Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Well, that was an interesting night…sometimes. A few surprises. A few obvious moves. A lot of overall intrigue in what I might say was one of the best Oscar-casts in recent memory. But where to start…

The Good:
1. Jon Stewart. He hit this Oscar telecast out of the park. At the start of his first hosting gig two years ago, you could tell he was a bit nervous in front of the audience, even though he and the writers did come up with some prime gags like the attack ads. They did this time to (Oscar’s tribute…to binoculars and parascopes and An Oscar tribute…to nightmares were priceless jabs at the gratuitous montage), and there were none of the embarassing moments like his Spielberg Jewish tragedy trilogy idea that defined awkward. His monologue was one of the best in recent memory, and he kept the show moving to a fantastically-short 3 hours and 20 minutes. And the audience got into it. Please bring him back- we just found our new Billy Crystal folks.

2. The Love for the Brothers Coen. Talk about an embarassment of riches. Joel and Ethan ended up taking home three Oscars a piece for Picture, Director, and Screenplay Adaptation to go along with the one each they already had for “Fargo’s” Original Screenplay. After a couple years of relative widespread love, Oscar basically allowed the Brothers and their gripping thriller win with gusto (although OK, the same could be said for “The Departed” and “Million Dollar Baby” as well, though no single individual filmmaker has dominated so much in terms of wins since Peter Jackson).

3. How in a lot of cases, the best choice actually won. Wow, the Academy got it right on BOTH fronts of the music categories (and “Once’s” song- and the songwriter’s acceptance speechs, including when Stewart brought Markéta Irglová back to finish hers, was one of the evening’s best moments). True, what actually was the best is all subjective anyway, but it’s hard to argue against Supporting Actor winner Javier Bardem, Original Screenplay winner “Juno” (whose writer, former stripper Diablo Cody, had probably the most interesting dress of the evening for a non-pregnant actress), Best Animated Feature winner “Ratatouille,” Best Art Direction winner “Sweeney Todd,” Best Makeup winner “La Vie en Rose,” or of course, Best Picture winner “No Country for Old Men.” That’s a lot of true bests that won on an Oscar night…even if they were only the best of what was nominated.

4. Don’t worry. Oscar didn’t fall into predictability coma. Starting with Best Costume winner “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” Oscar wasn’t afraid to throw us for a loop or two, which is hardly a bad thing in an Oscar telecast. Some of them even deserved it (like Best Actress winner Marion Cottliard and three-time technical winner “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which wasn’t my top choice in any of its’ category, but isn’t something to be ashamed of, either). But that does lead to…

The Bad:
1. Not all the surprises worked for me. OK, while it’s true “Elizabeth’s” costumes were impressive, honestly, is it anything we truly haven’t seen before? No, and it’s hard to be that at this point in cinematic history, but come on. Over “Sweeney Todd?” Over ANY of the other nominees? Whatever. And while I’d have my reservations for honoring any film Michael Bay worked on with an Oscar after “Armageddon” and “Bad Boys II” as well, how can you NOT be impressed with the seemingly-effortless, but no doubt hard as f-ing Hell, effects needed to pull off the transformations in “Transformers” (the clip of which didn’t even SHOW any transformations, but that’s another issue), especially for what seemed to be the same-old same-old fantasy effects of “The Golden Compass.”

And then, there’s the little matter of Supporting Actress. Don’t get me wrong, Tilda Swinton rocked the house in “Costantine” and “The Deep End,” and she wasn’t bad in “Michael Clayton,” but she’s got better work in her than for that movie, and there were better choices in this category (like “Atonement’s” false witness Saoirse Ronan- probably just waiting for Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones”- and “I’m Not There’s” magnificent Cate Blanchett- even if she’s already got one). I’ve seen worse surprises than Swinton- the two referred to above, for example- and she’s certainly deserving of an Oscar at some time, but I think the best is still to come from her.

The Surprising:
1. That honestly, the above categories already took care of this for me. Seriously, there’s not much left to say. It’s already been said. It was a good night for Oscar, and even if some wins were painfully predictable (Daniel Day-Lewis over Johnny Depp and Viggo Mortensen…sigh…), Stewart kept the show moving, and it wasn’t actually a bad one this year. Now the only question is…what’s gonna get the nod this coming year? “Cloverfield?” “Rambo?” “Hannah Montana?”

Viva La Resistance!

Brian Skutle

2007 Oscar Winners
Best Picture: “No Country for Old Men”
Best Director: Joel & Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en Rose”
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”
Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton”
Best Original Screenplay: “Juno” (Diablo Cody)
Best Adapted Screenplay: “No Country for Old Men” (Joel & Ethan Coen)
Best Original Score: “Atonement” (Dario Marianelli)
Best Original Song: “Falling Slowly” from “Once” (Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová)
Best Animated Feature: “Ratatouille”
Best Foreign Language Film: “The Counterfeiters” (Austria)
Best Documentary Feature: “Taxi to the Dark Side”
Best Visual Effects: “The Golden Compass”
Best Sound: “The Bourne Ultimatum”
Best Sound Editing: “The Bourne Ultimatum”
Best Cinematography: “There Will Be Blood”
Best Film Editing: “The Bourne Ultimatum”
Best Art Direction: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
Best Makeup: “La Vie en Rose”
Best Costume Design: “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
Best Short Film- Live Action: “Le Mozart des pickpockets”
Best Short Film- Animated: “Peter and the Wolf”
Best Documentary Short Subject: “Freeheld”
Honorary Oscar: Robert Boyle (Art Director, “North By Northwest,” “The Birds”)

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