All right, everyone’s got an opinion about the movies, so today’s lead is a few observations from last night’s Oscar roundup:
*I work in radio, not TV, but I was profoundly impressed with the originality and creativity of the production. There were more new (and mostly good!) ideas on the show that I’ve seen in years of Oscar-watching. The first twenty minutes were as good as live television gets – the opening Errol Morris “Nominees” film – the hilarious musical number with Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and Mr. Cellophane (John C. Reilly) – (“a comedian at the Oscars is the saddest, bitterest alcoholic clown.”) – the cheerfully and elegantly navigated by Ellen DeGeneres. Sadly, (and predictably) it ran out of gas and went on for way too long, but far better than usual.
>Who are the Hollywood Sound Effects Choir? Are they for real? 40 voices “singing” sound effects to a classic-film backdrop. Brilliant. Sadly, the Oscar and ABC sites don’t tell us a thing about them…
>So, if three out of five songs from Dreamgirls are nominated for Best Original Song and they lose out to a fashionable-if-pedestrian (“I Need to Wake Up”) effort from Melissa Etheridge, what does that say about a movie that’s supposed to be based on the phenomenon of a label called “Hitsville USA?” (Oh, and there’s a reason the “official” movie URL is “dreamgirlsmovie”)
>Watching her perform the song live with the eco-bromides flashing in the background was Radio on the TV – if the radio station is the new DC-based station The Globe (subject of a previous rant)
>Nice to see Gustavo Santaolallaget the prize for Best Original Score for Babel. Classy acceptance speech, too. I’m one of millions who missed this film and intend to fix that. (Santaolalla won for Brokeback Mountain last year). Check out my old NPR colleague Andy Trudeau’s piece on Santaolla’s screen-music techniques with Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen. Andy knows more about film music than any man alive, I’ll wager, and he’s NPR’s “go-to guy” on the subject. His entire series on Oscar music nominees is worth a listen,
as is the piece he did on last night’s Honorary Oscar award winner Ennio Morricone.
>Classiest acceptance speech of the night: Ari Sandel, for the the Live Action Short West Bank Story. The clip they showed – The Sharks and the Jets transformed into feuding falafel stands – looked brilliant. So where you see something like this in Anytown USA? Answer: Off the website, I guess.
>Classy speech II: Former USC opera singer and King of Scotland Best Actor winner Forest Whitaker. Hard to believe he made his movie debut with Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I also discovered that last year Whitaker literally lent his voice to a cause called Before the Music Dies, a documentary shown at SXSW and other places featuring a cast of – get this – Bonnie Raitt, Branford Marsalis,Dave Matthews Band Elvis Costello, Eric Clapton – Erykah Badu – Les Paul – and Widespread Panic, just to name a few. I wonder if we’ll ever hear Whitaker sing again? That is, somewhere other than on YouTube, which features him in an impromptu performance on a Milan TV station…