Monday, Feb. 25, 2008

Oscar the Morning After

By David Luhrssen
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Marion Cotillard was “speechless,” she insisted, while hugging her Best Actress Oscar (La Vie en Rose) and giving thank you after thank you. I was even more speechless. The French star of a subtitled film about Edith Piaf (“I didn’t even know who Edith Piaf was,” one dumb-as-dirt radio commentator announced this morning) wins for Best Actress in a country that only four years ago was eating freedom fries? The world tilted on its axis. This year’s Oscars, from nominations through winners, was a series of surprises.

Well, by the end, Daniel Day-Lewis was odds on favorite for Best Actor. Even I predicted that (see I Hate Hollywood, Feb. 18). I hedged my bets on Best Picture and Best Director while giving No Country for OldMen and the Coen Bros. a good chance. What, you thought maybe Julian Schnabel would win? If the world tilts that far I’m getting off! This year the Academy broke with the illogic of recent award ceremonies by giving Oscar to the people who directed the Best Picture instead of splitting the honor.

For me, There Will Be Blood was the better film all around but I’m by no means incensed that No Country was the night’s big winner, taking away Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem). My worst concern is the number of bad imitations that may surface a year or two from now. How about John Malkovich in a blond fright wig as an enigmatic killer who dispatches his victims with a staple gun? That might seem pretty cool to audiences whose perspective is framed comfortably inside a cell phone camera. The night’s other surprise? Cameron Diaz really can’t pronounce cinematography?

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