Monday, February 25, 2008

"Once" upon a magical Oscar moment

For someone who watches as many movies as I do, I have a rather perilous confession to make: I often zone out in the middle of the Oscars.

I can't be the only person who usually watches the first hour or so, then turns it off for the middle third and then comes back for the big guns. Last night, however, it managed to hook me from start to finish.

I'm sure there's gonna be some carping from people (only the stars, really, I'd assume) that there weren't any bloated-beyond-belief acceptance speeches, but I thought it was a very brisk, mostly very enjoyable affair. And Jon Stewart deserves a lot of credit for that, even though he couldn't wait for more than about 10 minutes to tell the four people in America who might not have known already that Diablo Cody was once a stripper. (Yes, if I can digress for a moment, I did say stripper. Having worked briefly as a blackjack dealer in the back of a strip club [hey, a man's gotta eat] I can tell you there's nothing terribly "exotic" about any dancing that goes on there. So let's just retire that term, OK.)

OK, I'm back. It was a deservedly big night for the Coens (giving the Hollywood Reporter the chance to roll out this groaner of a headline: "No Country: Four Gold Men.") Some other thoughts that ran through my skittish mind were: I guess it's nice that the technicians behind "The Bourne Ultimatum" won at least three awards for giving me a throbbing headache, and wow, I guess they really didn't have to put much makeup at all on Tilda Swinton to make her so pale as the White Witch (beautiful woman, to be sure, but is she some kind of albino or what?)

But anyone who's been here before knows that, even more than seeing Helen Mirren break into a devilish grin when she says the word "cojones," one thing I truly love is the film "Once." Easily the most charming movie of 2007, it also provided the most charming moment of last night's Oscars ceremony.

After watching the three extremely elaborate set pieces for the songs from "Enchanted" (and man, can that Kristen Chenoweth belt out a tune), I was sure that one of them was going to prevail. But then, near the end of the night, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, armed only with their instruments, performed their beautiful nominated song "Falling Slowly," and as everyone probably knows by now, came out as the big winners.

And the biggest victim of the rather brisk pace at first seemed to be the lovely Ms. Irglova, who, just as she opened her mouth, heard the music start to play and was ushered offstage. They probably could have let it at go at that and people would have just dismissed it and moved on, but after the commercial break, Stewart was nice enough to bring her back and give her 30 seconds to say something about the importance of indie artists (amen, sister!)

Perhaps I'm exaggerating the significance of this, but I almost never stay up until 11:45 on a Sunday night, so that's what's stuck in my mind at this early hour.

And yes, in case anyone's wondering, there is news out there today, and some pretty big stuff: Evidently set on giving me another massive migraine, Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon have both agreed to come back for a fourth "Bourne" flick. Bully to that, I suppose.

But I'll leave you today with just a bit more about "Once": The actual performance of "Falling Slowly" by Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglova at last night's show. Once you get past the rather awful French voiceover of Colin Farrell's introduction (do they actually watch the whole show like that? what a nightmare!), the audio is great and the song is even better. Peace out.


Chalupa said...

I totally agree with you about the Oscars getting kind of boring. I don't know what it is, maybe it's the speeches like you were saying.

I thought Jon Stewart did a wonderful job. It made me think back on other Oscar hosts and then I thought of Billy Crystal. Maybe I was just too young to "get" his humor, but I never thought he was funny as a host.

jeremy said...
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jeremy said...

I was fine with all of it--my favorite picture of the year won--BUT Roger Deakins was ROBBED again. I feel bad for the poor guy he's beyond technician and those shots early on in No Country--the ones at dawn where all you see is the blue/grey of the impending sunrise, the silhouette of a truck, the silhouette of a man and the headlights are amazing. I can't even begin to imagine the film stock/speed he used or how he actually got anything to show up on the film.
And, of course, I was beyond happy to see Freeheld win. I bawled at the trailer for the film and was a train wreck when I finally saw it.
(And yay! no Oscar for Norbit!)

Reel Fanatic said...

You're certainly right about Deakins, Jeremy ... I really wish the Coens would have gone out of their way to pay him a bigger tribute, since the Academy obviously didn't deem him worthy of it

Bob said...

We had the same favorite moment. I felt so bad for her when they turned the mic off and played the music. Bringing her back out was about the last thing I ever thought I'd see so that was really wonderful. I liked Robert Boyle's speech too. What really made it was the look in his eyes as he received his ovation. If I make it to 98 I hope I'm still that sharp.
As for Deakins, I think he probably canceled himself out. Elswit did an amazing job with "Blood" though, so congrats to him.

Ian said...

I thought the only real "scandal" of the evening was the Effects oscar going to "Golden Compass" and not "Transformers". OK, I'd agree that "Transformers" is not a great film, but for visual effects it was ground-breaking where "Compass" was weak.

I only saw "Once" for the first time (on DVD) last week. A lovely indie film, but I wish they'd spent £30 on a tripod for those long static shots of Glen Hansard busking at the start of the film. Surprised to keep reading Marketa described as Hansard's "girlfriend". Is this a fact or just lazy journalism? On the DVD extra's it's made very clear that they've been friends for a very long time, but nothing more.

Chalupa said...

Totally agree with you on Deakins, Jeremy. He's been doing great work for the Coens and other films for years. I was really excited because he was in for two films, but he didn't win. Definitely a bummer.

Chalupa said...

Ian - about the girlfriend thing, that's what I've heard too.

Reel Fanatic said...

I can't say I know too much about that, Ian, but I think they have recorded one other album together besides the "Once" soundtrack, and that they are indeed very good friends ... I haven't seen the movie on DVD, so I don't know if they mention this, but I have heard talk the director Carney was thinking of perhaps a different ending (I won't say more than that, for anyone who hasn't seen it), but Hansard and Irglova talked him out of it

lylee said...

I heard/read a while back (in EW, I think) that they got together after they did the movie. Yes, they'd been friends for years. And they couldn't or shouldn't really have become involved any earlier considering she's only, what 20 years old? But if they are a couple, it's a little peculiar they didn't mention it on the DVD extras.

I, too, loved that Stewart brought the girl back, and she used her time well. (A little weird to see Glen Hansard clean shaven though, no? I always think of him as scruffy.)

Otherwise, I found the ceremony a bit dull, which probably just means everyone was relatively well-behaved. Stewart did get some good lines in here and there.

Lorraine said...

Funny you should mention...I raised exactly the same albino question last night.

Stewart: love. him. Period.

And I thought him bringing Marketa back out was just about the classiest thing I've ever seen. Damn skippy...kid deserved it.

And the NY Times said that Glen and she have become a couple since making the movie. The Times never lies about things like that. Do they?

I enjoyed the show...but then, I usually do.

And since everyone else around here is far more of a cinephile than I let me just add, for all the little people, that Daniel Day Lewis is hot.

Mercurie said...

I have to confess I watch the Oscars every year. The whole show (although I usually get something to eat during the songs). And I have to say I am happy with most all of the winners this year, although some of them did surprise me (both awards for Actress, for instance).

Reel Fanatic said...

Nothing wrong with saying that, Lorraine, but in the interest of equal time I'll just add that Marion Cotillard also just looked sensational

Reel Fanatic said...
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