Until this year, the only big time film industry awards show I had ever been to was the Independent Spirit Awards and it’s been almost 10 years since the last time – and who can forget Elvis Costello’s “surprise” opening of the show with (“What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?”). I had never been invited to any of the guild awards shows and to be honest, I was pretty curious about them. We all know about the Golden Globes and how fun they seem to be (how many drunk winners can you remember over the years?) but what about the SAG awards? PGA? WGA? Well, this year I finally got invited to one and to my surprise, it was a lot of fun.
Saturday I found myself in the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, having a cocktail and wondering who everyone was. Considering I know an awful lot of people in the film biz, one might wonder as to why I was so confused. Well….I was at the ACE Eddie Awards. Now I love editors, respect their craft and knew several personally but they aren’t the most up-front, recognizable members of the film community to the general public.
So it was that I and writer/producer Darren Dean (Kinyarwanda, Prince of Broadway) found ourselves in a position to which we were not accustomed: wallflowers. Well, not exactly, but the pre-awards cocktail hour was like being the only 2 hockey players at a rhythmic gymnastics competition. We didn’t know who they were and they certainly didn’t know us.
The celebs in attendance were likely in the green room, so until we all started taking our seats for the show, there was no sign of ACE Golden Eddie recipient Alexander Payne, awards host Patton Oswalt or presenters Kyle Chandler, Robert Forster, Donald Faison, Reese Witherspoon or Clint Eastwood.
As for the ceremony, it was short, often funny and occasionally rather touching. The love these men and women have for their craft (and each other) was apparent and unlike other, more celebrated (and televised) shows, this one really was all about the work. Like the Golden Globes, the Eddies nominate feature films in categories and as a result, it was possible for two favored Oscar nominees (The Descendants and The Artist) to both win and… both did. As a result, the Eddies didn’t give much of a hint as to which film is going to take home a little gold man on Sunday, but
best guess is The Artist. I am leaning towards predicting The Artist. The little French, (mostly) silent film is looking poised to make a major haul on Oscar night, having racked up a rather impressive tally to date. That said, The Descendants remains my favorite film of the year and I am rooting for it!
Oswalt lived up to his reputation as one of the funniest people out there and at times was significantly edgier than Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais (“I haven’t seen this many cutters in one room since the Teen Choice Awards”). He also praised the tenacity and toughness of an editor, remarking that anyone who “sits through Chipwrecked 1,000 times” was someone to be respected.
One of the interesting (odd?) things about the night was that whenever a nominee or presenter was a member of the American Cinema Editors (not all were) their names were announced, followed by “A.C.E.” as if it were some honorific bestowed upon them by Queen (Thelma) Schoonmaker or King (Michael) Kahn. As a result, it became a running gag, with Oswalt opening the evening with: “Good evening. I am your host Patton Oswalt, F.A.T.” and Payne really beating it to death, proving that if you repeat a gag enough, eventually it becomes funny again.
The speeches themselves were mostly short, sweet and often funny (Michael Hazanavicius: “Thanks to Harvey (Weinstein) for not recutting” The Artist). Below is a rather lengthy but often funny excerpt of Payne’s acceptance speech, including a look into his process with longtime editor Kevin Tent A.C.E.
One of Patton’s running gags was about how he was working his way through a bottle of single malt Scotch during the awards with was rather ironic, because each table of 12 in the ballroom was allotted a scant single bottle each of red and white wine for the 2 hour ceremony and when the table asked for more, we were informed that we’d have to pay for it. Far be it for me to tell someone how to run their awards show (yeah…right) but my only note to the ACE Eddies organizing committee is that black tie events generally come with an open bar. I’m just sayin’….
All in all, a fun night and I hope that next year my dance card is a little more full!
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