Live Blogging the Oscars



6:50 p.m. ... Before we begin, I should warn you of two things:

1. Because A.V. Club content doesn't post instantly, I'll probably be about 10 minutes behind all night long. (Update: It's been more like 25 minutes so far; sorry, folks.) So while you're all making fun of some stupid presenter quip in the comments, I'll still be talking about a category that was over and done with long ago. Still, between the comments and the content, there should be plenty of reasons to hit "refresh" every few minutes.

2. I have a high tolerance for Oscar pageantry. So a lot of the montages, dance numbers and wisecracking set pieces that many of you are likely to be rolling your eyes at, I might well be praising. Please don't hold it against me.

The action starts shortly. I've pulled down my predictions for now, but as the various categories come up, I'll restore the predix, so any comments you may have made about them last night or this morning will eventually make sense again. Now off to the red carpet....

6:58 p.m. ... Just tuned in the last couple of minutes of Barbara Walters and saw that she was wearing an ankle-length dress slit up to her mid-thigh. With a breeze pushing it around, revealing her ancient gams. I think everything else tonight will be anti-climactic.

7:03 p.m. ... Reege and Clooney start talkin' Notre Dame hoops. This should be a regular TV segment.

7:06 p.m. ... Fashion scorecard so far: Marion Cotillard's sculpted Gautier gown has it all over Laura Linney's black sheet of nothing and Kelly Preston's bunch-y prom dress.

7:09 p.m. ... First Barbara Walters interviews Miley Cyrus, and now the Regis makes a point to interview her on the Red Carpet, and to try to whip up some excitement in the crowd. "What's wrong with you people?" he whines when the throng seems unmoved. Oh, I don't know...maybe they're here to see movie stars, and not wholly owned subsidiaries of the Disney Corporation?

7:15 p.m. ... Further fashion scorecard: Jennifer Garner's black gown looks like an instrument of torture, while Helen Mirren brings "dowdy" into the 21st Century, Rebecca Miller wears what appears to be wrapping paper and a sundial, and Cameron Diaz has apparently takena bunch of uncut fabric and just wrapped it haphazardly around herself.

7:15 p.m. ... Amy Adams is unfailingly gracious and polite. Some entertainment pundits--Jeffrey Wells for one--have begun to wonder if she'll ever be able to play a character on-screen who's not similarly tame. Still, she's got a certain poise.

7:18 p.m. ... Is it too much to ask that the two fans who won Oscar tickets dress up a little? Jeez. And is Regis contractually obligated to ask them if they like Miley Cyrus?

7:24 p.m. ... Watching Ellen Page--and George Clooney earlier tonight--I have to wonder if the stars, by now, are pretty much sick of talking about these movies. They've done the EPK and the junket and the phoners and the awards season campaign stops and now the red carpet. By now they can probably say lines like, "The response has been amazing," while simultaneously thinking about what they're going to have for dinner later.

7:26 p.m. ... After Regis plugs Disney again while chatting with the cast of the Enchanted production number, I'm surprised that he didn't interrupt Bill Conti's boring anecdote to ask him if he's heard the new Jonas Brothers single yet.

7:30 p.m. ... And we're off....

7:32 p.m. ... The animated integrated-montage of 80 years of Oscar-nominated films is neat enough, but at a certain point, it just becomes "Oh look there's so-and-so." There's no build, no gag.

7:39 p.m. ... I'm one of those who though Jon Stewart did a fine job the last time he hosted, and he seems fine tonight too. Not trying too hard; just hitting some laid-back--if not exactly edgy--showbiz gags. (Although I love his comment on the Norbit nomination: "Too often, the Academy ignores movies that aren't good.") But it must be hard to crack wise while Tommy Lee Jones glaring at you from the second row (although he laughed at Stewart's joke about staying the course and "keeping the Iraq War movies in the theater...we can't let the audience win").

7:42 p.m. ... Hey, Spike Lee is hangin' with Wesley Snipes. And they're both cracking up at Jon's joke about how, "Usually when you see a black or woman president, an asteroid's about to hit The Statue Of Liberty."

7:42 p.m. ... Jon Stewart's finished, and I say kudos. The monologue got funnier as it went along, and the crowd is loose. Now for the first award...

Costume Design:

Albert Wolsky, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Jacqueline Durran, ATONEMENT

Alexandra Byrne, ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE

Marit Allen, LA VIE EN ROSE

Colleen Atwood, SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Last night I wrote...

I'm going with Atonement here, and not just to spread the wealth. The Costume Design category is one that's typically more merit-based than most, and doesn't just go for the movie with the flashiest designs. Atonement wins for one reason only: Keira Knightley's green dress, which arguably gives a more memorable performance than she does. (And I say this as someone who really likes Atonement.)

And the winner is...

Alexandra Byrne, ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE ... Well, I'm 0 for 1. The costume design category is always hard to predict; the Academy frequently ventures a little off the path for that one.

7:47 p.m. ... Clooney introduces the night's first montage, and fumbles a bit. Also, I feel like I see these same clips every year. They're good clips--and it's cool to see Snow White/Rob Lowe again after so many years in exile--but placing the montage here kind of weighs the show down early. Maybe this should've gone right after the red carpet stuff?

7:51 p.m. ... Next award, intro-ed by Ann Hathaway and Steve Carell (and does the latter mutter "shit" or "shoot" just off-mic?) ...

Animated Feature Film:

PERSEPOLIS

RATATOUILLE

SURF'S UP

Last night I wrote...

I'd like to pull for the underdog here, especially since I like Persepolis a lot and think Surf's Up is really underrated. But Ratatouille rests right behind No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood as one of the signature films of 2007, and it'll probably be one of the few wins that has near-universal support.

And the winner is...

RATATOUILLE ... Good for Brad Bird. And good for him for trying to say something interesting before launching into the thanks.

7:56 p.m. ... Katherine Heigl apologizes for her nerves, which she really shouldn't do, especially when she looks so retro-glam. And her category...

Makeup:

LA VIE EN ROSE

NORBIT

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

Last night I wrote...

I give Marion Cotillard's make-up person as much credit for her performance as the actress, and since La Vie En Rose has to win something, it may as well be this. Spread The Wealth!

And the winner is...

LA VIE EN ROSE ... Hey, I'm back up to 2-1! That's right, they call it The Streak...

8:00 p.m. ... Amy Adams sings "Happy Working Song," which is an amusing ditty in and of itself, but was one of the reasons I couldn't get behind Enchanted. It seemed like it was meant to be part of a much different, much snarkier film than the one that actually got made. That whole movie felt like a bunch of off-the-cuff ideas--some good, some not-so--thrown on the screen. Adams seems a little embarrassed up there, but she's game enough.

8:07 p.m. ... Can you smell what The Rock is presenting?...

Visual Effects:

THE GOLDEN COMPASS

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

TRANSFORMERS

Last night I wrote...

Say what you will about the third Pirates Of The Caribbean (I'll say that it's the least of the three, but that I still enjoyed it), but you have to give it credit for the effects, both big and small. The army of crabs that moves The Black Pearl was as inspired a special effect as I saw all year.

And the winner is...

THE GOLDEN COMPASS ... I didn't see this movie, but isn't it odd that we've now had two Oscars go to movies that did poorly at the box office and with critics?

8:10 p.m. ... Did you catch Calista Flockhart's tight little angry smile when Harrison Ford busted out his big happy grin at the sight of Cate Blanchett? Anyway, Cate's presenting...

Art Direction:

Arthur Max & Beth Rubino, AMERICAN GANGSTER

Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, ATONEMENT

Dennis Gassner & Annie Pinnock, THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Jack Fisk & Jim Erickson, THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Last night I wrote...

Spreadin' the wealth. I'm picking Sweeney Todd, a movie that leans on art direction the way Jesse James leans on cinematography.

And the winner is...

Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET ... Back up to .500 on the night! (It helps when you go with the legend.)

8:15 p.m. ... Another montage! Like I said up top, I'm not anti-montage in theory, but both the montages tonight have been cut so quickly and have relied so much on familiar material that they're kind of useless.

8:17 p.m. ... Remember when Jenifer Hudson won an Oscar? Man that was some crazy stuff. Here she is to present...

Actor in a Supporting Role:

Casey Affleck (THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD)

Javier Bardem (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN)

Hal Holbrook (INTO THE WILD)

Philip Seymour Hoffman (CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR)

Tom Wilkinson (MICHAEL CLAYTON)

Last night I wrote...

I like all these performances, though I think Wilkinson's is a step down from the others. Both Affleck and Hoffman deserve extra-credit for being excellent in other movies this year (two time, in the latter's case); and Holbrook may pull an upset here because of his venerability, and because the scene in Into The Wild where he asks if he can adopt "Alex" is quietly devastating. But Javier Bardem's performance isn't just good, it's iconic. Everyone seems to think this a lock. I'm not so sure, but I'm still picking Bardem.

And the winner is...

Javier Bardem (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) ... You want an exciting speech, you give an Oscar to a character actor. That's just how it is.

8:23 p.m. ... Oscar's salute to binoculars and periscopes. ("Not even worth dimming the lights, is it?")

8:26 p.m. ... Did anyone out there see August Rush? I didn't, and it's one of those movies that people ask me about at parties when they find out I'm a film critic. The civilians apparently love it. Maybe it's better if I don't have opinion on it. I'm not feeling this song, I have to say.

8:29 p.m. ... Update: Owen Wilson...still alive. In a way I guess it's better to just proceed with your life and career as if nothing ever happened, as opposed to making the talk show rounds and spilling your guts and such. So good for Owen. (But Drillbit Taylor still looks like it's going to suck, dude.) And now...

Short Film (Live Action):

AT NIGHT

IL SUPPLENTE (THE SUBSTITUTE)

LE MOZART DES PICKPOCKETS (THE MOZART OF PICKPOCKETS)

TANGHI ARGENTINI

THE TONTO WOMAN

Last night I wrote...

Again...haven't see any of these. Don't know much about them, except that some people I respect like The Substitute, and other people I respect think the first group of people I respect are nuts. So I'll go back to what I used to do before I even had a chance to see any of the films in these smaller categories, and just pick the film with the funniest name. It's not exactly side-splitting, but Tanghi Argentini will have to do as my 5-star Lock Of The Week!

And the winner is...

LE MOZART DES PICKPOCKETS (THE MOZART OF PICKPOCKETS) ... Crud. Back down to 4-4. Out of spite, I have now decided never to see this movie. (Which given the lousy distribution of short films, won't be much of a sacrifice.)

8:33 p.m. ... The inevitable appearance of an animated character on stage (Jerry Seinfeld's Barry The Bee, from Bee Movie) leads to yet another ha-ha-isn't-this-clever? montage, this time of bee attacks. And then...

Short Film (Animated):

I MET THE WALRUS

MADAME TUTLI-PUTLI

MEME LES PIGEONS VONT AU PARADIS (EVEN PIGEONS GO TO HEAVEN)

MY LOVE (MOYA LYUBOV)

PETER & THE WOLF

Last night I wrote...

Unlike the Foreign Language Film category, the Animated Short category typically goes to a worthy winner, so when I read people saying "Madame Tutli-Putli is the best film on this list, but it probably won't win," that's when I mark my ballot for Madame Tutli-Putli.

And the winner is...

PETER & THE WOLF ... My wife is now 8-1 on the night, and I'm 4-5. Proving once again that she's much, much smarter than me.

8:39 p.m. ... There are those who take to the stage like Hollywood royalty. And then there's Alan Arkin...

Actress in a Supporting Role:

Cate Blanchett (I'M NOT THERE)

Ruby Dee (AMERICAN GANGSTER)

Saoirse Ronan (ATONEMENT)

Amy Ryan (GONE BABY GONE)

Tilda Swinton (MICHAEL CLAYTON)

Last night I wrote...

This may be the most open category among the majors, with only Ronan being a total longshot. (Oddly enough, she's probably my second-favorite on this list.) Blanchett, Dee and Ryan all won some key pre-season contests, while Swinton has kind of stayed in the wings until right here at the end, when a general revival of Academy interest in Michael Clayton has turned the spotlight her way. I like Blanchett and Ryan a lot, and didn't see American Gangster. But I place Tilda Swinton's performance on the same level Daniel Day-Lewis', honestly. It's comic, tragic, and terrifying; and the scene where she calls up the hitmen and tries to act like it's just another business transaction is a study in great movie acting. (Plus, she should've been nominated--and won--a couple of years ago for The Chronicles Of Narnia. Swinton should be as much a staple of the nominee list as Cate Blanchett, in my book.)

And the winner is...

Tilda Swinton (MICHAEL CLAYTON) ... Justice is done! (I didn't catch who Tilda's date was for the night...Was it her old man husband or her sexy young lover?) Very funny speech, calling out Clooney for wearing his Batsuit to the set every day. By the way, I interviewed Swinton last year and she was, as you might expect, a joy to talk to. She even called me back five minutes after the interview was over because she remembered what she wanted to say in answer to one of my earlier questions. And in the middle of the interview her daughter walked into her study, and Tilda sounded just like me when my kids interrupt. ("Five minutes, sweetie...Daddy's on the phone...Go watch TV.")

8:46 p.m. ... Do you think that tech awards presenter Jessica Alba's actual bosom is as feathery soft as her bodice?

8:49 p.m. ... Josh Brolin and James McAvoy do a run-down of famous lines from films, and Brolin saves the bit by basically admitting it's lame. Another Oscar tradition continued. Then they present...

Writing (Adapted Screenplay):

Christopher Hampton, ATONEMENT

Sarah Polley, AWAY FROM HER

Ronald Harwood, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY

Joel & Ethan Coen, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Paul Thomas Anderson, THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Last night I wrote...

Here's where my "spread it around" theory begins to manifest. Everyone seems to think that No Country For Old Men has this sewn up, but it seems to me that most of what's great in the screenplay is already in the book. The screenplay that diverges the most from its source material is PT Anderson's There Will Be Blood, which abandons Upton Sinclair's Oil! at a certain point and goes in its own direction. But I think the Academy will consider that movie more an achievement in acting and visual storytelling, and will forget all the tangy dialogue. I think this is where they honor The Diving Bell And the Butterfly, via screenwriter Ronald Harwood, an Academy favorite (and not a prickly pear like Julian Schnabel). But I'm probably overthinking.

And the winner is...

Joel & Ethan Coen, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN ... The sweep is on, any I'm pretty much cooked in my pool. How much should they say in this speech, with two or three more likely to go? Do you do it all now, or do you focus on the category at hand? The Coens make a general acknowledgment of thanks, then nod to Cormac McCarthy, who's out in the audience with his young son (the one he's going to hesitate to shoot in the head when the apocalypse comes).

8:53 p.m. ... The package about how the Academy voting process works is kind of interesting, but seems a little navel-gaze-y. Again, this doesn't quite seem like prime-time material. Still, the night does seem to be zooming by (or maybe it just seems that way to me because I'm scrambling to keep up).

8:57 p.m. ... Miley who? Never heard of her. Now Kristin Chenoweth...that's a star! (Do I really have to wait until fall for Pushing Daisies to return?) At the least, she schooled Amy Adams on how to sing on stage. But then it helps that she has the best Enchanted song to work with. I actually wouldn't mind if this beats "Falling Slowly."

9:02 p.m. ... Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill pretend to be Judi Dench and Halle Berry, in another fairly stock Oscar gag. Those boys can do better. As for their category...

Sound Editing:

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

RATATOUILLE

THERE WILL BE BLOOD

TRANSFORMERS

Last night I wrote...

I can never remember what the sound mix is versus the sound edit, One of them is the one that the cartoons are especially good at, with all the effects and such. On the off chance that this is that category, I'll go with Ratatouille.

And the winner is...

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM ... Listening to the clips they played during the reading of the nominees, I was reminded again how great the sound is in No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Ratatouille. Nothing against The Bourne Ultimatum, but it's kind of a "most editing" award yes? And given how the winners blew their speeches, I wish all the more they hadn't won.

9:02 p.m. ... The Dench/Berry gag pays off a little. And as night follows day...

Sound Mixing:

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

RATATOUILLE

3:10 TO YUMA

TRANSFORMERS

Last night I wrote...

Maybe this is the one that the cartoons always rock. Or maybe this is the one that No Country For Old Men is bound to win because of the way it uses ambient noise like music. But just to be contrary, I'm picking 3:10 To Yuma, because it was a really good movie, it's only nominated one other place, and I think people like it. (I use the same approach to my Oscar pool as I do to my NCAA March Madness brackets: You can't win if you don't pick upsets. This is why I never win my NCAA pool either.)

And the winner is...

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM ... Can these dudes carry the banner for their team a little higher, speech-wise? Yes they do. They're funny, and emotional. Too bad about the cut-off.

9:12 p.m. ... The Best Actress category is intro-ed with a montage that proves that winning actresses frequently give cringe-inducing speeches...

Actress in a Leading Role:

Cate Blanchett (ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE)

Julie Christie (AWAY FROM HER)

Marion Cotillard (LA VIE EN ROSE)

Laura Linney (THE SAVAGES)

Ellen Page (JUNO)

Last night I wrote...

Didn't see Elizabeth, and I'm iffy on Page and Cotillard. (I thought the former was funny but one-note, and the latter too much of a caricature...though I know that other actors love her.) Linney I thought was terrific, in a movie I really admired; but Julie Christie was completely heartbreaking, and better than the overly maudlin movie she was stuck in. She's got the old-timers-are-awesome vote sewn up, I'm betting. I'm hoping and betting she wins, but either Page or Cotillard could easily take this.

And the winner is...

Marion Cotillard (LA VIE EN ROSE) ... Well, at least we get to see that dress again, which is truly elegant, and my idea of what starlets should wear to awards ceremonies. She gives a sweet speech, too: "Thank you life, thank you love...It's true there are some angels in this city."

9:18 p.m. ... The Wii gag does not kill.

9:20 p.m. ... People can hate on the music in Once all they want. This song is just beautiful. When Hansard raises his intensity level, and she matches him, that's the essence of collaborative performance. Boy I hope this wins.

9:23 p.m. ... Jack growls his way onto the stage, and introduces the Best Picture montage. This is a much better montage, if only for the way it points out how many weak winners there have been in this category...but why do this now? Also, have you noticed that they haven't been introducing this year's BP nominees one-by-one every 30 minutes or so, as they usually do? I never understand how they organize these shows.

9:28 p.m. ... Whenever I see Renee Zelwegger, I think of the old Peanuts cartoon where Snoopy says he'd rather wait a few days before going to see Charlie Brown's new baby sister Sally..."until her eyes are open." And now, the nominees...

Film Editing:

Christopher Rouse, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Juliette Welfling, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY

Jay Cassidy, INTO THE WILD

Joel & Ethan Coen (a.k.a. "Roderick Jaynes"), NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Dylan Tichenor, THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Last night I wrote...

I'm going to go way out on a limb here, because No Country For Old Men is most likely going to win this in a walk, but in the spirit of STW, and because I still believe this movie has a big pool of Academy supporters, and because the art of this movie is largely in its editing, I'm going with Into The Wild. This is a heart-over-head pick, but if I get it right, I'll look like a seer.

And the winner is...

Christopher Rouse, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM ... My wife picked this too. She has like 10 or 11 right, to my 5. No seer I. (By the way, do you get the feeling that the Academy wishes they could've voted for this movie in the major categories too?)

9:35 p.m. ... And in the category of "The Most Impressive People Who've Ever Called Me At Home," the winner is...Nicole Kidman. (Seriously. It was for a piece I was writing for another publication--the same one for which I spoke with Tilda Swinton--and I knew she'd be calling, but still, you can never quite prepare for the moment when you pick up the phone and here, in an Australian accent, "Hello, Noel? This is Nicole Kidman." Even funnier? She apparently called the wrong number first, so somebody else in my small Arkansas town probably got a call from Nicole Kidman that same night.) Anyway, Kidman's here to give an honorary Oscar to production designer Robert Boyle. I was wondering whether there'd be any of these tonight. I appreciate them going a little deeper for this one...sort of like an offensive lineman winning the Heisman. Pretty neat.

9:35 p.m. ... Will the Oscars break with the tradition of getting a foreigner to introduce Best Foreign Language Film? Penelope Cruz says no...

Foreign Language Film:

BEAUFORT

THE COUNTERFEITERS

KATYN

MONGOL

12

Last night I wrote...

The only one of these I've seen is Beaufort, which I thought was just okay. A knowledgeable friend of mine likes Mongol. Another knowledgeable friend of mine hates The Counterfeiters. Knowing the Academy's lousy track record in this category, I'll pick The Counterfeiters. (And I'll pour a little bit of my vodka stinger on the ground for absent friends: namely 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days.)

And the winner is...

THE COUNTERFEITERS ... Hey, it's my first correct pick in about an hour! This is now my favorite movie of the year.

9:45 p.m. ... McDreamy introduces the final nominated song from Enchanted, a dull leftover from High School Musical (I'm assuming). The most fascinating part of this performance is that they've got someone pretending to be Amy Adams, dancing with a person pretending to be McDreamy. Okay, maybe "fascinating" is too strong a word.

9:50 p.m. ... Travolta presents the song nominees. (Weren't there any nominate-able original songs in Hairspray?)...

Music (Original Song):

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, "Falling Slowly" (ONCE)

Alan Mencken & Stephen Schwartz, "Happy Working Song" (ENCHANTED)

Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack & Tevin Thomas, "Raise It Up" (AUGUST RUSH)

Alan Mencken & Stephen Schwartz, "So Close" (ENCHANTED)

Alan Mencken & Stephen Schwartz, "That's How You Know" (ENCHANTED)

Last night I wrote...

If you don't like the songs in Once, you're not likely to like Once. I do and I did, and I'm lining up behind "Falling Slowly", which I still find deeply moving. (Though I'll acknowledge that in the otherwise spotty Enchanted, "That's How You Know" was a bright spot.

And the winner is...

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, "Falling Slowly" (ONCE) ... Well, that's just nice, is all I can say. Make art! Make art!

9:54 p.m. ... "That guy is so arrogant," Stewart says about Hansard's humble thank you. A good line. In general, I think Stewart's doing fine tonight, though he hasn't risked much either. He's mostly staying out of the way, which is a fine role for a host to take. Knowing Stewart's love of entertainment history, he's bound to relish the idea of becoming this era's Johnny Carson: a perennial.

9:57 p.m. ... Nice of Stewart to bring back Irglova to finish her speech; but is it wrong of me to wish the orchestra would start playing her off after the first 30 seconds?

9:59 p.m. ... Now we get a fuller look at Diaz's dress, which seems to be pretty much par for the course on this weak fashion night. (All these ladies look like they were dressed by Rami from Project Runway.) I'm not crazy about Diaz mocking Sunrise either...that's such a great film. Anyway, the nominess for best cimenamemanatography are...

Cinematography:

Roger Deakins, THE ASSASINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD

Seamus McGarvey, ATONEMENT

Janusz Kaminski, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY

Roger Deakins, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Robert Elswit, THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Last night I wrote...

This may be the most competitive category this year, because all five of these films were beautifully lensed, and each is bound to draw votes for different reasons: either as part of a block of votes for the same film, or as compensation for not awarding the film the big prize, or just because this is the voter's idea of great cinematography. My heart's with the third camp, and even though Roger Deakins is also nominated for the potential juggernaut that is No Country For Old Men, I'm still picking him to win for The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, a movie that relies almost exclusively on indelible images. Plus, it fits into my "spread the wealth" ethos.

And the winner is...

Robert Elswit, THERE WILL BE BLOOD ... Hey hey! That's great. And good job crediting John Fisk, the right-hand man of Terence Malick, among others. (By the way, the rumblings about how much the Academy loves The Diving Bell & The Butterfly appear to have been ill-founded. I noticed that Julian Schnabel has seat on the outside aisle, for heaven's sake.)

10:02 p.m. ... Bring out your dead...

10:10 p.m. ... I miss the Original Score ballet. Come back Debbie Allen! ...

Music (Original Score):

Dario Marianelli, ATONEMENT

Alberto Iglesias, THE KITE RUNNER

James Newton Howard, MICHAEL CLAYTON

Michael Giacchino, RATATOUILLE

Marco Beltrami, 3:10 TO YUMA

Last night I wrote...

Come to think of it, 3:10 To Yuma might win here, too. My policy with scores is that when the movie, if I remember to note how good the score is, then it should win the Oscar. Using that criteria, the only two viable contenders here are Yuma and Atonement, the latter of which is so rhythmic that it really drives the action in the first half of the movie. But in case I'm wrong about the Sound Mixing, I'll go with 3:10 To Yuma.

And the winner is...

Dario Marianelli, ATONEMENT ... Excellent choice. Why didn't I trust my first instinct?

10:12 p.m. ... When Robert Elswit mentioned that Daniel Day-Lewis wasn't in his seat, I wondered whether the people in the auditorium get a program, so they know what's going to be given out when? If so, I'd like to see one of them with the program all shredded, Jed Leland-style, around 10:30 pm.

10:15 p.m. ... Our troops give out the next award...

Documentary Short Subject:

FREEHELD

LA CORONA (THE CROWN)

SALIM BABA

SARI'S MOTHER

Last night I wrote...

I saw Salim Baba at Sundance this year and thought it was really wonderful; a moving character sketch about a man who carts an old projector around the slums of Bangladesh, showing movies. It probably has no chance to win, but my policy is to pull for any of the shorts I've actually seen. This year, Salim Baba is it.

And the winner is...

FREEHELD ... I hope this isn't one of those troops-bashing movies. That would be unforunate. By the way, how long ago did our troops get their envelope? Is Price-Waterhouse cool with this?

10:18 p.m. ... And now Hanks gives out the big doc award...

Documentary Feature:

NO END IN SIGHT

OPERATION HOMECOMING: WRITING THE WARTIME EXPERIENCE

SICKO

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE

WAR/DANCE

Last night I wrote...

When so many war-themed movies on the ballot, I'm betting that the very good No End In Sight gets overlooked here like it was overlooked at the box office, and that Michael Moore will get to give another speech for Sicko. Should be entertaining at least

And the winner is...

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE ... I really need to see this movie. It's the kind of thing I like, generally--documentary filmmaking that leans heavy on journalism. (By the way, nice job Academy giving the docs more play this year. After the embarrassment of Jerry Seinfeld making fun of the category last year, they needed to make it up to the doc-folk.)

10:24 p.m. ... A sleepy-looking Harrison Ford (but when is he not?) introduces...

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Diablo Cody, JUNO

Nancy Oliver, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL

Tony Gilroy, MICHAEL CLAYTON

Brad Bird etc., RATATOUILLE

Tamara Jenkins, THE SAVAGES

Last night I wrote...

I don't want to seem like I'm jumping on the anti-Juno bandwagon, because (1.) I shrugged it off last September when I saw it in Toronto, and (2.) I do think Diablo Cody has talent, and may one day apply it to something more fully realized than this. So even though Juno is probably a lock to win, I can't pull the trigger. And even though Michael Clayton is probably Juno's closest competition, and even though the Academy is going to reward my pick in another category, I'm going to zag and write in Brad Bird's script for Ratatouille, which is actually the best script here. Call me an idealist.

And the winner is...

Diablo Cody, JUNO ... Enjoy it, darlin'. This town will turn on you soon. (At which point you'll probably write a movie I'll really like, and I'll become your biggest supporter...I'm fickle that way.) Decent speech from Diablo, but that dress...land's sake. Anyone notice that she had to hold the envelope in front of her crotch on the way off the stage so that the flimsy fabric of her outfit wouldn't fly open?

10:32 p.m. ... Getting serious now...

Actor in a Leading Role:

George Clooney (MICHAEL CLAYTON)

Daniel Day-Lewis (THERE WILL BE BLOOD)

Johnny Depp (SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET)

Tommy Lee Jones (IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH)

Viggo Mortensen (EASTERN PROMISES)

Last night I wrote...

I'm sticking with the conventional wisdom and marking down Daniel Day-Lewis, which also happens to be my personal favorite. I know some folks think that Day-Lewis' performance is too stunt-y and broad, but it held up well the second time I saw the movie, which is significant. (Stunt-y and broad performances tend to get tiresome on repeat viewings; this one did not.) There's been some late-building speculation that Hollywood's love affair with George Clooney will buoy him, which wouldn't bother me; I thought his performance in Michael Clayton was maybe the best of his career...and he's had an impressive career, superhero roles notwithstanding. I don't think any of the other three actors have any real shot, except maybe Tommy Lee Jones, who I personally think is better in No Country For Old Men. But I bear no grudge against him, Mortensen, or Depp. All those perfs are aces.

And the winner is...

Daniel Day-Lewis (THERE WILL BE BLOOD) ... Good show, DDL. He's such a gracious winner and good speech-maker. (By the way, I underrated Helen Mirren's dress on the red carpet. It's actually quite lovely.)

10:41 p.m. ... Nice to see the Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon bit again, even though it's overplayed...

Directing:

Julian Schnabel (THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY)

Jason Reitman (JUNO)

Tony Gilroy (MICHAEL CLAYTON)

Joel & Ethan Coen (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN)

Paul Thomas Anderson (THERE WILL BE BLOOD)

Last night I wrote...

I thought Diving Bell was just good, not great, but I know that Schnabel has a lot of support out there, especially among people who think the movie should've been nominated for Best Picture. Still, directors just don't win if their movies aren't up for the top prize. And as well-liked as Michael Clayton and Juno are, not many folks are raving over their direction. (Though maybe they should in Gilroy's case...he did very well for a novice.) Which leaves the Coens and PT Anderson in a slugfest. I'm torn between which I prefer--both movies are for-the-ages stuff--and which I think will win. But since the DGA went with the Coens, my money's on Joel & Ethan Coen. And if they do, Best Picture is all but assured.

And the winner is...

Joel & Ethan Coen (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) ... After steamrolling through the early part of the ceremony, NCOM had a dry spell, so I was starting to wonder. Part of me was really pulling for PTA there towards the end, but I'm very glad the Coens won, and I loved their speech, which was funny yet serious, just like their movies.

10:45 p.m. ... And now...

Best Picture:

ATONEMENT

JUNO

MICHAEL CLAYTON

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Last night I wrote...

I'm backing front-runner No Country For Old Men, but I'd be thrilled if my other favorite movie of '07, There Will Be Blood, snuck into the top spot. I'd be stunned but not devastated if Michael Clayton won--I like the movie, and it would be an unusual choice for the Academy. I like Atonement better than Michael Clayton, but it would be kind of a par-for-the-course Academy selection. As for Juno, well...I'm still pretending that fifth slot has been taken up by Ratatouille, or Sweeney Todd or Into The Wild.

And the winner is...

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN ... Couldn't they have invited Cormac to the stage? Oh well. You can't knock Scott Rudin, who's been one of the good guys in the movie business for a long time. (At least in terms of the movies he makes...he's reportedly a prick to deal with.)

And that's it! Final thoughts: Stewart was intermittently funny, and certainly good enough to get another invite. The show ran fairly smoothly and briskly--just over 3 hours!--though there weren't a lot of "wow" moments in the production itself. (I'm sure the ratings will be at an all-time low, though that's as much the fault of the television business as the movie business at this point.) I did a terrible job at predicting, unless you count my prediction that I would suck at predicting. But I'm generally satisfied with the winners, which is rare for an Oscar night. Chalk it up to an amazing 2007, which even the Academy couldn't miss.

Thanks, all, for spending time with me this evening. I haven't had a chance to read the comments in full, though I get the feeling you're all commenting on what your fellow commenters had to say more than anything I've written. (Especially given the excessive post-lag.) Now go to bed! I've got Popless to write….

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