First, a couple of Florida reps flamed Jay-Z and "the diva Beyoncé" for their trip to Cuba. Then Hova responded with "Open Letter" ("Politicians never did shit for me except lie to me, distort history, wanna give me jail time and a fine Obama said, 'Chill, you gonna get me impeached. You don't need this shit anyway, chill with me on the beach'"). And then things got really good: Press Secretary Jay Carney found himself in the strange position of explaining to a press conference that (a) it was a song, y'all, and (b) "I guess nothing rhymes with treasury." Sure, there are some near rhymes (wild celery, feathery, telephone directory), but they really do lack punch. I'd beg someone out there to remix this video, perhaps adding AutoTune or launching an entire web series devoted to White House press events dissecting Snoop Lion's stance on same-sex marriage or the political relevance of "Hey Porsche," but I'm sure there's a mastermind already at work.
The last time Martin Scorsese combined old-timey gangster stuff with the kind of fancy cable package some sad people actually have to return to their childhood homes to access, the result was HBO's Boardwalk Empire, and that seemed to work out pretty well for everyone. Now, he's got another one: EW reports that Marty (when you're as good of friends with him as I am, you can call him Marty) is heading to Miramax to develop his awesomely grimy 2002 movie Gangs of New York into a TV show that would draw not only on circa late-1800s gangs in New York but also those in cities like Chicago and New Orleans. (But probably not Ohio. Things didn't really pop off in Ohio, crime-wise, until Cam'ron got there.)
Here is Martin Scorsese reviewing The Searchers: "I go back to The Searchers all the time. A few years ago, I watched it with my wife, and I will admit that it gave me pause. Many people have problems with Ford's Irish humor, which is almost always alcohol-related."
This is it. The last envelope of the night. We’ve waited through a lot of travesties to get to this point, so I won’t bother prolonging the suspense any longer. Drumroll, please …
 Stanley Kubrick never wins Best Director (WINNER): 1,871  Martin Scorsese doesn't win Best Director until The Departed: 704
This is a just result, as Stanley Kubrick is unquestionably one of the best film directors (if not the best) who ever lived. This result is also bullshit, as Martin Scorsese is unquestionably one of the best film directors (if not the best) who ever lived, and making him wait nearly 35 years after he filmed the single coolest scene of all time — I’m talking about the part in Mean Streets where Harvey Keitel watches Robert De Niro and two girls from the Village walk into Rick Romanus’s bar in slow motion as the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” plays in the background — for his Oscar is simply ludicrous. But at least Scorsese won something, amirite? But doesn’t Kubrick’s win sort of completely go against the rules laid down for this tournament, which is that only post-1972 travesties will be considered, which means the guy who made Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut (all great-to-excellent, iconic films) walloped the guy who made Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, After Hours, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Casino, The Aviator, AND The Departed (which is many more great-to-excellent, iconic films)?
So how's your Oscar Travesty bracket looking? Are you crushing it? Can you just about taste the victory ribs you're going to order from Chili's with that gift certificate up for grabs in your office pool? I wouldn't know about that — the Grantland office has nothing riding on our individual predictions because we figured it was a little pointless if we all predicted the same final winner. While it's true that there was a particularly contentious pre-tournament debate, most of that hair-pulling and mean-tweeting was about the seeding of everything else; we were largely interested in where exactly everything else would fall below that 1-seeded front-runner from 2005 we figured would win it all. But now, with everything we took for granted lying in a heap of flaming wreckage on an ethnically diverse block in South L.A., it's time to reassess what we thought we knew about how much everybody hated Crash.
In 1980, Raging Bull loses to Ordinary People. Sometimes we need a little time with our art.
During the 1980 Best Picture race, the Academy needed a standing eight count to clear its collective head. If it had gotten one, it would’ve seen the truth. Art can be immediate — instantaneous even — and a piece can stab you right in the heart the moment you see it. But it can also be too much to comprehend at the point of experience and the remove of time is required to fully appreciate it. That’s the story of the 1980 Best Picture.
It was The Wizard of Oz in 1939 that provided Hollywood with its most enduring depiction of the divide between the head and the heart. In their desperation to gain the organs they lacked, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man proved themselves willing to endure any indignity, from flying monkeys to grabby munchkins. No task was too great, no road too yellow or too long. Everything was worth it in their tireless quest to appear either smarter or more caring.
The Wizard of Oz didn't win the Oscar for Best Picture — the trophy that year went to some overheated epic about wind. But in many ways the shared journey of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man toward wildly disparate goals presaged every stupid Academy decision for the next 70-plus years. When given the chance, the Oscars always trip themselves up lunging for hearts or smarts, never rewarding actual artistic achievement when something tear-jerking or historical is there to get in the way. Hollywood, as one or two (million) people have blithely commented, is a wildly insecure town, its denizens desperate to be thought of as both relatably human (they are not) and inspirationally erudite (ditto). The Oscars, more often than not, reflect this; the final tally saying more about how the voters wish to be perceived than anything about the movies themselves.
In the epic, contentious, slanderous 40-person e-mail chain that kickstarted this endeavor a few weeks back, I slavishly recalled more than 20 perceived Oscar Travesties" occurring before 1972, our cutoff year in this arbitrary contest. (Here's one: Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine beat Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca for Best Actor in 1942. Think about that.) I never thought we would vote on these ancient mistakes, no matter how deeply I believe Dr. Strangelove deserves that shine over My Fair Lady. I was merely trying to point out that the Oscars, before we were watching them, before we were born, hell, before our parents were born, have been blowing it. And though the voting procedures have changed over the years (revisit Mark Harris's essential Oscarmetrics coverage from 2012 for more details on the evolving voting body), the fact has remained: Getting it wrong is the only way Oscar can be right.
Last chance for On Demand: It's the Paris-set Best Picture Oscar nominee that will transport you back to a magical moment in cinema history! No, not The Artist. Hugo is Martin Scorsese's attempt at making a movie his tween daughter could actually watch (in 3-D, no less — though obviously it ... will not be presented in that format if you rent it at home).
Though it was marketed as a family film, my own friends with kids report that Hugo is too boring for younger children, and too twee for older ones, encompassing as it does old-timey movies, analog clocks (which Hugo spends his time covertly winding, in the Paris train station, after the death of his father), and steampunk (an automaton plays a pivotal role). Maybe The Artist — still available On Demand — is a better choice for a family movie night. At least that one has a cute dog.
With the possible exception of Salman Rushdie, no one lived life in hiding as publicly as Henry Hill, who beat the odds on Tuesday by dying, in a hospital, at 69, of a long illness. It was (probably) a lifetime of smoking that did him in, not a hot-lead overdose or an ice-pick to the endocranium, so he won, kind of.
Sixty-nine is old for a Mob turncoat expelled from federal witness protection for all manner of criminal backsliding. But it's fairly young for a celebrity, and that's what Henry Hill was when he died — a celebrity, in that a celebrity is almost always a chimera of fictional character and actual human being.
Grantland has already given you reactions to this morning’s surprising batch of Oscar nominations. But how did the actual actors involved in the process respond? Mostly, they were did so boringly. (Martin Scorsese, whose flick Hugo is up for a pack-leading 11 nominations — including Best Picture and Best Director — only had this to say: “It’s one thing to to get excited, but you can’t get your hopes up. I’m trying to stay reserved." Buddy. Come on. You've already got a statue. Why not bask in the glory here?) But it wasn't all staid fluff. A few favorites, below.
Rembert Browne: Will Ferrell is in a great place right now. This is the fourth wave of his career and perhaps the Era of Ferrell I'm most excited about. He has already had his rise to fame (SNL), his string of classics (Old School, Zoolander, Anchorman), and his Sandler phase (Kicking & Screaming, Semi-Pro). The key is that he successfully made it through the Sandler "I am just going to keep making movies because I can and I don't care if fewer and fewer people laugh because I got bills, son" period, remembered how to be really funny again, and is now getting weird and experimental. That's what Casa De Mi Padre, an absurd movie completely in subtitles, screams out to the public. "Get weird with your old pal, Will." I don't know what I'm getting myself into with this movie, but I genuinely can't wait.
The National Board of Review announced its annual movie awards today, and although this remains a deeply weird organization whose membership is opaque and whole method of selection is — to be generous about it — impenetrable, we should probably not hold it against any of the many, many movies or people that managed to win something today, so bravo to all of them. The big victors were two films that got blanked the other day by the New York Critics Circle: Hugo, which took awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and The Descendants, which won prizes for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Netflix has beat out Showtime for the return of Arrested Development, and the new episodes will be available to subscribers in early 2013. The plan is to make nine to ten episodes, each focusing on a different member of the Bluth family, before heading into the movie. Yes, T.V. nerds: this is really, actually, totally happening. Feel free to riot in excitement. Grade: A- [Deadline]
Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, and Terence Winter are collaborating on an HBO series about a cocaine-using record executive in New York in 1977. Jagger, who hatched the idea originally as a film project, will produce; Scorsese will produce as well as direct the pilot, for which Winter has written the script. Sounds great! Definitely the best idea Jagger has had since “Start Me Up.” Grade: A [HR]