Monday, February 25, 2008

The Academy Awards

I always say that the Oscars are my Super Bowl, and I love the drama and politics that define this night of a thousand stars. So, my first question for the day-after examination is, "Where were they?" I mean, I know the writer's strike just barely ended, but did everybody stay away as a sign of respect? It's pretty bad when you have to whip out The Rock and Miley Cyrus to present awards, but I was impressed that Dwayne Johnson (or whatever his name is) could actually read. And Barbara Walters only interviewed one nominee, the lovely Ellen Page. As much as I love Vanessa Williams on Ugly Betty, I was hoping for a more Oscar-appropriate lineup. And don't get me started on Harrison Ford. Barbara asked if he felt "underrated" as an actor, when, in truth, he is completely and utterly overrated, in my humble opinion. Nice earring, Harrison.

The awards got off to a roaring start with Regis Philbin hosting the Pre-Oscar Red Carpet Show. Where was Ryan Seacrest this year? All the stars seemed to be humoring Regis with his silly questions and comments. And did you see George Clooney's date trying not to stare at Regis's tan? It looked like he might start dripping streaks of orange any second. I was especially horrified when, after running into the theater from backstage, Regis pointed out Best Supporting Actor nominee Javier Bardem, and called him "Xavier." I hope Bardem's poor mother didn't hear that!

Jon Stewart did a pretty good job as host, don't you think? He's no Billy Crystal, but he seemed funnier this time around. I liked his war jokes and the one about Obama and Gaydolf Titler. Stewart did call Once star Glen Hansard "arrogant" after the musician gave his acceptance speech, and though it was meant to be ironic, it seemed downright mean to me. He redeemed himself shortly after by allowing Marketa Irglova to return to the stage for her turn, after she was cut off by the music.

Of all the presenters, Katherine Heigl really stands out, but not in a good way. She made some shaky little comment about forgiving her for being so nervous, since she's not very good at this sort of thing. Oh, please! Look, just because you're on Grey's Anatomy, had a hit movie, and did a cover for Vanity Fair, don't think you can step on stage and steal the spotlight. You're not winning an award, honey, just handing one out, so smile, read the prompter, and open the damn envelope! Miley Cyrus makes you look like an amateur.

By far, my favorite moments included Diablo Cody's win for Best Original Screenplay for Juno, over which I have previously gushed. This pretty much sealed the deal and ended the possibility of the film winning any other awards, but Cody looked lovely (what beautiful skin!) and she truly is an original. I was just thrilled that the film was recognized for what it is, a "sincere, honest, genuine" piece about growing up, to quote Ellen Page from her interview with Barbara Walters.

I was also thrilled for Once stars and musicians, Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard. They beat out three songs from a Disney princess movie and that weird one with Keri Russell where she thinks her son is dead (but he's really just a homeless kid musician) or something sick like that. The odds were stacked against them, but they won for Best Song, and if you haven't yet seen Once, I highly recommend it! (In all fairness, that 11-year-old soloist from August Rush is amazing!)

I have to say I was thrilled that Atonement didn't win, isn't that awful? You know how I feel about it ("Come back to me!"), and though I have yet to see No Country For Old Men, I do love the Coen brothers. I also love it when Best Director and Best Picture actually match up. I mean, how can they not? Like that year when Ang Lee won for Brokeback Mountain, but they gave Best Picture to Crash? How can you be the best director of a movie that is not the best film? At least this year, all is right with the world.

And then there's Daniel Day-Lewis. I have loved him ever since The Last of the Mohicans. He is truly a serious actor devoted to his craft, but not in the arrogant "I take myself so seriously that I fly to Iraq to have a look around" way of some, like specifically, Sean Penn. Day-Lewis is elegant and refined, and his speech was eloquent and genuine.

And finally, I must comment on the many montages used last night. I have to say that I really liked them for the most part (aside from the binocular and dream sequences), and it was so much better than when they used to bring out former winners from all the way back, and then announce each and every single one of them. The montages were quick and touching, without being overly dramatic. And best of all, I was fast asleep before 11 last night!

Now, if only Cameron Diaz could learn to pronounce "cinematography."