Thoughts on the Oscar ceremony

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Thoughts on the Oscar ceremony

We had a splendid little gathering here at my apartment (space is limited; I apologize if you weren’t invited, and if we kept the party’s existence a secret from you so you wouldn’t feel hurt over not being invited) that included many junk foods and carbonated beverages. TiVo enabled us to rewind certain key moments so that we could say, “Who’s that woman they keep showing who looks like Sally Struthers or possibly Miss Piggy?” and “What on EARTH is Hilary Swank wearing?!”

Here are some thoughts summarizing the event.

– The ceremony was only 3 hours and 14 minutes, which must be some kind of record. I know the longest was just over 4 hours, so 3:14 feels short by comparison. I didn’t mind the obvious attempts to shorten things, like presenting technical awards in the audience or with all the nominees already onstage — though let’s be honest, how much time is really wasted waiting for people to walk to the stage? Maybe two minutes total, over the course of the show. The REAL time-waster is the various tributes and montages, which were blissfully few this year. There was no mid-show comedy piece (Rock’s bit early on where he talked to average movie-goers was the only one), and only one montage, for Johnny Carson. No special tributes to Movie Comedies or Music In The Movies or Movies That Star Fat People or anything like that.

– I don’t know why they didn’t have the actual singers sing the Oscar-nominated songs. The guy who wrote the winner, “Al Otra Lado Del Rio,” sang it in the film, and did a fine job. So why did Antonio Banderas have to sing it in the show? And since “Look to Your Path” was sung by a boys’ choir in “The Chorus,” why did it have to be sung by Beyonce Knowles with a boys’ choir relegated to the background at the ceremony? For that matter, why did Beyonce have to sing ANYTHING, let alone THREE SONGS?! Good grief, people. At least get someone who can actually, I don’t know, speak French to sing the French song.

– I watched Joan and Melissa Rivers’ pre-Oscar trainwreck on the TV Guide Channel solely because I knew it would be a trainwreck, like it always is. Joan knows NOTHING about the movies being nominated, and even less about the stars she’s interviewing. My favorite moment tonight: When she asked Imelda Staunton, who plays the title character in “Vera Drake,” “Did you get a chance to meet her?,” meaning the real Vera Drake. To which Staunton replied no, she didn’t, because Vera Drake was a fictional character.

– Selma Hayak and Penelope Cruz presented two awards together. I assume Oscar producers arranged that in order to prove once and for all that they are not the same person. Maybe Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton will co-present next year, or Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac.

– Annette Bening and Clay Aiken have the same hair.

– Prince butchered every single name in the list of Best Song nominees. Had he never seen the list before? Did they not give him a chance to practice? Was he familiar at all with the alphabet, and what sounds letters are supposed to make?

– We think the “phantom” who walked Beyonce down the stairs during her “Phantom of the Opera” number was the same guy who scurried out to hand Chris Rock a microphone earlier in the show. He’s Oscar’s designated skulker.

– I assume the only reason P. Diddy was there to present an award was that he shot whoever was supposed to do it.

– I did not think Chris Rock would be a good host. I thought his jokes would all be about how white people are different from black people. I thought he would be sophomoric. I was wrong. His opening monologue was savagely funny, mocking Hollywood pretension fearlessly, but doing so in a way that was funny, and not just “outrageous for the sake of being outrageous.” Throughout the night, he was a confident, competent host, dignified but not stuffy.

– By the way, I correctly predicted 15 out of 24 awards. That’s about how well I usually do. I came in second at our gathering, behind my friend Chris, who got 16. He took home the prize, which this year was a frozen turkey. I should have gone with my gut and given Art Direction to “The Aviator” (since it won nearly every technical award it was nominated for), and Foreign Language Film to “The Sea Inside.” But come on, “Downfall” was about Hitler, and Holocaust movies always win! How was I to know?!

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– The most surreal moment was only seen by Utah viewers. During commercial breaks, ads for tonight’s local newscast pimped a story about a bank robber who was killed by cops on Friday — old news now, but the new spin was that the dead guy’s lifelong friend was none other than Dell Schanze, aka Super Dell, an ultra-irritating local computer-store owner with uber-annoying TV commercials. So ABC 4 was promoting their “news” story tonight, in which they interview Super Dell about his bank robber friend (who, it turns out, he’s really only KNOWN since childhood, and didn’t hang out with much, because the guy was kinda crazy). Anyway, while Julia Roberts was presenting the nominees for Best Director, ABC 4 flashed a promo on the screen that read: “SUPER DELL’S BEST FRIEND KILLED BY POLICE: NEXT ON ABC 4 NEWS.” Classy, ABC 4. Classy.

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