The Oscars. I am probably the only one in the world who didn’t find the telecast tediously boring. Okay, so, it was a little, maybe even moderately, boring. But I even enjoyed the montage tribute to foreign films. You are talking about one of the only people in Pittsburgh who ordered the Olympic triplecast a decade or so ago. Just so I could watch the equestrian events. Took a lot of newsroom ribbing for that.

And now we have been chewing over the Oscar results in the newsroom. Thanks to a wicked bout of either norovirus, or food poisoning, I spent most of a vacation recuperating–but you are never too sick to bundle yourself up and sit in a dark theatre—oh, that didn’t sound right, did it? Anyway, suffice it to say, I saw almost every film that garnered any kind of nomination..Still have to see Happy Feet ( I sooo love penguins–I even held one of the zoo’s babies!), Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth, Half-Nelson, and Flags of Our Fathers. I have the Netflix for the last two at home now. Can’t see Pan’s in a theatre..I HATE torture scenes, and I have to be at home to hide behind a door, or fast forward. Wouldn’t you love to fast forward through the figuratively torturous scenes of your life? Yes, they have already made a movie about that–Click. Thank goodness, it was a comedy.

I kept trying to get everyone at work to see Letters From Iwo Jima. It won the Best Picture award from the National Board of Review, and it was my favorite. USA Today’s critic thought it should win, but picked Little Miss Sunshine as the probable winner. I loved that mix of macabre and mirth, but I loved Letters because it celebrates the human will to live, in the face of overwhelming cultural pressures (Japanese) to sacrifice for country. It was a largely unprecedented look at the “other side” and I am sure, justifiably uncomfortable, even painful, for many Americans.Perhaps that, plus the subtitles, kept it from grabbing the statue. But Clint Eastwood is remarkable for making it, and for, I think only 20 million. I may be wrong on that.

Actually, a friend of mine pointed out that many of the nominated films were disturbing. How can you say you “loved” films like “The Departed,” “Last King of Scotland,” and “Babel” when they are so upsetting to watch. Babel does center on the children in our lives, and I loved that about it. I also loved “The Queen.” But the film I saw the most wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture—“Blood Diamond.” I won’t tell you how many times I saw it. It was on a number of Top Ten lists, and I am so impressed with Djimon Hounsou as an actor. I have never been a big fan of DiCaprio’s, but I am now. He nailed that part. The accent was amazing. But, even though I have no children of my own, I sympathize with how difficult the film is to watch for parents, because of the terrifying depiction of child soldiers. It is a film that breaks your heart. Which is not a bad thing , sometimes. Spurs us onto action.

Speaking of children in Africa, I hope people took time to watch Oprah’s special about her academy. It was a treat to interview her about it, even though it was only by satellite. I have interviewed her, in person, several times over the years, and have found her to be funny, accessible, and bright. I agree with her that Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of Idi Amin was riveting, and chilling–makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

And standing with these characters did the same—just kidding. They were so entertaining. These people were part of the Pittsburgh Film Office’s Oscar Gala Sunday night, which Michelle Wright and I have emceed for a number of years now. Great crowd, and the guy who played Borat sounded just like the real Sacha Baron Cohen . It truly gets you in the mood for movies, and the Film Office is generating some impressive projects now.

Wow, long blog! sorry.. just two asides..I miss my obsessive movie going partner- Susan Koeppen.. With a toddler and new baby , and her job on The Early Show, I am sure there is little time for films. But she is the person who got me into this Oscar obsession mode several years ago.

And a “thank you” to the Cowhers for so graciously consenting to our one-on one.
I was talking to a Fox Chapel parent I know, whose daughter was in class with Lauren Cowher. She thinks both Bill and Kaye have done an admirable job in raising their kids, and keeping them as normal as possible in what was an impossibly abnormal situation–living life in a fishbowl. Here’s wishing them the best.

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