March 1, 2004

The dreadful Oscars show. The Oscars show was even duller than the SAG Awards. Was there even a single surprise? Billy Crystal's return reminded me of some of the sad returns Lucille Ball made to TV in her waning years: she was doing the same sorts of things that used to be so funny, but now it just seemed wrong for her to strain herself to do it. Crystal seemed to want to throw out lines about current movie happenings, but how much comic traction can you really get out of "The Passion of the Christ"? Everyone seemed afraid of offending, as if they were all massively overshadowed by Janet Jackson's epic breast. Only Errol Morris said anything with any political sting, and his speech revealed that his true outrage really lay more in the area of the way the Academy has been slighting him all these years. (Of course, he was right about that, but it wasn't all that lovely for him to be the one saying it.) Tim Robbins restricted his politics to concern about child abuse, and Sean Penn only made an oblique reference to WMD. Nearly everyone just thanked people endlessly, tediously. Then more time had to be wasted, lamely, by having Jack Black and Will Ferrell sing about how the thank you speeches are boring. And, oh, the songs, those songs-non-songs that extend the already horrible longueurs of the show's midsection.

I had to read about Sean Penn's statement, because I bailed out before he appeared, somewhere in the show's fourth hour, when I calculated all the awards that had yet to be given, and how long I would need to wait for the big four awards. The show was quite simply torture--impossibility of making "The Passion" quips noted--the least entertaining Oscars show in memory. I enjoyed some of the early red carpet stuff: Jennifer Garner had a lovely tangerine dress and Renee Zellweger looked painfully swaddled in white cardboardish cloth. But it was pretty much downhill from there.

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