Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Night: It's All About Marty, Al, and Jack

Aww, Marty. It's nice to see you vindicated at last. And it's a doubly nice touch that you got Best Picture, too, because it weighs against the assumption that the Academy only gave you an Oscar to make up for all those times you should have won before. Not that that wasn't a factor, but as I've said before and will say again, "The Departed" is a strong film on its own merits and deserves all of its awards. After all, the Oscars are for the best work of the year - they're not competing against Scorsese's entire oeuvre.

I didn't do too well in my Oscar pool this year, mainly because of my poor showing among the smaller awards - and my sticking with "Little Miss Sunshine" as a dark horse winner. At least I did have the intuition to switch my Best Supporting Actor vote at the last minute from Eddie Murphy to Alan Arkin. Unfortunately, I also had the less-intuitive inspiration to change my Foreign Film vote from "The Lives of Others" to "Pan's Labyrinth" based on the latter's early momentum. Which just goes to show early momentum doesn't mean anything.

I don't know how many conservatives were watching the Oscars, but I'm sure to them all of Hollywood's godlessness and squishy, self-congratulatory liberalism were on full display tonight, from Ellen Degeneres hosting and Melissa Etheridge thanking her wife to the Oscars going "green" and throwing hosannas at "An Inconvenient Truth." Isn't it funny that the king of the night may not have been Martin Scorsese but, in fact Al Gore? (Unless it was Jack Nicholson, whom the cameras seemed obsessed with for no perceptible reason.) To his credit, Gore handled his rock-star status quite graciously. Environmentalism is so in at the moment in H'wood. I even wonder if the upset of "Cars" by "Happy Feet" in the animated feature category might not have had something to do with "Happy Feet"'s environmental message.

The winners mostly kept their speeches brief, so it's hard to explain why the ceremony dragged on so long, and I mean looooong. Helen Mirren was a class act, as always, paying a crisp and elegant tribute to the character she played. But it was Forest Whitaker who gave easily the most moving speech of the night. And I loved the lady who referred to her Oscar as a "doll" and tapped it so you could hear it clink. That was just priceless.

Other highlights: whenever that cool performance troupe created a silhouette image from one of the featured films. The Will Ferrell/Jack Black/John C. Reilly song about how comedians never win was mildly funny. And that triple number from "Dreamgirls" was a pretty rockin' performance, despite - or perhaps because of - the fact that it kept threatening to turn into a Battle of the Divas. Nice to see the JHud managed to pull herself together after her win to go toe-to-toe with Beyoncé. Though, in the end, I think Beyoncé still schooled her. And they both got schooled by little Anika Noni Rose, bless her.

Otherwise, the ceremony was dreadfully dull. (You know things are bad when you're longing for more famous faces in the Dead People Montage.) It didn't help that Ellen didn't set much of a tone - though I thought it was cute she got Spielberg to take a picture of her and Clint - or that no one other than Nicole Kidman was wearing anything particularly hideous. Except for Abigail Breslin, and she's so cute it didn't matter. Where are Cher and Bjork when you need 'em?


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