Posted by: Mark Nielsen | February 26, 2008

Oscars Cross the International Date Line

Yeah, I know the Academy Awards were two days ago. I watched ’em. I even took notes. All for you. I just didn’t have time to write up my review Monday, while I was off being Mr. Mom all night.

So let’s just say, since it was the most “international” Oscars ever, that it’s still Monday in some parts of the world, so technically I’m not late to this party. Or better yet, let’s say my Oscar party went on well into Monday, so I couldn’t make my deadline. Besides, nobody watched the broadcast, anyway. Viewership was down 14% from last year, as if they knew it was not America’s year. So read my review below for the humor and analysis, and for the recommendations of past winners, if not the news…


While watching the pre-show, I noted with glee that the Grand Old Dame of Hollywood was seen on the Red Carpet : Mickey Rooney! (He inherited that title when his pal Judy Garland died.) That put me in homework mode, as I wondered if he’s won any Oscars, and how long he’s been around. I knew he was in some classic films as a kid, like playing Puck in the first-ever Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Little Lord Fauntleroy, and the unforgettable Whitey in Boys’ Town with Spencer Tracy. Turns out ol’ Mickey has a grand total of 310 screen credits to his name! They date back all the way to 1926, when he was just six years old [ a bit part in Not to Be Trusted (1926), as a midget (tee hee, no seriously), followed by Mickey McGuire Orchids and Ermine (1927) …where he was uncredited, but must have stolen the show, because his studio soon released a whole series of “Mickey McGuire” shorts or serials featuring Rooney. ] So basically, he was the Macaulay Culkin of the 1930s, after which he became Tobey Maguire (as Andy Hardy, the Peter Parker of the ’40s), then still held his own into the ’50s when he began doing television in some great programs like Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight, with Anthony Quinn and Jackie Gleason [try to find it on video/DVD sometime, it’s as good as Rocky or Raging Bull, if not better.) The Mick’s most recent theatrical release was Night at the Museum (2006), but he has more films still in production, post-production, or awaiting release. He has 1 Emmy, and no Oscars, but 4 noms (2 best supporting, 2 Best Actor — for Babes in Arms (1939) & The Human Comedy (1943) , plus he got a couple of honorary Oscars, one as a kid and one in the 1980s). His Emmy was for Bill, an excellent 1981 TV movie in which he played a mentally disabled adult. Mickey does mostly kids’ stuff nowadays… thus making his career a full-circle experience. Go Mickey Go!

But enough about the past, even though Oscar turned 80 this year. Let’s get Back to the Future, my reporting of which is going to be very cryptic and snarky, as I’m not planning to edit my notes much into sentences and paragraphs. What? You want flowing prose? Go buy Entertainment Weekly!

*  *  *  *  *


My boy Jon Stweart’s opening monologue –good, but something was definitely missing… due to the writers strike, it was 25% less funny, written on short notice in eight days. One of Jon’s highlight jokes from later in the show for movie buffs: the widescreen, watching the CinemaScope Lawrence of Arabia on an iPod – a new media/widescreen gag.


Animated feature winner Brad Bird (Ratatouille) told a funny anecdote about his high school guidance counselor completely rejecting the idea that he could ever get a job making movies. I wish my counselors had been that dumb: I could use a bit of Brad’s perseverence. I can’t even remember my counselor… no wait, now I do. She actually was quite dumb. Even Mom said so. Still doesn’t explain how I turned out as a grownup, but whatever.


“So many foreigners!”, sez Sue (as the winners for costume, and Sweeney Todd’s art direction were from Britain and some Eastern Bloc country, respectively). Turned out, her statement was prophetic.

 For example the 1st acting award – Supporting Actor- Javier Bardem from Spain. He said most of his Thank yous in Spanish. 

I liked the montages featuring binoculars & bad dreams in the movies. That could be a good title for a book and movie, too: Binoculars and Bad Dreams.


Owen Wilson intoroduces short live features – Last year’s Breakdown Boy in the tabloids makes a comeback… what was up w/ him last year anyway? … how much tabloidage is true in general? I like Owen and Luke Wilson alot, as well as their pal and frequent partner Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums, Darjeeling Limited).

— A Frenchman wins short live action. 


Bee Boy:  Jerry Seinfeld, as the bee, intros bee movie montage & short animated feature category – featuring the voice of Lennon in I Met the Walrus  (The Beatles were EVERYWHERE last year); several other foreign nom’s here also, including the U.K.-made winner Peter and the Wolf (any and every version of that piece has got to be good, on the basis of Prokoffiev’s music alone). We don’t do “animated shorts” in America anymore. We do reruns, The Simpsons (animated in Korea), and about half of Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.

 Tilda Swinton for Best Supporting Actress – big surprise to all, including her! (‘nother ferener, too). I felt bad for Ruby Dee, though. My response to the question posed by the commercial for Oprah’s Big Give: if Oprah handed me a big wad of cash, I’d start a slap-in-the-face anti-Oprah campaign, complete with viral video, billboards, New York Times ads, and an interview with Jonathan Franzen, the one author (The Corrections) who had the guts to snub her. Then I’d go on her show to defend myself and start jumping on the couch. 

The hilarious Seth Rogen & Jonah Hill  totally rocked as the bickering Dame Judy Dench and Halle Berry. Stole the whole frickin’ show. (Which was only moderately funny up till then.)


Sadly, the only Oscar-nominated flix I saw last year were Ratatouille and the horrific Transformers. Can you tell I have a five-year-old? And why wasn’t The Simpsons movie at least nominated?! It was pretty good, at least for fans of the show.


A favorite “past winners” montage clip: Louise Fletcher (from the amazing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) signs ASL to Mom A Dad “You’re watching my dream come true.” Speaking of Cuckoos, my dream would be that Jack Nicholson — heavily made up with pancake makeup, that my HDTV shows very clearly tonight — would stop being lazy and play a character other than himself again, like he did in Sean Penn’s The Crossing Guard, Jim Brooks’ As Good as It Gets, or Alexander Payne’s About Schmidt).

 They missed one essential clip in the montage for past lead actresses: Sally’ Field’s “You like me!” 

Best Actress presenter and personal fave Forrest Whitaker – he’s the one black Brat Packer (a midsized role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High). See him play Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood’s Bird, though. Phenomenal. Plus he’s overcome so much: raised in South Central L.A., got that funky “sleepy eye” thing. What a force of nature that guy is. 


Best Actress: Cotillard – anuther ferner. ’nuff said… though I liked her “Angels in this city” line.

Another good montage clip: Barbra’s “Hello Gorgeous” moment:

[  1969 Won Oscar Best Actress in a Leading Role for: Funny Girl (1968)
TIED with
Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter (1968).

Jon Stewart – uncharacteristically single-clapped a few times, like Chuck Barris used to on The Gong Show…a sign of nerves?

My preferred famous lines from adapted screenplays: “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” , … “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”, …”Frankly my dear…” Yes.  It was  fun, as the presenters said.

 – Coen Brothers (and Cormac McCarthy) won adapted screenplay for No Country. Their 6th nom, and second award (first one: the orig screenplay for Fargo). TY to hollywood bigwig producer Scott Rudin. Joel: “We only adapt Homer and Cormac McCarthy.”  Ethan? a man of few words… in person, at least. Must be that little brother syndrome.

Steve Carell/Anne Hathaway and the documentary/animated feature mixup… very funny.

~6,000 worldwide Academy members, according to the president of the Academy.

Hack director Michael Bay appears in the “voting for Oscar” montage – why do they let THAT guy vote?

Red carpet to last hurrah, this broadcast played like Miley Cyrus’ personal coming out party…

Rouse -Film Editing – his father got an Oscar 40+ yrs ago- Hollywood kids strike again

2008: return of the generally out-of-touch, not so great, very un-rock Best Songs (except “Raise It Up” from August Rush, very gospel/R&B) – winner -the virtually unknown “Falling Slowly” from the virtually unknown movie Once (composers Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova) – more ferners, but Jon’s allowance for Marketa to come back after the commercial to say thanks was a nice touch.

Hey Daniel Day Lewis, lose the earrings or cut your hair. You look like your wife. Speaking of which, his wife Rebecca Miller is the daughter of the great playwright (and former husband of Marilyn Monroe) Arthur Miller. Those Millers like marrying actors, I guess. Maybe they met when Daniel worked on Arthur’s film version of The Crucible, for which Miller I think won his only Oscar.

Harrison Ford & Calista Flockhart – in the audience, and still together. And they said she was going to die of anorexia. What do the tabloids know?!

RIP -ended on Heath Ledeger cuz it was so recent, and he’d gotten the Oscar nomination for Brokeback. But Ingmar Bergman & Micelangelo Antonioni were probably biggest names to go in 2007. Again with the international thing. If you’re gonna go back and see their films, see Bergmans Fanny & Alexander, and Antonioni’s incredible Blow Up (remade very badly by Travolta as Blow Out… wow, has that guy had some bad ideas in his career)… also gone in ’07: Susanne Pleshette, Deborah Kerr, Jane Wyman (first wife of Ronald Reagan, TV wife of Robert Young on Father Knows Best), Laszlo Kovacs (amazing cinematographer)

Doc features – No End In Sight (iraq), Operation Homecoming (iraq?), Sicko, Taxi to Dark the Side (Afghan./Iraq) -winner: Alex Gibney, Eva Orner, wardance (africa/dance?). Again with the ferners. Do we need to change our immmigration policy, put a big wall up, keep all these people from coming and stealing our movie jobs and big awards?! (Nah, just make better movies and stop being ruled by the Almighty Buck… and I don’t mean Buck Henry, Oscar-nominated writer of The Graduate.)

A best song introductory clip: Elton John thanks granny for starting him on piano at age 3, granny told him “Play!” – Jeez we’re behind already by 2 yrs w/ Graham!

Original Screenplay – Juno (former stripper Diablo Cody , a suburban Chicago product -“this is for you, the writers!” she says , other nominees: Lars & the Real Girl, Michael Clayton, Ratatouille, and a sleeper: The Savages, starring the amazing Laura Linney, who I just saw eat up the screen in 2005’s The Squid & the Whale.

Actor – George, DD Lewis (#2, 4th nom) -handsomest bludgeon in town, thanks PT anderson, rebecca miller (daughter of Arthur Miller– writer of Crucible, in which DD starred), fathers & sons (honor of gramps, dad & my boys) – another ferner, Depp, Tommy Lee (Elah – Iraq), Viggo (shocker if he got it for such a dark role)

Another clip: Marty Scorsese – director-wise, nothing will top last year, with him getting the award handed to him by fellow Boomer/Film School directors Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas. You want four faces for the Mount Rushmore of Movies for the past 30 years? There’s your four guys, right there.

Directors- Schnabel -diving bell, jason reitman -juno , mike clayton- gilroy, coens – No Country, p.t. anderson – There Will Be Blood

Winners: The Coens, their first for directing, 3rd Oscar overall).  -Ethan again says nada, while Joel tells childhood filmmaking anecdote about their super-8 short, Henry Kissinge: Man On the Go. For the record, my first short film was The Killer Cabbage Patch Kid, in case I ever win an Oscar and somebody wants to know. We taped a knife in her hands and went to town. It was shot on VHS video, and I have no idea if it still exists in my mom’s or my counsin Tom’s archives. You out there reading this, Tom? Dan? Go look for our movie!

Denzel presents Best Pix – nominees: atonement, juno, clayton (Hollywood icon Sydney Pollack both acted in and produced this gem), blood, and no country 

No Country for Old Men wins again. Scott Rudin joins the Coens. The director gets a shot of Cormac, who is there! Josh Brolin & Javier Bardem get TYs, and Miramax again, and Sydney Pollack, and Scott’s partner: John Barlow (who he calls “honey”)

And that’s it! Stewart signs off quickly, and we’re OUT.

Best post-Oscar moment: Jimmy Kimmel had past winner Ben Affleck on his live show, and they had previously shot a hilarious video of a song called “I’m F’ing Ben Affleck”. They went for the gold on this one, complete with a “We Are the World” mock studio session with lots of stars involved. Check it on youtube, if you can handle the foul language and gay lifestyle references.




  1. Hooray for WordPress! And for Cotillard, my girl at the Oscars. I thought she was fantastic, and if she didn’t win, I was going to go on strike from movies.
    You’ve got a little bit of a lot of things on this site, Mark, and gave me much to think about. Fun to read the Kafien poem, it totally put me back in Chicago.
    How about a little Wisconsin verse? And what is your connection to here now? I’ll check in again soon…

  2. Speaking of Judy Garland. This week over at The Judy Garland Experience, along with all the rare Judy files from concerts, television, and radio, they are also featuring The Misty Miss Christy, June Christy herself, singing songs from the Judy Garland songbook, as well as Bobby Darin’s ultra rare performances from the Ed Sullivan show. And if that isn’t enough they are also featring Miss Peggy Lee singing highlights from the ill fated Broadway show PEG.
    If you don’t know about The Judy Garland Experience it is worth checking out. It is the livliest and largest of all the Garland groups. The membership includes Garland family members, other celebrities, people who worked with and were friends with Judy, authors, film makers, and fans of all levels. The only person missing is you.
    Stop by and check out our little Judyville, you may never want to leave.
    Here’s the link:

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  8. Thanks all you above for the encouragement. In answer to the question: my only other sites that I contribute to mostly have a religious or spiritual focus, not on movies. I do movie-related stuff here on Marking Time, but other topics as well. Pop in on the current entry by clicking the title above.

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