THE POPCORN REEL PRESENTS AWARDS
SEASON 2008 - THE EIGHTIETH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS REPORT
For "Old Men", Young Women and Oscar:
Golden Glory, Emotion and 80 Ways To Say "Thank You"
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen won the night's
biggest prizes, for "No Country For Old Men", while Marion Cotillard was
overwhelmed with joy winning the best actress Oscar for playing Edith Piaf in
"La Vie En Rose"; Diablo Cody accepting the best original screenplay honors for
writing "Juno", and in a surprise, Tilda Swinton beams as she accepts the best
supporting actress Oscar for her role as corporate attorney Karen Crowder in
"Michael Clayton". (Photos ©
Omar P.L. Moore/The
February 24, 2008
Surprises marked the 80th Annual Academy Awards tonight, both in the brevity of
speeches and some of the winners, with Scotland's Tilda Swinton most visibly
stunned at being called to the stage to receive the best supporting actress
Oscar for her role as corporate attorney Karen Crowder in "Michael Clayton".
In a moment of enthrallment and charity Ms. Swinton announced that she would
give her Oscar to Brian Swardstrom, her American agent. She also declared
that "Clayton" director Tony Gilroy "walks on water" and celebrated Oscar's 80th
by neutrally intoning, "happy birthday, man."
And with the Academy making good on its guarantee to keep its night of nights to
under three and a half hours (by eight minutes), there was no shortage of
emotion, especially for Marion Cotillard, so overjoyed as she collected the best
actress Oscar for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose" that her
ecstasy clearly overwhelmed and moved many in the star-studded audience at the
Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. "La Vie" also won for best make up early on,
perhaps signaling a good omen for things to come for Ms. Cotillard. Julie
Christie was widely expected to win in the leading actress category, but in the
last few days whispers in Hollywood rumored or foretold a different scenario,
with the French actress looking like a surer bet by the hour. Miss
Cotillard hugged presenter and last year's best actor Oscar winner Forest
Whitaker for dear life, clinging to him tightly both onstage and backstage as if
she would fall off a cliff if she let go. She was that sky high in her
joy. Full of unrestrained happiness Miss Cotillard paid tribute to her
director Olivier Dahan, saying, "Olivier, what you did to me, maestro Olivier
Dahan, you rocked my life. You truly rocked my life."
The announcement of the best picture award however, rocked few. "No
Country For Old Men" garnered that honor and three other top awards, including
best supporting actor Javier Bardem as the bloodless Anton Chigurh. In an
exuberant speech Mr. Bardem praised his mother in Spanish, and said of playing
the psychopathic character Chigurh: "Thank you to the Coens for being crazy
enough to think that I could do that and put one of the most horrible haircuts
in history over my head. " Speaking of those brothers, it was a great
night for Joel and Ethan, who won best director, adapted screenplay, and picture
honors as producers, along with Scott Rudin. Between them the Coens took
home six Oscar statuettes. Ethan Coen was often speechless. "I don't
have anything to add to what I said the last time," he wryly joked. On
stage and backstage, both he and his brother exhibited the amusing, deadpan and
idiosyncratic behavior they are known for on their sets and in the emblematic
characters of their films, and it showed. Of all the winners tonight, they
were indeed the biggest, but also the most subdued, even non-plussed.
It was almost as gratifying a night for "The Bourne Ultimatum", which took home
all three of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated (editing, sound
mixing, sound editing.) Mr. Gilroy wrote the screenplay for the action
film, and many thought that he would win the original screenplay Oscar for
"Michael Clayton", the other film he scripted, but that honor went to Diablo
Cody, who wrote the popular "Juno". Miss Cody, whose previous occupation
as a stripper had not been lost on many, thanked her parents for "loving me the
way I am". Decked in a leopard spotted dress, an anime tattoo of a
near-naked woman on her right shoulder, and an attention-getting split in her
dress all the way up to her crotch, which almost showed as she walked offstage,
Miss Cody burst into tears and attempted to hurry off it, in a moment that
proved to be almost too much for her.
Numerous winners cited the abundance of quality films for 2007, and what was
expected to be a tight race eventually became a solid night for "No Country For
Old Men". "Atonement", which was expected to pick up more than a few
Oscars from the seven for which it was nominated, settled for one, Dario
Marianelli's original music score. The film had won the BAFTA award just
two weeks prior. The British film featured Saoirse Ronan, one of the
youngest acting Oscar nominees ever, and some, including former film producer
Peter Guber, expected the film to take best picture honors.
Still, European actors dominated this year's top acting award wins, with Spain's
Bardem, France's Cotillard, Scotland's Swinton, and Ireland's Daniel Day-Lewis
all winning. Mr. Day-Lewis, who as expected picked up best actor for his
role as the calculating and venal Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood", was
the recipient of a mock knighting by last year's "Queen" Oscar winner Helen
Mirren. "And that's the closest I'll ever get to being knighted, so thank
you." In a speech typifying humility, graciousness and economy, the method
actor lauded "Blood" director Paul Thomas Anderson as he brandished his Oscar.
"I'm looking at this gorgeous thing you've given me and I'm thinking back to the
first devilish whisper of an idea that came to him and everything since and it
seems to me that this sprang like a golden sapling out of the mad, beautiful
head of Paul Thomas Anderson." The win for Mr. Day-Lewis was his second
best actor Oscar, which came 18 years after his first, for "My Left Foot".
The actor joined only a handful of other men who have won two best actor Oscars,
and two of them were presenters tonight, Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks.
Denzel Washington, who presented best picture tonight and had a strong 2007 with
"American Gangster" and his own directed film "The Great Debaters", has won both
a supporting and a lead actor Oscar.
Marketa Irglova embraced by fellow songwriter
Glen Hansard, both of whom won the Oscar for best original song "Falling
Slowly", from the film "Once". Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem, both of
whom played the most venal and unrelenting pathological male characters of 2007,
hold aloft their best actor and supporting actor Oscars respectively, for their
respective roles in "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country For Old Men".
In something of a rarity, each of tonight's
major winners in the four acting categories were under the age of fifty, a
remarkable occurrence in a high productions telecast which reveled in its 80
years of memorable moments featuring mainly seasoned thespians, with footage of
past winners celebrating and being shown just prior to the minting of a new
winner on this night. And with a roughly 6,000-member Academy, more than
70 percent of whose membership is 60 years of age and above, a special night
that could have honored golden ladies of film like Miss Christie and Ruby Dee,
instead hailed a significantly younger glow of recipients.
In that vein, new faces and popular sentiment dotted Oscar's golden landscape,
with "Falling Slowly" from the film "Once" winning best original song.
Songwriter Glen Hansard was near tears as he exulted in the triumph, but fellow
songwriter Marketa Irglova was figuratively cut off at the knees as her
microphone was cut as she approached it, to comply with the time-limit speech
requirement of 45 seconds. In an unprecedented move, Oscar host Jon
Stewart brought her back to the stage after a commercial break and she got to
say what she wanted. Miss Irglova, a very quiet person by nature, appeared
very much at home as she delivered her speech. "This song was written from
a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter
how different we are," the Czech-born musician said during her comments.
Minutes earlier Mr. Hansard, his Irish brogue lilting the Kodak Theater, had
labeled his and Miss Irglova's presence there as "insane". He thanked the
Academy for taking "Once" seriously. "It means a lot to us," he said.
Both musicians, collaborators on prior occasions, also starred in John Carney's
romantic film, and wrote and performed all of its songs. The film, as
noted by Mr. Hansard, was made for $100,000 and in just three weeks.
On balance, most of the night's acceptance speeches were not only succinct but
also eloquent and heartfelt, even those bursting with the irrepressible feeling
of euphoria. Through the magic of technology an Oscar was announced via
Satellite from Iraq by a platoon of several U.S. soldiers -- best documentary
short subject went to "Freeheld", about the travails of same-sex couples.
With her voice trembling from start to finish winner Cynthia Wade said, "It was
Lieutenant Laurel Hester's dying wish that her fight for, against discrimination
would make a difference for all the same sex couples across the country that
face discrimination every day. Discrimination that I don't face as a
married woman." It was a significantly stirring speech, and it was not the
only one to evoke such deep passion and emotion.
Though some scheduled presenters did not show up because of the uncertainty of
the end of the writer's strike, there was a feeling of relaxation and relief
among many of the show's presenters and winners, even though George Clooney
talked in an interview about the specter of a potential Screen Actors Guild
strike and walkout in June if a new deal isn't struck. Tom Cruise was
expected and could not be present, and Oscar winners Dame Judi Dench and Halle
Berry also were absent. "Superbad" and "Knocked Up" actors Seth Rogan and
Jonah Hill made the most of the moment as they presented an award, in an amusing
battle over who wanted to play Ms. Berry, as they joked that neither wanted to
play Dame Judi, who was busy filming "Quantum Of Solace", the forthcoming James
Director Alex Gibney, who won best documentary feature for what was arguably his
most personal film, "Taxi To The Dark Side", dedicated his Oscar to the film's
subject, Dilawar, the Iraqi cab driver who was renditioned, tortured and killed
by U.S. military during interrogation, and to his own late father, a former U.S.
Navy interrogator who encouraged him to make the film and find the truth.
The characteristically serious and focused Mr. Gibney, who also executive
produced another film in the category, "No End In Sight", flavored his comments
with a political wish. "Let's hope we can turn this country around, move
away from the dark side and back to the light," Mr. Gibney said.
In an illuminating moment, Academy president Sid Ganis presented a video about
the process of how the Oscar winners are voted on, one that lasts months.
Whether intentional or not, the moment seemed like a silent declaration of
transparency about the voting process, a subtle cry to detractors in both the
entertainment and political worlds, lest anyone have doubts or dare be cynical
about the Oscar winners. A lot has been said about the politics of Oscar,
including on this site, and perhaps the Academy felt the need to clear up any
misconceptions. "We arrive at the winners, picking them fairly and
honestly," said Mr. Ganis.
Didier Lavergne (left) and Jan Archibald
backstage, winners for best make up for "La Vie En Rose", which also won for
best actress Marion Cotillard. (Photos
Stefan Ruzowitzky's "The Counterfeiters", from Austria, about the real stories
of Jewish concentration camp prisoners enlisted by the Nazis to manufacture
money during World War Two, was named best foreign language film, following
neighboring Germany's win last year for "The Lives Of Others".
"Ratatouille", about the misadventures of a French rat who yearns to be a chef,
won best animated feature film. And if there ever was a country for old
men, 98-year-old production designer Robert Boyle proved it, simply and
coherently effecting his acceptance of the honorary Oscar awarded him, and doing
so far better than director Brad Bird, who had stumbled and stuttered when
accepting for "Ratatouille".
Host Jon Stewart kept the evening moving amidst astonishing sets and one or two
slight technical glitches expected in a live show, and as expected politics was
on the menu. Early on, the Comedy Central satirist and commentator
quipped, "normally when we see a black man or woman president an asteroid is
about to hit the Statue of Liberty," in reference to Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton, Democrats currently competing for the U.S. Democratic presidential
nomination, both of whom were on the Kodak Theater stage in a one-on-one debate
just three weeks ago. Wesley Snipes, expected to play James Brown in a
future Spike Lee-directed biopic on the late Godfather of Soul, and Mr. Lee,
currently directing a true-life World War Two epic about black soldiers in the
U.S. military trapped in Italy entitled "Miracle At St. Anna", were seen in the
Kodak Theater audience laughing heartily at Mr. Stewart's observation.
Mr. Stewart also made light of the number of actresses who were pregnant.
One of the night's funniest moments featured his mock award announcement for
best baby. With expecting mothers Jessica Alba, Cate Blanchett and Nicole
Kidman present, Mr. Stewart declared, "and the baby goes to . . . Angelina Jolie."
He had opened an envelope for effect, and joked that Ms. Jolie couldn't be
present tonight "because it's hard to get 17 babysitters." By all accounts
tonight, Mr. Stewart excelled as master of ceremonies, slightly bettering his
prior hosting effort two years ago and becoming more comfortable in the process.
And after Laura Ziskin had produced the previous two or three Academy Awards
telecasts, Gil Cates returned to produce the show, and he didn't disappoint.
Over 200 countries and one billion worldwide viewers witnessed the live awards
show, the biggest and most prestigious awards show, film, or otherwise, in the
Earlier, Colin Farrell slipped and slid as he approached the podium on the
stage, and warned that the slick spot which caused him to almost fall to the
floor should be cleaned. His appeal fell on deaf ears as John Travolta
later slipped as well.
Even so, the most bizarre event of the night occurred prior to the Awards
telecast, on E! Entertainment Television's live red carpet pre-Oscars
show, when an either drunk or drugged Gary Busey wandered into the interview
Ryan Seacrest was attempting to conduct with Jennifer Garner. In a very
awkward moment, Mr. Busey took the liberty to wander into the frame and kiss a
stunned Ms. Garner on the neck. It was clear that she was shocked at the
unwelcome event and had no idea who Mr. Busey was. He had also embraced
Laura Linney before hunkering nearby Mr. Seacrest, who improvised with Jonah
Hill and Mr. Busey, who had wandered between them. Mr. Busey appeared
drunk as he lauded Mr. Seacrest's work. Perhaps out of fear or trauma
surrounding the impromptu indiscretion of Mr. Busey, Mr. Seacrest abruptly, if
not curtly told Ms. Garner to "come here". "Can I help you?," she replied
sharply, perhaps feeling affronted by the brusque comment as well as the
inappropriate kiss Mr. Busey, a troubled actor and multiple motorcycle accident
injury recipient placed on her neck.
"I have no idea what's just happened here on this carpet," said a somewhat
winded Mr. Seacrest to his television audience.
Copyright The Popcorn Reel. PopcornReel.com. 2008. All Rights
Click here for the complete list of winners