UPPERDATE: 12:20am Monday: O'Toole lost; the graceless churls. Especially since Whitaker won for a supporting performance only slightly larger than Alan Arkin's. Go figure. Pfft. Something should have blown up during a dance number-- or one of those annoying tableau-silhouettes.
Chances are, millions of people tonight will be wearing down their remotes, alternating between their preferred Sunday programming and catching bits of the Oscars during the commercials. It's seldom the other way around, else households everywhere would end up re-enacting Beckett, clodding and mugging about and saying, We're waiting for Best Actor! ("What do you expect, you always wait till the last moment.") I've already made my speculations about how things will turn out, and there's little I'd add to them, except these points I'd make to contradict some of the faux-buzz out there:
- Little Miss Sunshine and Babel are not going to win Best Picture. Babel won't win because it looks too much like Important-Oscar-Movie, and because of the Crash-backlash from last year. The Academy won't want to look entirely awash in liberal seriousness. Little Miss won't win for a completely different reason. It's an indie film (relatively) and indie films just don't win the top prize; they never have. Check the history and then modify whatever wagers you've made accordingly.
- Apparently Best Director will be presented by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. Translation: Scorcese has this sewn up tighter than William Shatner's girdle. The optic is crafted: to put the four most influential American directors of their generation on the same stage at once. It's going to be Scorcese's formal investiture into the ranks of the Great. Or, in Scorcesean terms, he's gonna get Made.
- 1941: How Green Was My Valley defeats both Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon. You tell me how that happens.
- 1951: A Streetcar Named Desire, with a Brando performance people are still aping fifty-plus years later, loses. To An American In Paris, no less.
- 1952: Cecil B. DeMille's dreadful circus epic The Greatest Show on Earth defeats High Noon.
- 1964: My Fair Lady inexplicably defeats Dr Strangelove --- and Mary Poppins.
- 1968: Oliver! begs a little more than Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet and The Lion In Winter. And 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn't even get nominated.
- 1976: Rocky defeats Taxi Driver, All The President's Men and Network.
- 1977: For all its flaws, its pure invention and scope seemed to have Star Wars as a lock. It lost to, of all things, Annie Hall. Marshall McLuhan might have said something interesting about that.
- 1979: Kramer vs Kramer defeats Apocalypse Now. And Dustin Hoffman wins Best Actor.
- 1988: Rain Man defeats Mississippi Burning and Dangerous Liaisons. And Dustin Hoffman wins Best Actor. Hmmm.
- 1990: Dances With Wolves defeats Goodfellas. You know the Academy still regrets that decision.
- 1994: Much as I loathe it personally, Pulp Fiction's loss to Forrest fucking Gump still pisses a lot of people off. Rightly.
- 1998: Shakespeare in Love denies Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line.
- 2000: Gladiator slays Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Traffic.
- 2005: Crash wins.