Monday, February 25, 2008

The Handsomest Bludgeon in Town

(Hollywood, CA via my bedroom TV) --

The 80th Academy Awards ceremony was a truly international affair with major prizes going to actors from Spain, France, and Ireland. But it was a couple of midwestern boys from Minnesota who came out the night's biggest winners.

Joel and Ethan Coen scored Oscars Sunday night for their writing, direction and production of No Country for Old Men, the taut thriller about three men in pursuit of two million dollars. Ireland's Daniel Day-Lewis took home his second Best Actor Academy Award for his towering performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, while Marion Cotillard was named Best Actress for her work in the French film La Vie en Rose. In the Supporting categories, Spain's Javier Bardem of No Country for Old Men won as the Best Supprting Actor while -- in a stunning upset -- the Best Supporting Actress statue went to Clay Aiken.

Just kidding. The lovely Tilda Swinton was named Best Supporting Actress in Michael Clayton.

Keeping up the international flavor, Best Original Song was won by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for their song "Falling Slowly" from the film Once. He's Irish and she's from the Czech Republic. And strangely, Best Foreign Language Film also went to a foreigner.

But the band Foreigner won nothing. Mick Jones could not be reached for comment.

But fret not, patriotic ones. Good old fashioned right-thinking Americans got theirs, too. Good old-fashioned right-thinking ex-sex-professional Diablo Cody won the Original Screenplay award for Juno. And the good solid right-thinking Bourne Ultimatum swept all three awards it was nominated for, scoring wins for the Sound categories (why are there two?) and Film Editing.

Host Jon Stewart, after some obligatory material about strikes and funny haircuts at the top of the show, was generally pleasant and amusing, if unspectacular. He scored some major sentimental points, however, when he invited Marketa Irglova back out onstage after her Best Original Song acceptance speech had been muted. When she finally got to talk, she was sweet and charming.

Other speeches ran the gamut from the clipped reminiscing of the Coens to Day-Lewis's florid acceptance. He called the Oscar statue "the handsomest bludgeon in town." At no time did he threaten to drink anybody's milkshake.

Personal peeve: Every year they cut acceptance speeches more and more ruthlessly and every year the show runs way long anyway. Memo to the Academy: Maybe the speeches aren't the problem.

The show had reached the three hour, eighteen minute mark by the time Denzel Washington ambled out to present Best Picture to the Coens and their producing partner Scott Rudin. With No Country for Old Men in the record books as this year's Best Picture, it was time to turn out the lights, friend-o.

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