Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscars '05: Post-mortem

To begin, it's become a tired affair.

It's strange that the worst show in recent memory was one in which almost every award went to someone who truly deserved it. But just rewards do not great television make. In fact, it was piss-poor television. The only surprises were the errant backstage noises that temporarily jarred presenters. Oh, and The Phantom. Scared the crap out of me. Beyonce was looking fine with all those diamonds singing "Learn to Be Lonely" and -- holy crap, it's a cloaked figure! Michael Medved?

But the best picture actually won best picture. That hasn't happened since...well, Schindler's List, I guess, in 1994. Clint, Hilary, and Morgan all deserved their awards. Charlie Kaufman finally won, though he inexplicably had to share the credit with Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth, who merely helped with the "concept" of "Eternal Sunshine." Cate Blanchett thoroughly deserved her award, and it was not just a consolation prize for "Elizabeth." Watching the clip during the presentation reminded me of how spot-on and dimensional her Hepburn was. Even Ryan Landreth won for the lovely animated short "Ryan."

It was ridiculous, though, that Landreth and other winners were confined to the aisles simpley because their categories weren't "high octane." This was presumably the highlight of Landreth's life -- and possibly Ryan Larkin's too -- and he had to do his thank yous from the seats.

Sidney Lumet's speech was gracious and satisfying: "What it comes down to is I'd like to thank the movies." Wonderful. But an honorary Oscar shouldn't represent the highlight of the telecast. Some final thoughts:

* Dustin Hoffman was drunk or sedated during the presentation for best picture, and Barbra Streisand acted like she needed to get drunk or sedated.

* The theme for 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' played throughout the night. Why? The scores to 'Chinatown' and 'The Magnificent Seven' were also played, but that was to honor the recently deceased composers Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein. Brad Fiedel, who scored 'T2," is not dead.

* 'The Aviator' scored the most wins (five) for any Scorsese pic ever; the runner-up is 'Raging Bull,' which won two in 1981.

* Why isn't the audience asked to hold its applause until the end of the In Memoriam tribute? The fluctuations in applause make the whole segment into a popularity contest for the dead. Shrill whistling and loud yippees for Brando, but nary a clap for screenwriter Mary Eastman. Unseemly, maudlin, pathetic, classless. Hold your goddman applause to the end, you bunch of Hollywood floozies.

* 'Ned & Stacy' alumni record: 1 for 2 (Charlie Kaufman won, Thomas Haden Church did not)

* Because all the technical nominees were brought onstage, there were often huge pockets of empty seats in the house.

* Frank Pierson thinks he's God. When he came on, he referred to the Kodak Theatre as a "tabernacle of talent," and assured the audience that his "sermon is going to be brief." Oprah was quick to assert that she is, in fact, God.

* After Pierson thanked the armed forces, the camera cut to a shot of Mickey Rooney, who was apparently drowning in his seat 30 rows back.

* Jorge Drexler sang his song when he accepted his award because the Academy didn't want him to sing it as part of the telecast; they wanted high-profile stars Antonio Banderas and Carlos Santana.

* The floor and ceiling video screens were cool.

* Renee Zellweger used to be cute and adorable. I don't understand what happened, or why she thinks she looks better now than she did in the 'Jerry Maguire' days. She needs to get in the sun and eat. Below is a photo from 'Jerry.' Find some shots of her from the Oscars and you'll see what I mean. Her eyes seem to have disappeared.

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