Friday, February 25, 2005

Straight guys watch the Oscars, don't they?

Chris Rock apparently ruffled some feathers by supposedly saying to The Drudge Report that straight men don't watch the Oscars. You can click on the link and judge for yourself (and I think you should consider the source), but I'm not sure that's exactly what the man said. In his remarks, Rock did ask, "What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars?" I'd love to conduct a survey on that, but there aren't that many black people in Iowa.

Rock also said, "Nothing against people who aren't straight, but what straight guy that you know cares?" However, that was in response to the question, "What will you be wearing to the show?" I actually don't care what Chris Rock will be wearing on Sunday night, so I guess I can remain secure in my masculinity.

But I'm glad he's hosting the Oscars; he's an exceptional comedian who will make what can be a boring telecast funny and worthy of next-day discussion. He'll probably make a few people squirm in their seats at the Kodak Theater, and I can't wait to see that.

Here's who I think will win the "big awards" on Sunday. Let me look into my crystal ball... actually, it's an empty jar of peanut butter. I should get to the grocery store so I don't go through withdrawal this weekend...

Million Dollar Baby

● It might not be as flashy as The Aviator, but it's the most compelling story with the best performances. And it makes you feel something, which is something a good movie should do. It's not a perfect film (a few story details are sketchy and some of the characters are one-dimensional), but I think it's the best of the five Best Picture nominees. I also think it's a film that people will still be talking about 20 years from now. It could've been made in any decade and mattered.

Martin Scorcese - The Aviator

● So if I think Million Dollar Baby is the best film, why don't I think Clint Eastwood will win this award? Because Martin Scorsese will win this as a de facto lifetime achievement award, making up for awards he probably should've won for Raging Bull or Goodfellas. He's a brilliant filmmaker who deserves to be recognized for his work. This sort of tactic is what leads some to think the Oscars are bull$#!%, but it's not like Scorsese isn't a worthy winner - especially when he made a really good movie.

Don Cheadle - Hotel Rwanda

● This is my go-out-on-a-limb pick. Jamie Foxx will probably win for playing Ray Charles, and I'm not saying he shouldn't because he did a great job. But I just can't shake a hunch that Cheadle might win. Hotel Rwanda was a powerful movie, with a story that echoes current events, and Cheadle pushes it all right into your chest with his performance. (But I might be a little biased, since this movie is really fresh in my mind right now.)

Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby

● I've only seen two of the five nominees, so I'm a little shaky on this category. But if Million Dollar Baby is the best movie, it's because of Swank. If you don't care what happens to her character, if you don't identify with her struggle to make something of her life and rise above her upbringing and social standing, then this movie doesn't matter. But it does matter.

Jamie Foxx - Collateral

● Here's where Jamie Foxx gets his Oscar. Collateral could've been a bad movie, with Tom Cruise chewing up scenery as he plays the bad guy. But Foxx makes it a good movie because he makes you care what happens to his character. Like many of us, he's a guy who has dreams, but is stuck in the grind of his daily life. Foxx makes you wonder what you'd do if you found yourself in the same situation as his character. And he makes it believable.

(Having said that, Morgan Freeman will probably win for his part in Million Dollar Baby and receive some long overdue recognition for his career.)

Cate Blanchett - The Aviator

● In playing Katherine Hepburn, Blanchett veers dangerously close to caricature, but she doesn't take it too far. You can see how Howard Hughes was intoxicated by Hepburn's personality and presence when Blanchett comes into the movie and takes it over. To me, the scenes between those two are the best part of The Aviator. Underneath all the drama, Blanchett shows Hepburn as someone who cares deeply for a man, yet knows he's tortured by something he won't ever be able to conquer. I would've watched a two-hour movie about that relationship alone.

And in the categories that only I and a handful of fellow writing nerds care about, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind will win the BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY award and Sideways will get BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY. Those movies deserve more than one trophy, but I guess you take what you can get.

Okay, no more Oscar talk for at least a year. We'll return to your regularly scheduled blog Monday. (Or maybe tomorrow.)

EDIT (4:15 pm): Wait a minute, I reserve the right to make fun of the Oscars while I'm watching them and comment on them Monday. So maybe one more Oscar post.