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Oscars Blow-by-Blow 2011

Posted by NumberSix , 28 February 2011 · 638 views

Presented below is the timeline of events as I witnessed them during tonight's ABC telecast of the 83rd Academy Awards. All quotes are approximate as best as possible without benefit of rewatching, cribbing from national news outlets, or much proofreading.

8:30 - A montage of the Best Picture nominees prefaces a standard get-to-the-awards-show pretaped comedy segment in which cohosts Academy Award Nominee James Franco and Academy Award Nominee Anne Hathaway insert themselves into the dreams of former Oscar cohost Academy Award Nominee Alec Baldwin, whose dreams are narrated in person by Academy Award Winner Morgan Freeman. Our cohosts run into assorted nominees -- a starstruck Franco blurts out to Rooster Cogburn, "I loved you in Tron!" Hathaway fails to impress Vincent Cassel with the Dance of the Brown Duck, replete with chocolate-colored leotards and late-autumn disposable leaf tutu. Baldwin finds them and scoffs, "You just got Inceptioned!" before they inexplicably exit the segment in a time-traveling DeLorean.

8:38 - Franco and Hathaway finally take the stage for real. Hathaway grouses about her lack of nomination for her porn dramedy Love and Other Drugs ("It used to be, you get naked, you get nominated! Not anymore"). From within the massive studio audience, Hathaway's mom and Franco's grandma take turns standing up to deliver a punchline apiece.

8:41 - Mini-salute to Gone with the Wind, the first film to win Best Picture, Cinematography, and Art Direction. Two-Time Academy Award Winner Tom Hanks lists the only other winners of this randomly selected hat trick -- Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, West Side Story, Schindler's List, and Titanic. This lengthy introduction is nice but thoroughly pointless because the winner of Best Art Direction is Alice in Wonderland, nominated for neither of the other two awards. Cowinner Robert Stromberg worries about his figure onstage, "Why didn't I lose that twenty pounds?" then offers to Tim Burton, "Meet me with a saw, because half of this is yours!" Perhaps to clarify which half, Stromberg pops a Barbie-sized Mad Hatter hat on his award's head. Now it's ready to star in Henry Selick's next film.

8:46 - Tom Hanks sticks around to present Best Cinematography to Wally Pfister for Inception. He stammers through his first few thank-yous, but stops to shush the audience's premature applause. ("You're takin' up my time!")

8:51 - In the feistiest performance of the night, Three-Time Academy Award Nominee Kirk Douglas ("...and I lost EVERY TIME!") overcomes his Dick Clark accent to steal the show (to Franco: "You look much better out of the cave!") and present Best Supporting Actress, but not before several intentional stalls for comedic faux-dramatic effect, greatly enjoying the heck out of milking the moment. ("Hugh Jackman is laughing...Colin Firth is not laughing!")

8:56 - Someday, winner Melissa Leo is allowed to accept Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter. She asks Douglas to pinch her, then motions at the statue in his hand and asks in disbeliefe, "Mine?" She goes a little off the rails and becomes the only winner to require the tape-delay censor when she exclaims, "When I watched Kate [Winslet] two years ago she looked so ****ing cool!"

9:01 - Hathaway bounces back from the F-bomb: "It's the young and hip Oscars!"

9:02 - Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake present animated Oscars. Timberlake uses a phone app to transform the stage background into an homage to Shrek, which won the first Best Animated Feature Oscar back in 2001. With apropos ambience established, Best Animated Short goes to The Lost Thing, thus ruining a whole lot of Oscar pools. Meanwhile over at Pixar, everyone responsible for "Day and Night" is efficiently executed.

9:05 - Kunis and Timberlake, who is definitely not Banksy despite his insistence as such, the wildly predictable winner is Toy Story 3, which irritates my son to no end because he and I both thought highly of How to Train Your Dragon. Also to no surprise, director Lee Unkrich calls Pixar "the most awesome place on the planet to make movies!" We already knew that from the extras on all your company's past DVDs, but it's nice to have insider knowledge corroborate all that.

9:12 - After a brief flashback to the very first Oscar ceremony in 1929, No Country for Old Men costars Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem dance together in white tuxes to a clarinet serenade, then present Best Adapted Screenplay to The Social Network's Aaron Sorkin, who can't resist drawing tenuous parallels with Paddy Chayefsky's Best Original Screenplay win for the adjectiveless Network. He warns his daughter Roxie from the podium, "I am gonna have to insist on some respect from your guinea pig!" The rapid-fire Sorkin squeezes in several hundred other words before becoming the first winner orchestra'd off the stage.

9:16 - The odd couple of Brolin and Bardem hand Best Original Screenplay to former stammerer David Seidler for The King's Speech. The 73-year-old accepts with elegance and eloquence while admitting, "My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer." Among others he also thanks "the Queen, for not putting me in the Tower of London for using the Melissa Leo F-word."

9:23 - Hathaway belts out a quick spoof of "On My Own" in which she scorns an anonymous performer with whom she was once supposed to sing, to whom she refers only as "a Hugh Jackass", and who reputedly "stuck his false retractable claws into my heart!" In the audience, Hugh Jackman cringes in his seat with a Perry-Mason-villain look of guilt for reasons unknown.

Before anything odd can happen, Franco returns to Hathaway's side dressed as Marilyn Monroe. Thankfully he doesn't try to sing. ("The weird part is I just got a text from Charlie Sheen...")

9:25 - Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren is forced to share showtime with Russell Brand. She speaks only in French. He pretends to translate. Hilarity ensues for Russell Brand fans. Best Foreign Film goes to Denmark's In a Better World, whose director Susanne Bier accepts in simple English.

9:29 - Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon hands off Best Supporting Actor Christian Bale, who surveys all the talent watching him and assures any nervous censors, "I'm not gonna drop the F-bomb like she did. I've done that plenty before." Bale introduces the real-life Dicky Eklund out in the audience, and even plugs Dicky's official website.

9:38 - The President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- whose name I missed and refuse to look up -- takes only a minute of our time to announce that they've extended their contract with ABC through 2020. Why we needed this blatant ABC commercial during the show rather than just a short Variety sidebar at some other, genuinely appropriate time is beyond me.

9:39 - An apparently gracious Hathaway introduces Hugh Jackman as "the Wolver to my Reen", whatever that means. Because he's Australian, he's required to be accompanied by his Australian Australia costar Nicole Kidman of Australia. The unnecessarily Australian duo introduce a montage of movie music -- the manadtory samples of West Side Story, E.T., Star Wars that must be in every movie-music montage ever. Best Original Score goes to The Social Network atmospherist Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (and friend), who is at least the third person to ask us, "Is this really happening?"

9:45 - Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey share the stage in order to reduce what had been some slightly escalating chemistry levels. Taking turns talking about "sowwwnd" does the trick, as all chemistry within a 100-foot radius is extinguished. Inception takes back-to-back awards for Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, each of which are very different awards for reasons that don't matter to me because all I need to know is their very duality helps inflate Inception's total Oscar count. Meanwhile, my son, ever the young anti-populist, grouses about the Academy's flagrant disrespect toward Tron Legacy.

9:53 - Marisa Tomei is this year's token young woman forced to host the annual complex SciTech Awards Banquet, held each year apart from the main Oscars ceremony for the sake of the viewers at home who might otherwise take that time to nod off and miss all the really good awards. This year's winners involve phrases such as "bounce-light technology", "easy control in heavy objects", and I thought I heard "Spider-Cam", which might be cool to see as long as no suffering occurs when they tie a tiny miner's cap to a spider's head.

9:55 - Academy Award Winner Cate Blanchett stands in front of a verdant Lord of the Rings display, shows us a few clips from that trilogy, then moves on to Best Makeup without once mentioning Elizabeth. The legendary Rick Baker wins for The Wolfman ("I'm smiling so big, my face hurts!"), along with a very excitable young Dave Elsey, who had imagined himself someday losing an Oscar to Baker, not sharing one.

9:58 - Blanchett again avoids the subject of Elizabeth while giving Best Costume Design to Alice in Wonderland. Winner Colleen Atwood slooooowly takes the stage and reads a long, prepared speech off an index card that sounds as if portions were quoted from the Alice DVD box. Not even being orchestra'd is enough to sway her from her appointed duty of reading the entirety of that card.

10:01 - Man-on-the-street interviews usually spell comedy death, but here they're used to let real people name their favorite Oscar-winning songs, including but not limited to winners and nominees as diverse as Eminem's "Lose Yourself", Three 6 Mafia's "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", and Judy Garland's "The Trolley Song". The one and only President Obama weighs in with "As Time Goes By", a wistful classic that was never nominated.

Kevin Spacey then materializes out of nowhere to introduce two of the Best Original Song Performances. Randy Newman performs Toy Story 3's "Friend in Me 2010" though a poor mixing job allows his piano and drum accompaniment to drown out his vocals. From Disney's Disney's Tangled, "I See the Light" is performed by the movie's original stars, Mandy Moore and TV's Chuck...which DOES NOT COMPUTE.

10:11 - The names of Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal are picked out of a hat as co-presenters for Best Documentary Short, a category they advise can make or break your Oscar ballot. "They'll inspire you, and they just might make you a winner!" Our family has found that the safest bet is usually anything remotely related to the Holocaust. Closest to that by six degrees of atrocity is the Israel-set "Strangers No More".

10:14 - Princess Giselle and Prince Dastan stick around to co-present Best Live-Action Short Film to the cute, affable "God of Love". Writer/director/star Luke Matheny looks as though he left that set in the same nice suit and drove straight to the Kodak Theatre. He plugs the shorts' availability on iTunes, thanks his peers at NYU, and thanks his mom for providing craft services on set.

10:17 - NYU alumnus Franco gives a shout-out to Matheny, then makes way for a music-video montage celebrating the complete lack of 2010 musicals (die, Burlesque, DIE) by proferring cleverly edited, painstakingly Auto-Tuned new songs from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 ("Tiny Ball of Light"), Toy Story 3 ("We're Still Here"), The Social Network ("Fishing for Facebook") and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ("He Doesn't Own a Shirt").

10:19 - Academy Award Nominee The One And Only Oprah is proud to present Best Documentary Feature. In the audience, Joel Coen fails to be entertained and almost looks asleep. The winner is Inside Job because of overwhelming recession relevance. Co-director Charles Ferguson exclaims from his pulpit that since this movie was made, "Not a single financial executive has gone to jail. And that's wrong." Sorry about your failure, dude.

10:26 - Former Oscar host Billy Crystal reminds us what a funny Oscar host looks like, then tops himself with legacy clips of Bob Hope hosting the 25th Academy Awards (the first to be televised), the source of that "Passover" joke we have to watch him retell year after year after year...but I still smile a little every time.

10:31 - A digitally manipulated Bob Hope voice sample (BOOOOOOOO) segues into co-presenters Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr., paired presumably because both will never be mistaken for saints. After the kind of gratuitous cheap shot at Downey's checkered past that got Ricky Gervais sternly frowned upon at the Golden Globes, the guys give Best Visual Effects to Inception.

10:34 - Downey announces, "Jude Law no longer has a ride to the after-parties, if anyone's interested." With that, Best Film Editing goes to The Social Network, whose reps avoid being orchestra'd by saving time with a leadoff of, "We'd like to thank everyone that David thanked," though I think the guy meant "Aaron" as in Sorkin, especially since "David" as in Fincher was held at a safe distance away from the microphone all night long.

10:41 - Quick throwaway joke from Franco about this year's "inappropriate" movie titles -- Winter's Bone, Rabbit Hole, How to Train Your Dragon. That rimshot should be arriving for Franco any day now.

10:42 - Academy Award Winner Jennifer Hudson introduces the other two Best Original Song performances. Florence "and the Machine" Welch teams with Academy Award Winner A. R. Rahman for his 127 Hours tune, then is followed by a nervous country music performance from Academy Award Winner Gwyneth Paltrow.

10:45 - Randy Newman celebrates -- no joke -- his twentieth Oscar nomination, but only his second win. He chats about the annual nominees' dinner ("where they have a Randy Newman Chicken by this time") and protests the lack of a fifth nominee.

10:52 - Celine Dion croons along to the annual In Memoriam segment, which differs this year in that the audience Applause-O-Meter has been discontinued. Notable names to me: Leslie Nielsen, Robert Culp, Dennis Hopper, Tony Curtis, Pete Postlethwaite, Gloria Stuart, Lynn Redgrave, Arthur Penn, director Peter Yates, Jill Clayburgh, Blake Edwards, Irvin Kershner, Dino DeLaurentiis, and Kevin McCarthy.

10:56 - A Very Special One-Woman In Memoriam Main Event is devoted to the late Lena Horne, narrated by Academy Award Winner Halle Berry, who reveals Horne was the first black performer to sign a contract with a major studio, even though she mostly performed as a singer, arguably only has acting credits in eight films, and the last of those was the execrable The Wiz. Advantage: diversity.

11:01 - Two-Time Academy Award Winner Hilary Swank and Academy Award Winner Kathryn Bigelow stand together as strong-willed independent successful women to announce a category with zero female nominees. Best Director goes to Tom Hooper for The King's Speech, a project he took based on a recommendation from his mom. Once again the day is saved thanks to...women!

11:05 - Academy Award Nominee Annette Bening tells us about the second annual Governors Ball, at which four separate awards were presented: honorary Oscars to Eli Wallach, Jean-Luc Godard (albeit in absentia), and a silent-film historian; and the Irving Thalberg Award to director Francis Ford Coppola. By removing these non-competitive awards from the regular telecast, viewers are denied up to four intermission opportunities, but should be grateful to get that extra hour's worth of sleep.

11:11 - Academy Award Winner The Dude has the privilege of walking us through Best Actress with kind TelePrompted words for each nominee...though Jennifer Lawrence is shocked and amused that her selected clip from Winter's Bone is also her character's bloodiest. Nicole Kidman also seems to have eased up on the Botox. Expected winner Natalie Portman -- whose Black Swan was the only film in this category to earn more than $25 million at the US box office -- holds back the understandable tears and thanks "everyone who ever hired me", from Luc Besson on up.

11:19 - Hathaway flubs a line in classic SNL style and nods to anyone playing an at-home Oscar drinking game. Academy Award Winner Sandra Bullock returns the favor to The Dude and his four fellow Best Actor nominees. Jesse Eisenberg wins Most Inscrutable as her Facebook jokes bounce right off him. Expected winner King Colin Firth is a myriad of emotional reactions -- fearing that "my career's just peaked" and disturbed that some part of him is about to react with "dance moves". He thanks his King's Speech coworkers for indulging his "fleeting delusion of royalty" and makes sure to name-check Tom Ford, his director on last year's Best-Actor-losing A Single Man.

11:31 - After one last montage of the ten Best Picture nominees, all interwoven with the big speech from The King's Speech, Enough-Time Academy Award Winner Steven Spielberg invites all the King's men to rush the stage and share in the Best Picture glory. The third guy at the mic is very nearly orchestra'd, until the orchestra remembers this is Best Picture, not Best Art Direction.

11:38 - The grand finale: a performance of Academy Award Winner "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by the fifth-grade choir from PS22 of Staten Island. No one in the theater has the heart to tell them that Waiting for "Superman" wasn't even nominated. They're later joined onstage by all the night's winners holding their statues high, most of all Melissa "the F-Bomber" Leo.

11:42 - The End. The final tally: four apiece for The King's Speech and Inception; three apiece for The Social Network; and two apiece for The Fighter, Toy Story 3, and Alice in Wonderland.

Also: one for The Wolfman, and absolute zero for True Grit. That's all kinds of fair.

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