Hollywood's big night has come and gone, all three hours and thirty three minutes of it, and it appears the Academy likes people crashing in their fair city of Los Angeles more than gay cowboys after all. So now, of course, we must spend at least a day or so talking about it. I'll throw my hat in the ring here and go through all the major awards - Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay. But, before we get into all that I'm in that award-handing-out spirit and I'm giving out a few "awards" myself on the big night at the Kodak Theater.
BEST FORMAT CHANGE
This one is all Jon Stewart, folks, because I just LOVED the mock campaign ads and the spot with Tom Hanks and the overzealous orchestra. Stewart brought along a few of his writers from The Daily Show to the show, and came up with some great filler material that was really funny. He got his buddy Steve Carell to do the voice-overs for these spots, and I thought they were brilliant. I know they have print advertising for Oscar campaigns, but I don't know if they actually have TV spots campaigning for their films. But these were just great mock-ups and they brought a lot of fun back to the show.
WORST FORMAT CHANGE
I'm giving this to two things here, because they both pissed me off equally. First is Bill Conti and his pit boys playing music over all the acceptance speeches. What the crap was that all about? It was a terrible move, and it seemed like it made the winners feel rushed right away. Sure, we didn't see too many insanely long acceptance speeches, but did they really need to play music right away to accomplish this? What happened to giving away a plasma screen TV for the shortest acceptance speech? Get real, folks, and cut the damn music. Speaking of music, my second choice is the interpretive dance crap going on during the musical performances. It was just incredibly corny and it felt like I was watching a high school play. Let them do their songs in peace and not clutter up the stage with a bunch of community college morons trying to act and dance. Idiots.
BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
It was a night with a few surprises, and while Reese Witherspoon and George Clooney ("I guess I'm not winning director") gave great speeches, I'm gonna have to give this one to the boyz of Three 6 Mafia for their Cuba Gooding Jr./Matt Damon and Ben Affleck speech after their shocking win for Best Original Song with "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" from Hustle and Flow. No one in the world expected them to win, and they just went bananas when they did. And it was smashing good fun to watch. They even thanked the show's producer Gil Cates for Christ's sake! They stole the show with their performance and win, that had everyone from Stewart to Jamie Foxx talking about it on stage. It kinda sucked that they didn't thank Terrence Howard, who performed the song in the flick, but they wrote a superb song and duely deserved to win and go nuts for doing so. These are the kinds of speeches that people remember, folks.
WORST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
This one goes to the dorks from March of the Penguins because you couldn't really understand their stammerings, one of them said "thank you" in penguin speak and they brought up stuffed penguins on stage. Yeah guys, we fricking get it. Penguins are adorable, and thanks for showing us that...now go away.
While Ben Stiller was great in the green screen suit, like last year, I'm giving this award to the animated, literally, characters from Chicken Little. I thought that whole gag about ducks with no pants was hillarious, and rather fitting. I don't think even Howard the Duck wore pants, did he?
The moron brothers Wilson, Luke and Owen, being about as unfunny as can be, presenting the Live Action Short award, and basically only talking about their own short, Bottle Rocket, that was turned into a feature 10 years ago. Nobody cares, guys.
Charlize Theron. Wow. Anyone want to help me find a bus to run Stuart Townsend over with? Anyone?
The guy that wore jeans. I don't remember his name, or what award he got, but I don't think it matters. Seriously, you're at the damn Oscars dude. Drop some coin and get some proper threads, cheapskate.
Well, that was fun, eh? Now to the real awards. Ready, break!
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Winner: Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco for Crash
I was pleasantly surprised with this one. The screenplay awards are usually bones thrown to flicks up for Best Picture, but likely won't win it. While Crash was certainly a deserving winner here, I thought they'd throw this one to George Clooney and Grant Heslov for Good Night, And Good Luck, because it was surely a longshot for Best Picture. Then again, the Academy likes to right previous wrongs, and I thought Haggis was robbed last year when his absolutely phenomenal script for Best Picture winner Million Dollar Baby lost to Sideways. What's absolutely amazing about Haggis is that he left a lucrative TV writing career to write two spec scripts he felt deeply about, and now they're BOTH Best Picture winners in back-to-back years, both taking down the front-runner that year. Phenomenal work, Mr. Haggis. Simply phenomenal.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Winner: Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry for Brokeback Mountain
Well, I guess this was a bone thrown to a non-Best Picture winner, but I didn't think Brokeback would win this one, mainly because everyone and their mom thought they'd win Best Picture, hence, my thinking the bone would be thrown in a different direction. I was thinking they'd give it to Josh Olsen for his dark and brilliant script for A History of Violence, which I was surprised wasn't up for Best Picture in the first place. I have yet to see Brokeback, simply because I have no girlfriend or friends willing to see a movie about gay cowboys not eating pudding. It's a Midwest thing, I guess. But, from all I've heard about this movie, it was a deserving win for Ossana and McMurtry.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Winner: Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener
This one was pretty wide open, and could've gone to anyone. The Constant Gardener was a superb film and Weisz delivered her finest performance here, and one of the most memorable lines of the show from her speech in "These are far greater people than me" humbleness. I was thinking maybe they'd give it to Frances McDormand, giving her that 2-time Oscar winner tag, or even to Catherine Keener, simply because her overall year was better with her roles in Capote and the break-out comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin, but I really have no problem with Weisz winning... especially after seeing her dress. Boom!
Winner: Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Capote
While I was really pulling for the underdog Terrence Howard here for his trascendent performance in Hustle and Flow, Hoffman did truly deserve this. He has long been a versatile and immensely talented actor, who has long languished in the spotlight's shadow and it was great to see him honored here. He delivered a wonderful speech as well, and I'm looking forward to see more of him toplining bigger and better flicks with his newfound Oscar-winner status.
Winner: Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line
I wasn't too sure about this one either, with Felicity Huffman taking many of the pre-Oscar awards (National Board of Review, Independent Spirit, Satelite, Golden Globe) for her deep-voiced performance in Transamerica. But Reese won a Golden Globe for her smashing performance as June Carter Cash as well, since Walk the Line was slated in the Musical or Comedy category, even though it really was neither a musical or a comedy. Discuss. She's a bona fide leading lady now, surely proving she has the chops for drama. Let's just hope she doesn't use her newfound clout to make a Legally Blonde 3... Seriously though, she turned in an amazing performance, a wonderful speech and I'm looking forward to what else she can do besides comedy.
Winner: Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain
I thought this for sure meant Brokeback would take home Best Picture, but I've been wrong before a few times. I thought they might give it to Clooney, which would've been history-making since he'd be the first to win a directing and an acting Oscar in the same year. Speilberg already has a few of these and Haggis and Bennett Miller were both first-time nominees, so I guess this makes sense.
This will go down as one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history, folks. While Crash did take the SAG award for Ensemble Cast, I don't think anyone saw this coming. Brokeback was tearing through the awards circuit, and I wouldn't have been surprised if it would've won a Golden Globe for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy as well. Still, controversy isn't always a good thing either, and they could've played to its disadvantage. Brokeback scribe Larry McMurtry, after the ceremony, offered that since Crash was set in Los Angeles, and almost all the academy members live there, that could've played to Crash's advantage. Crash made some odd history in winning this award as well. It had the least amount of total Oscar wins for a Best Picture winner, three, since .Rocky took home three gold men in 1977. It also had the earliest release date for a Best Picture winner (May 6) since Braveheart won Best Picture in 1996 after being released on May 19, 1995. Maybe this means that Oscar voters are getting a memory, and we don't need a December chocked full of the Oscar favorites, and have them spread out throughout the year. But the Academy did prove that they do have a few aces up their sleeve, and still have the ability to throw us a curveball here and there. This was just simply a phenomenal picture, and now it has a shocking win for Best Picture to cement its legacy in filmdom, and secure visionary writer-director Paul Haggis a very high spot on Hollywood's A-list. I jumped out of my couch and screamed for joy, literally, when, fittingly, Hollywood maverick Jack Nicholson uttered Crash as the Best Picture. This flick was as maverick as they come, in a year that set itself apart, and showed its penchant for breaking the rules a little, so it was definitely fitting that Crash be dubbed as the Best Picture in 2005. Kudos and the highest of praises to all who worked on this magnificent film! You certainly earned it.
Well, that's all the big awards, folks, but I'd also like to send out some props to the evening's host, Jon Stewart. He did a wonderful job hosting, breathing life into a show that has grown dull through the years, playfully teasing the stars, as well as himself: the 4th male lead in Death to Smoochy. His comedic style, laced with subtleties, is tailor-made for this show, and I hope his hosting turns into a tradition, because this show really needs him. Simply put, this was one of the best Oscar telecasts in years, for both the awards and for Stewart's hosting job, and I really hope he gets the gig next year. Wonderful job, Mr. Stewart!
That's all I've got, folks. Take care, and always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free.