Sunday, March 05, 2006

Minute-by-minute at the 2006 Oscars Ceremony

2005 Oscars.

2006 Pre-Show.

5:00 -- Welcome to the 78th Annual Academy Awards! We open with a computer-generated pastiche, if that's the word I'm looking for, and I don't really care if it is, of famous movie moments, characters, stars, and props, from Back to the Future's DeLorean to Christopher Reeve as Superman. It's corny as all git-out, and kind of dopey to see, say, Jimmy Stewart next to Spider-Man, but it somehow works.

5:02 -- Time elapsed to first Brokeback joke: two minutes. The opening comedy film shows past Oscar hosts turning down this year's job, starting with Billy Crystal and Chris Rock, sharing a tent. Please, please let this be the last such joke of the evening. For Whoopi Goldberg's bit, she says, "Oh, hell no." My thoughts on her, exactly. The farther she stays away from the Oscars, the better, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, her five-second filmed bit has already soured me a little.

5:04 -- Finally we get to Jon Stewart, in bed with Halle Berry, who is wearing flannel PJs. She tells him it's a dream. He peeks under the covers; she says, "The flannel's down there, too." "In my dream??"

5:05 -- Cut to George Clooney in bed with Stewart. Second gay joke in five minutes. Does not bode well.

5:05 -- Stewart finally makes his actual entrance. "Thank you, ladies, gentlemen... Felicity." Because she plays a dude who wants to be a chick! GET IT??? Stewart says, "It's an exciting night, an exciting night." We see in the audience, directly behind Philip Seymour Hoffman, a woman checking her cell phone. So, maybe not that exciting. Oh, that woman is Catherine Keener! Put down the phone, hon!

5:06 -- "Tonight is the night we celebrate excellence in film... with me, the fourth male lead from Death to Smoochy."

5:06 -- "It's exciting for the stars as well -- this is the first time many of you have ever voted for a winner."

5:08 -- "Good night, and good luck" is "not just Edward R. Murrow's sign-off, it's also how Mr. Clooney ends all his dates." The joke is really sold by Clooney playing along, laughing, then turning serious as though he just realized what was being said.

5:09 -- To Steven Spielberg, director of Schindler's List and Munich: "I think I speak for all Jews when I say: I can't wait to see what happens to us next." Crossing his fingers: "Trilogy!!"

5:10 -- "Bjork couldn't be here tonight -- she was trying on her Oscar dress, and Dick Cheney shot her." Old reference, fairly weak, tremendously obvious, but the audience loves it, and I have to admit I laughed, too.

5:13 -- "I just feel like there's nothing remotely gay about the classic Hollywood Westerns." Cue two-minute clip of very suggestive moments from classic Hollywood Westerns. Hilarious. Best bits -- John Wayne: "I'll have you spread-eagled on a wagon wheel!" And Gregory Peck to Charlton Heston: "The goodbye that I have in mind will take a little more room than we have in here."

5:15 -- "Charlton Heston is cut. Guy looks like he's been lifting twenty commandments."

5:15 -- On the order that presenters have traditionally been scheduled in the ceremony: "We're going to be introducing the presenters in order of how talented they are." First up: Nicole Kidman. Hey, maybe he wasn't kidding!

5:19 -- Kidman presents Best Supporting Actor to Clooney. Hey, I'm an early 1-for-1 in my picks! Clooney: "All right, so I'm not winning Director." Weirdly, the orchestra plays during his entire time on stage, instead of kicking in when he was running late. That's very annoying.

5:24 -- Stewart, re: Clooney's Oscar: "That's the kind of thing that can really get a fella laid."

5:25 -- While jokingly helping to demonstrate the Academy's new methods of keeping acceptance speeches short (the orchestra actually comes on stage and surrounds the winner), Tom Hanks thanks "Hooch." That is awesome.

5:27 -- Ben Stiller, presenting Visual Effects, comes out in a green suit, and pretends that FX is making it appear as though only his disembodied head is being seen (it's not). Pretty funny. He says, "This is blowing Spielberg's mind!" Even funnier, Spielberg in the audience shakes his head and mouths, "No it's not."

5:29 -- Kong wins. I'm 2-for-2. Man, this show seems like it's running really long already. And I'm already about a half hour behind on TiVo. That's why (when I'm being honest) I call this kind of post "semi-liveblogging."

5:32 -- Reese Witherspoon presents Best Animated Feature to Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I actually pump my fist at this and yell, "Yeah!" as though I helped make the movie or something. 3-for-3, by the way. (Which coincidentally is also my number of successfully consumed beers at this point.)

5:34 -- Naomi Watts introduces Dolly Parton, and that makes me inordinately happy for no good reason.

5:37 -- To see Jack Nicholson obey Dolly Parton and clap along with her song is the first truly transcendent moment of this evening. Right on, Jack! If Dolly doesn't win, I will literally give up watching TV for the rest of my life.

5:42 -- Coming back from commercial, Stewart pretends he's been proselytizing: "And that's why I think Scientology is right, not just for this city, but for the country!" Tom Cruise and John Travolta will murder him for this after the show, while Katie Holmes and Kelly Preston watch and laugh. The camera cuts to Joaquin Phoenix in the crowd. Is he a Scientologist?

5:44 -- Luke and Owen Wilson present for Best Live Action Short: Six Shooter. My first miss. I'm 3-for-4.

5:45 -- Owen introduces two animated characters from Chicken Little. That's fucking humiliating. Couldn't they at least have gotten characters from a film that was nominated? Hey -- is that Joan Cusack doing one of the voices? Now I want to see that movie.

5:47 -- Best Animated Short goes to The Moon and the Son. Frick! I usually get at least one of the short categories. I'm 3-for-5.

5:48 -- Jennifer Aniston presents Best Costume Design. This is the closest she'll ever get to an Oscar. Unless she has a three-way with Brad and Angelina (who, of course, won for Girl, Interrupted). Hmmm... I need to sit down and ponder that for a while. (Minus Brad Pitt.)

5:50 -- Colleen Atwood wins for Memoirs of a Geisha. 3-for-6. For cry-yi! I'm getting pounded in the minor categories!!

5:51 -- Russell Crowe presents a clip reel of movie biographies. He punches Colleen Atwood in the head as he enters.

5:57 -- Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell present for Best Makeup. I would pay $20 to see a movie starring both of them, but maybe that's just me. [EDIT: In the comments, Monty makes a good point: that movie has already been made, and it was called Anchorman. I actually did pay $20 for that movie on DVD. What I meant was I wanted a new movie, but I am nonetheless chagrined.]

5:59 -- The Chronicles of Narnia wins. Hellfire, I am not going to win one of the minor categories, am I? 3-for-7.

6:01 -- Speaking of the host of the Scientific and Technical Awards (aka The Nerd Awards That Don't Get To Be Presented At The Real Show), Stewart introduces "the very clothed Rachel McAdams." That's a dig at her for her very public refusal to appear on this cover. Oh, how I admire her integrity for not wanting to pose naked for the camera. Damn, dude, that's two nudie links in one sub-entry for a liveblogging post. Have I got it going on or what??

6:03 -- Morgan Freeman presents Best Supporting Actress, and stumbles over his lines a bit. Where's Easy Reader now, huh??

6:06 -- Rachel Weisz wins. Finally, back to the major categories, I get a win! 4-for-8, and back to .500 at least.

6:11 -- Lauren Bacall comes out to present a clip reel for film noir. She's very shaky, and stumbles a lot. It's great to see her, but a little sad as well. As the clip begins, I bet myself that the last scene will be Bacall saying, "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." I'm wrong. But it feels like more of a mistake on the Academy's part, I have to say.

6:17 -- A slew of fake campaign commercials for Best Actress (narrated by Stephen Colbert). Funny, but could be better.

6:19 -- Terrence Howard presents Documentary Short. A Note of Triumph wins. Man, I have never been this off on my picks. 4-for-9. You know what would make this night better right now? More beer!

6:21 -- Charlize Theron presents Documentary Feature. She's hot, of course, but her dress, with its enormous tumor of material on her left shoulder, is not flattering. And the winner is -- March of the Pneguins. Good thing I flip-flopped on my pick! I'm back to .500 at 5-for-10.

6:24 -- Jennifer Lopez enters as the March of the Penguins guys leave. They taunt her with their Oscars and stuffed penguins. She introduces the song "In the Deep" from Crash. It's boring as hell. But, as opposed to Dolly Parton, who was her own stage show, there's a crazy, fiery, incredibly poorly choreographed reenactment of moments from the movie going on behind the singer. It's Oscar night at its worst.

6:32 -- Stewart, following up on that awful stage show: "If you are trying to escape a burning car, my suggestion would be not to move in slow motion."

6:32 -- Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves present Best Art Direction. Keanu shows remarkable restraint, and does not say, "Whoa."

6:34 -- Memoirs of a Geisha wins again?? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills! I'm down to 5-for-11. Jeezum Crow, I am doing horribly here.

6:36 -- Samuel L. Jackson presents a clip reel of big social theme films. It's as ponderous and self-important as you'd imagine it to be (except for Dolly in 9 to 5).

6:40 -- After, Stewart: "And none of those issues were ever a problem again."

6:44 -- There's some nonsense from Academy President Sid Ganis, and then Salma Hayek comes out to hot things up. She introduces Itzhak Perlman, whose first name looks like a typo, and who plays excerpts from the nominated Best Musical Scores.

6:49 -- Brokeback Mountain wins. That's my first win in a minor category!! (Not counting Documentary Feature, which is borderline at best -- or not; hell, this year, the winning documentary has outgrossed all five Best Picture nominees.) Back to 50/50, at 6-for-12.

6:56 -- Jake Gyllenhaal presents a clip reel on epic movies. Let's see, there's Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, the original King Kong (which, to get off the subject, wasn't actually filmed in widescreen, 70MM, epic format, but in small-screen, TV-ratio... but I digress), Braveheart, 2001, Ran... Grease??? One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong.

6:58 -- Dude, they just showed Smokey & the Bandit, too. Now, I like Grease and Smokey & the Bandit as much as the next musical-loving redneck out there... but, as examples of epic filmmaking? You can do better, people.

6:59 -- Stewart: "Wow, I can't wait till later, when we see 'Oscar's salute to montages.' Holy crap, we're out of clips! We are literally out of film clips."

7:00 -- Jessica Alba and Eric Bana present Best Sound Mixing together, for no apparent reason. King Kong wins. I picked it for Sound Editing, not Sound Mixing. So I'm boned. 6-for-13.

7:03 -- Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep ("the most nominated actor in Oscar history," with 13) come out to present "a special award." Ooh, is this Robert Altman's honorary Oscar? Normally, these kinds of things are where I fast forward to catch up on my lag time, but in this case, I want to hear every word Altman says. I hope he rips Hollywood a new one. Tomlin and Streep do their intro in overlapping, Altman-style conversation, which is awesome.

7:09 -- After a clip reel, Altman enters. Our greatest living director? The greatest director ever? I think a strong case could be made for either argument, and I think, even considering Spielberg, Scorsese, you name it -- I think, in the living director category, unquestionably, without even having to have the argument, it's Altman. The man is a sheer genius, and I worship his films. (Okay, maybe not O.C. and Stiggs, but most of them.) M*A*S*H, Nashville, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 3 Women, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Tanner '88 on HBO, The Player, Short Cuts, Gosford Park... in the world of film, he's one of my greatest heroes. If you catch me in a certain mood, I'll swear that McCabe and Mrs. Miller is the greatest film ever made. And Altman has never won an Oscar.

7:11 -- "I know some of you have liked some of the sections [meaning various entries in his filmography], and others, you... anyway, it's all right." Other than that, it's a pretty mild and gracious speech. None of the hell-raising I was hoping for. But a good showing. Look for A Prairie Home Companion this Summer. I guarantee its awesomeness.

7:19 -- "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from Hustle & Flow, is performed. Apparently, this is the first rap performance ever at the Oscars, even though Eminem's "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile has already won an Oscar. All things considered, I could've gone another year without a rap performance at the Oscars. Not a great song.

7:22 -- Queen Latifah presents Best Song.

7:24 -- I don't know what happens after this, because Dolly Parton loses to "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," and as promised, I subsequently throw my TV out the goddam window. I better go borrow the neighbor's TV. 6-for-14.

7:25 -- Stewart thinks this is the funniest fucking thing ever. "You know what? I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp."

7:27 -- Jennifer Garner, rocking some major post-birthing boobies, presents Best Sound Editing. She almost takes a header on the way to the microphone. She coolly quips, "I do my own stunts." Bring back Alias!

7:29 -- Son of a gun. King Kong wins for Editing as well as Mixing. But I'm still under .500, at 7-for-15.

7:30 -- "Academy Award winner George Clooney" (man, it's weird to say that) comes out to introduce the Who Croaked This Year? salute. Clap for the most popular! Pat Morita takes the early lead. Chris Penn comes close, but young and tragic can't quite overshadow Karate Kid and Happy Days. Shelley Winters briefly seizes the lead, but is immediately surpassed by Anne Bancroft! And who will be the final corpse, always guaranteed to draw the most applause? It's Richard Pryor! Richard Pryor wins most popular dead entertainer!! As always, post-mourning, we fade silently to commercial, with no coming attractions from the announcer. Because it's all so solemn and somber.

7:38 -- Will Smith presents Best Foreign Language Film. Ebert & Roeper steered me right: Tsotsi wins! Takes me back up to a miserable 50% correct, at 8-for-16. The director's acceptance speech is the most stirring of the night so far, and the most energetic save for Three Six Mafia's acceptance for Best Song. (CRASH! There goes my neighbor's TV!)

7:40 -- Stewart: "For those of you keeping score at home -- Martin Scorsese: zero Oscars. Three Six Mafia: one."

7:41 -- He introduces Ziyi Zhang. He says "Ziyi" as "Zoo-wee." Is that right?

7:42 -- Ziyi Zhang presents Best Film Editing to Crash. Wow! Is this an omen for a Best Picture upset? Dang it, I shouldn't have changed my pick! (Of course, all of you already know which film won; I'm an hour behind at this point.) 8-for-17.

7:44 -- Hilary Swank comes out to present Best Actor. She's been hitting the fake tan pretty hard. Looks hot, though. And single!

7:47 -- Hoffman wins! Wow, it's his first nomination? I thought he had at least one before. He should have. I gotta see this movie. He's a very awkward public speaker. He doesn't bark the whole speech, or even a part of it, as the press kept asking him (apparently it was a bet he made back in college). I would've liked to have heard that speech. 9-for-18.

7:55 -- John Travolta comes out, possibly to proselytize on behalf of Scientology for real. If I may editorialize here for a moment: Scientologists are crazy. They are batshit fucking insane. They believe alien ghosts cause all your problems. No, seriously. INSANE. And now, John Travolta!

7:56 -- He presents Cinematography to -- Memoirs of a Geisha??? Isn't this its third Oscar?? Is frickin' Geisha going to be the big winner of the night? How bizarre would that be! I'm sure this is all very gratifying to the twelve people who saw it in the theater. 9-for-19.

7:57 -- Jamie Foxx enters to present Best Actress. And -- my #1 guaranteed pick of the night does indeed win: Reese Witherspoon. Very nice. But, as has been the norm all throughout the night (with a couple exceptions), a very tame, uninspired speech, even considering the tearful conclusion. No big surprises so far this year, other than Best Song. No big, memorable speeches (again, other than for Best Song) or mistakes. Very, very bland. 10-for-20.

8:07 -- Dustin Hoffman presents Adapted Screenplay. Brokeback Mountain wins. I'm back over .500 for the first time since... I don't even want to go back and check since when (11-for-21). DAMN, what a boring speech. Wow, we're ten minutes over the alloted running time already. I set the TiVo for a half hour extra. I hope that's going to be enough! There should only be, if I'm counting correctly, three more awards (Original Screenplay, Director, Picture -- right?). I hope we can crank those out in less than 20 minutes.

8:13 -- Uma Thurman presents Best Original Screenplay. I'm totally up in the air now. I have no idea what's going to happen here. And it goes to -- Crash! Wow. Both front-runners for Best Picture have also won for Best Screenplay. That kicks my "consolation prize" theory to the curb. I'm 11-for-22, and I know I'm going to win for Director (Ang Lee), but Best Picture? I honestly don't know which way it's going to go. If I had to bet on it right now, I'd say it's down to even odds between the two.

8:19 -- Tom Hanks comes out to present Best Director. Watch me be wrong on this one, too. And... nope, it's Ang Lee. I'm 12-for-23, and at worst, I'll be 50% for the night. Which is far below the worst I actually expected I would be. While we're on the subject of Brokeback, thank you to the ceremony's writers and producers for getting the gay jokes out of the way in the first few minutes.

8:22 -- Jack! Jack Nicholson presents Best Picture. AWESOME. He pronounces "Capote" as "Cuh-poh-tay."

8:23 -- GOD DAMN IT!!! Why didn't I trust my instincts? STUPID STUPID STUPID!!! I had it perfectly reasoned out, I had the Academy pegged to a homophobic T. But noooooooo. FUCK A DUCK!!! I chickened out. I picked the apparent popular choice, instead of the choice that years of Oscar history have taught me must win. Roger, I admire you for standing by your convictions. But I blew it. Crash. Fucking goddam Crash. I KNEW IT, but couldn't make myself stand by it. I suck. 12-for-24 for the night, and my worst record since I first began keeping track.

8:29 -- Stewart calls the evening to a close. A solid and at times very funny hosting job from him, but he wasn't helped by the nominees nor the acceptance speeches (with, once again, Best Song being the major exception). That said, I don't expect to see him here again. He was very good, but he'll be a one-time host -- like Steve Martin.

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