Monday, March 06, 2006

It's hard out here for an Oscar viewer

Was it just me, or were the 78th Academy Awards the most ennui-inducing award ceremonies in the history of Hollywood? Where was the excitement? The intrigue? The humor? The outrageous fashion? You know... everything that usually makes the Oscarcast must-see TV?

Being a dutiful pop culture blogger, I propped my eyelids open with broken toothpicks long enough to record the following thoughts. For your consideration:
  • Jon Stewart as host? Maybe a B-. It really felt as though Stewart, who cheerfully rips into anyone and everyone on The Daily Show, was on a suffocatingly tight leash for the Oscars — likely due in part to the beautiful people's adverse reaction to Chris Rock's freewheeling performance last year. That doesn't work, though. The whole reason to hire a guy like Stewart is so that he can deliver what he does best — caustic, incisive, topical comedy. Either unchain him and accept the risk that he might offend someone, or play it safe and bring back the deadly dull Steve Martin.

  • My favorite recent Oscar host is still Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi gets great jabs in, keeps the show going, is adept at making things up on the fly, and has the credibility of being an Oscar winner herself. I know she rubs some viewers the wrong way, but there's no accounting for other people's lack of taste.

  • Speaking of tight leashes, did the Academy issue a warning memo to the fashion community this year? I can't recall ever seeing so many stars wearing straitlaced, plain-vanilla formalwear, except for the ceremonies that most closely followed 9/11. Half the fun of Oscar Night is seeing what people wear, but this year, it looked as though everyone shopped out of the same conservative closet.

  • The one humongous fashion faux pas of the evening: Charlize Theron in a bizarrely constructed gown that made her look as if she had a Siamese twin growing out of her left shoulder. She looked like Ray Milland and Rosey Grier in The Thing With Two Heads. Runner-up: Naomi Watts wearing a dress that appeared to have been ground up in a garbage disposal before she put it on.

  • Nice to see George Clooney pick up an acting award (Best Supporting Actor, for Syriana). I didn't realize that he had never even been nominated before. I think the guy is one of the most underrated talents in the current crop of stars, in part because his acting style isn't flashy like a Sean Penn. Great comment, too: "I guess I'm not winning Director."

  • Would it have killed somebody (pun intended) to squeeze Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, and Dennis Weaver into the "Dead People" segment? I know they all passed away just a week ago, but how much extra work would that have taken?

  • Didn't dig the song itself much, but I had to love seeing the Oscar go to a number entitled, "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp." No community in America appreciates big pimping more than Hollywood.

  • I don't generally care much for Jennifer Garner, but I thought she recovered gracefully after tripping over her hem as she walked out to present an award: "I do all my own stunts."

  • Could we possibly have done without the endless film clip montages? The show is tedious enough, people.

  • I'll admit it: I don't understand the appeal of Reese Witherspoon.

  • Someone whose appeal I do understand: Rachel Weisz. Of the several pregnant and recently pregnant stars, she was the most luminous.

  • As usual, I haven't seen most of the nominated films yet, but I was glad to see Crash take the big prize. A lot of terrific and talented people were involved with that film, not the least of whom is writer-director Paul Haggis, who deserves to be known for something other than as the creator of Walker: Texas Ranger. When in doubt, I always root for the guy named after a boiled sheep's stomach stuffed with oatmeal and suet.

  • I'm sure there were some nervous Academy bigwigs in the crowd when Robert Altman accepted his Lifetime Achievement award. But they need not have been — Altman was both gracious and grateful for the recognition the Academy has long denied him. And who would have guessed that he'd had a heart transplant?

  • What was up with the concept of having the orchestra playing during the acceptance speeches? I hate as much as anyone listening to folks prattling on, but that was simply rude. Give people their 30 seconds of glory, then drum them off the stage.

  • I can't remember a year when so many of the supposedly comedic bits fell flat. Ben Stiller pretending to be working in front of a greenscreen? Will Ferrell and Steve Carell in atrocious makeup to present the makeup award? The filmed pieces about pre-Oscar lobbying? Who wrote that stuff? And why didn't anyone tell them it wasn't funny?

  • I dig Philip Seymour Hoffman, but dude — get someone to help you with your presentation skills before your next acceptance speech.

  • Speaking of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I was disappointed that Felicity Huffman didn't win, so that they could have had David Letterman introduce the two big acting winners at the afterparty: "Hoffman, Huffman. Huffman, Hoffman."

  • When will they learn? If you're going to ask Jack Nicholson to present an award, keep him away from the liquor cabinet before the show.

  • Two words: Stuffed penguins.

  • Now, please, for the love of Liberace... leave the "Brokeback" jokes alone.

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2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

So much to say about this. So much to say.

1. I agree. The whole night was just blah. Jon Stewart, who I normally love, was only aiight. My fave comment of the night was when he said it just got a little easier out here for a pimp.

2. George Clooney rocks

3. Charlize's eighties prom gown didn't.

4. I think they must have had a cut off with the deaths bc we were wondering the same thing. If they broke the rules for them, they would have to for sound editors and such too and then we'd end at 11:45.

5. I love Reese.

6. I didnt like Crash though for some inexplicable reason, I cant recall the ending. Something tells me that's why I didnt like it though.

7. The music during the speeches made it feel unnecessarily edgy. It was like it was over before it had even begun.

8. I was also disappointed in Stiller, Ferrell and Carrell, comics who otherwise, bring it.

9. I always find it amazing that so many actors are such poor public speakers, case in point, PS Hoffman.

10. Keep Nicholson away from liquor? An awards ceremony without a smashed Nicholson is like a day without sunlight.:)

Excellent thoughts, all of them. Makes me second guess why I didn't write an afterparty post.:)

3:27 PM  
Blogger Michelle offered these pearls of wisdom...

Chris Rock was freewheeling? You really think so?

5:20 PM  

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