The Red Carpet Rolls Out for Oscar
By: Ellis Nassour
The 83nd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor 10 nominated "best" from 2010 on Sunday 8 P.M. [with red carpet arrivals], telecast on ABC from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. As last year, special and honorary award winners will be saluted, but their trophies were handed out two weeks ago [no doubt to make room for highlights from the 10 nominated films].
In quite a break from tradition and no doubt to increase viewership among the Facebook and Twitter generation Anne Hathaway and 2010 nom James Franco host.
The co-hosts plan to "play it nice." There’ll be no down-and-dirty or skank comments reminiscent of a certain Brit writer/actor who recently hosted another cinema awards show.
"That kind of humor is difficult to pull off," says Hathaway, "and I’m not particularly adept at it. Not that I would feel comforable even if I were." Noting that she and Franco are the youngest hosts ever, she adds, "I have no business being cynical or calling anyone out. I haven’t earned that right."
The faltering economy didn’t hurt business at cineplex box offices. More than $10-billion in tickets were sold, which means more people than ever went to the movies [the gross is also the result of skyrocketing movie prices in the last 10 years].
When the going gets tough, America goes to the movies – even to tough movies, and those not so easy to watch. We like hissing supervillians, line up for romance, love comeback stories, and are willing to support more than mindless drivel and the adventures of superheroes.
Let’s go to the movies is still a rallying cry to younger audiences, while others remain home with iced Coke and buttered popcorn, comfortable on couches and recliners with DVDs.
Thanks to James Cameron’s re-introduction of 3-D, movies in that dimension [or digitally transformed into it] make it even more fun.
3-D scored at box offices not always because the films were great but because higher admissions went into effect for them.
Compared to other forms of entertainment, even with NYC’s highest movie prices in the nation, going to the movies is still one of the least expensive [even less than bowling – especially in NYC (a couple of hours on the lanes here cost as much as a Bway musical, dinner and parking!)] excursions you can make, especially if you stay away from concession stands.
Of course, it would be nice if even 50% of the films released were worth going to see. That said, it would be hard to argue this year with any of the chosen 10.
An audience of an estimated 35 million have the pizzas ordered, the trail mix mixed, and the Champagne on ice. Viewers in 200 countries will also be watching via satellite. The big parties are the Vanity Fair and Academy’s Governor’s Ball, the places to be seen. Wolfgang Puck’s menu for the latter will be Beverly Hill-style comfort food, with lots of caviar and smoked salmon – the opium of the celebs.
In an effort to please movie buffs and in an attempt to keep the TV ratings high, the list of presenters reeks with variety – someone old, someone new, someone for everyone.
They include Oscar winners Javier Bardem, Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren, Hilary Swank, Marisa Tomei, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.
Others on hand will be past nominees Annette Bening, Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Also appearing will be Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey.
The behind-closed-doors Oscars scuttlebutt is that the Academy, wishing to give Lindsay Lohan a fourth chance to redeem herself and in appreciation of her stellar performances on and off screen, had her on the short list of possible presenters. The problem was she only had skin-tight, low and no-button outfits – mostly suitable for court appearances. However, couture designers and jewelers who loan their "stuff" to stars, when asked, emphatically said, "No!" One jeweler with showcases of multimillion dollar necklaces was heard to say, "Even surrounding her with armed guards, we were afraid we wouldn’t get our loaners back."
A certain NYC society dame, famous for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey satin, chiffon and taffeta outfits with trains that extend across a stage, offered LindsayL one of her most photographed gowns … but on condition that LindsayL be surrounded by at least four of the military brass who escort/guard her in appearances. Strangely, LindsayL said, "No!"
But the show will, undoubtedly, go on and on and on. There’ll be lostsa entertainment.
Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore performs "I See the Light" from Disney’s animated blockbuster Tangled, accompanied by theater musical legend and eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken [Sister Act, soon to open on Bway; Little Shop of Horrors; he’s won best score and best song for four Disney animated movies].
Perennial fav Randy Newman, who brings an everyman touch to the sequins and glitter of the eve, sings his nominated tune "We Belong Together" from another animated megahit, Toy Story 3. A much-anticipated moment will be Gweneth Paltrow performing "Coming Home," the song she croaked in Country Strong, one of the year’s biggest stinkers. Oscar winner A.R. Rahman [Slumdog Millionaire] and Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine, will perform "If I Rise" from 127 Hours. A newcomer as M.D. will be composer, orchestrator and arranger William Ross.
This year’s "battle" for Best is worthy of the bloodiest ring match. The "class" pictures, The King’s Speech,and the ballet psycho babble thriller Black Swan, are up against the "now" and ever-growing The Social Network with working class New England slugging its way to a knockout in The Fighter.
Many outstanding performances hit screens late last year to qualify for noms. Snubs and surprises are never a surprise when the noms are announced. This year’s no different.
Brave, daring Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor camped in the gay black comedy I Love You, Phillip Morris, but ignored by the Academy. Kevin Spacey’s superlative performance in Casino Jack, the rollercoaster black comedy based on the scandal-plagued career of charismatic, manipulative, ultra religious lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his schemes, didn’t mesmerize critics or the Academy; but he did get a Golden Globe nod. Is that consolation?
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech, and they received nods. Jeff Bridges got what he really didn’t earn last year and his grizzled, one-note Rooster in the True Grit didn’t shake everyone up; but the Academy put him on the ballot. Jesse Eisenberg amazingly rose up from the jackass claptrap he’s been so famous for to give a startlingly and, dare say, career making performance of a thieving PC nerd in Social Network; and the Academy took notice. But isn’t it Firth’s year?
Rush, who knows how to dominate a film even when he’s reading the paper, can always be depended upon, but isn’t Christan Bale simply unbeatable for his emaciated turn in The Fighter? [What’s he doing in the Supporting category? Wasn’t he the star?]
Nicole Kidman knows how to play heartbreak, often sans make-up even in tight closeups, and she did to a hilt in David Lindsay-Abaire’s adaptation of his Rabbitt Hole, directed by John Cameron Mitchell; the Academy took notice. Dancing diva Natalie Portman’s wild ‘n wooly in the Black Swan and Michele Williams’s hot in Blue Valentine, but isn’t Annette Bening, underplaying so brilliantly in The Kids Are All Right, steamrolling to the podium?
Young, unknown Hailee Steinfeld, seemingly channeling Mercedes MacCambridge, as feisty Mattie Ross absolutely stole True Grit, but she’s up against two perennial favs, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, both beyond excellent in The Fighter. If it were a perfect world, and maybe it will be Sunday night, the gold will go to Steinfeld.
Have you voted? How many have you seen?
The Kids Are All Right
The King s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David Fincher, The Social Network
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winters Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King s Speech
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Animated Feature Film How to Train Your Dragon Illusionist Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Film
Biutiful – Mexico
Dogtooth – Greece
In a Better World – Denmark
Incendies – Canada
Outside the Law – Algeria
Best Original Screenplay
The Kids Are All Right
The King s Speech
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Winter s Bone
Best Original Song
" Coming Home" – Country Strong
" I See the Light" – Tangled
" If I Rise" – 127 Hours
" We Belong Together" – Toy Story 3
Best Original Score
How to Train Your Dragon John Powell
Inception Hans Zimmer
The King s Speech Alexandre Desplat
127 Hours A.R. Rahman
The Social Network Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Documentary (Short)
Killing in the Name
Strangers No More
Sun Comes Up
The Warriors of Qiugang
For a full list of the nominations, special and honorary awards given out, the Countdown to Oscar feature, a printable ballot, video clips, trailers of the 10 nominated "Best" and play-along games visit www.oscar.go.com.