Monday, March 06, 2006

Why did I bother: the 78th Academy Awards

On Friday, USA Today's Whitney Matheson said she had a feeling the Oscars would be "rather long and tedious." When I read that, I hoped she was wrong. But she nailed it exactly. I enjoy watching the Oscars, treating it almost like a big sporting event, but last night's show was really boring. I had it on in the background, but looked for other things to do throughout the telecast. My checkbook is balanced. My laundry is done. My desk is clean, mostly because I finally blew through all of the magazines I'd picked up over the past couple of months.

I thought Jon Stewart would be the best part of the show, but he lost me at the opening monologue, which just felt forced. He seemed awkward most of the night, like he was holding back the jokes he really wanted to tell. But I did like the "Daily Show"-esque pre-taped segments, like the "negative campaign ads" and Tom Hanks' demonstration of what would happen to anyone whose speech ran too long.

Here are the awards I would've passed out (and a list of actual winners):

I Am a Woman and My Dress Proves It: Felicity Huffman.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/AP)

I Won Last Year So I Don't Have to Wear a Tie (and Oh Yeah, I'm Morgan Freeman):
Morgan Freeman

Best Actress Accessory: Pregnancy (and post-pregnancy). Did you see Rachel Weisz as she stepped up to accept her award? Hoo mama. And Jennifer Garner was so... full (as my mother, the post-partum care nurse, would say), her balance was thrown off. Did you see her stumble?

Best Cleavage (non-mother): Salma Hayek. A repeat winner from last year, and the winner every year she attends the Oscars. Which award did she present, anyway?

Smartest Guy in the Room: Jack Nicholson, for getting his seat next to Keira Knightley.

Hey, That's How I'd Dress: Larry McMurtry, co-winner for Best Adapted Screenplay. He was already one of my literary heroes, but after seeing him dressed in blue jeans with a tuxedo jacket and top, I look up to him for his fashion sense, as well.

Worst Idea: Playing music through each winner's entire acceptance speech. It reminded me of when Howard Stern plays sad music during Robin Quivers' newscast. (Close second: the production numbers for two of the three Best Song nominees. Burning cars onstage? Pimps and ho's dancing?)

That Guy Loves Himself: M. Night Shyamalan and his MasterCard commercial, in which a fan comes up to tell him how great his films are. Did Shyamalan write the ad himself? I don't think you'd see any other director in a self-congratulating ad like that.

Wow, That Looks Stupid
: This isn't Oscar-related, but ABC's new reality show, American Inventor, looks awful. Having said that, should we bet that I'll somehow be watching it by April?

And, once again, because my Mom wants to know, here's how I did on my Oscar picks. My future is clearly not in prognosticating:

My pick: Matt Dillon
Actual winner: George Clooney

Did I really pick against Clooney? Man, that was dumb. As RC pointed out in Friday's comments, Clooney had "the buzz" around him. Plus, the guy had to win something, with nominations for acting, writing, and directing.

My pick: Michelle Williams
Actual winner: Rachel Weisz

Weisz was good in The Constant Gardener, but this is where the Oscars really got it wrong. (Though Evan called it right.) Williams had the more impressive performance. Plus, her dress deserved to go onstage. She looked great.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/

My pick: Reese Witherspoon
Actual winner: Reese Witherspoon

Like I said, this was the lock of the night. Maybe a little too long with the speech, though. Where was the blowdart from the clarinet when we needed it?

My pick: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Actual winner: Philip Seymour Hoffman

I thought this was a lock, too, though Hoffman's competition was tougher than Witherspoon's. I was just glad to see him get rewarded, because he makes daring choices that don't usually get Oscar nominations.

My pick: Ang Lee
Actual winner: Ang Lee

You know, this was probably a lock, too. Lee made the best movie (in my opinion), and deserved to be recognized for that. And maybe someday, I'll forget that he made Hulk, which should've been one of the best comic book movies ever.

My pick: Brokeback Mountain
Actual winner: Crash

Does it make any sense to say I'm not surprised Crash won, yet I'm stunned that Brokeback Mountain did not win? As I said on Friday, maybe I'm attributing too much to Brokeback's cultural impact, instead of its merit as a movie.

But I watched Crash again on Saturday night, and it's a good movie, but I just don't think it has as much to say about hate and intolerance, and how that affects people's lives. But maybe it does comment on those subjects in more of an everyday context by showing how anger seems ingrained in our society. I'm kind of thinking out loud here, trying to make sense of this.

(David Poland probably does a better job of explaining Crash's win at The Hot Button.)

To me, it was a disappointing end to a disappointing show, the end of which I had to force myself to stay up and watch. For those of you who watched, let alone stuck with it, what did you think?