language category is not the Academy’s fault. It’s Spain’s. No, really. For whatever reason, Spain did not include Broken Embraces in its submissions to the Oscars in September. The writers are Incontention.com covered this and explained that “Almodovar and the Spanish Academy selectors have an on-and-off relationship.”

Okay, fine. So the Academy really had no control over the lack of nomination for Broken Embraces as Best Foreign Language Film. But what about all the other categories? The ones that would make the most sense would be, maybe, Best Original Screenplay, or Best Director, even Cinematography, or Best Actress. Oh wait! Penelope is nominated for Best Actress! But…for her role in Nine? Is that some kind of consolation prize? No one really cared about Nine this year anyway! Why not just nominate her for her brilliant performance in Broken Embraces? (Not to mention that the general opinion has been that French actress Marion Cotillard deserved it, if anyone, for that film.) Why, Oscars, why did you have to overlook Almodovar’s film completely?

I’ll start taking deep breaths now and put an end to my stream of consciousness rant. But the point is this:

Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces got screwed by Spain and snubbed by the Academy. And for that, I am eternally confused and disappointed.

Nominees Announced for the 2010 Oscars

This morning, the Academy announced the nominations for the 2010 Oscars, coming up on March 7th. The first thought that ran through my head was, What?! No nominations for ‘Broken Embraces’?! At all?! (Expect more on that later.) And then I was relieved that Gabby (Gabourey) Sidibe was indeed nominated for Precious. (And now I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that she wins over Sandra Bullock.) Now that I can see it filled, I still find the expanded-to-ten Best Picture category confusing and unnecessary. It just feels sort of random.

Another snub, in my opinion, is in the Best Original Score category. A Single Man definitely deserved to be recognized, but wasn’t.

But enough of that. Here are the 2010 Academy Award nominees after the jump! Share your thoughts and comments.

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Kathryn Bigelow: An End to the ‘Chick Flick’ Stereotype?

Kathryn Bigelow with her DGA Award, Jan. 31st

EDITOR’S NOTE: An updated post borrowing a little from my article at the end of last year, “The December Issue: Women in Film.”

Last night, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the top honor at the Directors Guild of America Awards. She won Best Director of a Feature Film for her movie, The Hurt Locker. Now with the 2010 Oscars coming in March, could Bigelow be the first woman to win the Best Director Academy Award?

Call me an overzealous feminist (making it extra deadly with a film degree), but the mere fact that she’s a female breaking ground for women filmmakers makes me want to root for her at all these awards – regardless of whether the movie was good or not. But as it turns out, The Hurt Locker is good. It’s being heralded as one of the best of the year, receiving acclaim as a terrific film that shows war in a way that no other “war movie” really has.

Since the end of 2009, movie critics and feminist writers have been predicting that Bigelow would become a sort of “power to the women!” darling in the awards season of 2010. When James Cameron (who also happens to be Bigelow’s ex-husband) won Best Director for Avatar at the Golden Globes this year, those rooting for Bigelow began to feel discouraged in terms of her Oscar standing. But this big win at the DGA Awards re-cements her solid chance at getting the award from the Academy this year.

It would not only be a significant moment for Bigelow and all of her accomplishments; it would also be a landmark for women in the film industry. Because the main problem is not just that women don’t win these kinds of awards, but that – more distressingly – there are very few who “make it” and are widely recognized.

Sure, I could make an inclusive list of plenty of women filmmakers who have made brilliant, under-the-radar movies. But as for those I can name off the top of my head? Let’s see…Sofia Coppola (always first)…Um…Nancy Meyer? (Something’s Gotta Give and the like)…Nora Ephron, I guess (You’ve Got Mail, Julie & Julia)…and now, Kathryn Bigelow.

Notice that two of those names are known for their romantic comedies, unfortunately referred to as “chick flicks.” While this does not dismiss their talents and abilities, needless to say it would be glorious for a woman to win for a well-executed action film. It’s glorious enough that she’s being recognized. Maybe audiences will catch on that not all women filmmakers are magnets to sappy romantic comedies. And maybe Hollywood and the industry will eventually stop pigeonholing women directors’ success.

My (female) film history teacher once said (and I apologize for the language): “They call them ‘chick flicks,’ but do you realize that all the other movies are ‘dick flicks?'”

Yes, most of them are. But let’s hold out and hope that one day soon we will be able to count female directors on more than just the fingers of one hand. And recognizing Kathryn Bigelow wouldn’t be a bad start.

Sandra Bullock over Gabourey Sidibe: What is Hollywood Thinking?

The Golden Globes last Sunday announced many awards, but the one most problematic for me was the “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” category. Thrilled over Mo’Nique’s win for her supporting role in Precious (and not to mention her wonderful speech), I was almost certain that Gabourey Sidibe would win for the starring role. I predicted wrong, and I watched with much disappointment and confusion as Sandra Bullock went up to accept the award for her role in The Blind Side.

Now, I’ve seen both films. Precious because I knew it was a very important work of 2009. And The Blind Side because – well, frankly – my mother dragged me to it. The latter movie was not as awful as I expected it to be, though I found it to be too preachy. Bullock’s performance as a rich Southern housewife (though based on a true story) came off as campy, and yes, sometimes humorous. The Blind Side may deal with issues of race, acceptance, and social class, but come on – it’s no Precious. I think we can all agree on that. Without making this a two-in-one movie review, I just found Precious to be unlike anything I’ve ever seen before: unnerving, uplifting, raw, emotional, revealing, gritty, and beautiful all at the same time. It hit me in a way that no film has ever hit me before. And while many of the performances and aspects were incredible, I believe it was Sidibe’s first-time performance (ever) as Claireece “Precious” Jones that made it so uniquely impacting.

And yet, there I am, watching Sandy hold up the Golden Globe and give her acceptance speech. Initial reactions that ran through me included something along the lines of, Are you kidding me?! and She better not win that Oscar over Gabby… While the Globes don’t always act as a prelude to the Oscar nominations and wins, it’s a definite possibility.

To further my agitation more, Sandra Bullock won for “Best Actress” at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards this weekend. Once again, Gabourey Sidibe was in the list of nominees. The SAG Awards are a big deal for actors in the industry, and it makes me wonder why they would also pick Bullock over Gabby. Do the panels think that Sidibe is too young and inexperienced to merit anything more than a nomination? Or do they really believe Sandra Bullock’s performance as an exaggeratedly ballsy Southern Belle is more deserving of the award? Part of me wonders if these people feel sorry for Bullock’s previous career, so they’re proud of her for doing something less mediocre this year.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that the Oscars will have to choose between the two. With the nominations announcement coming up on February 2nd, the 82nd annual Academy Awards have a chance to flip it on the rest of Hollywood and award the deserving and incredible Gabourey Sidibe. But alas, there’s a great chance now (especially with all the hoopla) that the Academy will also give it to Sandra Bullock instead.

I hope for the sake of cinema that the Oscars choose to turn things around and give it to the star of Precious. It would be glorious to see the young woman up on stage holding a statue for that role. Sure, Bullock did a good enough job in The Blind Side. But overlooking Sidibe’s first shot at acting with her powerful performance as one of the most challenging and socially important characters we’ve seen in years? That would just seem like a huge step back for film.

Best and Worst of the 2010 Golden Globes

BEST:

  • All of the NBC jabs. From everyone.
  • The opening jokes from Ricky Gervais about the differences between the British and American Office
  • Mo’Nique winning for Precious. Totally deserved it. Her speech was touching also.
  • Alec Baldwin winning for 30 Rock
  • Ricky Gervais: “I enjoy a drink as much as the next man…Unless the next man is Mel Gibson!”
  • Christopher Waltz winning for his performance in Inglourious Basterds
  • Martin Scorsese’s cute speech sounding more like a film school lecture than an acceptance speech for a career achievement award
  • This tweet from Lizz Winstead of The Daily Show: “James Cameron is looking more and more like Bea Arthur.”

WORST:

  • Most of Gervais’ hosting
  • Alec Baldwin not being present to accept his award for 30 Rock
  • Sandra Bullock winning for The Blind Side over Gabby Sidibe in Precious. Yes, you read that right. SANDRA BULLOCK won over PRECIOUS’s Gabby Sidibe.
  • James Cameron winning Best Director and then quoting his own movie in the “Na’vi language”
  • The poor layout of the awards ceremony making it difficult for anyone to get up to the front to accept their awards
  • Cuing the music for everyone EXCEPT Meryl Streep
  • A lack of awards for Inglourious Basterds, which I had expected
  • A lack of awards for Precious, which I hadn’t expected
  • A lack of George Clooney, just in general
  • Chloe Sevigny’s dress, which apparently “got stepped on and ripped,” even though you couldn’t tell a difference because it was kind of a mess

I never regret watching the Globes, but this year I think I enjoyed baking cookies during the show more than I enjoyed the actual awards ceremony itself. (Crunchy fudge cookies, for anyone who’s wondering.)

Things to Look Forward to in 2010, #3: Golden Globes

 

 

Photo by: Peter Dutton, 2009 // CC BY-SA 2.0 (Wikipedia Commons)

Yesterday the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominees for the 2010 Golden Globe awards.

Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air (starring George Clooney) led the award nods with six nominations. Precious followed close behind, earning three nominations, including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Both of the films are up for Best Motion Picture, along with Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and Inglourious Basterds.

You can see the nominees for all of the categories on the HFPA Golden Globe website.

I’m looking forward to the Golden Globes in 2010 for the same reason I look forward to them every year; and that is, they’re much more fun than the Oscars. The celebrities drink, mingle, and have a good time. And of course, you get to root for your favorite television series in addition to your favorite films during the ceremony.

Ultimately, I hope 30 Rock wins Best Comedy/Musical Television series (again), that a woman wins Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker), and that Precious gets some major recognition. Other than that, I’ll just enjoy watching the celebrities relax and enjoy themselves in a way that they would not if it were the uptight Oscars.