79th Annual Academy Awards

It’s time for my only annual awards show. The Oscars. The Big One. The only thing I’m willing to stay up for until it’s over. Been this way since … well, heck, since I was an early teen, I think.

Aside from CTV’s crappy initial signal, this was worth watching. While I miss Billy Crystal as host, Ellen DeGeneres wasn’t too shabby. Some of the jokes were a little forced, but then that’s her style and she makes it work.

It was an interesting blend of the pseudo-comedic (such as watching Clint Eastwood struggle through his speeches) to the outright hilarious (notably Will Ferrell, Jack Black, John C. Reilly’s musical number about comedians doing straight roles to get an Oscar), to the poignant — the award for Ennio Maroni’s contribution to movie sountracks over the last half century. I had no idea the guy was even still alive!

I have to admit that I haven’t seen most of the movies that were nominated this year, having only heard of them. In fact, I only saw Pan’s Labyrinth just last weekend. A very good movie, and rewarded with Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup (movies with fantastical creatures often do well in that category) and Best Cinematography. I was a little surprised when Pan’s Labyrinth didn’t pick up Best Foriegn Film, losing to Germany’s Lives of Others.

One new trend that we noticed this year: the truly effective acceptance speech. In more than one occassion, a newly-minted Oscar recipient came up, did a quick thank you to the Academy (a requirement by all), a brief discussion on why the award is important, a brief note on the movie, thanked about five people, and walked off. It’s been a long time since seeing a good speech. I hope we see more.

There was no shock when An Inconvenient Truth won Best Documentary, it was like a repeat of Bowling for Columbine. You can’t just avoid that level of awareness in a documentary. I still need to see it. I was a little surprised when Melissa Etheridge won for Best Song, as I figured Dream Girls would have sucked that one up. In some ways, tonight could have been the Al Gore show for all the awards and props given to Al and his movie. I’m sure it’s well-deserved, of course.

For a while, I’d thought I’d missed the artists in passing segment. It’s always a little disheartening to see who we’ve lost. Every year, a major name or two. No difference this year. One question: how do they organize the list? Who comes in what order? It’s not of date of death, as it ended with Robert Altman, and I don’t think he was the last.

Another surprise for Best Actor. I had expected Peter O’Toole, and have tonight be another “overdue awards” night (Alan Arkin had won for Best Supporting). But Forest Whitaker won. I remembered seeing him for the first time in Good Morning Vietnam. You’ve come a long way Forrest. Good on you. Sorry, Mr. O’Toole — you are certainly worthy without question.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I think there was a bit of “overdue” when Martin Scorcese won Best Director for The Departed. There’s probably a reason why Steven Speilberg, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Coppola all presented the award. But it’s not like there was some awkward situation where others were certain it was meant to be someone else. The buzz since the nominations were announced that Scorcese would win. Congratulations.

Oh, and George, I’m with you: It is better to give than to receive. Don’t let the other three pester you about that.

And the show ran over. Also no surprise.

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