Sunday, March 05, 2006

Initial Oscar thoughts

Well, the dust has settled, the tuna cones and mini Kobe burgers are being munched on at the Governors Ball. The 78th annual Academy Awards are newly-made history, and some comments about the festivities already have come to mind.

* A lot of people already are calling Crash's best picture win one of the greatest upsets in Oscar history. I don't know if I'd go that far; many pundits had been predicting something like this for weeks now. Some will call it a repudiation of the themes of Brokeback Mountain; that's bunk as well. What it was was a surprise, whether you liked the movie or not, and God knows we don't see enough of that at the Academy Awards.

* Speaking of best picture, though, what the heck was going on the directors' booth? The show was running ahead of schedule when Jack Nicholson shocked the world (or not) by revealing the contents of the last envelope, yet it was deemed necessary to not allow Paul Haggis, who was literally the father of this labor of love, to say something to the audience about his unexpected triumph. And for what reason, prey tell? Apparently just so Penelope Cruz could sell some more of the hair coloring she so obviously doesn't use in real life. Gee, just think - if they had just eliminated one of the film montages about film noir or epics or head lice or something, they would have had time for even more Clairol commercials! It was a disgusting moment in a show that, for the most part, was quite entertaining.

* Speaking of - it may be hard out there for a pimp, but apparently it's even harder to be an Oscar host. It didn't take long for the Associated Press to pan him for playing it too safe. Of course, had he turned the broadcast into an extension of The Daily Show, he would have been slammed for that. Truth be told, I can't recall laughing more during an Oscar telecast. It wasn't all Stewart; Ben Stiller's green-screen gag was perfection, and Steve Carell and Will Ferrell's presenting of the makeup award while wearing face paint was very funny. But Stewart was the pulse of the piece, and after a slightly wobbly, I thought he pulled it off with his jokes that poked fun both at the Academy and himself. And the fake political ads were very clever and very hilarious. So the AP needs to, oh, get a sense of humor and, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, go blow. [UPDATE: Reuters and The New York Times were more complementary of Stewart's performance, for what it's worth.]

* Robert Altman had a heart transplant - who knew? Apparently nobody. :)

* I felt bad that Felicity Huffman didn't win best actress, but Reese Witherspoon's heartfelt speech made up for that somewhat. So is the fact that Felicity got to come to the party in the first place with her great husband and, as many discovered tonight, her great breasts! (Though not as great, maybe, as Salma Hayek's. Hello, nurse!)

* George Clooney is The Man. Or maybe The Man heir apparent, as Jack still seems have It. But Clooney is total class and proved it again tonight with a speech that probably will be used by Gil Cates in future years as an example of what to do when receiving an Oscar.

* And speaking of Cates, the Tyranny of the Speeches continued with his latest tactic, turning the Kodak Theater into the world's largest elevator by having the orchestra play Muzak underneath all of the speeches - you know, so the obnoxious swelling of the music to play them off should they be deemed long-winded wouldn't sound so obnoxious. Also note how the music stopped entirely when it became clear that Reese Witherspoon wouldn't be done in a minute. It was the wise move, of course, to let her go on, but proved my point that there is an unfair hierarchy when it comes to Oscar speeches.

* Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't bark his speech. I think he should have to give his Oscar back.

* Was anyone else afraid that Kathleen York was going to catch on fire during her best song performance? And God bless Three 6 Mafia for momentarily turning the Oscars into the Grammys, complete with the bleeping during their speech. And God bless Larry McMurty for having the stones to wear blue jeans and cowboy boots to the high-faluting Academy Awards - and for mentioning the importance of books in his remarks.

* Boy, the AP is on a roll tonight. Witness one of their headlines: "Three 6 Mafia Steals Oscar Song Award." Nice, fellas. Have fun at those diversity classes.

* What do you think Mickey Rooney did during the rap performance? My guess is that he was humming along with the rest of us.

* When Morgan Freeman flubbed his line while giving out best supporting actor, I thought, "Thank God, he is human after all."

I'm sure I'll think of more stuff later.

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