Will the Real Dante Ferretti Please Stand Up? (...that is, If He's Allowed?)
Oscar devotés everywhere should be outraged by the breaking news that producer Gilbert Cates has decided to streamline the show by presenting many of the technical and "lower profile" Oscars directly to winners, in their seats. Meaning, fewer speeches, no glory-walk to the stage for the winners in many categories, and serious displeasure for Oscar-watchers like me who actually think the ceremony should be about recognizing excellence and congratulating all kinds of filmmakers, beyond the ones who get rewarded and celebrated all the time. Obviously, "Oscar" and "excellence" only have a loose relationship, but this is the one time per year when cinematographers, art directors, editors, sound technicians, makeup artists, etc. get any exposure at all. If AMPAS isn't going to defend the notion that movies don't spring fully formed from Adam Sandler's head (or even Clint Eastwood's), who else will?
My girl Sandy Powell will likely be collecting her second cosutme-design Oscar this year for The Aviator, or else the estimable Alexandra Byrne will scoop her for Finding Neverland (even if it's one of her less creative efforts). They are costume designers, and Powell is a certified genius: check those credits. Let this chick stand up! What she's wearing is probably gonna be good, and besides, she's got more talent in one thimbled finger than Leo DiCaprio has got in his whole self. James Newton Howard, who has written yet another beautiful and mood-assisting score for a Shyamalan picture (unfortunately, the risible The Village), is nominated for Best Score, and he deserves whatever close-up is coming to him after laboring valiantly on such a crappy product (and for being Oscarless after six nominations and 108 scores in only 20 years).
Most gallingly of all, the absolutely genius designer Dante Ferretti, art director to Scorsese, Fellini, Pasolini, and Gilliam—also the man behind the design glories of Interview with the Vampire, Cold Mountain, and Titus—is finally destined to win his first Oscar after eight tries, again for The Aviator. I've been a Ferretti fan for years, and I would like to see him walk to collect his trophy, even if he's homely, even if he waddles. I want to hear what this paragon has to say, even if he just thanks his Uncle Silvio. Anybody who really cares about the Oscars should be agreeing with me. Anybody who doesn't care shouldn't be watching anyway, and it shouldn't bother them that the show is long. There's, like, 9000 other channels out there now. If Dante's keeping you down while he enjoys a peak moment of a 30-year professional career, watch something else.