erik lundegaard

Dead-blogging the Oscars

So what's it all mean?

For the first time since 1997 three films in the top 10 annual box office were nominated best picture, including the no. 1 movie of the year, and for the first time a movie that didn't even place in the top 100 annual box office won best picture. Don't know if the former explains the latter. I.e., we'll give you your blockbusters among the nominees, which allows us to choose small within the nominees. It'll be interesting to see if this becomes the new norm.

More likely it's indicative of what the studios think of quality movies these days. The heads-of-state at Summit Ent., I'm sure, are happy this morning, since their studio won twice as many Oscars as any other, but they should be shamefaced. They released nine pictures in 2009 and only one of them, "The Brothers Bloom," was released smaller, and more quietly, than the best picture of the year, "The Hurt Locker":

Row Movie Title (click to view) Total Gross / Theaters Opening / Theaters Open
1 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $296,307,000 4,124 $142,839,137 4,024 11/20/09
2 Knowing $79,957,634 3,337 $24,604,751 3,332 3/20/09
3 Astro Boy $19,551,067 3,020 $6,702,923 3,014 10/23/09
4 Sorority Row $11,965,282 2,665 $5,059,802 2,665 9/11/09
5 Push $31,811,527 2,313 $10,079,109 2,313 2/6/09
6 Bandslam $5,210,988 2,121 $2,231,273 2,121 8/14/09
7 Next Day Air $10,027,047 1,139 $4,111,043 1,138 5/8/09
8 The Hurt Locker $14,700,000 535 $145,352 4 6/26/09
9 The Brothers Bloom $3,531,756 209 $90,400 4 5/15/09

Apparently they thought twice as much as "Next Day Air," which was released into twice as many theaters as "The Hurt Locker." They thought four times as much as "Bandslam," and five times as much as "Sorority Row," even though none of these films wound up making as much as "The Hurt Locker." They thought that quality didn't matter and suffered financially as a result. Now, for the moment, quality matters. They have a feather in their cap but their cap is ridiculous. 

How much did Summit blow it with "Hurt Locker"? Jeff Wells had a good post last November indicating how clueless most people, most New Yorkers even, were about the movie. He writes:

It's one thing for these women not to have seen an Iraq War film, but to draw a total blank at a mention of the title? This obviously says nothing about the quality of the film, and almost everything about the lackluster marketing effort by Summit.

But in the end they got away with it. They let the Academy do their marketing for them and will now do well in the DVD rental market. If that's a market one wants to rule.

As for the show? Scattered thoughts from our crazy party.

  • Guests started showing at 3 pm for the red carpet. We were watching E!, with Ryan Seacrest, whom I can barely stand to look at let alone listen to. I don't know how he doesn't die of embarassment from being Ryan Seacrest. The feelers he has out are so attuned to the slightest rise or fall of anyone within the show-business community and he responds accordingly: sucking up to the big boys, such as James Cameron, dismissing the lesser mortals, the mere artists. He almost condescends to them. I'll say this, though. I liked him when he was with Sandra Bullock. That's how good Sandra Bullock is. He should interview no one but Sandra Bullock:

Ryan: I don't where to start.
Sandra: Just stop.

  • Everyone agreed Sandra looked beautiful. Everyone was aghast at Charlize Theron's dress—the roses over the boobs. Patricia: "That's not even a good color on her." I commented that J. Lo looked great. Jolie: "When doesn't she?"
  • George Clooney is growing his hair out. Like me. Copycat.
  • Vince on Miley Cyrus' posture: "Stand up, my dear. Stand up! My goodness." Jolie commented that Miley displays a lot of charisma on her show but having seen her on nothing but red carpets she feels like a Celebrity Apprentice waiting to happen.
  • Innovation #1: The top 10 acting nominees introduced at the top of the show. Agin it.
  • Innovation #2: A musical number by someone other than the host, or hosts, in this case by Neil Patrick Harris. It was a good-enough number whose theme fit the co-host format ("You can't do it alone"), and some of the lines were laugh-out loud ("I can't think of botox without you all..."), and the showgirls were, as Patricia said, showgirls, but it still felt light. Maybe it didn't celebrate THE MOVIES enough. The Academy is still looking for another Billy Crystal: someone who can be off-the-cuff funny, do musical numbers, and prick the sensibilities of Hollywood just so while celebrating what they do. No one's had that touch, or charm, since.
  • Innovation #3: The co-hosts. Jeff: "I'm predicting this is not going to work." But it worked not badly. To Zac and Taylor: "This is you in five years." Loved the intro of Agnes Mishkin (i.e., Penelope Cruz) as much as I love Penelope Cruz. The most bizarre interlude was the funniest: the clip of Alec and Steve sleeping together. I roared because it was such a great parody of the way we sleep. Or maybe because it points out how unknowable we all are.
  • Ryan Bingham looked good accepting his Oscar. T-Bone Burnett looked tall. He's the new Michael Jackson with his perpetual sunglasses.
  • Line of the night? Robert Downey, Jr.: "...a collaboration of handsome gifted people and sickly little mole people."
  • Interesting, unexpected tribute to John Hughes. Die young, get tribute.
  • Line of the night? Ben Stiller: "It's amazing how far technology has come."
  • Speech of the night? Geoffrey Fletcher, in a fairly big upset, winning best adapated screenplay for "Precious," and he feels the weight of the moment. "This is for everyone who works on a dream every day."
  • Line of the night? Steve Martin a second later: "I wrote that speech for him."
  • P.S. But what's up with showing every black person in the crowd for Fletcher's win? Morgan Freeman? He wasn't involved in "Precious." I know it was unprecedented, but still.
  • OK, so what asshole, who won best supporting actor last year, is so self-involved he couldn't come back this year to present the award for best supporting actress? So they had to get Robin Williams to do it? Tim: "Wasn't it Heath Ledger?" Oops.
  • We boo the lack of clips for cinematography. If there should be clips for any category, it's cinematography.
  • Line of the night? From "Up"'s Michael Giacchino: "If you want to be creative, go out there and do it. It's not a waste of time." Nice.
  • A shot of George Clooney, bobbing his head goofily to the soundtrack for "Up in the Air." Rico: "You know, I love that guy."
  • Worst cutaway of the night: from Ric O'Barry and his mild proselytizing. C'mon, kids, it's for dolphins! And this is the guy who trained Flipper! By the way, Fisher Stevens may have produced "The Cove" but you get the feeling he didn't do a thousandth of the work as Louie Psihoyos. Yet he took all the credit. I agree with Jeff Wells here. Effin' actors.
  • Innovation #4: Getting people who know the best actor/actress nominee to talk about their career, to talk about working with them, etc. An improvement over last year's innovation, in which it was former winners talking to current nominees. Makes it more personal. It worked as soon as Michelle Pfeiffer started talking about Jeff Bridges, how he was husband, father and actor on the set of "The Fabulous Baker Boys," and got him to tear up. BTW: When I die, I want Oprah to deliver the eulogy.
  • Line of the night? Tim Robbins quoting Morgan Freeman on the set of "Shawshank": "You know what friendship is? Friendship is getting the other person a cup of coffee. Can you do that for me... Ted?"
  • In the middle of Jeff Bridges' speech, Mr. B: "He's so high."
  • At the end of Jeff Bridges' speech: Tim: "The Dude abides." Vinnie: "I don't know about you but I take comfort in that."
  • "Meryl. What can I say?" Stanley Tucci gives Meryl great intro.
  • Speech of the night? Sandra Bullock. Here. "We are all deserving of love." Very, very nice.
  • How much is the Academy giving away these days? Coppola and Spielberg awarding best director to Scorsese? Barbra awarding best director to K. Bigelow? But Barbra couldn't fade into the background, could she? She held the answer, made us wait, said "The time has come." Could've done without that. 
  • Worst music of the evening: Kathyrn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win Best Director and the orchestra serenades her offstage with "I am Woman." Tacky.
  • Best pic. "The Hurt Locker." So even with the innovation of 10 nominees and a new way of scoring, the insiders still knew. There are no surprises.

Me, I won our Oscar pool with 16 of 21 correct. (We don't do short subjects.) Then clean-up, sobering up, the icky feeling of the Barbara Walters special. Bed, bed, bed.

New day! New year! Pierce Brosnan for best supporting actor!

The Dude, more than abiding.

No tagsPosted at 09:15 AM on Mon. Mar 08, 2010 in category Movies - The Oscars  


Mike Smith wrote:

Best line of the night was the Tim Robbins one you called out, worst line of the night was the Streisand one you called out. Man I despise her.

Bigelow seemed utterly charming. Good for her, glad she won.
Comment posted on Mon. Mar 08, 2010 at 09:38 AM

Reed wrote:

Erik, I just want to say that I really appreciate your take on things (not just in this posting, but in general). You've honed your approach on the perfect mix of industry and art. I always get pissed off when the "arty" films don't get their due. Like I mentioned in an earlier posting of yours, it was only in theaters here for one freaking week.

Agreed on Babs. She thought that moment was about her, apparently.

Also, I thought the same thing about Robin Williams, looked up who won last year on the IMDb and felt a bit daft...

Also also, really dug the acceptance speech from Campanella. I highly recommend El Secreto de Sus Ojos whenever they finally decide to release it in the US (shades of what you write above regarding The Hurt Locker - it should have been in cinemas NOW. It was released here in Argentina in mid-August. How long does it take to add subtitles???)
Comment posted on Mon. Mar 08, 2010 at 01:08 PM

Tim wrote:

Credit where it's due, it was Tommy who actually quoted "The Dude abides," I had just made a more generic "Dude" remark that may have prompted him.

What was that odd but kind of funny thing going on with Baldwin and Clooney staring each other down, anyway?
Comment posted on Mon. Mar 08, 2010 at 04:27 PM

Uncle Vinny wrote:

Hey, no fair giving out two "speech of the night" awards. By the way, I'm still haunted by Cyrus' disgraceful posture.
Comment posted on Mon. Mar 08, 2010 at 06:36 PM

Erik wrote:

Reed, when "El Secreto" won I thought, "Hey, maybe now I'll get a chance to see it." Right now, it's scheduled to open in NY and LA on April 16 and probably a month later for the rest of us poor souls. That's the usual M.O. for Sony Classics, its U.S. distributor.

Tommy: Apologies. Dude.

Tim: Not sure about the Baldwin-Clooney thing. Reminded me of Maggie and the one-eyebrow baby on "The Simpsons" but I get the feeling the reference is either more personal or more highbrow. Or maybe more lowbrow: rumors on gawker, etc.

Vinny: Question marks after "speech of the night" indicate they were less awards than subjects for discussion.
Comment posted on Tue. Mar 09, 2010 at 07:27 AM
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