6:51 PM (CST): Not watching Red Carpet coverage yet. The past eight years with Crystal not hosting have been nice, even when the hosts were terrible. I’m sure we’ll get the same old song-and-dance routine he always does, like a summer entertainer at the Catskills. Not looking forward to it. I could go with no host, personally.
7:12 PM: George Clooney, bringing the smug as usual, with his flavor of the month.
7:18 PM: Robin Roberts is usually a good presence, but she’s stuck here. I miss Joan Rivers making a noisy shambles out of everything though. As soon as E! fired her, I quit watching anything Red Carpet.
7:23: Natalie Portman seems to have reverse-aged over the past year, although honestly, she looks too thin. Oh, no, not Tom Hanks! He radiates more smug than Clooney. He just knows he charms everybody as he gives this backstage tour at the Oscars.
7:25: Clooney and Hanks radiate smug, but Brian Grazer radiates gross. Still thankful to him for Friday Night Lights, though.
NOTE ABOUT MY PREDICTIONS: I’ve already made them out, and I promise I’m not going to change them, no matter how things go over the night.
7:31: Morgan Freeman gets the intro. Why is he not presenting Best Picture? Everybody knows him, everybody loves him, and he’s been a major presence in major blockbusters and major Oscar-contenders for years.
7:37: I expect this to be more tedious than normal since Crystal has nine movies to insert himself into. Random Justin Bieber appearance. Totally ruins the pie joke from The Help by giving it away, although the segue into Bridesmaids is amusing (but obvious) enough. Didn’t go on nearly as long as I had thought, which is a relief.
7:43: I really hope that isn’t how the stage is going to look all night, because, well, there’s tacky, and then there’s that. The good thing about nine Best Picture nominees is that Crystal is keeping the songs a little bit shorter than normal. Sound mixing is terrible though—I can barely understand anything he’s singing. Not a complaint, exactly.
MY PICK: The Tree of Life, and there’s no competition. Not just the best of the year, but one of the strongest achievements in Cinematography in a very long time.
MY PREDICTION: The Tree of Life, hesitantly. A win by any of the other four might turn me into a full-on hater. A win by The Artist might have me throwing things at the screen.
It’s Hugo. Ridiculous. Sheerly in terms of photography, Hugo is Scorsese’s least-interesting film in years. Robert Richardson is a great cinematographer, but his Oscar for JFK was the only one of his three Oscar wins that he deserved as much as a nomination for.
MY PICK: Hugo, I guess, although I really wish Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had been nominated.
MY PREDICTION: Hugo should easily take this. Don’t really see this one being close.
It’s Hugo. At least this one is deserved, because the Cinematography award is, once again, an embarrassment.
7:53: Okay, so Brian Grazer is obviously another Gil Cates in terms of pointless montages. I thought this was about romances, but it seems to have turned into just a bunch of random scenes, mostly from bad movies. A timewaster like this is what the show doesn’t need more of.
MY PICK: Haven’t seen Anonymous or W.E., but I’d go with Jane Eyre pretty easily out of the other three.
MY PREDICTION: I could see any of the five winning—W.E. as part of Academy randomness; Anonymous because of 1600’s opulence; Jane Eyre because those dresses are so pretty—but between Hugo and The Artist, I’ll go with The Artist on Best Picture momentum.
It’s The Artist. Not particularly deserved, but I thought those silent-era Hollywood costumes would register.
MY PICK: I can’t even fake caring here.
MY PREDICTION: I think it’ll definitely be Harry Potter or The Iron Lady but I don’t have any idea which. I don’t think Meryl Streep is winning Actress, and wouldn’t it be odd for THIS movie to win an Oscar without her winning one? I’ll put my money behind Harry Potter.
It’s The Iron Lady. Does this mean that Meryl’s winning Actress? Everyone seems to hate the movie, so it would be strange for it to win here if Streep didn’t also win. But with three nominees here vs.five for Actress, it’s not hard to imagine that plenty of voters might have picked The Iron Lady here and not picked Streep in actress.
MY PICK: Haven’t seen any of these, but I really want to see In Darkness lose, not for any reason to do with the movie itself, but to shut up those people who always go on about how Holocaust movies always win.
MY PREDICTION: A Separation should take this easily, I think.
It’s A Separation! Haven’t seen it yet, but it seems to be the rare movie that everyone can agree on.
MY PICK: Jessica Chastain, although probably more for the body of work than for her individual performance in The Help. When the body of work is as impressive and has the range of hers, I don’t really have a problem voting for it.
MY PREDICTION: Somehow Octavia Spencer has turned into a tough-to-beat frontrunner here.
It’s Spencer. Standing O! Obviously a popular win—would be pretty shocked to see Davis lose after this. Decent speech, but Spencer was too overwhelmed to give the kind of memorable one I was hoping for. What’s with the musicians up in the box seats?
8:18: Now, about that new Ashley Judd show. You know that movie she kept making over and over a decade ago? That movie has been turned into a TV series.
8:20: Can we just keep the show moving please? The show is always way too long on the gags.
MY PICK: Moneyball is “classical” editing—not showy, no major action sequences of cross-cutting—but it has a real rhythm and momentum. With The Tree of Life and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy not nominated, it seems like the clear best.
MY PREDICTION: None of these feels like a traditional winner for this category, but I think that the Best Picture strength of The Artist will pull it into the winners circle here.
It’s Dragon Tattoo! Big surprise, at least as far as I’m concerned.
MY PICK: I didn’t really like Drive, but it did have the single most memorable sound effect of the year for me—that loud, shocking gunshot blast telling us that the pawn shop robbery had gone wrong. I can’t get worked up about much here though.
MY PREDICTION: I don’t really know…I think Hugo is winning Sound, so I’ll guess Hugo takes this one too, although other than the dream sequence, I don’t really remember anything memorable about the Sound work in Hugo. Might War Horse upset for those battle scenes?
It’s Hugo. Don’t get this win, exactly. The second speaker attempts an “everyone who’s ever been born” joke, unsuccessfully.
MY PICK: Moneyball or War Horse would probably get my vote.
MY PREDICTION: Hugo seems like the smart pick here.
It’s Hugo. Getting a bit tired of Martin Scorsese trying to look humble and flattered.
8:38: Cirque-du-Soleil thing, introduced by Kermit and Miss Piggy. Dubious relevance, but it’s impressive. Would probably be more impressive in person. An audience shot shows us that George Clooney’s girlfriend feels nothing about this.
8:40: Overlong, unfunny schtick between Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. leading into an the Documetnary presentation.
MY PREDICTION: Undefeated, although you never really know with this category.
MY PICK: I just want to see this category go away.
MY PREDICTION: With Tintin not nominated, Rango seems like the easy pick.
It’s Rango. Verbinski is just going through the motions here. Nice to see them cut back to his wife when he mentioned her, though.
8:53: The banter between the presenters this year is just awful.
MY PICK: Indifferent.
MY PREDICTION: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, although Hugo and even Harry Potter wouldn’t really surprise me.
It’s Hugo. Might we be seeing an upset in Director? Still wondering why The Tree of Life didn’t get a nomination here. Audience seems tired of it winning by now. Man, that stage really is a mess.
8:58: Melissa Leo presenting Supporting Actor, dressed like a prom chaperone.
MY PICK: Christopher Plummer is the best of these—funny and sad, but not overstating either—although any of these five would be acceptable picks by Academy standards.
MY PREDICTION: I don’t think Plummer has much to worry about.
It’s Plummer! Excellent speech. Plummer rattles off bunches of names in his speeches, but he’s much better at it than most award winners.
9:11: Crystal’s usual “What are they thinking thing”, and it’s not any funnier than it ever is. The teenager behind Scorsese isn’t feeling it. And now, during the Academy President Tom Sherack’s speech, we get a cut back to kid behind Scorsese. Should I know who he is? Following the speech, Crystal does get a good line at Tom Sherack’s expense.
MY PICK: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by a pretty big margin. War Horse and Hugo would be acceptable choices; The Artist, unacceptable…
MY PREDICTION: …but its composer, Ludovic Bource, probably doesn’t have anything to worry about.
It’s The Artist. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of warmth coming from the room about this win—not even from The Artist people on the front row—but Bource seems like a genuine guy.
MY PICK: This category should go away, just like Animated Feature. But, if pressed, give it to Bret McKenzie, for the Conchords as much as The Muppets.
MY PREDICTION: The Muppets, I’m guessing.
It’s The Muppets. After all of those Emmy losses for the funny songs from his HBO series, I’m glad to see Bret McKenzie win this. What’s with the beeping sound coming from the TV? I wonder if this is just my TV?
9:22: They’re actually making really good time. Is there some long tribute coming up?
MY PICK: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is definitely the best of these, although I might vote for Moneyball since it has the best shot at taking down The Descendants.
MY PREDICTION: The Descendants seems like a pretty safe bet. It wouldn’t be Oscar night without at least a few terrible choices would it?
It’s The Descendants. Worst winner in this category since…something. Seems like a really popular win, which disturbs me, re: Best Actor.
MY PICK: I’m not qualified to vote, having not seen A Separation, which was the major critics favorite, but of the other four, I’d probably vote for Margin Call.
MY PREDICTION: Midnight in Paris, mainly because The Artist will probably be (unfairly, in my opinion) dismissed by some voters because of the no-dialogue thing.
It’s Midnight in Paris. At least we’re spared a long speech.
Live Action Short
MY PREDICTION: Tuba Atlantic (totally uninformed).
It’s The Shore, and it turns out that the winners are a father-daughter team. The father tries for some statement Ireland/Northern Ireland political harmony, but seems unsure of what he wants to say, so hands it over to his daughter. Sasha Stone on Twitter says it was directed by someone famous. EDIT: Oh, THAT Terry George.
MY PREDICTION: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (ditto).
It’s Saving Face. James Cromwell is caught in a shot right after they announce the winner, and he couldn’t possibly care less. Bereniece Bejo, in the front row, is pretty taken by something that’s going on behind her.
MY PREDICTION: La Luna (uninformed, again).
It’s The Fantastic Flying Books…, and the back of the room seems to be happy for the winners. Front of the room just wants to get it over with. What is with the people going through the rows passing out popcorn? Supposed to be funny?
MY PICK: Malick, by a mile.
MY PREDICTION: Hazanivicius—I’ll never bet against the DGA.
It’s Hazanavicius. Surprisingly, not a great deal of love coming to Hazanvicius from the audience.
9:58: Meryl Streep gets to tell us about the Governor’s Awards. Did they even let Dick Smith go to the stage to speak at the Governor’s Awards? And now it looks like they’re going to pad out the rest of the show with commercials.
10:05: In Memoriam montage. Wasn’t a fan of his Oscar shows, but Crystal’s tribute to Gil Cates was very genuine. Glad to see Grazer turned off the audience applause, and glad to see he put up some names who weren’t all that well-known.
10:12: For someone who seemed so shy and quiet a couple of years ago during Oscar season, Gabourey Sidibe seems really comfortable and very intelligent in these interviews about movies.
MY PICK: Pitt or Oldman, although I can live with anyone but Clooney. Clooney would be a very bitter pill to swallow.
MY PREDICTION: Jean Dujardin, although Clooney and (to a lesser extent) Pitt are both still in play, I think.
The girl behind Gary Oldman had clearly never heard of him or his film. It’s Dujardin. Was worried it might be Clooney for a minute there. Once again, I just don’t feel a great deal of love coming towards The Artist from the audience. Odd to say about a movie that’s poised to win Best Picture in about ten minutes, but these awards feel perfunctory.
MY PICK: I’ll just pretend that Juliette Binoche is up for Certified Copy. Won’t be upset with Davis. Won’t mind Streep either, just because she hasn’t won in so long. Glenn Close wouldn’t make me unhappy either, since she’s lost five times before, even though I haven’t seen Albert Nobbs and it looks pretty dire. Just not Michelle Williams, please.
MY PREDICTION: Viola Davis seems to be out in front. My guess is that Meryl will wait again.
It’s Meryl!! Great speech. Hard to get mad about this since she’s lost for the past twenty-nine years. But still, no one will rank The Iron Lady very high on the list of her best performances.
MY PICK: The Tree of Life exists in a different universe than the other eight movies.
MY PREDICTION: The Artist.
It’s The Artist. This will never rank high on historical rankings of the Best Picture winners, but they could’ve done worse.