Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscars; blah blah.

Well, every cinephile worth their salt is likely weighing in on tonight's Oscar telecast, so here's my two cents.

Overall, no huge surprises among the winners. Most people probably had the major races handicapped pretty ably (unless you had the temerity to actually make choices from your heart instead of trying to read the minds of them there academy members). I'd love to expound more profoundly on which Best Pic nominees were most worthy, except I haven't seen any of them (I know; baaad movie geek). You didn't think that you needed to actually see the nominated films to predict this dog-and-pony show, did you?

At a little over three hours (excluding the pre-show parade of red-carpet butt-smooching), it was relatively compact by Oscar-bloat standards. Chris Rock will likely arouse some controversy as a host, but he actually made me laugh fairly frequently. He gets bonus points for cracking several jokes that whizzed clean past the well-coiffed heads in the audience, and the Sandler/Rock Zeta-Jones riff made me laugh way harder than I'm comfortable admitting (on account of it was so stupid). Host-wise, Rock lacked the everyguy affability of the great Johnny Carson and the polished Tinseltown zing of Billy Crystal, but the Oscar virgin did OK to this weary watcher.

Random observations:

1) Every year, the Academy-nominated songs seem to get worse. This year, with the exception of the tolerable choral number from The Chorus, all numbers were strictly jab-pencil-into-ear-canal-they're-so- irritating bad. Hearing Counting Crows reminded me, all over again, why I've always loathed their brand of mewling Starbucks' background-music Adult Contemporary 'rock'. Speaking of irritating music, is Andrew Lloyd Webber resembling a garden mole more with each passing year, or is it just me?

2) Penelope Cruz looks like some kind of half-human, half-equine experiment gone horribly wrong. Am I the only person who finds this woman's visage truly terrifying?

3) Sidney Lumet rocks.

4) Al Pacino and Sean Penn should have been allowed to sleep off their benders before hitting the stage.

5) Most Unintentionally Amusing Nom of the Evening: The Passion of the Christ for Makeup: The Makeup Nominations are traditionally accompanied by quick clips of the artists' handiwork--unsurprisingly, such a format was scotched this year (probably due to this nomination). I'd have given up my eyeteeth to see the Oscar audience subjected to the spurting blood and photo-realistic mutilations from this christian snuff flick. Does this mean that George Romero's makeup team will get an Oscar for the gutmunchings and gore to come in the final Living Dead movie? We can only hope...

All told, Lumet's long-overdue honor and Jamie Foxx's moving acceptance speech aside, this made for one seriously unmemorable Oscar telecast. You know things are pretty moribund when Robert Mayer, winner of the Jean Hersholt Award, displays more spunk in his acceptance speech than most of the other winners. I kept waiting throughout the telecast for some surprise, some spark, and (noted exceptions aside) it didn't come.

But, yeah, I'm gonna watch again next year. God help me.

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