The Looking Glass
by Jennifer Johnston
U.K. theatrical release post for Slumdog Millionaire
reproduced here citing "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. copyright law
Well, the Academy Awards are done for another year ... and a recap of the event (from my perspective of course, although I hope some of you will contribute your own thoughts and choices) is in order. For the record, I "won" at our house. I picked 18 winners from the total of 24 categories ... that's right, including a couple of the "throw a dart" categories. For those who did not watch the show and haven't seen who won, I will list them here. A star (*) beside an individual winner indicates that I called it correctly. Then, after the list, I have my own observations and categories, which I am hopeful will also draw your comments and opinions.
And the winners were (PC aside, there are winners....):
Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire *
Best Director: Danny Boyle for Slumdog *
Best Actor: Sean Penn for Milk *
Best Actress: Kate Winslet for The Reader *
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight *
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona *
Best Animated Feature Film: Wall-E *
Best Foreign Film: Departures (Japan) *
Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black for Milk * (a moving acceptance speech)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog * (having changed my original pick just before the ceremonies began)
Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire (grrrr ... I foolishly changed my first pick here to Trouble the Water)
Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire *
Best Original Song: Jai Ho from Slumdog * (fortunately I changed my vote from O Saya)
Best Film Editing: Slumdog Millionaire (almost went with this one ... should have)
Best Documentary - Short Subject: Smile Pinki (my dart lied on this one)
Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire *
Best Costume Design: The Duchess *
Best Sound Mixing: Slumdog Millionaire (should'a gone with my gut that Slumdog was gonna sweep)
Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight (did go with my gut on Slumdog, but was wrong here)
Best Live Action Short Film: Spielzeugland * (dart did its work here)
Best Animated Short Film: La Maison de Petits Cubes (damned dart!)
Best Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *
Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *
Sean Penn in Milk, photograph by R. Hughes
from Wikipedia Commons
Except for that devious dart, and a couple of mental lapses on my part (see my original prediction about Man on Wire), I was very happy with the Academy's selections (and "the kitty"). And now moving on to my own "categories" and personal picks:
Best Dressed Female: Hands down ... Angelina Jolie ... arguably the most gorgeous woman on the planet ... looking absolutely regal and breath-taking in a beautifully draped black strapless gown by Elie Saab, accessorized with chunky emerald earrings and a HUGE, jaw-dropping emerald ring (Colombian emeralds, 115 carats total for the earrings and 65 carats for the ring). Beyonce takes runner-up for her beautiful, figure-enhancing black and gold fitted floral print (from the House of Dereon, her own fashion house). Kate Winslet was stunning in a gray and black assymetric Atelier Yves Saint Laurent gown and Chopard diamonds. Amy Adams wore a really lovely red dress by Carolina Herrera ... but unfortunately her large gloppy necklace wore her, so points must be deducted. Marion Cotillard (Best Actress Winner for La Vie En Rose) receives points for style in an edgy blue and black number. Evan Rachel Wood was outstanding in a soft beige gown that suited her coloring perfectly (nice to know that she has emerged from her Marilyn Manson liaison without any ill effects on her taste).
Best Dressed Male: Brad Pitt in a Tom Ford tux, with host Hugh Jackman (Burberry tuxedo and Ferragamo shoes) a close runner-up. Robert Downey and Daniel Craig (Dolce & Gabbana) looked great, and Frank Langella was elegant in his black tux, with his daughter Sarah on his arm for the night, but might have shaved a bit closer....
Worst Dressed Female: Melissa Leo (a nominee for Frozen River) in a really tacky brown gown and the wrong jewelry. Give this woman a stylist! Sophia Loren was a strong competitor in this category, as further mentioned below, though it is fair to say that perhaps at her age she doesn't see as well as she once did. (A small meow there....) Meryl Streep deserves dishonorable mention in this category; her hair was terrible and her dress was frumpy ... and she has been contending in this category for a long time, acting talent notwithstanding.
Worst Dressed Male: Mickey Rourke, looking like a depraved Good Humor man, or a pimp in search of a stable. (Although I was sorry to hear of the loss of his beloved dog.)
U.S. cover of Bernard Schlink's The Reader,
reproduced citing "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. copyright law
Miss Ellen's Po'teers Award: (See Gone With the Wind and the great Carol Burnett send-up of same) There were several contenders in this category, including the beautiful Freida Pinto (Slumdog) who was badly dressed by John Galliano (usually a winner) and looked as if her gown had been tied onto her by someone in a drunken stupor; Miley Cyrus in a white, scaly-scalloped thing that would have been more at home at the prom in Nashville (and that belt was a disaster); Tilda Swinton, who apparently utilized the drapes from more than one room in her house; fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker (why do people think this woman is stylish?) in "Cinder-Elly, Cinder-Elly" mode, despite that the gown was from Dior Couture. Reese Witherspoon wore Rodarte ... see the above comment re: Freida Pinto. And the winner is: Tilda Swinton ... by a thread (or several). (grin)
Belle Watling's Po'teers Award: (Also see Gone With the Wind) No contest ... Sophia Loren. There is a cathouse without drapes somewhere....
Best Accessories: Angelina Jolie with Brad Pitt; Brad Pitt with Angelina Jolie.
Sweetest Acceptance Speech: Penelope Cruz, though like many, she ran a bit long. She was lovely in a 60-year old vintage Pierre Balmain gown, with a drop-dead gorgeous 69 carat diamond necklace by Chopard.
Most Moving Acceptance Speech: Dustin Lance Black, the writer of Milk. Sean Penn made a good effort and gets Honorable Mention in this category. Honorable Mention also to A.R. Rahman, who won for Song and Score for Slumdog.
Cheesiest Ploy: Bringing on five former winners in each of the acting categories to state the nominations and shower canned, scripted encomiums on the nominees.
Aging Gracefully Award: Eva Marie Saint was striking in white, looking beautiful at her age without any visible assist(s)....
Faye Dunaway at the 2008 Tribeca Film Awards
Photograph by David Shankbone from Wikipedia Commons
Worst Plastic Surgery (Aside from Mickey Rourke's): No contest ... hands down ... Sophia Loren, who looked ghastly and could barely move her face to deliver her lines (see "canned, scripted encomiums" above). I will note that I did not nominate the King of Plastic, Michael Jackson, in this category because while he may be called many things (and has been), he in no way can be considered a "movie star" ... and besides, he wasn't there (or avoided the cameras if he was). And speaking of egregious plastic surgery mistakes, did anyone see the once-luminous Faye Dunaway (nominated as Best Actress for Bonnie and Clyde, later winning that award for Network) on Grey's Anatomy last week? She has become a hiked-to-the-hairline horror, and obviously went a rhinoplasty (among other things) too far. Of course Cher was elevated to Hall of Fame status some years ago.
There are so many more potential categories and nominees, but I shall let this suffice ... though please feel free to add your own. I (and the readers) would be most interested, I know.
As for the show itself, it was the usual poorly-scripted, waaaay to long, lame production the Academy comes up with year after year. It totally failed to utilize the tremendous talents of host Hugh Jackman, who was a fabulous host and did a great opening number (taking off on his Broadway show, The Boy from Oz) on the Tony Awards a few years ago. The opening number last night was cringe-worthy, with the middle-of-show extravaganza (featuring Jackman and Beyonce) not too much better. Year after year, the Academy laments that the number of viewers is dropping ... and IMHO, one of the major reasons is the almost uniformly bad musical production numbers. Likewise, the scripted banter between presenters is generally egregious.
[Sidebar: Despite the above statements, the overnight ratings for last night's show were up 6% from last year, possibly due to the excitement over Slumdog.]
It's an awards show, people. Just bring the presenters on, have them read the nominations and give out the awards. If more time must be filled, use it for clips from the nominated films and actors. The show would move along faster (please!) and probably retain more of an audience. Again ... my humble opinion....
And so ... we leave the Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for another year ... when of course, criticism above notwithstanding (or that which I may incur over my opinions here), we will be tuned in, with ballots in hand, waiting to know just who the winners (yes, winners!) are....