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I actually don't get to the movies much anymore. (Ballet, opera and theater take up most of my "disposable" income and time.) The only film I've seen is Avatar (which I saw in IMAX 3D). The visual aspects of it were astounding, and you should see this film on the biggest screen possible. I hope to catch most of the other films on DVD eventually. The Argentine film that won for Best Foreign Language film has not been released yet in the U.S. It opens in April.

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Did anyone see the movies, foreign language or domestic? :)

Only 'Inglourious Basterds', and I'm sorry for seeing that. It was hideous. But main point is that I noticed in watching the returns come in, that I am by now so out of touch with contemporary movies, that I had never heard of 'The Hurt Locker' until I saw it won best picture. Not that I think that's impressive, perhaps, as they say 'more curious than beautiful'. I hadn't heard of most ot the other pictures either till looking at NYTimes online. The films only rarely have any charismal for me, although there is the occasional exception. I'm sure I miss at least some very good things, but that's the breaks. Almost any live dance is better to me than a movie, and in some cases, several dollars less.

Was glad to hear Babs made an impressive entrance, even though, as for the 'fellas', that's still the reverse of the song, and I always thought even the original misogynist version ('You are woman') was Styne knowing how to do filler, even with good lyrics like 'just some dried-up toast in a sli-vah, on the top a little chopped liv-ah'. So, probably not really, because Babs can pull it off no matter what the background, and always does.

I do think of the Oscars a more powerful holiday than Valentine's Day, though not Xmas, even though I haven't watched it since 1993.

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I think the Kruger, Saldana and Theron dresses are generating mixed-to-negative reviews because of context. They would look more at home at, say, the Costume Institue Ball at the Met than on a red carpet in Southern California. There, they looked out-of-place. Certain "high fashion" dresses just don't work in the context of award shows like the Oscars or the Golden Globes.

That being said, here are my picks (in the manner of Joan Rivers) for best and worst dressed:

Worst Dressed Man: Robert Downey Jr. Sneakers -- really? Sorry pal but you're not as clever and above-it-all as you think you are.

Worst Dressed Woman: Mariah Carey. There comes a time when you're not an eighteen-year-old starlet any more. When that time comes, you have to put away the starlet clothes and start dressing your age.

Best Dressed Man: Colin Firth. That tux fit beautifully.

Best Dressed Woman: Sandra Bullock. Looked great for someone who's not known for her style. (And kudos to her for going to the Razzies the day before to pick up her Worst Actress Award in person.)

Most Improved: Cameron Diaz. Usually she shows up in a weird dress and disheveled hair but this year she looked like a true movie star.

Mixed Opinions:

(1) J.Lo's dress. From certain angles, it looked like the dress was swallowing her alive. But then, from other angles, it was absolutely stunning. Oh well, that's why you want J.Lo at awards shows -- she's never boring.

(2) Maggie Gyllenhaal's dress. In her favor, she doesn't follow the pack and the dress certainly illustrated that. Still, I thought the dress looked too "costumey" -- it was like something Dorothy Lamour would have worn in a Bing Crosby-Bob Hope picture.

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Best Dressed Man: Colin Firth. That tux fit beautifully.

Best Dressed Woman: Sandra Bullock. Looked great for someone who's not known for her style. (And kudos to her for going to the Razzies the day before to pick up her Worst Actress Award in person.)

Oh yeah, from the photos, and Firth has been around for a long time. He's one of my favourites. One of the best things he did was a mostly-forgotten BBC miniseries 'Lost Empires', based on the Priestley novel about WWI music hall, and the whole thing was great, even better than Priestley's novel. Carmen du Sautoy also sterling in that one. And I don't think it's still available, but Firth doesn't look any older. as well as always being quite charming.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal's dress. In her favor, she doesn't follow the pack and the dress certainly illustrated that. Still, I thought the dress looked too "costumey" -- it was like something Dorothy Lamour would have worn in a Bing Crosby-Bob Hope picture.

With Gyllenhaal I tend to be torn between respect for her individuality and regret over the choices she makes. I rather liked last night’s print but it didn’t quite work for her -- and she doesn’t have the cans to hold up a strapless number without a little more assistance.

The only film I've seen is Avatar (which I saw in IMAX 3D). The visual aspects of it were astounding, and you should see this film on the biggest screen possible.

I saw Avatar on a regular screen and it was still astounding. I agree that it should be seen in a theater if at all possible.

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Did anyone see the movies, foreign language or domestic? :)

I've seen: The Hurt Locker; Avatar; Inglorious Basterds. Frankly I liked them all, but I was especially impressed with The Hurt Locker. It was certainly my pick for Best Picture.

Other nominees I'd like to see, and plan to see (via DVD or theater) are: A Serious Man; Precious; Up; A Single Man; Up in the Air; Julie and Julia (have the DVD at home right now), probably The Blind Side (curious about a film that would have Sandra Bullock win a Best Actress), An Education (my wife saw it and didn't like it, but she and I don't always agree :)); and The Last Station (since I consider Helen Mirren to be one of the greatest actresses of all time, and I can't imagine not seeing everything she as ever done; BTW, has Mirren ever played Blanche in Streetcar??).

Patrick, I can't imagine saying Inglorious was hideous. For me it was well worth it just for Christoph Waltz's performance if for nothing else. For me he created a character that is even more the ultimate villian than Hannibal Lecter (which is saying a lot I think; Mr Lecter would have been my first choice before I saw Waltz in Inglorious).

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Did anyone else think that Melanie Griffiths looked like she could barely move her face due to way too much plastic surgery? By the way, I think Demi Moore had one of the most exquisite dresses of the night.

I didn't get a good look at Griffiths but I did see her husband Antonio Banderas and he looks like he has aged considerably.

The best thing about Demi Moore's dress was that it matched her skin tone/spray tan perfectly. Not easy to do!

Firth has been around for a long time. He's one of my favourites.

He was marvelous in A Single Man. Any other year, I think he would have won. But it was Bridges' time.

I'm not getting all the outrage about Farrah Fawcett not being included in the roll call of people who died in 2009. Yes, she made some films. But most of them were terrible and she will always be best remembered for her work in television. (I do think Fawcett's fans are right to criticize the Academy for including Michael Jackson in the montage when he only appeared in one acting role [as the Scarecrow in The Wiz.])

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I'm not getting all the outrage about Farrah Fawcett not being included in the roll call of people who died in 2009. Yes, she made some films. But most of them were terrible and she will always be best remembered for her work in television. (I do think Fawcett's fans are right to criticize the Academy for including Michael Jackson in the montage when he only appeared in one acting role [as the Scarecrow in The Wiz.])

There are always egregious omissions in the Montage of the Dead. I don’t remember offhand seeing Nina Foch, Maurice Jarre, Edward Woodward, or Richard Todd, and all of them have better claims to inclusion than either Fawcett or Jackson. Farrah should have been included, though, even if her pictures were generally mediocre or worse. I had no idea what Jackson was doing there, either.

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Re: Farrah's omission. Did they forget "Extremities", which earned her a Globe nom for Best Actress in a Drama, "The Apostle", which earned her an Independent Spirit nom for Best Supporting Actress or "Dr. T and the Women"...

Fawcett's omission was just as unclassy as it could get.

:)

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I do agree with dirac that Nina Foch should have been included, though. I had forgotten that it was this year. Personally, I consider her more important than Jennifer Jones, whose charisma and 'talent' has always escaped me, but she had to be included, because that's just me, and even I recognize that she was 'important' in terms of Hollywood history. And then she's got Selznick and Norton Simon, so she was a socio-political 'heavy'. But point about Farrah is that everybody KNEW who she was, which can't be said of Nina Foch. They should have included Maurice Jarre too, it wasn't going to fatten things up too much.

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...... Jennifer Jones, whose charisma and 'talent' has always escaped me, but she had to be included, because that's just me, and even I recognize that she was 'important' in terms of Hollywood history.

Very true, Jones was charisma-challenged. But as I realized when she died, she did leave a respectable body of work, and I think she did have talent.

BTW, has Mirren ever played Blanche in Streetcar??).

I don't believe so, Sandy.

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The dance numbers are always dreadful at the Oscars IMHO. I think it is because they are thrown together in a very short time. A piece d' occasion is usually disposable, unless the choreographer is Ashton. The Tonys have the huge advantage of putting on dances from shows that have been honed and polished to perfection on stage. I love the Tonys! :)

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Alongside the thrill of dancers being paid, I do like the distinction between dancing and choreography. I would like to add dance-friendly camerawork to that list -- it seemed that there was more going on in the theater than we were able to see on television. I know it's difficult to work in a situation that is both live and televised, but it's certainly possible to do better than we got.

Back to films -- I saw all the animated shorts on an Academy circulated program, and was very impressed with them all. I know most people figured that Loaf or Death would win -- it's another chapter in the ongoing Wallace and Grommit saga from Nick Park and Aardman Studios, but Logorama was a witty, cutting and dead-on commentary on consumer culture. It absolutely deserved the award. The preview is

-- the full film is available on iTunes, apparently.
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The NY Times has a cute critique of Martins and Baldwin's scripted patter. It's in the form of a quiz, in which the reader is invited to guess which material comes from Martin-Baldwin and which from a 1976 Paul Lynde routine.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/...e%22&st=cse

You have to love the following:

Welcome back to “the biggest night in Hollywood since last night.”

For a plausible explanation of the Oscars/Lynde stylistic parallels, read Comment No. 2.

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I had a feeling it was going to be a bad night for Avatar when during one of the pre performance shows one of the commentators plugged Hurt Locker for the win, with the observation that this wasn't the People's Choice Awards
. I was glad Avatar didn't win. I saw it, thought it was good, not great. It certainly deserved many wins in the techno field, but not best picture. As to whether or not Bigelow deserved Best Director over Cameron, I have no idea since I didn't see The Hurt Locker. But I'm mighty happy a woman finally won.

Re Up in the Air: I saw this movie right at the time when all the hype was out about it. I read one review after another that were practically gushing in their reverence. I simply don't get it. I think that Hollywood and critics are all smitten with George Clooney to the point where they believe that anything he does is worthy of the gods. I have lots of respect for Clooney myself, but this was just a grade B movie. It had all the trappings, but none of the essence of a great movie. So I am very glad that it was shut out.

If ever someone won for popularity, it was Sandra Bullock. I felt very sorry for Meryl, who deserved this win.

Re papeetepatrick's comment:

I don't think there are goddesses in Hollywood anymore (gods either, for that matter). That kind of aura around film actors and actresses really seems to me to have been stripped away,
Jolie and Pitt seem to be trying really, really hard to assume that role, but that's exactly what makes it so painful: that they're trying so hard.
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Re papeetepatrick's comment:
I don't think there are goddesses in Hollywood anymore (gods either, for that matter). That kind of aura around film actors and actresses really seems to me to have been stripped away,
Jolie and Pitt seem to be trying really, really hard to assume that role, but that's exactly what makes it so painful: that they're trying so hard.

That's perfect, vagansmom, and exactly who I was thinking of when I wrote the paragraph, of course plus the third figure who is more 'tabloid-reader-friendly', Brad's ex. It occurred to me that I never stand in a supermarket line without more from one of these three, and it just boggles the mind how banal they seem. A far cry from when Liz was misbehaving with Eddie and then she was misbehaving with Richard, etc., not to mention the really bigger-than-life figures like Garbo or Coop. About a year ago, my best friend and I were somewhere in my W. Village neighborhood, I don't remember exactly where, and we were forced to wait some time while something was going on for a shooting of something or other with Jennifer (the third in that triumvirate, of course.) Stuck, we tried, but failed, to get interested in how close we were to Ms. Anniston, or whether we might get a glimpse of the 'elusive goddess' :) I used to think Jennifer Lopez's publicity was plenty silly and copious, but the 'brannifer' followed by 'brangelina' really reeks of desperatio, in that there is such a huge volume of it--and it's been going on for years: 4 years ago, I was on a plane to Los Angeles, and was forced on the little TV's to watch this thing called 'It's GREAT to be Brad and Jen'. I disagreed...but maybe it's better than more Britney rehabs.

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I was glad Avatar didn't win. I saw it, thought it was good, not great. It certainly deserved many wins in the techno field, but not best picture. As to whether or not Bigelow deserved Best Director over Cameron, I have no idea since I didn't see The Hurt Locker. But I'm mighty happy a woman finally won.

Hi, vagansmom. Thanks for chiming in. If greatness were the criterion, you’d have to strike off a lot of Best Picture winners over the years, although it should be noted that the last few, The Departed, No Country for Old Men, and Slumdog Millionaire (The Hurt Locker is good, too) have all been excellent movies. I don’t think Avatar lost because of quality or lack thereof. Sci-fi/fantasy films tend to be harder sells at Oscar time historically and James Cameron is not winning any Miss Congeniality awards. I had no particular rooting interest this year but I would have been fine with Avatar winning even if it meant watching Cameron yell “I SEE YOU!” from the podium.

Bullock was okay but neither performance nor film was first rate. She ran a good campaign for the award, though. I enjoyed Streep as Julia Child but didn’t think she was at her absolute best either, although I’d have given it to her as a body-of-work award. She’s due for another statue and I agree that she probably did want this one. It’s nice to be nominated -- but. Katharine Hepburn won three of her four Oscars late in life, so there’s still hope.

Back to films -- I saw all the animated shorts on an Academy circulated program, and was very impressed with them all. I know most people figured that Loaf or Death would win -- it's another chapter in the ongoing Wallace and Grommit saga from Nick Park and Aardman Studios, but Logorama was a witty, cutting and dead-on commentary on consumer culture. It absolutely deserved the award. The preview is here -- the full film is available on iTunes, apparently.

Thanks, sandik. I don’t know much about the animated short category and this is good to know.

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I was glad Avatar didn't win. I saw it, thought it was good, not great. It certainly deserved many wins in the techno field, but not best picture. As to whether or not Bigelow deserved Best Director over Cameron, I have no idea since I didn't see The Hurt Locker. But I'm mighty happy a woman finally won.

I agree about Avatar -- I thought the special effects were indeed special, but they were used in the service of a mediocre script. Or as a local critic said on one of those year-end wrap-up shows, "Fern Gully with Smurfs."

I didn't see Hurt Locker either. I can't manage that level of tension in a theater, but my partner and our son saw it as well as Avatar, and agree that the better film won.

Re Up in the Air: I saw this movie right at the time when all the hype was out about it. I read one review after another that were practically gushing in their reverence. I simply don't get it. I think that Hollywood and critics are all smitten with George Clooney to the point where they believe that anything he does is worthy of the gods. I have lots of respect for Clooney myself, but this was just a grade B movie. It had all the trappings, but none of the essence of a great movie. So I am very glad that it was shut out.

Up in the Air has the double tweek of being a very topical film with a highly likeable actor in a major role. I saw Clooney in The Men Who Stare at Goats earlier in the year (they were promoting Air in the previews at the time) and thought he did a fabulous job in a role that combined deadpan comedy with some historical commentary. I appreciate his ability to ride than line between foolery and bombast, like his role in Burn After Reading.

If ever someone won for popularity, it was Sandra Bullock. I felt very sorry for Meryl, who deserved this win.

I haven't seen the film, so can't say much about her performance, but I do think it's hard lines on anyone who has to compete with Streep -- she's such an accomplished actress. Ditto Helen Mirren.

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Bullock was okay but neither performance nor film was first rate. She ran a good campaign for the award, though. I enjoyed Streep as Julia Child but didn’t think she was at her absolute best either, although I’d have given it to her as a body-of-work award.

I really liked Streep in this, but felt that the other half of the film was pretty meh, which makes it tricky. Streep has such a gift for voices, and the technical aspects of creating a person -- it was a real pleasure to see her tackle a character that we all feel we know in a televised version.

Thanks, sandik. I don’t know much about the animated short category and this is good to know.

It used to be almost impossible to see all the nominated shorts, but the last few years the Academy has been circulating these compliation programs, and one of our local theaters runs them. Animated in one show and live action in the other -- they're available on DVD later in the season as well.

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I was glad Avatar didn't win. I saw it, thought it was good, not great. It certainly deserved although I’d have given it to her as a body-of-work award. She’s due for another statue and I agree that she probably did want this one. It’s nice to be nominated -- but. Katharine Hepburn won three of her four Oscars late in life, so there’s still hope.

We were talking about Kate's FOUR awards yesterday. Yes, she got three in later career, but I think only 'Lion in Winter' was deserved. I don't believe in 'body of work' awards given in a Best Actor or Best Actress category, they should get either nothing (that is, if they already have one, and Meryl has two) or a Lifetime Achievement Award, just the way they gave those, which are always to some degree consolation prizes to Garbo and Deborah Kerr. Anyway, I don't pull for Meryl Streep on any more awards, but that's just personal taste. What I do find interesting is that, even though the Oscars can really reward merit, even though they often don't, the fact that Garbo, in particular, didn't get one, makes her historical status less accurate: Except for those of us who've watched the films carefully, she's thought of as a 'screen goddess', but not nearly always known to be a great actress (of course, that can be disagreed on just like Ms. Streep can), whereas Kate's FOUR awards make people think she was the greatest film actress who ever lived. I think she deserved the 'Morning Glory' one as well (although I haven't looked up who the competition was), but I think Garbo is the greater film actress, except for 'Long Day's Journey Into Night', for which Kate got no Oscar. At least Garbo was still young enough to snub her Consolation Prize, while dear Ms. Kerr was pretty rickety by the time she got hers, although her graciousness is always appreciated. I guess Barbara Stanwyck got one of these Consolation Oscars too.

Maybe Shirley MacLaine's 'Terms of Endearment' was a 'body of work award', although it was a good performance on its own merits. But she hadn't won any before, and had done a lot of good work. Same for Paul Newman for 'The Verdict', that may have been a 'body of work' award, but I didn't ever see that one.

the most interesting Best Actress contest for me will always be the contest between Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson, Judy Holliday, Eleanor Parker (and one other.) Most pull for Davis or Swanson, but I thought the way they cancelled each other out and Holliday's uncanny, genus and musical performance was awarded was the height of Oscars history--and I am a big fan of both 'All About Eve' and 'Sunset Boulevard', which are much better films that 'Born Yesterday'.

I think LiLing's point about the dancing being pretty much throwaway because occasional and thrown together quickly is very good, as she opposes it to the shows's excerpted numbers for the Tonys. Except in that one case, when a great B'way dancer like Ann Reinking danced to 'Take a Look at me Now', from 'Against all Odds', along with Phil Collins's original in the background. She was perfect, and incidentally I think that ought to go under 'Underrated Films', but is also pertinent because a very good early Jeff Bridges role. He's been around a long time.

So there are lots of reasons I like to experience the National Oscar Day secondhand.

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I don't believe in 'body of work' awards given in a Best Actor or Best Actress category, they should get either nothing (that is, if they already have one, and Meryl has two) or a Lifetime Achievement Award,

The Oscars often work that way, though. I would say that Jeff Bridges’ award this year was a body of work award, although he was good enough in Crazy Heart. Streep has a Best Actress and a Best Supporting, but in the context of her career that’s not as impressive as it might be. (If she doesn’t win again outright she may well get a Lifetime Achievement Award eventually.)

I didn't see Hurt Locker either. I can't manage that level of tension in a theater, but my partner and our son saw it as well as Avatar, and agree that the better film won.

I’d have to disagree respectfully with your family circle. It’s not at all clear, to this viewer anyway, that Hurt Locker is inherently superior to Avatar. I like to see little pictures win on principle, but Goliath isn’t always worse.

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