Sunday, March 4, 2018



Welcome, one and all (probably closer to one… hi, Mom!), to my 13th annual LIVE, moment-by-moment, stream-of-consciousness Oscar commentary! Yup, I’ve decided at the eleventh hour to do this again… maybe for the last time, or maybe not. Who can say! All I know is, we should be in for quite a show tonight. Not only are most of the nominees actually good and worthy contenders, but there should be no shortage of sociopolitical overtones and controversy and maybe even some surprises throughout the night! Let’s just hope that everybody plays nice and opens the correct envelopes.

As for the awards, it should be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out. I will be rooting for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI for Best Picture, personally, but it would not surprise me to see GET OUT or THE SHAPE OF WATER take home the big prize. Not sure I’d bet on any one movie sweeping the show, though -- maybe THREE BILLBOARDS for Best Picture, THE SHAPE OF WATER for Director, and GET OUT for Screenplay? Or some combination of those? Who can say? I fully expect Gary Oldman to take home his first Oscar for his stirring performance as Winston Churchill, but don’t count out the legendary Daniel Day-Lewis or awards circuit darling Timothee Chalamet. Best Actress also seems like a foregone conclusion, and rightly so -- if Frances McDormand doesn’t win, it would be a major shock. Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney seem like locks in the supporting categories, too. Sadly, I do not foresee any gold for LADY BIRD, which is a shame -- but if Greta Gerwig swooped in and snagged Screenplay or Director gold, it would make me very happy.

Meanwhile, Pixar’s COCO looks like arguably the only 100% guaranteed winner of the night for Best Animated Feature. Literally nothing would make me happier than for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI to win Best Score and honor the great John Williams one more time. Best Foreign Film could be a battle between THE SQUARE and A FANTASTIC WOMAN, both of which are excellent. Best Documentary is a strong category but the charming FACES/PLACES seems like the frontrunner. I fear DUNKIRK will be overlooked in the major categories (even though it is far and away the best-directed film) but should clean up with editing and sound. And if anyone needs some short film advice, I’ve got HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 (Documentary), NEGATIVE SPACE (Animated), and DEKALB ELEMENTARY (Live Action) marked on my ballot!

I’ve managed to watch every nominee in every category except for two Best Animated Feature contenders (THE BREADWINNER and FERDINAND, neither of which have a chance to win, anyway), so I can only hope that my musings will be as enjoyable as they are informed. My LIVE running commentary will begin with a peek at Red Carpet Madness at 6:30 p.m. EST sharp, followed by the 90th Academy Awards at 8:00. As always, I’ll be updating this page every few minutes with my with my play-by-play, observations, predictions, reactions, rants, and more -- feel free to bookmark and visit to your heart’s content! I’ll also be tweeting @BenLikesMovies, so by all means follow me there, too. Let’s do this!!!


6:30 – We’re live and I’m watching E! They’ve got some kind of 360-degree fashion camera which is somewhat creepy. Zoey Deutch (no relation) is moving in sparkly slow motion now. And now here’s Ryan Seacrest with the cast of GET OUT, which is a strong contender in most categories. I’ve also heard that the E! pre-show is on a 30-second delay due to new sexual misconduct allegations against Seacrest. Fasten your seatbelts – it’s gonna be a bumpy night!

6:34 – Eiza Gonalzez is now on my TV screen and yellow is suddenly my new favorite color. BABY DRIVER was a good movie, too, and could be a sleeper in the Editing category, though my money is on DUNKIRK. And now here’s Salma Hayek looking lovely in lavender – she was great in a little movie called BEATRIZ AT DINNER, which could have been an Oscar contender in an alternate universe.

6:37 – Rita Moreno is apparently wearing a dress that dates back 1962 when she won the Oscar for WEST SIDE STORY. She then accused Seacrest of reading this fact off the teleprompter, to which he replies, “I can’t read!” Hahaha. Meanwhile, the Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, has arrived, and now the E! talking heads are talking about the new Academy shakeup that has helped the Oscars become slightly less white. Yay progress!

6:42 – I’m going to need a lot less talking and a lot more rapid-fire celebrity acton. Ah, there’s Laura Dern, who had one hell of a year and looks great in white. And Kumail and Emily, yay! I’m rooting for them to win Best Original Screenplay for THE BIG SICK, which was my #2 movie of the year (after THE LAST JEDI), but it may be the longest-shot of the bunch. (The good money is probably on GET OUT.)

6:45 – Oh hey, Eiza Gonzalez and her yellow dress are back. They should just keep an Eiza-cam in the corner of the screen at all times. And now here’s Mary J. Blige, who was great in MUDBOUND, which I don’t think will win anything tonight but is absolutely worth watching on the Netflix. Tiffany Haddish maybe got shafted out of an Oscar nod but she looks regal as hell tonight. And now the ladies are lamenting the fact that Armie Hammer might be too sick to show up tonight… if so, let us all eat a peach in his honor.

6:51 – Incidentally, that was my first CALL ME BY YOUR NAME / peach joke of the night, and probably not the last.

6:59 – Not gonna lie, this red carpet show is pretty boring so far. Too much talking and not enough celeb action. Maybe they’re playing it safe because of the Seacrest allegations? Oh well. I’m switching over to ABC right… now! Haha, and there’s a commercial. D’oh!

7:00 – Daniel Kaluuya kicks off the ABC show. Pretty sure Gary Oldman will win his first-ever Oscar for DARKEST HOUR, and Daniel Day-Lewis is my sentimental favorite, but Kaluuya is a definite contender, especially if GET OUT dominates the night. Tiffany Haddish arrives and she and Daniel do the Wakanda Forever gesture! Good stuff.

7:05 – Tiffany Haddish is looking for Meryl Streep and they are gonna have a conversation. Funny interview! Argh, another commercial! These red carpet telecasts are not cooperating with my blogging mojo.

7:09 – Whoa, I didn’t even recognize Viola Davis for a minute but that pink dress is vibrant as hell. And now here’s Taraji P. Henson, who recently liked one of my Instagram posts which means that we’re basically best friends. (She may have also commented on the post with kisses… read into that however you like!)

7:12 – Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd came to the Oscars today in #MeToo solidarity. They’re giving an excellent speech about the movement and their roles at the forefront. I expect more impassioned speeches and powerful moments throughout the night!

7:16 – Whoopi Goldberg’s dress looks like something she picked up during Mardi Gras, but like, in a good way. And now, um, here’s an Academy intern?! How can I get that job?!

7:20 – As we go to a commercial, in case anyone wants to know who I am wearing… um, a TITANIC t-shirt, STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE PJ pants, and a Rebel Alliance winter hat. Super glamorous, I know. I’d post pics but I don’t want to break the internet.

7:22 – RED ALERT, Margot Robbie is here! She is a perfect specimen and was incredible in I, TONYA. Best Actress is Frances McDormand’s award to lose but I would not argue with a Margot Robbie upset. My girlfriend, Kristin, just pointed out that Margot’s dress looks like it has Christmas tree garland on it. “Pretty garland,” she added. By the way, everybody congratulate Kristin for completing her own quest to see al of the Best Picture nominees! She’s a keeper. :)

7:25 – Jennifer Garner’s dress just blue itself. It is so very, very blue! I like it. And now here’s Guillermo del Toro, who is undeniably awesome. PAN’S LABYRINTH remains a masterpiece, but I have to admit that I didn’t love THE SHAPE OF WATER. It is a sumptuous movie but just didn’t do it for me on an emotional level. That said, I do like the IDEA of a Guillermo del Toro monster movie-slash-romance winning Oscars.

7:30 – That Natalie Portman Dior commercial was super intense. And on that note, I am going to sign off for a half-hour to make cocktails and stuff. I’ll be back at 8 p.m. sharp for the big show!


8:00 – And heeeeeere we go! Some faux-old-time footage kicks off the show. Hey, Armie Hammer showed up, stomach flu and all! He was born when a witch put a curse on a Ken doll! If you loved Gary Oldman in FORREST GUMP… you’re thinking of Gary Sinise! Salma Hayek and the creature from THE SHAPE OF WATER – “looks like Fishy Shades of Grey to me!” Funny start.

8:02 – Greets from Hollywood and Jimmy Kimmel! “This year when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away.” Hahaha he went there quick. Yeah, let’s hope the Price Waterhouse Coopers people aren’t tweeting or taking selfies or whatever this year. Oscar is the most-respected man in Hollywood – keeps his hands where you can see them and no penis at all! Kimmel is killing it out of the gate. And now he’s going after Harvey Weinstein, who was kicked out of the Academy, just like the guy who was caught giving away screeners in 2004! Seems fair!

8:06 – This is a night for positivity, Jimmy says. Giving props to the box office success of BLACK PANTHER and WONDER WOMAN. First-ever female cinematography nominee this year! “If you are a nominee tonight who ISN’T making history – shame on you!”

8:08 – President Trump called GET OUT the best first three-quarters of a movie this year, hahaha. Whose kneecaps did Tonya Harding have to break tom get this dream casting? Everybody loves Timothee Chalamet, who is missing Paw Patrol to be here tonight! Christopher Plummer is 80 years old and still going strong! “How does Lin-Manuel Miranda compare to the real Alexander Hamilton?”

8:11 – Guillermo del Toro shoutout – 2017 is the year that men screwed up so badly that women started dating fish! And now Kimmel is giving out a prize – a brand new jet ski! – for the winner that gives the shortest speech tonight. “Helen Mirren not included!”

8:13 – And here we go with the first award of the evening and it’s Best Supporting Actor. We’ve got a montage of past winners… Jack Palance! Cuba Gooding, Jr. Tommy Lee Jones in THE FUGITIVE – “I don’t care!” The Joker. De Niro. Robin Williams. And the luminous Viola Davis, who is having some mobility issues in that pink dress, is here to present the award. Pretty sure this is Sam Rockwell’s to lose, and rightly so – his performance was complex and outstanding. Willem Dafoe is possibly the biggest upset possibility, which would actually be kinda cool. Woody Harrelson and Richard Jenkins and Christopher Plummer, always good. And the Oscar goes to… SAM ROCKWELL!! The first Oscar for a truly great actor. And hopefully the first of many wins for THREE BILLBOARDS tonight!

8:24 – If your speech runs too long tonight, the guy from GET OUT will run out and yell “get out!” So keep it short, people. And here come two very impossibly beautiful people, Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer, to present Best Makeup and Hairstyling. What the heck is Armie wearing, a velvet suit? Cool. I picked DARKEST HOUR for this one, since Gary Oldman was damn near unrecognizable. But WONDER would be a lovely win. And the Oscar goes to DARKEST HOUR! Hey, I’m two for two!

8:28 – Eva Marie Saint from ON THE WATERFRONT is here to present the award for Best Costume Design and dedicates her applause to her husband who just died. Well now I’m sad. “I just realized something, I’m older than the Academy!” And now I’m laughing again! Eva waxes nostalgic about old Hollywood and now here are the nominees. Gotta go with PHANTOM THREAD for this one – the whole movie is Costume Design! I guess VICTORIA & ABDUL could be an upset contender but the Oscar goes to PHANTOM THREAD! Such a great movie on every level.

8:37 – We’re back and Kristin and I are digging into an epic Italian feast! Meanwhile, BLACK PANTHER just made another $48 million and it is the frontrunner for not getting any Oscar nods next year, heh.  And now here are Greta Gerwig and Laura Dern to present the next award! They both look amazing and are amazing in every way. I’ve been a Greta fan since the mumblecore days so her newfound success and accolades makes me feel very proud and happy. Anyway, they are presenting Best Documentary Feature, which is a strong category. ICARUS is a stunning expose and STRONG ISLAND is very powerful but I gotta go with the charming FACES/PLACES. And the Oscar goes to… ICARUS?!! That’s kind of a surprise but a welcome one! Great film and a big notch in Netflix’s belt!

8:42 – My BFF Taraji P. Henson is here showing off a great deal of leg and introducing Mary J. Blige, who is performing her Best Song contender from MUDBOUND. Good song but I gotta go with the COCO song, or barring that, the GREATEST SHOWMAN song.

8:49 – Update: This is the longest commercial break in Oscar history.

8:51 – Oh, hey, we’re back. And here’s a montage that includes such films as BOYHOOD and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and THE GREEN MILE and METROPOLIS and WILLY WONKA. Not really sure what they’re honoring here… maybe the glory of movies in general? Major LOL at the Robert Downey Jr. from TROPIC THUNDER clip. “I am your father!” Roger Ebert, RIP. Amelie!! Harry Potter! Frodo! THE TEN COMMANDMENTS! GONE WITH THE WIND! THELMA & LOUISE! Wow, this is a long montage. SHAWSHANK! Robin Williams again. STAR TREK. MEN IN BLACK. Whoa, BLACK PANTHER got in there already. 2001. DO THE RIGHT THING. HUNGER GAMES segue into ROBIN HOOD. And by the way, the LOVE ACTUALLY theme is playing in the background. BIG, SOUND OF MUSIC, some Disney in there, WONDER WOMAN, THE MATRIX, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth! PLATOON, AMADEUS, CASABLANCA, and it’s a thank you to 90 years of movies! Yay movies!

8:57 – Eiza Gonalzez and Ansel Elgort from BABY DRIVER are here to presrnt the award for Best Sound Editing, for which BABY DRIVER is a nominee. However I think DUNKIRK has to win this one, and the Oscar goes to DUNKIRK!! Such a technical marvel of a film. (Though I would not have been disappointed if STAR WARS had stolen that one.) And now it’s time for Sound Mixing, which I believe will also go to DUNKIRK. Though they showed a Porg in the Star Wars clip, which is a pretty good argument in its favor. But no, the Oscar goes to DUNKIRK again and my ballot is looking good so far! Five out of six! (And Kristin is six for six!)

9:07 – Jimmy Kimmel asks some guy named Steven (actually Kate Capshaw’s husband) if he has any pot and hey, he might! And here are Lupita looking luminous and statuesque in black & gold, and Kumail Nanjiani, whose real name is Chris Pine! (But not the white Chris Pine.) Someone should make a rom-com starring Lupita and Kumail! In the meantime, Best Production Design.. I’m going with BLADE RUNNER 2049 because there’s so much going on there. But the Oscar goes to THE SHAPE OF WATER! Could this be the first of many awards for del Toro’s monster romance? We shall see!

9:12 – Ooh I think we’re about to get a performance of “Remember Me” from COCO. That movie is wonderful and the song is lovely. Okay, well, Gael Garcia Bernal did not do a great job of singing live, but this guy Miguel is picking up the slack. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN song is gonna be tough to beat but I hope COCO wins!

9:20 – Hehe they’re sweetening the pot for the shortest-speech with a trip to glamorous Lave Havasu, or some such place! And now, following a WEST SIDE STORY clip, here’s the great Rita Moreno presenting the nominees for Best Foreign Film! A FANTASTIC WOMAN is a definite possibility thanks to its outstanding lead performance. I loved LOVELESS, a brutal and cold entry from Russia. ON BODY AND SOUL is weird and great. I’ve got THE SQUARE on my ballot which I think is the best and most thought-provoking overall but the Oscar goes to A FANTASTIC WOMAN! Damn, I should’ve gone with my gut on that one. My ballot is staring to take a hit but Kristin is still a perfect eight for eight! Go Kristin!

9:25 – Looks like we’ve got a women in film montage now and I am here for it! Oh wait, no, it’s a Best Supporting Actress montage, which I realized after they showed Marisa Tomei in MY COUSIN VINNY – still one of the all-time great Oscar shockers. This year’s nominees are very solid. Mary J. Blige was great in MUDBOUND. Allison Janney was memorably despicable in I, TONYA. Lesley Manville could do more with a glance and pursed lips in PHANTOM THREAD than most actors can do in their entire careers. Laurie Metcalf was amazing in LADY BIRD. Octavia Spencer, always solid, but probably overshadowed here. And the Oscar goes to ALLISON JANNEY! Her first Oscar nod and win! “I did it all by myself,” she says! A much-deserved win for a long-underrated actress.

9:35 – Our next presenters come to us from a galaxy far, far away!!! It’s STAR WARS time!!! And here’s Jimmy Kimmel’s nine-year-old self, who is not a very good actor. And here come Poe, Rose, BB-8, and of course, BEARDED JEDI LUKE!!! They tell some bad jokes that are probably funnier in hyperspace and I think they’re presenting the award for Best Animated Short – for a change I’m not going with Pixar (though LOU was great) – I’ve got the funny, dark, and poignant NEGATIVE SPACE on my ballot, but the Oscar goes to DEAR BASKETBALL?!? Ah, that sucks – the first truly disappointing winner of the night. Kobe Bryant now has as many Oscars as Sam Rockwell. Booooo!

9:39 – The Star Wars folks are still up there to present Best Animated Feature, the only category in which I did NOT see every nominee! But that’s okay, because COCO is the only 100% guaranteed winner in any category tonight. And the Oscar goes to COCO!! HAIL PIXAR FOREVER!!

9:43 – Daniela Vega was outstanding in A FANTASTIC WOMAN and she is here to introduce the performance of the Oscar-nominated song from CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. What song is this again? Oh, yeah, this is a good song, and that end scene by the fireplace is one for the ages. It’s not gonna win but I like it!

9:47 – Commercial break but I just want to point out that I’ve just dipped into my Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon and it is goooooood. Will probably drink that for the rest of the night, so be forewarned!

9:52 – Oh, we’re back from commercial but I was too busy looking at a GIF of Oscar Isaac rubbing BB-8’s belly. Is it too late to scrap the Han Solo film and give us the Poe Dameron / BB-8 buddy film we deserve?? Anyway, the award for Best Visual Effects is up next. This has to go to WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, which has taken motion-capture technology to crazy new levels of realism – plus it would be a way to honor Andy Serkis’s performance. But the Oscar goes to BLADE RUNNER 2049!? Wow!! That’s kind of shocker!? I mean, that movies definitely looked great but I felt it was more a testament to its cinematography. Craziness!

9:55 – Alright, alright, alright, it’s McConaughey time. (Pronounced McConaug-HEEEEEE according to the voiceover lady.) He’s presenting Best Editing and I am all-in for DUNKIRK for this one. BABY DRIVER is fast-paced and fun and I, TONYA is a definite possibility but the Oscar goes to DUNKIRK!! A technical marvel of a film so this is much deserved. Hehe, this guy is an editor so he thinks he can wrap up his speech quickly. I believe DUNKIRK is currently leading the pack with three wins so far – not sure if this means anything for Best Director later, but here’s hoping!

10:00 – Okay, Jimmy Kimmel is doing a bit where a bunch of stars are going across the street to a movie theatre where an unsuspecting audience is watching a sneak preview of A WRINKLE IN TIME. They’re going to surprise the moviegoing public! Mark Hamill, Guillermo del Toro, Emily Blunt, and others are on the way across the street. This could be funny or terrible! Stay tuned!

10:05 – We’re back from commercial and across the street. Holy shit, Gal Gadot and Margot Robbie and Lupita are there, too. Wonder Woman and Luke Skywalker are shooting the shit while we wait. And the movie stars are in the theatre and the audience is going crazy! Though, not gonna lie, if I was sitting there enjoying A WRINKLE IN TIME, I would be pissed at first if a bunch of people walked in making noise. Though I’d probably get over it pretty quick when I realized that Mark Hamill was there. They’ve got a hot dog cannon, by the way. “WHO WANTS A HOT DOG?!” Do not aim the hot dog cannon at the vegetarians! Wait a minute… another serious question… why are these people not home watching the Oscars??

10:10 – Back to the show! Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph are here to present the next award, and they’re wondering whether the Oscars are too black now?! Hahahaha! No, wait, don’t worry – there’s plenty more white people to come! Good stuff. Best Doc Short is the next award. Oh my God, EDITH+EDDIE is devastating. I love love love HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405. My friend Emily was the music supervisor for KNIFE SKILLS so that’s my sentimental fav! “Hi Meryl,” Tiffany says, “I want you be my mama one day.” And the Oscar goes to HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405!!! YAYAYAYA!!! Such a wonderful film. Seek it out immediately. The first win to make me super happy tonight!

10:14 – Tiffany and Maya congratulate each other on their respective body fluid scenes in GIRLS TRIP and BRIDESMAIDS. Hehe, their legends are cemented. Best Live Action Short is up next. I’m rooting for THE SILENT CHILD, which is a devastating and lovely, and HOLY SHIT, THE SILENT CHILD wins!!! I can’t believe it!!! Seriously thought DEKALB ELEMENTARY would win this one out of sheer timeliness, but wow!! I am very happy right now!!

10:18 – Dave Chappelle comes out to “a smattering of applause,” heh, to introduce the nominated song from MARSHALL, which is the only nominated song that rings absolutely no bells in my head. Gonna take this opportunity to fix myself another bourbon.

10:25 – Annabella Sciorra, Ashley Judd, and Salma Hayek are here to promote empowerment and change and remind everyone that TIME’S UP! They’re introducing a montage of this year’s cinematic trailblazers – GET OUT, MUDBOUND, Greta Gerwig and LADY BIRD, Kumail Nanjiani, A FANTASTIC WOMAN, oh there’s BEATRIZ AT DINNER, which maybe should have gotten some Oscar love. Hey, it’s Geena Davis! Now I want to watch A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. STRONG ISLAND was a great documentary. Haha, Emily Gordon wants to make a website called “Muslims Having Fun.” WONDER WOMAN! BLACK PANTHER! So badass. I hope Ava DuVernay gets to make a Star Wars film someday…

10:30 – Black Panther and Tonya Harding are here tossing out movie quotes because they are presenting Best Adapted Screenplay! CALL MY BY YOUR NAME seems like a veritable lock here. THE DISASTER ARTIST is great, but I think it lost some steam thanks to James Franco’s actions. So awesome that LOGAN got a nomination! It is tremendous. MOLLY’S GAME is good but probably a requisite nod for Aaron Sorkin. MUDBOUND, so good, but the Oscar goes to James Ivory for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. Can’t argue with that. Haha, he’s wearing a Timothee Chalamet shirt with his tux. That’s brilliant cross-category promotion!

10:35 – Nicole Kidman looks like a glorious statue at the entrance to a museum dedicated to Nicole Kidman. She’s presenting Best Original Screenplay, which is a big one that could set the tone for the rest of the night! I’m rooting for THE BIG SICK, which was my #2 movie of the year, though it stands no chance. Would looooove to see LADY BIRD or THREE BILLBOARDS win, but nope, the Oscar goes to Jordan Peele for GET OUT!! Huge ovation which is gonna mess up Jordan’s jet ski! GET OUT is a great and brilliantly written film, so I cannot argue with this win. I just wonder what it means for the rest of the night. My thought is that the wealth will be spread around, meaning that del Toro wins Director and THREE BILLBOARDS wins Picture… but we shall see!

10:43 – I believe we are now getting a montage of military-themed movies, which is interesting. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. ZERO DARK THIRTY. THE HURT LOCKER. THE DEER HUNTER. Lots more. Haha, Jimmy Kimmel apologizes to the military for including Matt Damon in the montage. That’s the joke that just keeps on giving.

10:46 – Yay, Sandra Bullock! “It’s really bright,” she says about the set, and asks them to lower the light to bring her down to age 35. Hehe. Eat your heart out, Gal Gadot. And now it’s time for Best Cinematography, which, for fuck’s sake, HAS to go to the great Roger Deakins for BLADE RUNNER 2049. The man has been nominated like a thousand times for some of the most iconic movies of all time and has never won!! And the Oscar goes to… ROGERS DEAKINS!! FINALLY!! Fourteen nominations and his first win!! He easily could have won any number of times but BLADE RUNNER sure did look good. Yay Deakins!

10:50 – Zendaya is now here to introduce that song from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, which is quite ubiquitous at this point. They played it during the Olympics closing ceremony for Christ’s sake! Good song, though. This performance is rousing and all but where the hell is the bearded lady’s beard?!

10:57 – Christopher. Walken. Is here. To present the. Next award. Wowie wow! He’s presenting Best Original Score. Ughhhh nothing on this night would make me happier than if John Williams won. COME ON. HE HASN’T WON SINCE 1994 AND HE’S NOT GOING TO BE HERE FOREVER. GIVE THE MAN ANOTHER MOMENT OF GLORY. That being said, PHANTOM THREAD has a great score, too. And the Oscar goes to the most boring of all the nominees, THE SHAPE OF WATER. Fart noise.

11:01 – Kristin just pointed out that the category is written in HUGE FONT on the envelopes this year, presumably to prevent any snafus. Hehe. Oh, here’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt to present Best Original Song (which unfortunately is the category in which Lin got robbed out of an EGOT last year). Guessing the GREATEST SHOWMAN will win this once but I’m rooting for “Remember Me,” and holy shit, the OScar goes to “Remember Me!” That’s awesome! Such a lovely song that forms the basis of the entire story of COCO. So happy it won!

11:04 – Jennifer Garner’s dress is so blue! Ah, crap, she’s here to introduce the In Memoriam segment. Somehow I completely forgot that this would be happening. Eddie Vedder is going to perform a song by the late TOm Petty and here we go. Harry Dean Stanton. Johann Johannson, so tragic. Jonathan Demme. John Heard. Martin Landau. Roger Moore is Bond, James Bond. George freakin’ Romero! Don Rickles. Jerry Lewis, oh yeah… when can we see THE DAY THE CLOWN DIED??

11:09 – Update: THEY LEFT OUT TOBE HOOPER. Terrible.

11:12 – Here comes Emma Stone, who won Best Actress last year, so I naturally assumed she was presenting Best Actor, but nope, she’s presenting Best Director. “These four men and Greta Gerwig…” ooh she said that! I’m rooting for Christopher Nolan, whose mastery of his craft is unmatched. But I have a feeling that Guillermo del Toro is going to take this one, and indeed, the Oscar goes to Guillermo del Toro for THE SHAPE OF WATER. I didn’t love the movie but there’s no denying that it is lovely and well-crafted, and besides, del Toro is awesome. Very nice and emotional speech. So now GET OUT has won a big one, THE SHAPE OF WATER has won a big one, and THREE BILLBOARDS already won one acting award and will likely win an even bigger one shortly. What does this mean for Best Picture? NO ONE KNOWS.

11:19 – Best Actor montage is happening now and it is pretty cool! Just hearing Don Corleone’s voice makes me want to watch THE GODFATHER 1 & 2 back to back immediately. Oh man, Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren are here to raise some hell. And here are the nominees. Timothee Chalamet is fantastic in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME and likely has a long and rich career ahead of him. If PHANTOM THREAD is Daniel Day-Lewis’s final film, he has gone out with quite a bang – it would be so awesome if he won his third Oscar. Daniel Kaluuya may be a sentimental favorite based on the reaction he just got from the Oscar audience but I’d be shocked if he won. Gary Oldman has amazingly never won an Oscar before! His transformation into Winston Churchill was astonishing and blistering. Denzel… well, he was very good, but I’;m convinced that he only got nominated because people didn’t want to vote for James Franco. And the winner is GARY OLDMAN! Yay, Sirius Black!

11:28 – Best Actress montage! I’m too tipsy to rattle off everything I’m seeing, but I will say that Kathy Bates in MISERY is one of my fav Oscar wins of all time. Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster are here to present the award in a major break from tradition. Holy shit, J-Law is super tall and Jodie Foster is on crutches. WHAT DID TONYA HARDING DO TO JODIE FOSTER?! Oh, nevermind, it was all Streep’s doing. And here are the Best Actress nominees. Sally Hawkins, always good. Frances McDormand is a force of nature and absolutely must win. Margot Robbie, remarkable. Saoirse Ronan is a three-time Oscar nominee already and will likely be back again soon. And o course, the great Streep, who is in the unusual position of having absolutely no shot this year! And the Oscar goes to FRANCES McDORMAND!! YES!! She is going to bring the house down and it is going to be cool.

11:34 – Frances McDormand is hyperventilating a little bit but she HAS SOME THINGS TO SAY. Oh shit son! She’s asking every female nominee in every category to stand up and take a bow! “Meryl, if you do it, everyone will!” Hugely powerful moment! Yay Frances! Yay women!

11:39 – Jimmy Kimmel wishes he was a woman. We all do! And with that, we’re at the end of the line, and here come our old friends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to hopefully redeem themselves after last year’s Best Picture debacle. “Presenting is lovelier the second time around,” Faye says. And here come the Best Pic nominees. It could go in any number of directions! PHANTOM THREAD is yet another masterwork to add to Paul Thomas Anderson’s collection. DARKEST HOUR, very good and rousing. THREE BILLBOARDS, absolutely brilliantly written and acted and loaded with complexities that the other nominees cannot match. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, so good and emotional. GET OUT, powerful and timely and terrifying. DUNKIRK, intense and impeccably crafted. THE POST, entertaining and well acted and a worthy combination of Spielberg, Streep, and Hanks. LADY BIRD, a wonderful coming-of-age tale driven by Greta Gerwig’s singular cinematic voice. THE SHAPE OF WATER, a freakin’ Guillermo del Toro monster movie love story. You really can’t go wrong with any of these but some would make me happier than others. And the Oscar goes to… THE SHAPE OF WATER. Well, okay.

11:48 – Haha, the Costume Designer won the jet ski and that’s the end of the show! Goodnight everybody! Fart noise!

Well, that was a fun show, all in all! Mostly happy with the winners, and indeed, I went 15-for-24, which is way better than usual! (Kristin also went 15-for-24, so we are well met!) THE SHAPE OF WATER is probably my least favorite of the nine Best Picture nominees, but it is still a very good movie, and you gotta love Guillermo del Toro, so I’ll allow it even though I was underwhelmed in the moment. The acting awards fell exactly as expected (and rightly so) and pretty much all of the awards were spread pretty evenly among all the top contenders. THREE BILLBOARDS got a couple, DUNKIRK got a bunch of technicals, I, TONYA got one, GET OUT got one, PHANTOM THREAD got one. Not many major surprises, but BLADE RUNNER 2049 winning for Visual FX over APES was an eye opener. I guess my most pleasant surprise wins were HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 for Doc Short and THE SILENT CHILD for Live Action Short, because I didn’t think either one stood a chance against their more politically-conscious competitors. Speaking of which, there were lots of great and empowering moments throughout the telecast, too (hashtag Inclusion Rider). And everything went off without a hitch! How about that! Cheers to anyone and everyone who swung by and sifted through these nearly 6,000 words – I love movies and I love you all! Until next year…!?

Sunday, February 26, 2017



Welcome, friends, Twitter followers, Instagram stalkers, my mom, and anyone else who may have stumbled upon my 12th annual LIVE, moment-by-moment, stream-of-consciousness Oscar commentary! What’s that? You thought I was retiring from this foolishness after last year? Well, yes, I did say that… but dammit, I just can’t stay away. Two-thousand and sixteen may have been a dumpster fire in most aspects of the world, but it happened to be a truly great year for movies. Between the quality of the nominees and swirling controversy of all kinds, it should be a fun and interesting night, to say the least!

Although my personal #1 movie of the year (SING STREET) was sadly overlooked, four of the nine Best Picture nominees were in my Top 10 of the year. Not only that, but in a rare alignment, I didn’t actively dislike ANY of the nominees! They’re all really good in their own rights, and in some cases, may have been the favorite in past years. This year, however, it’s pretty much a two-horse race between LA LA LAND and MOONLIGHT. I loved both movies but I’ll be on the side of the fools who dream tonight. LA LA LAND received 14 nominations and should (deservedly) win most of them -- but it would not at all surprise me to see MOONLIGHT (deservedly) snag a few, including the big prize.

On the acting side, the only 100% lock is Viola Davis for Supporting Actress. Other than that, anything can happen. I’ll be rooting for Casey Affleck for Best Actor because (personal controversy aside) his performance is by far the most potently nuanced -- but don’t count out Denzel and his over-the-top screen presence. With all due respect to the great Streep and her record-breaking 20th nomination, it looks like a close race between luminous Emma Stone and legendary Isabelle Huppert for Best Actress, but personally, I’d love to see the wonderful Ruth Negga pull off an upset. (Of course, the real best performance by an actress in 2016 -- Amy Adams in ARRIVAL -- was this year’s most egregious acting snub. Boo.) I think Supporting Actor has to go to MOONLIGHT’s Mahershala Ali, but how cool would it be to see the great Michael Shannon finally get some long overdue kudos? Best Director, too, should be a close contest between Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins… but man, imagine the universal outrage that would erupt if, say, Mel Gibson were to win.

Meanwhile, I would love love love to see MOANA overcome some serious competition from not one but TWO LA LA LAND tunes to win Best Song, thus securing an EGOT for Lin-Manuel Miranda -- history has its eyes on you, Academy! Disney gave us a double-dose of greatness in 2016 with MOANA and ZOOTOPIA, the latter of which appears to be the one to beat for Animated Feature -- unless Laika’s KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS pulls off a stunning upset (I hope not). TONI ERDMANN is by far the best of the Foreign Film contenders and should get the gold. Documentary Feature is a strong category full of important, must-watch films, but I gotta go with the incredible and immersive O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA. And if anyone needs some short film advice, I’ve got JOE’S VIOLIN (Documentary), PEARL (Animated), and THE WOMAN AND THE TGV (Live Action) marked on my ballot. Incidentally, it’s worth noting that for only the third time ever, I’ve seen EVERY Oscar nominee in EVERY category! So you can expect all of my insight and snark to be well-educated tonight

Of course, the socio-political commentary should be even more heated and rampant than usual. Does the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag still apply or will diversity reign? How many acceptance speeches will rail against our orange-faced, thin-skinned, tiny-handed president?? WHAT WILL MERYL STREEP SAY??? My LIVE running commentary will begin with Red Carpet Madness at 7 p.m. EST sharp, followed by the 89th Academy Awards at 8:30. I’ll be updating this blog every few minutes with my play-by-play, observations, predictions, reactions, rants, and musings. (And yes, I’ll be drinking heavily, but my drink of choice is to be determined – I’m currently leaning towards a steady diet of Manhattans but we’ll see what happens.) Feel free to bookmark this page and check back often... or keep your browser right here and click “refresh” over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. I’ll also be tweeting @BenLikesMovies, so by all means follow me there, too. ‘Til later... the Force is with me and I am one with the Force....


7:00 – Okay, gang, let’s jump right into this because I’ve been watching this stuff all day and am already one Manhattan in. So far, I’ve seen Taraji P. Henson’s banging curves and Lin-Manuel Miranda cry, so we’re off to a good start!

7:03 – Andrew Garfield is speaking about his movie, HACKSAW RIDGE, which was good and he was the best thing about it… but it could be argued that he should’ve been nominated for Scorsese’s SILENCE instead. Of course, someday, he will probably be nominated again for playing the title role in a biopic about British tennis star Andy Murray.

7:05 – Wait, John Legend is performing the LA LA LAND songs tonight? What, are Ryan and Emma too busy? Too bad. But at least Legend’s presence gives us a reason to hear Crissy Teigen potentially say something funny. And there it is! SHUT UP, MICHAEL!

7:09 – Major update from the live-blog headquarters, where my girlfriend, Kristin, and I have completed out Oscar ballots and they are wildly different ! For one thing, she picked MOONLIGHT for Best Picture, whereas I am decidedly #TeamLaLaLand. This is gonna be good, folks!

7:11 – Dev Patel is cool. But if I’m giving kudos to an actor from Lion, I gotta go with Sunny Pawar, who commanded the first half of that film (and has been commanding the red carpet) like a champ. (For what it’s worth, the second half almost lost me until the ending won me back. Solid film.)

7:13 – And now here’s everyone’s favorite Asian action hero, Matt Damon! Why is he there? Oh, he’s a producer of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. God that movie was sad. On the right side of the screen is lovely Teresa Palmer, and now the cast of MOONLIGHT looking dapper.

7:16 – EVERYONE SHUT UP, RUTH NEGGA IS BACK ON MY TV SCREEN. She looks like a classic Hollywood photograph brought to life. She probably has little chance of winning Best Actress tonight, but this is my #1 most-wanted upset. LOVING is a wonderful film and she is wonderful in it.

7:17 – Isabelle Huppert, meanwhile, commands every camera that focuses on her. She is a legend and could easily win tonight, which would be interesting because on one hand, everyone loves her, but on the other hand, ELLE is a very divisive film.

7:23 – I just saw Janelle Monae, who looks like a magnificent statue that should be on display in a museum dedicated to Janelle Monae. Yowza. And now here’s Sting, who is cool because he named himself a verb. (He isn’t winning an Oscar tonight, but that James Foley movie is very good.)

7:24 – Isabelle Huppert is back and I pity the foolish red carpet interviewer who asks her something stupid. As of now, she is showing tremendous patience with this ridiculous American nonsense, but really, she could destroy us all at any moment.

7:30 – I appreciate Jessica Biel’s trash talk on behalf of Justin Timberlake, but let’s be real – if he wins for that bullshit TROLLS song, it would be one of the biggest potential travesties of the night.

7:33 – Holy Halle Berry’s hair! Does it have its own Twitter account yet? Pretty sure it has its own zip code. By the way, remember that time Halle Berry won an Oscar?

7:35 – Lin-Manuel and his mom are back! Lin’s favorite Oscar moment was the performance of “Under the Sea” from THE LITTLE MERMAID, which was also the year of the Billy Crystal / Jack Palance jokes, which was also the year I first really got into the Oscars! UPTOWN NEIGHBORS UNITE!

7:39 – Wait, actually, Lin-Manuel got that wrong. The Jack Palance jokes occurred in the 1992 show. He must have been mixing up THE LITTLE MERMAID and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. But that’s okay! We can still hang out in the neighborhood!

7:42 – First glimpse of Emma Stone and she looks luminous. And now here’s Octavia Spencer, who will be playing God in some upcoming Christian movie. I will not see that because I hate those Christian propaganda movies, but I do like the idea of Octavia playing God in, say, another BRUCE ALMIGHTY-type comedy.

7:45 – Viola Davis the the one and only 100% surefire lock among the acting awards. If she did not win, the world would probably implode. Meanwhile, Kirsten Dunst is here, and Kristin just pointed out that she looks like a Barbie doll. It is kind of disconcerting.

7:48 – The red carpet action is fast and furious and I can’t keep up! It doesn’t help that I’m eating Domino’s pizza with extra sauce! (Yeah, that’s right!)

7:52 – Now here’s Ryan Gosling looking extra-dapper (is his tux wool?) and making all of us dudes feel bad about ourselves. I don’t THINK he will win tonight, but it could happen in the event of complete LA LA LAND domination. Of course, even if he loses, he’s still Ryan Gosling, so he wins and we lose.

7:54 – Nice to see Casey Affleck get a haircut and trim his beard for the occasion. Look, I realize that there’s a whirlwind of controversy surrounding this guy, but the fact is that his performance is the best, most nuanced, and most heart-wrenching of all the nominated actors.

7:55 – Remember when Nicole Kidman looked like an alien for a while and it was scary? Well, she no longer looks like an alien and it’s a relief. She looks great. Maybe it took a few years for the Scientology to purge itself from her system.

7:56 – Emma Stone kind of looks like a mini Oscar, if Oscar statues had frills around the legs. Point being, Emma rules. I hope she and Ryan Gosling continue to make movies together until the day they die (ideally together in a suicide pact so one of them isn’t left alone).

8:00 – Oh, it’s 8:00. I’m actually going to sign off for a half-hour to eat more pizza and make another drink and get ready for the big show. But first, I must point out that I just spied Brie Larson and she may be winning the red carpet with her elegant black number. Holy moley. Be back soon!


8:30 – Aaaaaaand we’re off! And it’s Justin Timberlake kicking things off with what will surely be a rousing performance of the shitty song from TROLLS! He’s making his way through the aisles and Jeff Bridges and Charlize Theron love it! Okay, this song is catchy, I have to admit. But the movie sucked and this song better not even sniff at the possibility of winning.

8:33 – The song is still happening and everyone is having a great time. Nicole Kidman is rocking out and Justin calls out Denzel. Dev Patel’s mom is having fun, and I think I just saw Meryl Streep. Michael Shannon doesn’t really know what the hell is going on!! Hahaha! I’m gonna need a GIF of that to use regularly.

8:35 – Okay, that performance was better than the song itself. And now here’s Jimmy Kimmel, who I think should do a good job tonight. Haha, Jimmy Kimmel cannot unite us – there’s only one Braveheart in the room and he’s not going to unite us, either! And now Jimmy is going to bury the hatchet with his old nemesis, Matt Damon. This is good! Jimmy wants to say thank you to President Trump – remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?? Meanwhile, this year, black people saved NASA and white people saved Jazz… that’s progress!

8:39 – Amazon produced MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, which is a fun movie. Lots of sad nominees this year… the only happy ending is the one in the middle of MOONLIGHT! HAHAHAHA! It’s true… bleak world begets bleak movies. Jimmy is glad that homeland security let Isabelle Huppert into the show tonight. Lots of jokes about little-seen movies, including Viggo’s CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. And heeeere’s the uninspiring and overrated Meryl Streep! She has phoned it in for over 50 films -- get her out of there! And now a standing ovation for no discernible reason! GO MERYL! Jimmy Kimmel has officially killed this monologue.

8:44 – Kicking off the award portion of the evening with a montage of Supporting Actor winners, ahhh, there’s the aforementioned Jack Palance! And so many other greats I couldn’t possibly up. Alicia Vikander now walks out to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” for some reason and here come the nominees. Mahershala Ali was amazing in MOONLIGHT and should be the favorite here. Can’t count out the Dude, who commanded the exceptional modern western, HELL OR HIGH WATER. Lucas Hedges held his own and then some in the brutal MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (side note: Kristin picked him on her ballot!). Dev Patel was great in LION but, as mentioned, was kind of overshadowed by the little kid. Michael Shannon has been one of our best actors for a long time and it would be pretty great to see him steal one here. And the Oscar goes to… MAHERSHALA ALI! Very cool and well deserved – if the three generations of the main character were the heart of MOONLIGHT, he was definitely the soul. Emotional speech. His wife just had a baby four days ago! D’awwwww.

8:55 – “Everything in Awesome” as the show comes back from commercial, and indeed, we’re off to an awesome start. Did Jeff Bridges bring his vape pen, Jimmy Kimmel wants to know? And now he’s kicking out any media outlets with the word “Times” in their names – including Medieval Times. And now here come two funny people, Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman, to present some awards. Kate’s gonna set it up and Jason’s gonna spike it! First, Best Makeup/Hairstyling. Meh to the MAN CALLED OVE. STAR TREK is the best of these by default. SUICIDE SQUAD, also kind of meh. And the Oscar goes to SUICIDE SQUAD! Color me surprised! The D.C. fanboys and girls are going to revel in this for a long time.

9:00 – And now the achievement for Costume Design! ALLIED was a good-looking, if somewhat unmemorable, film. I really loved FANTASTIC BEASTS and it looked great. FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, meh. JACKIE has a good shot. But I think this is going to be the first of many trophies for LA LA LAND. And the Oscar goes to… FANTASTIC BEASTS!! WOW! I seriously can’t believe it. FANTASTIC BEASTS was so good and helped ease our Election Night pain in much the same way that the first POTTER film helped ease our post-9/11 pain. Plus, the costumes were on point (or maybe the Oscar voters just missed the sight of Hogwarts scarves as much as we did). First round at the wizard speakeasy is on me after the show!

9:07 – We’re back and Jimmy points out that it’s been a great year for superheroes – Doctor Strange was nominated for Best Visual Effects AND named Director of Housing and Urban Development! nd now here come the awesome ladies of HIDDEN FIGURES looking like like they should be epic monuments atop grandiose buildings. Or something, I don’t know, just work with me here. They bring out one of the actual Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson, and this is very cool. They are also introducing the nominees for Best Documentary Feature. FIRE AT SEA is a powerful film about refugees. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, about race relations. LIFE, ANIMATED is a wonderful film about an autistic kid who learns to communicate via the power of Disney animation. The seven-hour O.J. doc is incredible and speaks for itself. And 13th is powerful and must be seen. And the Oscar goes to O.J.: MADE IN THE AMERICA. That was my pick because it was just so well done but I wasn’t sure it would actually win. Man, between this and THE PEOPLE vs. O.J. SIMPSON, what a year it was for that slice of mid-‘90s history (and let’s face it – heavy nostalgia because I remember watching that shit like it was yesterday).

9:13 – Hahahaha, even Mel Gibson couldn’t deal with that O.J. joke. And now here’s the Rock, who is NOT here to sing his song from MOANA, but to introduce one of the most-anticipated moments of the show! It’s Lin-Manuel Miranda rapping an introduction for the young actress who plays MOANA and sings this excellent song! If my niece was watching the Oscars right now, she would be singing along doing an interpretative dance and it would be awesome. Please, God, let this song win tonight and secure Lin-Manuel’s EGOT (or EPGOT, if you count the Pulitzer!). On another note, I’m going to need a GIF of Auli'i Cravalho getting hit in the head with one of those blue curtain props (but kudos to her for not missing a beat – major poise!).

9:24 – The president of the Academy is here to talk about diversity and the power of art and the magic of movies. Meanwhile, the President of the United States is probably looking at his tiny hands in the mirror and trying to convince himself that they’re normal sized. And now candy is falling from the ceiling! “Next year, we should give out the awards this way,” Jimmy says. That would actually be cool. And now here’s Chris Evans and, um, someone named Sophia presenting the awards for Best Sound Editing. ARRIVAL, DEEPWATER HORIZION, HACKSAW RIDGE, LA LA LAND, and SULLY, but I think the LA LA train begins now. And the Oscar goes to ARRIVAL!! Wow… LA LA hasn’t won anything yet! I’m shocked. But if this opens the door for ARRIVAL to steal a few more, it won’t be so bad!

9:29 – Sound Mixing next ! ARRIVAL again… HACKSAW RIDGE… LA LA LAND… ROGUE ONE, hey, that’d be cool… and 13 HOURS… and the Oscar goes to HACKSAW RIDGE, holy shit!! This is amazing because (a) LA LA lost again, and (b) the sound mixer for this movie has finally won for the first time in 21 tries! Go sound mixer guy! That guy is cool but I think there’s some definite LA LA backlash rearing its head here. Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy night!

9:37 – Sorry, I got sidetracked gazing upon my adorable little kitten who is snuggled up in the blankets behind me. Vince Vaughn is here and I think he’s talking about the Governor’s Awards? Yeah, he is. Frederick Wiseman is good at documentaries and Jackie Chan is good at martial arts. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to quickly pour myself another Manhattan!

9:39 – No, wait, just kidding, my drink can wait! Hattie McDaniel just popped up on the screen and I think this is a Best Supporting Actress montage. So many great moments there and now here’s Mark Rylance to present the award. He’s wearing a hat and is owning it – maybe he could play the Peddler in my long-gestating adaptation of the children’s book CAPS FOR SALE. Anyway, this category is full of strong contenders but Viola Davis is going to win so I’m not going to bother going through them all. (That said, Naomie Harris could be a sleeper threat.) Ah, I knew they were going to use that scene for Michelle Williams. And the Oscar goes to VIOLA DAVIS, Rylance says casually, because obviously. Viola is going to lay the smackdown on the world with her words right now. Pretty sure she is going to win an Emmy for this speech… powerful stuff. Go Viola!

9:54 – First of all, Jimmy Kimmel just totally stole the Viola Davis / Emmy award speech that I made a few minutes ago. FUCK YOU, KIMMEL. And now something weird is happening with a tour bus outside? I don’t know. And now Charlize Theron is talking about how much she loves THE APARTMENT. This is kind of cool. I want to know what Sunny Pawar’s favorite movie is next. Ah, and now Charlize comes out with Shirley Maclaine to complete the segment. It’s the loudest reception Shirley has had in 250,000 years! They are presenting the award for Best Foreign Film. Strong category here, starting with Denmark’s LAND OF MINE (the weakest of the bunch). A MAN CALLED OVE is good. Australia’s TANNA is a remarkable achievement. Germany’s TONI ERDMANN is amazing and there’s already a remake planned starring Kristen Wiig and Jack Nicholson. And THE SALESMAN, which is great, but I think will only win if they want to turn this into a political statement. And the Oscar goes to THE SALESMAN!! Oh shit, here we go. Asghar Farhadi is boycotting the show and a statement is being read in his stead. I have mixed feelings about this because I’d rather give the award to the actual best nominee, which is TONI ERDMANN by a long shot, but can’t argue with the huge middle finger to our orange asshole of a President.

10:02 – I missed the entire Sting segment because I was looking at my ballot, but there was a statement at the end about the power of journalism, which is important! Fun fact: I was a journalism major in college. I did not go into the heart of ISIS but I did write an article about the opening of the Greenwich Village K-Mart in 1998. Hey, it was controversial at the time! Um, let’s move on.

10:07 – This tour bus thing is stupid but it IS potentially better than the running briefcase joke that bombed for Neil Patrick Harris a few years ago. Hailee Steinfield has true grit and she is here with Gael Garcia Bernal to present Animated Short Film! These are generally solid but I really loved PEARL, which filled me with melancholic and nostalgic goodness. Can’t count out Pixar’s PIPER, though. And the Oscar goes to… PIPER. Okay, fine, it was freaking adorable.

10:10 – Gael condemns the concept of walls and now it’s time for Best Animated Feature! Disney gave us a double-dose of greatness last year and one of them will surely win. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS could be a contender, though. And the Oscar goes to ZOOTOPIA!! I tend to lean towards MOANA, myself, but cannot argue with this one. ZOOTOPIA is great and smart and timely. The New Golden Age of Disney lives on!

10:13 – Oh God, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are here to present an award. Dakota is great and deserves better in this world, but Jamie needs to be swept under the rug forever after the FIFTY SHADES films are mercifully over. They are presenting Best Production Design, which may now go to FANTASTIC BEASTS following its shocking Costume Design win?? I don’t know what to think anymore… as long as PASSENGERS doesn’t win, that stinking misogynist piece of shit. And the Oscar goes to LA LA LAND!! Well, hello there stranger! First win of the night for the odds-on favorite. Will this kick-start some momentum or nah??

10:16 – Okay, so, the tour bus riders are apparently here now. They’re gonna turn the lights off, and when the tourists walk in, they’re going to turn the lights on and yell, “MAHERSHALA!” Umm, this is weird. Don’t look into Ryan Gosling’s eyes! Hahahaha, Denzel just pronounced this dude and his fiancée as husband and wife. Jennifer Aniston gave away her sunglasses. Casey Affleck is not a vagrant! Um, I kind of can’t believe this is still going on? This is kind of terrible, like, maybe one of the worst bits in Oscar history? And yet strangely compelling? Nah, seriously, let’s get back to the awards.

10:28 – We’re back with a segment of international folks talking about their favorite American movies. THE GRADUATE, E.T., ANNIE HALL, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, CITZEN KANE, and more are represented. “Cinema is art.” “Movies are a universal language… it’s magic and magic is universal.” This segment is so much better than the tour bus nonsense because it’s actually, y’know, about movies.

10:30 – Jyn Erso and, uh, the character played by Riz Ahmed (whose name I still can’t remember… damn ROGUE ONE and its unmemorable characters) are here to present Best Visual Effects. I picked DOCTOR STRANGE for this because that shit was trippy. I actually DON’T want Star Wars to win because the CGI Tarkin was one of the worst abominations in the history of special effects. KUBO would be an interesting choice, but the Oscar goes to THE JUNGLE BOOK! This was a solid live-action remake and it sure did look good.

10:33 – Ooh, Seth Rogen is now talking about his favorite movie and it’s BACK TO THE FUTURE, the baseline of classic cinema! Cannot argue with that. HOLY SHIT, and now Seth is coming to the stage with the Delorean and freakin’ MICHAEL J. FOX! STANDING OVATION! Maybe some of the ovation was for Seth? Hehe, nahhh. Jesus fucking Christ, Seth and Michael J. Fox are singing HAMILTON. This is amazing and I’m crying because I love MJF so much. Ah, there’s also the little matter of the award for Best Editing. I’m going for LA LA LAND here. And the Oscar goes to… HACKSAW RIDGE!?!?!? Holy shit!!! This is the first legit mega shocker of the night. Where the hell did this come from?! Could this be a sign of a potential HACKSAW sweep and the full-fledged Mel Gibson comeback?! I don’t know what to think about anything anymore.

10:39 – Hahaha, Jimmy Kimmel just interviewed Sunny Pawar about candy and THE LION KING and it was pretty funny. That kid is gonna be a star. Unfortunately, I’m still reeling from HACKSAW RIDGE’s editing award to really enjoy anything. Not that it’s a bad movie, or a badly-edited movie… I just did not expect it to win anything. Literally anything can happen from here on out, folks!

10:43 – Well, damn, Salma Hayek has still got it and she is here (with David Oyelowo) to present Best Documentary Short. As always, these are bleak bunch. My favorite (and indeed, the only not-bleak one) is JOE’S VIOLIN, about a Holocaust survivor who donates his beloved violin to a school for underprivileged girls in the Bronx. But the Oscar goes to THE WHITE HELMENTS, which is about rescuers in war-torn Syria and is very powerful and remarkable. Plus, the cinematographer could not be there because of recent travel laws, so, again, it’s a major political statement. Can’t argue with it, though.

10:47 – And now it’s Live Action Short, which is a category I am majorly invested, because I reeeeeeeally loved THE WOMAN AND THE TGV! It is wonderful, whimsical, AMELIE-esque goodness. I also loved SING, which features one of the most despicable villains of the year. But really, they’re all solid, except for SILENT NIGHTS< which was a piece of shit. And the Oscar goes to SING!! Yay! That’s awesome! It was so good and ending is absolutely exultant! Seek it out ASAP!

10:49 – Hahaha, oh no, Jimmy Kimmel is about to tweet at Donald Trump because the President hasn’t tweeted once during the show and he’s starting to get worried. “Hey @realDonaldTrump, u up?” MERYL SAYS HI. The Snowflake-in-Chief is going to love this!

10:52 – John Cho and Leslie Mann are now here to explain the geekery of film science. For example, John Cho was in STAR TREK and he filmed the movie in a studio in front of a green wall, but then he saw the movie and had to wonder if he really WAS in space?? This is good stuff. Yay geeks!

10:56 – Javier Bardem really loves THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY an he’s going to tell us all about it… friendo. And now here he is, along with the GREAT STREEP! Ohhh shit, just give her the mic and let her rip with no time limit! Ah, nah, it looks like they’re just presenting the award for Best Cinematography. I’m actually pulling for ARRIVAL here, but I’m wondering what it means if LA LA LAND doesn’t win? Could be the beginning of the end, if so… but the Oscar goes to LA LA LAND and it’s not dead yet! In fact, this could be the spark it needs to steamroll through the rest of the show. We shall see!

11:01 – Mean Tweets Oscar Edition! Hehehe, this might be good. Samuel L. Jackson has resting fart face! Are we all just ignoring the fact that Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne have the same face? Emma Stone looks like a crack whore in every role she plays! Robert de Niro IS playing grandfather roles and soon he’s going to be playing great-grandfather roles and FUCK YOU! That was a funny bit. Now back to the movie awards!

11:04 – Everybody swooooooooon because here are the perfect combo of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I believe they are going to present the nominated songs from LA LA LAND, which will be performed by John Legend. This will be cool even though I can’t root for either of these songs against MOANA and Lin-Manuel.

11:12 – Jimmy Kimmel is happy to see Lin-Manuel Miranda in a theatre without having to pay $10,000… or in my case, $10, since my girlfriend Kristin won the HAMILTON lottery a few weeks ago! (It was one of the great experiences of my life, FYI.) That was an awkward moment with Jimmy and Lin and Lin’s mom, by the way. Jimmy Kimmel is a weird mix of being funny sometimes and horribly suck-ass other times (which is still better than Jimmy Fallon, who sucks all the time.)

11:13 – And now here’s Samuel L. Jackson talking about the merits of movie scores. The nominees are a solid bunch, including the melodramatic LION, eerie JACKIE, sci-fi PASSENGERS, joyful LA LA LAND, and haunting MOONLIGHT. I have LA LA on my ballot but this could go in any number of directions. And the Oscar goes to LA LA LAND, which I think may signify the beginning of the end for all other contenders. And now this score will be stuck in my head (again) for the foreseeable future (as it has been for the past three months).

11:16 – My favorite anime character, Scarlett Johnansson, is looking amazing and she is here to present Best Song! Oh shit! “Audition” is the best of the LA LA LAND songs. Forget about the TROLLS song. The other LA LA LAND song is the likely favorite. Forget the Sting song. And yesssssss, MOANA! And the Oscar goes to… “City of Stars” from  LA LA LAND. Arghhhhhh, such huge mixed feelings here because I love the LA LA LAND soundtrack (indeed, playing it has been my #1 request to Alexa ever since I got my Amazon Echo Dot), but I really fucking wanted Lin-Manuel to get that EGOT!! Ah well… hopefully he’ll have an original song in MARY POPPINS RETURNS.

11:20 – Ah, shit, would you believe I almost forgot about the In Memoriam segment? Jennifer Aniston presents it, Sarah Barelleis is singing a Joni Mitchell ballad, and here we go. George Kennedy, Gene Wilder, damn. “We are the dreamers of dreams.” Michael Cimino. Patty Duke, Garry Marshall, Emmanuelle Riva. Anton Yelchin, what a terrible loss, so young. Mary Tyler Moore! Prince. Kenny Baker and I’m officially crying. Curtis Hanson, damn, forgot about him. Zsa Zsa Gabor. DEBBIE REYNOLDS. CARRIE FISHER, “May the Force be with you,” and that’s it and I’m a mess. Now, who did they leave out??

11:28 – Hahahahaha, Jimmy Kimmel is now reflecting on his favorite movie, Matt Damon’s WE BOUGHT A ZOO! This is great. “The thing about Matt is that you can see how hard he’s working… it’s so effortful.” And now here’s Ben Affleck and GUEST… who you may recognize as Matt Damon. They are presenting Best Original Screenplay and there are really great ones here. HELL OR HIGH WATER, such a good modern western. A LA LA LAND win here would be a major coup. THE LOBSTER is actually the most ORIGINAL screenplay but probably has no chance. I’ve actually got MANCHESTER BY THE SEA marked on my ballot because it was just so devastating. And 20th CENTURY WOMEN, arguably the most unsung movie of 2016. And the Oscar goes to Kenneth Lonergan for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA! Wow! That’s really cool! What a powerful, excruciating, brilliant movie. Well deserved, even if it does put another brake on LA LA’s momentum!

11:33 – And now here’s Amy Adams showing some the night’s most impressive cleavage (sorry not sorry) and presenting the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. ARRIVAL is great, FENCES probably works better on the stage, HIDDEN FIGURES is great, LION is very good, but I think this one has to go to MOONLIGHT and indeed, the Oscar goes to MOONLIGHT! Yay! Very cool.

11:40 – There was a cookie bit that I couldn’t be bothered to write about, but do yourself a favor and look up the Taraji P. Henson “are you sharing?” GIFs. You’re welcome. And now here’s Halle Berry’s hair to present Best Director! Business is about to pick up. Denis Villeneuve would be an inspired choice for ARRIVAL. Mel Gibson would be an insane choice. Damien Chazelle, come on! Kenneth Lonergan and Barry Jenkins, maybe… and the Oscar goes to DAMIEN CHAZELLE for LA LA LAND! Wow! So awesome, even though, at 32, he is the youngest Best Director winner ever and I am turning 40 in a few months. Ummmmmm anyway yeah, LA LA LAND is a perfectly-directed film and I am happy dammit!

11:47 – Best Actor montage! I really like these pre-award montages. And now here’s Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson, last year’s Best Actress winner and still the realest and the best, to present the award. I’m still pulling for Casey Affleck here – his performance is the most nuanced and devastating. Andrew Garfield commands the screen in HACKSAW RIDGE but it’s arguably his second-best performance of 2016. Ryan Gosling is just plain great in LA LA LAND, and you can never go wrong with Viggo – CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is very good but hopefully someday he’ll be nominated in a year in which he has the slightest chance to win. And then, of course, Denzel – definitely can’t count him out. And the Oscar goes to.. CASEY AFFLECK! Yes! I didn’t think it would happen because controversy, but hey, the best performance is the best performance! Such powerful work and well deserved.

11:54 – Hey, remember that time Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar?? It happened last year and now he’s here to present Best Actress following another great montage. Isabelle Huppert was tremendous in a very complex and controversial role. RUTH NEGGA, my sentimental favorite pick of the night, would be so amazing! Natalie Portman arguably gave her best-ever performance in JACKIE (I usually have nothing good to say about her acting so this is a big deal). Emma Stone has to be considered the odds-on favorite, and then of course there’s the great Streep, who, let’s face it, people may have voted for just so she’d be able to give a speech. And the Oscar goes to… EMMA STONE for LA LA LAND! Okay, I’ll allow it – she was luminous and wonderful and she’s giving a very humble and emotional speech and here’s to the fools who dream!

12:02 – “We’ve reached the halfway part of the show,” Jimmy Kimmel says as we pass the midnight hour. And here comes Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to present the night’s final award! I have to say, at this point, I have no idea what’s going to win. Will it be LA LA LAND, which has picked up some momentum down the stretch? Will it be MOONLIGHT, which has scored some big wins? Will it be HACKSAW RIDGE, which has already won two more awards than expected? Maybe MANCHESTER? Or could FENCES or ARRIVAL shock the world? (Sorry, HIDDEN FIGURES, LION, and HELL OR HIGH WATER… no soup for you.) And the Oscar goes to… LA LA LAND! Ummmmmmmm… no, wait, it’s MOONLIGHT. Warren Beatty read the wrong winner! Or was given the wrong envelope or something. There was confusion and madness on the stage! This is literally the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, but indeed, MOONLIGHT is the Best Picture! I… don’t even know what to say about this but wow. Congrats, MOONLA LAND?!

Well… that was some craziness, wasn’t it? The show has been over for a while now, and like most people, I’m still trying to wrap my head around what happened. We’ve watched clips over and over again and it’s just crazy. It appears that there were TWO envelopes for Best Actress, one of which went to Emma Stone after she won, and one of which unfortunately wound up in Warren Beatty’s hands. And even though he clearly realized that something was awry, he went ahead and let Faye Dunaway read the incorrect winner. Which raises the question… why didn’t he say something?! He’s Warren Beatty! He could’ve easily stopped the proceedings and been like, “Ahem, something’s not right here,” and it would’ve been charming and heroic. Instead, Faye clearly thought he was just being a scamp, glanced at the card, read LA LA LAND, and the rest is history. That being said, it’s clearly the fault of the envelope handlers more than anyone else, and someone is getting fired. But then, even after the wrong winner was read aloud, for some reason, it took over five minutes and two and a half speeches by the LA LA LAND crew before the correction was made and MOONLIGHT was anointed Best Picture. Absolute insanity. But you know, if there have always been two envelopes floating around (per Academy policy), it’s amazing that this hasn’t happened before. It’s a recipe for disaster that has been brewing for 89 years and it finally happened! My guess is that next year, they move on to a one-envelope system. Anyway, congrats to MOONLIGHT, a truly tremendous and important film that absolutely deserves to win. It’s a shame, though, that its moment will always be overshadowed by the mishap (sorry, but it’s true – the mishap will forever be part of the trivia question).

As for the for the show as a whole… it was pretty solid. Jimmy Kimmel was very hit or miss with his jokes and bits, but fortunately, the hits and misses were just about equal. I’m happy about all four acting winners, three of which I chose correctly (Affleck, Ali and Davis; I voted for Negga but that was a silly wishful-thinking vote because I knew Stone was gonna win) and I correctly picked Director (Chazelle) and both screenplays (MANCHESTER and MOONLIGHT) on my ballot. In fact, I got 10 out of 24 categories right, which is actually quite high for me – my ballot is usually a disaster because I tend to vote with my heart and my heart has shit for brains. But this year, I guess my heart and brain were slightly more in sync than usual! There were some surprises, too, such as HACKSAW RIDGE picking up two wins, FANTASTIC BEASTS winning Costume Design, and the ARRIVAL sound editor winning for the first time after 21 nominations. No major disappointments for me – I wish Lin-Manuel could have snagged that EGOT tonight, but I’m sure his day will come. As always, I must rank my loveliest ladies of the evening, which include Brie Larson, Emma Stone, Janelle Monae, Amy Adams, Taraji P. Henson and ummmm no one else is jumping out at me at the moment. And now I’m going to call it a night and a year and maybe an Oscar live-blogging career, for real this time, because honestly, how are we ever gonna top this year’s madness? (Don’t hold me to that, though, because next year I might feel the siren call at the last minute once again. We shall see!) Goodnight, gang, and thanks for reading! ❤

Sunday, February 28, 2016



Welcome, friends, loved ones, long-lost acquaintances, Twitter pals, Instagram crushes, random trolls, and anyone else who may have stumbled upon my 11th Annual LIVE, moment-by-moment, stream-of-consciousness Oscar commentary! Yes, I’ve been doing this since before the concept of live-tweeting was a twinkle in the Internet’s eye. But guess what? This is it, folks -- my final year live-blogging cinema’s biggest night. Next year, I will be watching like a normal person for the first time in over a decade. Hard to imagine and maybe a little bittersweet, I know... but here’s hoping they give us a good show tonight so we can go out with a bang!

For only the second time in my life, I’ve seen EVERY Oscar nominee in EVERY category. Go me! So you can expect all sorts of well-educated predictions and insight tonight (or something). Five of the eight Best Picture nominees were in my Top 10 of the year, but I did not love two of the current favorites for the big prize: THE REVENANT and THE BIG SHORT. My hope is that the other frontrunner, SPOTLIGHT, takes charge tonight -- but actually, I am rooting hard for the wondrous ROOM to surprise everyone and steal some major gold. On the acting side, I think Leonardo DiCaprio is a lock for Best Actor -- which is fitting, since THE REVENANT is kind of a metaphor for his long, painful quest to win an Oscar. Brie Larson also appears to be a lock for Best Actress (and rightly so), though I would not be disappointed if BROOKLYN’s brilliant Saoirse Ronan shocked everyone. Seems like Sylvester Stallone will deservedly win Supporting Actor for his great work in the otherwise-snubbed CREED, while the lovely Alicia Vikander is poised to win Supporting Actress (albeit for the wrong movie; she was good in THE DANISH GIRL but transcendent in EX MACHINA) -- however, I would be thrilled beyond belief if Kate Winslet won, thus setting up some awesome photo ops of LEO & KATE & THEIR OSCARS.

Elsewhere... my #1 movie of 2015, INSIDE OUT, should win Best Animated Feature with ease, but few things would please me more than if it also won Original Screenplay. And how about a little film called STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS? It has a slew of nominations, some of which it could possibly win (Visual Effects) and some which it surely won’t (Film Editing). But above all, I really hope the great John Williams can win Original Score for the first time in over two decades. In any other year, he’d probably be a nostalgic shoo-in -- but this year he’s up against the 87-year-old maestro Ennio Morricone, who has incredibly NEVER won before. It could go either way. Or maybe Carter Burwell’s swoon-inducing CAROL score will steal it. Speaking of which, CAROL is my pick for Cinematography, while I’d love to see Disney’s surprisingly-great live-action CINDERELLA win Costume Design. It will also be crazy to see Lady Gaga take yet another step towards an EGOT when she wins Best Song. And to think, we haven’t even gotten into the Foreign Films (SON OF SAUL, devastating Holocaust drama) and Docs (THE LOOK OF SILENCE, devastating look at the Indonesian genocide) and short films (STUTTERER, WORLD OF TOMORROW and CHAU, BEYOND THE LINES -- all kind of devastating on some level) and ahhhhhhh I’m excited!

And yes, it should be interesting to see what happens with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, especially with Chris Rock as host. My LIVE running commentary will begin with Red Carpet Madness at 7 p.m. EST sharp, followed by the 88th Academy Awards at 8:30. I’ll be updating this blog every few minutes with my play-by-play, observations, predictions, reactions, rants, and musings. (And did I mention that I’ll be drinking heavily??) Please do bookmark this page and check back often... or keep your browser right here and click “refresh” constantly and obsessively. In fact, hey, if you’re among the five or six people who are still planning to boycott the big show, you should DEFINITELY follow along here -- you know you’re gonna wanna know what’s going on. See ya soon!


7:00 – And we’re underway for the 11th straight ridiculous year! I’m already feeling a little tipsy from this martini I’m drinking (shaken, not stirred), so it should be a fun night. This is one of the few days of the year that I regret ditching cable because it means I can’t watch the E! pre-show (sorry, Ryan and Giuliana), but I’ll be tuning into ABC for those who want to follow along. I’ve already seen Saoirse Ronan looking amazing and making me feel very old, so we’re off to a good start!

7:03 – Daisy Ridley is there, too! The Force with the red carpet. I’ve also noticed that side boob is a thing this year once again, if Saoirse and Olivia Wilde are any indication.

7:04 – By the way, this is the first time in several years that I am not watching the Oscars alone like a lonely loser. Everybody say hi to my girlfriend Kristin! (She says hi back. She’s drinking, too.)

7:05 – I’d like to hang out with Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudekis. That would be fun. And now here’s Alicia Vikander! She’s looking very good in yellow. She might just win Oscar gold tonight -- too bad it’s for the wrong movie. EX MACHINA > THE DANISH GIRL.

7:07 – Everybody be quiet, Saoirse Ronan is on screen and talking in her adorable Irish accent. I’ve noticed that Irish people tend to talk a lot (I’m specifically thinking of Glen Hansard when I’ve seen him in concert)... but it’s okay because they sound awesome.

7:09 – Haha, the dumb ABC red carpet host thought that Nick Hornby was Saoirse’s dad. That would be pretty cool, actually. I’m currently reading Hornby’s latest book, THE FUNNY GIRL, and it’s very good.

7:13 – This is live television, BRIE LARSON! Ooh, her dress is very blue and flowing. Brie is the best and makes every movie better with her mere presence. I’d also like to hang out with her, too (and Jacob Tremblay so we can talk about Star Wars).

7:15 – Not sure what’s going on with the diamond in the middle of Rooney Mara’s dress but I don’t dislike it. Rooney is cool. She looks like a living doll. She just confirmed that yes, it is easy to fall in love with Cate Blanchett, which I do not doubt because Cate is one of the world’s greatest wonders. Can’t wait to see her!

7:18 – Hehe, here’s Jacob Tremblay. This kid is hilarious. It feels pretty cool to be called “the king of awards season” and he thinks Brie has a pretty good chance to win tonight. I agree! And now he’s saying that his bedtime is 8 p.m. but he’ll be staying up late tonight. Me too, Jake... me too.

7:25 – The President of the Academy is talking about the diversity issue, which will certainly be the elephant in the room all night tonight. Can’t wait to see what Chris Rock has to say about all that. And now here’s Eddie Redmayne, who is just impossibly charming. He was very good in THE DANISH GIRL but personally, I would’ve nominated him for his over-the-top batshit-crazy performance in JUPITER ASCENDING.

7:37 – Ack, sorry for the delay -- we were ordering Indian food for dinner and it’s going to be awesome. At the moment, Matt Damon is on my screen. Matt Damon is cool and he was perfect in THE MARTIAN. Great movie.

7:38 – The biggest problem with the ABC pre-show is that there’s way too much self-fellation. There’s no reason for Jimmy Kimmel to have been on the screen for this long.

7:41 – There’s a commercial on ABC right now, but according to Twitter, I missed Margot Robbie. THIS IS NOT FAIR.

7:44 – JULIANNE MOORE IS HERE. She is an Oscar winner and a national treasure. She looks great, too. Oh, they’re talking about the new “scroll” technology that will allow winners to thank people via a TV scroll, presumably to save time during the telecast. There’s no way this will work.

7:46 – Louis Gossett, Jr. just talked about some stuff and now here’s Tina Fey looking lovely in basic purple. She has no advice to offer Chris Rock because he’s “the greatest living comedian,” but personally, I still want her to host the Oscars, and indeed, my entire life.

7:49 – Cate Blanchett doesn't even look real. She looks like a gorgeous statue of a glorious statue. Her dress is light blue and feathery and wow. I would not be disappointed if she won Best Actress out of sheer domination.

7:53 – Sylvester Stallone is here! He seems like a lock to win Best Supporting Actor, and rightly so, because he was tremendous in CREED. Plus he’s just the goddamn coolest guy on the red carpet right now.

7:55 – Lady Gaga is here looking relatively low-key. She will almost certainly win an Oscar for Best Song tonight, which will leave her just a Tony short of an EGOT. That’s wild!

7:56 – Naomi Watts is looking very sparkly tonight in her sparkly purple dress. She is here tonight as Liev Schreiber’s arm candy but that’s cool. Go SPOTLIGHT! (That is to say, go ROOM, really -- but go SPOTLIGHT over THE REVENANT.)

7:59 – This portion of my live-blog is about to end but I just have to say that Jacob Tremblay’s mom has got it going on. And now I’m gonna take a half-hour break and make myself another martini and I’ll return at 8:30 for the 88th Academy Awards! See you then!

The 88th Academy Awards

8:30 – Aaaaaaaaand we’re back! Let’s do this, friends. It’s gonna be good. Welcome to the Dolby Theatre and the Oscars! We’ve got a MARTIAN spoof to kick things off. AND IT’S BB-8. And basically a montage of this past year’s movies, good and bad. Hey, JURASSIC WORLD made the cut. “THAT’S NOT HOW THE FORCE WORKS!” Wow, TED 2? There really were a lot of good and bad movies in 2015 and they are all represented here. INSIDE OUT! MAD MAX! CREED! Rey! “You’re gonna love it.” “What?” “The world!” GO ROOM!

8:33 – Ladies and gentlemen, Chris Rock! Not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous. “I counted at least 15 black people in that montage!” Hehe, he’s going right in with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. “How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something?” “The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.” Hehe... he’s right, though. Better to be there (and to watch) than the boycott.

8:36 – Ummmm wowie wow, this isn’t awkward at all! I’m not even going to touch the lynching jokes, but Chris Rock is right on. To be fair, I wasn’t invited to Rhianna’s panties, either. Will Smith jokes -- and now a “cops shooting black people” joke. We’ll be here all night folks!

8:38 – Black categories, like “Best Black Friend,” and the winner for the 18th year in a row is Wanda Sykes. Ooh boy. Is Hollywood racist? It’s a different type of racist, Chris Rock says. Hollywood is “sorority racist... we like you, Wanda, but you’re not a Kappa.” Heheh, ROCKY is a science fiction movie in which white athletes are better than black athletes! Paul Giamatti is great because he was whipping Lupita last year and crying at Eazy-E’s funeral this year! That’s range!

8:43 – “If George Clooney showed up wearing a lime green tux and swan coming out of his ass, someone would ask him, ‘Whatcha wearing’ George?’” Awesome job by Chris Rock. And now here’s an infusion of beauty and awesomeness with Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron presenting Best Original Screenplay! Apparently the order of awards presented this year represents the movie-making process. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is great but I felt it was more of an acting showcase than writing (plus, all the writers are white, oops). BRIDGE OF SPIES, hey, the Coen Bros. are involved. EX MACHINA is awesome and original and I would have no problem with this one. SPOTLIGHT is a taut screenplay with absolutely zero body fat. And my fav, INSIDE OUT, which is actually the most ORIGINAL film of the year (with all due respect to Herman’s Head). And the Oscar goes to... SPOTLIGHT! Okay! Hopefully this a sign of things to come, if SPOTLIGHT is going to overtake THE REVENANT tonight.

8:48 – Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are here to present the award for Best Adapted Screenplay AND surreptitiously plug their new comedy that’s coming out this year. THE BIG SHORT is my biggest “meh” of the major nominees. Nick Hornby is one of my fav authors and BROOKLYN is amazing -- would be very happy if this wins. I also recently read Highsmith’s THE PRICE OF SALT and appreciated CAROL even more. THE MARTIAN is one of those movies that feels like it was literally shaken out of the pages of the source material. And ROOM... just wow... great book and arguably an even greater movie. This is a really tough one. And the Oscar goes to... THE BIG SHORT. FUCK. This is a worst-case scenario because it implies that this movie could have a big night. It is kind of surreal, too, that Adam McKay (ANCHORMAN, STEP BROTHERS, etc.) has an Oscar now.

8:57 – Oh boy, here’s a sketch about how difficult it is for black people to get roles in movies. Whoopi Goldberg in JOY! And Leslie Jones as the bear in THE REVENANT! Tracy Morgan: “I’M THE DANISH GIRL! THESE DANISHES ARE GOOD, GIRL!” Chris Rock in THE MARTIAN. That was pretty good. I don’t know what this Stacey Dash thing was all about. Was that her? Who is she? Anyway, Sarah Silverman is here now and saying whatever comes to her mind. “Here’s something: James Bond, not a grower OR a shower.” Oh, she’s introducing Sam Smith’s performance of this year’s crappy Bond theme. It’s seriously terrible. Worst of the nominated songs by far, and maybe the worst James Bond theme ever? I don’t know. But it’s bad.

9:06 – Hehe, Chris Rock’s favorite song is “Father Figure.” And here’s Henry Cavill and Kerry Washington to present a clip from THE MARTIAN. Such a great movie (and for the record, it IS more of a “comedy” than a “drama,” for anyone out there making Golden Globe jokes). They’re also presenting a clip from THE BIG SHORT, which is probably my least favorite of the Best Picture noms.

9:09 – Was that “The Time of My Life” from DIRTY DANCING playing as JK Simmons takes the stage? Weird. He’s presenting Best Supporting Actress, which is a tough one. Jennifer Jason Leigh is fantastic in THE HATEFUL EIGHT. Rooney Mara is wonderful in CAROL and could easily win. Oh, I almost forgot about Rachel McAdams -- she could steal one here in the event of a SPOTLIGHT sweep. Alicia Vikander is the favorite here, but as previously mentioned, it should’ve been for a different film. And now Kate! Kate Kate Kate Kate! Go Kate! Kate is the best, and easily the best part of STEVE JOBS. I hope she wins. And the Oscar goes to... ALICIA VIKANDER. No surprise there, and she does deserve the recognition for her body of work in 2015. Very heartfelt speech, though she is looking a bit too bronze (or dare I say, Oscar gold?) for my taste.

9:18 – They were definitely playing “The Power of Love” when they came back from commercial. And now here’s Cate Blanchett, who looks amazing in that feathery blue dress. She presenting the award for Costume Design, which I think has to go to CINDERELLA, which was such a beautiful film. THE DANISH GIRL was also well-dressed, and CAROL even more so. Fuck THE REVENANT, and MAD MAX, meh… and the Oscar goes to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD!?! Holy shit! Could THIS be a sign of a Mad Max steamroll? “What another lovely day!” the costume lady says. Heh. And she gets played off while making a political statement -- maybe say the important stuff at the beginning, people!

9:22 – Tina Fey and Steve Carell! They’re making jokes and “Tina has been drinking!” Hey, me too. Production Design time. BRIDGE OF SPIES and THE DANISH GIRL looked good, sure. THE MARTIAN basically recreated Mars and looked incredible in 3-D (not sure if that counts for anything). THE REVENANT, sure. MAD MAX may be the favorite here now? And the Oscar goes to.. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Oh boy, here we go! I actually got this one right, too!

9:25 – Margot Robbie and Jared Leto are just walking around somewhere and making dirty jokes. Makeup and Hairstyling… well, I think it’s pretty clear that Mad Max is sweeping these technicals. THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN is a fun movie but the old man makeup in BAD GRANDPA was actually better. THE REVENANT, meh, and the Oscar goes to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD once again! Yup, it’s just going to clean up in this categories. I do like that score, though, so this is not so bad.

9:29 – Benicio del Toro and Jennifer Garner are here to introduce more Best Picture nominees. THE REVENANT is a good movie, albeit a bit of slog. But as mentioned earlier, it is, in itself, kind of a metaphor for Leo’s long, painful quest to win an Oscar. And now MAD MAX... can’t really see it winning anything outside of the tech awards, but then again, you never know!

9:35 – After introducing the real Suge Knight, Chris Rock introduces Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams, and shoulda-been nominee Michael B. Jordan (that is true!). They’re presenting Cinematography. THE HATEFUL EIGHT did look good in glorious 70mm. CAROL looked like a dream. SICARIO was shot by the great Roger Deakins, who has never won. MAD MAX is crazy, and THE REVENANT is sweepingly beautiful. And the Oscar goes to EMMANUEL LUBEZKI for THE REVENANT! It’s his third win in a row, so it almost seems unfair. No denying that he’s one of the best, though I wonder what it will take for Deakins to win, dammit!

9:39 – Liev Schreiber is here with a Bollywood star whose name I do not know (but man she’s pretty). They’re presenting Film Editing. THE BIG SHORT, nah. SPOTLIGHT, yes -- this movie is taut as hell and contains zero percent body fat. THE REVENANT could’ve been edited by a further 20 minutes or so. STAR WARS, yes! MAD MAX, okay. And the Oscar goes to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Holy shit! This movie is going to sweep this thing RETURN OF THE KING-style, isn’t it? Color me surprised!

9:42 – Angela Bassett introduces a Black History Month Minute dedicated to JACK BLACK! Heh. That’s funny but I’m still reeling from what is looking like a likely MAD MAX sweep tonight.

9:47 – Sound Editing is next. Heh, the clips are using isolated sound effects and it’s weird. Of course, I’m rooting for THE FORCE AWAKENS here, if for no other reason than that BB-8’s warbles are already iconic And the Oscar goes to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, which is to be expected at this point. I think these Australian sound guys just got bleeped, which is a first for tonight’s show. Sound Mixing next, which of course SHOULD go to STAR WARS but will probably go to you-know-who. And the Oscar goes to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. This is getting crazy! Now the question is whether it can keep the momentum going as we move into the big awards.

9:54 – Nice montage of Andy Serkis’ motion capture performances, and now here’s Serkis himself to present the award for Visual Effects! For fuck’s sake, throw STAR WARS a bone, people! EX MACHINA is great. THE REVENANT is the most “meh” of these nominees. THE MARTIAN is great, but now I guess MAD MAX has to be the favorite here? And the Oscar goes to... EX MACHINA!!! How about that!!! I had STAR WARS on my ballot but I cannot argue with this -- first really big surprise of the night! Plus I believe it’s the lowest-budget film of all the nominees in this category, which makes it even sweeter.

9:58 – Jason Segel and Olivia Munn present the geeky technical awards, and I’m pretty sure Olivia just made a TERMINATOR joke. Some cool technology on display here. Go geeks!

9:59 – Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh, Artoo, Threepio and BB-8 are on stage and Jacob Tremblay is loving it!! They talk about John Williams and it’s all hilarious. Also, I should point out that these droids are practical visual effects that were so good, they were able to come to the Oscars, dammit (I’m not bitter though). They keep plugging Minions, by the way, and I’m not sure why -- isn’t ABC owned by Disney? I’m more excited for the Woody & Buzz 20th anniversary tribute that they just mentioned.

10:05 – Uh-oh, Chris Rock is in the audience… no good can come from this. Hehe, his daughters are selling Girl Scout cookies and this is pretty funny. “Leo, you made $30 million, come on!” White people are holding up cash all over the auditorium! Hilarious. Oh, and here are the Minions to present Best Animated Short! The Minions shit is tiresome, but you know this is a tough category when the Pixar entry is the least of the bunch. BEAR STORY has everything going for it. PROLOGUE is very good. Pixar’s SANJAY SUPER TEAM is cute. WE CAN’T LOVE WITHOUT COSMOS is good but man, WORLD OF TOMORROW is a work of mad genius. And the Oscar goes to BEAR STORY. Dammit! WORLD OF TOMORROW was seriously robbed here. But really, it was probably too brilliant for the Academy to wrap its head around. Oh well. At least BEAR STORY is Chile’s first Oscar, so we can be happy about that (and it IS a good little thing).

10:10 – Woody and Buzz are here and I’m instantly verklempt. Can’t believe TOY STORY is now over 20 years old. Oh shit, they’re presenting Best Animated Feature. Lots of good stuff here. ANOMALISA, BOY AND THE WORLD, WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE, SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE and of course, INSIDE OUT… and the Oscar goes to INSIDE OUT!!! not only is it the best animated movie of the year, but it’s one of the top five best Pixar movies of all time, which means it’s one of the best movies of all time, period. Awesome.

10:14 – Kevin Hart is talking really fast and I can’t keep up. He thought he was gonna get a seat in the front row because of all the black stuff going on but he still didn’t! Ha. He’s introducing The Weeknd, who is performing the song from FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Yes. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is an Oscar-nominated film. This song isn’t terrible but it won’t win.

10:22 – KATE WINSLET WEARING GLASSES and Reese Witherspoon are here to present more Best Picture noms. Something something BRIDGE OF SPIES and something something SPOTLIGHT and did I mention that Kate Winslet is wearing glasses??! I surrender!!

10:24 – Chris Rock went to his favorite movie theatre in Compton to discuss the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. “Did you think about rioting and looting?” “Nah, we did that already and I didn’t get anything the first time.” Chris is trying to convince black people that these white movies are, in fact, real movies and no one believes him! Heh. This sketch is funny because it’s true.

10:28 – Patricia Arquette comes out to the tune of “The Way We Were” and I think she’s going to present Best Supporting Actor. It’s Sly’s time! Gonna fly now! Eye of the tiger! GO ROCKY! Christian Bale is good, too, but I still do not care for THE BIG SHORT. Tom Hardy is the man and steals scenes in most movies he is in, THE REVENANT included. Mark Ruffalo always kicks ass and it would not be a bad thing to see him win. Mark Rylance was great in BRIDGE OF SPIES, too. But no… STALLONE has to win. So good. And the Oscar goes to… MARK RYLANCE for BRIDGE OF SPIES?! Holy shit!! Massive upset. I don’t know what to think about anything anymore!

10:37 – Still stunned about Sly’s loss but now here’s Louis CK to present Documentary Short Subject, the only Oscar that actually means something! Hahaha! “This Oscar is going home in a Honda Civic!” “This Oscar is going to be the nicest thing they’ve ever owned in their life! It’s going to give them anxiety to keep it in their crappy apartment!” Hahahahahahahah he should host next year. Oh wait, stop laughing, all of these films are bleak as hell. I’m rooting for CHAU, BEYOND THE LINES, about a kid who was disfigured by Agent Orange. And the Oscar goes to MAD MAX, haha, no… it’s THE GIRL IN THE RIVER, which is actually what I expected to win. Should’ve gone with my gut, which is actually smarter than both my heart and my brains. Oh well. These Doc Shorts are all worth watching, by the way.

10:41 – Daisy Ridley!!!! and the Slumdog Millionaire dude are here to present Best Documentary Feature. AMY is good and has a good chance to win. But man, THE LOOK OF SILENCE is freaking incredible (as was THE ACT OF KILLING before it). Don’t count out WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE, though. And the Oscar goes to AMY! Okay! Here’s a fun fact: I saw that movie the day after I got hammered off seven vodka shots at my birthday party. Awkward.

10:49 – Wow, Chris Rock’s daughters sold $65,243 worth of Girl Scout cookies! Mostly Samoas, I’ll bet. And now here’s Whoopi Goldberg to talk about governor’s awards. Gena Rowlands won an Honorary Award, and Debbie Reynolds won the Humanitarian Award, and Spike Lee won another Honorary Award. Well, all right!

10:52 – The President of the Academy comes out to “I Will Always Love You” and I bet she’s going to talk about the Academy’s new diversity initiatives. Yup, she is. I can’t follow all of this because of the gin I’ve been drinking, but go Academy!

10:55 – Oh shit, Louis Gossett Jr. is introducing the In Memoriam segment, and like three assholes in the crowd applaud. Dave Grohl is playing “Blackbird” (why couldn’t they have gotten Paul?) and Wes Craven kicks it off. Ugh. Christopher Lee… fucking hell. This is really going to rough, isn’t it? Maureen O’Hara. Omar Sharif. ALAN RICKMAN and I’m crying. “I’M MOE GREEN. I MADE MY BONES WHILE YOU WERE GOING OUT WITH CHEERLEADERS.” Aw, James Horner. David Bowie. The writer of MONSTERS INC. died?! Fuck. Leonard Nimoy, live long and prosper, and we’re done. Sadness. Okay, who was left out??


11:03 – Jacob Tremblay and the kid from BEASTS OF NO NATION are here to present Best Live Action Short film and it’s funny. I really like STUTTERER in this category because it is brilliant on several levels, but they’re all pretty good. EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY gave me legit anxiety, it is so intense. And the Oscar goes to STUTTERER! Huzzah! It’s so good. Interestingly, Kristin and I both interpreted it in two very different ways, both of which make complete sense -- that’s a sign of its brilliance.

11:06 – Sofia Vergara and Byung-hun Lee are now presenting Best Foreign Language Film. EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT is a wild fever dream. MUSTANG is a wonderful coming of age tale. SON OF SAUL is a brutal Holocaust drama and will surely win. THEEB and A WAR are also great in their own rights, but the Oscar goes to SON OF SAUL and rightly so. Hey, I’ve gotten two in a row right!

11:10 – VP Joe Biden is here to speak up against sexual assault and present Lady Gaga’s performance of “’Til It Happens to You” from THE HUNTING GROUND. Great song and a powerful film. There’s no way that this song won’t win and this performance is tremendous and now a legion of rape  survivors are taking the stage. Potent stuff.

11:20 – Best Original Score is next! BRIDGE OF SPIES, okay. Carter Burwell’s CAROL score makes me swooooooooon. Johan Johansson has being doing lots of great work recently and SICARIO is no exception. The legendary Morricone may be the favorite here and his HATEFUL EIGHT score is ominous as hell. But come the fuck on!!! JOHN WILLIAMS DAMMIT!!! STAR WARS!! REY’S THEME!! And the Oscar goes to ENNIO MORRICONE, who gets a hug from John Williams. Okay, okay… this is Morricone’s first-ever Oscar (aside from his honorary award a few years ago) so I can’t be TOO mad. But fucking hell, John Williams has written the soundtrack for all of our lives and someday he’s not going to be around anymore and we’re going to regret not giving him one more moment of glory!!! I guess we’ll see what happens with Episode VIII.

11:25 – Best Original Song next. Kinda f’d up that “Manta Ray” and “Simple Song #3” didn’t get a chance to show their stuff live at the big show, no? I guess because they aren’t performed by famous people. This has to be Gaga, especially after that live performance… and the Oscar goes to… SAM SMITH FOR THE BULLSHIT SONG FROM SPECTRE?!? Holy shit, what an awful, awful joke. Really disappointing.

11:29 – Olivia Wilde’s boobs and Ali G are in da house, and I don’t even care anymore after watching Gaga get so badly robbed. Oh, they’re introducing Best Picture nominees ROOM and BROOKLYN, which are my two favs of the bunch. BROOKLYN has never even been part of the conversation, which is a shame, but there’s still a chance for ROOM. GO ROOM!

11:35 – Hey, it’s J.J. Abrams to present Best Director! This could be where we see what direction the rest of the night will be headed. I’d love to see Tom McCarthy win for SPOTLIGHT, which was just an expertly crafted film, but Lenny Abrahamson for ROOM would be sweet, too. Iñarritu may need to win here in order for the THE REVENANT to gain back some momentum, but how about George Miller? And the Oscar goes to IÑARRITU for the second year in a row! Uh-oh! Looks like Mad Max’s run may be over. Heh, and Iñarritu is the first to really pay no attention to the play-off music. GET OFF THE STAGE.

11:44 – Best Actress next, presented ever so charmingly by Eddie Redmayne. Very, very strong group of contenders here. Cate Blanchett is the greatest of all time and you can’t count her out. This is probably Brie Larson’s award to lose -- holy shit, she was good. Jennifer Lawrence is probably going to get nominated every year just because, though it’s weird that I haven’t seen her once yet tonight? Whoa, there she is -- I didn’t even recognize her! Gotta give due respect to Charlotte Rampling, who is great in everything she does -- I believe this is her first Oscar nod. And Saoirse… God, so good and perfect. And the Oscar goes to BRIE LARSON!! Brie is the best cheese and now she’s the Best Actress! She is the realest and so good. She also could’ve easily been nominated for a movie called SHORT TERM 12 a few years ago. And she shouts out to Jacob Tremblay and yay! This is a legit happy moment in a show that has mostly been meh.

11:52 – One of our greatest national treasures, Julianne Moore, is here to present Best Actor! Oh shit! Our national nightmare could finally be over if Leo can pull this off! Bryan Cranston was very good in TRUMBO. (Wait, you can’t say “goddamn” at 11:53 p.m. at the Oscars?) Matt Damon was perfectly cast in THE MARTIAN -- if you read the book, I’m sure you’ll agree. LEO! Enough said -- best part (and indeed the only truly award-worthy part) of THE REVENANT. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about Fassbender and STEVE JOBS. Very good but forgettable. Eddie Redmayne, always good, but no way he’s winning two years in a row. And the Oscar goes to LEONARDO DiCAPRIO!!! FINALLY! HE’S THE KING OF THE WORLD, WOOOOOOO! Oh shit, Leo’s going off about climate change and Kate is crying in the crowd and they wouldn’t dare cut him off! “Let’s not take this planet for granted -- I do not take this night for granted!” Great speech. Go Leo!!!

11:58 – It is super late and Morgan Freeman is here to quickly name the Best Picture nominees! GO ROOM! GO BROOKLYN! Nooooo to THE BIG SHORT, but I think it’s gonna come down to REVENANT vs. MAD MAX… and the Oscar goes to SPOTLIGHT!!! YES!!! I was rooting for ROOM but I really wanted SPOTLIGHT to beat THE REVENANT! Huzzah! Such a great, taut, brilliant and important movie. This is a well-deserved win that almost makes me wish I hadn’t squandered my NYU Journalism degree (almost). And now Michael Keaton is chowing down on Girl Scout cookies and that’s a wrap! FIGHT THE POWER!

Well, that was a weird show. There were some awesome moments (Leo! Brie! INSIDE OUT!) and at least one truly shocking moment (Sam Smith?!) and then a bunch of “meh” moments, ranging from FURY ROAD cleaning up the tech awards (I mean, I like the movie a lot, but nothing for STAR WARS, booo!) to Iñarritu boringly taking home a second straight directing award. I’m happy that SPOTLIGHT won Best Picture because it is a great film -- but I think I’m even happier that THE REVENANT or THE BIG SHORT didn’t win. Really wish John Williams would’ve won because I’m afraid that was his best chance to ever win again. Chris Rock was funny and did not shy away from the controversy. Kinda kateglassesdisappointed by the lack of cheesy montages! Also, what the fuck was with leaving Abe Vigoda out of the In Memoriam segment?! (Maybe the Academy thought his death was a hoax after all.) All in all, a good-but-not-great Oscar show. And even though it may no longer be PC, my loveliest ladies of the night were probably Saoirse Ronan, Olivia Wilde, Cate Blanchett, Alicia Vikander, KATE WINSLET WEARING GLASSES, and ummm I forget who else. I only got 7 categories right on my ballot, which is pretty bad -- as always, I vote with my heart and my heart has shit for brains! (Meanwhile, Kristin got 13 right. Go Kristin!) If you made it through this nearly 6,000 word commentary (or indeed, any of my epic commentaries over the past 11 years), I salute you and love you dearly. Next year, I’ll be kicking back and relaxing and watching the show like the rest of you… unless of course I decide to pull a Brett Favre and unretire at the last minute!! (Nah… but I WILL surely continue live-tweeting, so don’t worry, my musings will still be out there in the world.) And now, we can put the cinematic year of 2015 in the books for good. Goodnight everybody! Go Leo!