Oscar Poker #23

Earlier today yours truly, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone and Boxoffice.com‘s Phil Contrino recorded a final bitch-and-moan about last night’s King’s Speech triumph, and asked whether or not James Franco was actually baked or not and so on. (Contrino, an “experienced” observer, is all but certain he was.) Here’s a stand-alone link. Oscar Poker will not be folding its tent. We’ll continue to record every weekend.

Russell

The legendary Jane Russell passed earlier today at age 89. I spoke to her in July ’97 for a People story about the death of Robert Mitchum ; she seemed like a bright, sharp and collected lady. Russell and Mitchum made His Kind of Woman and Macao together. Both were minor noirs, at best, but she and Mitchum had a vibe — they seemed to really amuse and enjoy each other.

Butt Cheeks

It doesn’t seem like the Crimson Tide junket, held at the Marina del Rey Ritz Carlton, happened nearly 16 years ago. But it did. Sometimes you’ll turn around and realize something that happened not that long ago happened a good while ago. A kid born in ’95 could be six-foot-four and driving a Harley and writing screenplays and making big money as a model.

This Quentin Tarantino/Roger Avary riff about the gay subtext in Top Gun (from

Avoid This ISP

Sharply increased Oscar traffic last night caused Hollywood Elsewhere to slow to a crawl and then crash this morning. It was my fault, of course, and I’m apologizing up and down. The staffers at the recently merged Softlayer/Orbit-The Planet, HE’s Texas-based server, failed to cope with the situation to my satisfaction. All they did was speak Martian Klaatu. And when the site crashed early this morning, they did nothing until I called up and hammered and brought hell. They could have simply re-booted the server but it took them forever to do this, and even now it’s loading too slowly.

Finally a senior level person came on the line and, for the first and only time since the troubles began last night, offered a solution, which was to double the memory . Which I immediately agreed to pay for.

But in the...

The Song Is Over

8:37 pm: And the Best Picture Oscar goes to The King’s Speech. And that’s all she wrote. Excuse me while I go outside and stare at traffic with a nauseated look on my face. A Best Picture decision has been made without a single major critics group having concurred. And yet The King’s Speech did win four Oscars; ditto Inception. The Social Network won three, and Alice in Wonderland and The Fighter took two each.

I regret that my presence in this overlit Starbucks kept me from seeing the Best Picture montage, which everyone apparently loved.

Twitter pronouncement from Roger Ebert: “The worst Oscarcast I’ve seen, and I go back awhile. Some great winners, a nice distribution of awards, but the show? Dead. In. The. Water.”

8:26 pm: Colin Firth, as expected, has won the Best Actor Oscar...

No More Waiting

I’d be extremely delighted to comment on everything that everyone else is commenting on, but I can’t, you see. I just can’t. Okay, won’t. This is a very bad start, I realize. I’ll work my way past it. A few minutes more of agonizing chit-chat and it’ll finally be on. I know that if I was a nominee and some empty-vessel E!-head asked me if I’m nervous, I’d say, “Gee, I’d like to say but I can’t.” And he/she would ask, “You mean you might be a little bit nervous…?” And I’d say, “Naahh?” Excuse me? “Naaahh.”

Sinking

All the women in red are cool (Anne Hathaway, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Judson) but I’ve been watching red-carpet activity for an hour now, and I’m feeling more and more sickly. Steve Huff: “If you really want to feel your soul slowly draining from your ears, just sit and blankly watch all Oscars pre-shows.” This may sound like a form of heresy, but I’d rather watch coverage of the Libyan rebellion.

What did somebody say an hour ago? “There are Civil War re-enactments that are less predictable than the outcome of tonight’s Oscar awards.”

Begins Now

“Answering the Oscar red carpet query ‘Who made your dress?’ with ‘Probably some underage Vietnamese guttersnipe’ would be a nice change.” — Steven Weber on witsream.com/oscars (about an hour ago).

Wandering

N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported this morning that she recently “made the mistake of taking my eyes off the [high-speed] road for more than 1.5 seconds, which is the danger zone, according to technology experts at Ford headquarters.” It is routine, of course, for actors at the wheel in movies to take their eyes off the road for three, four or even five seconds so they can convey meaningful eye contact with their front-seat passenger, especially if they’re romantically involved with same. Nothing infuriates me more. Directors who allow or encourage actors to ignore the road for such periods need to be put into wooden stockades.

Corporatism Is Us

“The revolt in the Arab world is not merely against this or that resident dictator but a worldwide economic tyranny,” journalist John Pilger wrote this morning. “A tyranny designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development, the IMF and World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries like Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with half the population earning less than $2 a day.

“The people’s triumph in Cairo was the first blow against what Benito Mussolini called corporatism, a word that appears in his definition of fascism.

“How did such extremism take hold in the...

Refresher

I need to post something more than the usual ass confetti during this evening’s Oscarcast liveblog. A journalist friend says, “I don’t really care about what Sasha and Poland and Pete Hammond have to say…I’d rather hear something funny and searing.” So (a) I’ll trying to be my usual searing self but (b) will also aggregate the best comedian twitters — Sarah Silverman, Steve Martin, Bill McCuddy, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Patton Oswalt, etc. Along with samplings from witstream.com.

Order of Stodge

“It’s not hard to see why films such as The King’s Speech, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love play so well in Peoria. They work as pure escapism, presenting American audiences with a world that seems at once reassuringly familiar (people speak English) and excitingly different (they like drinking tea and hate talking about their feelings). For two hours, they allow us to forget the messy anxieties of the present and wallow in an idealized, romantic past.

“The silver screen Britain is a courteous, orderly place. Women wear dresses. There is no crime. Everybody is white. The political and social conflicts that marked Britain’s history — the strikes and demonstrations, the suffragettes and socialists — are entirely absent. It’s like Tolkien’s Shire, only with worse weather and stodgier...

Lockout

With no reported change in AMPAS attitude/policy since yesterday, it appears as if Deadline‘s Michael Fleming‘s Oscar-covering press credential ban is being upheld. Nikki Finke revealed early yesterday afternoon that Deadline‘s press pass had been revoked over Finke having posted a spoiler-heavy rundown of the show’s schedule.

“There’s a long history of entertainment journalists besides us publishing multiple scoops about the show during the week leading up to the Academy Awards broadcast, including this year,” Finke claimed. “But none of those news outlets were banned from coverage. True, until now, no media outlet has ever published so many scoops as Deadline...

Calm and Centered

The au natural honesty of Spirit Award winner James Franco‘s press tent q & a was highly appealing. I described a similar vibe on 1.30 after Franco’s appearance at the Santa Barbara Film Festival: “Zen and relaxed and articulate in a kind of shoulder-shrugging way…didn’t try to turn on the charm or win anyone over…’I’m easy, I’ll talk, sure…no worries.'”

Notice the tent material rippling and buckling from the almost gale-force winds. It was by far the chilliest, most assaultive, least physically pleasant Spirit Awards ceremony ever.

Random Spirits


90 minutes before the start of the Spirit Awards, or during the chit-chatty have-a-glass-of-champagne-and-get-mildly-buzzed phase.

Spirit Awards Best Actor winner James Franco — Saturday, 1.26, 2:25 pm..

Best Supporting Actress nominee Melissa Leo — Saturday, 2.26, 1:10 pm.

Exit Through The Gift Shop‘s Thierry Guetta, a.k.a. “Mr. Brainwash.”

L.A. Weekly/Village Voice critic Karina Longworth, Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn at Spirit Awards — Saturday, 2.26, 1:20 pm.

Black Swan Reigns

4:17 iPhone filing: Black Swan has won the Spirit Award for Best Feature. Four of the top five awards nabbed by Aronofsky/Portman/Libatique & Co.

Aronofsky; Portman Over Bening

4:09 iPhone filing: I was expecting Annette Bening to win the Best Actress Spirit Award for The Kids Are All Right, but nope — Natalie Portman has won it for her work in Black Swan. The winner of Sunday night’s Best Actress Oscar is so decided.

3:56 iPhone filing: Black Swan‘s Darren Aronofsky has just won the Spirit Award for Best Director. Affirmative!

Freezing Press Tent

3:47 pm: The Kids Are All Right‘s Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg have won the Spirit Award for Best Screenplay.

3:34 pm: I’ve been working off the laptop battery since 2:15 pm or thereabouts, and I’ve got about 20 minutes left. Thanks, Toshiba! I just plugged into an outlet and the laptop won’t charge so I’m dead. I’ll have to file from the iPhone. This plus the cold blustery winds buffeting the tent…forget it.

3:31 pm: I had to get some food and then answer nature’s call. As I stepped back into the tent John Hawkes had just won the Best Supporting Actor award for his Winters’ Bone performance. Before that The King’s Speech won the Best Foreign Film award. (British is “foreign”?)

3:04 pm: Banksy‘s Exit From...