Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Liveblogging the 80th Academy Awards

The 80th Annual Academy Awards ceremony is just beginning at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California. Our favorite comedian, Jon Stewart, is once again hosting the show (he made his debut in 2006). We'll be taking a break from political analysis tonight to follow the show live and keep a running tally of the winners.

In an Oscar preview over at Daily Kos, Scout Finch reminds us that the entertainment industry is about more than just fashion and glamor:
Many of these stars aren't only terrific actors, they are also passionate Democratic and humanitarian activists. Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, and many others were trailblazers, using their high profile celebrity status to bring attention to countless issues such as civil rights, labor rights, the environment, and more. Their activism has inspired a new generation of Hollywood stars to get involved and make a difference. Today, we highlight and honor their activism and celebrate a new generation of blossoming activists.
Kicking off the ceremony now is Jon Stewart, who is presenting the opening monologue. How many seconds till the presidential race is mentioned?

UPDATE: That didn't take long. We were treated to a Hillary Clinton joke and a shout out to Barack Obama as well. A few of Stewart's quips:

"[Hollywood] was torn apart by a bitter writers' strike, but the fight is over...Tonight, welcome to the makeup sex."

"Does this town need a hug? What happened? `No Country For Old Men,' `Sweeney Todd,' `There Will Be Blood?' All I can say is, thank God for teen pregnancy...I think the country agrees."

"Too often the Academy ignores movies that aren't good."

"Oscar is eighty this year, which makes him automatically the frontrunner for the Republican nomination."

"Please enjoy an Oscar salute to...binoculars and periscopes!"

"Normally when you see a black man or a woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty."

On the many financially unsuccessful Iraq-themed movies: "If we stay the course, we can turn these movies around."
I imagine the same critics who panned Jon's 2006 performance will once again be disappointed by this year's ceremony.

Perhaps if they stopped trying to take measurements and simply enjoyed the show, they could give us a fairer assessment of the Oscars.

UPDATE (Kathleen): If you are like me, you wish you could just record this spectacle and fast forward to the Jon Stewart moments. Good timing by the writers; if the strike wasn't settled, Jon would have watched the Oscars on the couch with a bag of chips like the rest of us.

My pick for best original song was just performed perfectly by the stars of "Once". If you are not familiar with the soundtrack from "Once", I recommend checking it out. My family probably regrets the decision to buy it for me since it played non-stop in our home from Day One until Christmas when "Back to Black" entered the house and took its place.

Juno, the NPI staff favorite, has two more chances at an Oscar this evening. Having an upset winner tonight would be very entertaining.

UPDATE (Andrew): The montages tonight have been a lot of fun. We've had a few humorously themed ones (binoculars and periscopes, bee stings, etc.) but also many stirring introspectives, including a look back at all the previous winners for Best Picture, from Wings to the The Departed.

And Jon Stewart has just been terrific throughout - his one liners have actually gotten funnier since the opening monologue. Maybe the "professional" reviewers aren't laughing, but I am.

Here's a running list of the winners:
  • Achievement in Costume Design: Alexandra Byrne for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Best Animated Feature Film: Ratatouille (directed by Brad Bird of Pixar)
  • Achievement in Makeup: Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald for La Vie en Rose
  • Achievement in Visual Effects: Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood, The Golden Compass
  • Achievement in Art Direction: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
  • Best Animated Short Film: Peter and the Wolf
  • Best Live Action Short Film: Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: No Country for Old Men (by Joel & Ethan Coen)
  • Achievement in Sound Editing: Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing: Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Best Actress (Leading Role): Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
  • Achievement in Film Editing: Christopher Rouse, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Production designer Robert F. Boyle
  • Best Foriegn Language Film: The Counterfeiters (from Austria)
  • Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Best Original Song): Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for Falling Slowly from Once
  • Achievement In Cinematography: Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
  • Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Best Original Score): Dario Marianelli, Atonement
  • Best Documentary Short: Freeheld
  • Best Documentary Feature: Taxi to the Dark Side
  • Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno
  • Best Actor (Leading Role): Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
  • Achievement In Directing: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
  • Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
Special Awards were handed out to these recipients:

Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificate)
  • To Christien Tinsley for the creation of the transfer techniques for creating and applying 2D and 3D makeup known as "Tinsley Transfers." These techniques allow quick and precisely repeatable application of 2D makeup such as tattoos, bruises and birthmarks, as well as 3D prosthetic appliances ranging in size from small wounds to entire torsos. They utilize self-adhesive material that features an unprecedented combination of tissue-thin edges, resilience, flexibility and water resistance, while requiring no dangerous solvents.
  • To Jörg Pöhler and Rüdiger Kleinke of OTTEC Technology GmbH for the design and development of the battery-operated series of fog machines known as "Tiny Foggers." The operating characteristics of this compact, well-engineered and remote-controllable package make possible a range of safe special effects that would be totally impractical with larger, more conventional fog units.
  • To Sebastian Cramer, for the invention and general design and Andreas Dasser, head of development at P&S Technik GmbH, for the mechanical design of the Skater Dolly and its family of products. This small, portable, camera-only dolly allows low lens positions, movement in restricted places and tight offset circular maneuvers with rapid set-up.
  • To Victor Gonzalez, Ignacio Vargas and Angel Tena for the creation of the RealFlow software application. RealFlow was the first widely adopted, commercially available, easy-to-use system for the simulation of realistic liquids in motion picture visual effects.
  • To Jonathan Cohen, Dr. Jerry Tessendorf, Dr. Jeroen Molemaker and Michael Kowalski for the development of the system of fluid dynamics tools at Rhythm & Hues. This system allows artists to create realistic animation of liquids and gases, using novel simulation techniques for accuracy and speed, as well as a unique scripting language for working with volumetric data.
  • To Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system. This system is used to create simulations of gaseous phenomena integrated into the widely available Maya tool suite, using an unconditionally stable semi-Lagrangian solver.
  • To Stephan Trojansky, Thomas Ganshorn and Oliver Pilarski for the development of the Flowline fluid effects system. Flowline is a flexible system that incorporates highly parallel computation, allowing rapid iteration and resulting in detailed, realistic fluid effects.
Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaque)
  • To Dr. Doug Roble, Nafees Bin Zafar and Ryo Sakaguchi for the development of the fluid simulation system at Digital Domain. This influential and flexible production-proven system incorporates innovative algorithms and refined adaptations of published methods to achieve large-scale water effects.
  • To Nick Rasmussen, Ron Fedkiw and Frank Losasso Petterson for the development of the Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) fluid simulation system. This production-proven simulation system achieves large-scale water effects within ILM's Zeno framework. It includes integrating particle level sets, parallel computation, and tools that enable the artistic direction of the results.
Academy Award of Merit (Oscar® Statuette): To the Eastman Kodak Company for the development of photographic emulsion technologies incorporated into the Kodak Vision2 family of color negative films. These technologies are breakthroughs in film speed, grain and sharpness that have made a significant impact on the motion picture industry. The Vision 2 family allows wider use of high-speed color negative film, lower light levels on set and faster set-ups. Most importantly, Vision2 improves the overall picture quality in theatrical presentation.

Award of Commendation (Special Plaque): To Jonathan Erland in recognition of his leadership and efforts toward identifying and solving the problem of High-Speed Emulsion Stress Syndrome in motion picture film stock. By coordinating and conducting tests for and with the industry and by sharing results openly, Mr. Erland clearly demonstrated the value and effectiveness of independent research and industry-wide cooperation.

John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation (Medallion): To David S. Inglish, for his outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Gordon E. Sawyer Award (Oscar Statuette): To David A. Grafton, whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry

Also watching the Academy Awards tonight for NPI are Jonathan and Kathleen. They'll join me in posting updates throughout the evening.


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