Film critic Ty Burr chatted about the Oscars

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February 25, 2008

Ty_Burr: Afternoon everybody. Ty Burr here from the Globe, ready to lay last night's Oscars on the dissecting table for our mutual amusement and edification. Hope there are some of you out there -- Bueller? Anyone?

Ty_Burr: Send in your questions and comments and let's get started.

Ty_Burr: Personally I thought the show was too smooth, to the point of dullness -- when they showed the clip of Snow White singing to Rob Lowe I actually started pining for the good old days.

amicam__Guest_: ty, i was sorry that daniel day-lewis won best actor. i thought his performance was overrated. inhuman and no nuance. is it that everyone just thinks he's a great actor and when he's in a film, just nominate and vote for him?

Ty_Burr: Couldn't agree less, amicam -- I thought Day-Lewis had a real demented majesty in the role, with plenty of nuance (check that scene by the beach when he learns the brother isn't who he says).

Ty_Burr: And I guess the point of the movie is that he starts with human traits (his love for the boy, for one thing) but gradually purges them from himself as the only way he sees to survive. Worked for me. Though I do agree that the actor gets a free ride in some cases. This one was deserving, I felt.

fendawg: Hi Ty, how soon before we see Oscars serving drinks so the audience doesn't look so painfully bored?

Ty_Burr: Can't be too soon, fendawg, especially since the Globes were cancelled and we didn't get to see stars actually having fun.

Ty_Burr: I definitely agree the Oscars are getting a little too starchy for their own good.

Ty_Burr: I think the generation coming up -- represented by Ellen Page -- might have a little more fun with the evening in future years. One can hope.

JediFonger__Guest_: didya see what diablo (yesh we know her name is brooke busey) was wearing? =P

Ty_Burr: Or not wearing. Yeah, a little down-market, but hey, that's what I'm talking about -- the evening needed some goosing, and her dress and the tears helped a bit.

JediFonger__Guest_: re: There Will Be Blood. i disagree about Daniel Plainview starting with human traits. i think he never had any. he was simply a caricature of oil tycooon/early entrepreneurship. he used his 'boy' and then discarded him when his boy became a competitor (the ultimate sin in the business world).

Ty_Burr: Nah. Look at that scene when he and the infant are riding in the train -- and when the boy's injured in the well fire -- there's real love there.

fendawg: there will no doubt be a rush to court houses around the country by screenwriters to change their names to something more exotic. How else do explain Diablo winning for Juno over the wonderful Michael Clayton script? I'm sorry but witty dialogue does NOT make a great script. Voters were seduced by her name. Brook Busey would not have won last night.

Ty_Burr: I can see that argument -- I too would have preferred a "Clayton" win, but the momentum was all Cody's. Lest we forget, it's a prom, not an actual contest of quality.

Jason_Bourne__Guest_: Why are my films, especially the Ultimatum, critically acclaimed but were only in contention for technical awards? Why not Best Picture? or Best Actor?

Ty_Burr: Because they're action movies, Jason -- doesn't matter that they're superior action movies. Hollywood still won't take 'em seriously. And Paul Greengrass has already got his due in previous years (for a movie that was, you know, important.)

Bill_Clinton__Guest_: brook busey? any relation to gary busey?

Ty_Burr: It'd be interesting to know. I don't think so, though. He certainly didn't look in the mood for a family reunion on the red carpet last night. What was that man on? And why couldn't he take a bite out of Ryan Seacrest?

JediFonger__Guest_: ah well =P. agree to disagree. those scenes didn't show real love, just how much money he can make from the boy... it's his love of $ =P. heh heh heh. i want him to be the ultimate capitalist =P

Ty_Burr: *g* so does he, Jedi -- that's the point.

akc__Guest_: don't you think the character of daniel plainview would be disgusted by the artsy-fartsy, earring wearing, timid sounding, daniel day lewis? goes to show how good of an actor he really is

Ty_Burr: Daniel Plainview would be disgusted by the entire evening -- but he'd be holed up in his mansion, watching it on TV and cackling over the cost of gas.

Bill_Clinton__Guest_: Why does jack nicholson wear sunglasses indoors?

Ty_Burr: Because if he took them off we'd see his red Satan eyeballs? I dunno; it's just his Oscar thing and has been forever. Personally I think it's getting old. *He's* getting old.

JediFonger__Guest_: Re: Oscars. y do people still watch this? i know it's another excuse for a party, i personally went to one... but still =P. my party was far better than what was happening onscreen >P

Ty_Burr: Jedi, next year tell me where you are; I'll come crash.

Bill_Clinton__Guest_: i was happy to see conan o'brien win for best supporting actress

Ty_Burr: Ha!

akc__Guest_: um... tilda swinton?!!! what happened?

Ty_Burr: I think there was some vote-splitting -- Ruby Dee, Cate Blanchett, and Amy Ryan divvied up the spoils and Swinton ended up with the biggest slice of pie. That's my theory and I'm sticking with it. But she was definitely the most fun onstage and backstage too. Nice to see someone willing to take the piss out of the evening.

Jason_Bourne__Guest_: Was DDL really the big suprise of the night? How about Marion Cotillard? How many American movie fans know who she is, never mind the film she was in????

Ty_Burr: No,Jason, Day-Lewis was a virtual lock -- a great performance (in my opinion) and, yes, he's an Academy pet, same as Blanchett. Whenever they perform, they get rubberstamped for a nomination.

Bill_Clinton__Guest_: how do you know what she was like backstage, were you there?

Ty_Burr: No, but the wire services carried her comments and the Globe's Carol Beggy was in the backstage press pit and forwarded me the full transcript. I got some of it in today's coverage in the paper.

Ty_Burr: No, I get to come into the Globe offices and watch the ceremonies on TV while typing like a maniac. Even Wesley got to blog from home, curse him.

akc__Guest_: i wish sicko had won.... a rant by michael morre would have livened things up a bit

Ty_Burr: There was a real shortage of rants in general. I'm in favor of rants.

JediFonger__Guest_: no country's adulations were well deserved =D. is it me or are most of these award winners made from the 'indie wings' of major studios. isn't it ironic that the indies of the olden days have all been gobbled up by the studios? is there such thing as a 'true indie' still?

Ty_Burr: Good question, jedi. Sure, there are real indies, but they don't make it to the Oscar stage -- except in the case of "Once." But, yeah, "Juno" is about as indie as "Titanic" in my view. The studios have indeed bigfooted the indie market.

jmk__Guest_: I really loved the moment when they had the woman from "Once" come back out and speak - that was a classy moment. That being said, guess it was a crappy year for music, eh? 3 songs from the same movie??

Ty_Burr: No kidding, and none for Hairspray! (Was it disqualified for being from a Broadway show?) You could feel the love for the "Once" song, though; whenever it was even mentioned there was applause.

JediFonger__Guest_: Re: 'Hollywood' ="Independent"? sounds like an article waiting to be written (hint hint hint =P)

Ty_Burr: It's been written and by better minds than mine. But for you, Jedi, I'll do it again.

gnustome__Guest_: Ty, two things: 1.) Any repercussions expected for Steve Carell unleashing the s-bomb early in the show during his award presentation and 2.) What do you make it of the fact that every one of high-nominated movies ended up walking away with at least one award, i.e. TWBB gets Best Actor and Cinematography; Juno with Best Original Screenplay, Michael Clayton with Best Supporting Actress, etc.?

Ty_Burr: 1) Did he cuss? I must have missed that. Obviously there's been little fallout. Maybe you were watching the non-delayed broadcast? On hi-def perhaps? 2) I think that, yes, this was a year with a lot of worthy films and the voters felt like spreading the wealth. Doesn't happen every year. "No Country" didn't turn into the runaway train it could have, that's for sure. I think if "There Will Be Blood" hadn't been in the race "No Country" would have benefited more, and not just in categories where it was head to head with "Blood."

IrishFan__Guest_: the guests at my party were complaining about the lack of nominations for "Into the Wild". Do you think that was a major or minor snub?

Ty_Burr: Depends on how much you liked the movie. I liked it all right -- I think it's Penn's best work as a director -- but I didn't think it was generally award worthy. Nice to see Holbrook in there. Hirsch's performance looked surprisingly bad in the clip they showed, though.

Bill_Clinton__Guest_: so will future dvd releases of "norbit" say "academy award nominee" on the cover?

Ty_Burr: Yeah, but they'll have to put Jon Stewart's crack about the Academy willing to include films that aren't good right after it.

mj__Guest_: I was so glad the song from Once won -it was a great night for the Irish last night as Daniel Day Lewis (an Irish Citizen) won as well as nominations for Saiorse - did you think the selections for music was weak?

Ty_Burr: DDL's been an Irish citizen since 1993; born a Brit, I believe (but his daddy the poet laureate was from Ireland, so there).Do you mean the song nominations or the score nominations? They could have been more imaginative in the former category and it's a shame Jonny Greenwood was disqualified from the latter for "Blood." But I like Dario Marianelli's "Atonement" score a lot.

c__Guest_: boring question but what movies are YOU looking forward to seeing in the next few months that you haven't already?

Ty_Burr: Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Seriously.

Jaye__Guest_: What was your opinion about Jon S. hosting performance? I know the last time it wasn't received well.

Ty_Burr: I think he's professional to a fault. The best moments are when he shoots from the hip (or appears to), and I'd love to see him take more risks. Maybe next year, if he's doing it again. I still think Crystal was probably the best host, at least in recent years.

JediFonger__Guest_: oh BTW Ty, have you watched the X-Files 2 trailer?

Ty_Burr: Nope, not yet, but I'm not an X-Files head. I mean, it's fine, but I never drank the KoolAid on that one.

gnustome__Guest_: I wasn't sure if he did cuss, so I had to Google it this morning. The San Francisco Chroincle confirmed it for me ( ; seven paragraphs down).

Ty_Burr: That's re Carell's pottymouth; thanks, gnustome, I'll check it out.

Ty_Burr: One of the logistical problems for me is trying to watch the show closely while simultaneously writing 900 words for the 10 am first edition and another 1100 words for the final at midnight. Kind of like juggling burning chairs while trying to read "War and Peace." So, yeah, I missed some things.

Ty_Burr: 10 pm, not am

JediFonger__Guest_: can u elaborate on how Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose." came to win it? is it that great a film/performance?

Ty_Burr: It's not that great a film (though it's good), but the performance is pretty inarguable in my opinion. Not just the make-up but the whole way she embodied/incarnated a very difficult, iconic woman. I was surprised the Academy didn't go the nostalgia route and give it to Christie (who's also very good in a much subtler role.)

JediFonger__Guest_: re: carell. typical Bostonian.

Ty_Burr: lol

I_am_Tammy__Guest_: I know the the Academy didn't honor I Am Legend very well, and many people felt it wasn't a good enough movie. But I felt Will Smith deserved one, he was awesome in the movie. What did you think of his performance and do you think the script could have been much better?

Ty_Burr: Good, solid performance but not the sort of thing that gets Oscar's notice (like playing a homeless single dad). The script could have been better but the movie was about the setting and effects -- and also it's the third time this movie's been made, all strikes against it in the Oscar stakes. It'd have to be a grand slam to overcome those.

JUNO_FAN__Guest_: What do you think about the chances for a movie production is for the old Weymouth Naval Air Base? I don't understand the politics but it seems like a win-win for the town [no polution,population,etc.] and business.

Ty_Burr: Anything that brings production to the state is a great idea, and the current state film commissioner seems like a can-do guy. Hopefully the powers that be won't louse it up.

whathappened__Guest_: Why was Gary Busey there? The last movie I remember seeing him in was "Rich Man, Poor Man"

Ty_Burr: Hey, if you're a voting member -- and let's not forget that 1978 best actor nomination for "The Buddy Holly Story" -- you can keep crashing the party year after year.

Ty_Burr: They shoulda let him up on the podium -- THAT's entertainment.

Bill_Clinton__Guest_: what does the academy look for in the "best editing" category? i don't get it

Ty_Burr: As many cuts as possible. Actually, since the nominations are chosen by the specific branch, the editors can be pretty smart picking the final five. But the general voting rabble usually goes for the showiest flurry of edits.

Ms_Fit__Guest_: Crashing is right re Busey. He seems like a bull in a china shop. But great fun to watch.

Ty_Burr: They should round up all the borderline Hollywood cases and just let 'em loose in the Kodak Theater. Margot Kidder in Aisle 1!

JediFonger__Guest_: if they wanted fun, release sean young =P


kris__Guest_: Who else do you think qualifies as the "next generation", a la Ellen Page, of oscar-worthy performers? I'm keeping my eyes on James McAvoy...

Ty_Burr: There are some good young up and comers. Freddie Highmore will be interesting to see age into late adolescence. Emily Blunt. Ryan Gosling. I'm not quite getting it on McAvoy, though I think he's got real talent.

Ms_Fit__Guest_: And lordie, how old is Mickey Rooney!!!

Ty_Burr: 186, I believe. That guy amazes me. Seriously, look up his bio on Wikipedia sometime; the man has had a career you would not believe and has been back from the dead more times than you can count. Seven wives! Top box office draw for three years! Played an outrageously racist Japanese guy in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"! The mind boggles.

Ty_Burr: If you want a real kick, dig up the early 30s version of "Midsummer Night's Dream," shot by Warner Brothers with James Cagney as Bottom, 18 year old Olivia DeHaviland as Helena -- and 13 year old Rooney as Puck. Totally bizarre.

jmk__Guest_: Paul Dano?

Ty_Burr: In the up and comer category? Absolutely. He can't do the dreamboat roles a la McAvoy, but he's going to be around for a long while.

Ty_Burr: If the girl who played John Cusack's older daughter in "Grace is Gone" -- a movie that went virtually unseen -- gets more work, she'll be someone to keep an eye out for. SHelan O'Keeffe.

sevenwords__Guest_: For my pool I (wrongly) went with a "Juno" upset win. Will a comedy of any kind ever win the big prize again? I think the last might've been "Annie Hall."

Ty_Burr: The stars have to be aligned *just* right. Some vote-splitting between two serious movies, for instance, or the comedy just has to have the sort of pop-culture momentum that Woody and "Annie Hall" had in '77. Is that really the last comedy to have won BP? If it makes you feel any better, seven, I put my money down on "Little Miss Sunshine" last year and look where that got me.

akc__Guest_: how would you feel about the oscars splitting the catagories into drama and comedy/musical like the globes? my husband still has trouble understanding how chicago won over the other nominees that year

Ty_Burr: ... and similarly...

Lola__Guest_: I did some consulting work for the AMPAS. It's a whole different world out there in LA la land. Do you think the format of the show works? How can they or should they shake things up?

Ty_Burr: ... wait, let me answer...

Ty_Burr: Well, a category change like that will never happen, because the Oscars are too entrenched and hidebound. And that goes against the whole reason for the night, which is so Hollywood can pat itself on the back for making "worthy" films. That's why the Oscars were created in the late 20... to get the moral bluenoses and gov't censors off the studios' backs by saying, see, we make quality fare. Comedies don't fit the bill as well as dramas.

Ty_Burr: Got time for one last question...

Jason_Bourne__Guest_: Do you feel that Gone Baby Gone got snubbed?

Ty_Burr: Arguably, but I'd hate to pick what it should have replaced. I wouldn't have minded seeing Casey Affleck get an actor nom, but while it's a well-made movie it's not a brilliantly directed movie. And the script isn't perfect. But Ryan and Affleck, yeah, and throw in Jill Quigg while we're at it.

Jaye__Guest_: Couldn't Forrest Gump have been thought of as a comedy? It won BP, didn't it?

Ty_Burr: Indeed it did, and indeed it was a comedy -- but an "important" one with big things to say about American and the past 40 years.

Ms_Fit__Guest_: Not a shake up but I vote to just keep the camera on George Clooney for the entire show.

Ty_Burr: Duly noted, Ms Fit. Just let them keep the camera on Marion Cotillard on my TV.

JUNO_FAN__Guest_: are you working on another book or anything else beside your Globe stuff?

Ty_Burr: Yep, another book's in the works, about the rise and fall of the movie star. By which I mean the entire concept. researching now, due in a year and a half, thanks for asking.

Jason_Bourne__Guest_: Myabe E can get some of the people to work the red carpet and make at least the pre-game much more intresting...

Ty_Burr: From your mouth to Gil Cates' ear, Jason. Gotta go, folks -- thanks for playing and have a good week!

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