Monday, March 06, 2006

The Day After

Do 1 billion people really watch the Oscars? I don’t think so. Do they know what they’re missing? Clearly not.

We watched the Academy Awards at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, a significant upgrade from our own little hovel, as they have cable and we do not. For years I have made do with our local Red Carpet coverage: Roger Ebert reports for one of Chicago’s network affiliates; WGN-TV turns the night over to Sam Rubin and sister station KTLA.

Because the pre-Oscar telecast matters far more than the actually handing out of gender-neutral golden statuettes, the prospect of flipping between Giuliana DePandi on E! and Joan and Melissa on the TV Guide Channel felt like Christmas morning.

I can now confirm that there is absolutely no difference between the insipid art of the celebrity interview on broadcast or cable television, particularly with Isaac Mizrahi on a strict no-groping diet. In fact, Ebert (a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic) looks like Edward Murrow compared to Ryan Seacrest, who looks like Edward Murrow compared to Giuliana.

DePandi provided some of the best laughs of the night. “You don’t know how early to arrive,” she said of the nominees. “You don’t want to look like … a tool.” (Cut to shot of Rachel Weisz.) I don’t think I’ve ever heard “a tool” spoken in quite this context. Surely this must rank up there with the Three 6 Mafia “historical” win as a new first for Oscar.

Then there was her assessment of the celeb publicist’s salary. It must be $2,000 or $3,000…a month, she estimated. Yes, that must be it Giuli. George Clooney’s flack must make 25 grand a year to issue all those he’s-not-dating-Teri Hatcher-they’re-just-good-friends denials. Let’s add a couple of zeros.

Toss in Billy Bush and Co., and it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite moment from among the Night of a Thousand Miscues.

  • The Smile, You’re Not Katie Holmes Award. Fellow “Dawson Creek” alum Michelle Williams bagged Best Actor runner-up Heath Ledger and an Oscar nomination of her own, and got down to her pre-pregnancy weight like a good little starlet. So why must she always look so glum? It’s like she lost the baby fat and her sense of humor. You’ve got TomKat jumping on couches, while Wedger crawls under it. Asked how she was able to dig so deep to find the character of Alma, she responded, “I had a great performance to react to,” as she shot a root-canaled Look of Love to Heath.

  • The I’ll Say Anything to Get Away from This Guy Award: George Clooney promised Mizrahi, “If I do win, I’m thanking you.” Didn’t happen.

  • The Who Let Him in Here Award. Joan Rivers meets Gary Busey. The question on my mind: Who’s had more work done on their face? The question on Gary’s: What is a smart blonde? Answer: A Labrador retriever. Joan closed the interview with, “Missy, back to you. It couldn’t get worse.”

  • The Here’s Why Screenwriters Should Make a Lot More Money Award. A previous contender in the Best Actress category, Naomi Watts didn’t want to talk to Seacrest about pal Nicole Kidman’s rumored impending nuptials. But she did want to talk about her ride to the Oscars. She came in a Lexus hybrid that gets, like, 20mpg. “We’re just doing what we can,” she said of her efforts to save the environment. Wow, Naomi, really?! Twenty whole miles per gallon. That’s showing the simple folk how to break their addiction to foreign oil.

Lots of yellow. Lots of nude lipstick. And, who knew, evening gowns have sprouted pockets.

Hits: Michelle Williams (the color looked better as the night wore on), Keira Knightley (demerit for the junior high school bow in her hair), Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Lopez, Uma Thurman, Reese Witherspoon

Misses: Naomi Watts (blondes may have more fun but they shouldn’t wear flesh tones), Nicold Kidman (ditto), Felicity Huffman (I’m not a fan of the peek-a-boob), Sandra Bullock (there’s a difference between casual up-do and bangs courtesy of a wind tunnel), Charlize Theron (prom dress gone wild), Salma Hayek (her one-shouldered gown unbalanced her cleavage)

The Men: Two words—Clooney, Bana. Everyone else can go home.

Somebody better re-hire Jon Stewart for next year. Somebody better fire producer Gil Cates.

Stewart was sharp, the jokes were smart, he was quick with reactions and his political commercials for Best Actress were pure genius. The man found a way to turn “Munich” into a joke. That alone deserves an Oscar.

Cates, on the other hand, weighed the show down with pointless montages. “Holy crap, we’ve run out of clips,” Stewart quipped. But it was no laughing matter. After an hour and a half, 10 Oscars had been awarded. At the two-and-a-half hour point, the number was up to 13. And we’d seen nearly as many montages. Seriously, what was Lauren Bacall introducing? Films in black-and-white? I was so busy hoping she wouldn’t suffer a stroke on stage, I lost all powers of concentration.

Personal highlights:

  • By 8:50, not a single winner had thanked the Academy, but the newly-Oscared costumer designer gave props to the “people of Japan.”

  • “Luminous” sighting: Best Supporting Actress Rachel Weisz throws a bone to her overlooked co-star. “I’d like to thank Ralph Fiennes, my luminous acting partner.”

  • Charlize Theron turns “memoir” into a foreign word. Quoth my sister-in-law: “Who does she think she is—Gwyneth Paltrow?”

  • I can’t help wondering why Cates didn’t ask Beyonce to sing “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

  • George Clooney refused to attend the Academy Awards until he was nominated. Explain the appearance of Three Jennifers and a Jessica. Quick, name the Oscar-worthy films Jennifers Garner, Lopez and Aniston and the ubiquitous Jessica Alba have graced. Time’s up. They look good in pretty dresses. That shouldn’t be the only prerequisite needed to score a ticket to the Governor’s Ball.

  • Diana Ossana, Best Adapted Screenplay winner, gives credit to Annie Proulx, who penned the short story that became the punchline “Brokeback.” “She’s sitting right over there,” Ossana said. And the camera panned to…Ang Lee.

  • Hooray for Larry McMurtry. It’s 11:10 and somebody finally thanked their lawyer!

  • And the Best Picture Award goes to…Crash. I almost saw that one coming. But who would’ve predicted Paul Haggis’ wife as most likely to suffer a wardrobe malfunction.


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