Sam's Oscar Report

Sun, 25 Feb 2007 - Hollywood

I had fully intended not to attend, watch, or even think about,
the Academy Awards tonight. I have important stuff to do, movies
Iím preparing, a major book revision Iím racing down to the end
of the finish line. That is what Iím paid for, what I should be
paying attention to.

So, no Oscars for me in 2007. I had announced as much on my
blog, butÖso many people wrote from all over, and called and
emailed, saying in effect, "I always read your Oscar Report. I
expect it, I demand it. Sam you have to write one this year."

Apparently, the Force has a strong effect on the weak-minded, or
at least somebody as weak-minded and distracted as I am today.

So here I am again, and itísÖ

SAMíS 2007 OSCAR REPORT - PREDICTION EDITION

Hello!

Sam Longoria here, your Oscar reporter.

First, and foremost, I wonít be there tonight. Not in person,
not by satellite. Not with a legally-procured ticket, and
certainly not by some dubious-entry through guile and low
cunning, as much fun as that might be.

Iíve been there 17 times, often to root for films I worked on.
Now, my priorities have shifted. I have vowed not to attend
unless Iím nominated, working, or invited.

So Iím elsewhere, somewhere smack dab in the Mojave Desert.
East of the sun, west of the moon, to be precise.

I donít have a tv here with me, because tv is distracting, and I
have work to do. No tv, but I do have some opinions.

Iím just going to write this off the top of my head. I have not
seen all these films, but I usually have no trouble predicting
winners, based entirely on the title.

THE HOST

First, the host. Ellen Degeneres? The girl who got the cover of
"Time" magazine, because she prefers to sleep with women?

By that criterion, I should be on the cover of "Time,"
"Newsweek," and "US World Report," but Iím not bitter.

Ellen can be funny, though. Letís just hope it happens sometime
during the Oscar telecast.

A COOL AWARD

Tonight, I do know theyíre giving a special Honorary Oscar to
Ennio Morricone, for his amazing "Ooo aaah krayko" music in all
those spaghetti westerns. Go Ennio!

TONIGHT, TONIGHT

I really wish I had a film Iíd produced worthy of consideration,
and in the running this year. Between you and me, the
competitionís not terribly strong tonight. You know what I mean.

I worked my way through college hustling pool, and I know this -
you donít have to be the best pool player, to win. You just have
to pick your opponents very carefully.

Well, itís the same thing with the Academy Awards. Some years,
you just look at the list of films that were made, and the people
who made them, and you just want to give up and go home.

There is no beating a slew of strong contenders, and some years
itís just a line of them, off to the horizon.

Not this year. Itís thanksgiving all over again. Turkey,
turkey, turkey. Man, if you had a really good movie, or a
runaway blockbuster hit, you could clean up tonight.

I think years like this are the most interesting
to watch, actually.

This is when itís possible for upsets to happen, for some little
guy with a good film or a good part to run in, grab an award from
the stack, and run away with it, like a terrier.

Iíve seen that happen, and itís the most wonderful thing. That
could happen tonightÖexpect some surprises.

Speaking of surprises, hereís one for you. Itís not really about
whose picture is better. For exampleÖ

BEST DIRECTOR

Clint Eastwood maybe should win for his second WWII movie this
year. Mammoth undertaking, restaging Iwo Jima, great
story, showing it from both sides of the conflict, highest
quality, butÖhe won the last time he was nominated.

Believe it or not, that counts against him. Letís not always see
the same hands. We have other people to give awards to, who
havenít gotten one yet.

Yes, this year they could give another Oscar to Clint. This
could be the last year they could do that, because it might be
Clintís last year of any kind, especially if he keeps making two
WWII pictures a year. Thatís a lot of work, and heís not getting
any younger, and war movies are stressful.

Maybe thatís what he wants. If he kicks off, he could be the
sentimental favorite.

But this is not a particularly sentimental group. Itís also not
a democracy, a technocracy, nor a meritocracy.
Itís Hollywood, where youíre only as good as your last picture.

(Poor Peter Bogdanovich, who made his "Last Picture Show" near
the beginning of his career, instead of in the proper order.
It was a good picture, but just look at him now.)

I hope this isnít Clintís last picture, but Iíll be very
surprised if any WWII war picture could get the Best Picture this
year, from a crowd thatís tired of the US Iraq war.

Arenít you tired of war stories? I know I am. Especially ones
that unsuccessfully try to compare todayís one-sided purely-elective
conflict with an honest-to-goodness fight for survival, like WWII.

Sorry, this warís just a bad remake, something this crowd knows
everything about. Linking Iraq to WWII, or to your WWII movie,
is a bad idea.

Clint could win Best Director for "Letters From Iwo Jima," but
itís unlikely. Whoís he up against? Alejandro Gozalez Inarritu,
for "Babel." Stephen Frears, for "The Queen," Paul Greengrass,
"United 93," and Martin Scorsese, for "The Departed."

Of those, Iíd only take Martin Scorcese seriously. Stephen
Frears maybe, but "United 93?" Please.

My moneyís on Martin to win, because, after all the good pictures
heís made, after all the film restoration work, after all the
times heís been nominated and lost, I think the Academy is
actually afraid if he doesnít win this time, heís going to snap
like a coiled spring,and actually kill somebody in the front row.

BEST ACTOR

Another guy who should get the "poor old guy" vote is Peter
OíToole, up for Best Actor in "Venus." A great actor, heís been
in so many good movies, he really deserves one, but whoís he up
against?

Leonardo DiCaprio, in "Blood Diamond,"
Ryan Gosling in "Half Nelson,"
Will Smith, in "The Pursuit of Happyness,"
Forest Whitaker, in "The Last King of Scotland

Leonardo isnít the cute young hunk any more. Heís chunky now,
and there are bombs bursting everywhere in his picture, so who
can watch Leonardo act? Will Smith is not the fresh prince any
more either, and apparently he canít spell, and his movieís too
depressing.

Ryan Gosling is a good young actor, but his movie is really
depressing. "Half Nelson" is all the same, dedicated ghetto
teacher makes lessons interesting, bla bla bla.

Ryanís actingís good, but did he ever play a guy who thought he
was Jesus Christ? Peter OíToole did, and Iím rooting for Peter,
butÖit would be too obvious. Doing the obvious doesnít sell
newspapers or movie tickets.

Forest Whitaker is great, playing Idi Amin who was a truly
frightening Ugandan, especially dressed as a scotsman.

Idi is old news now, and Forestís chunky and middle-aged and black
in white Hollywood, so a rational mind would doubt Forest will win.

But this is Hollywood. Leave your rational mind at home.
This is that little terrier runaway award I told you about.
Thatís why Iím betting on Forest Whitaker for Best Actor.

BEST PICTURE

The contenders are "Babel," "The Departed," "Letters from Iwo
Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine," and "The Queen."

If thereís enough Scorsese backlash, his picture might win, too,
and thatís the way Iím calling it. "Letters from Iwo Jima" might
win, but itís too right-wing, "Little Miss Sunshine" is too
satirical for its own good, and that leaves "The Queen," which is
a British film, and perceived as being a higher-quality product,
but the brits won a lot lately. See how easy this is? Martin
Scorseseís "The Departed," to win. "Letters from Iwo Jima" to
place.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Like theyíre going to give a Writing Oscar to a tastelessly
improvised film like "Borat." Right. It really could happen,
because Hollywood doesnít really care about writers, but they
do care what the public thinks they think about writers,
so I donít think "Borat" will win.

"Little Children" is too young-sounding, and "Notes On A Scandal"
has Dame Judi Dench, but sheís hurt herself doing too many Bond
films, and the title is, well, scandalous.

I believe Martin Scorcese has enough Scorcese backlash this year
to win, then have his picture win, and maybe even win Best
Adapted Screenplay, so my call is for "The Departed."
Remember, Martin is dangerous.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Eddie Murphy should win this, but he did so many movies lately
where he plays a plethora of characters in fat suits, heíll be a
long time living that down.

Too many people remember Mark Wahlberg in "Boogie Nights" and
actually think heís a real porn star.

Djimon Hounsou would do better if his name were easier to spell.

Jackie Earle Haley is too unknown, so that leaves Alan Arkin to
fill the bill for the perfect Hollywood naturalistic cranky old
druggie grandpa who dies in the middle of "Little Miss Sunshine,"
the allegedly funny satire movie.

Alanís character is perfect for Hollywood, except he wasnít gay
or diseased, and we didnít see him die in nauseating detail, or
kill anybody. Even despite those handicaps, I think Alan will
still win.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Best Leading Actresses are Penelope Cruz for "Volver," Dame Judi
Dench for "Notes on a Scandal," Helen Mirren as "The Queen,"
Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada," and Kate Winslet in
"Little Children."

Could be a comeback for Meryl Streep, or Kate Winslet. Judi
Dench wins everything she competes for, but sheís won a lot
lately. Penelope Cruz is unlikely.

Helen Mirren only has to keep a stiff upper lip for two hours,
to play The Queen, but America loves royalty, and Hollywood
even more so, so Iím betting on Her Majesty.
Helen Mirren to win.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The competing Actresses are Adriana Barraza, "Babel," Cate
Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal," Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss
Sunshine," Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls," and Rinko Kikuchi,
"Babel."

Abigailís a cute little girl, but really not up to "Best
Supporting Actress" quality. Cateís has been away for awhile,
Adriana is too new, and so is Rinko. That leaves "Dreamgirls"
Jennifer Hudson, for the win.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The competing scripts are for "Babel," "Letters from Iwo Jima,"
"Little Miss Sunshine," "Panís Labyrinth," and "The Queen."

You know a movie called "Letters from Iwo Jima" has a lot of
writing in it, "Panís Labyrinth" has good writing, or it wouldnít
include the word "Labyrinth," "Little Miss Sunshine" sounds
ironic, and "The Queen" sounds historic.

Of those, "a lot of writing," "good writing," "ironic," and
"historic," the most "Hollywood" phrase is "ironic."

"Little Miss Sunshine" has a VW bus in it, and the Academy is
full of old hippies who speak irony as a first language,
so Iím calling "Little Miss Sunshine" for the win.

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

Foreign films are "After The Wedding," "Days of Glory
(Indigenes)," "The Lives of Others," "Panís Labyrinth," and
"Water."

Hollywood has a spotty history with marriage, so they wonít go
for "After The Wedding." The Hollywood glory days were back in
1939, so "Days of Glory" is a touchy subject, "Panís Labyrinth"
has won enough, and "Water" leaves me cold, so Hollywood will
make money, as it does, displaying "The Lives of Others."
Expect it to win.

ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION

Best Art Direction nominees are "Dreamgirls," "The Good
Shepherd," "Panís Labyrinth," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead
Manís Chest," "The Prestige."

I really liked "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manís Chest," but
itís a blockbuster, so you donít want it to win too much. "Good
Shepherd," sounds too Jesus, "Dreamgirls" wasnít that arty, and
that leaves "Panís Labyrinth" for Best Art Direction.

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

Nominees are "The Black Dahlia," "Children of Men," "The
Prestige," "The Illusionist," and "Panís Labyrinth."

"Black Dahlia" was just icky, that horrible murder. I wasnít too
crazy about "Children of Men," either. "The Prestige," come on,
how pretentious." "The Illusionist" practically explains itís
going to be magic, how exciting is that? That leaves "Panís
Labyrinth" for Best Cinematography.

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN

Movies up for Best Costume are "Curse of the Golden Flower," "The
Devil Wears Prada," "Dreamgirls," "Marie Antoinette," and "The
Queen."

Costume? Duh. Pradaís a real brand, so itís not a costume.
Costumes might have flowers, but a flower, even a golden one is
not a real costume. "Dreamgirls" just wear tight gowns all the
time, which are not real costumes.

Real costumes are worn by Queens, which leaves "The Queen" and
"Marie Antoinette." "The Queen" is too generic, the winner of
the Academy Award must be very specific. "Marie Antoinette" to
win, "The Queen" to place.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

These are usually easy to call. The Holocaust documentary
always wins, but there isnít one this year.

"Deliver Us from Evil," "An Inconvenient Truth,"Iraq in
Fragments" "Jesus Camp" "My Country, My Country."

"Jesus Camp" has Jesus in the title so it canít win. "Deliver Us
from Evil," "My Country, My Country," and "Iraq in Fragments" are
nice thoughts, but not big enough. Alís picture is Global.

Al Gore to win, even though he didnít make the picture
"An Inconvenient Truth," and only appears in it.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Contenders for Best Documentary Short "The Blood of Yingzhou
District," "Recycled Life," "Rehearsing a Dream," "Two Hands."

"Two Hands" is too vague, weíve seen "Recycled Life" before,
"Rehearsing A Dream" is an absurd title, and too close to home,
so "The Blood of Yingzhou District" will win.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

These are the films, "Binta and the Great Idea
(Binta Y La Gran Idea)," "Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)," "Helmer
and Son, "The Saviour," "West Bank Story."

Too easy. Eliminate the ones in Spanish. "Helmer and Son"
sounds like a clothing store, "The Savior" is too Christian.
That leaves a Middle East-sounding title, "West Bank Story,"
for the win.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Only three this year, "Cars," "Happy Feet," and "Monster House."

"Cars" to place, "Happy Feet" to win, because although "Cars" was
best animation, "Happy Feet" had music by Stevie Wonder, and I
saw little kids dancing in front of the screen in the theatre.
Nobody danced at "Cars," or "Monster House."

BEST FILM EDITING

Best Film Editing nominees are "Babel," "Blood Diamond,"
"Children of Men," "The Departed," and "United 93."

This is easy. Remember the coiled spring, and how dangerous
Martin is? The Scorsese backlash is strong, there is only weak
competition this year, and Martinís pictures are always very
well-edited. "The Departed" to win for Best Editing.

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP

Nominees are, "Apocalypto," "Click," "Panís Labyrinth."

Makeup? Youíre joking right? "Apocalypto" should win, but that
would just help Mel Gibson, and Hollywood hates Mel these days.
"Click" was not worthy, and that leaves "Panís Labyrinth." A
piece of cake, or in this case, Pan-cake makeup.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The contenders for Best Original Score are "Babel," "The Good
German," "Notes on a Scandal," "Panís Labyrinth," and "The
Queen."

These are easy to decide by title. In Hollywood thereís no such
thing as a "Good German," theyíre always the bad guy. "Notes on
a Scandal" sounds musical, but "Panís Labyrinth" is too spacey.

"Babel" will win, because it sounds like "Babylon," as in
"Hollywood Babylon." The Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are
held, is built in a Babylonian motif, a replica of the set
of D.W. Griffithís movie "Intolerance."

Hereís where they should send everybody home, and give out an
armload of honorary Oscars to the man who single-handedly brought
real music in films back from the dead - John Williams, the most
widely-heard composer of the past century.

John Williams is the best, everybody knows it. Why do they not
properly acknowledge the man? Unbelievable.

How many blockbusters has John Williams scored? Most of them.
How many Oscars has he received? Frighteningly few.

Nominated 32 times, heís only won 5. Unbelievable.

Itís time to make up for this embarrassing situation. I know he
wrote the song for the dolphin tv show, "Flipper," but that was
back in the í60s and everybody was stoned. It was a long time
ago. Please forgive him, and letís move forward.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The songs are "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth,"
"Listen" from "Dreamgirls," "Love You I Do" from "Dreamgirls,"
"Our Town" from "Cars," and "Patience" from "Dreamgirls."

This is an easy one. Best Song should really go to a song from a
musical picture, but that wouldnít be Hollywood - too obvious and
apolitical. So eliminate the songs from "Cars" and "Dreamgirls."

That leaves only the song from Al Goreís movie, "I Need to Wake
Up," which is how I felt when I watched the movie.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

The short films in question are "The Danish Poet," "Lifted," "The
Little Matchgirl," "Maestro," "No Time for Nuts."

I havenít seen any of the animated shorts, so Iíll do what Iíve
done at the horse track. I once bet on a horse ridden by Danny
Sorensen, because Sorensen is my Danish family name.

Following the Hans Christian Andersen / Danish motif, that
narrows the field to "The Danish Poet" and "The Little
Matchgirl."

Of those "The Danish Poet" actually has "Danish" in the title,
and not only were my maternal ancestors Danish, a danish is my
favorite kind of pastry.

"The Danish Poet," to win, with "No Time for Nuts," to place,
because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you donít.

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING

The Best Mixing award nominees are "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond,"
"Dreamgirls," "Flags of our Fathers," and "Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Manís Chest."

"Apocalypto" you know, that Mel Gibson thing again. "Blood
Diamond" just had booming explosions, same with "Flags of our
Fathers," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manís Chest" had mostly
water and screaming and booming. Sound mixers (who vote for best
mixing) love music, and thereís no real music in those. That
leaves only "Dreamgirls" to win for Best Sound Mixing

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING

Sound Editing nominees are "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Flags
of our Fathers," "Letters from Iwo Jima," and "Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Manís Chest."

I did not like the booming "Blood Diamond" sound track, so itís
out. I liked the sound editing in "Pirates," and "Flags of our
Fathers" and "Apocalypto." I told you why "Apocalypto" wonít
win, and they canít give it to Clintís "Flags of Our Fathers,"
because that sound track is mostly just explosions, but they
donít want to dismiss Clint entirely, so it will go to "Letters
From Iwo Jima." I say "Pirates Of The Caribbean" to place.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Best Visual Effects nominees are "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead
Manís Chest," "Poseidon," and "Superman Returns."

Iím rooting for my friends Mark Stetson (Visual Effects
Supervisor) and Bill Neil (Visual Effects Director of
Photography), whose picture "Superman Returns" is nominated,
to win Best Visual Effects, but I think thatís unlikely.

I saw how the Visual Effects Society Awards went, and it was
"Pirates of the Carribean" all the way. Itíll win the Oscar, too.
"Superman Returns" will place.

My good wishes go out to Mark and Bill, and to Richard Edlund,
who was awarded the Motion Picture Academyís John Bonner Medal.
We all worked on "Ghostbusters," 24 years ago.

Well, thatís how I see it. See if your guess is as good as mine.

From the edge of the desert, in the middle of the night, at the
end of a long copper wire. Iím your friend in Hollywood.

Best to you,

Sam Longoria

filmmaking
secret film school


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