Monday, February 25, 2008

Surprises at the 80th Academy Awards®

Yes, I admit to watching the entire Oscar show last night! Happily, the televised presentation was filled with glamour and glitz, because most of the stars tried to look their very best. Still, just as I feared, “No Country for Old Men” won in the big categories of Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actor. And the expected Best Actor Oscar went to the great Daniel Day-Lewis. But there were some surprises – both good and bad.

When Tilda Swinton’s name was called out for Best Supporting Actress, I could hardly believe my ears. But I cheered loudly – maybe too loudly. Can you believe my husband actually frowned at me? Never mind that. He was also happy about Swinton’s win. She’s such a terrific actress, and her tough-as-nails performance in “Michael Clayton” is a memorable one. I expected Ruby Dee or Cate Blanchett to pick up an Oscar in this category. Speaking of Blanchett, I really enjoyed Jon Stewart’s jokes about this chameleon-like actress. “Cate Blanchett is playing me right now,” Stewart quipped.

Marion Cotillard winning Best Actress also surprised and pleased me. Portraying legendary French singer Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” couldn’t have been easy. She had to lypsynch and show Piaf aging as well as developing considerable infirmities. This was a role demanding great emotional as well as physical changes, and Cotillard delivered the goods. Did I expect Cotillard to go home with the Oscar? Not at all. I thought Julie Christie would be victorious here for "Away from Her."

My biggest disappointments involved “The Bourne Ultimatum” earning three Oscars, Alan Menken going away empty handed, and “Juno” winning only one golden statuette. With “Bourne” picking up two awards for sound and one for editing, this will probably encourage more loud, jerky filmmaking. Arrrrgh! In the original song category, I thought Menken and partner Stephen Schwartz were the likely winners. After all, they had three songs from the delightful “Enchanted” nominated – and I absolutely love all three of them, especially “So Close.” (Granted, the winning song, “Falling Slowly” from “Once,” is also lovely.) Although Diablo Cody received the “Best Original Screenplay” nod for “Juno,” I wish this practically perfect little movie had garnered more recognition last night.

Winners in the fashion department? Marion Cotillard, gorgeous in her lush ivory gown; Helen Mirren, glowing in red and silver; George Clooney, who’s born to wear tuxedos -- or anything else, for that matter; and Harrison Ford, proving he can be classy even without a bow tie.

Best acceptance speech? Tilda Swinton, who insisted the Oscar statuette looks just like her agent, so she plans to give it to him in thanks for obtaining the splendid "Michael Clayton" role for her.

NOTE: Swinton, in a one-armed velvet shroud, also tied with Diablo Cody for worst-dressed. Cody wore something hard to describe. Watch for photos.

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