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Oscar: Night of 1,000 Wrong Guesses
By Bill Newcott, February 28, 2011 08:05 AM
So, how did your Oscar Night Predictions go? I'm happy to say I set a new personal record this year: I got fewer winners correct than ever.
How badly did I do? Well, I've crunched the numbers, and not only would a monkey throwing darts at an Oscars chart have a higher winning percentage than I got, but so would a monkey throwing darts while another monkey threw darts at him.
But I get ahead of myself. Earlier this week my boss called me into her office for my annual employee review, and in sum I was told two things:
1) I need to be more organized. I tried to explain that my very first editor, 33 years ago, once told me, "Newcott, I'm going to get you organized if it kills me." Sadly, that fine gentleman passed away last year, and I can't help but feel a tad responsible. It appears I also sometimes spell wirds wrong.
B) She told me said I need to start Tweeting. I said, "Okay, how's this: 'I tawt I taw a puddy tat!'" She looked at me with that exasperated look I've been getting from women ever since Sister Avelino in first grade. Turns out I'm supposed to be participating in something the kids call "social networking." It involves writing pithy 140-character comments about whatever you're doing at that moment, even if you're doing something utterly worthless (For example: "I am right now writing on Twitter").
Well, it was too late to get me hooked up on Twitter in time for Oscar night. So I did the next best thing: I sat there with my portable computing device (the kind that fits right on top of my lap!) and wrote my own faux Twitter feed. I also kept a running tab of my amazingly consistent prediction record.
8:35 PM "Oh God, when will this end?"
8:37 PM "It looks like a high school prom just let out backstage, and the Homecoming Queen and her Smug Date accidentally wandered onto the stage."
8:38 PM "I'm a little disappointed. I thought the hosts were going to be Franco Nero and Miss Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies."
8:50 PM "Amazingly, I'm already 0 for 2 picking winners. At least I can't do any worse. Yessir, upwards and onwards!"
8:52 PM "Oh, good. Here's Kirk Douglas. Just by walking onstage, he's raised the median age of the show's participants from 23 to 107."
8:55 PM "Kirk is funny in the way my dad is. You get to a certain age and you can say absolutely anything you want and people laugh and never take offense. I'm looking forward to that. I'm currently at the age where my jokes result in either stares of stark revulsion or frantic calls to 911."
8:57 PM "Hey, Melissa Leo won Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter. She's the one I wanted to win, but I picked the kid from True Grit. The good news: Leo is 50. The bad news: She dropped the F-bomb on live TV. So she's one of those rare performers who combines the elegance and panache of middle age with the gutter mouth an acting-out sixth grader."
9:04 PM "I can't believe it! I just got Best Animated Short wrong! How could I possibly have gotten Best Animated Short wrong? The only way I could have improved my chances at that one would have been to actually watch an animated short in the past 12 months."
9:07 PM "Well, I finally got one right: Best Animated Feature. I guessed T oy Story 3, which of course won. On the other hand, the film I would have loved to see win, The Illusionist, got snubbed. So even in guessing right, I'm disappointed."
9:13 PM "Right again! Aaron Sorkin wins for his The Social Network screenplay. Downside: I can't stand the way Sorkin writes. When his characters speak, I always feel like I'm hearing people read a meticulously crafted script, with every sentence expressing a completely considered thought. People don't really talk that way. They mutter, they stumble, they, um, er...lose their train of thought...Say, these Sun Chips are delicious!"
9:15 PM "David Seidler gives a moving and thoughtful speech while picking up his Best Screenplay Oscar for The King's Speech. Best of all, he starts his speech with the very same anecdote he told from the podium at our Movies For Grownups Awards Gala in Hollywood earlier this month. So the MFG Awards are, more than ever, a warm-up for the Oscars!"
9:16 PM "By the way, I didn't pick him to win. I thought Inception was the script the voters would go for."
9:27 PM "I was hoping that Biutiful, from Mexico, would win best Foreign Film. But the Oscar went to In A Better World. It's Danish. mmmmm...danish! Can you tell I watched The Simpsons instead of the Red Carpet show tonight?"
9:31 PM "Christian Bale for best supporting actor? Instead of Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech? I'll bet that Bale guy threatened to break the legs of the Academy unless they voted for him."
9:43 PM " The Social Network wins best original musical score. Wait, there was music in that movie? It must have been drowned out by that kid whining all the time."
9:49 PM "My favorite all-round movie of the year, Inception, is cleaning up in the technical awards: sound mixing and sound editing. The crime is that writer/director Christopher Nolan was shut out from the directing category."
9:56 PM "An outrage! Best Makeup went to The Wolfman. It should have gone to Barney's Version, in which Paul Giamatti is skillfully aged using ingenious makeup. So it's official: Not only are The Oscars resentful of older people, they're not even fond of make- believe older people."
9:58 PM "It's about time I got another one right. Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland. I wish I'd liked the movie. The Mad Hatter's tea party scene freaked me out a little: It was too much like lunch time at Chuck E. Cheese's."
10:09 PM "So, I've got three out of 16 right so far. Sure glad I don't write about movies for a living!"
10:21 PM " Inside Job won best documentary. I was really hoping Waste Land-winner of the Movies for Grownups Best Documentary Award, would also walk away with an Oscar. Still, I should have guessed Inside Job, the story of the financial meltdown, would be the Academy's favorite. If there's anything rich people hate it's other rich people cheating their way to the top, and thus giving all other rich people a black eye."
10:26 PM "Billy Crystal just walked onstage, and the audience sprang to its feet applauding. If you listened carefully, you could hear them yelling, 'Save us, Billy, save us!' But he cruelly rubbed salt into the wound by showing a kinescope of Bob Hope, Oscar's first TV host, actually being funny. What a concept."
10:35 PM "Ageism alert! Sprint just ran a mean-spirited commercial that has a family tweeting around the dinner table, informing each other that Grandma and Grandpa are coming to live with them, and the old folks are sitting right there at the table, heads back, snoring. Note to Sprint: You may not have noticed that the only people not Tweeting yet are folks 60 and over. If you want to have a shot at signing up those people-your only remaining opportunity for expanding your customer base (aside perhaps from offering decent service)-maybe you'd better hold your nose and make nice with them."
10:40 PM "Just noticed that every time they come back from a commercial break, that little parental warning shows up in the upper left-hand corner: DLV for drugs, language and violence. Drugs I get-more than a couple of tonight's presenters seem to have a little buzz on. Language, yep-Melissa Leo checked off that box for us a couple of hours ago. But violence? Haven't seen any of that, unless you mean the show's assault on our sensibilities."
10:49 PM "Randy Newman seems genuinely surprised that he won Best Song for Toy Story 3. He shouldn't be-virtually the same song won him his first Oscar a couple of years ago for Toy Story 2."
10:55 PM "Well, now they've gotten something right. The tribute to Hollywood legends who died in the past year-an embarrassing stumble on Oscarcasts past-was pretty close to perfect. Celine Dion sang a superb version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," and the clips were thoughtfully selected and shown full-screen. The call-out in memory of the wonderful Lena Horne was especially special. Bravo to whomever put this together."
11:02 PM "I was absolutely sure David Fincher would win best director for The Social Network, but couldn't be happier to be wrong: Tom Hooper really deserved it for The King's Speech. Hey, the past eight minutes of this show have actually been pretty good. We're on a roll."
11:06 PM "How do you honor three living legends who've just won the Academy's Highest Awards for lifetimes of achievement? Apparently you push Eli Wallach, Francis Ford Coppola and Jean-Luc Godard awkwardly onstage, like a clueless chorus line, then shoo them off stage right."
11:15 PM "Best Actress Natalie Portman. Sorry, Annette Bening, another lost night for you. At least you get to go home with your trophy husband."
11:24 PM "Yes! Colin Firth best actor for The King's Speech. I got to stand onstage with him at the Movies for Grownups Awards Gala while a clip from the film showed on a big screen. "How many times have you seen the film?" I asked him as the clip rolled. "Four or five times," he said. "That's quite enough."
11:35 PM "Steven Spielberg just announced The King's Speech as best picture. A triumph for Grownup Movie Lovers everywhere! I was sure they'd go for The Social Network. After all, wasn't this supposed to be the year that the Oscar telecast finally pushed its TV demographic down into the range preferred by those stupid advertisers-the ones who ridicule older folks...or just pretend they don't exist?
But look at the list of tonight's Big Winners: The King's Speech with its age 70-plus writer and 50-plus star, The Fighter with its 50-plus best supporting actress, not to mention 60-plus Randy Newman.
All of which goes to show: Age is simply not a factor when the Academy's voting members choose the best of the year. It's the folks who produce the Oscar TV Show ,with their slavish devotion to youth, who are out of touch.
Oh, and me, as well. I got six out of 24 right .