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Academy Awards

7 weirdest moments at 86th Academy Awards

Posted by Emily Wright March 3, 2014 12:46 AM

John Travolta completely butchered Tony Award-winning actress Idina Menzel's name at the Academy Awards on March 2 -- and that wasn't the weirdest thing that happened.

In no particular order, here are the seven weirdest moments from the 86th Academy Awards that aired live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.


Oscars recap chat with critic Ty Burr

Posted by Katie McLeod March 2, 2014 02:15 PM

Any Oscars surprises? How did Ellen DeGeneres do as host? Globe film critic Ty Burr was online Monday, March 3, at 1 p.m. to chat with you about the 86th Academy Awards. Click the replay button below to catch up on all things Oscars.


Video: Joyce Kulhawik dishes about the 86th Academy Awards, shares predictions

Posted by Katie McLeod February 27, 2014 02:45 PM

With "American Hustle," "Gravity," and "12 Years a Slave" leading the Oscar nominations this year, and Ellen DeGeneres back as the show's host, there's already a lot to talk about. As far as entertainment goes, Bette Midler is taking the stage, Pink is making an appearance, and U2 is giving a performance of "Ordinary Love," featured in the film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," for starters.

Emmy-award winning A&E critic Joyce Kulhawik previews this year's show, highlighting the night's most anticipated moments and making her predictions for winners in each major category.

Mobile users, click here to watch this video.


Oscar nomination reactions from notable names

Posted by Meghan Colloton January 16, 2014 11:37 AM

Twitter was buzzing with reactions to the announcement of the 86th annual Academy Award nominations that aired live Jan. 16 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The award show will air on ABC on March 2 with host Ellen DeGeneres. Here's a recap of the announcements, and read below to see what people are talking about.


86th annual Academy Awards nominees

Posted by Meghan Colloton January 16, 2014 09:16 AM

Here’s a list of the nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jan. 16 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The awards ceremony will take place on March 2.

Which stars and movies do you think should win? Any surprises? Let us know in the comments.


Ellen DeGeneres to host 2014 Oscars

Posted by Rachel Raczka August 2, 2013 11:17 AM

Daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres confirmed today on Twitter that she will host the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. The "Finding Dory" star previously hosted the Oscars in 2007.

The annual award show is set to tape a week later than usual, as to not interfere with the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron were asked to return as producers for the show.

In a press release from the Academy, Zadan and Meron praised DeGeneres as the pick for year's host, saying:

As a longtime friend, we had always hoped to find a project for us to do together and nothing could be more exciting than teaming up to do the Oscars. There are few stars today who have Ellen's gift for comedy, with her great warmth and humanity. She is beloved everywhere and we expect that the audience at the Dolby Theatre, and in homes around the globe, will be as excited by this news as we are.

The 86th Academy Awards will air Sunday, March 2, 2014 on ABC.

Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.

Seth MacFarlane to host 85th Academy Awards

Posted by Rachel Raczka October 1, 2012 12:42 PM

seth-mcfarlane-400.jpg"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane will host the 85th annual Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2013, on ABC. The network released the statement today, citing MacFarlane's "box office success" with his 2012 directorial debut, "Ted," and a rather impressive list of accomplishments, spanning through television, stage, and music. (Did you know MacFarlane received two Grammy nods for his 2011 album, "Music Is Better than Words"? Did you know he released an album? We didn't either.)

MacFarlane, a RISD graduate, was quoted with the following: "It's truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars. My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don't find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen roast."

MacFarlane kicked off the 38th season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" in September, giving audiences just a taste of his live hosting (and singing) abilities but viewers will have to wait until February to see him take the Dolby Theatre stage. (Image via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Oscars recap chat on Feb. 28

Posted by Wesley Morris February 28, 2011 10:53 AM

Ty Burr and I talked about last night's Oscars broadcast. Replay the chat below.

tags movies, Oscars

83d Oscars 11:35 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 11:35 PM

So once again the Oscars are conquered by England. "The Kings's Speech" wins. But that best picture montage was really something. All 10 movies were stitched together into a single inspired short film that looks like it required a lot of research. Give that movie the Oscar. After "The King's Speech" speech, PS 22 from Staten Island sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Why, oh, why couldn't they get these kids suits and dresses? Oh well. Those are the Oscars. I'm going to go for a walk. More tomorrow. Ty Burr and I will be chatting on at 1 p.m.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 11:15 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 11:15 PM

Jeff Bridges arrives to heap warbled praise upon the best actress nominees. Natalie Portman wins. Her speech is nice, and Annette Bening is even nicer not to pull a Kanye West on her. Meanwhile, Sandra Bullock and her suddenly strange-ish face most excellently toast the best-actor nominees, which only reminds us all that she needs another movie soon, please. Colin Firth wins and gives an acceptance speech that has a lot of class, humor, and some wit. Basically, what we'd expect from a Colin Firth acceptance speech.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 11:04 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 11:04 PM

So Hilary Swank has been asked to chaperone last year's director winner, Kathryn Bigelow. Why? In other "why" news: Tom Hooper wins the directing award. There's no "cool" hosting assignment in the world that can cover up that kind of fogeyish choice. But it's hardly surprising, if richly undeserved. But these are the Oscars. What can you do?

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 10:48 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 10:48 PM

So Jennifer Hudson arrives to present the song Oscar to Randy Newman, the same Jennifer Hudson who's made about three movies since she won her Oscar five years ago. I don't think that's a problem her new figure can solve. How many has Halle Berry made? I guess we can ponder that later when Berry pays tribute to Lena Horne. Speaking of depressing news: Celine Dion is singing "Smile" over the necrology. Oh, wait, here's La Berry. Her praise is brief and nice, but it raises a lot questions about how far black people have really come at the movies. The whole thing ends with Horne's great line: "It's not the load that breaks you down. It's the way you carry it." I would say the movies are doing a pitiful job of carrying.

tags Oscar

83d Oscars 10:32 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 10:31 PM

We've hit a good streak. Billy Crystal is taken off ice to remind us what might have been and what deserves again to be. Why are we pretending that the Oscars were ever "cool," and does hiring Franco and Hathaway, whom I love in the movies, solve that "problem"? They're talented and hard-working and, yes, funny, but not cool. Crystal's shtick and the oddly over-processed Bob Hope clips that preceded just suggest that the Academy Awards should be whatever they are: long and corny and earnest. Never, ever cool. Of course, I write that and Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law show up and are cool. But my point stands: Bring back Billy Crystal. Or Whoopi Goldberg. In other news, Downey and Law just gave the visual effects Oscar to "Inception" and editing to "The Social Network."

tags Oscars

83rd Oscars 10:22 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 10:21 PM

The first and, so far, only sustained bit of comedy involves Auto Tuning a scene from three movies -- "Death Hallows Part One," "Toy Story 3," and "Twilight: Eclipse." It's funny, but might have come too late. One of the songs is called "He Doesn't Have a Shirt." Someone needs to take off their shirt during the show. In other news, Oprah arrives to give Charles Ferguson his directing Oscar for "Inside Job," and in her preamble says something wonderful and true, that the documentary Oscar is for "the best movie that did not let us escape." So true.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 10:14 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 10:14 PM

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal are presenting the short filmmaking awards. The winners are "Strangers No More" (documentary) and "God of Love" (not documentary), whose director, in mentioning his lack of a haircut, gives the night's best speech.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 9:56 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 09:56 PM

James Franco already really looks stoned and peaked, liked he has a paper to write when this all over. They bring out Cate Blanchett to present makeup and costume design. Her dress needs an Oscar. In a welcome bit of spontaneity, she gets a look at the "Wolfman" clip and says, "That's gross." I think we're all a bit desperate, at this point, for a Moment. Oh, here it might be. People on the street and one POTUS mention their favorite songs. Oh, never mind, it last 90 seconds and ends with Kevin Spacey singing something from "Top Hat" before rhwy bring out Randy Newman to sing. Someone needs to turn his mic up. Can you hear him? Actually, he's introducing two of the song nominees. Now it's Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi singing from "Tangled," and suddenly we're at some weird talent show-prom-bar mitzvah combo.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 9:48 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 09:48 PM

Scarlett Johansson is presenting the sound awards with Matthew McConaughey. Silly girl, she failed to bring a towel. (He's still melting.) "Inception" wins both awards, and the winners proceed to kneel at Lord Christopher Nolan's feet. During a commercial break Celine Dion sings "Happy Birthday," which means she'll be singing two more times than I will be tonight.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 9:42 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 09:42 PM

Boy, oh boy. We just learned that ABC has reupped for future Oscar broadcasts -- from ABC! It's like they're daring us to watch the Kardashians instead. It's also like Cabletown, the evil company that controls NBC on "30 Rock," has taken over the show. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman just gave Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch their surprise score Oscar for "The Social Network."

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 9:34 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 09:34 PM

Reese Witherspoon, looking a little legally Bardot and a little legally Barbie, gives Christian Bale his supporting actor Oscar. His speech is good, but like everyone he's got speech fatigue, although his singling out Dicky Eklund and Lowell and losing it a bit as he mentions his wife were all classy. But Mr. Bale, your redemption won't be complete until Anne Hathaway knocks you around in the next Batman movie.

tags boston

83d Oscars 9:24 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 09:24 PM

Anne Hathaway just fake-flipped a musical bird to Hugh Jackman, and James Franco just came out dressed like a Fire Island fire-sale Marilyn Monroe. It does inspire a good Charlie Sheen joke. They're followed by Russell Brand and Helen Mirren who make a good duo. I'm not wild about Brand (he's growing on me), but he has just the right brand of teasing irreverence a show like this needs. Hathaway is too earnest, and Franco a little too harsh. And the writing keeps letting them down. They're presenting foreign film, which goes to Susanne Bier of Denmark for "In a Better World."

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 9:14 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 09:13 PM

Anne Hathaway just said, "It's 1929." No kidding. Then she presents an old-timey tribute clip, then Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem walk out. They take the stage to present the screenwriting awards in classy white tuxedoes, looking like they'll be serving martinis to Douglas Fairbanks and Myrna Loy at the Overlook Hotel. Aaron Sorkin wins the adapted Oscar. David Seidler wins the original one for "The King's Speech." (He's American?!)

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 9:07 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 09:07 PM

"The Lost Thing" wins animated short and "Toy Story 3" wins the feature award, presented by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. That block of the Oscars was presented by Listerene, which is fighting something called biofilm, which might mean no more James Cameron movies.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 8:52 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 08:52 PM

Kirk Douglas arrives on the stage, tells Anne Hathaway she's hot, and keeps alive the ABC tradition of maintaining airtime for entertainment legends who've had strokes. He's here to present the supporting actress Oscar, which he does with a lot of hamming in drawing out the announcement of the winner. It's Melissa Leo, who seems truly shocked to get the Oscar from Douglas. She makes a dirty joke about the view and Cate Blanchett. She takes her time, but she's nervous, and makes an oblique reference to her faux Oscar campaign. It's what they call an Oscar moment. She even takes Douglas's cane ("Oh my God," she mouths) as they head backstage. But, sweetie, he really looks like he needs that.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 8:43 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 08:43 PM

Oh no. Krista Smith's Ambien might have taken hold of the broadcast. Tom Hanks is presenting the art-direction and cinematography Oscars while the music pit plays below him. It's like they don't want him to finish. Are we so pressed for time that presenters will now be cut short, too? The Oscar goes to "Alice and Wonderland," which might make perfect sense except, as a moviegoer through those glasses, I could see their work to appreciate it. And Wally Pfister rightly wins for "Inception," which means Roger Deakins, who shot "True Grit," goes Oscar-less again. I'm nervous that already kind of rooting for the end. I need a musical number. Or a blue Ben Stiller.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 8:30 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 08:30 PM

The show begins with clips from the 10 best picture nominees, proving yet again that montages are orgasms for the eye. Meanwhile, having James Franco and Anne Hathaway jump into scenes from a few of the nominated movies, courtesy of "Inception" and Alec Baldwin's brain, might be more interesting than it is good. But it is filmmaking paying tribute to movies in a way that seems more appropriate than live television often does. Then they take the stage, and one wonders why Anne Hathaway didn't wear that dress on the red carpet.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 8:23 p.m. (ABC preshow)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 08:09 PM

So Matthew McConaughey is melting his way down the red carpet. He's doing it wearing the evening's best tuxedo. Before I take a 10-minute steamed-clam break, it should be known that Nicole Kidman's dress is a fan. Oh, and, mysteriously, Marisa Tomei's gown looks a lot better on ABC than on E!.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 8:23 p.m. (ABC preshow)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 08:00 PM

And missing her only opportunity to arrive at anything in a giant, slave-driven plastic swan egg, it's Natalie Portman! Meanwhile, at the bar, Krista Smith is putting James Franco to sleep. If Portman didn't arrive in an egg, Smith's celebrity small-talk has.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 7:53 p.m. (ABC preshow)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 07:53 PM

Boy, this is boring. Right now Reese Witherspoon is sitting in a parlor of some kind talking to Vanity Fair's Krista Smith. It's like watching two Ambiens slide down somebody's throat.

tags Oscars

83d Oscars 7:44 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 07:44 PM
On the way to a commercial break, E! just reminded us that all this red carpetness has been brought to us by Dentyne courtesy of the "Safe Breath Alliance." Presumably, that doesn't include Ryan Seacrest who seems platformed and slightly held separated from the carpetees and, possibly, from his brain. Switching to ABC's preshow.   
tags Oscars

83d Oscars 7:31 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 07:31 PM
Adam Shankman just confirmed to Le Seacrest that Tom Cruise is filming "Rock of Ages" and claims that he can sing. We should be scared/elated/running to collect on that bet, right? Meanwhile, Gwyneth Paltrow, in a dress I like, got the freezer-burn-gown memo, too (and Ryan Seacrest just said "Dickie" to Christian Bale, who sounds fully Welsh again. He had been speaking like a Wahlberg, too.   
tags Oscars

83d Oscars 7:23 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 07:23 PM
Ryan Seacrest's pretending to not know anything about anything never gets totally tired. With Hilary Swank, he pretended to not to know he was in "New Year's Eve," which, in his defense, is probably advisable, but Swank really didn't appear to have any idea what he was talking about: "We have a scene together!"  
tags movies, Oscars

83d Oscars 7:18 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 07:18 PM
This just in from other people's kitchens: Helena Bonham Carter (wearing costume nominee Colleen Atwood) in brothel drapes and Hilary Swank in freezer-burned Muppets.
tags Oscars

83d Oscars 7:02 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 07:02 PM
Also, Cate Blanchett has a worn strip of couture dot candy. But this being Cate Blanchett it's also art, by Givenchy allegedly. This is a dress that says to the other dresses, "It's already been brought," and to Melissa Leo, Mila Kunis, and Scarlett Johansson's: "You guys really should do the Mary Jane Girls movie." 
tags Oscars

83d Oscars 6:50 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 06:50 PM
What is E!'s Kelly Osbourne on? She has liked every single gown with the faintest enthusiasm. Oh, wait, she's going to take a second to evaluate Florence Welch's dress. That might be as close to a real, believable opinion as she gives us all night. In other news, Jennifer Hudson's truly amazing tomato-soup/tangerine (and shockingly tasteful) Versace might be giving her a mammogram -- it's stressful to watch up close. 
tags Oscars

83d Oscars 6:39 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 06:39 PM
Amazing alert: E! just found Jennifer Hudson getting out of her car. No one so far -- besides Russell Brand's mom -- has looked more like she's ready to take this seriously and have fun. She owns that dress. I mean, it's in a headlock and has signed a prenup and everything. Meanwhile, E!'s Giuliana Rancic is turning into Rango before our eyes.  
tags Oscars

83d Oscars 6:25 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 06:25 PM
It's 6:26, and I fear we're in an early dress crisis. Michelle Williams just popped out of a limo looking like sugar-crusted dessert. Amy Adams is wearing a tight gown encrusted with sparkles. Same for Mandy Moore, who I kind of miss as a live, non-animated person. They're all nice, but everybody's glimmering, in a bout of movie-star redundancy. Thank God for Mila Kunis, who's wearing something lavender that simultaneously makes her look cheap and expensive. Le Seacrest's selective "who made your dress" requests must be driving fashion writers nuts. He's learning. Slowly.

83d Oscars 6:10 p.m. (E! red carpet)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 27, 2011 06:10 PM
Well here we are at the 2011 Oscars, on E!, the house of Ryan Seacrest and, sigh, "Khloé & Lamar." Le Seacrest is talking to Melissa Leo, the presumable and richly deserving supporting actress winner, wearing a dress one might wear to accept a Razzie or hold an oil lamp in the 19th century. Sadly, everyone can see in the little mirrors but her. 
tags Oscars

83d Academy Award Nominations

Posted by Wesley Morris January 25, 2011 09:36 AM

Ty Burr and Wesley Morris, Globe Staff

Hollywood tilted significantly and decisively to the northeast this morning. Nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards were announced, and movies set in Boston and its environs, featuring actors either from Massachusetts or playing local natives, represented a historically high percent of the total. Two Bay State dramas were nominated for the best picture Oscar. "The Social Network," a portrait of Harvard social life and anti-social entrepreneurs, received eight nominations, and "The Fighter," which memorializes the city of Lowell and one of its own, the boxer Micky Ward, has seven.

Oscar's acting categories also reflected local color. Jesse Eisenberg was nominated for best actor for his work as the affluent Harvard student and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Supporting-actor nominations went to two men for films with area ties: Jeremy Renner for his role as an amoral Charlestown thug in "The Town," and Christian Bale, who stole "The Fighter" from Mark Wahlberg, playing Micky Ward's crack-addicted brother Dicky Eklund. Wahlberg's performance, which is widely seen as passive in relation to the flashier work of his costars, was omitted from the best-actor list. But his persistence got "The Fighter" made.

In the supporting actress category, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, respectively playing Ward's mother and girlfriend in "The Fighter," were nominated. When all the nominations are taken into account, New England figures significantly in the overall total -- a startling comeback for a state whose film industry was moribund a decade ago.

For area moviegoers, the sheer preponderance of nominated actors, films, and behind-the-camera talent with local connections stands as a major source of pride, evidence that the area has stories to tell that the world wants to see. This says nothing of "Shutter Island," "Conviction," "The Company Men," and "The Town," movies the Academy largely overlooked. The volume and quality of films also confirms the state's hard-won beachhead in the film industry, at a time, ironically, when those gains may be threatened: Recent weeks have seen the Patrick administration oust state film head Nick Paleologos and merge his office into the polyglot new Massachusetts Marketing Partnership. How the business of wooing filmmakers here will change is unknown.

It should be noted that other films made outside the area were nominated as well. ?The King's Speech,? a period drama about a stuttering George VI and his speech therapist, received 12 Academy Award nominations. The popular revenge western ?True Grit? received 10. And the ambitious smash-hit caper thriller "Inception" had eight. In its second year fielding an expanded list of 10 best-picture candidates, since it stopped doing so in 1944, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences nominated an impressive array of films, from earnest family comedy and animated sequels to ambitious summer entertainment and enjoyably sleazy trash.

The field includes "127 Hours," about a hiker whose arm is pinned by a boulder (six); Pixar's animated hit "Toy Story 3" (five); the ballet-world psychological-thriller "Black Swan" (five); the au courant social comedy "The Kids Are All Right," about a Los Angeles lesbian couple coping with the appearance of their teenagers' sperm-donor father (four); and "Winter's Bone," a little-seen independent drama, in which a tough young Ozarks woman (Jennifer Lawrence) scours the backwoods for her deadbeat dad.

Lawrence, a 20-year old, received her first Oscar nomination for best actress. Until "Winter's Bone," her biggest par was as a regular on the comedian Bill Engvall's now-cancelled TBS sitcom. Her fellow nominees have all been nominated before. They are: Annette Bening for her role as an uptight doctor in "The Kids Are All Right"; Nicole Kidman, who plays a vividly grieving mother in "Rabbit Hole"; Natalie Portman for her work, in "Black Swan," as a dancer undergoing a physical and psychological tranformation;  and Michelle Williams as a miserably married wife in "Blue Valentine."

The best-actor race includes Javier Bardem, in a minor surprise, for his role as a psychic networker in "Biutiful"; Jeff Bridges as a rarely sober U.S. Marshal in "True Grit"; Jesse Eisenberg as a cutting, deadly serious college student in "The Social Network"; Colin Firth as a frustrated, tongue-tied royal in "The King's Speech"; and the Oscar broadcast's co-host, James Franco, as an imperiled hiker in "127 Hours."

Joining Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner in the supporting actor contest are: John Hawkes for his role as an intimidating crystal-meth addict in "Winter's Bone; Mark Ruffalo as the feckless sperm donor in "The Kids Are All Right"; and Geoffrey Rush as an unorthodox elocution teacher in "The King's Speech."

In addition to Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, the nominees for supporting actress includes Helena Bonham Carter as the king-to-be's tepid wife in "The King's Speech," Hailee Steinfeld as a sharp young woman bent on catcher the man who killed her father in "True Grit," and Jacki Weaver as a mother forced to do unsavory business for her criminal sons in "Animal Kingdom."  

This years's directing nominees reflect the coming of age of a group of men whose work has been on the cutting edge of commercial cinema for years: David Fincher ("The Social Network"), Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan"), and David O. Russell ("The Fighter"). Only Fincher has been nominated in the directing category before; their appearance together represents an unmistakable generational change. They're joined by Joel and Ethan Coen ("True Grit"), whose work, in general, is by no means conventional and Tom Hooper, whose work in "The King's Speech," by every means is.

"Toy Story 3" will compete in the best animated feature category with the springtime hit "How to Train Your Dragon," and "The Illusionist," a delicate French comedy based on a script idea by the comic genius Jacques Tati, who died in 1982.

For all the variety in this year's nominees, there appear to be a number of sure bets. Firth stands poised to collect a best actor Oscar for "The King's Speech" in part on the momentum of last year's "A Single Man," for which he was nominated but did not win. Barring a Portman upset, Bening is on track for her first Oscar, a best actress award for "The Kids Are All Right." And Bale's performance has won him almost every pre-Oscar acting prize there is, making him close-to-certain victor in his category.

"The Social Network" and "The King's Speech" are considered the films to beat for the best picture of 2010. The two represent strikingly different schools of moviemaking. The latter film is a crowd-pleasing historical drama in the classic Miramax mode (that studio's ex-head, Harvey Weinstein, executive-produced the film for the Weinstein Company). The former is an up-to-the-minute tale of online success and offline betrayal, heavily and shewdly marketed by Sony Pictures, and delivered at a breathless pace. In a sense, boiling the ten films down these two represents a kind of David-and-Goliath, as much as Weinstein can still be considered a David in Hollywood.

Alternatively, this year the truly tiny independent distributor, Roadside Attractions, founded and run by a pair of Boston natives, picked up "Winter's Bone" and kept it in theaters for months. The studio is also releasing Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Biutiful," which opens Friday in Boston and, in addition to Bardem's nomination, is up for the foreign-language Oscar.  

Every year, the Academy manages to omit a few names and titles. This year's include: Bening's co-star, Julianne Moore, and Williams's co-star, Ryan Gosling. "The Town" was on many predictors' short-lists, but Renner represents the movie's sole nomination. And two best picture nominees were directed by women -- "The Kids Are All Right" (Lisa Cholodenko) and "Winter's Bone" (Debra Granik) -- but neither is a directing nominee. Both women are nominated for their screenplays, however. The Academy's directors branch also managed to again pass over Christopher Nolan. Two years ago it was for "The Dark Knight"; this year it ignored his work on "Inception," which was nothing if not directed. His script is nominated in the original screenplay category.

But the story around here is the deserved largesse the Academy has bestowed on the local screen scene. Has Massachusetts come of age as a center of film production and narrative or is this the peak? Given the iffy future -- tightened state budgets, a new film board minus its established guiding force, the potential for "Bahstan" fatigue among Hollywood filmmakers -- it's far too soon to say. For now, the area has 16 Oscar nominations -- second only to California -- and those other 48 states don't.

The 83rd Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 27.

tags movies

Post-Oscars chat with critic Ty Burr (March 8 at noon)

Posted by Katie McLeod March 8, 2010 02:28 AM

Movie critic Ty Burr will field your questions and comments about this year's Academy Awards. Do you agree with the night's big wins? Should "The Hurt Locker" have received the award for best picture along with five others? Share your thoughts with Ty on Monday, March 8, at noon.

tags chats, Oscars

82d Oscars 11:53 p.m. (best director, best picture)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 11:53 PM
It's Barbra Streisand, graciously agreeing to give Kathryn Bigelow her Oscar. As you may know, Streisand has been passed over for nominations in this category, but obviously finds it an honor to lift Bigelow through the Academy's glass ceiling. I believe La Barbra just asked to hold the Oscar. For Bigelow? For herself? It's a nice moment. There's almost no time before Tom Hanks announces that "The Hurt Locker" is also the best picture of the year. Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, and Jeremy Renner go nuts in the aisles and on stage. Very nice. The new voting didn't produce an upset. Another nice moment as Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin sign off with a still-suprised Kathryn Bigelow standing between them holding a pair of Oscars. The show actually got better in the last 45 minutes. Rare. Although the first two hours and 15 minutes or so were dreary. Onward and upward. Thanks for reading everybody. What do you say: next year, "Tron"?  
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 11:38 p.m. (best actress)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 11:38 PM
Another reason I love these live on-stage tributes is because they add a touch a drama and equality to categories that seem to have foregone winners, like Bridges and best actor. Before a name is called, an unknown guy like Jeremy Renner is revealed to be as special and as good as Morgan Freeman and George Clooney. Look at the gang assembled to salute best actress! Forest Whitaker extols Sandra Bullock. Michael Sheen recalls working with Helen Mirren on "The Queen" and hot he was for her on the set. Peter Sarsgaard cracks a joke at Carey Mulligan's expense. Oprah Winfrey Oprahfies on Gabourey Sidibe's behalf. Sidibe's crying. I'm crying. She doesn't need to win. That was her Oscar. Stanley Tucci deprecates for Meryl Streep (he proposes a nomination cap; imagine that).

Sean Penn then arrives to present to the award to... Sandra Bullock. Wow. Wow. Wow. Not in my wildest dreams. Her speech is actually touching and funny. It's the kind of thing only a star could give. Uncle. Bravo. 
tags Oscar

82d Oscars 11:24 p.m. (best actor)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 11:25 PM
Ok, it's best actor, and they've brought the live tributes back. Thank God. These are really, really the best idea this show has had in years. These are the nominees' friends and costars. The speeches are extemporaneous and so sincere. Michelle Pfeiffer gushes for Jeff Bridges. Vera Farmiga burritos George Cloooney. Julianne Moore get emotional for Colin Firth. Tim Robbins salutes Morgan Freeman, with a funny joke about Freeman on the set of "The Shawshank Redemption." I hope it's true. And Colin Farrell dares to set the Internet on fire with gay rumors about him and Jeremy Renner. He says, "Good luck, brother" to Renner like they're all going into surgery or something. Kate Winslet arrives to hand the Oscar to Bridges. I love that he's not out of gas with these speeches. How adorable are his little yelps of joy? He's like a little dog. Jeremy Renner jumped up and down. Bridges is loving this. The Dude is finally an Oscar winner.
tags Oscar

82d Oscars 11:15 p.m. (best foreign language film)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 11:14 PM
Having Pedro Almodovar and Quentin Tarantino present the foreign-language Oscar is inspired -- but only theoretically, since Tarantino appears to have scared poor Pedro. And shock of the night: Argentina's "El Secreto de Sus Ojos" wins! Whodathunkit? And why, oh, why? It's mediocre. My friend Matthew just texted to say, "Una porqueria," which translates to something that's holy but unprintable. His wife, Armida, a Limena, says that the director, Juan Jose Campanella, lives in Manhattan Beach and has been working the industry for years. "He's so establishment." 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 11:02 p.m. (best documentaries, best editing)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 11:02 PM
Matt Damon is presenting best documentary; and do I love that, despite the one-noteness of the nominees (mostly agit-doc), the show has saved this category for the back end. "The Cove" wins, and Fisher Stevens gets an Oscar. For those of you keeping track at home, Fisher Stevens, one; Christopher Plummer; nada. Speaking of Oscar and incongruity: It's Tyler Perry, fast and loose as he presents best editing. He says that Baldwin thought he was the guy in "The Blind Side." Funny. So is the shot of our hosts backstage in a Snuggie. May Perry be invited back. The award goes to "The Hurt Locker."   
tags Oscar

82d Oscars 10:58 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 10:58 PM
My favorite moment of the night occurred during the last commercial break outro. The announcer said something like, "Stay tuned to see if history is made when the award for best director is presented."Will we see a woman win for the first time? Will the first African-American win? Or will some white dude take home the prize - like always?  
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 10:45 p.m. (best score, best visual effects)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 10:45 PM
Best score presenter Jennifer Lopez is already funnier than she was on "Saturday Night Live." She's presenting with Sam Worthington, who whips out a pair of glasses to read the Teleprompter. They introduce only the night's third live entertainment. It's a modern dance troupe, and they're good. But I don't understand. They scrapped the nominee salute and more live stuff but kept the dancing? It doesn't make any sense. Even Debbie Allen at home, is like, "Huh?" The show is all over the place. Michael Giacchino wins for the waltzes in "Up." Oh, hey, Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper, two of our least necessary movie actors, to present best visual effects to "Avatar." One of the winners thanks the moviegoers who, presumably, have helped put his kids through college about 40 times. In other news, I do like Cooper's vest. That might actually be necessary. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 10:34 p.m. (best cinematography)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 10:34 PM
Steve Martin's jokes have the sting or bitterness of mockery but none of the amusement. There was plenty of time for Sandra Bullock as she takes the stage to think about his flat line about how she's his good friend even though he's never met her. She's there to present the cinematography award, which goes to Mauro Fiore for "Avatar." He accepts in Italian. James Taylor appears to sing "In My Life" during the necrology montage, which gracefully brings the evening's two themes together. There are about six categories left. Not that I'm keeping track.   
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 10:24 p.m. (best sound)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 10:24 PM
And now Morgan Freeman winkingly narrates a montage tribute to the sound in "The Dark Knight," which was from last year! People, get over it. It wasn't nominated for best picture. Let's move on: "The Hurt Locker" wins best sound editing and best sound mixing. And Kathryn Bigelow looks really overjoyed. Elizabeth Banks is the Barker's Beauty who did this year's sci-tech awards. Her energy is what the show needs: "Keep it to yourself, James Cameron!" John Travolta arrives to introduce "Inglourious Basterds." He looks like they brought him in from a biker bar in Tuscon.   
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 10:18 p.m. (tribute to, uh, horror films?)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 10:18 PM
The "Paranormal Activity" gag is much worse than the movie. It's followed by Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart, who present a montage tribute to horror films. Or, as she puts it: "Cough! Whore films." Is she ever comfortable doing anything? This tribute is the biggest pander of the night, since as Stewart says no horror film's been nominated for best picture since "The Silence of the Lambs." Or "Crash."   
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 10:11 p.m. (best costume design)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 10:09 PM
Sarah Jessica Parker and Tom Ford look like they belong on a cake at a Chelsea wedding. They're doing best costume design, which goes to Sandy Powell who always seems to win. Now it's Charlize Theron, in her nice dress, to introduce "Precious." She says the movie has four nomination when it has six. (Our first iPad commercial of the night.)  
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 10:05 p.m. (best art direction)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 10:05 PM
Isn't Sigourney Weaver breezy with her bad anecdote about set design during "Alien"? (That noise is still there, by the way.) "Avatar" wins best art direction. One says to James Cameron in the audience, "This is Oscar sees you." It's sure to be a theme. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 9:54 p.m. (best supporting actress)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 09:54 PM
Robin Williams uses a testicle joke that makes us forget that terrible sound glitch during the standing ovation for Lauren Bacall and John Calley. More him, please. Less of the lamp shades behind. They look like a Crate & Barrel showroom. He's presenting the supporting actress Oscar, but that buzzing sound in the auditorium persists. I love that Maggie Gyllenhaal looks so moved by her montage. It's Mo'Nique, who gets a standing ovation, which is spectacular since it's partially for her "strategy" of just doing her talk show instead of having Academy voters over to her house for dinner, which she mentions. Her other speeches have been more rousing, but this one was no less sincere. "And baby" sounds so sexy when she says it to her husband. "And baby" yourself, La Mo.    
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 9:44 p.m. (adapted screenplay)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 09:43 PM
Rachel McAdam's dress leapt off the wall of an art gallery. It's fullness is lovely. She and Jake Gyllenhaal are presenting adapted screenplay. The first surprise of the night, at least for me, Geoffrey Fletcher beats the "Up in the Air" guys for his screenplay for "Precious." It's a nice moment. Sapphire, whose novel the movie's based on, is crying, too. Oh, Geoffrey don't tell them that you're out of words. The band is ready to pounce. But his pauses are so compelling that the band can't bring itself to do it. Bravo.       
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 9:38 p.m. (best makeup)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 09:38 PM
It's Ben Stiller, doing best makeup as a Na'vi. He's right: It seemed like a good idea in rehearsal.  I forgot about all the prosthetics in "Star Trek." It wasn't just about the ears. That's our winner. Before he announces, Stiller has a good bit in which his tail is attached to a fishing pole. An amusing lo-tech touch.     
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 9:28p.m. (best short films)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 09:28 PM
Oh, pulchritude: Here you are. Zoe Saldana and Carey Mulligan are presenting the three short film categories. They're presiding over another clip show. It's wonderful that they're giving props to the men and women who've made short movies, but the suggestion, of course, is that these people will go on to bigger and longer movies. It's a weird message. Anyway, Saldana and Mulligan's dresses looks good together. The charred bottom of Saldana's dress matches the black in Mulligan's. The award goes to "Logorama," whose director apologizes for his French accent, which says everything about the Academy's aversion to foreign-language movies. The next winner is "Music by Prudence," whose director runs ecstatically toward the stage. The woman to his left looks like a crasher, but she's the co-director. Not that it matters, the orchestra cuts her off. The live-action short winner is "The New Tenants." They looks shell-shocked. Sadly, I smell the band. Phew, they made it. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 9:17 p.m. (John Hughes tribute)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 09:17 PM
Holy Cow, it's Molly Ringwald and Ferris Bueller, here to pay tribute to John Hughes. But the eulogies and clips continue. Ay yi yi. Ringwald, though, looks like Carol Burnett starring in "Mame." The clips are an opportunity to see a young Alec Baldwin in "She's Having a Baby." And now the other stars of his movies are here - Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Jon Cryer and Macaulay Culkin. It's a nice moment that suggests a generational shift in the production team or a nod to the 30-45-year-olds watching at home. Same with Neil Patrick Harris opening the show. Is the future of Hollywood musicals a sitcom star? Discuss.        
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 9:11 p.m. (best original screenplay)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 09:11 PM
A shot of Penelope Cruz and her fellow Oscar-winning love, Javier Bardem. Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. (looking like a villain in a gay James Bond movie) are presenting original screenplay, and they have the chemistry that no one else does. She talks about what writers looks for in an actor (subservience). He talks about what actors looks for in a writer (subservience). It's an engagingly funny bit. They should host. Mark Boal wins for "The Hurt Locker."    
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 9:06 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 09:06 PM
I feel really bad for America. I overheard about 20 people today and yesterday talking about how excited they were to watch the show. A lot of those people mentioned that they don't normally watch. So the Academy's makeover and advertising blitz clearly worked. But this is the show they're giving them? I bought a just-in-case energy drink earlier today. I'm afraid I might have to drink it. What time is Mo'Nique's speech? 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 8:57 p.m. (best feature animation)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 08:57 PM
The feature animation category has the nominated stars of the films answer questions from Barbara Walters. The award's presenters, Steve Carell and Cameron Diaz, have more awkward banter. That's it! Martin and Baldwin don't seem like hosts. They seem like glorified presenters. The winner is Pete Docter's "Up." Miley Cyrus and Amanda Seyfried look good giving away the original song award, which gives the producers a chance to show more clips. This is so lazy. Nothing is live? What did the producers produce? And how mad is Anika Noni Rose that she's shown recording her number oh-natural? The song from "Crazy Heart" wins.
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 8:50 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 08:50 PM
I must say I really miss last year's nominee serenades. They really brought the room to life and managed to make each nominee feel special, courtesy of a previous winner. Clips now just seem dull and obligatory. Ryan Reynolds arrives to introduce the first of the 10 best picture nominees, although the solemnity of it all is more befitting a eulogy. There's already no energy, and a movie just died, I think. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 8:42 p.m. (best supporting actor)

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 08:42 PM
This duologue is having its moments. The Jeff Bridges "who else is nominated" for best actor is funny. So is the cutaway to a fake-miffed George Clooney. But it's not a two-man job. It really isn't. Penelope Cruz doesn't look comfortable being herself. Her dress is lovely, though. But these deluxe supporting-actor clips are too much. They're overcompensating for the years where there were no clips. Stanley Tucci just mouthed, "Awful." I didn't like your movie, either, Stanley. The Oscar goes to Christoph Waltz.    
tags Oscars

82d Oscars 8:31 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 08:31 PM
Having the best actor and actress nominees take the stage first is smart: Creating a little bit of drama while suggesting that the night is about them -- or, at least, Gabourey Sidibe, who's working the moment. Then it's Neil Patrick Harris doing an opening number in a dominatrix-shiny tuxedo jacket. He's good, but you miss the hardworking showmanship of Hollywood robot Hugh Jackman. The producers don't seem to know that the stars for cutaways aren't lit. This isn't bad  but where are Baldwin and Martin?  Oh, there they are prancing toward us. The back-and-forth is charming but awkward. Martin tells a "Jerk"/"Precious" joke, about how, he, too, was born poor and black. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 8:18 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 08:16 PM
In a commercial, Whoopi Goldberg is plugging something called Poise, while playing "great" women in history -- the Stature of Liberty, the Princess and the Pea (although, given the product, it's probably "The Princess and the Pee"). Did Jess Cagle just try to insult Tina Fey and Steve Carell? He's like an awkward drunk at a cocktail party. Fey and Carell make him realize what an ass he's been. Now he's asking inane questions to Kate Winslet. I almost miss Ryan.  
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 8:09 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 08:09 PM
Sherri Shepherd is now sassing it up with Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer. I think whoever's in her ear is treating her like she's Kathy Ireland, and, clearly, it's starting to get on her nerves. But I'll say this for Ireland, she's genuine. Apparently, anyway. Morgan Freeman just called her sweet. It doesn't play that way at home. Sherri is with J. Lo, and that dress is really something. It looks great from the back. Um, obviously. She just told Shepherd she likes "Precious," which Shepherd is memorably in. I think people aren't afraid of being open about airing their preferences.
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 8:01 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 08:00 PM
I'm at ABC. Kathy Ireland? Seriously? Okay. But having the five supporting actress nominees stand together on a stage. Another classy ABC innovation. It's dull this time. They're all nervous. Well, Mo'Nique's not. I like that Jess Cagle says all of the "Precious" title. And I take back what I said about La Mo's dress. It's working. Meanwhile, what is going on with Sherri Shepherd and George Clooney? They're talking about his date as if she's not even there. Apparently, she speaks no English. That's not true, but a dis knows no language. Also: Sandra Bullock's lipstick is not red; it's ultraviolet and still not the color of her dress. Look for Kathy Ireland to float over Manhattan in November's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 7:58 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 07:58 PM
I'm moving over to ABC now, but before I go: Cameron Diaz. They should be handing out statues of her. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 7:49 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 07:49 PM
Speaking of useless, it's Gerard Butler, answering Ryan's questions about Butler's tiny dog. One day Seacrest will be made to sit and watch a montage of these cringe-inducing moments. It'll last for hours. Meanwhile, it's Kate Winslet, looking glamorously blah in another of these duplex dresses - hard on top, soft on bottom. It's the color of flat champagne. Nice hair, though. Jeff Bridges looks really relaxed. He knows he's going to win. Although, for some reason the E! viewers just predicted George Clooney to be the winner. Hmmm. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 7:34 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 07:35 PM
The useless Jay and Guiliana are going crazy over Jennifer Lopez's dress. It's the most beautiful roll of carnation Charmin I've ever seen. Meanwhile, Meryl Streep, wearing what would have been a stunning dress if she'd worn it back when she was a nominee for "Silkwood," just blew Ryan off. His questions were pretty bad. Her dress is dated but cool. I can't blame her. Keanu Reeves and Gabourey Sidibe are having a moment. She fist bumps him, then pulls Woody Harrelson over. She owns that carpet. It's like something out of one of the fantasy sequences in "Precious." The irony makes me tear up. "If fashion was porn," she says, "this dress is the money shot." No one know what to say about her dress. They've never seen a plus-size gown. But she looks great. That's the color Mo'Nique's dress should have been. I think they're both going to win. If Sidibe met even a fourth of the voters, that statue is hers. 
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 7:25 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 07:25 PM
How refreshing does Matt Damon look? Not too serious. Not too fratty. And he puts up with Ryan's questions, even his hilariously incriminating questions about Damon's upcoming Liberace movie. Hey, hey, it's Colin Firth, Britishly thinking about whether to answer Ryan's sleep-inducing questions. He does, then opens his tuxedo jacket for him. Queen Latifah, George Clooney, and Oscar-broadcast producer/so-so movie director Adam Shankman have converged on Ryan. Clooney just revealed that he voted for Jeff Bridges -- what truth serum did the "Up in the Air" cast drink. Latifah's pink dress with silver-crusted details is really nice. And Rachel McAdams's is also super -- it's the best Na'vi pelt of the night.   

82d Oscars red carpet 7:19 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 07:19 PM
Charlize Theron just got Glamorstrated. Her pink dress has two roses over both breasts. I don't know who made it but it has an unserious Jean Paul Gautier quality. I laughed, anyway. But the joke's not entirely on her. It's on her breasts, I think. 

82d Oscars red carpet 7:09 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 07:09 PM
Things take a turn for the trashy with the Cyruses. Miley's mother runs over and shows the world her back tattoos. After she plants one on Seacrest, he says, banteringly, "Billy Ray?" Ryan, I don't think he's at all threatened. Now he's talking to Sarah Jessica Parker (and Matthew Broderick). SJP's dress has some oysterage at the top and some egg-yolkiness everywhere else. I was served this gown at a nice tapas bar.

82d Oscars red carpet 7:02 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 07:02 PM
The Glamorstrator just indicated that Faith Hill's dress makes her look like she just won a part in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Brentwood." Tim McGraw, who's with Hill and Quinton Aaron, the other star of "The Blind Side," has no hat on. It must be a really big night.  
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 6:56 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 06:56 PM
Jay, Giuiliana, is it Glamorstrator time? OMG, it is. They just drew an arrow at Carey Mulligan's severely excellent dress. I don't know what the detailing is about, but it's pretty cool. Ok, that's enough. Back to Ryan, please. Oh, there is he is talking to Germany's Diane Kruger in peach/beige/something with ruffles and black featheriness around her waist and neck. She looks like  pastry with goth trim. Delicious. Sandra Bullock's is nice, but I am right about the lipstick. Wipe, Sandy. Wipe.   
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 6:49 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 06:49 PM
Sigourney Weaver just told Ryan she's been studying pole dancing for her next movie. Strange. While Lenny Kravitz talks to him. We see Sandra Bullock walking somewhere else on the carpet. This is something I've never noticed, but her dress looks gold, yet her lipstick is as red as Vera Farmiga's dress. Should your mouth match your gown? Either way, it does not look like something a winner would do. This seems like the kind of thing an Oscar-show frosh like Anna Kendrick should have done. I wonder if someone will suggest Bullock wipe it off before the show. There's a blind side joke here somewhere. Maybe it's in Mariah Carey's purse.
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 6:40 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 06:40 PM
Ryan asks his first "Who made you're dress" question. Sadly, it's to Maggie Gyllenhaal, who's wearing the pelt of some dead Na'Vi. Maybe it looks better in 3D. I do like her man Peter Sarsgaard's new bald haircut and tuxedo. It's got this great plunging, scooped-out vest/cummerbund (I can't tell what it actually is). He's better dressed that even Tom Ford, who's wearing his own tux. The floppy tie is cool. He suffers Ryan Seacrest only a little. You can see it in his face: "Next!"
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 6:33 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 06:33 PM
Another moment of candor. First La Mo confesses to being proud of "Soul Plane." Now Vera Farmiga tells Seacrest that she's rooting for Kathryn Bigelow to win best director. She then realized that that means the man who directed her nominated "Up in the Air" performance, Jason Reitman, would lose. She looked truly chagrined. She should be proud of that gown, with all its dramatic scarlet scalloping. That's a dress.
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 6:26 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 06:26 PM
It's the absurdly lovely Zoe Saldana, wearing probably the strangest dress of the night. The top is disco-ball glittery. The bottom is, is, is like a purple flamingo blew up at her feet. It's bold, actually. Again, like La Mo's, it must be seen in all its glory, and the fashion writers are going bananas because Seacrest isn't asking, "Who are you wearing?" I'm sure whoever's in his ear will correct that.   
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 6:17 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 06:17 PM
It's Mariah Carey and her, um, "diamonds," being in love with Nick Cannon, who's in love back. She is carrying the biggest purse I've seen. What's in there? I really wonder sometimes what women put in their bags. Carey looks like she's packed a sandwich, a copy of Essence, some Clorets, a laptop, and a backup dress. The purse should come with wheels. But she's handling it. Plus, it matches her diamond-crusted hoop earrings. And a fashion-trend expert might have to explain. But are we in store for a night of brooches?   
tags Oscars

82d Oscars red carpet 6:08 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 06:08 PM
Anna Kendrick wears pink, although on TV it looks unflatteringly flesh-colored. Oh, here's Mo'Nique having a moment with Kendrick. La Mo just said she was honored to be in "Soul Plane." I love this woman. Kendrick has moved on, and La Mo wants Ryan Seacrest to know that this movie has changed her life. From the inside. Otherwise, it's not about her. It's about changing lives. Her dress is a blue number with, what, latticed ruching?. It's not quite as nice as the paler, shorter thing she wore Friday to the Spirit Awards. But I might have to see the whole thing. Maybe on ABC? Maybe on stage in two hours.     
tags Oscars

One size fits all

Posted by Mark Feeney March 7, 2010 06:04 PM

   offers this Oscar speech to end all Oscar speeches (would that that were true!). Twenty-nine winners, all in one speech. No Sally Field, though, or Jack Palance push-up.

82d Oscars 5:53 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris March 7, 2010 05:12 PM
I have to say I'm really looking forward to tonight. For the first time in a while, there's real suspense. We have a new voting format to thank for that. When it officially happened, we were all cynical: See America, we watch the same movies as you. But now anything can happen. So there's that. In the meantime, here we are on E!'s red carpet, where Zac Efron is telling Sam Worthington that he saw "Avatar" four times and that Worthington was his favorite thing about it. Worthington's date began tugging him to the next reporter. May this continue.  

And the Oscar for ethical dilemmas goes to. . .

Posted by Mark Feeney March 7, 2010 03:09 PM

            The greatest ethical dilemma I’ve faced as a journalist involved a pair of Oscars. More specifically, it was William Goldman’s pair of Oscars. Goldman, of course, is one of the legendary Hollywood screenwriters. He’d won those Oscars for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) and “All the President’s Men” (!976).

            The site of my dilemma was Goldman’s truly fabulous apartment atop the Carlyle on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This was ten years ago. He’d just published his second Hollywood memoir, “Which Lie Did I Tell?” – wonderful title, though the book is nowhere as good as its predecessor, “Adventures in the Screen Trade.”  I was there to interview Goldman about the book.

goldman_w.jpgAt one point he was called away to take a phone call. The fabulousness of the apartment being what it was, this meant he was well out of earshot several rooms away. So there I sat in his living room, practically within arm's reach of the handsome bookcase on one of whose shelves sat the two statuettes. He’s gone, there’s no else around, and (this is where the dilemma comes in) there are two Oscars in close proximity to me crying out to be hefted!

I ask you, fellow citizen of Movie Nation, what would you have done? On the one hand, I’m there as a reader surrogate; and what reader of a profile of William Goldman wouldn’t want to know what it feels like to heft an Oscar, let alone two? On the other hand, if Goldman comes back and finds my sweaty little hands around his Oscars he’d have had every right to snatch them back and boot me out the door, and where would that leave my readers (not to mention my sense of amour-propre)?

Well, not knowing how long the call would last – and, I would like to think, not being the sort of guest who paws his host’s most prized possessions – I just sat there and that was that.

Except there’s a happy postscript in which my virtue (or was it  my meekness?) found its reward.

Three years ago Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese’s favorite film editor, thelma.jpgwas a couple of weeks away from being presented with the 2007 Coolidge Award. A photographer and I sat in her editing room at Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions, a few doors from Carnegie Hall. I was there to interview Schoonmaker, a truly lovely person (Goldman, in his own way, is a real charmer, too). How lovely? This  is where the reward comes in.

Four days earlier, Thelma had won her third Oscar, for “The Departed.” There it sat on a windowsill, next to a congratulatory bouquet Peter Gabriel had sent (they’d become friends during the filming of “The Last Temptation of Christ,” edited by Schoonmaker and for which Gabriel had written the Grammy-winning score). She asked the photographer and me if we’d like to hold it. You bet we did, so she graciously handed it over to each of us in turn.

I can report that the statuette, as you might imagine, is quite bottom-heavy; and, whether intentionally or not, the tapering nature of Cedric Gibbons’ design insures that the Oscar rests easily within a closed hand. I can only assume it rests that much more easily in the hand when the statuette came to be there by other than furtive means.

Post-Oscar online chat (transcript)

Posted by Ty Burr February 23, 2009 12:08 PM

Chat transcript follows: Come by this space Monday at 2 p.m. to hash over the outrages and overkill (or underwhelmingness) of Oscar 2009. I'll be your host and will take all responsibility for office-pool ballots that went south on my account.

81st Oscars 12:23 p.m. (Post-script)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 23, 2009 12:19 AM

Kate Winslet just finished her post-win press conference, and she's in rare form, taking even the oddest questions like a pro. Despite those two bad movies, Lady Kate, I'm happy you're happy.

By the way, here are the current top Google searches, most of which are Oscar-related -- this includes Will Smith's "dynamite" joke about his flub.

1. jerry lewis
2. inspiration cafe
3. smile pinki
4. domo arigato mr roboto
5. gemase simmons
6. dustin lance black
7. the betrayal
8. man on wire
9. megan mylan
10. the witness from the balcony of room 306
11. boom goes the dynamite
12. heath ledger death
13. la maison en petit cubes
14. spielzeugland
15. jerry louis
16. matilda ledger
17. how did heath ledger die
18. heath ledger wins oscar
19. angie harmon
20. christopher walken
21. george clooney oscar
22. kunio kato
23. toyland
24. keith ledger
25. bill maher documentary
26. academy award winners
27. kate ledger
28. nhem en
29. muscular dystrophy
30. 2009 oscar winners
31. green ribbon
32. the betrayal documentary
33. best supporting actor 2009
34. angelina jolie s father
35. encounters at the end of the world
36. jai ho translation
37. joel grey
38. jean hersholt
39. true north snacks
40. resul pookutty
41. thais baker
42. jennifer aniston oscars
43. alan arkin
44. this way up
45. lavatory lovestory
46. thavisouk phrasavath
47. baz luhrmann
48. richard king
49. james franco
50. the betrayal movie
51. josh brolin
52. scott hamilton kennedy
53. eva marie saint
54. werner herzog
55. hugh jackman wife
56. the proposal
57. watch academy awards live
58. cinematography
59. oscar live stream
60. trouble the water
61. the garden documentary
62. penelope cruz
63. fornication
64. watch oscars live online
65. the conscience of nhem en
66. spielzeugland toyland
67. josh brolin and diane lane
68. mickey rourke loki
69. amanda freitag
70. harvey milk
71. angelica houston
72. funny people trailer
73. original score
74. jerry s kids
75. the soloist
76. i shall pass this way but once
77. what does jai ho mean
78. louisa gummer
79. fred couples wife
80. mr. roboto
81. meryl streep daughter
82. robert pattinson oscars
83. janusz kaminski
84. philip seymour hoffman
85. posthumous oscar
86. new boy
87. goldie hawn
88. philippe petit
89. toyland short film
90. shandi sullivan
91. oscar blog
92. robert downey jr
93. ed catmull
94. oscar results
95. the final inch
96. betty white
97. oscar fashion
98. smile train
99. kate mccauley
100. tasha scott

81st Oscars 11:52 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 11:52 PM

"Jai Ho," people. "Jai Ho." "Slumdog Millionaire" wins best picture and eight of its 10 nominations, losing only to itself in best song and to "The Dark Knight" in sound editing. (How many best-picture winners has Steven Spielberg announced?) There are about 700 people on stage. It's an impressive, mystifying story how this movie came to conquer the world. Frankly, I'm glad it's all over. It's been wearying talking up "Milk" in the shadow of "Slumdog" all these months. Of course, for Mumbai the party is just starting, depending on where on the "Slumdog" divide Mumbaikar stand. Me? I'm standing so I can pee. My legs haven't moved in six hours. Jai ho, everybody. Thanks for sitting with me.

81st Oscars 11:37 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 11:37 PM

Another impressive gang of past winners, this time for best actor. But it's already off to a dubious start with Michael Douglas telling Frank Langella that his Richard Nixon is the definitive movie portrait while Anthony Hopkins stands on the same stage. Robert De Niro reroutes things, saying to Sean Penn that it's amazing that he's gotten away with playing straight guys for all these years (I know!). Adrien Brody does Richard Jenkins. Hopkins does Brad Pitt, and Ben Kingsley does Mickey Rourke. I wonder if they drew straws to pick the man they salute.

The Oscar goes to Sean Penn. "You commie homo-loving sons of guns," he says, depriving us what was sure to be a speech for the ages from Mickey Rourke. Penn says something nice about Rourke and proclaims the need for the passing of gay marriage laws. It's a decent acknowledgment of a political moment, and a far milder speech than Penn could have given. Is it possible that a little of Milk's elegance is now part permanently part of Penn? Could he be hosting the show in top hat and tails next year? Also, one of the few American winners this evening, for what it's worth.

81st Oscars 11:26 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 11:26 PM

That is a titanic best-actress assembly to pay tribute to this year's actress nominees. MacLaine. Berry. Kidman. Cotillard. And Loren. I'm tearing up. I'm not sure why. It's really quite wonderful. MacLaine's words to Anne Hathaway are really those of an acting coach and a grandmother: a private, seemingly heartfelt appreciation for the whole world to hear. Under these circumstances, they're all winners, but the Oscar goes to Kate Winslet, and the crowd goes a little bit nuts. She's just asked her father to whistle so she can find him. He does. Who is this man, with the nice hat and sly grin? Mickey Rourke eat your heart out. (Quick research reveals Papa Winslet is an actor, too.) This is Winslet's best speech of her recent circuit. The "suck it up" moment to Meryl Streep is practically Streepian.

81st Oscars 11:19 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 11:19 PM

It's best director time, as presented by Reese Witherspoon to Danny Boyle, who first pays tribute to Tigger and the people who've put the show on. How nice. He goes on to thank Mumbai, which is also nice. So it's probable I'll be very wrong about a best-picture win for "Milk," but there's still plenty of time for anything to happen, and it looks like there are only three awards left.

81st Oscars 11:12 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 11:12 PM

Queen Latifah sings during the necrology. Cyd Charisse. Bernie Mac. Bud Stone. Van Johnson. Kon Ichikawa. Roy Scheider. Michael Crichton. Nina Foch. Robert Mulligan. Richard Widmark. Claude Berri. Paul Scofield. Ricardo Montalban. Isaac Hayes. Jules Dassin. James Whitmore. Charlton Heston. Anthony Minghella. Sydney Pollack. Paul Newman. Where's my Kleenex?

81st Oscars 10:53 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 11:06 PM

Wow, it's our first real upset! "Departures" wins best foreign-language film over "Waltz with Bashir." It's the one of the nominees I didn't see. But whenever this happens, it means the movie will probably break somebody's heart and be FedEx-ed to American art houses in minutes.

81st Oscars 10:52 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 10:51 PM

It's time for original score and song -- or, as we call it at my house, proofreading time. I'm back and -- catty comment alert -- what happened to Zac Efron's hair and Alicia Keys's makeup (she looks like she missed the cut for "RuPaul's Drag Race")? They give the original score award to A.R. Rahman for "Slumdog Millionaire" then introduce the three song-nominee performances.

Uh-oh: It's brown-people night at the Anytown, U.S.A. cultural center. But hold up, it's also "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire." That's my jam. This "live" version sounds a little canned, though, and John Legend interrupting the exuberance doesn't help (John, I don't want a Frappuccino!). Danny Boyle grips his face -- not at John Legend (as far I can tell), but at all these prizes. I think the reality is sinking in: You're going to have to give a speech in a few minutes. The commercial break seems wrong: The "Slumdog" dancers were still working as the producers cut away.

81st Oscars 10:41 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 10:37 PM

This feels like it's zipping by. Although: I'm a little desperate for something to make up for Luhrmann's train-wreck. It's already time for the Jerry Lewis tribute (is it really after 10:30? ) Eddie Murphy is presenting Lewis his Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Lewis looks great, more like himself than I can remember. If only the clip show had been longer. It barely exceeded the length of his short, sweet speech.

81st Oscars 10:22 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 10:22 PM

Tom Cruise just made me laugh in a Jimmy Kimmel promo. This is a man who needs more comedies. We want to laugh with him, at him, through him. Whatever. Just stop with the piety. By the way, is he our $4 billion man? Speaking of money: We're on to the montage for action movies, which is excitingly assembled but kind of problematic since the Academy still doesn't have a category for stunt work.

Will Smith has just risen out of the floor to do the effects categories. This, I believe, is our $4 billion man. The tux alone must be worth at least two. "Benjamin Button" wins visual effects. "The Dark Knight" wins sound editing. (Is that movie's co-writer and director, Christopher Nolan, seated in the nose-bleeds?) "Slumdog Millionaire" wins sound mixing; and one of the three winners, Resul Pookutty, is beside himself. Chris Dickens wins film editing for "Slumdog Millionaire." So for those of you keeping score at home, I think that's three/three for "Slumdog."

81st Oscars 10:13 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 10:13 PM

Albert Maysles has made an engrossing documentary tribute to the nominated documentary directors. Then presenter Bill Maher comes out and pays tribute to himself. James Marsh, who made "Man on Wire," about Philippe Petit's walk across the World Trade Center towers, wins. Petit joins the filmmakers onstage and balances his Oscar on his lips, which is almost as brilliant as James Franco and Seth Rogen's trying to turn Janusz Kaminski's two Oscars into bongs. ("Smile Pinki," about children with cleft palates in India, wins the documentary short category. I saw none of these short documentaries movies, I'm embarrassed to say. Congratulations, Megan Mylan.)

81st Oscars 10:03 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 10:03 PM

Five supporting-actor winners from the past salute the supporting actor nominees of this year. This isn't as touching as the supporting-actress nominees, but it is a veritable "where are they now?" moment - Joel Grey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Kline. Gooding turns his serenade of Robert Downey into the sort of entertaining cultural commentary that makes you sad he doesn't make watchable movies anymore. Just underwear commercials. (Show him the roles. Please.) His plea for better parts for black actors is a really a plea for himself. Maybe somebody's listening. Maybe they've seen "Radio," and it's just too late.

Kline does a classy job with the Heath Ledger portion of the salute (he's got good writing to work with). Ledger's family accepts his Oscar. Kate Winslet tears up again. Anne Hathaway and Angelina Jolie go misty, too. Ladies, save something for your category.

81st Oscars 9:53 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 09:53 PM

Sorry mom, it's Beyoncé, who will now proceed to have a razzle-dazzle-off with Hugh Jackman. They're performing every song to appear in a movie ever, including from "High School Musical 3." This is the first low of the evening. It's a Vegasy low. I'm expecting to Siegfried and Roy. Céline, perhaps. It's not gay. It's not good. It's not even bad. Just -- how you say? -- off. And I suspect Beyoncé knows it. She's a perfectionist, and it appears she was lip-synching, which I don't think she's done since Destiny's Child. Baz Luhrmann put this number together, and he's been exposed. Most of the songs are terrible. But, really, he's not a live-theater guy, despite those operas he's done. This thing was a conceptual mess (why have Seyfried, Hudgens, Efron, and Dominic Cooper also crowd in Jackman and Beyoncé? Luhrmann needs a camera to frame action then hack it up. Here he crams the stage with nonsense. That might have been worse than anything in any "High School Musical."

81st Oscars 9:43 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 09:43 PM

James Franco and Seth Rogen are "Pineapple Express"-ing the hell out of their filmed montage, which Rogen and Judd Apatow wrote. It's funny as they laugh at clips from "The Reader" and "Doubt" while confusing Stellan Skarsgard in "Mamma Mia!" with Bill Nighy and Ray Winstone, which even the non-stoned do. Things turn surreal when Janusz Kaminski shows up. The trio appears live to present live-action short, which "Toyland" wins and which I did not think should win. I meant to say it will. But some kind of transposition in the print paper (and subsequently online) made suggested that I thought "Manon on the Asphalt" would win. It didn't have a shot. But it was the best of the five.

81st Oscars 9:38 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 09:38 PM

In an accidental tribute to Hanna Schmitz of "The Reader," Jessica Biel, this year's science-awards host, fights to prove her literacy. Meanwhile, her dress fights itself not to eat the rest of her. This could be something from a 1950s horror movie, with Vincent Price: William Castle presents "The Dress!" It's unclear at the moment who made it, but it doesn't look like it would survive a "Project Runway" judging. Notice Tim Gunn didn't go near Biel during the pre-show.

81st Oscars 9:32 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 09:32 PM

Ben Stiller does a nifty brokedown-Joaquin Phoenix impersonation that was a big hit when someone else did it last night at the Spirit Awards. Marisa Tomei really likes Stiller's. Natalie Portman plays the gamely exasperated straight woman. And as Stiller's bit turns peripatetic, the camerapeople improvise with him. Conveniently, the category is cinematography, which Anthony Dod Mantle wins for "Slumdog Milllionaire."

81st Oscars 9:26 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 09:26 PM

We're on to a montage of romance in 2008, presented by Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried, whose dress, sadly, I am no longer that into. It's interesting: montages that reach back to last year as opposed to the last 60 years, as is customary at this show. There's a single clip from "Milk" and about six from "Benjamin Button." Oh, well. When it's over, one of the announcers says, "Stay tuned for an appearance by an actor whose movies have made over $4 billion dollars!" I guess we love money, too.

81st Oscars 9:22 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 09:15 PM

Red carpet fairy Sarah Jessica Parker and the sexiest man in the room (sorry, Mr. Jackman), Daniel Craig, are giving away art direction, costumes, and makeup. They've got no human chemistry, but their clothes are in love. (Donald Graham Burt and Victor J. Zolfo, of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," win for art direction; a very nervous Michael O'Connor of "The Duchess" wins for costume, which I ought to have known; and Greg Cannon wins for makeup for "Benjamin Button".) How smart to turn three categories in one well-produced sequence. They've really thought about how to make this seem classily smooth, not hasty and desperate. It's working.

81st Oscars 9:04 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 09:04 PM

I hate hot girl-fat guy pairings, but Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black really have something. They're presenting a montage looking back on the year in animation. This is another way of lessening the blow of not being nominated or winning, or, in this case, not being "WALL-E," which wins the Oscar. Andrew Stanton, wearing a velour wall-hanging, seems pleased and reveals that he was once cast in a production of "Hello Dolly." I'm not kidding about the Broadway-ness of things.

Holy cow! "La Maison en Petits Cubes" wins best animated short! That was a surprise even if I predicted it (It's a wonderful movie). The director Kunio Katô, who's Japanese, says, "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto," which is what I would have said had I won.

81st Oscars 8:53 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:53 PM

Steve Martin and Tina Fey are here doing more comedy than you get from most movies in a single year. They're presenting the screenplay award (they're writers, too). While the clips play, words from the scripts appear onscreen, and Martin and Fey take turns reading. I'll stop Jess Cagle-ing soon, I promise, but this is a real salute to the movies. Dustin Lance Black wins original screenplay for "Milk." This is a much better speech than the one he gave at the Spirit Awards yesterday. He mentions gay rights. It's political but far more eloquent than the usual political awards speech. It's personal, too. It's how you'd expect a writer (and Harvey Milk acolyte) to express himself. Cut awkwardly back to Martin and Fey feigning heterosexual love.

81st Oscars 8:47 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:47 PM

But somebody has to win and it's Penélope Cruz, deservingly for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." She thanks Pedro Almodovar, and shares the award with her fellow Spanish actors and Hispanics all over the world. Kate Winslet is in tears. So am I. Could they keep this up for four more hours? These salutes really emphasize that at the end of the day the Oscar is not just a peer-to-peer award or a commercial for Hollywood, it's about a kind of very exclusive, highly visible fandom.

81st Oscars 8:42 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:41 PM

Supporting Actress winners of yore have just walked in to welcome someone new to the club. This is special. Eva Marie Saint isn't just a member, she's also a fan -- in this case, of Viola Davis, who can't quite believe it. This might be better than winning. "Bless you, Amy," says a very funny (if tackily dressed) Whoopi Goldberg to Amy Adams. The writers are making it work, too. Judging from the tears in everybody's eyes, the nominees are already winners.

81st Oscars 8:31 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:30 PM

So the show has begun. Will anyone watch? The set looks great in a throwback-to-the 1930s way -- the crystal curtain, the vaguely Art-Deco set. Hugh Jackman, the showman with the GQ face and triple-X name, might turn out to be a genius host. He'll kill himself for a standing ovation.

Who did this opening production number, with the homemade sets? It's very Michel Gondry. But the number's themselves... We're at the Tonys. "Ohhh, Nixon," Jackman moans to Anne Hathaway, who carried on the stage King Kong/Rhett Butler style. This sequence was really special, including the shout-out to the barely nominated "Dark Knight." The giant auditorium feels like a cabaret. It's like he's sitting on my lap. (Again: not that I'd like that. No, not me.)

81st Oscars 8:28 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:27 PM

Here's a preview from Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times of how tonight's show might go:

"In its slightly madcap devotion to tradition, the academy insists that all of the awards, no matter how obscure, must be given out on camera--compared to say, the Grammys, which only presents 8 or 10 of their 100-plus awards on their telecast. With the Oscars, once you add the musical numbers, the tribute to deceased luminaries, honorary awards and host and presenter patter, you don't have much time to try anything new. That hasn't stopped Mark and Condon from broadly hinting to virtually every reporter they've talked to--including me, at lunch the other day--that they're determined to freshen up the awards as much as possible. Besides the most obvious change--hiring Hugh Jackman as host--they've brought in Baz Luhrmann to do a big production number, have Judd Apatow paying tribute to comedies (the wildly popular genre that, ahem, never wins any awards), asked documentary legend Albert Maysles to celebrate documentaries and persuaded Queen Latifah to sing a show tune during the in-memoriam segment. There are sure to be other surprises as well, starting with a new look for the audience seating."

81st Oscars 8:21 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:21 PM

Robin Roberts pays tribute to Richard Jenkins, and the rest of America says, "That's who that guy is!" It's a sweet moment. And Tim Gunn just told supporting-actress nominee Marisa Tomei, whose dress has grown on me, that he prefers her with her clothes on. Merely the first indication of how gay the evening will be. I'm so excited.

81st Oscars 8:19 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:19 PM

Wow, a montage of clips in tribute to movie accountants. That is so Boston Globe charticle.

81st Oscars 8:15 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:15 PM

The fawning job this year falls to Entertainment Weekly's new boss Jess Cagle, who appears to be personifying the magazine's recent we-heart-everything tone. He just told Miley Cyrus that she'll be on this carpet a lot. He's probably right, but seriously.

81st Oscars 8:09 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:09 PM

Not to go bananas with this, but Tim Gunn is -- to paraphrase Tim Gunn -- making it work. How cool is it that he's talking to Valentino? There are so many televisions that are turned off right now. It's great. The elegant Robin Roberts is with all of "Slumdog Millionaire" and makes talking to an entire megalopolis look easy. She is also about three Efrons tall. Amazing. (Zac basically just told her he wants Dev Patel's phone number. Vanessa Hudgens didn't bat an eyelash.) Now she's with Viola Davis, who looks great in gold.

81st Oscars 8:03 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 08:03 PM

Tim Gunn, where have you been all this show's life? You have taste. You have class. You have wit. And no matter how complimentary you are, you never seem to fawn. You know who made the clothes and really care about how they look on their wearers. You just paid your respects to the Pitt-Jolies and seemed relatively unfazed (no need to clean up your area!). If this is any indication of how the evening might go from a competence standpoint: Woo-hoo.

81st Oscars 7:59 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 07:59 PM

So I've crossed over to ABC, which is likely to be a lollapalooza compared to E! -- and it is. There's an editor and some enthusiasm. ABC has stolen the other network's punctuation trademark. It's ABC! for now.

81st Oscars 7:42 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 07:42 PM

Philip Seymour Hoffman: obviously one of our great actors, not one of our great dressers. Lots of dark, mis-tailored fabric. If I can be that writer: I have "Doubts" about his outfit. He's wearing a Snuggie. Cut to the be-tuxed Daniel Craig who, with all due respect to the opposite sex, looks stunning. Jessica Biel's dress comes with a bib, perfect for men who plan to drool on her -- that includes you, Mr. Timberlake.

With all due respect to Sam Mendes, Kate Winslet should be Daniel Craig's date - her dress looks royal (it's blue) but there's some kind of beading creeping across it that seems, to my teenage mind, like comic-book netting. It's chic and science-fictional, and I think I love it. Stan Lee, what about you? Meanwhile, Tilda Swinton, in two outfits (frilly and champagne on top, loose and black on bottom), has come dressed as Winslet's nemesis -- it's a joke on elegance. Her Marvel Comics name would be Tilda Two Tone.

81st Oscars 7:38 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 07:38 PM

The Pitt-Jolies have arrived, and Giuliana is having an orgasm. I can't say I disagree. The matching sheen is Olympics-caliber (synchronized glamour?). Really, it's the little things about them that make me happy. Those emerald earrings on her. The Clark Gable mustache part of Mr. Pitt's goatee. Excuse me, I'm going to go tidy up my area.

81st Oscars 7:31 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 07:28 PM

How could it be that Mickey Rourke is the best-dressed man at the show? White suit, black vest, lots of accessories (more than the ladies). He could have used a little more tailoring (yes, I just typed that, but it's true). In any case: This, gentlemen, is how to not wear a tuxedo to an event.

Queen Latifah is with Ryan. She's performing, too? Sweet Beyoncé! How many production numbers will there be? There are only three song nominees.

I know what I've been saying about colors. But Anne Hathaway's dress is pretty incredible. More sequins, but these, unlike Miley Cyrus's, belong in a museum of marine biology, not in a bento box.

81st Oscars 7:04 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 07:04 PM

Natalie Portman in pink! I couldn't see the dress but colors look great in high-definition. More of those, please. Robert Pattinson looks like a pre-asylum Michael Shannon. The Hair -- the magical hair -- is on its way back, "Twilight" girls. You can love him again.

Things are picking up on the carpet. Yet something is off. Sarah Jessica Parker is making it OK, though. She's like a red-carpet fairy, isn't she? She's brought her husband, Matthew Broderick, and is appearing to love him out loud. ("No, it's midnight blue!" she corrects Ryan, while stroking a tuxedo that looks black to me. ) For his part, Broderick looks like he ate something bad -- maybe all the tabloid-magazine covers rudely speculating on his fidelity.

81st Oscars 6:59 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 06:59 PM

Heidi Klum ought to be at every awards show. That, to me, is A Dress - red, slitted, origami-asymmetry, and a shoulder situation that seems to have a life of its own. On anybody else, that dress would be wearing them. She has a lovely haircut, great jewels, and enthusiasm. She knows she looks good. So does Taraji P. Henson, who just hiked up her gown to show us all, courtesy of Ryan (everything seems lost on him), her ankle tribute to her late father.

I wish Marisa Tomei had gone for the hyperactive pilates-instructor look she sported to perfection at the Golden Globes. Tonight, in a porcelain one-piece, she looks tamed. The great Melissa Leo, though, has a better dress than she did last night at the Spirit Awards. This one is monotone, though not quite monotonous (and how about that Jane Fonda hair?). Amanda Seyfriend, Meryl Streeps's daughter in "Mamma Mia!," looks great, also in red with a giant, elaborate bow. I like Amy Adams's necklace. It's like somebody threw a candy dish around her neck.

81st Oscars 6:50 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 06:50 PM

Some discussion of supporting-actress nominee Taraji P. Henson's gown. It's pretty, has a gorgeous tail, but I wish it had more color. Meanwhile, Ryan talks to Dev Patel and Freida Pinto ("Are the rumors true? Are you guys dating?," interrupts Giuliana. If only our congresspeople would cut to the chase like that.) During their talk, a woman with giant breasts lurks in the background. Apparently, she's attached to the Starbucks soundtrack generator John Legend, who apparently loves "Slumdog Millionaire." As Ryan talks to Danny Boyle, the director of "Slumdog Millionaire," he inquires whether Boyle brought anyone else from "the slums" to the show. Oh, Ryan!

81st Oscars 6:45 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 06:45 PM

The kids from "Slumdog Millionaire" are on the carpet. Ryan can't pronounce their names. He can't speak Hindi. What good is he? "Wow, she speaks good English," he says of one of the actors. "Those kids are delicious!" says Giuliana. Not as much as Miley Cyrus's dress, but if you're into eating small Asian actors...

81st Oscars 6:33 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 06:32 PM

Supporting-actor nominee Michael Shannon has hit the carpet. He's selected the same pouffed-out hairdo that made Drew Barrymore look like Tippi Hedren in the climax of "The Birds." Don't worry, Michael. You can be Suzanne Pleshette.

Vanessa Hudgens, who's a doll in the literal sense, compared herself to a "young Audrey Hepburn." She was talking about her cheap-looking dress (sorry, Marchesa), and still it was jarring. She and her partner in chastity, Zac Efron, might be doing a number together. Heaven help us.

A gentleman on E! just announced some kind of elaborate, "dramatic" presenter situation. It could be interesting, but, really it sounds very much like "Deal or No Deal."

The new producers, Larry Mark and Bill Condon, attempt to upstage the gawking foreplay might be working. This is the slowest pre-show ever.

81st Oscars 6:07 p.m. (Pre-Show)

Posted by Wesley Morris February 22, 2009 06:07 PM

So here we are on the red carpet with E!. How will they fill two hours with stuff to do, if the rumors are true -- that the presenters have to use a special entrance to preserve freshness for the actual show? That would imply that being on the red carpet this year is lame. There's Virginia Madsen. There's Anthony Hopkins (so tan)! What on earth will the E! Star Tracker track?

Giuliana DePandi has brought out the movie-hyper Ben Lyons for his predictions. Ryan Seacrest and Miley Cyrus discuss her dress. It's some kind of scalloped, sequined, scaled thing. The shell-buckled belt forces the issue. Not only is she seaworthy tonight. In that dress, she's sushi-worthy, too. "I'll have one Hannah Montana Dragon Boat, please."

In other news, Hugh Jackman just told told Giuliana about all the big surprises that he can't talk about - the intimacy, the spontaneity, the exclusivity ("whatever happens tonight can happen only at the Oscars"). This, of course, makes me think Mr. Jackman will be hosting the show from my living room. (Not that I'd want him to or anything. No, not me.)

Online chat Friday at 1 pm

Posted by Ty Burr January 23, 2009 08:27 AM

I'll be chatting live about the Oscar nominations, Sundance, and other movie-related news today at 1 p.m. in this space. Come on by and rant (or rave).

tags Oscars

Oscar hearts Benjamin Button

Posted by Wesley Morris January 22, 2009 04:34 PM

Oscar nominees Taraji P. Henson and Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

And now the nation's euphoria shifts, for a few minutes, from Obama to Oscar. The nominations are here, and, as these things go, they're pretty fascinating. Because the Academy needs a big, long, costumed spectacle (no, "Australia," not you), "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" wound up with 13 nominations, including picture, director for David Fincher (I'll pretend it's for "Zodiac"), and an actor nomination for Brad Pitt. This is a fascinating list, both for what's on it and what isn't. The Reader?" Really? It did better than at least I thought it would -- picture, director, screenplay, cinematography, and actress – which means there are a lot of people in Hollywood who take their Holocaust movies with a cup of tea. That, or they truly miss the film's producers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, both of whom died last year.

Meanwhile, "The Dark Knight," released by ailing Warner Bros, was too dark for these cautiously optimistic times, which, in part, is why "Slumdog Millionaire" received 10 nominations, including one for picture and another for director, while Batman and, to some extent, "WALL-E" are snubbed. (One's origins as a comic book and the other's being a cartoon should not be discounted, either.)

"Milk" feels like a movie of our moment, especially in the Academy’s California backyard, where tussling over the legalization of gay marriage continues. More important is the possibility that the Academy, this year, wants to see light amid the dark at this putatively hopeful juncture. Harvey Milk, for all practical purposes, represents Obaman social, cultural, and political change. While “Slumdog Millionaire” sends its camera careening through the ghettos, call centers, torture chambers, and corruptly hosted game shows of Mumbai to come back with the happy, if hardly front-page, news that love is all you need. Even “Frost/Nixon,” with its toothless, postlapsarian Tricky Dick suddenly seems to have a defensive bright side: Dude, the White House is in such better hands now.

The movie industry tends to skew liberal and sentimental – last year’s “There Will Be Blood”/”No Country for Old Men” combo notwithstanding. But you have to ask how Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight,” with its dystopic metropolis and neo-con homeland security ideas, might have been received under a McCain presidency. Oh, well. For now, it’s all good, as they say. Unless, of course, you happen to be Sally Hawkins, whose unstoppable optimism in “Happy-Go-Lucky” didn’t seem to cut it for the actors branch, which went with five comparatively somber performances for best actress. (Ok, four. “Doubt” is a comedy, right?)

Kate Winslet’s nomination for “The Reader” in that category, alongside Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Melissa Leo, and Meryl Streep, was also interesting. The people who arranged these awards campaigns saw that Winslet had two steaming prestige movies (“The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road”) hurtling toward earth – or at least toward the best actress category, where there’s room for only one performance per performer. Sensing disaster, Winslet’s work as a Nazi prison guard on trial was downgraded to a supporting part, which is like calling an SUV a big-wheel. That strategy won her two Golden Globes and two Screen Actors Guild nominations. The Academy, however, saw differently. Winslet was nominated for “The Reader” (the better of her two problematic performances) not “Revolutionary Road,” a movie whose only major nomination came for Michael Shannon, who almost literally brings the house down as a mental patient who visits Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio for dinner.

The poor showing for that movie suggests that it was probably too pristine for voters. It snagged nominations for art direction and costume design, apt acknowledgements that the director Sam Mendes had made a dollhouse of Richard Yates’s novel. Of course, if the Academy is averse to expensive-looking furniture dressed up as filmmaking, how does one explain “Frost/Nixon” or “The Reader”? Well, that’s important furniture. (“The Reader”’s most crucial nomination is for Chris Menges and Roger Deakins's cinematography.)

It’s interesting to note that the director of “The Reader,” Stephen Daldry, has made three movies (“Billy Elliot” and “The Hours” are the others) and now has three director nominations. This is a remarkable, unparalleled average. It’s also inexplicable. But Daldry excels at a certain kind of tastefulness that both audiences and an industry can admire. Of his movie, only “Billy Elliot” is alive with any kind filmmaking verve. These other two movies are triumphs of middlebrow self-congratulation: I’ve captured suffering, cooked it, and served it with a lime risotto.

Three of Daldry’s fellow nominees – Gus Van Sant, David Fincher, and Danny Boyle – have been recognized for some of their more accessible and popular work, which is hardly a crime. It's just very Oscar. In Van Sant’s case, he puts his brilliant avant-garde-film ideas to work in “Milk,” a rousing, unconventional act of movie biography that turns one man’s story into the story of a movement. Fincher directs up such a storm in “Benjamin Button” that choosing to bookend the movie with Hurricane Katrina’s approach seems redundant. And I prefer Boyle in a less hectic frame of mind (“28 Days Later” being a gonzo exception), but his movie, despite its script and character problems, at least brims with color and life.

More blathering to follow in the coming weeks. The actual broadcast – the 81st – is on February 22nd.

Oscar nominations! (The major ones)

Posted by Wesley Morris January 22, 2009 08:44 AM

And the nominees are...

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Reader”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”

Amy Adams, “Doubt”
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis, “Doubt”
Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”

Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”

“The Baader-Meinhof Complex” (Germany)
“The Class” (France)
“Departures” (Japan)
“Revanche” (Austria)
“Waltz with Bashir” (Israel)

This is a link to the complete list. (More soon.)

Tomorrow's Oscar nominees today

Posted by Wesley Morris January 21, 2009 11:59 AM

Tomorrow morning the Oscar nominations arrive, and there's some last-minute speculation about who and what will be in or, in the immortal word of Heidi Klum, out. For now, I'll make a drive-by list of the six major categories and tomorrow will apply more thought (but not too much, I swear).


Certainly: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Milk," "Slumdog Millionaire"
Probably: "Frost/Nixon," "The Dark Knight,"
Maybe, but probably not: "Doubt," "Gran Torino," "The Reader," "Revolutionary Road"
Hopefully: "WALL-E"

Certainly: Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"; David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"
Probably: Ron Howard, "Frost Nixon"; Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight"
Maybe, but probably not: Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Sam Mendes, "Revolutionary Road"; Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Hopefully: Andrew Stanton, "WALL-E"

Certainly: Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Probably: Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Maybe, but probably not: Tom Cruise, "Valkyrie"; Leonardo DiCaprio "Revolutionary Road"; Colin Farrell, "In Bruges"
Hopefully: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"

Certainly: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road"
Probably: Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Maybe, but probably not: Kristin Scott-Thomas, "I Loved You So Long"; Michelle Williams, "Wendy and Lucy"
Hopefully: Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"

Certainly: Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Probably: Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Dev Patel in "Slumdog Millionaire"
Maybe, but probably not: Aaron Eckhart, "The Dark Knight," Bill Irwin, "Rachel Getting Married"; David Kross, "The Reader"
Hopefully: Tom Cruise, "Tropic Thunder"

Certainly: Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Penélope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Probably: Amy Adams, "Doubt"; " Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
Maybe, but probably not: Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"; Rosemarie DeWitt, "Rachel Getting Married; Misty Upham, "Frozen River"
Hopefully: Hiam Abbass, "The Visitor"

More Oscar foreign language screw-ups

Posted by Ty Burr January 14, 2009 10:09 AM


Scott Feinberg at the LA Times' awards blog The Envelope reports on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' foreign-language short list, a group of nine films that -- once again -- leaves out a couple of the most well-received imports of the year.

Last year it was Romania's "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" and France's "Persepolis" that got the shaft. As the 2009 awards takes shape, covering the 2008 calendar year, the list of six films nominated by several hundred Academy members who are interested enough to screen a minimum number of the 65 eligible films, augmented by three films chosen by a new 20-member executive committee -- aka, a "panel of experts" -- still doesn't make outsiders happy. Missing is Italy's "Gomorrah" (photo above), a fact-based expose of the Mafia in Naples that has been on a number of 10-best lists (including Wesley's), won the Grand Prix at Cannes, and was nominated for a Golden Globe. A lesser-known but much-loved foreign-language contender that is off the list is "Captain Abu Raed," a heart-tugging drama that's Jordan's first-ever submission to the Oscars.

Making the list are a few high-profile titles like Golden Globe-winner "Waltz with Bashir" (opening on Friday in Boston), Turkey's Cannes hit "Three Monkeys," and France's "The Class" (also on Wesley's list and opening here in February) as well as movies that are off my radar, like Mexico's "Tear This Heart Out" and Japan's "Departures." Of the nine, five will make it to the final step when nominations are announced Jan. 22.

Feinberg, who has made a point of seeing as many of the contenders as he can this year, isn't arguing that any of the nine are unworthy movies -- just that "Gomorrah" and "Captain Abu Raed" (a personal favorite of his) are worthier and that anyone who has been paying attention would agree. I feel his pain, but I think there's a conceptual disjunct here: That the Oscars are supposed to reflect critical reality as opposed to Hollywood reality.

More than the Golden Globes -- glitzier but selected by ostensibly working journalists -- the Academy Awards are a popularity contest that serve as a core sample of AMPAS members' opinions at the time the nominations and ballots are mailed in. This jibes with show-business reality in the acting and picture categories, but in areas that require context and expertise -- the documentary and foreign-language categories most notoriously -- the Oscars can't help looking naive. To participate in the foreign-language shortlisting process, an Academy member has to watch a lot of foreign language movies (most of them at home on screeners, I'm guessing), and for that, you need time on your hands. Consequently, the nominators tend to be older voters who (again, I'm guessing) aren't as open to violence, outre sexuality, or new ways of seeing things as a younger crowd might be. At the very least, this explains why so many Holocaust movies get nominated.

Where Feinberg errs, I think, is in his insistence that the Oscars have to conform to the opinions of the critical and festival communities, who in most cases are the only people who have seen these films at this point. He's wrong: Oscar voters can do what they damn well want and, if they want to look like know-nothings, they'll suffer for it in the long run. The Academy wasn't founded back in the 1920s as an arbiter of taste but as a PR move designed to keep Washington bluenoses, state censors, and labor agitators at a safe distance: the awards thing was just window dressing. To take it as a genuine imprimatur of quality is wishful thinking at best, naive at worst.

That said, everyone knows what the words "Oscar winner for best foreign language film" mean on a newspaper ad: an audience, and often the only audience a foreign film gets in this country. In that sense, "Gomorrah" and "Captain Abu Raed" have both lost a major foothold in the US marketplace, and that's a particular shame. But it's not just the Oscar nomination process that's broken. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

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