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Historic Upset + ‘Out of Touch’ George Clooney: Oscar Ceremony

Ang Lee Oscar 2006This year, I decided to watch the Oscars so I could write a little something about it. I was expecting to be bored to tears by my self-imposed assignment, but thanks in large part to Jon Stewart’s comedy skills (including the hilarious “Don’t Vote for Them, Vote for Me” ads created by his team) and to the crop of mostly interesting (if flawed) films I did enjoy the experience – somewhat.

Despite lapses such as Ben Stiller’s embarrassing turn in what looked like a Kermit the Frog suit while presenting the visual effects awards, an unfunny Tom Hanks sketch about keeping speeches short, a poor montage showing epic films and another even poorer showing supposedly socially conscious films, the Academy’s continuous disregard for the best foreign-language film category (no clips from the nominated foreign films were shown), and the ugly dismissal of best original screenplay co-winner Bobby Moresco, who wasn’t allowed to say his “thank yous,” the ceremony proceeded at a reasonably steady pace.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Oscarcast highlights included Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin’s delightful improv-style banter while introducing honorary Oscar winner Robert Altman (though Altman’s surprisingly conventional speech was a letdown), the film noir montage introduced by Lauren Bacall (who should have brought her teleprompter reading glasses**), and George Clooney’s witty acceptance speech (which ended with the statement “I’m proud to be out of touch” – with the narrow-minded, intolerant self-proclaimed “mainstream,” that is).

Now, I must admit that I was – sadly – dead wrong about one thing. I was expecting the ceremony to offer no major surprises, but there were a couple: The song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow beat Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica.

And of course, the Crash Best Film win was both a major surprise and a major disappointment. (Presenter Jack Nicholson looked as surprised – and as disappointed – as myself.) Crash, a contrived and overblown look at racial relations in Los Angeles (where I live), was the one film I didn’t want to win.

The Paradise Now loss was another disappointment, but considering the more conservative members who tend to vote for the best foreign-language film award, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that the well-made but sentimental Tsotsi – involving a thug and a baby, no less – won in that category.

As for the Crash win, the Academy clearly opted not to make history – Brokeback Mountain would have become the first film about a homosexual relationship to win an Oscar for best film. One could accuse the Academy of being anti-gay, but if that were the case Ang Lee and screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry wouldn’t have won the Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay awards. I’d say it’s more likely that many Academy members felt that Crash should be honored on a par with Brokeback Mountain. Thus, the splitting of the two top awards.

Also, before bandying about the word “homophobia” – not that there aren’t anti-gay Academy bigots – one should remember that Crash is about a (however preposterous) day in the life of Los Angeles, where most of the Academy members reside. Like the Sandra Bullock character in that film, those wealthy Academy voters have surely had problems with their Hispanic maids.

My point: Academy members can much more readily relate to several of the Crash characters than to the two Wyoming sheepherders of Brokeback Mountain. (Ask an Academy member to point to Wyoming on a map, and s/he’ll probably stick their finger up Ontario, Canada; ask another what a ewe is, and s/he’ll tell you it’s an expression of disgust.)

Oscar history of the Brokeback Mountain sort will have to be made some other year. But not to worry, that time will come. Not that it ultimately matters. After all, the Academy is hardly known for its trend-setting record.

And in case you’re wondering … Will I be watching the Oscars again any time soon? Hell, NO.

** Mar. 10 addendum: I received a note explaining that during rehearsals Lauren Bacall had flawlessly read the teleprompter text about Hollywood’s film noirs. However, during the Oscarcast the prompter ran too fast and lost the 81-year-old actress. According to one report from backstage at the Kodak Theater, Bacall was so heartbroken by the mishap that she was in tears.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

“What you didn’t see [at the Academy Awards]: Backstage workers gasp as Crash wins over favorite Brokeback Mountain. When presenter Jack Nicholson is asked if he is surprised by the win, he says, ‘I didn’t expect it because you heard so much about Brokeback,’ before confiding, ‘and that’s who I voted for.’” From “The Academy Awards show you never saw” on USA Today.

2006 Academy Award nominations: Jan. 31. 2006 Academy Award winners: Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles on March 5. See also: 2006 Oscar Nominations

Best Film
Brokeback Mountain, Diana Ossana and James Schamus
Capote, Caroline Baron, William Vince, and Michael Ohoven
* Crash, Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman
Good Night and Good Luck., Grant Heslov
Munich, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, and Barry Mendel

Best Foreign Language Film
La Bestia nel cuore / Don’t Tell (Italy)
Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noël (France)
Paradise Now (Palestine)
Sophie Scholl – Die Letzten Tage / Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Germany)
* Tsotsi (South Africa)

Best Documentary, Features
Darwin’s Nightmare, Hubert Sauper
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Alex Gibney and Jason Kliot
* March of the Penguins, Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau
Murderball, Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro
Street Fight, Marshall Curry

Best Animated Feature Film
Hauru no ugoku shiro / Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
, Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
* Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
, Nick Park and Steve Box

Best Achievement in Directing
George Clooney, Good Night and Good Luck.
Paul Haggis, Crash
* Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller, Capote
Steven Spielberg, Munich

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
* Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
David Strathairn, Good Night and Good Luck.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron, North Country
* Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
* George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Frances McDormand, North Country
* Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
* Crash, Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco; story by Paul Haggis
Good Night and Good Luck., George Clooney and Grant Heslov
Match Point, Woody Allen
The Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach
Syriana, Stephen Gaghan

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
* Brokeback Mountain, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
Capote, Dan Futterman
The Constant Gardener, Jeffrey Caine
A History of Violence, Josh Olson
Munich, Tony Kushner and Eric Roth

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Batman Begins, Wally Pfister
Brokeback Mountain, Rodrigo Prieto
Good Night and Good Luck., Robert Elswit
* Memoirs of a Geisha, Dion Beebe
The New World, Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Achievement in Editing
Cinderella Man, Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
The Constant Gardener, Claire Simpson
* Crash, Hughes Winborne
Munich, Michael Kahn
Walk the Line, Michael McCusker

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
* Brokeback Mountain, Gustavo Santaolalla
The Constant Gardener, Alberto Iglesias
Memoirs of a Geisha, John Williams
Munich, John Williams
Pride & Prejudice, Dario Marianelli

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
“In the Deep” from Crash, Music by Kathleen “Bird” York and Michael Becker; Lyric by Kathleen “Bird” York
* “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, Music and Lyric by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman, and Paul Beauregard
“Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica, Music and Lyric by Dolly Parton

Best Achievement in Art Direction
Good Night and Good Luck., Art Direction: Jim Bissell; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Art Direction: Stuart Craig;
Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
King Kong, Art Direction: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Dan Hennah and Simon Bright
* Memoirs of a Geisha, Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau
Pride & Prejudice, Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gabriella Pescucci
* Memoirs of a Geisha, Colleen Atwood
Mrs. Henderson Presents, Sandy Powell
Pride & Prejudice, Jacqueline Durran
Walk the Line, Arianne Phillips

Best Achievement in Sound
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,
Terry Porter, Dean A. Zupancic and Tony Johnson
* King Kong, Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek
Memoirs of a Geisha, Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, Rick Kline and John Pritchett
Walk the Line, Paul Massey, D.M. Hemphill and Peter F. Kurland
War of the Worlds, Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ronald Judkins

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
* King Kong, Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn
Memoirs of a Geisha, Wylie Stateman
War of the Worlds, Richard King

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,
Dean Wright, Bill Westenhofer, Jim Berney and Scott Farrar
* King Kong, Joe Letteri, Brian Van’t Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor
War of the Worlds, Dennis Muren, Pablo Helman, Randy Dutra and Daniel Sudick

Best Achievement in Make-Up
* The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Howard Berger and Tami Lane
Cinderella Man, David Leroy Anderson and Lance Anderson
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, Dave Elsey and Annette Miles

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club, Dan Krauss
God Sleeps in Rwanda, Kimberlee Acquaro and Stacy Sherman
The Mushroom Club, Steven Okazaki
* A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, Corinne Marrinan and Eric Simonson

Peggy Stern and John Canemaker - Oscar 2006

Best Short Film, Animated
Badgered, Sharon Colman
* The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, John Canemaker and Peggy Stern
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, Anthony Lucas
9, Shane Acker
One Man Band, Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews

Best Short Film, Live Action
Ausreisser / The Runaway, Ulrike Grote
Cashback, Sean Ellis and Lene Bausager
The Last Farm, Rúnar Rúnarsson and Thor S. Sigurjónsson
Our Time Is Up, Rob Pearlstein and Pia Clemente
* Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh

Honorary Academy Award: Robert Altman

Gordon E. Sawyer Award: Gary Demos

Medal of Commendation: Don Hall

Scientific and Engineering Award:
David Baraff; Michael Kass; Andy Witkin
for their pioneering work in physically-based computer-generated techniques used to simulate realistic cloth in motion pictures.
Garrett Brown
for the original concept of the Skycam flying camera system – the first use of 3D volumetric cable technology for motion picture cinematography.
Laurie Frost; Peter Hannan; Richard Loncraine
for the development of the remote camera head known as the Hot-Head.
David Grober; Scott Lewallen
for the concept and mechanical design (Grober) and for the electronic and software design (Lewallen) of the Perfect Horizon camera stabilization head.
Anatoliy Kokush
for the concept and development of the Cascade series of motion picture cranes.
Anatoliy Kokush; Yuriy Popovsky; Oleksiy Zolotarov
for the concept and development of the Russian Arm gyro-stabilized camera crane and the Flight Head.

Technical Achievement Award:
Ed Catmull; Tony DeRose; Jos Stam
for the original concept (Catmull) and the scientific and practical implementation (DeRose/Stam) of subdivision surfaces as a modeling technique in motion picture production.
Tim Drnec; Ben Britten Smith; Matt Davis
for the development of the Spydercam 3-D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies.
Frank Fletcher; Dave Sherwin
for the introduction and continuing development of the Power Pod modular camera head system.
Scott Leva
for the design and development of the Precision Stunt Airbag for motion picture stunt falls.
Alvah J. Miller; Michael Sorensen; J. Walt Adamczyk
for the design and development of the Aerohead motion control camera head and the J-Viz Pre-Visualization system.
John Platt; Demetri Terzopoulos
for their pioneering work in physically-based computer-generated techniques used to simulate realistic cloth in motion pictures.
Harold Rattray; Terry Claborn; Steve Garlick; Bill Hogue; Tim Reynolds
for the design, engineering and implementation of the Technicolor Real Time Answer Print System.
James Rodnunsky; Alex MacDonald; Mark Chapman
for the development of the Cablecam 3-D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies.
Udo Schauss; Hildegard Ebbesmeier; Nicole Wemken; Michael Anderer
for the optical design (Schauss/Ebbesmeier) and the mechanical design (Wemken/Anderer) of the Cinelux Premiere Cinema Projection Lenses.
Gary Thieltges
for the design and development of the remotely-operated, lightweight camera head known as the Sparrow Head.
Lev Yevstratov; George Peters; Vasiliy Orlov
for the development of the Ultimate Arm Camera Crane System for specialized vehicle photography.

Photos: © A.M.P.A.S.

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Administrator -

Glad someone agrees with me. . .

As for the Independent Spirit Awards, (perhaps fortunately) I missed them. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Juan Pacheco -

Mr Soares…

I really agree with your comments about the Oscar Ceremony. Congratulations for you vie. And I ask you to please no stop watching these shows, your comments always will be very welcomed.
Also, if you thought that about the Oscars. You don’t imagine the horrible Ceremony show of the FIND’S Independent Spirit Award. That was shameless. Playing with the concept of “being edgy” , that show made me lost 2 hours of my life. Bad host: Sarah Silverman, who thinks that saying repeatdly he f… word is being cool. And a repetition of the last 3 years, kareokee style nominated film introductions…was real sad. Independent filmmakers are VERY creative with the resources they have. They deserve a better show. A real creative ceremony…not based in being “edgy”…


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