The Mood of the Party

February 2, 2010

As 2009 inched to a close, a few thoughts, updates and a small bit of news.

First, the news: we’ve decided to take a year off from the annual Oscar party. This wasn’t an easy decision – as you know, I’ve hosted an Academy Awards party annually since 1986, and at time of writing, this comprises over 25% of all years when the Academy Awards have been awarded. Still, for various reasons, we need to be dark this year. Look for us in 2011, when the Oscars-in-Black-and-White will be back, blacker-and-whiter than ever.

Second, I am very tardy in a summary from last year- the awards for the best-of-the-best in movies from 2008! Below I report the choices of the Academy, the popular vote at the party (“the mood of the party” as I describe below)  and, finally, my own assessment:

Performance by an actor in a leading role: the Academy selected Sean Penn in “Milk”. Mood of the party and I both agreed with the Academy.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role: the Academy selected Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”. Mood of the party = Robert Downey Junior in “Tropic Thunder”. I went off-page and wrote in Brendam Gleeson in “In Bruges” for his masterful, understated, powerful performance – the performance of the year IMHO.

Performance by an actress in a leading role: the Academy selected Kate Winslet in “The Reader”. Mood of the party = Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”. My money was on Kate Winslet, but for “Revolutionary Road” and not “The Reader”. Althought Revolutionary Road was a dog of a movie, she gave a full-force, tremendous performance.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role: the Academy selected Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”. Mood of the party was evenly split between Cruz and Viola Davis in “Doubt”. I didn’t have strong feelings on this category, but remain unenamoured with Ms. Cruz. If I had to choose, my vote was with Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.

Best animated feature film of the year: the Academy selected “WALL-E” (Walt Disney) over “Bolt” and “Kung Fu Panda” and both the mood of the party and I overwhelmingly agreed.

Achievement in art direction: the Academy chose “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo. The mood of the party was “The Dark Knight”. I actually sided with the Academy on this one.

Achievement in cinematography: the Academy preferred “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle. The mood of the party slummed as well. My write-in vote went for “In Bruges” – a movie where the cinematography was actually central to the story; it was part of the story. This doesn’t happen often enough.

Achievement in costume design: the Oscar went to “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor, and the party agreed. I threw a bone to “Milk” (Get it? Milk. Bone.)

Achievement in directing: everyone and their (slum)dog agreed: “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle.

Best documentary feature: the Academy and I enthusiastically agreed on “Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall in association with Red Box Films Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn. The party selected “Encounters at the End of the World” in a close vote.

Best documentary short subject: “Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan was the choice of the party and the Academy. Presumably some of the voters actually saw this Oscar winning short…

Achievement in film editing: the unanimous choice among myself, the party and the Academy was “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens.

Best foreign language film of the year: the party and I agreed on “Waltz with Bashir”. The Academy went their own way and gave the Oscar to “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan.

Achievement in makeup: this category was easy and everyone agreed on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score): again, everyone agreed on “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song): clean sweep for “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar. Curiously, this song has been cited by those who were advocating for the rule change on Original Song for the Oscars in 2010 – the argument is that it was such mediocre choice that perhaps some years no Oscar should be awarded in this category. While I agree with this sentiment (shape-up Disney!), “Jai Ho” was a kick-butt number and totally deserving of Oscar.

Best motion picture of the year: all agreed “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production, Christian Colson, Producer.

Best animated short film: the Academy went with “La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato. The party went with Pixar and “Presto”. I had nothing intelligent to contribute to this category.

Best live action short film: the Oscar went to “Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank.

Achievement in sound editing: “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King took the nod. The party and I went with “Iron Man”.

Achievement in sound mixing: the Academy liked “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty, while the party and I overwhelmingly favored “WALL-E”.

Achievement in visual effects: the Oscar went to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron. This was a tough category, but and the party preferred “The Dark Night”. For my vote, I think the Academy got this one right on the button.

Adapted screenplay: a sweep for “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy.

Original screenplay: everyone agreed with the Academy’s selection of “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black.

And so closes, at last, another year at the movies. Good Milk, Buttons and Slumdogs to all.

Photos online

March 14, 2009

Amazing what having a little time to recover from surgery can do! The Oscar photos are online ! As always, everyone looked (and was) fabulous!

Still left to be done: the final post with Spacedcowboy’s picks compared with  the “mood of the party” vs what the Academy chose. Stand-by!

In the interim, enjoy the opening of one of the best Academy Awards shows in years. I am Wolverine!

Movin’ On

February 25, 2009

A few updates today: party deconstruction continues, albeit at a reduced pace. Real-life came back for both SpacedCowboy and MovieGirl, so the schedule slipped a bit, but progress was nevertheless made:

  • The bar is back to its (lamentable) home. This happened before 7am this morning.
  • Drink cart is back in its spot (still laden with drinks, though!). Also done before 7am.
  • I’ve pulled aside empty bottles of the Oscar wine, to pull the labels and add to my album of memorable wines/labels!
  • Recycling/garbage day in our area of Pasadena; our bins are full.
  • More leftovers were consumed. Yum-o!

Important request: one party guest may have lost her glasses! Please check your bags, clothes, etc. for the following:

A pair of wire-rimmed glasses

Please let me know ASAP if you’ve found these!!!!

We’ve also started going through the extraordinarily kind gifts guests brought to the party. I want to open all of the wine tonight (but, don’t worry, I won’t. I’ll save at least one bottle for Wednesday night… Hee. But seriously, THANK YOU!)

Also thanks for the kind statuette, books, candy, and … martini olive picks (thanks, LadyOscar23/CB450SC!). Everything was very, very, very much appreciated. You all rock.


February 24, 2009

February 23, 2009 (Monday, 9pm):

What a show! What a party!

Some degree of normalcy has returned to my life (but note, only some), and I am able to reflect on not only the last 24 hours, but also the last week, the last month, and … the last year: 2008 … at the movies!

It culminated last night in a fantastic party (if I do say so myself): the OscarsinBlackandWhite in Pasadena! Such a treat for me to see so many  friends & family, united in an expression of fellowship and celebration of the movies. And … ohmiblog, everyone was, and looked, gorgeous. Call me shallow, but growing up in a relatively low populated, modest, rural environment, such glamor was the stuff of dreams. And it was a dream come true to celebrate such a wonderful evening with my friends and family. Thank you!

I can honestly say that I am convinced the 81st Annual Academy Awards was the best Oscar ceremony I’ve seen in many years. So many thoughtful, moving and fun elements returned:

  • The Host! I am more than willing to admit that I had my doubts about Wolverine hosting the Oscars. And I am more than willing to admit that my reservations were completely unfounded. He was fantastic. Charismatic? Certainly – that was implicit, and I never doubted he would be charming. Funny? Totally. Surprising? Completely. Although I knew he had a background in musical theater, I hadn’t appreciated how wonderfully talented he is as a singer, dancer and stage persona. Hugh rocked. And not only did he give a memorable performance, he gave it all. Hugh was 100% (and more) committed to his role, and he did it in spades. Bravo, Hugh – you made my night.
  • The presentations: I was moved. Moved by the touching idea to have some of the acting icons of our time give a personal, individual introduction to the acting nominees. It was deeply, deeply moving.
  • The time limits: I have no independent confirmation of this, but it seemed to me that the producers did not strictly enforce time limits in the acceptance speeches. And the ceremony still clipped along and concluded in a timely fashion. Bravo. This apparent relaxation to the “rules” also allowed for more moving speeches, beyond the traditional “I’d like to kiss everyone’s ass who made this film possible, and who will make it possible for ME again next year…”
  • The movies: who knew that movies of the modern era could actually incorporate the basic elements of great storytelling? It turns out, they can. And so you can kiss my purple butt, “The Departed”, “There Will be Blood”,  “No Country for Old Men”, and you other lazy movies of years gone by.

On a more local note, the party deconstruction has begun. I unplugged all the TVs, wound the cords, and repackaged all the (evil) digital cable boxes. In one of life’s ironies, we actually don’t watch TV  (at all), so they all go to deep storage until … the next Academy Awards!

I also moved the chairs to storage, brought in the red carpets, and took down the poster from the arrival photo area.

We had leftovers (Gerlach’s!) for lunch and dinner today, and I know what my lunch tomorrow will be as well.

One minor tragedy: we underestimated the popularity of the Fosselman’s ice cream at the party, so MovieGirl has just returned from an emergency run to Fosselman’s (Main St., Alhambra) for our pudding tonight.

What’s next on this blog:

  • photos from the party!
  • the tallies of “Who Should Win?”, “Who Did Win”, and SpacedCowboy’s selections

Good night, and Good Luck.

The Calm Before the Storm

February 22, 2009

1pm, Sunday, February 22.

Everything is ready, except for this one last post, and picking up the food at 2pm.

Whew. Spent the morning putting a tarp over the back porch (in case of rain), and various chores around the house. Discovered that analog and digital TV broadcasts are out of phase, so had to move some of the digital boxes around. Hate digital.

Last night was a bit of a panic, as I spent over an hour trying to figure out, again, how to tie a bowtie. Got it now, and I vow to practise at least one per month for the next year. Gotta build up some muscle memory!

After the event, I’ll post my choices for the various awards, as well as the choices of the party from the “Who Should Win” ballot. Preview of my predisposition: I’m slumming it.

One last Best Picture video to post prior to the party; the trailer for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”:

Bring it on, Wolverine.

Almost there. Almost there…

February 22, 2009

New reviews “Revolutionary Road” by SpacedCowboy, and “Milk” by Moviegirl.

We’re going to try and plow through “The Changeling” tonight, but with 2hr 21min duration, we may not make it, especially given it’s less than 24 hours to curtain! Clint: get another editor!!!!

Party prep is almost complete: all chairs, TVs, tables, etc are deployed. Just need to set-up the tent by the entrance, and cover the back porch with a tarp (30% chance of rain…)

Here’s the trailer for Best Picture nominee “Frost/Nixon”:

Fight On!

February 21, 2009

New review for “The Wrestler” (thank you, CB450SC)!

Read On!

February 20, 2009

New review for Best Picture nominee, “The Reader” (and video of the trailer). Thanks LadyOscar23!

Reviews pending for The Wrestler, and Milk. Stand-by!

The Beat Goes On

February 20, 2009

T-minus 3 days:


  • Catering ordered! And I am pleased to announce that the OscarsinBlackandWhite has it’s first ever official party sponsor: Gerlach’s Grill. Yes, Gerlach’s has been providing the food for the Oscar party for years. It is now under new ownership – the chef, who has worked there for the last 15 years, has taken over the business. Gerlach’s is  highly recommended – at the corner of Fair Oaks/Glenarm, they have a wonderful selection of Lebanese food, traditional American/Mexican food offerings, and Gerlach’s liquor – in the same building – has a great selection of wine! The new owner gave us a substantial discount on the food this year, and we are pleased to thank and recognize him here! The menu:
    • Appetizers: falafel, stuffed grape leaves (custom made – it’s no longer on the menu), hummus, tabbouleh
    • Main course: chicken kabobs, salad
    • Dessert: Fosselman’s ice cream sundaes
  • Back porch cleaned, and TV are deployed
  • Printable ballots printed
  • “Who Should Win” poster ready
  • White board with bar selections ready

As the countdown continues, here is the trailer for Best Picture nominee “Slumdog Millionaire”!

Blue, Black and White

February 19, 2009

T-minus 4 days!

Updates for today:

  • Thought I was finished with errands, but … went to OSH today and got two more garbage cans; one white (for trash) and one blue (recyclables – and yes, I know, “blue” is neither “black” nor “white”, but it’s a sacrifice I’ll make so that plastic ends up where it should.)
  • Kitchen TVs deployed. Had some trouble with the digital converter box and associated powered antenna, but swearing, threats and the fear of raw parsnips prevailed.
  • Weather forecast for Sunday is … chance of showers, so, asked for help from my friend BH with tents for the arrival photo area.
  • Made a wrong turn on Fair Oaks, and so missed placing the catering order. TOMORROW (Thursday) – I promise! And a menu update will follow…

To close, the preview for Best Picture nominee; “Milk”: