The Oscar Winners

Desson Thomson
Washington Post Film Critic
Monday, February 25, 2008; 12:30 PM

Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson was online Monday, Feb. 25 at 12:30 p.m. ET to discuss this year's Academy Award winners, announced at this year's Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Which films deservedly won? Who got snubbed? And how does the outcome stack up with Thomson's own Oscar picks?

Thomson, a movie critic at The Washington Post for 15 years, was raised in England where he was entranced, like most, by Hollywood movies. It was a visit to see David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia," that made him realize movies had to be a part of his life.

A transcript follows.


Desson Thomson: It's post-Oscar morning, folks. That means - after recovering from watching the finale at midnight on a school night - you are coming to terms with your raves and pet peeves. The things that surprised you, stuff you hated, stuff you loved. This is the place, movie fans. You have one hour to share, scream and ululate. Go for it.


Once and Bourne: So.. I totally squeeled when they won, and how great was it that Jon Stewart had Market Irglova back out to finish her speech. Totally awesome.

And I so nailed all three of the Bourne wins. Its one of those movies that I thought was 'perfect' (well except the ending, I wanted more) that they had to win all the awards they were nominated for...

Desson Thomson: Yes, I was happy to see that Once won the Oscar for "Falling Slowly." What a peach of a song. And it was clear that Bourne with its rapidfire - almost subliminal - editing, was going to get noticed in the editing categories. What a trifecta for that movie.


Poolesville, Md.: I thought Julie Christie did a lovely performance as the Alzheimers patient, vutr, having lost three near and dear to me to that awful disease, my problem was that it did not realistically depict the disease's progress. As heartbreaking as the film was, it's nothing compared to what you actually go through! Yes, people do drift in and out of reality for awhile, but never as clear-cut as portrayed in the movie. Thus my admiration for her acting was overshadowed by regret over these inaccuracies. Of course, if they made a film depicting the true nature of the disease, no one would watch! But they could have done a better job of educating the public, and I don't know when they will get another chance.

Desson Thomson: That's really interesting, Poolesville. Of course, a movie is a story that uses its background subject material to serve the requirements of the drama at hand, and not vice versa. But I hear you on your comment that the movie did not evoke the real struggles. That movie still needs to be made, apparently. Maybe others disagree. I did feel very affected by that movie -- as someone with no particular firsthand knowledge of the disease.


Bow, N.H.: What's the back-story on the woman from "Once" getting to come back out and talk? I thought what she said was fine, but I don't remember ever seeing someone brought back out after being played off. BTW, I thought "Once" was the best movie I saw last year -- maybe not as gritty or flashy as the others, but better crafted and beter at being what it is than the others (sort of an "Annie Hall" analogy for what is a "best picture").

Desson Thomson: It seems that Jon Stewart was genuinely touched by the fact that her partner was dragging her away - and the music was playing - before she had a chance to speak. She managed to say a quick thanks before having to leave. I felt bad for her. And I was glad to see Stewart bring her back out. And I hear you on the movie. Loved it. It was in my top ten for the year.


Wilmington, N.C.: When I first saw "No Country for Old Men" I was left somewhat dissatisfied -- as if I had been left out of something that everyone else understood. I read some reviews, gave it some thought, saw the movie again, and came away with a different impression. Something about it has really resonated with me. Your review of NCOM was not glowing. I am wondering if your impression of the film has changed over time...

Desson Thomson: Actually I did not review the movie - unless my senility has finally taken over my entire brain. However, I did enjoy the movie a great deal. And though I was taken by surprise by the ending - left sort of high and dry - I decided I had had too good a time with it to feel let down. But I understand others - and our culture is so demanding about this - needing a sure, take-home ending.


Raleigh, NC: How do I get a list of the five foreign films so that I can try to rent them, or perhaps, if lucky, find them in a Triangle movie theater. Their names were given too quickly to make record, even of the Austrian winner.

Desson Thomson: Well, you could log into and get the list. And you could get started with to be able to order many movies delivered to your front door - assuming those relatively new films are in dvd circulation.


Silver Spring, Md.: I was surprised and pleased that Marion Cottilard won in the Best Actress category, as remarkable as the other performances were, she was on screen for nearly every frame of the movie.

Desson Thomson: Her performance was right on the money, wasn't it?


Fortaleza, Brazil: We saw "No Country for Old Men" (called "Onde Os Francos N¿o T¿m Vez" here) yesterday. I thought it was fairly good but not great. My wife called it weak and said she did not like the ending (not the inconclusiveness but the apparent triumph of bad). As luck would have it, an earlier Coen Brothers film, "Fargo," was on TV last night. I think it was a better film than "No Country." And the villain in "No Country" reminded me an awful lot of the villain in "Fargo." On the plus side, I was happy that Tilda Swinton and Marion Cotillard won.

Desson Thomson: Good to hear from Brazil! And I agree that Fargo is a greater film - more personal than No Country.


Hollywood: What a horrible show -- badly-paced, badly-written, badly-producted, badly-directed, and, yes, badly-hosted. But it's not Jon Stewart's fault -- no matter who is put in that position faces a horrible task of plodding through a terrible, inane, out-of-touch and just plain stupid monstrosity of a show. The jokes were bad, the intros were bad, the writing was bad (it's time to retire that big guy who's jut an embarrasment to everyone), the clip montages were bad, and the production, direction and writing were bad. We predict very low ratings -- and an early retirement for Jon Stewart. Ugh, what a complete mess.

Desson Thomson: I think - to paraphrase Jon Stewart last night - you might just need a hug.


Silver Spring, Md.: First directing duo to win since "West Side Story," right?

Desson Thomson: Good question. Is this right, any Oscar nerdistas? Haven't had time to check.


Columbia, S.C.: Not a snub or anything, but I so wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to accept the award as Daniel Plainview and then tell Clooney and crowd -- I drank your milkshake. That would have been awesome.

Desson Thomson: hahaha, yes.


Baltimore: Whatever happened to "Rescue Dawn"? I thought there were some good performances there...

Desson Thomson: Yes, there were. But this was a good crop year. In another year it might have been noticed.


Roger Deakins was robbed: Of course, having been nominated twice in the Best Cinematography category, he may have cancelled himself out. Nonetheless, his work in "No Country" was infinitely more engaging than anything in "TWBB."

Desson Thomson: It's a subjective call. But I can appreciate what you're saying.


Falls Church, Va.: I found "No Country For Old Men" to be totally unenjoyable and don't understand what all the fuss is about. "Michael Clayton" was smart and tight, and left me with so much more satisfaction. What am I missing?

Desson Thomson: You aren't missing anything. You just didn't connect, is all. I happen to have liked both. Michael Clayton was smart. And frankly Tony Gilroy should have won best script, hands down, at the very least.


Tom Shales' review: Do you think he was watching the same show as the rest of us? Do you think he has any idea who the Coen brothers (whom he claims make dark, cynical, gloomy movies, except for "Raising Arizona" ... and about half a dozen of their other films, none of which he's apparently seen) even are?

Desson Thomson: Maybe he hasn't seen 'em all. Who knows.


New York, N.Y.: Of the major categories, were you stunned by any of the winners?

"There Will Be Blood" was robbed.

Desson Thomson: It was a great movie and I personally would have voted for it over No Country. I also would have voted Michael Clayton a close second.


Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:: Harrison Ford: Why, in every public appearance over the past number of years, does it appear he's just had a stroke? In a number of different appearances, he has trouble speaking--but always seems fine in his movies. No one has been able to give a solid answer on this topic!

Desson Thomson: Gosh.Dunno. That would be awful. I have always noticed that one side of his mouth seemed drawn and taut - which I though of as endearing. But I'd be fascinated to hear someone tell me if they know anything.


Frederick, MD: Was the Marion Cotillard win a surprise for you? What was it, do you think, that gave her the edge over such fabulous other nominees?

Desson Thomson: It was a surprise to me because - very cynically - I assumed the Academy would vote for an English language performer, no matter how good she was. But there's no doubt she deserves the award.


Arlington, Va.: I was so delighted that Cotillard won for her stunning portrayal of Edith Piaf - I was so sure that Christie was going to win but I was really happy to see Cotillard pull off a bit of a minor upset. My second favorite award of the night was "Once" winning Best Song (such a great moment when Marketa came back out to deliver her moving and eloquent speech). Maybe it's just me but I hated the songs from "Enchanted" and was very happy that none of them won.

Desson Thomson: Yes, good for Mademoiselle Cotillard. Unless she's Madame. I was glad too about Once winning best song. I will say, after listening to all the Enchanted songs, I thought the last one they performed was a good one.


Arlington, Va.: First off -- Busey needs to be around more, a lot more. He brings some excitement and apparently, some inappropriateness - exactly what the Oscars need.

Second - I wanted more wins for "There Will Be Blood," I would have liked to see Paul Dano get nominated. And why didn't DDL use his Daniel Plainview voice while accepting the nomination?

Desson Thomson: Busey needs more roles, I guess. I too thought Dano's was a good performance. I guess that would be for a double role. And no, I have no clue as to whether he was meant to be two different brothers or two halves of a split personality. Although, technically, I believe they were supposed to be 2 different characters.


Baltimore, Md.: I just watched "Michael Clayton" on DVD a couple of nights ago, and I didn't think Tilda Swinton's role was all that noteworthy. What makes it so special?

Desson Thomson: I think she conveys a strong combination of a person who has become so much a part of the evil machine but still has a shred of humanity that is protesting her evolution to corporate murderer. She did a lot with a little.


Chicago Ill.: Desson, could you provide a little historical insight for me please -- watching the show last night, I was struck by the disconnect between the most popular movies of the year and the movies being honored by the Academy. The blockbusters that Hollywood publicizes, and the public flocks to see in droves, are not what Hollywood honors at the end of the year. Obviously that's nothing new, but I'm wondering if you have a feel for whether this disconnect is increasing. Were the Oscars of past generations going to the films and performances that everyone had seen and knew about? Or have there always been the "Spidermans" and "X-Mens" of the world that were mass market favorites but not part of anyone's consideration come award time? Thanks.

Desson Thomson: It's a question that comes up every year. And the question, I think, is flawed because it presupposes that the public gets to see every movie that the academy does. The fact is, most of the public only goes to see the most publicized, promoted, star-heavy movies. But many of the high quality movies don't even get wide enough distribiution to get on their radars. They don't even see the movies that get honored. So is the public qualified to make the best choice? It may not sound democratic in spirit, but not really. Back in the old days, the 1930s and 1940s, people went to the movie twice a week AND once on the weekends. The popular movies were also the best movies. If we all went to more movies, and didn't just watch what the studios offer at the multiplex, this disconnect would be greatly reduced. We'd all be more informed.


Dano : Yes!!! I agree!! He was robbed!! He and Day-Lewis had such an amazing connection in that film!!!

Desson Thomson: Thank you H.W.


Annapolis, Md.:"Snubbed"? Desson, it might have been you. When I saw that Ann Hornaday got all the pull quotes in the critic-predictions story, I wondered how it was that she got to review all the Oscar-nominated movies and you apparently didn't see any of them.

Also, what happened with No End In Sight? All I ever heard about this film in this category was "slam dunk."

Desson Thomson: You are very sweet to be looking out for me. I don't want to get into that tricky subject area. But let me just put it this way. The movies that are assigned to me, I try to review as vividly and enjoyably for the reader as I can.

As for No End, it did seem to be a slam dunk. I didn't even see Taxi, so shame on me for not calling it right. It sounds like it's one heck of a movie.


Bethesda, Md.: So did one of the Coens have stage fright or something?

Desson Thomson: That would be Joel. He's not the most effusive guy in the world, I have to say. I have interviewed him and it's clear he belongs BEHIND the camera.


Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise: They were the only other two directors to share the prize (for "West Side Story"). Unlike the Coen brothers, though, they apparently didn't like each other very much; neither thanked the other when they won.

Desson Thomson: Aaaaawkward.


Alexandria: Hi Desson, I love your writing.

So we had avoided American Gangster because it got such poor reviews. Well, we watched last weekend and were stunned. It was really wonderful. Denzel gave a much more nuanced and mature performance than he did in Training Day (which completely went off the rails and got horrible in the last 3rd) and Russell Crowe was amazing as always.

Also, we saw 3:10 to Yuma the weekend before and thought it was marvelous, too.

We are tough critics and 99% of the time can find a few big flaws in movies, but those two didn't have any big ones.

Was the issue with 3:10 that people aren't used to Westerns? Because it was a perfect one.

And with Gangster, what was the problem? Too violent? I thought it did a great job showing how racism was so pervasionve it invaded even crime, and it did not make Lucas noble--it showed him as a brute.

Desson Thomson: You are so nice. Thanks. And you are so right to appreciate Denzel's amazing star quality and his acting turns. But I am one of "those" critics who didn't feel as thrilled with the movie as we were clearly meant to be. Sorry :( I suspect that many voting members saw American G. as I did - a little too over the top, a little overwrought in its depiction of the gangster with a heart of gold. (a slight spin on the whore with a heart of gold, only with firearms.)But I certainly enjoyed Denzel's performance.

And maybe 3:10 was just another snubbee - in a year of some good films - that should have seen more nominations.


Washington, D.C.: I think it had to be Tilda Swinton's body of work dating back to 1995's "Orlando" that won it for her, also, a divided vote in two categories for an overrated Cate Blanchett. I think it also shows that when a method actress like Swinton (or Swank) goes up against a natural one like Christie (or Bening), the Meryl Streep type always wins.

Desson Thomson: Good food for thought. We never know how many winners are simply the survivors of a split vote.


Washington, D.C.: Desson, this comment has more to do with the show itself rather than the winners, but I would appreciate your take.

I was really struck by the sexist nature of much of the between-awards banter, both by Jon Stewart and others. Of particular note, the two male presenters who "argued" about which of them more resembled Halle Berry, and which resembled Judy Dench, seemed like a long, distasteful joke at the expense of both Dame Judy and non-super-model women actors in general. It seemed to add insult to injury in a business where it is well-remarked (but little is done to change the fact) that women actors are judged more harshly on their looks, and find many fewer roles available to them than their male counterparts as they age.

Likewise, while I know Diablo Cody has been more than forthcoming about her own life story, is there any chance that a male commentator (such as Jon Stewart) could ever resist the temptation to make that the focus of a joke, on a night when she is the only woman nominated for best director? And he had to bring Olympia Dukakis into this somehow?

Desson Thomson: I hear you on these comments. I felt very uncomfortable about the Judi Dench thing because it implied that we all should be aspiring to be Halle over Judi because she supposed to be more beautiful and preferable. I thought that was a disgusting premise.

I think it's also important to have some sense of humor and not get caught up too much in gender protection. As you say, Diablo is pretty much on the level about being an exotic dancer. And Stewart made a smart joke. He mischievously raised the possibility of a lewd punchline by mentioning she was an exotic dancer but then twitted our expectations (and dread) by joking about her taking a pay cut as a screenwriter - which also spoke to the recent writer's strike. It's a comedian's role to get close to the taboo and then grace himself/herself with a savvy punchline that actually says: deep down, I am a humanist.


West Side Story: Yup, West Side's win for directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise was the only other time co-directors have won.

Desson Thomson: Cool. Ta.


DC: A lot of folks are saying they didn't get all the fuss over "No Country for Old Men." That's how I felt about "Michael Clayton." I didn't understand the reviews saying it was the best thriller in 20 years.

Desson Thomson: It's a subjective thing, you gotta admit. There are many who would rally to Michael C's defense, myself included.


Bethesda, Md.: This is bad but....

Why do people care so much about the Oscars? These aren't awards for "the best" just awards for "the best marketed." I used to watch until the mid 90s when "Shawshank," "Pulp Fiction" and "Forrest Gump" were all up for Best Pic. They picked the worst of the three purely because of marketing. And then the whole thing with "Titanic," possibly one of the worst movies ever.

I just don't get it.

Desson Thomson: Hey, but isn't the whole maddening thing you feel kinda part of the fun too?


Enchanted songs: See I loved all the song nominees, but Once winning was awesome.

Amy Adams -- not having all the crazy window dressing that the other songs had -- she rocked Happy Working Song (the movie had great music) but couldn't they have closed up the stage so it didn't look so cavernous?

Desson Thomson: Everyone wants to direct. Just kidding.


Herndon, Va.: Mr. T: "3:10 to Yuma" didn't receive many nominations because its ending is idiotic! (never let it be said I ever let go of a very minority opinion).

Desson Thomson: haha, you hold on to that minority opinion, and be proud of it!


Really?: Not sure how I feel about the "Juno" original screenplay win? An attempt by the Academy voters to show they "get" young and hip? I just thought that, as smart as the "jokes" were in that script, putting them in the mouth of a 16 year old just rang hollow for me. Given all that, I'm not sure who else in the category deserved it -- closest I could come was "Michael Clayton" -- at least the characters sounded like real people, and the narrative moved the plot. Other than that, I'm starting to think Ms. Cody benefitted from an otherwise weak field.

Also, be pretty interesting to see what Diablo Cody comes up with for an encore -- I'm feeling shades of Brett Easton Ellis (to mix artistic metaphors...).

Desson Thomson: I can appreciate what you're saying but let's consider this: Juno, a small comedy with no stars, has made - or soon to make - upwards of $120 million. That's an awful lot of people connecting with it. And that's got to come down to the writing. I happen to think Michael Clayton was a much more assured script. Toby Gilroys' screenplay is masterful. But as you say, Cody's screenplay gets more attention from the Academy because of the smart alecky stuff coming out of Juno''s mouth. Gilroys' script is great for its structure, but that's not quite as obvious to the laymen or laywomen.

Diablo's next films include a black comedy set on a campus that involves cannibalism.


Washington, D.C.: Desson:

Any thoughts on the "Juno" win for best original screenplay? While I thought the writing was witty and smart, it just seemed kind of disconnected from the reality of a 16 year old girl, no matter how precocious/hip/smart she was supposed to be. However, I don't think the field was very strong in the category, which may account for the win. Or was this just an attempt by the Academy to show they were hipsters, too?

Desson Thomson: You echo the last poster. And I refer you to that answer.


Alexandria: Thanks for the answer on Amer Gangster and Yuma. I see your point on AG but disagree. The man's life WAS over the top. But anyway...

And I thought Swinton's performance was stunning: the scene where she laid out her clothes and practiced for the Board speech? That was perfect. She really caught how desperate she must feel as a woman who "made it" and now realizes that she compromised her soul to do so, and that her mentor was evil. But she could not change at that point (I am really glad they didn't have her "do the right thing", as that would have made it far too Hollywood). Clooney also did a lovely and nuanced job. Just a great movie overall. It and Lars and the Real Girl both had my husband and I talking about and interpreting them a week later ("remember that scene where....")

Desson Thomson: Hee, thanks.


Johnny Depp...: OK. So I agree (based on others and not my own viewing since I havn't seen) that DDL was a shoo-in for the award.

But what does JD have to do to win one? I thought he was marvelous in Sweeney Todd... grotesque as the movie was.

Desson Thomson: Hey, when you're that handsome, you don't get to win. It's not fair on the rest of humanity.


No Country for Loquacious Coens: Actually, Ethan was the Teller to Joel's Penn.

Desson Thomson: Haha. Like it.


No love for Jon Stewart: I actually thought he did a much better job this year than last year, though no awesome gay cowboy montage this year. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by the occasion and too respectful last year.

Desson Thomson: I thought he did it just right this year.


Santa Fe, N.M.:1. Screenwriting teachers often distinguish between the plot-driven Hollywood movies, and character-driven "New York style" ones. In the latter group, Woody Allen and the Coen Brothers are featured examples.

Do you think that the Brothers taking so many awards last night speaks to this bifurcation?

2. A screenwriter myself, and a positive person, I have found 3 out of 3 Coen Brothers films' endings unsatisfying, and a letdown. Do you think that their work represents a particular negative view of life?

Thank you,

Eric Schneider

Desson Thomson: The Coens revel in a negative way of the universe. But there's nothing wrong with that and it can make for some penetrating comedies or tragedies. Ask Shakespeare. And besides, our happy ending culture is up to its ears in those kind of endings. There's much needed room for existential dissenters.


Enchanted: The performances were not good. That's How You Know, which the usually fantastic Kristen Chenowith murdered, is the best part of that quite adorable movie. As usual, the Oscars proves it can't do live theatrical numbers.

Desson Thomson: Hey, these are live performances. Give 'em a break, dude, or dudette. I thought she was kinda cute actually.


Washington, D.C.: Hollywood (the poster) does need a hug, or needs to stop expecting an awards show to look like anything but an awards show.

There is ONE award that has no reason to exist, and should disappear -- "Best Song." I know, I know, everyone loved the song that won, but 3, THREE, horrible songs from a silly movie? Obviously, there's little to draw from to fill this category.

Desson Thomson: Haha.


Once: I had never heard that song before last night and have not seen the movie. I have to tell you, I thought the live performance was terrible -- the guy was not a good live singer and the woman sounded very meek. My unofficial poll of three people who also did not see the movie also thought the performance was awful. A bad commercial for the flick. I really didn't get it. At all.

BTW, I think that this category is useless about 90 percent of the time, since most of the orginal songs are playing over the end credits.

Desson Thomson: Again, they were performing live. I didn't think it was so bad. I guess you have to make room for things you don't like at the awards. Everyone has something they hate about the show!


Dallas, Tex.: Desson, I agree with you on Tilda Swinton's work in "Michael Clayton." She took what might have been a walk-through and really made it something. I happened to catch "The Deep End" again on cable not long ago and thought the same thing about that film. The movie itself had some problems, but she was the reason to watch it. (But you'll pardon me if I don't compliment the dress!)

Desson Thomson: Yes she was good in that movie. She's a terrific performer, a great Brit and lord knows she could use some sun. But I think she's great.


Harrison Ford has not had a stroke: even though his mouth is crooked. He never wears his glasses in public though he clearly needs them all the time. Reading and memorizing from a script or talking to Barbara Walters present no problems for him. But when he must read from a teleprompter it is painfully obvious that the man can't see.

Desson Thomson: Interesting. And I certainly hope I hope he hasn't experienced such a thing.


DC: Hi Desson - thanks for having this chat for us Oscar geeks!!!

From 1 to 10 the shock factor for Tilda Swinton's win?

I picked Marion Cotillard for Best Leading Actress but didn't think she would win it...I was happily surprised (and haven't yet seen the movie - Comcast On Demand!!)

Other than that no real surprises.

Desson Thomson: You're welcome. Happy to do it! Hey, I love the Oscars, good, bad or ugly. I was not surprised about Tilda's win at all.


Ocala, Fla.: hopefully the coens are smart enough to avoid a sequel to "No Country" because of the ending -- Julie Christie was the sentimental fave but Cotillard was hard to deny the award. And in the I told you so department -- the first time I saw Amy Adams was in "Catch Me If You Can." My friends will tell you that I predicted nominations for her in her future -- it's only a matter of time before she wins an Oscar. I also feel the same way way about Emily Blunt. Meryl Streep has said she is the best young actress she has ever worked with. Sarah Polley is to be mentioned for her work in "Away From Her." Thanks for the venue.

Desson Thomson: Amy Adams is amazing. So full of cheer all the time. Not to disparage her in the least with this analogy but she makes me think of my dog Luke, she's a three dimensional cartoon.


I like Jon Stewart: Hey, he was funny! It was funny! And at home making funny of the awful dresses was fun. The whole thing is fun. And got to see George Clooney! What's not to love? This is fun. Much better than the real world icky stuff.

Desson Thomson: Right on!


Best Song: Don't forget that if a song has been used for anything other than the movie itself, it is disqualified from the running. Hence, none of Eddie Vedder's music from "Into The Wild" was nominated. Kind of a stupid rule, in my opinion, since he wrote those songs specifically for the movie.

Desson Thomson: I hear you.


Washington, D.C.: Yikes! I saw the nominated shorts at the E St. Cinema, and "Mozart of Pickpockets" was 5th out of 5 on my list! I guess each to his or her taste. How are these nominated and any idea of the basis for their selection? I thought all of them were OK but none really grabbed me. Thanks.

Desson Thomson: I'll be honest. This is the aspect of the process I understand the least! I could use some schooling on it.


La Vie En Rose: I've always thought that the Oscars should cut the hokey banter and show longer clips of the honored films. What a better way to promote some of these flicks than to show 800 million people what they are missing, right? But last night in particular, one "clip" really showed me nothing: So was Marion Cotillard really that good in "La Vie En Rose"? Because all the clips showed me was that 1. She used lots of make up to age her, and 2. she can lip sync to Edith Piaf.

Desson Thomson: The clip did not do justice to her amazing performance.


DC: Hi Desson,

My favorite wins of the night were "Falling Slowly" winning best song, and Diablo Cody winning best original screenplay for "Juno." (Not surprisingly, "Juno" and "Once" were my favorite movies last year.)

How horrifying that "Norbit" truly was nominated for an Oscar. Jon Stewart's dig about that was great.

Desson Thomson: Yes, and that was truly funny.


RE: Paul Dano and 2 characters: I read in Entertainment Weekly last week that, according to Paul Thomas Anderson, the two characters in There Will Be Blood played by Paul Dano were originally supposed to be played by two different actors. For whatever reason, Dano played both. Anderson acknowledged that it has caused a lot of confusion and set the record straight in EW.

Desson Thomson: Yes, I heard that too.


Orlando, Fla.: Having seen the Best Picture nominees, we are totally in the dark on how or why "No Country for Old Men" could have even been nominated, no less won. And, it seems that most people we know felt the same.

Having read many reviews, just to become enlightened, we still JUST DON'T GET IT.

Do you have an explanation for some avid, well educated, but completely bewildered viewers?

Desson Thomson: I understand you being stumped. By the ending. I did like what preceded it tho'.


The Sea Ranch, Calif.: Hi Desson,

Every year I look forward to watching the Oscars. Even when the year before was painfully slow or boring. This year did not knock me me out; however, I was very happy with the best supporting actor and actress winners. I love Tilda Swinton but thought she wouldn't win. Javier Bardem was so believably psychotic I had to IMDb him to find out if he's actually a scary person. Daniel Day Lewis was extraordinary in "There will be Blood", but I didn't like the movie that much. I have not seen "La Vie En Rose."

To get to my question: As has been said, not a single acting award went to an American. Seeing how the US is not viewed very favorably overseas these days, do you think the Academy is trying to mend fences or show the world community that regardless of a person's country of origin, great talent rises above politics?

By the way, I think "Rescue Dawn" and Christian Bale got shafted.

Desson Thomson: I don't know how much they were trying to project this global message. But it's clear that politically, they -- mostly -- are not happy with the way American foreign policy has gone in the past 7 years.


Silver Spring, Md.:"No Country for Old Men's" sweep in the Oscars makes me wonder if the Coen brothers are just finally winning because they've accumulated an extensive enough filmography for the Academy to acknowledge them. Is "No Country for Old Men" really their best work? Or do their other great masterpieces stray too far away from the Oscar mold ("The Big Lebowski," "O Brother Where Art Thou?")?

Desson Thomson: I agree they have made better. But so did Scorsese, altho he won for The Departed.


Seattle, Wash: About the ceremony itself:

I know they didn't have as much time as they regularly do, but last night's was about the worst ever. Jon Stewart did OK, but the UPS Opening was lame, the set was uninspired, and the direction was all over the place. Why was Amy Adams left by herself during her song? They couldn't show a few clips during it? What was with that slippery floor? That pass to soldiers in Baghdad was awkward. Kristen Chenoweth's song had a good production, if only we could see it! And when "Peter and the Wolf" won for Best Short, they didn't play (duh) "Peter and the Wolf"!

Who's to blame for this mess and how do we make sure he or she never produces another telecast again?

Desson Thomson: Gil Cates, the show's producer, has been doing this for years and years. He hears comments like yours every year. he also hears how great things were. And he's going to be around for a long time.


Colorado Springs, Co.: Do you think "Transformers" was snubbed for Sound Mixing because it was such a commercial success, not to say "Bourne" wasn't, but perhaps "Transformers" is even more "popcorn" cinema?

Desson Thomson: Bourne and Transformers were popcorners that should have been more recognized at the Oscars.


D.C.: I think all of the major awards were right on -- including Cotillard for "La Vie en Rose."

I didn't even notice until I read it in the paper this morning that all the Best Actor/Actress winners were foreign!

By the way, is the little girl from "Atonement" British or American? I saw her playing an American girl in a movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd. (It must've been straight to video -- I can't remember the name of it.) Either way, that kid's a great actress!

Desson Thomson: That gal is Irish. Charming accent too.


Biggest Surprise?: Hi Desson,

I think Marion Cotillard for "La Vie En Rose" was the biggest surprise, though well-deserved. It seemed most critics favored Christie in that category. Any big surprises for you?

Desson Thomson: Marion surprised me! I thought Julie would get it.


St. Paul, Minn.: Hi Desson -- Thank you for taking my question. What do you think the voters were thinking in giving the Best Actress Oscar to Marion Cotillard over Julie Christie? I didn't see Cotillard's film, so I'm not being critical of the result, but I was disappointed not to be able to see Christie, who does so few movies, up there accepting an Oscar 42 years after winning her first.

Desson Thomson: I felt the same way as you. But I am an unabashed fan of Julie Christie and I have to admit Cotillard was terrific.


Desson Thomson: Folks. this has been great. Sorry I have run out of time to get to everyone. It was fun to talk Oscars with all of you. Look for me on my twice-a-month chats (12:30 pm) on Fridays.

Take care!


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