Tag Archives: Sean Penn

Gangster Squad – This is ’40s

You’re Cohen down! Sean Penn and Josh Brolin

Remember when gangster movies used to be cool? Playing it straight, revelling in the joy an audience can take from the unscrupulous choices of others, gangster movies from Scarface (no, not that one, the good one) to Goodfellas play almost as important a role in the makeup of American culture as the Western.

And look, here comes a gangster movie that is not only harking back to the greats of the Golden Age of Hollywood but is also trying to be cool! And guess what? It’s really not. At all.

Gangster Squad, from the capable director of Zombieland, Ruben Fleischer, is loosely based on the crusade of an off-the-books police unit in crime-riddled Los Angeles circa 1949. As the film begins a dissatisfied mob boss has a fellow gangster tied to two cars and ripped in two. It’s almost a metaphor for what this film has done to the gangster movie.

Josh Brolin takes on the Dirty Harry role as Sargeant John O’Mara, a tough cop who performs his work like WWII is still ongoing. He rescues a would-be movie starlet from some pimps, but when he takes them in finds they can’t be booked because he didn’t have a warrant. There’s no justice in L.A., as O’Mara sees it. No one ever mentions the fact he tore off a man’s hand in an elevator shaft during said bust.

Since real-life Jewish American gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) has most of the city in his pocket, the police commissioner (Nick Nolte) orders Brolin to assemble a team of incorruptible cops, Mission: Impossible-style, to put down their badges and go rogue. Their target is Cohen’s gambling and heroin-smuggling rings. Their weapons; brute force, wire taps, Molotov cocktails and some sexy charm.

The squad is made up of a group so P.C. a workplace would get tax credits for hiring them nowadays. There’s pretty boy Ryan Gosling. Old-timer-who-can-still-match-it-with-the-young’uns Robert Patrick. 1940s tech geek Giovanni Ribisi. Token black Anthony Mackie. Token Mexican Michael Peña. With the help of a few montages they begin to clean up the dirty town, before Cohen begins to suspect he’s not dealing with a rival gang and decides to hit back at the vigilante cops.

Impaling itself on the script from the get-go, Gangster Squad seems almost embarrassed at how formulaic it is. See if you can guess from the dialogue which member of the squad will get killed off first. Yes, it’s the one who all of his dialogue, and all dialogue directed to him, telegraphs his death from his first scene. The screenplay is full of ’40s-style gangster movie speak, but none of it feels natural or is sold with the gusto of the stars of the films noir of the ’40s and ’50s. Josh Brolin’s narration sounds more like a Spider-Man movie than a gangster film, with the movie’s theme appearing to be “with great power comes great responsibility to abuse that power… responsibly!”

Bland romance: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling

In fact, Gangster Squad never feels like a gangster movie at all. The guerrilla and espionage tactics of the squad make it feel more like a war or spy movie, while the action scenes and the bombastic score that accompany them make it seem unpleasantly current. The shoot-outs feature all the gun-throwing and slowmo that recent action films have become overly prone to, and the whole enterprise looks and feels like “Zack Snyder’s The Untouchables”. And I don’t care how you like both of those things, that is still not a good idea!

There are some nice touches, such as a fight scene in the dark where the frame freezes every time a gun is fired, but the CGI-heavy car chase undoes much of that good. It’s all style over substance, but the style is borrowed from history. Sure the ’40s look is given a pretty gloss, but it’s never shot with the care or energy to really show it off properly. The whole film feels like people playing around on old-timey sets with old-timey guns in old-timey clothes, instead of feeling like a throwback to the gangster movie greats. It’s cosplay, not homage.

Brolin hams it up in the lead role, while Gosling repeatedly fluffs the ’40s-style expressions, and the script has him blurt out lines bluntly that were born to be double entendres. As Gosling’s squeeze and Mickey Cohen’s moll, Emma Stone looks just a little too cutesy, but her husky voice has echoes of Bacall. Her character peaks early in a breathtaking red dress, but her clothes rapidly descend downhill into dowdy-dom.

As Mickey Cohen, Sean Penn doesn’t so much chew the scenery as frappé it in a blender, gargle it and spit it out where he chooses. Looking like he’s wearing the prosthetics of a Dick Tracy villain (it may actually be his real face now), his warpath is one of the few highlights of the film, but while his dialogue is vigorously shouted, very little of it is any good.

Who the film’s audience is remains a mystery. The younger crowd who have made Zombieland a cult hit won’t find anything inventive enough for them here, while older fans of gangster films will find it all too inane. This is the first movie of 2013 to prove the old idea that you can’t style your way out of a bad script.

2/5

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This Must Be The Place – Review

Over the last 10 years Paolo Sorrentino has emerged as one of the greatest of a new generation of European filmmakers. Through films such as The Consequences of Love and his political biopic, and opus, Il Divo, he has proven himself a master of stylish editing and perhaps the finest conjurer of perfectly framed imagery currently in the business.

Because of the praise hurled at him at Cannes and elsewhere, the pressure is on Sorrentino now with his new film This Must Be the Place, his English-language debut. And while it may not be the film that many hoped for, it is, unquestionably, a Sorrentino picture.

The new film stars Sean Penn (who practically demanded Sorrentino cast him in his next project after seeing Il Divo at Cannes in 2008) as an aging former rockstar, hiding from life and responsibilities in Dublin. Cheyenne, equal measures Boy George and The Cure’s Robert Smith, is a man living in the past; he still dresses as he did in his heyday, refusing to grow up, spending his time with friends half his age (if not literally, then emotionally stilted like himself). His character is complex, simultaneously wise and childlike, unable to take responsibility in his own life yet too eager to take it in the lives of others.

Like Hugh Grant’s character in About a Boy, Cheyenne lives off royalties and does next to nothing with his days. His identity crisis is compounded when his elderly father falls ill, and he must return to the US for the first time in decades to face his past. But it is his father’s past he must come to terms with, as he becomes the heir to his father’s lifelong search – to find the man who terrorised him at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The film takes a wide turn as Cheyenne treks across America in search of this ancient Nazi, finding an idea of himself along the way.

The story of the film is troubled; plot threads in the film’s first (Irish) act are abandoned as the action moves Stateside, and the Nazi-hunting aim feels tacked on, Sorrentino doesn’t seem to care for this in the same way he does about Cheyenne, or feel the same anger he did over the political corruption on display in Il Divo. But that aside, this is a masterful production. Sorrentino’s use of evocative editing, punchy and unexpected musical cues and breathtaking, sometimes puzzling imagery leaves the likes of Drive’s Nicolas Winding Refn in his dust.

From the moment the camera pans down the glacial facade of Dublin’s Aviva Stadium into the relative squalor of a grey Sandymount cul-de-sac, you know you’re in for a visual treat. Sorrentino may be the first filmmaker to find real beauty in modern Dublin. Similarly, his wide, endless shots of American Midwest reveal wonders the likes of which have not been caught on camera since Wim Wenders made Paris, Texas.

There are plenty of delights to be found throughout Cheyenne’s strange odyssey. Kitsch Americana abounds. The strangest of strangers are met, calling to mind the films of the Coen Brothers, littered with their brief, memorable eccentrics. Talking Heads legend David Byrne shows up to dispense advice to Cheyenne and unleash a hypnotic performance of the film’s title track. Harry Dean Stanton, another link to Paris, Texas, appears as a man who claims to have invented the wheeled suitcase.

Frances McDormand puts in a fine performance as Cheyenne’s devoted wife, but with so much of the musician’s history left unexplained, it’s hard to not feel like we’re missing something required to fully understand their relationship. Admirable support is offered up by Judd Hirsch and Kerry Condon, but this is really Sean Penn’s moment in the sun. Playing a character so utterly against type that most of his previous characters would probably want him dead, Penn conjures something familiar and yet confusingly new. He delivers profound, witty, lively comments from the mouth of this zombified goth, and brings surprising depth to a character who borders so precariously on parody.

While the film’s abandoning of its Irish storyline reeks of a bid for tax breaks, there’s no denying a wonderful work of art has been produced here. Sadly, it is not entirely a satisfying one, and the film’s concluding on a number of overly puzzling sequences leaves a sour taste in the mouth unbecoming of what has gone before.

While not the director’s finest work, it is still a noteworthy film, and should launch him swiftly on the international market, while reigniting the career of its star.

3/5

(originally published at http://www.filmireland.net)

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2011 in review – Style, meet Substance. Substance, Style.

Now, perhaps I’m just misjudging the subtext of what I’ve read in the blogo/Twitter-sphere, but I get the impression that there is consensus that 2011 was a particularly fine year for cinema. There were definitely a lot of great films released, and compiling the list below was not easy, but was it a particularly great year?

It was certainly a standout year for American (and English-language) cinema. With some exceptions, blockbusters were smarter and tighter, and even where they failed (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) they still had ambition. Source Code led the charge for a new wave of intelligent sci-fi thrillers. Bridesmaids and 50/50 showed that American comedies could have as much heart as they had bodily fluids. Drive proved enough flair on a filmmaker’s behalf could erase any need for strong dialogue or acting – yet that film brought some great lines and fine performances nonetheless. At Cannes, The Tree of Life conquered, and around the world audiences were left mesmerised and/or walked out of the cinema.

The build-up to 2012’s The Avengers continued with two enjoyable tongue-in-cheek superhero adventures, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger; the success of both suggested the heroic team’s first outing will be one of the biggest films of this year. If rivals DC and Warner Bros wish to meet the Avengers threat head-on with a Justice League film, the critically mauled Green Lantern and a trailer for 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises should ensure that no one wants to see a JL film without Christopher Nolan at the helm any time soon.

After a terrific year in 2010, children’s films hit a hurdle – only one children’s film cracked my top 20, and it was released in the US in 2010. Martin Scorsese’s beautiful but shamefully overlong Hugo deserves applause however, even if it did prove once and for all (to me at least) that 3D cannot be mastered even by the most talented of filmmakers. Nostalgic methadone The Muppets and the enjoyable Kung Fu Panda 2 (which featured superb sequences of traditional hand-drawn animation) also narrowly missed my list.

As for documentaries… well, for work-related reasons I saw more docs last year than any year previous. Unfortunately many of them are so obscure that there is no point in listing them here. But suffice to say it was a strong year for documentary from around the world, even if the interesting but unambitious Inside Job won most of the acclaim this year. Docs like Senna and Page One: Inside the New York Times told their stories with far more flair.

A few notes on the list. Traditionally I have stuck with what was released in Ireland during each individual year, meaning that some of the previous year’s late releases (especially the Oscar push) end up on the subsequent year’s list – there’s never been a way of avoiding that. To add to the confusion now, I spent almost half of 2011 living in the United States, so this list may see some films released in late 2010 in the US but early 2011 in Ireland, while others will have yet to arrive in Irish cinemas yet.

It’s fair to say I didn’t see as many new films in 2011 as I might have liked (so few bad ones indeed, that I do not have enough to fill a “worst of 2011” list), but I did see a huge number of films this year. On the big screen, just some of the classics I saw include: Walkabout, The Driver, Paisan, Pickpocket, Network, The Wages of Fear, Quai des Brumes, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (a restoration presented in person by Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker), Bridge on the River Kwai, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Orpheus, The Warriors and The Big Lebowski. Most of these were made available to me during a three-month internship I undertook at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a position I could talk endlessly about, but will not concern you with here.

That didn’t leave much room for new films, and amongst those I missed that I suspect may have challenged the films on this list are: Paul, The Beaver, Warrior, Moneyball, Take Shelter, My Week With Marilyn, Tyrannosaur, Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Skin I Live In, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin.

Honourable mentions for films that I saw but barely missed out on the list are: Hugo, The Guard, The Muppets, Attack the Block, Senna, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Bridesmaids, The Inbetweeners Movie, Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Super 8.

Now, enough stalling… shall we?

20. The King’s Speech

The eventual reigning champion at last year’s Oscars, this was a beautifully produced and (for the most part) strongly acted account of the troubles faced by the young King George VI. A powerful and memorable ending casts a positive light on an otherwise largely forgettable flm; but damn, what an ending it is.

19. Troll Hunter

One of 2011’s most unexpected delights, this “found-footage” comedy/horror used the bizarre natural landscape of Norway as the perfect paradise for surprisingly realistic CGI trolls on a budget. An outrageously straight performance by Norwegian comic Otto Jespersen as the government-sponsored hunter of the title and surprisingly effective pseudo-science about troll biology made this film a sometimes scary but consistently hilarious outing – Man Bites Dog meets Rare Exports. “TROOOOOOOOOLL!” may have been the funniest delivery of a single word last year.

18. Tangled

Disney finally put a CG challenge to their successful underlings Pixar with this gorgeous retelling of the Rapunzel tale. Colourful, enchanting, witty and light, the film was only let down by standard music numbers and a fairytale parody feel all-too familiar from the Shrek films. A superb villain, a playful chameleon and an indestructible horse were all highlights, but the film’s greatest feat is the animation in Rapunzel’s seemingly endless waves of golden hair.

 17. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

M:I4 came out at the end of a year which had featured some strong blockbusters but had been for the most part low on action (Transformers: Dark of the Moon notwithstanding). But Ghost Protocol made up for that. Beginning with a simple prison breakout, Ethan Hunt and his team go on to infiltrate the Kremlim, abseil the world’s tallest building and embark on a chase through a sandstorm where every grain can be heard whistling violently by the camera. The story was light spy fare, but the commitment by actors and filmmakers on show were as awe-inspiring as the stunts they pulled off for the camera.

16. The Descendants

Alexander Payne’s latest is a powerful family drama. George Clooney is impressive as a lawyer nigh-widowed when his wife is left in a vegetative state after a boating accident. Trying to hold his family together, he must also deal with a sale of his family’s massive estate on which many relatives are relying. Hawaii has never looked so naturally beautiful and also hideously metropolitan as it does here. The music is wonderfully chosen from local sources, and Shailene Woodley gives one of the year’s best performances as the distraught and destructive older daughter. However, the film’s tiresome insistence on ending every dramatic scene with a punchline keeps it from being one of the greatest of recent American dramas.

15. True Grit

The Coens went west again with this adaptation of Charles Portis’s book, while still undeniably owing credit to the John Wayne-starring original. With two terrific performances at its centre by Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld and stunning golden-brown cinematography, this was a notable entry in the Coens’ canon. Expectedly wacky minor characters and some thrilling and tense shoot-outs added to the fun.

14. Pina

An incredible documentary and the finest live-action 3D film yet produced (although still far from faultless in terms of that technology), Pina is a work of love in memory of the late choreographer Pina Bausch. Wim Wenders controls the cameras but he allows Pina’s choreography to direct the film, as her company, each member an instrument of their master, performs sensational modern dance pieces. The energy and beauty of the dances are on full display, as four massive ensemble pieces are intercut with brief personal performances by each of the dancers. For the most part the 3D recreates the depth of viewing dance in theatre while allowing the viewer to feel the power and intensity of each performance more intimately. The film has emerged from a tragedy (Pina’s sudden death just before filming began) to become a testament to one woman’s remarkable legacy.

 13. Poetry

South Korean star Yoon Jeong-hee emerged from retirement to star in this superb, harrowing drama about an ailing grandmother forced to raise money for a legal settlement after her grandson is implicated in the suicide of a teenaged girl. Unexpectedly powerful and heartfelt, Poetry is carried by Jeong-hee’s sensational performance as she tries to find the will, energy and love to do whatever it takes to save her grandson from prison.

12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

This superbly shot, atmospheric spy thriller was one of the year’s most audience-dividing films, but few could doubt its style and the acting strength of its terrific ensemble cast. Despite some pacing troubles caused by adapting an extremely meaty book, Tomas Alfredson latest film maintained tension and intrigue from start to finish, while injecting some superb character drama into proceedings. Old-school storytelling meets modern filmmaking precision.

11. Kill List

The only film on this list that I can openly say I do not know if I wish to see it ever again. This genre-shifting oddity – part thriller, part horror, part kitchen sink drama – came out of nowhere this year; a low-budget Yorkshire production. With frenzied performances and horrific but effective storytelling, editing and imagery, this unforgettable beast manages to terrorise its audience but unlike most modern horrors actually has a genuine story. Family, friendship and the damage rage can do to them are the subjects at this film’s core. Unmissable – if your stomach can handle that sort of thing.

10. We Need to Talk About Kevin

It may have suffered from budgeting problems but this drama, about a mother who cannot love her son, is crafted by truly expert hands. Lynne Ramsay directs the irreproachable Tilda Swinton as the troubled mother – uncertain if her child is evil or, worse, if her fearing that is making him so. A wonderful mesh of flashbacks weave together a devastating story, told with wonderful plays of lighting and editing. Swinton gives perhaps the greatest performance of her career to date, while co-stars John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller offer strong support.

 9. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s latest comeback is his best film in decades. Owen Wilson fills Allen’s acting shoes with aplomb as a writer nostalgic for an era he has never known – Paris in the ’20s. When, escaping his passionless fiancée, he inadvertently finds himself time-travelling to that age, he finds inspiration from his idols and, unexpectedly, a truer love in the form of Pablo Picasso’s mistress (Marion Cotillard). Beautifully shot, cunningly scripted and with a soundtrack to warm the heart, the film is elevated further by a series of charming cameos; most notably Adrien Brody, hamming it up magnificently as Salvador Dalí.

8. Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s film about obsession on the ballet stage combines the wildness of Powell and Pressburger with the psychological and body horror of David Cronenberg. Anchored by an incredible performance from Natalie Portman, this is a stylish, sexualised psychological thriller about a mental breakdown spurred on by determination to be the best. Ominous production design and chaotic editing kept the audience as confused and terrified as its lead character.

 7. Shame

Following his sensational breakthrough Hunger, director Steve McQueen’s second film is a tragic and overwhelmingly honest portrayal of a sex addict. The year’s biggest surprise star, Michael Fassbender, gives a disturbing but spellbinding performance in the lead role as a man obsessed with his own need. Carrie Mulligan gives a fine performance as his sister, the only person who stands a hope of getting through to him in his self-destructive cocoon, but who has her own problems to deal with. Shot with the director’s now signature style of long takes and anchored cameras, Shame gets you inside the head of a man you were happier only knowing the exterior of. A gripping, sorrowful, shameless movie.

 6. A Separation

As human as any drama could hope to be, this Iranian feature tells the story of a couple as they prepare to divorce, and the effect it has on their teenaged daughter. When an accident implicates the husband in a terrible crime, the familial bonds are tested to their limit. A Separation is an incredible, original-feeling story, in which every shot is sensitively composed, and the actors play out the drama with more conviction than most filmmakers could dream of finding. An unexpected gem of Iranian cinema.

5. Drive

Taking its cue from Walter Hill’s existential car chase classic The Driver, untameable Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn made his American debut with more class and style than most of Hollywood’s heavy-hitters could hope to conjure in an entire career. Shot so slickly the screen appears to ooze light and colour (and later, blood), and with a soundtrack that can only be described as “awesome”, Drive took the whole world by storm and topped countless best of lists in 2011. Ryan Gosling plays the largely silent lead role calm and cool, but the film is stolen by the enigmatic Albert Brooks as a business-savvy mafia boss who takes no prisoners.

4. Melancholia

Perhaps Lars von Trier’s finest film to date, this drama of personal agony/apocalyptic sci-fi nightmare was one of the most hotly debated films last year. It tells the story of a young woman’s lapse into a destructive depression as the very literal metaphor of the planet Melancholia begins a collision course with Earth. As our heroine, Kirsten Dunst reveals herself a remarkable actress of hitherto unexplored talents. However, several of the film’s other performances – especially those of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling and Kiefer Sutherland – deserve outstanding praise also. The film’s overture, a stunning sequence of painterly foreshadowings, and its conclusion in an orgy of emotion, light and music, make it a truly remarkable piece of filmmaking from an endlessly challenging filmmaker.

3. 13 Assassins

One of the year’s most over-looked films, 13 Assassins echoes the greatness of Seven Samurai while creating a grittier, more violent and altogether more carefree film. Takashi Miike builds the drama over the course of an hour, setting his band of samurai against an army of warriors and their utterly despicable master. When the tension finally gives way, one of the most remarkably orchestrated battle scenes in recent memory erupts in a flurry of swords, severed limbs and flaming cattle. The film’s realistic look and soundscape allow for a perverse weirdness to seep through, which provides a truly breathtaking entertainment.

2. The Tree of Life

A surprise victor at Cannes in 2011, Terrence Malick’s latest is a glorious thing to behold. The story of a Texas family is told in flashes of light and memory, accompanied by angelic music and bolstered by outstanding acting by Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Hunter McCracken. Through imagery of the dawn of time and the rise and demise of the dinosaurs Malick demonstrates the true reality of life; the lord giveth and the lord taketh away. Composed of one eye-shatteringly gorgeous image after the other, The Tree of Life simply has no equal in terms of skill in filmmaking. Only a misused Sean Penn and a clichéd (though beautiful) coda could be said to make this film anything less than a masterpiece.

1. The Artist

The filmmaker/actor partnership behind a pair of slight but playful French spy spoofs unexpectedly burst onto the global stage in a flurry of unbridled joy in 2011. The Artist, a silent tale of silent movies and the silent men and women behind them, is not just a throwback to the classics of old Hollywood, but is a touching, timely drama about obsoleteness and getting back on your feet. More importantly, it is a delightful, playful and utterly charming comedy that takes the visual medium to a place it hasn’t gone with such panache in over 80 years. Michel Hazanavicius directs like a silent-era pro, as if he were one of the European émigrés who built early Hollywood arriving a little too late to the party. In the lead role of former silent star George Valentin, Jean Dujardin is electric; every muscle in his body goes into his dazzling performance, his face does more work than most actors do with their entire beings. As his young muse, Bérénice Bejo provides a perfect mirror of physical support, while Valentin’s remarkable pet dog (also his co-star) steals many scenes without bending a whisker. As much homage as it is a work of sheer class in and of itself, The Artist is a joy-filled crowd-pleaser which also toys with the medium with some remarkable, truly satisfying results.

That's all folks!

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The 82nd Academy Awards – Live!

My return to the blogosphere has been nicely timed to coincide with this year’s Oscars. As I did last year, I will be keeping my thoughts rolled out here as the night develops. Hopefully it will be a fun one, there’s definitely more room for controversy than last year. The double hosting act of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin is an interesting one; Baldwin is at the top of his comedic game right now and Martin has managed to stay away from bad comedies sufficiently of late to be forgiven his trespasses. Although one can’t help but feel they may have missed a big chance to win a larger audience for their modestly received It’s Complicated, released a few months back.

My money is unfortunately on Avatar to take Best Picture, although there is still hope that The Hurt Locker might unseat it. Other worthy contenders such as Up, A Serious Man and Up in the Air, and indeed District 9 (hardly amazing but certainly a more worthy winner than Avatar) seem to have hardly any hope at all of winning the top award. That said, if Kathryn Bigelow can at least take Best Director the night will not be a complete disaster should Avatar win Best Picture and prove you can just fire as much money as possible at the screen and eventually people will give you prizes.

Indeed, a contest of similar intrigue has emerged in the Best Foreign Language category, where the frankly haunting The White Ribbon goes up against the outstanding A Prophet. While Hollywood may not care, it will be the big one for cinéastes to watch, aside from the battle of the mainstream behemoth and the indie upstart waged by exes James Cameron and Bigelow.

Up has Animated Feature in the bag, and will hopefully at the very least take home Best Score. The beautiful and charming film’s five nominations very much speak for themselves.

As for actors, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Mo’Nique and Christoph Waltz seem to have their four categories all cornered. Only a surprise upset in Best Actress looks at all probable, and not very at that.

Proper commentary will resume later this evening, in the meantime I must feed and prepare for the all-night event.

In the meantime, bask in the glory of this wonderful pisstake trailer for every Oscar-winning film ever from Cracked.com…

The following takes place between 3.30pm and 9pm

Events occur in real Pacific Standard Time.

3.38pm – James Cameron is selling his wife’s dress as “Na’vi blue”. Wonder what colour Kathryn Bigelow is wearing…?

3.39pm – Vera Farminga looks amazing, although her dress looks like it might come alive an devour her.

3.44pm – E! Entertainment TV are carrying considerably less obnoxious coverage of the red carpet than Sky, so looks like I’ll be following them for the next 90 minutes or so. Just in case you needed a point of reference.

3.49pm – Is Sigourney Weaver wearing a blood-red toga?

3.51pm – Lots of nice dresses, nothing mind-blowingly stunning or godawful yet though. And no outlandish variations on the tux either. The next hour could well be hell. Why am I even live-blogging the red carpet at all?

3.57pm – For the record, the following films are the main contenders tonight that, for a number reasons (including at least one that has yet to come out in Ireland) I have yet to see: Precious…, The Blind Side, An Education, The Last StationA Single Man, Julie and Julia, Invictus. Just so that we’re on the level here.

4.01pm – A part of me is hopeful for Sandra Bullock, as she’s one of those actresses who has always been likeable but you just assumed she would never win an Oscar. I mean The Net, Two Weeks Notice, All About Steve. She’s so feisty that no matter what trash she makes you can’t quite bring yourself to hate her.

4.03pm – Amanda Seyfried is still the perfect woman. I know I said it last year, but seriously, who in the last year has challenged her crown?

4.05pm – So what, Crazy Heart gets a few nominations and suddenly every country/western singer gets an Oscar invite?

4.06pm – Miley Cyrus’s dress appears to be made out of bra.

4.08pm – Antonio Banderas appears to be preparing for his role as Saddam Hussein. In… a film I just made up?

4.13pm – Who the hell is Elizabeth Banks? Why am I only discovering Elizabeth Banks this evening? And by this evening, I mean it’s long after midnight…

4.15pm – Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing a beautiful silk… sack. It’s a sack.

4.17pm – How tall is Kathryn Bigelow? As a talentless male I like to think that an Oscar-nominated director would be as unattractive as she is talented. But nope, she’s just a bit yummy. There, I said it.

4.19pm – Charlize Theron looks like a delicious frosted cake. Her dress invites far too many suggestive jokes. I’ll keep quiet.

4.25pm – I wonder was Nelson Mandela invited… and what did he RSVP?

4.28pm – Damn you Colin Firth, so darn charming!

4.29pm – Can someone clear this up for me, is George Clooney grey or not? He looks like he’s half-dyed his hair sandy.

4.31pm – Meryl Streep’s dress looks like it’s made out of cream, smoothly flowing cream. It’s good.

4.39pm – Poor Keanu Reeves, he’ll never win an Oscar. Tonight Sandra Bullock leaves him behind.

4.43pm – Robert Downey Jr is the first major black-tie breaker, wearing a teal bowtie. Yes, that’s right, I know the colour teal!

4.52pm – As ever, Kate Winslet looks enchanting. Nothing I say here can add to how wonderful she looks in that dress.

4.58pm – Ha! Remember Cameron Diaz.

5.09pm – Anna Kendrick looks like a pink Grecian goddess. Where did she come from this past year? And how our lives have been made better. Well, not counting that Twilight nonsense.

5.12pm – Zoe Saldana’s dress looks like someone ate a Na’vi then threw it back up on her.

5.27pm – Good lord who let Nicole Richie in?

5.30pm – And we’re off! So the last two hours were pointless then?

5.32pm – Eugh, the stars are a bit pointlessly on display here. Why are the Oscars always looking for new means to make sales pitches?

5.33pm – Yay! Neil Patrick Harris!

5.34pm – Singing a solo number about the need for duets. Irony!

5.35pm – Jeff Bridges does not look impressed.

5.35pm – Here come the boys…

5.36pm – A few light stabs at Hollywood now. Fun times.

5.38pm – Meryl Streep threesome gag, they’re totally going for an It’s Complicated DVD push.

5.39pm – Alec Baldwin’s delivery is way off. Not a good start.

5.40pm – Martin and Baldwin are harassed by Avatar forest creatures. What is this, Family Guy?

5.44pm – Penelope Cruz presents the first award. My those two were quite embarrassing. Penelope’s dress looks like fire. In all the best ways.

5.46pm – Christoph Waltz came from nowhere this year with knowing but a broad knowledge of languages and a knife and fork with which to devour scenery. If he doesn’t win, then this whole night could go in any direction.

5.48pm – Phew. Thought we were going to have a night of surprises there.

5.49pm – That’s an über-bingo.

5.52pm – Wow, ads already? We’ve only had one award. Have I missed something, what’s will all this (fake?) animosity between the hosts and George Clooney?

5.56pm – Cameron Diaz and Steve Carrell, make a mess of it all. Ouch. Animated characters talk about being nominated. Fun stuff!

5.58pm – Yay! Dug is licking the camera. I love the Oscars!

5.59pm – Up wins! Thank goodness. My word that film was sheer delight.

6.00pm – Pete Docter makes a very quick but pleasant speech. Is it just me or is his head tiny?

6.01pm – Seyfried and Cyrus present the nominees for Best Original Song and slip over their lines again. A lot of teething pains this year.

6.03pm – Could a Colin Farrell-sung song win the prize?

6.04pm – Yes, ‘The Weary Kind’ takes it – first win for Crazy Heart.

6.06pm – Ouch, Chris Pine has to introduce District 9, which essentially nabbed the nomination from Star Trek. Who on earth thought that was a fair idea?!

6.11pm – Best Original Screenplay could call the rest of the night. Hurt Locker seems a lock, but Inglourious Basterds is a contender.

6.12pm – “Great movies begin with great writing,” says Tina Fey. So why is Avatar not in this category again…?

6.15pm – The Hurt Locker takes it. Interesting…

6.17pm – Mark Boal’s speech was simple but to the point. Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick talk about John Hughes. Don’t they usually do all the obituaries en masse?

6.19pm – This seems like an odd way to make the Oscars seem more mainstream. He made some fun films though.

6.22pm – And the stars of his films all come out. I wonder who else will get an homage like this?

6.23pm – Samuel L Jackson presents Up – no, don’t show the sad bits, I’ll cry!

6.28pm – Zoe Saldana and Carey Mulligan to present Best Animated Short Film.

6.31pm – No Pixar this year, though the fun Irish short Granny O’Grimm is worth a mention.

6.32pm – French short Logorama wins. Looks fun. Hope it’s up on YouTube…

6.33pm – Documentary Short now. I said it last year, I’ll say it again: where the hell can one see these?!

6.35pm – Music By Prudence get shuffled off stage by the orchestra pit. Poor them.

6.37pm – Danish short The new Tennants wins Best Short. That’s those three knocked down swiftly…

6.38pm – Ben Stiller as a Na’vi. Better idea than last year.

6.39pm – Best Makeup; here’s hoping for Il Divo. And Ben Stiller is rapidly becoming unfunny.

6.41pm – Na’vi tail joke = win! Win for Star Trek too. Guess it was deserved.

6.43pm – Jeff Bridges introduces A Serious Man. It is oddly under-represented at this year’s awards.

6.47pm – Best Adapted Screenplay. Lot of options. Up in the Air is the likely winner. In the Loop would be fun though.

6.48pm – Thank god they keep calling Precious just Precious. That is one exhausting title.

6.50pm – Precious (which I believe is based on the novel Push by Sapphire) wins.

6.52pm – Queen Latifah and Steve Martin have a bit of a flirt.

6.53pm – The… Governor’s… Awards? What’s going on?!

6.54pm – Hooray for Lauren Bacall!

6.56pm – Robin Williams presents the Award for Best Supporting Actress. Alas, it’s got Mo’nique scribbled all over it, despite the two charming ladies from Up in the Air.

6.59pm – Mo’nique. Bo’ring.

7.00pm – A nice speech that one, shameless plug for BET though.

7.02pm – I’m sure I’ll see it eventually, but nothing about An Education made me want to rush to the cinema.

7.06pm – Sigourney Weaver presents Best Art Direction. Surely Avatar will dance home with this.

7.07pm – Avatar wins. The presenter kinda gave that away, no?

7.09pm – Tom Ford and Sarah Jessica Parker present the costume award. It’s like beauty and the bitch. Ha, I went there!

7.10pm – This is probably the most open category yet – The Young Victoria wins!

7.17pm – Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin do a Paranormal Activity skit. Brilliant.

7.18pm – Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner give a little talk on respect for horror films. If only we could respect these two worthless upstarts.

7.19pm – My word these are some obvious clips they’re showing.

7.23pm – Morgan Freeman talks about sound editing and mixing. I could listen to him all day.

7.24pm – Sound Editing – surely a win for Avatar?

7.25pm – Wow, The Hurt Locker takes a techie award. Shocking!

7.26pm – Sound Mixing, another for Hurt Locker perhaps?

7.26pm – Yes it is. If Revenge of the Fallen had won an Oscar I would have hunted every one of you down and killed you all.

7.27pm – Elizabeth Banks! Who are you?

7.29pm – Know what the problem with Inglourious Basterds was? The Inglourious Basterds – they were the worst part of their own film.

7.35pm – Sandra Bullock presents Best Cinematography. She’s already acting like she’s won Best Actress.

7.36pm – Avatar wins! Seriously? How hard is it to point a camera at a green wall?

7.38pm – Demi Moore is here for the roll call of the lost. Actually, there were few huge deaths in Hollywood this year. James Taylor sings The Beatles!

7.39pm – Dom DeLuise. Now I’m sad again.

7.41pm – Karl Malden, Patrick Swayze, Jack Cardiff?! I take it back, this was a terrible year!

7.43pm – Best Special Effects coming up. Thank god, finally, an award Avatar genuinely deserves!

7.46pm – First, Jennifer Lopez (oh dear) and Sam Worthington (oh lord, his accent is death) introduce the best scores, with dancers!

7.47pm – Never thought I’d see someone dance the robot to The Hurt Locker score.

7.48pm – Eugh, The Fantastic Mr Fox music sounds like Deliverance for kids.

7.49pm – The Up score is just enchanting. Oooh, ballet.

7.52pm – Yes! Michael Giacchino wins for Up. Such gorgeous music.

7.54pm – Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper present the Avatar Award for outstanding Avataryness.

7.55pm – One of these guys is Irish. Should I care? Which one? Can the Irish guy say something now?

7.56pm – Jason Bateman introduces Up in the Air. Finally, someone actually involved in the film!

8.01pm – Matt Damon is here to present the Best Documentary Feature award. Once again, I suspect I’ve seen none of these.

8.03pm – Ok, at least I’ve heard of The Cove and Food, Inc.

8.04pm – The Cove wins! Three great reasons to see it now, dolphins, Hayden Panettiere and now an Oscar!

8.05pm – And Fisher Stevens. I love Fisher Stevens!

8.06pm – Wow. Editing explained by a sexist simpleton. Now I know everything!

8.07pm – The Hurt Locker wins! Damn straight. Sublimely edited thriller that there Hurt Locker was.

8.13pm – Back to the hosts. My they’ve been dull.

8.14pm – Pedro Almodovar and Quentin Tarantino present Best Foreign Language Film. Why is this a separate category again? I suspect The White Ribbon will take it. Haneke’s film is damn haunting.

8.17pm – Wow, a surprise win – Argentinian film El Secreto de Sus Ojos takes the gong. Didn’t see that coming. “Thank you for not considering Na’vi a foreign language.” Nice.

8.18pm – Cathy Bates is here to masturbate Avatar. Thank goodness, we didn’t have anyone else doing that already.

8.22pm – Down to the last four. Here come the big ones! Acting gongs seem pretty predetermined.

8.25pm – Former co-stars come out to sing the praises of the Best Actor nominees. A much better idea than last year’s former idols approach.

8.27pm – This is almost too sweet. Finally, George Clooney doesn’t look miserable any more.

8.29pm – Poor Morgan Freeman, he’s really not supposed to be there.

8.30pm – Colin Farrell and Jeremy Renner spooned. Right. There’s the quote of the evening.

8.31pm – Why can’t Kate Winslet give me awards?

8.32pm – Jeff Bridges wins, utterly expectedly. Good for him!

8.33pm – Oh dear. He’s channelling the Dude just a little…

8.35pm – Wow, Jeff Bridges is really being allowed to talk!

8.39pm – Best Actresses now. God Sandra Bullock’s accent in that film is grating.

8.40pm – Oprah? Seriously?

8.40pm – Curious. Jeff Bridges went first, now Sandra Bullock. I see a pattern forming…

8.42pm – Helen Mirren: Royalty with a tattoo.

8.43pm – Carey Mulligan is so cute it makes me want to bite off my own arm. “We’re lucky she’s so young,” says Peter Sarsgaard. Which means: “You’ll win another year, dear.”

8.46pm – Oprah did not annoy me there. Maybe it’s time for to learn how to spell Gabourey Sidibe. Thanks Wikipedia!

8.47pm – God I hate Sean Penn. What is he prattling on about?

8.48pm – This is the first Academy Award and nomination for Sandra Bullock. What, she didn’t get one for Speed 2: Cruise Control?

8.51pm – She’s crying! Tears! Finally! Several hours, we finally got there!

8.53pm – Barbara Streisand is here to remind us that an African American and a woman are nominated for Best Director. Aw, bless.

8.54pm – Kathryn Bigelow takes it! Incredible stuff, and a huge upset for Megabucks Cameron. Not very important history is made, but history nevertheless.

8.57pm – Who’d have thought the director of a piece of piss like Near Dark could win an Oscar. Still, most deserved. Cameron looks none-too-pleased.

8.58pm – Tom Hanks gives Best Picture to The Hurt Locker! Amazing stuff. What a night! That’ll teach Avatar a lesson about actually waiting til the script has been finished to make the damn movie.

9.00pm – Well that’s a delightful surprise. Kathryn Bigelow is giving her final thanks and holding back the tears, dedicating her award to men and women in uniform the world over.

9.01pm – That ran over time a little. Very disappointing show but great awards, mostly deserved. Another fun night at the Oscars. Here’s to next year!

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The 81st Academy Awards – Live!

Good evening and welcome to my coverage of this year’s Academy Awards, live from Hollywood, California. Well, not the coverage, the Oscars. It may feel now like it’s going to be a predictable evening ahead, but who knows what the night will bring.

For the sake of clarity all posts will be submitted in Pacific Standard Time, which should help me tricking my brain into not thinking it’s 4am.

Enjoy!

5.57pm – Almost ready to go. The stars are prancing their ways down the red carpet. I’ll avoid commenting on the fashion, that’s not quite my style, but I may make the odd comment here or there. Have I any last minute predictions? Well, I hope Winslet finally wins, and I am certainly backing Slumdog Millionaire for Best Picture. Other than that, let’s just hope Wall·E takes Best Original Screenplay. Here we go…

5.10pm – Bored waiting, here’s some clothes commentary: Sarah Jessica Parker seems to think this is the Princess Awards. She’s dressed like a 6-year-old girl on Hallowe’en. But Marisa Tomei is totally working whatever the hell kind of dress that is. And Kate looks gorgeous as ever. And while Taraji P Henson and Viola Davis have no chance of winning anything, it’s nice to see them dressing to the occasion. I see Angelina Jolie has gone for 1950s super-slut. Good for her.

5.13pm – Have they started yet? I’m sleepy.

5.23pm – Somewhere in Hell is a room waiting for me, in which there is always the promise of something entertaining, but instead I have to watch Sky Movies’ introduction… and it never ends.

5.26pm – I’m going to have to throw Best Actor to Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler. While I think Sean Penn is a great actor, I really dislike him as a person. I must admit however that Rourke’s performance comes down largely to such a wonderfully scripted character. Still, Rourke to win.

5.32pm – Live from the Kodak Theatre – it’s sleep deprivation!

5.33pm – I hope that’s fake crystal, there’s a recession on, or something.

5.33pm – Good evening Hugh.

5.34pm – Australia jokes. Solid start.

5.37pm – Super-cheap musical number? Good stuff so far. Oh dear, poor Anne Hathaway.

5.38pm – Hang on, I suspect she knew that was coming…

5.40pm – “I’m Wolveriiiiiiiiine!” Great end to a fun opening number, and some good old-fashioned whoring out for free advertising!

5.43pm – There’s something rather charming about Jackman’s interaction with the audience. He may not be a comedian but he has a lot of personality.

5.44pm – Oh dear, was there a giant curtain malfunction there? Seriously, WTF?

5.45pm – Hey look, some famous Best Supporting Actresses. This had better be going somewhere.

5.46pm – Doubt still hasn’t come out on this side of the Atlantic. I can’t help but feel very in the dark here.

5.48pm – Sweet, nun jokes. As for Taraji P Henson, am I the only one who thinks Tilda Swinton should be up there (well she is, but I mean nominated) for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

5.49pm – Hooray for Penelope Cruz, looking a tad swan-like. Her squeaky lisping voice is a delight for the first award. A predictable start though, we may not get many big surprises tonight.

5.52pm – “Art is a universal language.” Well said. Not too soppy at all that.

5.54pm – Steve Martin and Tina Fey appear with at least one great gag. Here comes Best Original Screenplay. Go… Wall·E!

5.56pm – “No-one wants to hear about our religion.” Scientology, take that!

5.58pm – Milk it is. I guess I’ll allow it.

6.00pm – A touching speech to the gay community of America. Too bad it was said in a tiny liberal bubble.

6.02pm – Adapted Screenplay: does Benjamin Button even count as adapted? It has barely a thing in common with the original story. The first award for Slumdog, perhaps?

6.03pm – Yup. I think the night is pretty much spelled out now.

6.06pm – Jack Black bets on Pixar! Priceless. The animation yearbook – this should show why Wall·E must win over Kung Fu Panda.

6.08pm – Wall·E wins it! How gloriously wonderful!

6.12pm – It always bothers me that the short animations are so hard to come across. No carrot for Presto. La Maison en Petits Cubes wins. I did love Presto, but I didn’t see this so I can’t judge this – it looks pretty. Ha! Japanese robot humour! Domo arigato yourself, good sir!

6.16pm – Huh, backstage for the design awards. How very strange these Oscars are.

6.17pm – I predict a series of wins for Button here, though I’ll happily be proved wrong.

6.18pm – I was right so far. A deserved win for a very pretty film.

6.20pm – Craig and Parker are going to do all of these, no wonder they’re expecting to get through these so fast this year.

6.21pm – Ah, The Duchess. Fancy that.

6.23pm – I could think of more adjectives for Keira Knightley than just “classy”.

6.24pm – Button beats Hellboy and Dark Knight to make-up. Maybe a cleverer usage of make-up, but not necessarily more impressive since you can’t see where much of the make-up ends and digital effects begin.

6.26pm – Amanda Seyfried, so pretty. And that guy from Twilight. I never saw that film, because I’m not an angsty teenaged girl.

6.29pm – Romance. I’m kind of enjoying these genre mash-ups. Another moment for Wall·E to steal the show!

6.31pm – Cinematography. This has to be one for Slumdog. Hmmm, do we give credit for beard-related comedy? Not funny so far. Bad Stiller. Bad.

6.33pm – This is agonising. Is he parodying Joaquin Phoenix? Or is he just here to annoy me?

6.36pm – Predictable. This is really gearing up for a three-way race between Slumdog, Milk and Button for the big wins. “I’ll try to thank people more.” There’s a good rule to live by. What moral Oscars these are.

6.40pm – Is Jessica Biel lecturing me on technology history?

6.44pm – Oh wow, a Pineapple Express-themed comedy montage! And they’re laughing at the Holocaust movie! And calling Stellan Skarsgård Irish!

6.46pm – That was very trippy. What an odd trio these guys make. Did I see any short films this year? Isn’t one of them Irish?

6.48pm – Nothing worse than when the winning film is unpronounceable.

6.52pm – And we’re back! What will Hugh do now? Oooh, the musical is back he says – I think I see where this is going. I think The Reader would make a good one.

6.53pm – Jackman and Beyoncé do Fred Astaire. This is getting strange… do I like this?

6.57pm – Ok, High School Musical kids and fascist Mamma Mia marching. This has stopped working. And now it’s over.

6.59pm – My crush on Amanda Seyfried seems to know no end. Oh Baz Luhrmann, do you hear old musicals in your head at all times?

7.01pm – Who will be our Best Supporting Actors from Oscar Past?

7.03pm – Does Ledger deserve it? Probably. Has he a chance of not getting it? Not a fucking chance in hell.

7.04pm – Why is Philip Seymour Hoffman dressed like Ghost Dog?

7.06pm – Cuba Gooding Jr: “Brothers need to work.” Nice job retelling the joke to the comedian.

7.08pm – If Ledger doesn’t win there will be riots in the street.

7.09pm – Here come the Ledgers. Tissues at the ready…

7.10pm – A touching speech by a nervous non-professional.

7.11pm – And straight into documentary. I have shamefully seen none of the nominees this year yet.

7.13pm – I am torn between backing the legend that is Herzog, or Man On Wire, which covers a subject that is so fascinating and one-of-a-kind.

7.14pm – Did Bill Maher just make a Heath Ledger joke? And then pimp his movie?

7.15pm – It’s Man On Wire. Well done! And here sprints Phillipe Petit! Hooray for the crazy Frenchman.

7.16pm – YES! Magic and a hilarious insult to the Oscar itself! Balancing acts have never been so much fun. Maher’s right, that deserved an extra Oscar all of its own – just to balance it again!

7.18pm – Seriously, where does one get to see a Documentary Short Subject? I mean, honestly!

7.23pm – Now the post-production run. Might be some surprises here.

7.25pm – Oh dear. Here comes some serious grinning…

7.26pm – Ah Will Smith, trying to justify his career. I have no idea what will win Visual Effects. Button?

7.27pm – Yes it is. A technical treat that film was. I just hope its wins stop here.

7.29pm – Smith trips up over his words while delivering Sound Editing. How ironic. Wall·E or The Dark Knight?

7.30pm – The latter. Good job. Would have been happy with either. Never did think Wanted would get a nomination!

7.31pm – Ah Sound Mixing, the award not even those nominated for it understand.

7.32pm – An unexpected tech award for Slumdog. Great to see (hear).

7.33pm – My God Danny Boyle looks happy!

7.34pm – Editing is far too big a deal to be slumped in at the end of these tech awards. Gotta be Slumdog!

7.35pm – It had to be, there’s more energy in that film’s editing than there is the entirety of Benjamin Button.

7.42pm – Jerry Lewis wins the Jean Hersholt Award. This could be amusing… or maybe not.

7.45pm – A standing ovation. The man looks fighting fit for 82. Maybe even more so than Eddie Murphy.

7.47pm – I’m not complaining, but why exactly is Heidi Klum there? I mean, wow, but still. Why not just scatter Victoria’s Secret’s finest all throughout the crowd?

7.50pm – Here come the music awards. Surely two more for Slumdog Millionaire.

7.51pm – God, could the Defiance score be any more desperate to be Schindler’s List?

7.52pm – Now that I hear it alone, there are some instruments in the Wall·E soundtrack that I’ve never even heard of before. But the Slumdog music is beautiful also.

7.55pm – Had to be Slumdog, one more to take back to India. Well, England. Now a fight to the death with Wall·E for best song! But the little robot is outnumbered two to one.

7.56pm – “MUSIC.” “LONG.” Who is this woman?

8.oopm – Wow, mixing the songs together… it actually works! I don’t care who wins, these three are all great. Though I gues I’d give it to Slumdog.

8.02pm – Well-deserved for Slumdog, though I can’t help but feel sorry for little WallE left without any more Oscars. It deserved so many. “Choose love” reminds me of a Danny Boyle movie I once saw…

8.05pm – Liam Neeson and Freida Pinto. Hot stuff.

8.07pm – Departures eh? I know nothing of it. Look forward to hearing more though. And the Academy laughs racistly at the winner’s lack of English. Oh dear…

8.11pm – Queen Latifah introduces the sad part with a song. Wait for the sound that comes when they show Paul Newman. Sigh.

8.16pm – Yeah, that was sad. Always is. Nice to look back, though it wouldn’t have hurt to allow some dialogue out.

8.19pm – Oh dear, two seperate dresses crashed into each other at high speeds and made what Reese Witherspoon is wearing. Best director time. As predictable as we expect or will there be a split this year?

8.20pm – Danny Boyle! Good show. He’s been grinning about this win for hours now. Now he can start sulking. And hopping apparently.

8.21pm – Boyle compliments the show’s stagecraft. Nice that someone said it. Aw, Boyle’s kids are delighted.

8.23pm – Mumbai – “you dwarf even the sky.” Wonderful!

8.25pm – We’re in the thick of it now. Here come some famous actresses, most of them found out of work nowadays no doubt.

8.26pm – Damn. Sophia Loren. Just damn. What age is she now? Give the award to her.

8.27pm – Did Anne Hathaway just get a “don’t worry, you don’t have a chance” pat on the back from Shirley MacLaine?

8.28pm – Kate’s tearing up and she hasn’t even won yet…

8.29pm – So… does someone want to tell me who Melissa Leo is?

8.32pm – WINSLET WINS IT! Here she comes. I think I know what’s coming now.

8.33pm – “It’s not a shampoo bottle now!” One of the nicest lines of the night. She’s holding herself together rather well so far. Her dad whistles. Impressively loudly.

8.35pm – An excellent speech – all her critics can shut it. Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack get their deserves. But did she just slam Meryl Streep?

8.36pm – And now the old actors, who will it be…?

8.37pm – Wow, a great selection! No Day Lewis this year. Odd that. Man, imagine the film you could make with those five!

8.39pm – Seriously: Douglas, Kinglsey, Hopkins, Brody and De Niro. Amazing. And now Sean Penn’s sexuality has been questioned. Brilliant!

8.42pm – Might be a big toss up here between Penn’s Milk and Rourke’s “bleech blonde battered bruiser”. Tense stuff here.

8.44pm – And Penn takes it! Maybe the only big surprise tonight. Milk is back in the running. Voted for “commic, homo-loving sons of guns”! Good stuff.

8.47pm – A call for equal rights. A powerful end to his speech. Or is it… there’s more… final praise for Mickey Rourke. How nice. Shame he has no Oscar though.

8.48pm – Steven Spielberg is here to tell us we’re inspired. Thank goodness for him, or we’d never know. Any chance of Slumdog not winning this?

8.53pm – Wow, a terrific night for Slumdog, pretty much a clean sweep! Great to see a deserving work do so well.

8.54pm – Everybody on the stage now. Hee hee, look how cute the kids are!

8.57pm – Well that’s almost it. Now they show us clips from next year’s films? Bullshit! That’s just free advertising, and totally making next year’s show biased before it begins. Bad Hollywood. Bad.

9.04pm – Eugh, a nasty way to end what was otherwise a surprisingly pleasant show. Well, that’s it for this year. It’s been one hell of a night, if only in terms of Slumdog‘s success and my sugar intake. Thank you for staying with me, and now to bed…

Goodnight!

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