- Took Chris Rock all of about eight seconds to make his first racially-oriented joke. I’m surprised he was able to restrain himself for that long.
Rock didn’t do a bad job as host, but it certainly wasn’t a great job, either. But that wasn’t entirely his fault. He’s just not the kind of comedian you want hosting a celebratory event like this one–his entire image is build on “edgy,” and everything else about this year’s awards said they were trying to minimize “edgy” as much as possible. Just not a good fit. I’d have been happy to see Steve Martin again, or bring Ellen DeGeneres in–her gig hosting the Emmys a couple years ago was hilarious. She’d be able to make fun of all the nominees without seeming angry or hateful. (And yeah, that’s kind of how I’m implying Rock came off.)
- Once again we see how little the Academy values comedies, even smart, well-made ones. Sideways picks up its lone award for Best Adapted Screenplay, much like Lost In Translation‘s only win last year was for Best Original Screenplay. Good comedies are every bit as difficult to make as good dramas but never get the respect that effort deserves. It seems like just getting the nominations has to be enough–the makers of Sideways should feel just as proud of their Oscar accomplishments as the makers of Million Dollar Baby. It ain’t fair, but it is what it is.
(And before you say anything, yeah, Shakespeare In Love was a comedy and it won Best Picture, but it was a comedy with Shakespeare, by god, so the Academy voters didn’t have to feel like they were lowering themselves when voting for it.
- Martin Scorcese has now officially passed into the Kubrick-Hitchcockian Oscar-Free Zone. He’s getting more recognition for not winning than he would if he won one. He’s undoubtedly one of the top three directors of the last thirty years and should be clearing space on his mantle for his Lifetime Acheivement Oscar now. But if he hasn’t won one for any of the five nominations he’s gotten, the chances of him ever winning it aren’t too good. I mean, c’mon–if you can’t win the Best Director Oscar for Raging Bull or Goodfellas, you’re just not gonna win it.
And isn’t it kind of funny that Clint Eastwood now has two Best Director Oscars and Marty doesn’t even have one? That’s not knocking Clint–he’s an excellent director. But wouldn’t most people who know about such things consider Marty to be a better director?
- At what point, exactly, did Renee Zellweger officially turn into a troll? Can she even open her eyes anymore? As much as I’ve never particularly been a fan of hers, there’s now nothing remotely attractive about her.
I swear to God, I don’t get what the deal is with her and how she keeps snagging Oscar nominations. She’s been good in exactly one movie, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and charming as she made Bridget, she wasn’t Oscar-worthy even in that. I didn’t like her in Chicago. I didn’t like her in Jerry Maguire. For god’s sake, I didn’t even like her in Empire Records. I haven’t yet seen Cold Mountain, but the clips I’ve seen show her over-acting horribly (though that probably helped snag her the win since the Academy prefers hyperbole to subtlety).
Are we really that hard up for actresses to honor that we keep having to come back to this squinty little frog with the annoying voice? That’s the best we can do? (Think I smell an article coming on.)
- On a related note, if you asked 1000 movie fans to name the best actress in Hollywood today under the age of 35, how many of those 1000 would say Hilary Swank? Yet she’s now a two-time Oscar winner. Like my Eastwood-Scorcese comparison above, I’m not saying this to knock Swank–she’s a very talented actress, one who just keeps winning these awards for movies I have no desire to see. It’s just strange the way that’s worked out. Swank’s in some pretty rarified air already and she just turned 30.
One thing that Swank’s career so far says for her: she’s an actress, not a movie star. Very few actors of either gender really get to land in both of those classifications at the same time.
- Did we really need Beyonce to sing three of the five Best Song nominees? Was every other singer they possibly could have used already booked that night? Did Jay-Z have incriminating pictures of show producer Gil Cates? I don’t get it. Of the three songs she sang, only the first one (the one in French, at that) was really any good. The song from Phantom of the Opera didn’t fit her voice at all and her “duet” with Josh Groban was atrocious–that was two singers singing the same song, not really a duet. Hell, if they were gonna let her sing three, why not let her do the Counting Crows song and save us the sight of the ever-inflating Adam Duritz. And she couldn’t have butchered the song from The Motorcycle Diares any worse than Antonio Banderas and Carlos Santana did.
- Speaking of that song from The Motorcycle Diaries, apparently that’s a far bigger controversy than I’d realized. I’d just objected to the performance purely on auditory reasons, not political ones.
- Congratulations to Morgan Freeman on a long-overdue win. I haven’t seen Million Dollar Baby yet (and, honestly, I don’t know that I’m likely to), so I can’t say for sure if he deserved it for this flick in particular, but seems there’s a better-than-decent chance this was something of a “career” Oscar as much as anything else. And that’s perfectly OK with me. (Though doesn’t rewarding Freeman run counter to what I said earlier about the Academy loving over-the-top performances? Morgan usually sticks more on the “understated” side of the fence, Lean On Me excepted.)
- The nominees-on-stage thing was a nice touch. The bringing-the-awards-to-the-nominees-still-in-their-seats thing? Not so much. I know the intention was to speed the show up, but it really looked like those nominees whose categories got the “you just sit there and we’ll come to you” treatment resented how marginalized it made them look. Even more marginalized than they already were.
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