The Oscars telecast, you may have heard, begins Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC, with red-carpet coverage launching at 7 on the East Coast.
Billy Crystal is to host. He got a standing ovation just for walking out on stage at last year's ceremonies, in defiance of the failed Hathaway & Franco Gambit of 2011 and proving the point of a poem that I wrote in free verse a few years ago (still one of my own favorite pieces).
I hope to have a writeup here on Monday, but for the first time I'm loosing a pre-Oscars post, too, offering some links relevant to both last year's and this year's telecasts... plus some really bad puns.
First up is a blooper reel for leading Best Picture contender The Artist. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but it is charming, especially as set to Ludovic Bource's Oscar-nominated leitmotif. And it shows that breakout star Uggie ain't necessarily a first-take kind of dog.
I really enjoyed the "Touch of Evil" gallery put together for The New York Times Magazine's annual Hollywood Issue. Deputy photo editor Joanna Milter and photographer Alex Prager used classic movie villains as the theme of this year's spread, in consultation with the actors who embodied them for the shoot. While the slideshow is neat, the group of micro-films — concept photos in motion, really, none more than a couple of minutes long, directed by Prager — are fantastic. Jessica Chastain, Brad Pitt, Viola Davis, Kirsten Dunst, Michael Shannon, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Adepero Oduye, Gary Oldman, Jean Dujardin, Mia Wasikowska, George Clooney, and Glenn Close all channeled iconic roles and archetypes based on the rogues' gallery of inspirations seen above (larger and with a key at the link).
Are you so hungry you could eat a War Horse?
Last year at this time, Great Buffy Rewatch host and all-around bitchin' blogger Nikki Stafford posted a sample Oscars-inspired menu that she and some friends had put together almost a decade ago featuring such dishes as In the Bedshrooms, Sexy Beef, and Gosford (Almond) Bark.
I couldn't help but follow suit in reply, and I've done the same for this year (purely in concept, not cooking). Eat your heart out, Wolfgang Puck — drizzled with some Béarnaise Bejo sauce.
My 2011 all-day menu started, of course, with a breakfast of True Grits. Lunch was The Social Knockwurst with a side of Egg Salad in Wonderland. At dinner we began with an amazing 127 Hors d'Oeuvres — I'd list them all, but time is tight; I'm between a rock and a hard place. Next came a main course of either Winter's T-Bone or The King's Quiche, then some Black Flan for dessert. The open bar had a selection of fine ales catered by the Renaissance-themed tavern How to Drain Your Flagon.
For 2012 our variety of entrees includes your choice of salmon, veggies, or steak from The Grill with the Dragon Tattoo. We have Spaghetti & Moneyballs for the kids. Sides include Meloncholia honeydew and cantaloupe to turn your frown upside-down, as well as hush puppies courtesy of The Artist. The omelet station is highly recommended, as the eggs men are first class. You won't go dry thanks to the invention of Hugo Cabernet; also, the cast of The Descendants supplies Hawaiian Punch, and there's some Extremely Strong and Incredible Cocoa. Dessert consists of Tinker Tailor Soldier Pie, Iron Ladyfingers, and My Week with Marzipan. You won't go home hungry — in fact, you'll leave saying, "I super ate!"
I wanted to get a post-Oscars post up last year, in addition to my long, bronchitis-addled writeup of the telecast itself, but never did.
Entertainment Weekly had a number of neat articles, links, and video embeds at its Inside Movies and PopWatch blogs. One was a short interview with Troy Miller, who directed the opening short film — as he did previous efforts, mainly for Billy Crystal — in which Franco and Hathaway enter various movies through Alec Baldwin's dreams Inception-style. Miller also talked about that opening and the history of the cottage industry that he helped spawn in slightly longer, more interesting Q&As with The LA Times and Movieline at those links, although EW still has the opening itself up in case you want to see it again.
The big missing link is a segment cut from that short film with Franco and Hathaway taking on the roles of Danny and Sandy at the end of Grease; Franco shared a teaser via Twitter, but only scraps of the clip itself are to be found on YouTube. I'm not linking to them because I can't find the whole thing, it's apparently the subject of copyright claim from AMPAS or whoever holds the Grease rights (or both), and frankly — okay, I'll link to one clear 20-second clip to prove this point — it sucked, which I say not just as a fan of Grease but as a fan of music and cleverness (sample lyrics: "It's time to host... Portman's water's 'bout to break / gonna break / Black Swan's water's gonna break"). Everyone was having an off day, I guess, so nixing it was a good call.
Your late local news will, in all time zones, again be followed by a special Oscars-night edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live. In the tradition of 2010's meeting of The Handsome Men's Club and 2011's Hottie Body Hump Club video (not as funny as its own outtakes), the show will include a promo for Movie: The Movie. EW has an early look at some unused footage on its Inside TV blog.
I linked a couple of years ago to a long but interesting article in New York Magazine on the demimonde of Oscars campaigning that still holds up. For a different kind of behind-the-scenes look there's a piece from The Kansas City Star on Tom Kane, one of the announcers for this year's telecast, brought to my attention by Mark Evanier's great blog News from ME.
We'll bring it back to Billy Crystal to finish up with last year's Funny or Die short imagining a sequel to When Harry Met Sally... in today's pop-culture climate, written by Mike Foley & Howie Miller, directed by Lindsay Crystal, and co-starring Rob Reiner, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Crystal Foley, Maya Rudolph, Adam Scott, and some surprise guests. I'll warn you that it includes not only brief coarse language but, surprisingly, blood.
Photo of Wolfgang Puck: Matt Pettit / AMPAS. Images copyright their respective holders.