The Oscars. Hollywood’s biggest night of the year took place Sunday and I was in the press room once again for all the winner’s speeches. From comic turned reporter David Arquette crashing the room (he reportedly was covering the event for Sirius XM radio, which carries Howard Stern’s show) and asking a question of winner Christoph Waltz to the surprise tie between SKYFALL and ZERO DARK THIRTY in the Sound Editing category to Jennifer Lawrence’s explanation of her trip up to the stage, here are some moments from backstage at the Dolby Theatre.
I for one cheered to see women in film bringing home the gold in the technical categories. Those with Academy Awards were Karen Baker Landers for achievement in sound editing for her work on SKYFALL, a first win for Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran and her gorgeous work on ANNA KARENINA, Lisa Westcott’s and Julie Dartnell’s impeccable work on the Hair and Makeup for LES MISÉRABLES and Brenda Chapman’s triumph in becoming the first woman to win the Oscar for directing the best animated feature film of the year with her work on BRAVE.
Honestly it was hard not to sit there (in the 2nd row) and constantly have the thought of, “Oh my God, there’s George Clooney and Ben Affleck…there’s Daniel Day-Lewis… there’s Quentin Tarantino.” It’s always a surreal experience to cover the Oscars and to have the privilege of sitting in the press room.
Here’s how the Q&A went down and in order of how the winners came back to us from the stage.
Christoph Waltz - Supporting Actor – DJANGO UNCHAINED
Q. Can you talk about why Quentin Tarantino brings out the best in you? What about Quentin made you win another Oscar?
A. Quentin writes poetry, and I like poetry.
Q. Hi, back here. During the filming of DJANGO UNCHAINED, when did you realize, or did you realize, that there was something special about this film?
A. When I read the script for the first time, I realized that there was something special about this film. I know Quentin, and I read the pages more or less as they came out of the printer. Page by page I realized that something special is in the making.
Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman - Animated Feature Film – BRAVE
Q. You wrote in the New York Times earlier this year that you were devastated when you were taken off of this film, and I was wondering if this win now makes good for everything you’ve been through?
A. (Brenda Chapman) Absolutely. Yeah. It just really is. It says a lot for me. So, thank you.
Q.Brenda, it didn’t end up the way it started out, but it was very ambitious and complicated and wonderful and brave story, and, Mark, you came in and helped out, and the two of you created a synergy that maybe is unexpected. Talk about that.
A. (Mark Andrews) Wow. That’s interesting. I think a magic in animation and filmmaking is how much of a collaborative process it is, where either if you’re working side by side together the whole time or if it was like BRAVE where there was one director and then another director, you know. The thing that I loved about Brenda’s story was the thing that everybody loved about Brenda’s story, and I wanted to honor that when I came on board for my part of it, so.
A. (Brenda Chapman) Which I feel very much he did. And, you know, I told Mark when he when he, you know, stepped in that I was very happy that it was him who took my place because I know he has a daughter with two sons and I
A. (Mark Andrews) Three.
A. (Brenda Chapman) Three sons.
A. (Mark Andrews) Three.
A. (Brenda Chapman) And I knew he would understand, but also he has a love of Scotland, as well. I wasn’t sure about his fairytale sensibility, but it’s not a real fairytale anyway.
Jacqueline Durran - Costume Design – ANNA KARENINA
Q. The costume design inside ANNA KARENINA, you I haven’t really seen a film go so much into the psyche of each character, and the costumes are so much more outwardly indicative of what the characters are going through. How did you how were you able to figure out what each character was going through at the time and show that through what they were wearing?
A. The brief that the director gave me was to concentrate always on the silhouette and the color. So I think that he always had a plan, and quite often what happens is you design the costumes according to the director’s plan, and then he uses them in a way that you didn’t imagine or didn’t know. But there was always a color plan and a silhouette plan.
John Kahrs - Short Film (Animated) – PAPERMAN
Q. Just to congratulate you for using old school animation in the short. And I just want to ask you, why did you incorporate older animation in it, because I think it’s best that new computers, that you have to get into it?
A. Okay, yeah. The reason that I drew that hand drawn line back into the animation, it really comes from I mean, I’m a computer animation guy, I’m actually not very good at 2D animation. I can’t really draw that well. But when I was working with Glen Keane on TANGLED I think I was really transfixed by the drawings he was doing every day and it felt like such a shame to leave those drawings behind when we go to the final image when that line has a history of being so expressive, and I think there’s something universal about the hand drawn line being a way still a relevant way of telling stories. So I thought, can’t there be a way that we can bring these two things together again but in a 21st century way that uses new technology.
Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn - Documentary (Feature) – SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Q. Congratulations on your Oscar. The film was a very emotional film, and I was wondering if, because of the response from the film, if Rodriguez, himself, has gotten any offers for record deals today or to resume his career in the record industry?
A. (Malik Bendjelloul) Oh, yes. Oh, yes. At this very moment, as we speak, he has three albums on Billboard, which never happened before. And he’s talking about recording a new album, which might happen [inaudible].
A. (Simon Chinn) And the soundtrack album came out with the film SUGAR MAN released by Sony Legacy.
A. (Malik Bendjelloul) Oh, yes.
Claudio Miranda poses backstage with the Oscar® and Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Evans after winning for achievement in cinematography for work on LIFE OF PI.
Q. Quite often the ASC award is a pre-cursor win for the cinematography award for the Oscars. Roger Deakins won and tonight you are winning. You seemed completely caught off guard when you went up to the podium. What was going through your mind? Were you very surprised?
A. You might yeah. You probably get that from me. I am always a little bit when I make speeches, probably a little bit caught off guard anyway. I don’t know how to really I am not a great speaker so I kind of just I go from the heart. I have kind of I can’t I tried to read a speech the other night, and I actually couldn’t get through the words so I just threw it away. A lot of what comes at me is just what I feel at the time. So, I was caught off guard. I did think Roger was probably the next in line. And I actually kind of thought he would have got it, but, you know, I did get the BAFTA so there’s always a little bit of chance it’s possible, maybe, it’s just a different movie, you know.
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell - Makeup and Hairstyling - LES MISÉRABLES
Q. I want to ask, in a musical where the performance is being recorded live as they’re being recorded as production’s going on, is there anything different or difficult when doing hairstyles and makeup for the cast?
A. (Lisa Westcott) Yeah. Well, it was different because all the songs were done in their entirety, usually with about eight cameras. So from start to finish, your work is there. So if anything happens within that long run, sometimes you’ll sit there watching thinking, oh, no, that’s done, that’s not done. You can’t go and rectify it. So, for that reason for us, you know, it was very important to make sure that everything was spot on before the cameras turned. So, yeah, it was different in that way.
Q. Bill, in light of what’s happened with Rhythm & Hues, are you hopeful that whatever happens that you’ll be able to keep the same culture? And for the other visual effects supervisors, talk about what this means for you being able to work on a project where the visual effects are very much a part of the aesthetic of the movie.
A. (Bill Westenhofer) So the first part of your question about Rhythm & Hues, it really was something special, experience funded by John, Pauline and Keith, and it was a place that really catered to the artist and supported them really well. It is a concern. We’re hopeful that we can pull through the bankruptcy, but it’s a concern in all of our minds that the culture is preserved. As long as the key people are maintained in that environment, I think it will carry on. You guys can talk about the second part of the question.
A.(Guillaume Rocheron) Well, I think LIFE OF PI, as you mentioned, is a perfect example of visual effects contributing to the look of a film. And I think with everything we’re talking about now is it really shows that visual effects is part of filmmaking. And that we’re here, and we contribute to telling stories, making images and, over the years, develop relationships with filmmakers and really trying to be integrated in the filmmaking process as early as possible to give as much as we can to the director and try to make sure he can have his vision on screen. So I think it’s really important thing for me that LIFE OF PI kind of shows, it’s a turning point where we’re not only supplying a service, we’re here to actually tell stories and put them on screen.
Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers – Sound Editing – SKYFALL
Q. So for the person on the right, I wanted to know what it felt like, in this entire category you were the only woman nominated, and what does that mean to you?
A. (Karen Baker Landers) You know, I don’t think about it that much until I get asked the question, but it is really an honor to be a woman and to represent women in the industry and to be able to hang with the big boys and to do these films, so it means a lot to me. And, you know, I just hope I represent well.
Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth – Music (Original Song) – SKYFALL
Q. Hi, Adele.
A. (Adele Adkins) Hi.
Congratulations, you guys, on your win. What is your career process when working with somebody else?
A. (Adele Adkins) Well, with Paul it just, kind of, normally I go to him with an idea, and you have an idea ready for me as well, and normally we just kind of throw them at each other, and if something happens, which is certainly what happened with “Skyfall” and “Rolling in the Deep” were absolutely done well. But sometimes, you know, it just happens great like it does if I say sometimes it’s a bit dry, you just got to connect and just hope for the best I find, really, to be really honest with whoever you’re working with or whoever you’re collaborating with, so that they get the idea. I came into the studio
A. (Paul Epworth) It’s your strength.
A. (Adele Adkins) I came into the studio yeah, it’s a bad strength though because the whole world knows my business. But, you know, going into the studio and involving someone in your life, I cried the first time when I told Paul about my ex, didn’t I, telling the story, and then “Rolling in the Deep” happened.
Q. Hi, congratulations. The fall on the way up to the stage, was that on purpose?
Q. What was the fall? What happened?
A. What do you mean what happened? Look at my dress. I tried to walk up stairs in this dress. That’s what happened. I don’t actually I think I just stepped on the fabric and they waxed the stairs.
Q. Hi, Jennifer. Congratulations.
A. Thank you.
Q. What was going through your mind when you first fell?
A. What went through my mind when I fell down? A bad word that I can’t say that starts with “F.”
Q. At 22 years old, you’ve got your first Oscar, and you’ve already had two nominations. It’s awfully young to have so much success so far. Do you feel that it’s a good thing that it’s coming so early in the career?
A. I hope so. Yeah. I mean, I who knows. I guess we’ll see.
Q. Have you been able to come out of character now?
A. I’m definitely out of character at this moment. If I slip back into it by mistake, you can do an intervention of some kind, Heimlich maneuver or whatever, if I get stuck in character. No, I’m definitely out of character now.
Q. You had so many acceptance speeches, so varied, and they’ve all been so eloquent.
Q. Is anybody helping you with these?
A. I wish, I wish. No, no, they haven’t. They haven’t. But if you can’t find your own words to say in situations like this, I think that would be a little sad, wouldn’t it? Personally, I have to say that is so sweet of you to say that, but I kind of love it when people are completely inarticulate with their speeches, and it says the same thing in a different way.
Quentin Tarantino - Writing (Original Screenplay) – DJANGO UNCHAINED
Q. So, your movie was such a success at the box office, as were a lot of the Best Picture nominees this year. Do you think that the financial success of these films is going to impact how studios think about making adult oriented and, you know, serious minded fare?
A. Well, you know, that’s a very good question, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I found myself I go into my own little film study from time to time, especially during crazy moments like this to kind of put it out of my brain. And one of the things I’ve been doing is I’ve been doing a lot of study on the films made in the early ’70s, in particular, ’69, ’70 and ’71, and that was the beginning, starting in ’67, that was the beginning of what they called “new Hollywood,” and I have to say, I wasn’t thinking about us. I was just doing that study for my own edification. And I looked at the nine nominees and I have to say, more than most other times you can think of, I actually recognized the spirit that was going on then with the nine nominees now, and even backed by some commercial success in the case of some of them, where actually making adult movies about subjects that there’s nothing about the subjects at all in a lot of these movies that would suggest they would be commercial or be popular, and then they have been. And I actually think an adult audience is kind of rising up. I mean, the fact that we are actually not making every movie for teenagers is kind of a cool thing, especially now that I am not a teenager anymore.
Q. I was just wondering what led you to include an Australian character in the closing part of your film?
A. I cut it out, but the whole idea was the fact that they were kind of Australian indentured servants for the LeQuint Dickey Mining Company. And what I cut out was this moment where my character was there and Django says, “So, well, you work for the LeQuint Dickey Mining Company, don’t you?” “Yup.” He goes, “Well, I know how much I’m getting paid.” “How much are you getting paid? Like, for instance, how much do you get paid for the day?” “Well, you know, what the law says, LeQuint Dickey paid for my passage from Australia to here. And, you know, I get paid and I send a little back home for the family and that’s just how it works. I’ll pay them back for the boat trip.” And he goes, well, “How long have you been working for LeQuint Dickey?” “About three years.” “Three years and you ain’t paid them back yet?” “Yup.” “Shit, peckerwood, you a slave, too. You just got bought for the price of a boat ride. At least they didn’t charge us for the boat ride.” That kind of explained it. But the movie’s fucking long, so I got rid of it.
Ang Lee – Directing – LIFE OF PI
Q. So this is the second time you won for Best Directing without winning Best Picture for that film. Did you think third time will be the charm for you? Is there a Best Picture in the future for you?
A. Well, the Best Picture requires so many things. Is it necessarily the best picture artistically, I don’t know. It’s just most people, they feel like it’s the most beloved movie this year by our industry. So whether to get it or not, I’m very proud of everybody work with me. I want to share this with them. To me, this is for them. It’s like Best Picture, whatever I get. I think everybody got it tonight in our group would feel the same way. They really want to share with everybody working the film, the family. Maybe third time we get it. But I’m very happy to get this. And very importantly, I really think this is for everybody work on the film.
Q. You mentioned Hugh Jackman in your acceptance speech.
Q. Can you tell us how he inspired you in this film?
A. Oh, my goodness. Well, Tom Hooper, our director, has gone on record as saying this film wouldn’t have happened if Hugh Jackman didn’t exist. And I know exactly why he says that. Hugh is this magical alien combination of strength and soul and heart and artistry and fun. And if you think about it, I mean, not to get serious, but we do live in a world that can tend toward the cynical, and to have someone in a film like this where it’s inherent to the film’s success that you believe in the goodness of the central character, and that someone like Hugh exists who has that goodness within him, it made the film soar.
And finally Best Picture winner – ARGO – producers Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney
Q. How cool was it to have the First Lady announce that you had just won an Oscar?
A. (Ben Affleck) I was sort of hallucinating when that was happening. In the course of hallucination, it doesn’t you know what I mean? It doesn’t seem that odd when some other oh, look, a purple elephant, you know, Michelle Obama. But it’s natural because the whole thing is so unnatural. Honestly, I was just asking these two guys outside, was that Michelle Obama? The whole thing kind of alarmed me at the time, but in retrospect, the fact that it was the First Lady was an enormous honor and the fact that she surrounded herself by service men and women was special and I thought appropriate. Anyway, it was very cool.
Q. Being left off the Best Director docket and through that, how has that changed with all of the recognition that you’ve received and where are you with that now?
A. You know what, you’re not entitled to anything. I’m honored to be here. I’m honored to be among these extraordinary movies, and I’m really, really honored to win an Academy Award.
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