Winning The Oscar Pool And Eating A Little Humble Pie

I gotta give Roger Ebert his due. He called it right and I called it wrong. He said Crash would win because it affected Academy members much more deeply than Brokeback Mountain, which he felt had lost momentum heading into tonight’s broadcast. I countered that argument on here, shortly after he made his predictions, that there was no way he could be right. There was no way a film that made less money, won fewer awards, and was not constantly in the public eye (due to numerous parodies) could break through all that success and publicity and steal the big prize. Roger got this one absolutely right and he deserves credit for it. It reminds me of the time he correctly predicted that Shakespeare In Love would beat Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture in 1999. That year, I listened to him. It didn’t matter, though. I obliterated the competition that year and won my 3rd pool. I should’ve paid attention to him this year, even though, again, siding with him wouldn’t have mattered. I won my 7th family pool by getting 16 out of 24 right, the second highest total for me since my 17/24 victory back in 1998, the year Titanic was the dominant winner. (My dad still has the most impressive record: most correct guesses in a single year. That happened in 2004 when he got 19/24 right thanks to the The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King sweep.)

However, Roger Ebert was wrong about Best Supporting Actress, as was I. The favourite in the category, the lovely Rachel Weisz, who’s on the verge of childbirth, took the prize. It makes you feel so silly when you go to bat for an underdog thinking you’ve made a strong case for them and that you’re going to be rewarded for making an off-beat prediction only to find later that they had no chance in hell of taking it. Oh well.

There was another stunning surprise: the Best Song category. It’s Hard Out For Here For A Pimp from Hustle & Flow pulled an upset over Dolly Parton who my mom thought looked very thin tonight. (I have to agree. That’s the thinnest she’s ever looked.) She made a remark that if she had worn a loose-fitting dress, she might’ve been able to conceal her apparent weight loss. It also didn’t help that she absolutely butchered her nominated song. No wonder it didn’t win. (I didn’t like the live performance of It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp either – did I hear "witches" and "ship" instead of the real words? – but I did like that song from Crash. It helped that the woman who sang it, Kathleen Bird York, is pretty foxy.)

Speaking of that Pimp song, host Jon Stewart (who I thought was funny tonight), put it all into perspective when he said that Martin Scorsese has zero Oscars and Three 6 Mafia, the group that wrote and performed the song, have one. Apparently, one of them cursed during their acceptance speech because the sound cut out as they were talking, one of the many reasons people have stopped tuning into awards shows.

Other than that, it was a fairly predictable night. The complete list of winners is at the bottom of this entry.

There are two things that always bug me about the Oscars. One, the fact that people applaud rather inappropriately during the In Memoriam section (Bill Maher pointed this out in 2000 on an after-Oscars edition of Politically Incorrect, and having not noticed or cared that much before, I think he made a damn good point which has stayed with me) and that Oscar winners are frequently cut off during their acceptance speeches.

I don’t care how long-winded or boring they are, let them thank all the people they need to thank who, let’s be real here, appreciate being thanked. They’ve waited their whole life for this moment, they deserve it and we should be respectful and let them do their thing and not rudely play them off. And what was the deal with the music playing during the speeches? No wonder some people had trouble talking. That stupid orchestra wouldn’t shut up. It’s hard to think when you’re nervous, let alone when you’re distracted.

As for the In Memoriam segment, it’s disappointing that, even in death (as Bill Maher said back in 2000), some people are more loved than others. As the list of names and photos fly by, the more loved the person the louder the applause. Either applaud once at the end or don’t applaud at all.

On a lighter note, the funniest moments of the show weren’t Jon Stewart’s one-liners (although he did make me laugh a lot). The best bits were all pre-taped. The fake attack ads for Best Actress and Best Sound were funny. The Tom Hanks bit was funny.  (Live presenters Ben Stiller, Will Farrell and Steve Carell killed as well.)  But the most hilarious bit was the one near the beginning of the show where past Oscar hosts pop up to turn down the gig, thereby handing the reins, defacto-style, to Jon Stewart. (Is there any chance Steve Martin can host again?)

No one film dominated this year. 4 films all won 3 Oscars: Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Memoirs Of A Geisha and King Kong, a film some thought should’ve been up for Best Picture and possibly even more prizes. Crash and Brokeback Mountain lost all the acting awards while Geisha and Kong dominated the technical categories.  I wonder how many past Best Picture winners have also struck out in the acting categories. 

As for the speeches, the standouts were Reese Witherspoon, who despite sounding at times like Sally Field and Paula Abdul, still gave a sweet and heartfelt speech that I had been looking forward to since picking her to win Best Actress; Philip Seymour Hoffman, who paid tribute to his mom, who sounds like a remarkable woman the way he was describing her; Gavin Hood, who was one of the few genuinely excited winners tonight, for his film, Tsotsi, which won Best Foreign Language Film and Robert Altman, the winner of an honourary Oscar, who mentioned that he has the heart of a thirty-something woman beating within his chest and as a result, he may have some 40 years of living yet to come. (He received a heart transplant a decade ago which I hadn’t known about ’til tonight.)  Also worth mentioning:  Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep’s fitting introduction to Altman which felt incredibly spontaneous even though it was probably very well thought out before-hand.  It was funny, energetic and, dare I say, Altmanesque. 

 

ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS

BEST PICTURE – CRASH

BEST DIRECTOR – ANG LEE (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)

BEST ACTOR – PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (CAPOTE)

BEST ACTRESS – REESE WITHERSPOON (WALK THE LINE)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – GEORGE CLOONEY (SYRIANA)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – RACHEL WEISZ (THE CONSTANT GARDENER)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – WALLACE & GROMIT

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – MARCH OF THE PENGUINS

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – CRASH

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – TSOTSI

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

BEST ART DIRECTION – MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

BEST SOUND – KING KONG

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – KING KONG

BEST SOUND EDITING – KING KONG

BEST FILM EDITING – CRASH

BEST MAKE-UP – THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp (HUSTLE & FLOW)

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – A NOTE OF TRIUMPH: THE GOLDEN AGE OF NORMAN CORWIN

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – SIX SHOOTER

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM – THE MOON AND THE SUN: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION

HONOURARY OSCAR – ROBERT ALTMAN (LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT)

 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, March 6, 2006
1:36 a.m.

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Published in: on March 6, 2006 at 2:24 am  Leave a Comment  

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