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Grantland E-mails the Oscars

We watched every (bone-chilling) minute so you didn't have to

Mark Lisanti: It’s all happening, people. They didn’t cancel it last-minute. We have to sit through this. Tell your children you love them.

Molly Lambert: Yikes — Billy Crystal in blackface makes me cringe to infinity, especially when he mugs. Do younger people even have any idea that he’s supposed to be Sammy Davis Jr.?

Lisanti: It’s cute that Billy Crystal began his Oscar montage with a bit about how he didn’t want to come back to host, as if he hasn’t been sitting inside a giant glass case with a “Break Glass In Case Brett Ratner Self-Immolates” sign on it since Eddie Murphy got the gig.

Oh, he just ate a shit pie. All is forgiven, for at least the next three minutes.

Dan Fierman: The self-aggrandizing, self-congratulatory, totally humorless nature of this show has already reduced me to a mumbling, unhappy stupor. Then the 9/11 jokes by Bill Crystal started. Then the singing. Then the blackface. Right now I am scrambling around for straight razors and running a warm bath.

Nice set, though.

Mark Harris: I think this is probably working reasonably well for the 54-to-dead demographic, but I was rooting for it not to be so defiantly retro. That’s always the way — the Oscar show lives in a permanent state of overreaction, so we’re all going to live out the anti-Brett Ratner show, just as the Brett Ratner version was going to be an overreaction to the Franco-Hathaway version.

Lisanti: This show is so anti-Ratner that no one’s even going to fuck any supermodels at an after-party featuring a basement disco and a photo booth.

Alex Pappademas: I don’t know about you guys, but I just found my smile!

So, okay: Welcome to the Oscar-show equivalent of that Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby,” where the guy takes a magic train back in time to a village where the sun always shines, you can still get an egg cream at the corner drugstore, and Mr. Ed jokes are still funny to the living. Seriously, we knew that thanks to The Artist this was gonna be a real these-talking-pictures-are-the-bee’s-knees kind of night, but c’mon — a Mr. Ed joke? That fucking show has been off Nick at Nite for 20 years. Clearly the Hathaway/Franco youthquake was too charged with danger and sexiness — “A young man, clearly smoking the grass, telephone-messaging right there on the stage!” #DowagerCountess — so we’re going to put it behind us, like a key party that somehow failed to save the marriage, and gun that flux-capacitor-enhanced Rascal to 88 MPH.

Next up: A special Cirque du Soleil number! And maybe, like, prime rib or something! Don’t blame me, I voted for Fatty Arbuckle.

Chris Ryan: Been a long time coming, but Sean Connery from the first 20 minutes of Con Air The Rock finally got that Cinematography statue. I’m sure Claire Forlani is delighted.

Harris: Wow, The Tree of Life loses an award even God wanted it to get? Oscars, you have made me hate you in record time. If you’re reading tea leaves, by the way, an Artist sweep would have been set up by one of these first two awards. Instead, we may see a slightly more spread-the-wealth night.

Bill Simmons First 12 minutes: Billy hits a 250-yard drive down the middle on the par-5, lays up right in front of the water, plays it safe on the left side of the green but it rolls into the sand trap, chips back up, then two-putts for the bogey as the announcers say, “That’s what you get for laying up.”

Actual quote from my wife: “What the hell is Hugo and why the hell is he winning everything?”

Harris: So the humor tonight is clearly all going to be late-period Bob Hope: Jokes about/meta-plugs for the host’s own movies, vaguely reactionary humor about anything new or newish, and lots of lip service to the “magic” of movies. Couple that with what feels like a network mandate to lard the show with lots of greatest-hits clips to deflect attention from this blah year, and the smell of mothballs is going to hang heavy in the air.

Lambert: Speaking of mothballs, Cameron Diaz’s new breasts look phenomenal!

Katie Baker: I cannot DEAL with the fact that J.Lo’s upper-arm cutouts are made of poorly draped figure skater nude mesh. Someone is going to lose his job over the conspicuous way the fabric reacted with the stage lights. Don’t they send body doubles in advance for those things? I will always remember the Hillary pantsuit test run, and given how political the Oscars are I would think that everyone’s staffs would be out doing the same thing.

Simmons: You could totally see 1/220th of J.Lo’s nipple just then if your TV was 65 inches or bigger. I just made it. I hope that’s not the highlight of the night. Gotta be honest: I’m only fired up for two things tonight … Clooney possibly winning Best Actor, and finding out who’s getting the hammer in the Dead Montage. Hey, Mark Harris — who’s going to be the last person? Elizabeth Taylor? Whitney Houston? Sidney Lumet? Is there any chance it’s going to be Nick Nolte? I bet on Liz +150; best value pick on the board.

Fierman: I’m answering for Mark. Taylor. It’s a friggin’ lock.

Greenwald: Less than 30 minutes in and we’ve already had two creepily defensive montages.

Come on, movies! Why do you have to devote this much time to defending your reason for being? YOU ARE MOVIES! Act like you’ve been there before!

Lambert: Spotted in the montage: Morgan Freeman is hinting that he is older than film itself, Tom Cruise is unable to look directly into the camera lens lest it explode from sheer intensity, Hilary Swank is still a girl from the trailer park who had a dream.

Harris: “My dream is that someday I’ll get a FAT check to sing at a dictator’s birthday party!” — Little Hilary in the trailer

Lisanti: As “old” as the rest of this ceremony has skewed so far (and by “old,” I mean “we DARE anyone under the age of 35 to watch for more than 15 minutes,” it is sort of an inspired strategy to frontload the telecast with the “boring categories.” This way, we’re all only paying half-attention up top, and we may avoid the dreaded “mid-show drag” between hours four and seven. Of course, this may mean we’ll all be in the bathroom when Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer win their awards, and I don’t want to miss my best opportunities to weep without being judged.

Greenwald: You guys, a Holocaust movie lost to an Iranian movie AND Sandy Bullock dropped a little Deutsch??!? Whose media is this, anyway?

Lisanti: I hate to be reductive about a fine piece of work, but it’s hard not to think that a generation of actresses is going to take the wrong message from Octavia Spencer’s win and start looking only for scripts where they’re tricking people into eating human feces.

Harris: I’m a little disappointed that Melissa McCarthy’s equally fine and equally feces-related performance did not win, but there’s no begrudging Spencer — and the standing ovation, which seemed genuine (apologies for using that word in the context of the Oscars), bodes very well for Viola Davis.

Simmons: I’m happy for Octavia Spencer. In 18 months she’s going to be the fifth lead on one of those Showtime comedies that’s not funny, but that’s beside the point — that was a good moment. There’s no chance that The Help can win Best Picture, right? Haven’t we learned never to overestimate white guilt when we’re dealing with a voting pool of white people in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s? I’m mad that I didn’t parlay The Help with Liz Taylor.

Pappademas: Drink if you had “Louis B. Mayer” on your bingo card.

Greenwald: He’s cut! The Artist is cut!

Simmons: Hugo doesn’t think it’s a damned show! He thinks it’s a damned fight!

Harris: Okay, keeping up with the feces-related theme: I’m pretty sure Harvey Weinstein just crapped himself. The Artist losing Best Film Editing — a movie that often correlates closely with Best Picture — is the first major shock of the night.

Barshad: Well, here’s the thing: I really think that if we take into consideration the earlier … AHHHHH BRADLEY COOPER’S MOUSTACHE AHHH.

Pappademas: Hey, that joke in the test-audience sketch about somebody suggesting they cut “Over the Rainbow” from Wizard of Oz is hilarious, because they really did almost cut “Over the Rainbow” after initial test screenings! And by “hilarious” I mean “oh, God, I’ve wasted my life accumulating useless information and now I’m dying of amusement-deprivation.”

Fierman: They are moving this thing along, I have to give that to them.

Harris: Dan, is this a bad time to tell you that a Cirque du Soleil appearance is coming up?

Lambert: I hope Transformers wins everything and then they make Transformers 4 with no humans in it and then the Transformers win all the acting awards and play live drums from a balconette next year like Pharrell Williams is currently doing for an audience of all Transformers and the after-party takes place at the Transformers cantina. I’m just a girl from the valley with a dream.

Simmons: Some Oscars that were announced during the last commercial …

“Happy to Be There” Oscar — Stacy Keibler in a landslide

“Weight Loss That Has My Wife the Most Concerned” Oscar — The Skeleton Dressed Like Angelina Jolie

“Best Nominee Doppelganger” Oscar — that guy from The Artist and wrestler Triple H … no, really, it’s there

“Best Facial Expressions” Oscar — Martin Scorsese (for the 30th straight year)

“Biggest Bummer That He’s Not Funny Anymore” Oscar — Chris Guest (in an upset over Crystal)

“Funniest 2011 Movie for a 2011 Nominee That’s Not the Movie They Were Nominated For” — Priest (Christopher Plummer)

“Best Attempt to Taunt Twitter” Oscar — Bradley Cooper’s Mustache. Two more shots of that thing and it will trend.

Lisanti: I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Cirque du Soleil wouldn’t supply their kinetic poetry for any movie that isn’t at least 40 years old. I expect this montage to end with an acrobatic homage to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Lambert: I think those circus performers just retroactively outed Cary Grant.

Juliet Litman: The Cirque interlude feels like as good a time as any to mention that without a doubt, the best part of the night is that Chris Harrison was stationed right next to Ryan Seacrest when Sacha Baron Cohen threw the fake ashes. The serendipitous proximity meant lots of screen time for a smiling Chris Harrison. Once again, this guy is on TV, looking comparatively happy and calm, while saying less than five words.

Lambert: Nothing will ever top the Three 6 Mafia performance/win for Oscars rap moments. Three people I wish were hosting the Oscars instead of Billy Crystal:

1. The Clipse
2. Ryan Gosling
3. Siri the app co-hosting with Suri Cruise

Pappademas: Aaaaaand here come Downey and Paltrow to mock the idea that reality television/documentaries are “bleeding edge.” This Oscars is basically Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights throwing Floyd Gondolli out of his house on New Year’s Eve for talking about how videotape is the future. (Which means somebody should go check on William H. Macy immediately.)

Lambert: Downey and Paltrow were shading James Franco, which is totally like the two drama kid seniors shading the hot-shot young sophomore they know is gunning for/going to get their seat. Chris Rock should stage a hosting coup right now. WHO’S COMING WITH ME?

Simmons: In case you guys wanted to know what buying an Oscar looked like, you just witnessed it with Undefeated winning for Best Documentary. That was a well-done sports documentary about a high school sports team that’s been made at least 15 times already. And then … Harvey Weinstein bought it. Now it’s an Oscar winner. All due respect to everyone who made it, but anyone who thinks Undefeated was better than Bill Cunningham New York (not even nominated!!!!!!) … I mean, it’s just perplexing. And how does Paradise Lost 3 get nominated? Really? The way the Oscars treats documentaries makes me sad. This is just one of like 75 reasons why documentary directors are so bitter. (Reasons 1 through 37: being broke.)

Jay Kang: This Chris Rock haircut has been bothering me for the past three months. Is this how extremely rich famous dudes bargain with the passing of time? Especially if they won’t let themselves do Botox? Why else would you revisit the haircuts of your oldest roles? ‘Cause right now, I’m expecting Chris to bust out with a “Let me get one rib” and ask Billy Crystal to pour some Coke in his hands. In other news, I LOVE love love LOVE Chris Rock, but he needs to switch up his flow a bit. His joke rhythms are getting so repetitive that Jim Rome thinks he’s using the “_______ is so __________ that [INSERT NAME OF BELEAGUERED ATHLETE] thinks [INSERT PLATITUDE].

Harris: This seems like a good moment to apologize to everyone whose Oscar pool chances I ruined, and also to point out that in baseball if I went 5-for-11 you’d be damn glad to have me! If anybody needs me for the rest of the evening I will be weeping in the corner and wondering how the guys from Entourage managed to beat four good documentaries.

Lisanti: Things That Skew Younger Than Tonight’s Oscars:

• Attendance at a Blue Plate Special screening of Steamboat Willie

• The roster of a shuffleboard tournament in the third-spriest retirement community in Boca Raton

• Actresses scrawled in the F-G section of Robert Evans’ black book from 1972 (Sample entry: “Shelley Finnegan. Did I shag her within an inch of her life? You bet I did”)

• People with buildings named after them on the Paramount lot

• The average age of an Academy member

Lambert: Ben Stiller so good at playing hostile it almost seems like he’s feeling genuine hostility toward Emma Stone for being so much taller and more charming than him.

Ryan: Danny Ainge just signed Emma Stone to the mid-level exception.

Greenwald: HUGO?!? Over Planet of the Apes?

Somewhere in England there’s a small man in a Ping-Pong-ball-studded lycra body suit getting very, very drunk.

Harris: Aside for nerds who actually care about the outcome of all of this: Hugo has now won all of the awards it was expected to win AND all of the close calls. But anything more would shift the dynamic of the evening from “minor surprise” to “major upset.” And The Artist could still end up with six for the night. (Sorry, I know that wasn’t funny at all. But this show has robbed me of my wit, and my will.)

Lambert: Here’s what I think: Hugo‘s going to sweep everything because the old white male Academy can relate most to Scorsese’s career arc. Think about it: the Oscars are so old, they still consider David Fincher a young gun, and he is 49. That said, I hate ageism in both directions (youngs vs. olds and vice versa) because there are talented people of all ages, always, and I love Christopher Plummer. Jonah Hill better make the audio clip of Plummer saying “Jonah” into his new ringtone.

Simmons: When Christopher Plummer won, they should have cut to stock footage of Max von Sydow standing up and applauding Pele’s bicycle-kick goal in 1981. Long live the Good Nazi!!!!!!!

Lisanti: I like to think that Christopher Plummer won that Oscar because the front of my house is featured in Beginners. (True story.) (True, really boring story.) (I won him that Oscar, though.)

David Jacoby: This is your friendly Grantland colleague reminder that right now is when you should switch to the All-Star Game because there are three minutes left, LeBron has six 3s, and somehow Pharrell is maestro-ing both events simultaneously .

Simmons: Hugo took a 20-point lead on The Artist, but The Artist came charging back thanks to a phenomenal performance by LeBron James. Wait, I’m getting confused.

Pappademas: The giant cardboard Hans Zimmer score is going to get so laid tonight.

Lambert: Was he quoting Quiz Kid Donnie Smith from Magnolia with the whole “I have so much love to give” speech? Here’s hoping Viola Davis accepts hers doing a Frank T.J. Mackey monologue. Zach Galifianakis looks like he might break during this bit. A four-hour staring contest between Zach and Will Ferrell should be the host the next Oscars.


Lisanti: To qualify to appear in the show tonight, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis had to have their birth certificates “touched up” in the Dominican Republic.

Pappademas: Really wish Flight of the Conchords was still on so we could see how badly Jemaine handles Bret winning an Oscar.

Barshad: I’m psyched this dude won because I always thought Jemaine was funnier on Flight of the Conchords and feel like his movie career is going better, so this should equal up their relationship.

Simmons: Just won my “Oscars gets killed on Twitter” and “LeBron has a phenomenal All-Star game that falls apart in the last 90 seconds” parlay. Big big big Dead Montage coming up … this is shaping up to be a lucrative night.

Silver: Oscar Fail — Crystal trying to turn Clooney into his new front-row Nicholson.

Lambert: Meryl Streep is dressed as an Oscar statue and Michelle Williams brought Kim Kelly as her date. Something about Angelina Jolie trying so hard to be sexy and personable all of a sudden after fooling us forever with the whole “badass who doesn’t give one single fuck what you think” persona is making me suuuuuper uncomfortable. Her midlife crisis is going to be even more spectacular than Gwyneth’s.

Fierman: As long as she doesn’t die of malnutrition on the stage, I’m cool.

Pappademas: Midnight in Paris for original screenplay? I can’t even. I guarantee you he wrote that “measured out in coke spoons” joke in 1978 after getting turned away from Studio 54 and spent the decades since looking for a place to put it.

Harris: Important historical note: With this, his fourth Oscar, Woody Allen moves into a tie with Katharine Hepburn for Most Oscars Won by Somebody Who Didn’t Give Enough of a Shit to Show Up.

Simmons: I love Woody’s “Don’t Give Enough of a Shit to Show Up” move. It’s definitely cooler than Polanski’s “I Can’t Show Up Because I’ll Get Arrested” move.

Baker: Reese Witherspoon just shot up my personal approval ratings faster than anyone other than Kristen Bell that other week with the sloth. Citing OVERBOARD as the movie that “touches her soul?” Say no more. Maybe she’s angling for a remake? I can actually totally see Reese pulling off the buh buh buh buh buh buh buh buh.

Pappademas: Can’t believe they let Milla Jovovich present the Sci-Tech awards. Weren’t they worried she’d go off on a long unscripted rant decrying the Umbrella Corporation and its dangerous zombie-making experiments?

Harris: I cannot believe they made Michael Douglas, a man who is famous for not being able to pronounce anything right, even “nuclear,” say “Hazanavicius” — or, as he put it, “Havin’ a sneeze us.”

Rembert Browne: Just getting out of the All-Star game and seeing 150+ missed e-mails reminds me of that time I overslept 18 hours the day Waffle House announced they were no longer cash-only.

Pappademas: And the French movie about how great American movies used to be takes one away from the American movie about how great French movies used to be! Cue grainy footage of old-timey mustachioed boxers engaged in fisticuffs!

Lisanti: Now that Billy Crystal’s mentioned how many times Meryl Streep has lost, it seems like the perfect time to introduce the Great GIF Wall of Oscar Loser Reaction Shots into the thread.

Lambert: In my alternate-brain Oscars, that Bridemaids sequence was funny and there is a long Watch the Throne performance sequence coming up for the death montage.

Lynch: Can someone else be the asshole and admit to being disappointed by this In Memoriam montage? Is it just because “What a Wonderful World” rained down so relentlessly on Idol in the past few weeks? I’m sorry?

Harris: Why exactly is it a “wonderful world” if everyone in it dies?

Fierman: OK. This is fairly classy. So … Time for the 2012 Death Futures!

I have Kirk Douglas with Harper Lee as a sleeper second pick.

Pappademas: My money’s on the kid from Hugo. You never know.

Although based on that commercial with the adorable little girl saying, “Hi, TV” — and everything else that’s happened tonight — my pick for next year’s death pool is “movies.”

Lisanti: “Look, everybody. No one’s excited about anything this year. How are we going to squeeze the sizzle from a bunch of mute French people and a kid repairing a rusty robot inside a clock in a Paris train station? We’re not, that’s how. So here’s how we do it: Old, boring, and FAST. People are going to suffer, but we’re not going to overstay our welcome. Much. We get this thing wrapped up in three hours, we’ll be hailed as heroes!. If we’re not all scarfing Double-Doubles at the In- N-Out truck at the Vanity Fair party before nine, we’ve failed. Let’s do this!!!”

Brian Grazer’s inspirational production meeting speech

Pappademas: It’s fun to pretend that every time Ed Norton talks in one of these montages he’s talking about Hulk.

Greenwald: You movies can have your space cellos and your charming idylls about magic Frenchmen and dung-filled pies. Me? I’m sticking with the TV beat, where taut Liam Neeson thrillers like Taken get remade as hour-long bursts of hot nonsense starring Ashley Judd and The Artist Formerly Known As Ashley Judd’s Face.

Lambert: “All the mediocre roles for women are on television now!” — Ashley Judd’s agent

Pappademas: Wow. Drink if you had “Long, long silent pause in which Billy Crystal looks like the Buster Keaton robot downloading new instructions from the satellite” on your bingo card.

Silver: I’m good with Jean. But any other year, Clooney wins for a career-high performance. But if it were up to me, Oldman should have won this. He accomplished so much by doing very little in Tinker.

Lambert: “Watch out, he’s going Benigni.”

Harris: It’s always amazing to see the disconnect between the Oscar voters in the theater and the Oscar voters overall. Dujardin’s name gets an incredibly tepid response and (unlike Spencer and Plummer) nothing close to a standing ovation. The Academy may have picked him; the audience didn’t.

Lisanti: And with Jean Dujardin’s victory, Roberto Benigni is released from his curse, and can finally stop meeting all challengers for a high-stakes game of pool.

Browne: After a scan of my slanderous Twitter timeline, I’m envisioning Gabourey Sidibe wearing a hologram jersey dress, a Yankees fitted, flip-flops with tube socks, a gas mask, and a Viking helmet while spitting out sunflower seeds.

But then again, I haven’t turned it on yet. Could be totally off.

Silver: Seeing Colin Firth on the Oscar stage gets me pissed off all over again that The Social Network lost to The King’s Speech. Come on!

Simmons: Seeing Colin Firth interact with Rooney Mara on the Oscar stage gets me pissed off all over again that The Social Network lost to The King’s Speech. Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pappademas: Seeing Rooney Mara not win an Oscar gets me pissed off all over again that they didn’t CGI Billy Crystal into the cattle-prod rape scene from Dragon Tattoo during the opening number. Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lambert: Oh, Meryl Streep. Damn you, Regina George.

Silver: Even Meryl said it: “COME ON!” This win is a joke. Michelle Williams should have won. Not because she was so much better than the rest in My Week With Marilyn, but because she got shafted for not getting anything for Blue Valentine.

Lambert: Oh, good, maybe Tom Cruise will do the Frank T.J. Mackey bit himself, the way he does EVERY SHINING DAY OF HIS LIFE.

Silver: Does Tom Cruise look younger?

Pappademas: Sort of perfect that the final presenter of this deeply-in-denial-of-Hollywood’s-spiral-toward-death show is a man who does not age.

Lambert: Is that Explosions in the Sky? Thanks again, Friday Night Lights. Wish you could win all the Oscars.

Pappademas: Texas and War Horse forever

Lambert: Just kidding. It was this guy.

Pappademas: Ah, yes, Mychael Hearts in Atlantis Danna.

Browne: Who saw that high-five? Who saw it? You know you’re going to win, at least practice your point of contact. I’m so over this show.

Fierman: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lambert: Fuck the Oscars, fuck that dog, fuck these dudes, fuck me for watching the whole thing (again), and fucking thank God a new Eastbound & Down is on tonight!

Harris: In tribute to The Artist, I have nothing to say.

Silver: Good for The Artist. I really enjoyed it. But I’m sad to see the subtlety and beauty of The Descendents get overlooked. For me, what Alexander Payne did with his film is much harder to do. Capturing real human emotion and complexity. Ah well.

Pappademas: I like that the credits are a montage of things that happened during this show about remembering things, because it gives me the chance to remember myself remembering things.

Lynch: We all did some hard work tonight.

Simmons: The lesson, as always: I hate French people.

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