Thoughts on the 2007 Oscar ceremony

Wow, was everyone off on their Oscar predictions. Yeah, we got most of the big ones right (Scorsese, Mirren, Whitaker, Hudson, etc.), but everything else was all over the map.

“Pan’s Labyrinth” wins three — the second-highest total of the night — yet fails to win Best Foreign-Language Film, which seemed like its most obvious victory.

“Dreamgirls,” which led the Oscars with eight nominations, got only two wins. Three of the five Best Song nominees were from “Dreamgirls,” yet it still managed to lose that category.

“An Inconvenient Truth,” which everyone figured was a lock for Best Documentary, did indeed win that award. But it also won Best Song, thus putting it ahead of the much-ballyhooed “Babel,” which got only one prize all night long. Poor “Babel.” Poor, crappy “Babel.”

There were surprising upsets (Alan Arkin over Eddie Murphy for Best Supporting Actor; “Happy Feet” over “Cars” for Best Animated Feature), but there were some comforting sure things, too. Helen Mirren is gorgeous, classy, and supremely talented; we should give her awards any chance we get. Martin Scorsese has finally won an Oscar, which helps to right a lot of the unbalance in the universe.

And though “The Departed” wasn’t the best film of 2006 — I’m not even sure it was the best of the five Best Picture nominees — it’s likable enough that we can be happy with its winning the big prize. I know people who didn’t see “The Departed,” and I know people who weren’t blown away by it. But I don’t know anyone who actually disliked it, the way a lot of people have disliked certain past Best Pictures (“Crash,” “Titanic,” “American Beauty,” and “The English Patient,” to name a few). We can feel good about “The Departed.”

Most of all, I am happy about this: I correctly predicted 13 out of 24 awards. That’s not very good, but it’s better than my friend Chris Clark, who routinely outguesses me but who this year only got 11 right. SUCK IT, CLARK!

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As for the show itself:

I’m browsing around the Interwebs, and I’m discovering that I seem to be in the minority for liking the show! In fact, I thought it was one of the most diverse and entertaining broadcasts of recent years. I liked the opening montage of nominees, I liked the dancers making silhouettes of movie images, I liked the medley of movie sound effects as created by a choir of humans, I liked the song by Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly, and I liked carefully watching Jennifer Hudson’s breasts to see if they would fall out of her dress. (Beyonce, meet Be-ouncy.)

All that stuff was slightly different from the norm, a little creative, a little vaudeville-variety-show-Ed-Sullivan-y. I didn’t love everything about the show — still lots of dull tributes and special awards and so forth — but overall, I came away from it with positive feelings. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it was the seven doughnuts and one liter of Diet Dr Pepper that I consumed over the course of the broadcast.
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The winners:

Picture: “The Departed”
Martin Scorsese, “The Departed”
Actor: Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland”
Actress: Helen Mirren, “The Queen”
Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, “Little Miss Sunshine”
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls”
Original Screenplay: “Little Miss Sunshine”
Adapted Screenplay: “The Departed”
Cinematography: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Editing: “The Departed”
Foreign-Language Film:
“The Lives of Others”
Documentary: “An Inconvenient Truth”
Animated Film: “Happy Feet”
Makeup: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Art Direction: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Sound Mixing: “Dreamgirls”
Sound Editing: “Letters from Iwo Jima”
Visual Effects: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
Costume Design: “Marie Antoinette”
Original Score: “Babel”
Original Song:
“I Need to Wake Up,” from “An Inconvenient Truth”
Animated Short: “The Danish Poet”
Documentary Short: “The Blood of Yingzhou District”
Live-Action Short: “West Bank Story”