Since I was going to be at a birthday party, my TiVo was set to record the 77th Academy Awards presentation. Not trusting the TiVo time listings, I set it to stop half an hour after the scheduled time, so I got it all.
As is my wont, I watched in several sessions (thanks, TiVo, for your wonderful "Resume Playback" feature) during dinner, exercise biking, and quality time on the recliner with one furry creature or another keeping me company on the arm of the chair. Finally finished last night after dinner.
Chris Rock Rocks
Until this week, I could never remember which one was Chris Rock and which one was Kid Rock. I knew one is a sleazy-looking wanna be rock and roller, and the other is a Black comedian. I just could never get the names straight. Frankly, I cringed when I heard one of them was going to host the Oscars, because I didn't think either of them had the talent.
Chris Rock, the comedian, definitely has the talent.
I liked his style. I enjoyed the borderline-of-bad-taste comments, at least most of them. Some were not as funny as the occasion required, but most were.
I'm not going to mix the two names up ever again, that's for sure.
And the Oscar goes to...
Political Correctness has come to the Oscars in yet another very strange way. Everyone who gets nominated for an award is a winner, so the phrase "the winner is" has been expunged from the ceremony, and replaced with "and the Oscar goes to...".
Gag me with a little gold statue.
Those who receive the Oscars are winners. Not saying so is ridiculous. The logical conclusion would be to not give the awards at all, just have all the nominees come up on stage for a group hug. With the price of gold at $430 an ounce, the Academy could fund a major motion picture with the savings. What brought this bit of ludicrous PC to my attention is one of the first presenters slipped and started to say "the winner is..." and then blushed, apologized, and read what was on the teleprompter.
While we're on the subject of blatant idiotic PC-ness, this year the Academy went out of their way to put as many black faces on their stage as the could conceivably manage. I'm of two minds about this.
One part of me says hooray, it's about time the awards show got some color. But another part of me sees who they put on stage:
Prince? P. Diddy? What were these people thinking?
and who they didn't put on stage:
Lou Gosset Jr., Oprah (both were in the audience), Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopie, Eartha Kitt (who, at age 78, is currently in production on THREE films!), Sidney Poitier (also 78), etc.
and says boooooo!
Meanwhile, you could count the hispanic presenters on two fingers. And the Orientals on one finger. Diversity, my ass.
And while I'm ranting about presenters, what is the deal with Dustin Hoffman. He looked like he was on six kinds of hallucinogens. Or was he trying out for Rainman III?
A word from the fashion-impaired
I'm a total clueless geek when it comes to the way I dress. I don't know a Versache from a Fruit of the Loom, a Gucci from a Samsonite, a Tiffany bauble from something from the bottom of the closet at the House of Cubic Zirconium. But I know what I like.
And I liked pretty much every woman's gown I saw on that stage. Click on the star's name to see what she wore on the red carpet.
One of my favorites surprised me - Rene Zelweger is, IMHO, not an attractive woman, not a very good actress, and as soon as she starts to speak I wonder why she doesn't sell her audio tapes as contraceptive devices. But I loved her gown. And she looked fabulous in it. Too bad they let her talk.
Beyoncé wore at least three, maybe four outfits, since she sang three of the nominated songs. The one she wore on the red carpet would make 5, and it was the least flattering of the lot, but she looked stunning in all of them. She sounded great in all of them too. As much as I like looking at her and listening to her sing, I was very disappointed that the Academy couldn't find two more performers. She did okay with the French tune, but surely there is a native Francophone who could have done those lyrics more justice. But more on the tunes later. This be the fashion spot.
I am a big fan of Ziyi Zhang, ever since I saw her play second fiddle in Crouching Tiger. Seeing her as a presenter was great, and she picked a nice dress. I would have liked to see her try something more slinky and less ruffly, though.
Kate Winslett and Cate Blanchett both wore lovely, sexy gowns, but both chose colors which, IMHO were All Wrong for them.
Natalie Portman caught my eye several times during the audience reaction shots, and then big time when she went up as a presenter. Yum!
Gwyneth Paltrow's frock was disappointing. It hid what curves she should have, and exaggerated the curves she shouldn't have. Horrible color choice, too. But she still looked fabulous from the neck up.
And I could not take my eyes off Halle Berry. How does this woman manage to look better every time I see her? All this, and talent, too.
Drew Barrymore. whom I normally detest, and who usually looks like she's just climbed up from the bottom of a dumpster after a week-long drug jag, looked amazingly good in a simple dark bare-shoulder number. And she cut and darkened her hair - very nice. Maybe rehab is working this time.
Finally, a word about the man who is my favorite actor of the current generation, Johnny Depp. This is a guy who never looks the same way twice on celuloid. Every film he does, he plays a different character with that character's mannerisms and look. He's an Actor with a capital A, as opposed to poseurs like Jack Nickelson, Tom Hanks, Julia "Liver Lips" Roberts, Tom Cruise, and Hugh Grant, who are merely personalities who play themselves over and over again, occasionally in different clothing. So why does Mr. Depp, who can appear in any persona he wants, choose to be Mr. "You Ugly And Yo Momma Dresses You Funny" when he's not on the silver screen?
This year the Academy went out of its way to throw a bone to the rest of the world and included a French and a Spanish song among the five finalists. And the Spanish song won. What a crock. I was rooting for Accidentally In Love from Shrek 2, which I thought had the catchiest tune and most clever lyrics. I was sorely disappointed that Shrek 2 was pretty much ignored by the Academy, but that's another story.
The French song, Vois Sur Ton Chemin (Look to Your Path), was sweet, but bland. It's hard for even Beyoncé to make something exciting when your backup is the New Jersey chapter of the Vienna Boy's Choir.
Lady B's other two numbers, Believe from Polar Express and Learn To Be Lonely from Phantom of the Opera, were both, IMHO, more tuneful than the foreign entries. But neither of them held a candle to the energy of the Counting Crows tune. "Lonely" was written specifically to win an Oscar, since Phantom needed another song like Beyoncé needs another layer of false eyelashes. There's no award for best song in a movie which came from an existing stage musical. There should be, just as there's a best screenplay/adaptation award, but there isn't.
Who Went Home with Little Gold Men
No Oscars write-up would be complete without a rant about who got an Oscar and who got the shaft. For the first time in years, I managed to not see a single movie in which someone was nominated for a major acting award, so I'll do this based on the trailers and previous performances. And sheer chutzpah.
Performance by an actor in a leading role:
- Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda
- Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland
- Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
- Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby
- Jamie Foxx in Ray
DiCaprio shouldn't even have been nominated. It takes a genius to play a genius, and a Real Man to play a Real Man. Lenny Baby is neither. At best, give him a bowling trophy for "Most Improved". Eastwood was nominated because his studio has a lot of votes, and his age plus his having also produced and directed the film made him look like something of a superman. But after all these years he still can't act his way out of a wet paper bag.
In a different year, Depp and Cheadle would have both deserved to win. Jamie Foxx beat them fair and square by being an Actor, capital A, as described previously. It probably helped that Mr. Charles passed away just as the film was being released, but Foxx probably would have won anyway. Chalk up one for the Academy, this was the best choice.
Performance by an actress in a leading role
- Annette Bening in Being Julia
- Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace
- Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake
- Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
- Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I don't like the trend lately of giving awards to actresses for their British accents, so Ms. Bening not winning is fine with me. As for Kate Winslet, see what I said about her former co-star DiCaprio, minus the trophy. Moreno's clip in the awards presentation was not very impressive, but Staunton's was. I would have voted for her. Swank broke some new ground, the same way Demi Moore did in Striptease, going from actress to actress/athlete. But I don't think that merits a best actress award. Chalk this one up to the power of Warner Brothers' Hollywood machine.
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
- Alan Alda in The Aviator
- Thomas Haden Church in Sideways
- Jamie Foxx in Collateral
- Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby
- Clive Owen in Closer
It would have been a kick to see Foxx win two awards in one night, but Freeman was a better choice. Like DiCaprio, Alda had a peach of a role, but instead of playing the character, he played himself playing the character. Owen and Church I did not see enough of to comment.
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
- Cate Blanchett in The Aviator
- Laura Linney in Kinsey
- Virginia Madsen in Sideways
- Sophie Okonedo in Hotel Rwanda
- Natalie Portman in Closer
My first choice was Sophie Okonedo, whose clip in the awards presentation was impressive, especially after seeing how well she cleaned up for the red carpet. Acting. Capital A. Second choice was Portman, because, well, I'm in love. Blanchett winning for doing a mediocre impersonation of the most easily mimiced actress ever to grace this planet? A travesty. The only reason this award did not got to someone from Million Dollar Baby is there was only the one actress in that movie.
And the winners (and nominees) are...