Monday, March 06, 2006

A few things to say after the fact

Working from notes hastily typed during commercial breaks...

Jon Stewart's opening monologue. Good, not great. Hurt by the awkward staging-I understand not wanting to sit him behind a desk as on The Daily Show, but better he should have just worked a microphone stand as he would as a comic, locking him behind a podium was the worst of both worlds.

George Clooney, as always, showed great perspective on it all-and actually might not make a bad host himself...

My first completely biased choice for the best-dressed women at the Oscars: Naomi Watts.

Someone needs to break a baton over the head of whoever it was who decided to start the music playing immediately the winner got up there. It's disrespectful enough to someone like Clooney-but he's got a very public microphone any time he chooses. For the people whose one chance at recognition this may be, it's disgraceful. Could we give people more than 30-45 seconds to speak before playing them off? Either that, or if time is such a goddamn premium, it's time to eliminate from the commercial broadcast the categories that virtually no home viewer cares about. And yes, I say that knowing writers fall into that category.

I enjoyed Nick Park's speech almost as much as his bow tie.

John Canemaker winning an Oscar was the first of a few pleasant surprises this evening for me. I haven't seen the winning animated short, but like most fans and students of the art I know his name from his many articles and books on the subject. I hadn't known he was gay, however.

My second completely biased choice for the best-dressed women at the Oscars: Jennifer Aniston. Her necklace was a little too showy for my tastes, but that dress was really working for her. It was working for me, too...

Bulimia award: Rachel McAdams. I shouted in surprise, because McAdams was number four in ohnotheydidnt's recent 100 hottest women list, and though I haven't seen mean Girls or any of the other movies that have brought her such acclaim in the past few years, I have seen enough of her in clips, interviews and photographs to understand why. Now I just want to understand; What happened?

Runner-up: Reese Witherspoon, whose face looked absolutely triangular (and not in a good way) when she was a presenter. I will say that she looked much better when accepting her award, though, so maybe it was just an unflattering camera angle.

Rhetorical question: How cool is Morgan Freeman?

Rachel Weisz made a point of thanking the author of the book her film was based upon. I always knew I liked that girl.

Second pleasant surprise of the night-the winner of Documentary (short subject): "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin." Corwin is one of the most influential and greatest writers of his time; I have the book of the same name upon which this documentary was presumably based but if I even knew it existed (let alone had been nominated) I had forgotten. Now I'm most eager to see it.

Third: Stephen Colbert's v/o for the faux Oscar commercials.

And now, I want to tell you ladies something. Making your head look like a peanut is not a good look. It never has been. It never will be. Anyone who tells you different is not your friend. If you doubt me, I refer you to this picture of Jennifer Lopez.

Fourth pleasant surprise: The performer and co-writer of the nominated song for Crash, Kathleen "Bird" York, is better known to me as the lovely and talented actress who played Toby's ex-wife and the mother of his children on West Wing.

But what fool staged the number? Less is more, people!

Although Stewart's opening monologue was, as I've said, not great (early reviews seem to agree with me), where he really made me thank god for him was in doing what he does best: Puncturing the pomposity to which the Academy is so given. Following the montage of "issue" or "problem" pictures, he was there to say "And you know what's great? After each of those films, none of these issues was ever a problem again."

Unfortunately, he was then followed by the tool from the Academy, whose speech got the kind of "Shut up, shut up, shut up!"'s from me it usually takes two or three entire seasons of The L Word to generate. If I ever hear that "Language of film is universal" crap again for the rest of my life, or any more mouthed pieties about storytelling, I am gonna vomit.

Speaking of which, here is a tip for any of you who may wish to follow in the footsteps of the Motion Picture Acadamey. If you ever want to make yourselves look like real twits...make a big stink about how you can't see "epic" films on television and then make your showing a bunch of scenes from epics on television.

And thankfully, there was Jon again to point the seeming incessant, and pointless, montages this year.

Oh, quick prediction: Now that Munich is well past any chance of winning any Oscars, we will never hear Steven Spielberg say another word on any of the politically charged issues to which he was paying lip service when it came to beating the drums for his movie. Call it a hunch.

And now, back to the good part.

My third completely biased choice for the best-dressed women at the Oscars: Jessica Alba.

Meryl Streep and Lilly Tomlin made a surprisingly good comedy team, I thought-good enough to make me wish somebody would write a female "buddy comedy" for them.

I liked Altman's sand castle metaphor.

God bless the children ("pre-infant," and infant, respectively) of Rachel Weisz and Jennifer Garner.

Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't bark, the coward.

Besides looking better than she had as a presenter, Reese Witherspoon made a nice speech, too.

You may not know this about me-my tolerance for self-congrantrulatory bullshit is remarkably low (and you say you want to work in show business, Ben?). But as I heard person after person pontificate about the meaning of art (Is it a reflection? Is it a hammer?), I couldn't help but think about what I want my role as an artist to be. And, you probably did know this about me, I found it in the out-of-context words of Aaron Sorkin. What do I want to be as an artist?

I want to be a comfort to my friends in tragedy.
And I want to be able to celebrate with them in triumph.
And for all the times in between, I just want to be able to look them in the eye...
I want to be with my friends, my family, and these women.

--The West Wing, "the Crackpots and These Women," Aaron Sorkin

No points for guessing who I think of when I think of "these women."

Now, backing away from that moment of self-revelation, and finally, my fourth completely biased choice for the best-dressed women at the Oscars: Uma Thurman.

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