7:10. Gay cowboy montage. Pretty funny. A lot like all those parodies of the "Brokeback Mountain" trailer, but they came up with some nice clips.
7:16. Best Supporting Actor... I've seen two of the performances: by William Hurt and Matt Dillon. They give it to George Clooney. "We are a little bit out of touch here in Hollywood. And it's probably a good thing." Blah, blah, we're great, ahead of the rest of this benighted country.
7:25. They waste our time with a clip of Tom Hanks demonstrating how award winners shouldn't waste our time. Ben Stiller comes out in a green suit -- and powerfully sucking in his abs -- to talk about special effects. "King Kong" wins. Jon Stewart thanks Stiller for wearing a unitard. Reese Witherspoon is next, and she's very well trussed into a sparkly beige dress. Hey, I'm just noticing how cool the stage set is. The award she's announcing is animation, and I love seeing the clips, especially for "Howl's Moving Castle." "Wallace and Grommit" wins. The guys that win are wearing giant bow ties. Next out is Naomi Watts, and she too is wearing beige. Her dress has a tattery "destroyed" look. She introduces Dolly Parton who is shockingly, scarily anorexic! She's wearing a white pantsuit, and her breasts are still huge, but beneath them, there is nearly the complete absence of a body.
7:42. Jon Stewart is mocking Scientology. Surely, there is at least one religion we feel utterly free to mock. Now, it's the Wilson brothers. They announce two awards no one cares about. Really, who even gets a chance to see the shorts? At least with the animated ones we get to get a look at some animation. They bring out some "Chicken Little" characters to take over. "Seriously, Mr. Eisner, what's up with ducks and no pants?" Good question!
7:48. Jennifer Aniston comes out in a beautiful black dress and mega-diamonds. She's doing best costumes. She belabors her lines, as if she's a schoolteacher pissed at us for not doing our homework. "Memoirs of a Geisha" wins. Russell Crowe robotically introduces a montage about biopics. "Pierre, we've discovered a new element." "If we win, well, then we'll have what none of us have ever had before: a country of our own." Yeah, there have been some pretty cool biopics over the year. But, generally, the genre is a big drag.
7:57. Will Ferrell and Steve Carell come out in terrible makeup to announce the makeup award. Carell is wearing false eyelashes. "Once more the Sith will rule the galaxy." Ridiculous! "Star Wars" doesn't win. "Narnia" wins, and it looked pretty cool in the clip. Stewart makes his best joke of the night, expressing surprise that "Cinderella Man" didn't win: "Imagine the difficulty in making Russell Crowe look like he got into a fight." He points to a giant Oscar prop and says "Do you think if we all got together and pulled this down, democracy would flourish in Hollywood?" A political joke. The quickie technical awards recap follows. TiVo time! Ah, don't go too fast, here's Best Supporting Actress, announced by Morgan Freeman, who's wearing an ascot instead of a tie. Rachel Weisz wins. She's wearing a black dress, which nicely supports big, swelling breasts, and she's got tastefully dangly diamond earrings. She says nothing notable.
8:11. Lauren Bacall walks out stiffly. She's wearing a black pantsuit, and she seems short of breath. She's blabbing about film noir. Montage. "I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner."
8:15. A nice "Daily Show" style piece with fake ads for actresses is followed by a flatfooted intro for the documentary awards. An unfortunate juxtaposition. Another Woman in Black: Charlize Theron. (All the women are in beige or black. Did some neutrality order go out?) What will win for feature documentary? Surely, it must be the penguins. Yes, it is. The accepters bring stuffed penguins up and one guy whistles "thank you in Penguin." Another guy makes some comment about tuxedos, "penguin suits." At least, they thought of ideas. Jennifer Lopez is pushing the beige envelope toward a kind of greeny brown. She's even more robotic that Russell Crowe, but she says something about making "human contact." It's an intro to another song. TiVo, save me!
8:32. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Again with the black dress. And the ponderous delivery. Did some memo go out? Be elegant. And this is how it came out. "Geisha" gets set decoration. Samuel Jackson tells us Hollywood is unafraid! Issue films change the world, don't you know? Montage time. "Call me Mr. Tibbs!" "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" A roomful of Hollywood prissily applauds itself. Stewart: "And none of those issues were ever a problem again."
8:44. Salma Hayek busts out the non-neutrality by wearing a brilliant blue dress. She introduces the conductor, and the coolest part of this is not that we get to see where they tucked away the orchestra, but that the conductor has two packets of M&Ms. I'm using red wine to get me through this ordeal, but the maestro is going with the M&Ms, which, presumably, work too. So what wins for o-REE-gi-nal score? "Brokeback Mountain." Yeah, I know this score... from all those trailer parodies. It's supposed to feel serious, but, too me, it feels comic.
8:56. Jake Gyllenhall woodenly reads lines about how important it is to see movies on the big screen. Translation: please help us with our box office problem. We see a montage about spectacle. Which, ironically, we're seeing on our small screens. They end with the shot from "Gone With the Wind" that comes right before the intermission, which reminds me of one of the main reasons to prefer the home screen. You can break up the physical ordeal of sitting through it however you choose. Stewart: "Wow, I can't wait 'til later when we see Oscar's salute to montages." Good one! "Holy crap! We're out of clips. We're literally out of film clips. If you have film clips, send them, please. We have another three hours." Next comes Jessica Alba to botch her lines along with some guy. The lines are about... damn, I don't know. I fast-forwarded. But "King Kong" got it. Oh, it's sound mixing. Dull!
Bring out Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep to give the special award to Robert Altman. Tomlin's face is much larger than Streep's. But Streep's earrings are way longer and her neckline is way plungier. They do a comic routine that's supposed to demonstrate the Altman style by having a lot of talking over each other. Then, the montage. Well, damn, they just wore us out with montages up to the point where Stewart made a too-many-montages joke. Way to treat an honoree. TiVo.
Intro to another song. TiVo. Queen Latifah announces the song award, and the pimp song wins. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." The room is jubilant; America, perhaps not so. Stewart tries to come up with a joke. Sound editing is the next award. A big bore, but they do another "Daily Show" fake ads thing. Jennifer Garner! Beige... but she almost trips! "King Kong" wins.
Now, we need to endure Clooney again. "Academy Award winner, George Clooney." But it's the best part: "In Memoriam" -- the dead ones! Biggest applause: Shelley Winters, Anne Bancroft. Getting surprisingly little: Robert Wise, Richard Pryor.
9:37. Will Smith hands out Best Foreign Language Film. He does some impressive fast-talking in some foreign languages. The winner is "Tsotsi," the South African film. Next, Film Editing. The winner is "Crash," which is a good choice. A lot was done with editing in that movie. Next, Best Actor! Hillary Swank presents (in black). As expected, the winner is Philip Seymour Hoffman. He's overwhelmed. He's got lots of folks to thank. He loves them. He loves his mom. "She took me to my first play.... Her passions became my passions."
9:54. It's John Travolta, introducing the Cinematography nominees. I only saw one of these: "Batman Begins," which I seriously doubt can win. Again, "Geisha" wins. It's doing well with the lesser awards. Jamie Foxx gets to do Best Actress. Here's our best hope for an emotive acceptance speech. Wow, Charlize Theron has a black dress with a pouf the size of her head on her shoulder. As expected, the winner is Reese Witherspoon. I love her in "Election." She's really cool, a distinctive actress today. That means something. She seems like a good person. "I'm just trying to matter and live a good life."
10:07. Dustin Hoffman is doing the adapted screenplay award. Weird that this one is coming so late. Did writers get upgraded? Unsurprisingly, "Brokeback Mountain" wins. Uma Thurman -- in beige! -- announces original screenplay. "Crash" wins. Tom Hanks announces Director. Unsurprisingly, Ang Lee wins for "Brokeback Mountain" (and I wrote that before the award is announced). Jack and Ennis taught us about "not just the gay mans" but "the greatness of love itself." And, finally, it's good old Jack Nicholson to tells about the best "moption" picture of the year. And the shock of the night...
Nicholson points his fingers up and mouths "Wow!"
Wow, indeed! After all that predictability! I actually saw that one. It was pretty good. What the hell did I say about it. Let's see:
I thought it was quite good, constructed like "Magnolia," with a lot of characters and a script that connects their stories up with coincidences and a common theme. The theme in this case is race. You can tell from the first scene that you are seeing a heightened reality. I haven't read much of the criticism of this film, but if people are complaining that there actually isn't this much racism in real life, they are missing the point. This is a surreal depiction in which racism is concentrated everywhere. Everyone manifests racism, but then also a vulnerable human side. The characters' stories were nicely, complexly interwoven. I liked it -- even when it skewed melodramatic. I liked that you were kept on your toes about which characters to love or hate, to respect or revile.UPDATE: For my morning after observations, go here.