86th Academy Awards Made History

Oscar Selfie

The following is a partial list of last night’s 86th Academy Awards winners. I’ve included Production Budget from Box Office Mojo, just for comparison:

Gravity: 7 Wins

Best Directing, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Music (Original Score).

Production Budget: $100 Million

12 Years A Slave: 3 Wins

Best Picture, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay

Production Budget: $20 Million

Dallas Buyers Club: 3 Wins

Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Make-up and Hairstyling

Production Budget: $5 Million

The Great Gatsby: 2 Wins

Best Costume Design, Production Design

Production Budget: $105 Million

Blue Jasmine: 1 Win

Best Actress

Production Budget: N/A

Her: 1 Win

Best Original Screenplay

Production Budget: $23 Million

12 Years A Slave Poster copy

The Oscars last night made history in two categories… and I don’t mean Ellen Degeneres’ star-studded group selfie setting retweeting record. First, there was Gravity’s director Alfonso Cuarón as the first Latin American to win the Best Directing Oscar. Gravity seemed to be the major winner last night with seven Oscars. Basically the 3D, sic-fi movie had snatched all technical wins, as predicted by many.

But in every Academy Awards, the top prize is Best Picture, here we see 12 Years A Slave make history with Steve McQueen becoming the first black director to garner the Best Picture Oscar honour. Lupita Lyong’o also came out victorious as this is her first feature film. I’m happy to see too that John Ridley win the Best Adapted Screenplay, the second black winner to fetch a writing Oscar, after Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious in 2009. Ridley has turned Solomon Northup’s poignant memoir into a script for an impressive visual testament. Because of the film, this eye-witness narrative of Solomon Northup hopefully will find its way into school curricula soon. This is the power of cinema in transforming society.

Cate Blanchet‘s win for her role in Blue Jasmine gives her a chance to counter a misconception: “… and perhaps, those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the centre, are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money.”

Hopefully after all the ‘history’ being made, one day we won’t have to identify the colour, ethnicity, or gender of winners in saying so-and-so is the first black, or hispanic, or woman to win this or do that.

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The reason I’ve included the Production Budget in the above list is that I remember the ‘implosion’ of the movie industry‘ Steven Spielberg had predicted a year ago as he cited productions getting more and more costly, aiming at mega, iron-man effects to please the general public. While Gravity might fit that category with its 3D, high-tech, CGI-driven grandiosity and out-of-this-world spectacle, there are also worthy, smaller productions that cost only a fraction of a colossal budget, but still can move audiences and touch the human heart.

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Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

History Made At The Oscars: Kathryn Bigelow Wins Best Director

Our Mega Culture

12 Years A Slave: Beauty and Sadness (Movie Review)

Narrative of Solomon Northup: A Voice that Must Be Heard (Book Review)

Nebraska: Color is Superfluous (Movie Review)

The Great Gatsby Movie Review

Blue Jasmine: Homage & Re-imagining

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Oscar Results 2013

Argo (3): Best Picture, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay

Life of Pi (4): Best Director Ang Lee, Cinematography, Original Score, Visual Effects

Les Misérables (3): Best Actress in a Supporting Role Anne Hathaway, Makeup & Hairstyling (hair’s new this year), Sound Mixing

Lincoln (2): Best Actor in a Leading Role Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Production Design

Silver Linings Playbook (1): Best Actress in a Leading Role Jennifer Lawrence

Django Unchained (2): Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Original Screenplay Quentin Tarantino.

Skyfall (2): Best Original Song Adele, Best Sound Editing (draw with ZDT)

Zero Dark Thirty (1): Best Sound Editing

Anna Karenina (1): Costume Design

Amour (1): Best Foreign Language Film

The above is a list of the major winners. For a full list, CLICK HERE.

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The film winning Best Picture is always considered the major winner. So Argo it is. Interesting that the director of a Best Picture is not even nominated. No matter, the 1979 Iran hostage crisis came to a glorious end for Ben Affleck. “… it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up.” Glad he thanked Canada in his acceptance speech, along with Iran. Equal opportunity thanker he is.

Life of Pi has the most Oscars. I’m excited for them. Canadian composer Mychael Danna wins with his Indian-influenced score. Director Ang Lee gave a gracious acceptance speech thanking Taiwan, where he filmed the majority of the movie, all the 3,000 people involved in the production, and yes, the author of the Booker Prize winning novel, Canadian writer Yann Martel. For those who are book lovers and don’t want to spoil their good memory of their reading experience, I say, go see the film. It’s worthy of its literary source.

Glad to see Les Miz being honored with three awards. The dream came true for Anne Hathaway, winning her first Oscar, as expected. Deservedly, the Make-up and Hairstyling people won as well, with hairstyling being the first time recognized at the Oscars. Just look at Hugh Jackman at the opening scenes you’d appreciate their effort. That he didn’t eat or drink for over 13 hrs to shoot those scenes helped too. The highlight of last night’s Awards Show for me was the whole Les Miz cast singing on stage.

While I’m at that, get the orchestra back in the Theatre where the action is next time. You can hear the discrepancy in timing with the singing at certain points. And please, don’t rush people off stage by playing all those irrelevant (or maybe tackily relevant) old movie themes. So rude to the present winners and disrespectful to those past productions. Here are some I remember… Jaws, The Magnificent Seven, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind (that’s when Quentin Tarantino was speaking).

Why, with all the technical talents around, the tribute to fifty years of James Bond was done with such a lack-lustre montage? To help us forget it, Shirley Bassey came on stage to sing Goldfinger after that. In my opinion, Goldfinger is probably the best James Bond song. And Bassey just showed, at 76, the unfading colours of a great voice. So’s Barbra Streisand, at 70, delivered a moving The Way We Were after the Memoriam clip, paying tribute to Marvin Hamlisch who wrote the Oscar winning song (1974). Memories flooded back as she sang at the Oscars the first time last night after 36 years. With all due respect to Adele and her Skyfall win, these two veteran singers made a sharp contrast to her shaky performance.

Now, Lincoln‘s disappointing results baffled me. Coming into the Awards Season, it was the strongest contender, with 12 nominations. The only major win was Daniel Day-Lewis who was almost locked-in for Best Actor, and deservedly so. He is now the only actor winning three Oscar Best Actor awards. I’ve seen all his winning films. While his Lincoln portrayal is impressive, I remember being captivated by his first Oscar winning role in My Left Foot (1989) as Irish writer Christy Brown who was afflicted with cerebral palsy and could only use his left foot to write.

And then there’s Jennifer Lawrence, what a good sport. It’s embarrassing falling on the steps going up the stage, but getting an Oscar way over compensates for it. Her performance in Silver Linings Playbook confirms her position as a leading female character actor at 22. I’ve seen her much younger performances before all the Hunger Games hype, and knew that she would be a rising star. The two films I’m thinking of are The Burning Plain (2008) and Winter’s Bone (2010).

As for the film and the actress I’ve been silently rooting for, Zero Dark Thirty and Jessica Chastain, well, at least it has one Oscar. I’m not too disappointed though for I trust Kathryn Bigelow‘s talent and skill can only create more strong productions, and hopefully not being marred by unnecessary controversies like she has with ZDT. As for Jessica Chastain, I know she will deliver in whatever film she’s in… given a good role and in the hands of a capable director. I wish her all the best.

As for next year’s Oscars? Captain Kirk is right… you’d want to honour the film industry, not to spite it with a bad host and degrading jokes, no matter how entertaining the singing and dancing are. Yes, I’m referring to the opening number, plus some other ones that left us with a bad aftertaste. So please, bring on a different perspective, one that represents the other half of the human race. Let’s have Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to co-host next year’s Oscars.

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CLICK ON the following links to my review of:

Life of Pi the movie

Life of Pi the book

Zero Dark Thirty and Argo

Lincoln

Les Miserables

Anna Karenina the movie

Anna Karenina the book

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Oscar Winners 2012

So here we are, another Academy Awards. Despite the gallant effort by Billy Crystal, his ninth time hosting, Oscars 2012 was lackluster and bland. Memorable moments were few. There was the usual glamour and glitter on the red carpet, but inside the ‘Chapter 11 Theatre”, renamed by Crystal, it was a night of mere form devoid of spirit.

With all the talents and resources they put into the production, you’d expect better executions and funnier, more brilliant presentations… The beginning mashup intro of the nominated films went well, starring Billy Chrystal in every one, but I was at a loss to see later a montage made up of clichéd, past movie moments, or that not funny Wizard of Oz focus group clip. A sound problem lasted long enough that I had to switch channel to make sure it wasn’t my TV.

Even before the show began, I was a bit disheartened. The reversal of the Academy decision to let Sacha Baron Cohen attend in character as ‘The Dictator’ could only open up opportunities for stunting. Self-promotion and free publicity aside, the shenanigan on the red carpet was definitely uncalled for. I’m referring to ‘The Dictator’ carrying an urn which he said contained Kim Jong-il’s ashes, as he was fulfilling the late ruler’s dream to attend the Oscars. Even up to then was fine. But, what’s the point of dumping the ashes all over Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet?  If you’ve missed it, click here to see what actually happened.

From ashes to awards, here are some major winners:

The Artist – 5 wins. Best Picture, Best Actor Jean Dujardin, Best Director Michel Hazanavicius, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design.

Hugo – 5 wins. Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects.

The Iron Lady – 2 wins. Best Actress Meryl Streep, Best Makeup Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland.

The Help – 1 win. Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer.

Midnight In Paris – 1 win. Best Original Screenplay, Woody Allen.

The Descendants – 1 win. Best Adapted Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash.

Some highlights and tidbits:

Jean Dujardin in his acceptance speech noted Douglas Fairbanks as the first Oscar host in 1929: “Tickets cost $5 and it lasted 15 minutes. Times have changed.” 1929 was the last year that a silent movie won an Oscar.

1929 was also the year Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow were born, both Best Supporting Actor contenders. Canadian Plummer set the record for the oldest actor to win an Oscar at age 82 for Beginners.

A Separation wins Best Foreign Language Film. Writer/director Asghar Farhadi accepted Iran’s first Oscar. The film is an intense and totally captivating story of domestic conflicts marked by social and religious influences. Farhadi in his acceptance speech movingly distinguished between the people and the politics of his country.

Canadian entertainment troupe Cirque du Soleil added some spectacular performance and much needed energy at an otherwise lacklustre award show.

Colin Firth presenting Best Actress Award to Meryl Streep, his co-star in Mamma Mia! Streep has been nominated 17 times, this is her second Best Actress win since Sophie’s Choice in 1983. She’d also won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer in 1980. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her husband first, before the music drowned out her words she noted. Apparently moved and thrilled:

“When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going: ‘Aww no. Not her again’. But, you know, whatever.”

Woody Allen wins Best Original Screenplay for Midnight In Paris. I believe it’s an extended version of a short piece he wrote entitled “A Twenties Memory” decades earlier. Will we ever have the chance to hear  Woody Allen’s acceptance speech?

The Artist, a silent movie, wins Best Original Score. Music speaks louder than words.

While Hugo is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, his name was not mentioned by any of the winners in their acceptance speeches. Do authors have to become filmmakers before they are noticed?

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For a full list of Oscar Winners 2012, CLICK HERE.

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To read my review of The Artist, CLICK HERE.

To read my review of Midnight In Paris, CLICK HERE.

Forget About Tiger Mothering, Try Inspirational Parenting

One of the most memorable lines in last week’s Academy Awards is Tom Hooper’s: “The moral of the story is: Listen to your mother.”

What more satisfaction can a mom get than to hear her son utter these words in front of a billion viewers worldwide.

Here’s the excerpt of his speech leading to this final conclusion:

“My mum was invited to a fringe theater play-reading of an unproduced, unrehearsed play called The King’s Speech in 2007She came home, rang me up and said, ‘Tom, I think I found your next film.’

I followed The New York Times reporter/blogger Melena Ryzik’s The Carpetbagger on Twitter through the Awards Season. Of all the Oscar interview write-ups I’ve read, and there are numerous, Ryzik’s “A Chat With The Mother Who Knows Best” has left the most lasting impression on me. And it was in that article that I found these two words, “inspirational parenting”. They were nothing short of an epiphany for me, striking a chord instantly.

Photo Credit: Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Ryzik talked to “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper’s mother after her son’s Oscar win, calling her “an exemplar of inspirational parenting”. Meredith Hooper is an academic and author of over 60 fiction and non-fiction works for children. Here are some excerpts from Ryzik’s article:

Did she realize she’d caused worldwide guilt among children for not listening to their mothers?

“I did not!” Ms. Hooper protested. “I didn’t say it. My advice is exactly the opposite — that we should all listen to our children.”

Now isn’t that the kind of talk that can make Amy Chua cringe? The kind of parenting style that prompted her to write about her own school of tough love parenting in her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, now 7 weeks so far on the NYT Bestsellers List. It’s all that debate about teacher-fronted or child-centred learning all over again.

I’ve left comments on others’ blogs about my view of this current hot topic of the “Tiger Mom”, but have not posted about it here on Ripple Effects. The main reason is that I have not read the book, so I should not say too much when I haven’t heard all that Amy Chua has to say, albeit I can understand her perspective since I share similar ethnic and cultural roots.

Nevertheless, I’d rather write about ‘inspirational parenting’. It just sounds… more uplifting. Just savor the two words… aren’t they sublime? I think I just might adopt the first word as a personal axiom, ‘inspirational’ anything… in speaking, thinking, writing, being… mmm, something to aspire to.

Ok, back to “The King’s Speech”. After seeing the play, Meredith Hooper saw a great potential for a film in this story so full of human interest, irony and humor. As an Australian herself, she was bemused by Logue’s task to teach an English royal to speak:

Logue came as an Australian, and taught the king to speak. How incredible! Because we colonials — it’s assumed that the English would teach us how to speak. So I loved this reversal of roles, that this Australian would arrive in England with his democratic attitude, and no assumptions about class and society and status, all of which I’ve experienced.

Now this just might work for parenting as well. A practice of role reversal could bring about more empathy for both parents and children. Only when we listen and try to understand can we begin to deepen a relationship. I know, only as a therapy session, for kids would be more than willing to take back their role after momentary reversal. Who would want a more arduous job than they need to?

A story, a film, real life, it all boils down to…

So here it was, this simple need to communicate, in a play or in a film. Brilliant! Because it’s all about communicating, every piece of dramatic writing is all about communicating, and this was about someone who couldn’t.”

It’s interesting that Tom did not take up his mother’s enthusiasm right away. Convinced of the latent power in the story, Meredith explained to her son how the elements of effective storytelling fall naturally in place. They shared ideas. It was five months later that the initial notion began to take shape as a film project.

I must add too that the inspirational parenting ends where the creative spark ignites. A wise mother knows when to stop and allow the seed to grow into a life of its own. That’s what Meredith Hooper did… and the rest is Oscar history.

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Click Here to read Melena Ryzik’s NYT article “A Chat With The Mother Who Knows Best”.

Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

Oscar Winners 2011

The King’s Speech (2010): Movie Review

The King’s Speech: Fact And Fiction

Oscar Winners 2011

The beginning clip was an interesting opening, with Anne Hathaway and James Franco appearing in all the nominated Best Pictures. After that, what was promoted as an Oscars with the youngest co-hosts to bring about a youthful makeover had shown to be one of the most uneventful, ok, boring, in years. The preview videos of James Franco and Anne Hathaway rehearsing were much livelier than their actual act. Franco looked like he had a term paper due the next day… or was the deadpan, sleepy look a part of the performance. If it was, then he had chosen the wrong mask. I must give credits to Hathaway for trying to compensate with so much enthusiasm. When Kirk Douglas, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law came up to present, and later, previous Oscar host Billy Crystal made his appearance, I could see some wisdom in ‘age before beauty’. Hopefully a lesson learned: Avoid the trap of ageism.

(Photo Source: Toronto Sun)

So here are the major results. For a full list CLICK HERE to the Oscars Official Site.

The King’s Speech: Best Picture, Best Director Tom Hooper, Best Actor Colin Firth, Best Original Screenplay David Seidler.

The Social Network: Best Adapted Screenplay Aaron Sorkin, Best editing, Best Original Score.

Black Swan: Best Actress Natalie Portman

The Fighter: Best Supporting Actor Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo

Inception: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects

Toy Story 3: Best Animated Feature

Inside Job: Best Documentary Feature

(Photo Credit: Reuters/Gary Hershom)

All the best speeches came from The King’s Speech gang.

David Seidler At 73, Seidler’s win is an inspiration:

“I say this on behalf of all the stutterers in the world. We have a voice. We have been heard… My father always said to me I’d be a late bloomer. I believe I’m the oldest person to win this award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often.”
Definitely a boost to all would-be late bloomers in the world… just gives us hope.

CLICK HERE to view David Seidler’s Oscar Acceptance Speech.

Tom Hooper

“My mum was invited to a fringe theater play reading of an unproduced, unrehearsed play called The King’s Speech in 2007. She almost didn’t go. But thank God she did, because she came home, rang me up and said, ‘Tom, I think I found your next movie.’ So with this tonight, I honour you. And the moral of the story is: listen to your mother.”

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Colin Firth

“I have a feeling my career’s just peaked.”

That’s the beginning of a speech expressing gratitude to many, all from memory, no cheat sheet. Those mentioned included:

“… Harvey (Weinstein, producer) who first took me on 20 years ago when I was a mere child sensation … and Livia, for putting up with my fleeting delusions as royalty…”

You must see it if you’ve missed it. For those of us who were glued to the TV screen the last 10 minutes of the Awards Show last night,  CLICK HERE to watch Colin Firth’s Oscar Acceptance Speech again.

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Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

Forget About Tiger Mothering, Try Inspirational Parenting

The King’s Speech (2010): Movie Review

The King’s Speech: Fact And Fiction