Talk about your revenge of the nerds.
OK, like I do every year, I watched the Oscars marathon, and this year was excellent (and no, it wasn't the cold medicine that was affecting my judgement). It was an powerful field of candidates this year, and the show itself worked out very nicely. No matter what you do to the Oscars, its going to close past-midnight on the East Coast. But as long as it is a taunt show, people will watch (which applies to LotR itself).
I started out with a list of the "touchy subjects" that the show might deal with, only to see Billy Crystal knock them out of the park in his opening monologue (for the record, the first gay marriage joke hit at 5:34, first reference to Mel Gibson at 5:38, and first (and one of the few) references to the Bush administration at 5:39).
Actually, it was a very apolitical Oscars - the only on-screen mentions were Sean Penn's aside about WMDs and the winner of the best documentary (Fog of War, on Robert MacNamara) saying that we went down the rabbit hole back then, and were in danger of doing it again. Measured with concern, not indignation, and very well put. (Billy Crystal's response - "I can't wait for HIS tax audit").
It was more of a family Oscars as well - More than a few winners thanked long-term spouses who they first met in third grade. The whole Sofia/Francis/Family Business thing was sweet. Lot of long suffering wives/husband/lovers/children recognized from the podium. Only two people orchestrated off the stage, and only a couple Standing O's (the last one for Sean Penn - I think Hollywood has forgiven him for Madonna).
Things I Like:
• Billy Crystal - the opening gump film (where he mixes into the nominated films) and the medley have become standards for his appearance, and he is a wonderful host for the set up. Keeps it grounded and keeps it funny at the same time.
• Michael Moore getting stepped on by a Mammut. Yeah, it was funny, and exactly what I mean about keeping it grounded as well. Points to Mr. Moore for doing it.
• Angelyne Jolie in that hot little white Marilyn Monroe number and tats. By tats I mean tattoos. No, really.
• Charlyze Theron, who was glammed to max to counter her character's appearance. As an actress, she has broken out with that role, and she will be crowned This Season's Hottie.
• The Canadian winners of Best Foriegn Picture thanking LotR for not being in their catagory.
• Annie Lennox, who I am a sucker for. Actually, ALL the songs were excellent this year, even Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara from "A Mighty Wind".
• Robin Williams, who was introduced as "the reason for the five-second delay" (He immediately started tweaking his own nipples).
• So who, looking at the Burgess Shale that was the first season of SNL, would have picked Bill Murray as the movie star? Huh?
• And Blake Edwards. I was always behind the curve on Blake's movies as far as maturity is concerned - I think his movies are funnier now for me than when I first saw them when they came out (One of my favorite movies is "The Great Race" - oh, like that's a surprise). The fact that he turned his acceptance of a lifetime Oscar into a sight gag was, well, hillarious.
• And eleven Oscars for the nerds. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh looks like, well, nerds - lovable, hard-working hobbit-folk. The actors who played the hobbits hung out together, even when they were onstage. This was a lovefest for the cast, and deserved to be recognized for the epic work it was. Pity "Master and Commander" - it would have been a better contender in another year, but this was a strong field.
Things I cared less about (not a lot):
• Billy Crystal naked. Cutting him into the Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton scenes from "Something's Gotta Give" was hilarious, but there was a lot of naked crystal there.
• Crud, how many Cadillac commercials have they MADE in the past year?
• Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Well, they pretty much convinced me to avoid their next movie.
• The "funny title" bit and the "what are they thinking" bit. Not bad, but they really were time-fillers in a show that didn't need to be filled.
• Better place for them were during the set changes between the musical numbers. Putting them in two sections is much better than five, but they need to find a way to switch the sets faster.
• And while I appreciate the recognition for a fantasy movie that is the epic statement on traditional fantasy, I have to ask "Best Editing?" The bloody film had seven endings, one after another! (OK, that's petty. I'll be good now).
That's about it. Normally, I find the race to be more interesting than the results - once the awards are given, you're the answer to a trivia question. But this particular set of Oscars encourages me to hunt down "Girl with the Pearl Earing" and "Triplets of Bellevue" and "Fog of War" and go see more films.