February 27, 2007

One Last Date with Oscar

The Reeler's annual review of Academy Awards liveblogs

By S.T. VanAirsdale

The astounding Oscar liveblogging trend recognized last year on The Reeler expanded at least a hundred fold in 2007, with seasoned professionals like fanboy godhead Harry Knowles (10 years running!) and Defamer giving way to a swamp of newcomers like Nathan Lee, Glenn Kenny and God only knows who else who determined that writing and instantly publishing every thought they have about the four-hour Academy Awards broadcast demands such high-visibility contextualization. And while this love child of technology and myopia could not have yielded a more bountiful output of clones, it's always important to gauge the species' health for the sake of both future generations and those hapless contemporary souls whose obsession with this shit may require a personal relationship with these curious phenomena.

So keeping in mind some of last year's notable vintage while choosing a worthy cross-section of the current batch, here's a look at where the fantastic universe of Oscar liveblogs took readers in 2007 (and as always, heavy on the [sic]):

--Ain't It Cool News

Blogger: Harry Knowles

General Tone: Tittering fanboy, with sprinkles of self-congratulation. The ceremony hasn't even started and already we know that this liveblogging vet took an Oscar-day call from Guillermo del Toro -- you know, just for the hell of it.

Perceptive Highlight of the Evening: "Too many production numbers - those shadow things - they creep me the fuck out."

Moment Readers First Contemplated Suicide: Very, very early, in fact -- like, pre-show early -- when Knowles actually wrote, "Eddie Murphy on Baba wules."

Best Reader Comment: "I'm glad for Melissa Etheridge, being a cancer survivor must be sweeter but this ain't too shabby either." (Contributed by "BrokenHeath")

Come Back in '08? Plain and simple, Harry Knowles runs the donkey show of Oscar liveblogs. It's bloody and garish and outlawed in at least six states, its host is a hormonal ringmaster of historic proportions and it is where seemingly every aborted intellectual impulse of the cosmos comes to die on this most hallowed of movie nights. So yeah -- of course you should come back in 2008.

--The AV Club

Bloggers: Keith Phipps, Scott Tobias, Nathan Rabin

General Tone: Refreshingly down-to-earth. I've said this a million times, but nobody does film (and film culture) criticism as well as The AV Club -- emphasis without hyperbole, authority without exclusivity. While their Onion pseudo-colleague Jackie Harvey had the quote of the show ("It's hard to be analytical about this night; I kind of wish I was just able to sit back and take in the magic.") and Amelie Gillette upheld a formidable exclamation point-to-period ratio of 2:1 over at The Hater, these three (with fellow AV Clubber Noel Murray chiming in among the comments) just did what they do best: Listen, observe and welcome readers to the discussion.

Perceptive Highlight of the Evening: Rabin on the Oscars' sound effects chorus: "There are a whole bunch of motherfuckers on TV making sound effects with their mouths yet Michael Winslow (the guy from the police academy who makes funny noises with his mouth) is nowhere to be found. 'Black Oscars' my ass. Fucking Hollywood, always keeping Michael Winslow down."

Moment Readers First Contemplated Suicide: Rabin again, honing his thousand-yard stare one football field at a time: "When did Jack Nicholson turn into Uncle Fester? When was the last time anyone saw his eyes? Isn't it possible he now has crazy glowing red robot eyes available only to celebrities?"

Best Reader Comment: "Surely this was the first time Red Sonja got name-checked at the Oscars, right?" (Adam Villani)

Come Back in '08? If not before. Like, this afternoon.


Bloggers (with individual links to hot solo liveblog action): Erik Davis, Monica Bartyzel, Kim Voynar

General Tone: Play-by-play, but safe, inoffensive and earnest as opposed to Knowles' terse, compulsive and subliterate.

Perceptive Highlight of the Evening: So many! But rookie Bartyzel's exuberant faceplant is too priceless to overlook: "(T)he award goes to... Happy Feet! ... Henry Miller [sic] looks pretty dapper in his tux. (I refuse to make the obvious joke.) At least his acceptance speech is nice and brief." Indeed, obvious jokes about Henry Miller's Oscar triumph would be miles beneath anyone at Cinematical.

Moment Readers First Contemplated Suicide: Not much later, Bartyzel struck again: "(Sherry Lansing's) acceptance speech is one hell of a well-written script. Could she have had Botox? Her face is quite, still for such an award."


Come Back in '08? I don't think so. Former Cinematical stalwart (and '06 liveblogging star) Martha Fischer has disappeared into thin air, and I doubt that fellow banned novelists James Joyce or Hubert Selby Jr. will follow Henry Miller's grand tradition of Oscar glory in the year to come, so fuck it. Hold out for the Top Ten Lists.

--Deadline Hollywood Daily

Blogger: Nikki Finke

General Tone: Are you kidding? Nikki Finke could make bile popsicles without a freezer.

Perceptive Highlight of the Evening: "I'm starting to think that Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima is going to do better at this Oscars than any of the pundits predicted. Maybe even Best Picture? Hmmm."

Moment Readers First Contemplated Suicide: Actually, "suicide" isn't the right word for it. Her opening salvo against Errol Morris ("How, in the world does a quirky piece like this endear movies to the world audience? It doesn't!") actually inspires something more akin to second thoughts, as in: "Fuck, wrong exit -- turn the car around."

Best Reader Comment: Readers? Comments? Please. Not applicable.

Come Back in '08? Why not? Assuming the New Times chain's health benefits cover that all-but-assured emergency spleen removal Finke should require in the days ahead, her convalescence will likely yield at least a few hours of worthwhile Oscar perspective. After the Death Montage, however, all bets are off.

--Daily Intelligencer (New York Magazine)

Bloggers: Heather and Jessica, a k a The Fug Girls

General Tone: Unusually benign -- as opposed to the blistering, side-splitting fashion and culture critiques the authors churn out at Go Fug Yourself. Here, Nicole Kidman is only indirectly accused of Botox overdosage, while there, the girls bring the hammer down is swift, fine form: "If you aren't careful, Naomi's baby will mistake you for a doll it can drag around everywhere by the arm, and that is rarely an enjoyable way to pass the time."

Perceptive Highlight of the Evening: "8:42 p.m. Ellen's monologue is surprisingly stale. ... But hey, at least we know she's not going to do anything that …"

Moment Readers First Contemplated Suicide: "8:42:30 p.m. Sweet GOD, she has a tambourine."

Best Reader Comment: More genuine comment unfriendliness on the part of NYM, spurring alienation and inadequacy complexes at a devastatingly inconvenient moment. But whatever -- they don't want to hear your bullshit at GFY either.

Come Back in '08? Assuming NYM will loosen up a bit and give Heather and Jessica the resources they need to flourish -- namely snark blanche, Sally Kirkland and a couple of flamethrowers -- the Girls can carry the benefit of the doubt for at least the year to come.


Bloggers: Jen Chung, Karen Wilson, Margaret Harper

General Tone: Couch-chic yet comprehensive, with generous helpings of breezy errata. Oscar liveblogging you can read with your Mom.

Perceptive Highlight of the Evening: "JC: Wait. did they say infernal affairs was japanese? MH: yes KW: dumbasses"

Moment Readers First Contemplated Suicide: "KW: i've been to those student academy award ceremonies, the academy has good food JC: heh KW: lots of shrimp"

Best Reader Comment: "new york sucks ass. you want to have your face in everything. just take a back seat for once. just this once." ("matty")

Come Back in '08? Sure, if only to see if the authors can continue their fearless duel with the magnitude of the telecast itself: "I'll see your Michael Mann montage, and raise you four paragraphs on Jaden Smith's baby teeth," Gothamist seems to mutter without ever breaking character. This is ambition New York can and should cherish.

--Village Voice

Blogger: Nathan Lee

General Tone: Shitfaced punk critic, but still a few dozen IQ points ahead of anybody else blogging this fucking thing.

Perceptive Highlight of the Evening: None of Lee's actual blog entries are half as interesting as their headlines -- "Death to Little Miss Sunshine," "Go Pee," "Where is Jammie Fox?" -- though he brings an early, essential gay perspective clearly lacking in other featured liveblogs: "The sound effects choir. WTF? Is this supposed to be funny, clever? Fiasco. This eliminates any good will generated by the whole Andre Leon Talley thing."

Moment Readers First Contemplated Suicide: Probably just spotting a "Nathan Lee Blogs the Oscars" link in the Voice film section.

Best Reader Comment: "Jesus, go change your diaper and read a book. If this is what the blogosphere has wrought then fuck the entire internet." ("TL")

Come Back in '08? Absolutely, but only -- I mean only -- for a Gothamist-style, Sarris-Hoberman-Lee multi-generational free-jazz Oscar meltdown to be relayed by Norman Mailer in an annotated transcript via iChat. We have the technology. Now we just need the courage.

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