The Oscars: Time Warner had a Great Night
CNBC Media and Entertainment Reporter
Warner Bros. "The Departed" took home the gold. It was the only real big Hollywood picture among the nominations, this win says that the Academy fell for traditional Hollywood fare this year, and that the film studio of the largest media conglomerate, Time Warner, had a really great night.
It's not just the independent films like last year's winner "Crash" that qualify but films big and small all can have the Oscar art. This year was a far cry from the era when lower budget films like "Good Will Hunting" and "Shakespeare in Love" won over the Academy. While the studios invest heavily in their specialty divisions that produce the traditional artsy Oscar fare, this win shows that while that model may be a good bet for churning out lower budget films that have a chance of hitting the jackpot, that's not always
the a sure bet for the Oscars...
There was a lot of speculation this year on which film would win best picture, with no clear frontrunner. The idea that Hollywood loves movies with a message had people thinking that Babel would win. And those rooting for the dark horse, "Little Miss Sunshine" thought that the low-budget true indie would get the statue this year.
Not a lot of surprises: A lot of the favorites took home the gold. Marty Scorcese winning (finally) after so many nominations, and Helen Mirren for best actress in "The Queen", Forrest Whittaker for best actor, all were considered to be frontrunners
Truly a global award ceremony. Sitting in the interview room it seemed there were more foreign languages spoken by the oscar winners at the podium than there were native English speakers.
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Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" won best documentary. No surprise, but one that was well received. It's not just Gore who won but also Internet billionaire Jeff Skoll who funded the film. People have been telling me that this movie (which made it into the top five grossing docs ever) really epitomizes how documentaries can be highly profitable investments.
Gore is hoping that this win will draw attention to his cause, saying "people all around the world; we need to solve this"
Backstage Sherry Lansing spoke about how the movie industry has changed since she helped break through the glass ceiling decades ago as the first studio chief. She said Hollywood is becoming gender blind and as a function of the film industry becoming increasingly global, also more diverse than ever. When asked about Sumner Redstone's takedown of Tom Cruise last summer-she wouldn't comment, saying all that happened long after she'd left Paramount. She also said that Cruise is a talented producer and director, predicting he'll be accepting awards for something other that acting in the next five years.
Paramount's "Dreamgirls" was the most nominated movie- and as expected, Jennifer Hudson won the best supporting actress award. And Paramount Vantage's "Babel" got its first award, for best score...
After "Pan's Labyrinth" got three nominations Sony Pictures classics- "Lives Of Others" got the best foreign film. I have to say, it was the best film I saw all year. I saw it at the Palm Springs Film fest. It's coming to theaters now, and the box office take will certainly get a boost from tonight's win.
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Independent film company Picture House is cleaning up with "Pan's Labyrinth". Three nominations so far! When the film first came out it did well, but the real sign of its success was when it expanded to over 700 screens and still held strong. One of the few *true* independents at the Oscars this year, i.e., not done by a studio specialty division, it has an amazing track record for so early in the evening. Other than that win, there's no sign of which film will get the best Oscar win.
In terms of which media conglomerate is cleaning up, so far Warner Bros. is in the lead, with "Iwo Jima" winning for sound editing, "Happy Feet" winning best animated feature and "The Departed" winning best adapted screenplay. Let's see what that bodes for Scorcese.
It's a big deal that Al Gore spoke at the Oscars about the award show going green, i.e. environmentally friendly. And in the perpetual pairing of Politics and Hollywood Leo asked if he came to "announce something." And Gore totally played along, pretending to announce a presidential bid just as the music came on to pull him offstage.
News Corp really cashed in when Fox Searchlight bought the rights to "Little Miss Sunshine" for about 10 million at Sundance last year. Not only did the movie gross about 100 million worldwide, but its exactly the kind of DVD that's going to benefit from its Oscar attention with Alan Arkin winning the first big award of the evening, best supporting Actor.9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT:
The show has begun, started off by a montage of interviews of the nominees, on a white screen commercial, that looked strangely like a TV commercial for a Mac.
And within a few minutes a musical act with John C. Reilly, Will Farrel and Jack Black about the big conflict in Hollywood, art vs. money. These comedians harmonizing on how they'll never win an Oscar though their movies make a lot of money. The academy loves voting for high minded artsy fare, hence "Pan's Labyrinth" from independent film company Picture House winning the first two awards, for Art Direction and makeup.
And the pre-show is always telling--- Marty Scorcese running around looking excited. Even Leo DiCaprio who hates talking to the press did a pre-show interview -giving a plug to his movie with a message (Blood Diamond) and his pal Scorcese, who's gotten multiple nominees, but never a win, who everyone is rooting for.
And Los Angeles Mayor Villaragosa worked the carpet, beaming a movie star smile. His movie incentives are working to keep movie production in LA.
A political night as always -- Ellen making the joke that Jennifer Hudson was not chosen by America and was chosen by the Academy-- and Al Gore was elected by the country and still is here tonight...
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