Oscar is celebrating its 75th anniversary, I'm celebrating my 25th anniversary of watching Oscar. Or something like that. I've been watching the Oscars for a very long time, and it's just in my blood at this point. I was pretty cranky about the lack of exciting nominees but I do like seeing how the producers decide to put a show on.
For by the book winners, go to my post on the winners.
Here is my play-by-play of evening:
The telecast starts with a montage of Best Picture winners. Unfortunately, they are superimposed on diamonds, so you can barely make out what the films are. Some critic said it was very Sirk like to do that, but I think it sucked. Yada "Diamond Anniversary" yada. Then enters, Steve Martin, whose transformation into erudite and elegant humorist, and he receives a standing ovation from the audience, starved for some humor. Martin takes one look at the set and says, "I'm glad they cut back on the glitz. He monologues for a bit, a little political humor, says Jack Nicholson is gay, Kathy Bates is loose. Heh. It goes on for a little too long - I can tell the Bruce Vilanch jokes immediately - but he's generally funny. He pretends that he's slept with Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Renee Zellweger, Diane Lane, Julie Andrews, both Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, Stitch, and Ernest Borgnine. I love Julianne Moore's earrings. Lots of the ladies are wearing dazzling chandelier-Indian style earrings while not wearing elaborate necklaces. Anyway, Steve Martin announces Cameron Diaz to present the first award.
Cameron is presenting Best Animated Feature. Her hair looks pretty lank. Ice Age, Lilo & Stitch, Spirit: The Stallion of of the Cimarron, Spirited Away, and Treasure Island. The biggest cheers are when Spirited Away is announced as a nominee, and then even more cheering when it's announced the winner. I cheer. I hope Disney gives will finally give Spirited Away a decent release. The camera has a close-up on Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife. Ha. Katzenberg/Dreamworks is behind Stallion: Cimarron of the Spirit or whatever it's called.
Keanu Reeves comes out to present the Visual Effects award, which goes to The Lord of the Rings. No surprise, and looking at the clips, Spiderman's effects look really cheesy. It's hard, when there's a large crew of winners for the technical awards, which get no respect from the Oscar producers. The best speech from a large crew of technical people was a couple years ago when they all gave their speeches at the same time, thereby coming in under the time limit.
Jennifer Connelly comes out to present Best Supporting Actor. She has great flashing eyes and is wearing a smart men's jacket, which is pretty awesome maternity wear. Oh, no, there's a montage of all the supporting actors, which means there's 69 years of them. Brother. And they want this ceremony to be swift? When she announces the nominees, I notice there's no clip of their performances. Ah, I see where Gil Cates is cutting the ceremony, but I think it's a shitty choice. The winner is...Chris Cooper for Adaptation, who shakes Charlie Kaufman's hand (the Coopers and Kaufmans are sitting next to each other; Charlie Kaufman is not fat or balding...he's tiny, with dark curly hair and a beard), hugs Meryl Streep and Nic Cage on the way the podium, gives a lovely speech ("I wish us all peace") and makes his wife cry.
Jennifer Lopez is up to present Best Art Direction. She's pretty covered up in an aquamarine one shouldered muumuu. Her eyelashes look strange - I think her makeup artist went overboard with the fox fur lashes - but overall J.Lo is radiant. She, too, is wearing the chandelier earrings. Chicago wins its first award of the night, and it's like a receiving line, the art direction team going to hug Rob Marshall, Renee, Richard...Catherine's not in her seat, an Asian seat filler wearing a Gwyneth-Paltrow-Oscar-dress-of-1999 is. I imagine Catherine will be the first performance, lest she go into labor late in the show.
And I'm so right - John Travolta comes out to introduce the first Best Song nominee, "I Move On" by Kander and Ebb from Chicago, as well as introduce Bill Conti and the orchestra. Huh. Rob Marshall supposedly choreographed the dancers, but it looks like shit. Catherine Zeta-Jones looks great and I like Queen Latifah's dress here better than the one she arrived in. Queen Latifah sounds fantastic, too. The dancing seems more Cabaret than Chicago. When the number ends, I wonder why the telecast isn't letterboxed. Performances would look much better.
Jennifer Garner and Mickey Mouse are in charge of the Animated Short Film award. Jennifer Garner, a very pretty woman, has on the most unflattering dress - her breasts are totally squished, its got strange slits for her legs...it's a mess. Mickey fares better, plus he has a "Dear Ndugu" joke. Award to "The Chubbchubbs." Then Mickey's gone, Jennifer's still there, to announce Best Short Film. And the fucking Oscar writers make her quote Disraeli. As if! "This Charming Man" from Denmark wins. The director graciously brings the writer up, too.
Audience close-up of Best Actor nominee Adrien Brody and his mother, photographer Sylvia Plachy. Sylvia looks so proud to be there. It's cute. Mira Sorvino comes out to present Best Costume Design. I decide Mira has an asymmetrical face. Just when I admire her low, crisp enunication, she trips up over some words. That's Harvard for you. Colleen Atwood wins for Chicago. Colleen is also dressed as you imagine a hip, slightly crazy costume designer would be dressed for the Oscars.
Paul Simon performs his nominated song from The Wild Thornberries. I check e-mail.
Brendan Fraser comes out to introduce a clip from the first Best Picture nominee, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The clip is not a montage but a conversation between the two faces of Gollum. Oscar loves Gollum.
With an unfortunate hairdo that resembles a bird's nest, Nia Vardalos comes out to announce Best Make-up. There are only two nominees, Frida and The Time Machine. The Time Machine was on cable not too long ago and I kept waiting for it to end but it just wouldn't. Frida wins. The make-up people thank Julie Taymor and Salma Hayek, and wish that Salma's next salary will be as much as the entire budget for Frida. Heh.
Steve Martin makes some joke about someone's car in valet parking. Garry Shandling did this joke better a couple years ago at the Emmys. Everything's derivative. There were a few jokes I'd heard in Oscars past in the monologue. I'm getting old.
Sean Connery comes out in a puffy shirt! It's very frilly. I wait to see if he's wearing a kilt, which would make sense, so of course he isn't, it's just black pants. He's there to announce Best Supporting Actress, instead of last year's Best Supporting Actor winner, Jim Broadbent. The clips of the Best Supporting Actresses over the years is better than the one for the Supporting Actors'. First of all, I feel it's because of James Horner's score from A Beautiful Mind which plays under it. The montage is bookended by clips of last year's winner, Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind, and the clips of the supporting actresses fade in and out with more dynamism. Sean Connery's Scottish brogue rules..."The Oshcahr goesh to...Catherine." Catherine Zeta-Jones ebuillent, hugs Michael Douglas and the Chicago posse. She acknowledges her hormones and Swansea, Wales, where she's from. Hilton calls me to confirm that Catherine is pregnant, rather than extremely bloated.
Matthew McConnaughey presents Best Picture montage of Gangs of New York, but I'm distracted by his red-white-and-violet corsage. I get the idea, but the execution sucks.
Steve Martin jokes about Jennifer Lopez, double-sided tape, and saliva, which earns him a faux-outraged look from Jennifer and a smirk from Ben Affleck. I don't know what's so sexy about him. Her, I understand. Him, eh. Steve's next joke is about Sean Connery wearing Red Lobster. Hee.
Kate Hudson comes out to throw a bone to the Science and Techincal Awards. She's wearing a glittery but plain neutral colored gown. Tasteful, yes. Boring, hell yes. It makes her look much much older than she is.
Best Musical Score is presented by Renee Zellweger, and I hereby decree that all too-skinny jokes be transferred from Lara Flynn Boyle and Calista Flockhart to Renee. You can see the bones jutting out of her shoulders. She looks better with breasts, as do most women. Elliot Goldenthal for Frida wins Best Score, upsetting Elmer Bernstein's sweeping score from Far From Heaven and Philip Glass's annoying one for The Hours. Elliot Goldenthal gives a nice speech, paying tribute to the people of Mexico.
Audience reaction shot of Peter O'Toole, bored, clapping. You and me both, Peter.
Julie Andrews comes out, gets an ovation. She's wearing a sparkly black jacket with crazy white flowers. It's very old lady and I'm not into it. She introduces a montage of the musical production numbers in Oscar history. It starts with Ethel Merman and I count down for the inevitable clip of Issac Hayes lip-syncing Shaft. My favorite, Rock Hudson and Mae West singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside," is shown. Oh, the late Nell Carter is in a clip; I think she sang a song from Aladdin. I'm glad there are no crappy Debbie Allen choreographed musical numbers this year. The montage ends with a shot of Liza Minelli, rather skinny and glorious from at least 20 years ago.
Salma Hayek, with the best hair of the night, presents Foreign Language Film to Nowhere in Africa. The clip of nominee "Zus & Zo" looked like it was in the tradition of "three older ladies" films, like The Lemon Sisters, The Witches of Eastwick, and First Wives' Club. Time to wonder about Spain and Mexico for not nominating Talk to Her and Y Tu Mama Tambien respectively. Foreign language film is such a weird category. Amelie wasn't even nominated. My favorite film in this category was The Man Without A Past, but Hollywood's not so into humorous existenial Scandinavian films.
Julianne Moore's dress is cool, strapless emerald green with a simple frill, but it's not very easy for her to walk in and it looks like it's falling off of her. Still love her earrings. She announces Best Sound for Chicago. Yada Rob Marshall yada thanks yada. But the clip of Chicago they show is the best sequence in the film, "They Both Reached for the Gun," where Richard Gere is playing the press as marionettes. Julianne then announces Best Sound Effecting Editing for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Reaction shot of Sean Astin smiling.
Gael Garcia Bernal (sigh) comes out to introduce Best Song nominee, "Burn It Blue," from Frida, but not before giving an eloquent speech about the legacy of Frida Kahlo and peace. I'm okay with his politicizing because he's so cute. Caetono Veloso and Lila Downs perform what is actually a rather passionate song. I might have to see Frida in a theater after all.
Hilary Swank introduces a clip for Best Picture nominee The Hours. I like the top of Hilary's dress, which is an intricately pleated and gathered pink chiffon, but the long chiffon is over a short skirt, which ruins the look. Then Best Actress nominee Diane Lane comes to announce Best Documentary Feature. Her hair makes her looks at least five years older than she is. Cheers for Spellbound when its name is read as a nominees. But, to no one's real surprise, though Diane Lane is elated when reading it aloud, Michael Moore wins for Bowling for Columbine, and the audience is cheering and giving a standing ovation. He brings a huge posse with him, which turns out to be the other documentary nominees. He launches into his now infamous "fictitious" speech, which causes half the applause to turn into violent booing. The audience reaction shots are a mix of "No fucking way" (Adrien Brody; you can see Chad Lowe, Hilary's husband, sitting behind Adrien, jaw agape) and bemusement (Harrison Ford). Not like Michael Moore giving a political speech was much of a surprise, either. The music forces him off. Steve Martin jokes that the Teamsters are helping Michael Moore in the trunk of his limo. Everyone laughs heartily.
Sauntering out to present Best Cinematography is Julia Roberts, looking pretty hot and not pregnant, in spite of all the reports of her trying. The late Conrad Hall wins for Road to Perdition. His son, Conrad W. Hall, comes to accept...it's rare that Oscars allow someone other than the winners to accept the awards, after the Satcheen Littlefeather incident of 1972. I do remember when the late Howard Ashman won for Best Song for Beauty and the Beast, his lover/partner was allowed to accept for him. But that's it, really.
Kathy Bates opens up a montage of Oscar winners talking about how Oscars "impacted" their lives. Even she can't keep a straight face while reading the drivel, and she's the vice chair of the Academy. Kathy Bates is so great. The Late Shift and Primary Colors were on recently, and she breathes so much life into the movies she's in. She needs to be more of a center and not the punchline.
Colin Farrell introduces U2, performing "Hand That Built America," the Original Song from The Gangs of New York. Colin is honored and looked pretty ratty, though cute. U2 performs against projected images of Irish-American immigrants and workers.
Looking spookily like an older Christina Ricci, Geena Davis comes to present Best Film Editing. Chicago. Rob Marshall is thanked for the millionth time.
Geena's Thelma and Louise co-star Susan Sarandon comes to introduce the montage of those who have passed away. Variety said it was clever of the Oscar producers to have her announce this category, because there's really no room for her to announce her political leanings. Probably, but at this point, post-Michael Moore, it'd have been anticlimactic. Charles Guggenheim died, documnetarian and Elisabeth Shue's father-in-law. The popuarity meter shows people clapped loudly for Richard Harris, James Coburn, Adolph Green, and Billy Wilder.
Halle Berry comes out to announce Best Actor, a sure sign we're nearing the end. Jack Nicholson and Nicolas Cage are sitting next to each other in the front row, both dateless. They look like they are the old fuckers club, like these two used Playboys who are just grinning, looking for fresh meat. Nic Cage also looks constipated to me. And the winner is...Adrien Brody! No way! That's amazing. And great. All the other nominees had already won, which is boring to me, this year at least. Adrien looks so surprised and his mom start crying. The audience gives him a standing ovation, and all the audience reaction shots show the other Best Actor nominees smiling and happy for the young pup's win. Adrien takes his time moving to the stage, still disbelieving. When he is on the stage, he looks to the crowd, arms outstretched, like he can't believe it. Then he runs to Halle Berry and the Oscar she's holding...but instead of just taking the Oscar, he kisses her...and kisses her...and kisses her while dipoing her. Damn, Adrien! I don't know how much Halle was into it, but that teaches her husband Eric Benet for being a sex addict and cheating on her.
Adrien lets go of Halle and says, "Bet you didn't know that was in the gift bag." Halle is a bit nonplussed. That's just the Queens way, yo. Adrien is thrilled and gives a passionate and eloquent speech. "There comes a time in life when everything seems to make sense. But this is not one of those times." He thanks his parents for giving him strength to acknowledges the experience of making a film about the Holocaust and what it's taught him during these times. "This fills me with great joy, but I'm also filled with great sadness tonight, because I'm accepting an award in such a strange time. My experiences making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people in times of war, and the repercussions of war. And whatever you believe in, whether it's God or Allah, may he watch over you, and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution," says a teary Brody to a standing ovation. "I have a friend from Queens, who's a soldier right now in Kuwait, Tommy Zarbinski, and I hope you and your boys make it back real soon. God bless you guys, and I love you." Gil Cates thanks the Academy for giving him the best moment of this year's Oscars in Adrien Brody's surprise win. I wonder how many women across the country have decided to make Adrien Brody their new crush, in a boon for all ethnic actors types from Queens.
Not that anything can follow that, but Barbra Streisand comes out to present Best Original Song. Another upset - "Lose Yourself" wins, over Paul Simon, U2, Kander & Ebb...Eminem didn't attend nor did he perform the song, but a long haired guy wearing a blazer over a Detroit Pistons jersey comes upstage to accept the Oscar. Barbra is skeptical, and it looks like she's asking if he belongs there. Apparently, he's Luis Resto, on the the writers of the music for the song. Maybe. Audience reaction shot of Cameron Diaz shows her twirling her hair and snapping her gum. More Nic Cage and Jack Nicholson, the crazy bachelor types.
Meryl Streep presents Peter O'Toole with an Honorary Oscar. He gives a witty and gracious speech, as British men of a certain generation tend to do, referencing "tottering into antiquity" elegantly and thanking Hollywood. Peter really was beautiful when he was young. Jude Law, let this be a lesson to you: Beware of heavy drinking problems. It's a shame that the Oscars never reward deserving actors, but the Oscars were never meant to be the end all be all talent derby...they were a marketing ploy and still are.
Time for Best Actress. Denzel Washington, dazzling as always, announces "by a nose, Nicole Kidman," who instantly turns weepy, but less so than Gwyneth in 1999. Nicole actually turns away from the audience because she is so overcome. Conflicted about the ceremony, Kidman says that though it's a weird time, "art is important." She gives Scott Rudin his only Oscar tonight.
Frank Pierson comes out to be the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, showing clips of past Academy presidents and then wishing American troops to come home soon. Olivia de Havilland is introduced, and she's old, clutching the podium, but relatively spry. Her delivery is so impeccable it makes me wonder what changed with acting for it to be the way it is today. She's there to introduce the "Oscar Family Album" which is basically all past Oscar acting winners sitting for a class picture. I go nuts, because they did this five years ago for the 70th Anniversary, and it involves announcing each participant's name, film and year they won. The announcer specifically says that Luise Rainer, back to back Best Actress winner 1936-1937, is the most senior member...I go more nuts, because they trotted her FROM HER HOME IN LONDON five years ago too! So I go sulk and check my email in the 15-20 minutes the Academy has given me.
Richard Gere introduces the final Best Picture nominee, Chicago. I wonder if he's bitter he wasn't nominated, but then I remember he's all Zen so he shouldn't really care.
Finally down to the final four: The Screenplay, Directing, and Best Picture awards. Marcia Gay Harden first presents Best Adapted Screenplay. Ooh - Ronald Harwood for The Pianist. Damn, that means that The Pianist has a shot at Best Director and Best Picture, with this win and Adrien's win for Best Actor. Charlie Kaufman's fertile mind is still too far out there for the Academy and David Hare will have to try for an Oscar with his adaptation of The Corrections. Ben Affleck comes out to present Best Original Screenply. And it goes to PEDRO ALMODOVAR for Tak to her! I scream. I'm so happy, my favorite film of the year was Talk to Her. Sometimes the Academy gets it right.
A still smirky Harrison Ford presents Best Director to...Roman Polanski. Damn. You have to hand it to Martin Scorsese, he was the first up for the standing ovation...but his tireless campaigning plus Harvey Weinstein's bullying have come to naught. Maybe Scorsese should do a good movie next time. I bet Harvey Weinstein is starting to sweat about whether Chicago really will win or if The Pianist will upset.
I've never been so happy to see Michael Douglas as I am now: He's there with his father, Kirk, to present Best Picture. Chicago wins, Harvey Weinstein makes Rob Marshall go on stage with producer Marty Richards. Well, Richards had to suffer for 30 years, most recently with Harvey Weinstein and actors who couldn't sing or dance. It could be worse. I was reading an amazing Marty Richards profile about his homosexuality and marriage to Mary Lea Johnson, of the Johnson & Johnson Johnsons. The Marty Richards Story would be a good movie.