Monday, February 25, 2008

80th Academy Awards Recap

The annual gala was dominated by Old Men, Blood, foreign actors winning golden statues, and a sea of red.
DO NOT make fun of this man's hair

It was only fitting on a night in which storm clouds hovered over the venue and rain soaked the red carpet that the 80th annual Academy Awards would be dominated by a couple of dark films in front of an audience clad primarily in crimson.

While it appeared that the majority of starlets got the internal memo to blend in with the most infamous rug this side of Howard Cosell, two films that dealt with the darker side of life took home the most coveted awards.

The early oil industry saga "There Will be Blood" helped Daniel Day-Lewis earn his second Best Actor trophy in the least surprising outcome of the evening, while Joel & Ethan Coen's tale of a deranged killer with a horrendous hairdo, "No Country For Old Men", was the big winner, garnering statues for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), Best Director(s) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The telecast was strangely devoid of excitement and surprises for the most part, with milquetoast host Jon Stewart playing it safe on the heels of the writer's strike, while the stars were apparently just happy to be able to play dress up and attend an event after the aborted fiasco that was the Golden Globes.

Ironically despite all the testosterone and griminess it was the fairer sex that provided most of the intrigue on the evening.

First carrot-topped Tilda Swinton swiped the Best Supporting Actress trophy from front runner Cate Blanchett and sentimental fave Ruby Dee for her portrayal as a powerful woman with a closet full of insecurities in "Michael Clayton", a victory that took even Swinton off guard judging by her "what, I really won?" expression upon hearing her name announced.

Then former stripper-turned screenwriter Diablo Cody "shocked the world" by scoring the Best Original Screenplay hardware, not so much for her penning of the tender reality check flick "Juno", but for her decision to wear a slitted, sleeveless leopard print frock that exposed her tacky stripper tat to the stodgy Hollywood upper crust.

But the biggest surprise was newcomer Marion Cotillard winning the Best Actress award for her portrayal of troubled singer Edith Piaf in the French biopic "La Vie en Rose." Cotillard, a stunningly beautiful actress who had never been in a hit movie in the States, beat out Hollywood heavyweights Blanchett, Julie Christie and Laura Linney in winning America's premier acting award.

Plus she wore the most evocative dress, had the best acceptance speech, and sung at the post-show presser. Hard to top that.

Her win combined with Bardem's (Spain), Day-Lewis' (England) and Swinton's (England) made it a clean sweep for foreign-born actors in the 4 major categories for the first time since 1964 and only the second time ever. Bardem's win marked the first for a Spaniard, and Cotillard the first by a French woman since 1960.

As Swinton succinctly put it in her speech,"Don't tell everybody, but we're everywhere - that's what Hollywood is."

Who said our country's foreign policy was a mess?

Coming tomorrow: The Best & Worst of the 80th annual Oscars

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