March 5th, 2006

Chalkboard

Catching Up, Mary's Party, and The 2006 Academy Awards

I always seem to be apologizing to you for not writing in my journal as often as I'd like to -- as often as I used to. I intend to get back into the swing of it, but there always seems to be something getting in my way. As I've said before I've been writing, that hasn't stopped, so it's not as if I have writer's block, it's more like blogger's block, or something like that. I have the entries, I just can't seen to find the time to edit and put them up, and I'm such a whacked out perfectionist that if I can't put all of them up, at the same time, with one entry linking back to all of them, with descriptions, then I shouldn't move forward without at least filling you in on everything that's happened. So I keep writing, and time keeps passing, and there's this great big gap in my journal...

I was speaking with my wonderful, old, high school friend Mary today, (Mary who has been having chemo, and has lost all of her hair, but who has the time and energy to create an entire wedding from scratch for a friend on a moment's notice, who continues to work, and study, and go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and walk eight miles, and is going to be throwing her annual Oscar party tomorrow), and she suggested I just go ahead and write something any way, so here I am, thanks to Mary, and well, a little Live Journal nudge from another old high school friend, Maria : )

I have so much to tell you. There was Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day. I took Beau to San Francisco to stay with our dear friends from Burning Man because he desperately wanted to see Josephine, my little friend, and the darling, yes, darling, young woman he has fallen in love with. I've been dealing with my usual health challenges. Ana, my housekeeper, flipped out, had a serious paranoid episode where she accused me of videotaping her having sex, (WTF?), and quit without giving us any notice, but not before demanding seven hundred dollars. And my back went out.

I've finally finished my holiday collages, (this is just so embarrassing), and will be taking them to Kinko's to copy and send out to all of you who have sent cards to me next week. I remember when I decided I might as well make a couple of Valentine's to add to the group, and Esther thought it would be funny if I ended up having to include Easter bunnies, we laughed so hard, but if I don't get these out soon -- Christmas cards in March -- she won't have been wrong to have suggested this, sigh.

Scott and I are going to go to Mary and Steve's Oscar party tomorrow. They invited me last year but I'm so weird about the Oscars that I chose not to go. I am so slavishly devoted to the whole damned thing that I couldn't loosen up on the control enough to be willing to go to someone else's party. I was always the one who threw the annual Oscar party, people counted on us to do it for them, and there was my famous guacamole, and the fact that I won the Oscar betting pool so often that it was embarrassing enough that we had to change the prize from a cash deal to a gift for the winner, anyone but me, but after Robby and I split I stopped doing it.

In all these years, since I was ten or eleven, I think, I haven't missed a single Oscar show, and I've never watched it anywhere other than in my own home, or wait, that's not true, one year I watched the last part of it with a super famous producer friend at his house, what a trip that was, with everyone trying to outdo each other with their encyclopedic knowledge of film, "No, you're wrong, that was Kurosawa." "Oh please you couldn't be more confused, we're talking Shanghai Cinema here, fifth generation, Tian Zhuangzhuang. Scorsese loves him." "Yeah, maybe, but Kurosawa did it first in Drunken Angel." So it'll be interesting, semi-challenging, and interesting to watch it with my friend and her friends. Plus, Mary says they all have a blast being snarky and shouting at the TV. I'm looking forward to it, I really want to see Mary, I love being with people, and I isolate too much. It'll be good to laugh along with people with whom I have so much in common. I'm just hoping my back'll hold up for me to be able to go, I wasn't doing so well tonight, bla, bla, boring health stuff, bla.

One of the funny things that Mary is known for -- actually there was an article or two in The Times about this -- is the theme food factor. It's pot luck and you have to bring a dish that is either suggested by the title of a nominated film, or that was eaten in one of these films. I'm bringing Humus, and Baba Ganoush, for Syriana, and Munich, and guacamole and chips for Brokeback Mountain, which is a stretch, but they did go to Mexico, and there was a Mexican guy who brought the food to them, but it wouldn't be Oscar Night for me without guacamole. I'm betting there'll be more baked beans there than avocados.

Beau suggested I bring an ass shaped cake with a cowboy hat on it from the X rated cake bakery, but this didn't seem like a particularly sensitive suggestion considering the important groundbreaking nature of the film. When I told him this he said, "Just because someone's gay doesn't mean they don't have a sense of humour about it, Mom." Yeah, but I don't want to be the girl who showed up with the ass cake.

Every year around this time I get obsessed with having to see EVERY SINGLE NOMINATED FILM. Sometimes I manage to pull this off, and sometimes I don't. If I could find a way to see even the shortest of nominated shorts, and all of the obscure technical awards, I would. It's just this weird personal challenge I've set for myself. This, as you probably already know, has been a weird year for Oscar. I'm actually thrilled about this -- that there are so many well-meaning, less commercial, indie films nominated, but this also means that a lot of people, myself included, haven't seen many of them. It's been kind of a mad movie rush for me here, trying to catch up.

I saw Hustle and Flow, and Junebug last night. I loved Hustle and Flow, am in love with Taraji P. Henson, and think she was robbed of a nomination for her amazing fine work in this film. I just want to grab her sweet cheeks and kiss her. As far as Junebug is concerned, I wonder if anyone I know, or anyone who knows anyone I know, has seen it. With the exception of the poor actors, especially Celia Weston, and the AMAZING art of Ann Wood, I'm not a big fan. I love small character-driven films, really, really, really I do, and this has so many good actors in it, and good, weird art as well, but as Scott says, "This is the kind of movie that gives small character driven films a bad name."

We caught Mrs. Henderson Presents in Santa Monica tonight and loved it. What's not to love about a movie that cares about an older woman's perspective, with the added bonus of being British, about theatre, and including nudity, both male and female? An all around win win prospect as far as I'm concerned.

We were going to try to pick up Beau and rush over to the Westside Pavilion in time to see Good Night and Good Luck afterwards, but my back said, "Excuse me, but no one consulted me about this, I would prefer to go home, NOW!" and so we did. Then of course I had go ahead and make the mistake of calling my Mother, my very Republican, almost ninety-year-old Mother, and we got into a heated but ultimately pointless debate about McCarthy. How can she defend this man who ruined so many lives, who was censured by the senate and died of alcoholism at a young forty-seven years old. Unfortunately my Mom was a real nineteen-forties/fifties kind of gal. She really bought the whole, "Commies are trying to destroy us from within," party line. She said, "They had infiltrated the entire movie business and they were very subtle and devious about it." Oh Mom, oh Mom, oh Mom, oh Mom...

I always seem to be watching television when I'm writing in my journal. Probably because I write in bed on my laptop, and I usually have the TV on when I'm in my room in bed. I'm watching a repeat of The Project Runway Reunion Special. I'm enjoying getting to watch some of the more surreal moments again; Andre weeping and EXPRESSSSING, flinging his overly dramatic gangly limbs about in that odd prancy way, Guadalupe tripping on some kind of wicked drug, trying to answer a simple question by going off on this bizarre rant, and wrapping this up with a telltale druggie snap of her fingers and a click of her tongue.

I'm mad for this show. I'm also really loving the brand spanking new Project Jay. Jay is the fashion designer who won the first Project Runway competition. I can't get enough of this show. Who knew that after a lifetime of rejecting the one thing I should have done, the one thing I had everything I needed to succeed at, in terms of family knowledge, connections, and support, that I would end up loving this art form so much. Sad really. Missed opportunities. Acting, feh, a lifetime of missed opportunities in pursuit of this one elusive goal. All the things I could have done, if only I could have given this up, if only I still could, nope, not likely, not in this lifetime, oh well. Maxie anyone?

Speaking of fashion I picked up a copy of USA Today, tonight, because there was a whole section devoted to the Oscars, (You know I'm crazy about the Oscars, right, and have been my entire life?), and I wanted to see if they had a better pull out ballot guide than the one I already have. Then I saw a picture of Beau's new friend Charlotte and her Mother, Colleen Atwood -- Colleen Atwood, the six time nominated, one time Oscar winning costume designer. She designed Memoirs of a Geisha and I'm thinking she's pretty much a lock for the Oscar this year. Anyway, she's taking her daughter with her to this year's ceremonies and she has this little blog diary thing going on USA today and I thought Beau might be impressed when I showed it to him.

I came upstairs laid it out on the bed for him to see, called him into my room and said, "Hey Beau, see anyone you recognize?" Without waiting a beat he reached over to my telephone stand, grabbed a pen, and drew a unibrow, mustache, and beard on Charlotte, and a goatee on her Mother. Then he said, "There, I think they look much better now," laughed, and left the room. Isn't it great how totally unfazed kids are by fame? I think I've been living in LA for far too long because I'm way too impressed by these kinds of things.

I'll check back in, in the morning, with my Oscar picks. I used to be really good at this.

Big missed you hugs,
Jacqui

PS: Whitey, my once wild rescue kitty, says, "Hello." Well, actually it sounds more like, "Mrowr," but I'm pretty sure that's cat for hello. And, next time we take in a female cat, the next one who makes her way to our little sanctuary here, I'm going to call her Hello, for Hello Kitty. Don't know why I never thought of that one before.
Chalkboard

My 2006 Oscar Predictions

After all of that talk about how I always get these right, I have to admit that it's been years since I've really tried to handicap the awards, at least not the in the way that I used to. I just don't take the whole thing as seriously as I once did, and there's the fact that there's never been a year that I can remember that was quite like this, where I had to fight to find so many of the nominated films. Unlike Academy Members I don't get to sit around waiting for all of those DVDs to pile up in my mailbox. Anyway, flawed though they may be, and vulnerable to any kind of upset, (Crash anyone?) here they are. Don't bet any money on these ; )

Best Picture:
Will Win: Brokeback Mountain
Should Win: Brokeback Mountain/Crash

Okay, here's the deal, I love Ang Lee, and I love the story of Brokeback Mountain -- the story of the movie, and the story of the making of the movie -- but I really loved Crash. Then there was Good Night and Good Luck a film about one of my favorite political subjects. However, and even though all of the nominated movies, particularly Brokeback and Crash, were equally important in terms of what they have to say socially, I think Brokeback Mountain was more groundbreaking. So, despite the slow pace, and because of the solid work of both of the male leads, Heath Ledger in particular, and the fact that this film was so sweepingly cinematic, my pick on both counts is Brokeback Mountain, but I wouldn't cry into the beer I can't drink, because of my messed up bladder, if Crash won.

Best Director:
Will Win: Ang Lee; Broke Back Mountain
Should Win: Ang Lee; Broke Back Mountain

I love Ang Lee, I've been following his career since Hsi Yen, (The Wedding Banquet), and then he followed that up with Eat Drink Man Woman, and then he took his directing ability to other worlds when he directed Sense and Sensibility, which was so quintessentially British, and followed that up with The Ice Storm, a film you would have thought only an American who had lived through the seventies would have been able to help. I think he's amazing, plus he's friendly, approachable, and humble. I'm all for Ang Lee.

Best Actor:
Will Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman; Capote
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman; Capote

I don't think there's any question here. Philip Seymour Hoffman was magnificent. I've loved him for so long. He's way overdue.

Best Actress:
Will Win: Reese Witherspoon; Walk the Line
Should Win: Felicity Huffman; Transamerica

I haven't even seen Transamerica, which is a real pity, but I'm hoping that after the awards maybe it'll come out on DVD, or I'll find some time to hunt down an out-of-the-way theatre where it might still be playing. I know it doesn't seem fair to root for someone whose work I haven't even seen, but I've certainly seen enough clips from the film and frankly I love Felicity Huffman, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, she's an actor's actor, and I love to see mature women win. Plus how wonderful is she to take on this part and champion the cause of the transgendered? Keira Knightly, how lovely was she in Pride and Prejudice, but she's still so young and the tide doesn't seem to be moving in her favor. And finally, yes, Reese Witherspoon was ADORABLE, and soooo sweet in Walk the Line, like Rachel Weisz she was the center of this film, but I liked her best in that weird serial killer movie she did with Kiefer Sutherland. I preferred her when she was just a little less Hollywood polished and promoted, but that isn't really her fault, and she's such a hard worker. This one is such a crap shoot because it could go either way. I guess I'm just going to have to go with Reese because I know more people will have seen this film, darn it. I'll be happy with whoever wins, they were all so good, especially Judi Dench whose feet I would gladly kiss, but my heart is with Felicity.

Best Supporting Actor:
Will Win: George Clooney; Syriana
Should Win: George Clooney; Syriana

This is George Clooney's year, but chances aren't looking too good for him in the other categories he's been nominated in, so I have a feeling this is the bone he'll be thrown. Not that he doesn't deserve it, we all know what he went through to transform himself for the part, and speaking from first hand experience, and despite the fact that it's been done before, the whole weight gain thing is always a sure fire way to get my vote. I do feel a wee bit sad for Paul Giamatti, and he was so good in Sideways as well, he's so due.

Best Supporting Actress:
Will Win: Rachel Weisz
Should Win: Catherine Keener/Rachel Weisz

Oh this is so hard because I absolute love Catherine Keener, and she was so important and her work was so subtle in Capote, but no one is talking about her for the win, and Frances McDormand, well, she's an acting goddess, but she's already one once for Fargo. I thought Michelle Williams was solid in Brokeback, but she didn't really blow my mind, maybe I'm not satisfied with subtle work when I should be. I seem to be the only person I know who hated Amy Adams, well, maybe hate is too strong of a word, let's say disliked Amy Adams in Junebug. I'm sorry to be a snarky bitter actress here, but it was just so one note. Rachel Weisz was the shining heart of The Constant Gardener, she was so charismatic I couldn't take my eyes off of her, couldn't stop thinking about her when she was gone. Her presence lasted long beyond her death and made Ralph Fiennes' transformation completely understandable. Plus I'm a sucker for pregnant women and there she was with her sexy pregnant belly in that bathtub scene, and she's pregnant in real life.

Best Original Screenplay:
Will Win: Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco; Crash
Should Win: Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco; Crash

I really care about the subject matter of Good Night and Good Luck and am thrilled this movie got made, and by George Clooney, no less, and then there's the crush factor, no, not on Clooney, but on David Strathairn, I've loved him since Passion Fish in '92, where does the time go? But, when I saw Crash, all by myself at this out of the way theatre in the valley, I was just blown away, and knew it was going to rack up the nominations, it was so affecting and moving, the kind of movie where you leave the theatre changed in some way and are still thinking about it weeks later.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Will Win: Diana Ossana and Larry Mcmurtry; Brokeback Mountain
Should Win: Diana Ossana and Larry Mcmurtry; Brokeback Mountain

Best Editing:
Will Win: Crash
Should Win: Crash

Best Cinematography:
Will Win: Brokeback Mountain
Should Win: Brokeback Mountain

Best Animated Feature Film:
Will Win: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
Should Win: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit

I love Tim Burton, but this movie was so funny, and it won the BAFTA so I'm going to take a chance here and go with Wallace and Gromit.

Best Art Direction:
Will Win: Memoirs Of A Geisha
Should Win: Memoirs Of A Geisha

Did you see this movie?

Best Original Song:
Will Win: In The Deep; Crash
Should Win: In The Deep; Crash

Scott and I loved It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp, it had a catchy hook, and it was so central to the movie, but I don't know, I'm leaning towards Crash, we have to give them something.

Best Costume Design:
Will Win: Memoirs of a Geisha
Should Win: Memoirs of a Geisha

Colleen Atwood, hands down, plus she has fabulous taste, had my son over to her house and has a teenage daughter Beau's age, she gets points for that, it isn't easy raising teenagers.

Best Documentary Feature:
Will Win: Murderball
Should Win: March of the Penguins

This is hard because March of the Penguins was so popular...

Best Documentary Short:
Will Win: The Mushroom Club
Should Win: The Mushroom Club

I'm going to go with my gut and say Mushroom Club.

Best Foreign Language Film:
Will Win: Sophie Scholl-The Final Days
Should Win: Sophie Scholl-The Final Days

I tried to see this and only caught a bit of it yesterday when I snuck in to the theatre. It was packed, but what I saw, standing at the back of the theatre, was good and moving. Plus, Holocaust movies and me -- could be the fact that I was raised Catholic but the nuns taught us to care by making us watch Anne Frank and have pretend Passover meals with grape juice and crackers, could be the fact that my boyfriend is Jewish, the fact that I'm extremely sensitive and compassionate, and have friends who actually survived the Holocaust, or the whole reincarnation factor, but whatever it is, Holocaust movies and me, I'm a sucker for misery and hardship. I know people are leaning towards Tsotsi, but honestly, in this category, I don't have a clue.

Best Makeup:
Will Win: Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith
Should Win: Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith

Best Original Score:
Will Win: Memoirs Of A Geisha; John Williams
Should Win: Memoirs Of A Geisha; John Williams

It's John Williams, it was amazing, 'nuff said.

Best Animated Short Film:
Will Win: One Man Band
Should Win: One Man Band

Best Live Action Short:
Will Win: Cashback
Should Win: Cashback

Best Sound Editing:
Will Win: King Kong
Should Win: King Kong

Best Sound Mixing:
Will Win: King Kong
Should Win: King Kong

Best Visual Effects:
Will Win: War Of The Worlds
Should Win: War Of The Worlds

King Kong was pretty spectacular but it just took them too damned long to get to that island and War of the Worlds, well, what wasn't too love about those crazy tripod creatures?

And last but not least, I wish I could have gone to the Independent Spirit Awards, every year I swear I'll go, and every year I forget to. Here's a blog from a New York Times Columnist who covered it.

Oh God I've got to get dressed, got the guacamole and the dips made, but I haven't even brushed my hair and Scott will be here in mere minutes...