BBC coverage begins. Elliott Gould is the first star guest. Presenter Jonathan Ross appears in uncharacteristic black suit and tie. Hollywood correspondent Tom Brook starts his coverage by saying “I am high” – he’s on the roof of a hotel: “It’s a very odd Oscar ceremony. It doesn’t look like people are having too much of a good time.” No-shows: Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Jim Carrey (replaced by – Matthew McConaughey!). Camera shows Harvey Weinstein walking down what looks like a red carpet, grim, swigging from a small bottle of mineral water. Brook says “some stars will be wearing a kind of duct tape arrangement.”
BBC guests introduced: 1970s Oscar nominees Gould and Linda Blair (!). Gould says show “reflects our way of life.” Blair clearly not involved in current filming of Exorcist : The Beginning with Stellan Skarsgard in Africa. Blair : “The Academy is always about the jewels people wear.” Gould: “Humility is very important because there is something more important going on in the world right now.” The previous 74 ceremonies having taken place in some kind of political vacuum? Blair : “We’re going to see a lot of different things tonight.”
BBC goes to ABC pre-show. First stars shown : Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. First star interviewed: Renee Zellweger, who is asked only about her older brother (who taunted her singing ability as a child). Zellweger chatters on about the brother. War not mentioned. Diane Lane turns up hand-in-hand with Josh Brolin (so he isn’t with Minnie Driver any more…?). WNM. Halle Berry says “I just wanna keep working. it’s so easy now to fall into obscurity.”
Denzel Washington makes first (oblique) war reference. Chuck Workman ‘Spirit of America’ compilation is shown, again resembling the Parallax test, except with dialogue.
Show starts. Standing ovation for Steve Martin. Mickey Rooney saluted. H.Weinstein is sitting behind M.Scorsese. Martin seems to be getting the tone right, though inevitably some of the jokes aren’t so great. And it goes on way too long. A bad precedent. Dodgy joke about Robert Blake gets a groan. Joke at expense of Nick Nolte gets bigger laugh. Witty montage to Martin’s narration works.
Cameron Diaz comes on. In black. Bad make-up. Animated Feature. My selection is Lilo, but it’s a four-way split. Lilo has a great clip. Miyazaki wins for Spirited Away. First mild surprise, as the film has so far taken no money in the US. The Americans presumably split the vote.
Keanu Reeves announced Special Visual Effects. Presumably a shoo-in for Two Towers. If it loses, this may knock Return of the King‘s Best Pic chances for next year. Two Towers wins, as expected, mainly for Gollum. First speeches by the four winners – same as last year. Only one gets to speak before the music starts. Last speaker’s mike disappears.
Supporting Actor next up, and my first cash – I’ve got 10 on Walken, but it’s mighty mighty close. Jennifer Conolly comes on, in black. No clips. Cooper wins. Emotional speech. “I wish us all peace” – first podium acknowledgement of Events. I’m 10 down, but probably the right result. First loss for Chicago.
J.Lo comes on – art direction. Chicago‘s first award, and harbinger of a flood? Chicago duly wins. The winners’ speeches are interrupted by music, appropriately enough. Travolta introduces Latifah and Zeta-Jones to do the Chicago song. Both big girls, for different reasons. Intriguing seeing Latifah up there – what if she’d played Roxie? Zeta-Jones making an effort to match ‘proper singer’ Latifah. Like the movie, very messy staging. A good night for Latifah, though – her new movie has clung on to number one spot for a third week. Not much of a song, and something lacking in the number, but it goes down well with the audience.
Jennifer Garner and “Mickey Mouse” come on for Animated Short. Cut to Scorsese looking distracted.
The ChubChubbs wins. At least the Monsters Inc thing didn’t win. Only suspense is seeing if the winner makes any reference to Events. He doesn’t. Live-action short goes to This Charming Man – first Oscar winner ever named after a Smiths song. Scandinavian bloke sniffs the Oscar, in reference to an earlier Steve Martin gag, but joke falls flat. He’s Danish. Obviously going to be cut off by the music. In the end keeps it brief.
Mira Sorvino announces Costumes – if Chicago wins, a landslide is on the cards. Chicago wins (Oscar #2) and is now a certainty to win most awards – bang goes my 25 at 6/1 on The Hours to achieve this feat. Colleen Atwood reads from a piece of paper. Chicago defeats are likely to be a rarity from now on.
Chicago momentum making Zeta-Jones look unbeatable. Paul Simon does “Father and Daughter” from Wild Thornberrys – probably the only real competition to Chi-town in the Song category. Nia Vardalos comes on to give Make-Up, doesn’t get a conspicuously rousing reception. Frida wins, so Hayek can now claim to have made an Oscar-winning movie – though only two were nominated. The music cuts off the sappy thank-yous, making it sound as if the winning pair are going to burst into song.
Sean Connery comes on to give Supporting Actress in formal Scots attire. Again, no clips – very disconcerting. “The Oscar goes to. Catherine” (win #3 for Chi) – former co-stars in Entrapment and a Scot awarding a Welshwoman. A dull night ahead if Chicago keeps on like this.
Matthew McConaughey comes on and says “A healthy evening to all of you,” looking grim, introduces a montage from Gangs of New York. Kate Hudson comes on and introduces the Scientific & Technical section, aka the home audience’s coffee break. Renee Zellweger comes on – presumably the Best Actress winner, the way things are going – for Score: apparently a scrap between Bernstein and Glass. Frida wins (#2), following up its Golden Globe win – it was a surprise then, and again now. Goldenthal dedicates award to “political art” and Mexico. Could The Hours go home empty-handed?
Julie Andrews comes on, looking sprightly, gets a standing ovation, including from Scorsese who doesn’t exactly look over the moon, as it’s fairly obvious he’s winning nowt tonight. Has Andrews had botox? Some kind of montage of musical numbers over the TV years. Coffee break part 2. Work out that I’m 85 down, and relying on Rob Marshall (30 at 5/1) to get me out of trouble.
Hayek, basking in Frida‘s two-Oscar haul, comes on to give Foreign Language – a bit dodgy, as there’s a Mexican candidate (shades of Loren/Benigni??). Nowhere In Africa wins for Germany – beating my selection, and bet, Kaurismaki (now down 95). Link no-show.
Julianne Moore, giggling in her green dress, comes on. Scorsese shown saying what looks like “she’s great”. She seems to be in slightly glassy Amber Waves mode. Sound goes to Chicago (#4) and we’re already sick hearing that damn ‘All That Jazz’ music playing. I consider going to bed early but will stick around for Actor, as that’s one category the bloody thing can’t win. One of Chicago‘s winners sounds Scots, but he’s cut off by the Fosse tune. Moore stays on for Sound Editing. Minority Report is my pick, but Two Towers clearly dangerous. Two Towers wins its second award from only four nominations – this is the moment that Return of the King and Jackson win next year’s Pic and Director. Award winner starts by saying “There’s so much insanity in the world right now.” The other one has a conspicuous stutter, which he fights through.
Gael Garcia Bernal comes on to intro the song from Frida, in which he doesn’t appear (but his mate Diego Luna does). Bernal’s English has improved. Against AMPAS ‘rules’ he makes a comment “against war” and looks as if he’s going to burst into tears – says Kahlo would be “on our side” if she were still around. Could ‘Burn It Blue’ follow up its Globes success? Entirely possible, as Frida seems to be the only serious competition to Chicago so far, and it’s a good song, and rather complex – unlike the forgettable “I Move On.” The Mexican singer doing the Frida song is dressed up to looks like Kahlo.
Midway point? So far I’m running 6/13, though that includes the two shorts which were complete guesswork. I’m not that startled Frida is doing so well – it’s this year’s Topsy-Turvy. Hilary Swank (who I’m seeing tomorrow morning in The Core if I can get up) introduces a montage from The Hours – in fact, the trailer. Diane Lane introduces Docu Feature: potential major fireworks if Moore wins, which I’m not expecting – Prisoner of Paradise is my pick, though Spellbound is a danger. Columbine wins!. He’s got 45 seconds. Standing ovation. Loads of people on stage – they’re the other nominees. “We live in fictitious times,” he says. Cheers and boos as Moore goes full tilt: “any time you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you.” The music drowns him out just as the crowd is reaching a real ferment of acclamation and hostility (great to know who’s shouting “NO!”). Jack Valenti comes on to announce Docu Short Subject. He makes no reference to Moore. Twin Towers wins, as expected in most quarters (I’d gone for Rosa Parks). Now I’m running 6/15. Not a great strike rate. Docu winners drowned out by music (45 seconds clearly nowhere near enough).
Steve Martin makes a crack about Michael Moore which goes down well, dispelling the tension from earlier. Julia Roberts comes on with blonde-ish hair. She’s presenting Cinematography, which will presumably go with grinding inevitability to Chicago – though Road To Perdition was my pick beforehand. Turns out I was right, as Conrad Jr picks up the award for his late dad. A short, effective, emotional speech. Chicago‘s first major loss, apart from John C Reilly. Bates does her tough-talking broad routine, which goes over well. It’s a montage of winners talking about what winning was like: Randy Newman says “if I had a heart, it would be what’s called emotion.” All the gold seems to have worn off Tommy Lee Jones’s Oscar.
Steve Martin says the next presenter is heading for Rehab – and appropriately enough “bad boy” Colin Farrell comes on to intro U2’s song, miraculously manages to get through his spiel without saying “fuck” or “shit”. Looks a mess, and this is the first time most people will have heard him speak in his real (surprisingly high-pitched and rapid) Irish accent – he even slips into Gaelic at the end. Comments suggest he’s anti-war, though he doesn’t make any direct reference to Events (so far, Moore and Bernal ahead in the Radical stakes, Bernal perhaps shading it as presenters weren’t supposed to say anything controversial and everybody knew what was going to happen with Moore). U2 perform their awful dirge. So this just leaves Eminem – is he here or not? Bono doesn’t make any comment on Events at the end. Scorsese and Day-Lewis very tearful.
Geena Davis comes on in glasses to announce Editing. Chicago, Hours or Gangs? Martin Walsh for Chicago (#5). He’s a Brit. Non-speech. Susan Sarandon next up, makes a peace symbol before she speaks. Obituary section, starting with Lew Wasserman (“Executive”). Biggest “cheer” for Billy Wilder at the end.
Best Actor coming up. I backed Brody a while back, but the momentum never quite seemed to build so I’ve been predicting Day-Lewis recently – though if he wins, it’s probably curtains for Scorsese. Then apparently it’s Peter O’Toole’s lifetime achievement award, which is when I can take my dog out for a few minutes. Brody gets a big cheer. Ditto Caine, Day-Lewis. Time stops as Halle Berry announces the winner as “Adrien Brody” and he gets up and gives her a big proper kiss on the mouth, leaving her as startled as she looked after winning last year. At long last, I win big money. Standing ovation, including from me watching alone in the middle of the Sunderland night. The first real surprise (Day-Lewis was 1/3 with the bookies here), and I reckon the highlight of the whole show. He eventually thanks Polanski, he ticks off the music, which obeys him! Then he makes some heartfelt comments about Events. “Peaceful and swift resolution” gets another standing ovation. Then Dustin Hoffman introduces a clip from The Pianist and I can catch my breath, work out I’m up 245 thanks to the genius of Mr B and the absent Polanski. A boost for Scorsese, just maybe?
Streisand comes on – presumably to introduce Eminem?! A no-show from Eminem, as she goes straight into the nominees – even South Park got performed, albeit by Robin Williams. Eminem wins! Some tall bloke comes on in a basketball top and suit jacket, it ain’t Eminem. Relief: another loss for Chicago! Pace picking up now, Meryl Streep comes on looking as cheery as she has done since the start. Hopefully she isn’t awarding Screenplay, as this might be somewhat dodgy. No, it’s Peter O’Toole’s lifetime achievement award. Dog doesn’t want to go out.
O’Toole comes on. Standing ovation. Keanu Reeves shown bellowing his approval. O’Toole (apparently stone cold sober) makes nice, measured speech. They show Brody winning again (he was sitting next to Diane Lane) – surprise and delight in equal measure, much squealing and screaming behind him. Youngest ever Best Actor winner at 29, and Jack Nicholson’s lobbying seemingly paid off.
It’s been a while since the last Chicago win. maybe it won’t get any more till director and pic. Denzel bearded comes on to give Best Actress. Kidman or Zellweger? Or maybe Moore (which would be Brodyesque). “By a nose – Nicole Kidman.” So she held on, and Moore goes home empty handed tonight – Without Apparent Motive should fix that next year. I held with Kidman, so am running 9/20. Kidman cries, turns away from the mike. The Hours‘ first win. Kidman makes a decent enough speech, avoiding histrionics, and with a few inoffensive remarks on Events.
Academy president Frank Pierson comes on to intro a montage of previous Academy presidents. He intros Olvia De Havilland (how old is she now?) Is Joan Fontaine on the premises? Standing ovation for De Havilland, who looks pretty much as she always did – except with big Barbara Bush hair. A little frail at the podium. Strangely deep voice (is she deaf?) from this living relic. Intros 59 previous winners sitting on stage. They all get introduced in alpha order. Kathy Bates again. Nic Cage with weird black hair. George Chakiris looking very odd and fake. This is going to take ages. Daniel Day-Lewis putting a brave face on things. Kirk and Michael Douglas sitting together. Brenda Fricker doing her hair when the camera moves to her. Joel Grey looking like Mitja Okorn. Anjelica Huston : a big lass. Jennifer Jones still alive! Cloris Leachman looking sprightly. Karl Malden ancient. Jack Nicholson in shades between Patricia Neal. and Margaret O’Brien. Tatum O’Neal looking like a blond Catherine Keener. The apparently immortal Luise Rainer next to Julia Roberts. Jon Voight wearing a Stars+Stripes badge. Chris Walken grinning with big hair. Cheesy music playing in the background. Then the new winners (Brody, Kidman, Cooper, O’Toole. Zeta-Jones) come on, a nice touch. Kidman tallest of the lot.
Into the home stretch? The screenplays must be soon. In fact, there’s only screenplays, director and picture to go. Chicago could get three of the four, but Adapted Screenplay looks unlikely and I’ve now got a weird nagging feeling that Scorsese is going to get Director ahead of Marshall. Marcia Gay Harden comes on in turquoise. Adapted looks between Hare and Kaufman, possibly Chicago. a tough call. could Pianist win? Yes – two wins for Polanski’s picture. A major upset, I didn’t think it had much of a chance. Hours isn’t going to get anything bar the Kidman one. Two each for Pianist, Two Towers and Frida so far. Original Screenplays announced by Affleck – not the best advert for post-Oscar screenwriting glory. I predicted Vardalos, but it’s open. Almodovar wins, so I’m 9/22. Glad Vardalos didn’t win, though. Pedro bound to make a Moore-type speech. Does so, but gets away with it by speaking fast and accented and not saying anything specifically controversial.
End in sight. Of the big categories so far, Almodovar and Brody were my #2, Kidman and Zeta-Jones both , only Harwood unconsidered (‘no chance’) at #4. Gangs zero so far, Hours only one. Director is next-up and I’m looking forward to bed. Marshall would be another good win for me financially, but despite the fact Gangs has won nothing so far doesn’t rule out Scorsese by any means. Too close to call. Scorsese gets the biggest cheer. and. POLANSKI?????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????
?????????!!!!!!!!!!!????????????!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????????????????!!!!!!!!! Marshall and Scorsese look delighted. ?????!!!!!!????! Absolutely staggering. No speech, nobody collects it on Polanski’s behalf. My #5 of the five nominees. But Chicago presumably still gets Best Picture?
Douglas Sr and Jr come on, to give out Best Pic. Dodgy, as Michael is connected with Chicago. Suddenly it doesn’t look quite so cut and dried as before. Nobody knows anything. In unison, the Douglases announce: Chicago gets it, of course. Everybody’s happy, even Marty probably isn’t too upset. Three for Pianist, six for Chicago if I’ve got my sums right. Frank Pierson said it would be over by midnight New York time, and it was. Is Rob Marshall going to speak (I’ve never heard his voice)? I’m 205 up on the night – not at all bad, considering I backed six losers. Marshall doesn’t get to speak. Martin wraps it up at 0459 UK time dedicating the show to “our young men and women overseas.” The big shocks of the night: Polanski, Harwood, perhaps even Brody (a nice surprise). Started off very predictable, suddenly all went haywire at the end with Pianist scoring unexpected win after unexpected win. Zero for Gangs, but Marty has The Aviator waiting in the wings for the year after next.
Speaking of which.
Jigsaw Lounge’s exclusive advance lists for NEXT year’s Oscars.
. and even the year AFTER.
by Neil Young