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79th Academy Awards: ‘Pan’ Wins Three, Docs Sing, and Sympathy Oscars?

79th Academy Awards: 'Pan' Wins Three, Docs Sing, and Sympathy Oscars?

Why not? I’ll join my fellow bloggers out there, and mention some thoughts about tonight’s Academy Awards… Along with a couple hundred passengers tonight bound from L.A. to Austin, I missed the majority of the telecast. Old Joy producer, Independent Spirit nominee, and fellow ATX resident, Anish Savjani and I were on the same, dubious flight home. Just goes to show how busy my brain (or lack thereof) is working these days in SXSW prep, I didn’t really consider until it was too late, that I might be on a plane during the precise moment the Oscars were taking place. So myself, Anish, and Friday Night Lights castmembers Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, and Adrianne Palicki, all wound up miles in the air while the big show went down at the Kodak Theatre.

Anish and I made it to the LAX version of Chili’s for the first 30 minutes of the show, happy to see some early support for Pan’s Labyrinth in the technical arena. As we boarded our flight, I felt there was no way it could be denied the “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar… and sure enough, it was. I’m bummed for Guillermo del Toro on a personal level, because he so deserved the win. But, in the end, the overall super success of Pan’s (as well as walking away with three other Oscars) is a huge victory for his career. I think we all know this was not Guillermo’s last visit to the Oscars… An Inconvenient Truth surprised no one by winning the documentary feature award, but surprised plenty by also nabbing the “Best Original Song” trophy. A “Best Original Song” Oscar for a documentary? This is unprecedented, and likely to change the way docs are scored (after acquisition most likely) in the near future. Ladies and gentlemen, you have witnessed the birth of a brand new doc trend…

I was very happy to see that The Blood of Yingzhou District won the documentary short award. While at 35 minutes, it’s hardly short, it’s still a riveting and sad nonfiction story. Plus, when we saw it at the Hawaii International Film Festival, fellow juror Kal Penn and I instantly bonded over something in the film… something way too bizarre to even begin to explain. But, let’s just say, Kal and I have messaged back and forth while he’s on the set of Harold and Kumar 2, and we were both rooting for this one to win.

So, now for The Departed. The big winner of the night, collecting four awards including Best Picture and the much-ballyhooed first Best Director Oscar for Martin Scorsese (presented by his contemporaries Coppola, Lucas, and Spielberg no less). What can I say? How can any cinephile worth his or her popcorn salt, not be happy about Scorsese’s win? And, unlike so many “sympathy Oscars,” this one actually feels vital and correct. While I still feel like – out of the five nominees – Babel was the most accomplished cinematic experience, The Departed is an American crime classic. It’s the reason God invented DVD players. So, there’s nothing “sympathy Oscar” about that. This isn’t Jack Palance winning for City Slickers, this is Martin Scorsese winning an Oscar for some of his best work in years. Besides, the Academy proved it wasn’t in the “sympathy Oscar” mood tonight… now that Peter O’Toole will likely never win his own competitive Academy Award. Sad as that is, Forest Whitaker has been one of the world’s most underrated actors for years. I’m so happy to see the Texas boy walk away with the gold. Meanwhile, as great as she is, I’m happy we can now enter the beginning of Helen Mirren-winning-awards detox.

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