March 07, 2006

The biggest question that I always have while watching the Oscar broadcast is, how do they phase out celebrities that no longer make the A-list?

On Sunday, for example, there was old Jack Nicholson, sitting front and center for the whole broadcast, and then being the presenter for the Best Picture award. Has he been an A-lister so long that he has tenure?  I think it's been a while since he was nominated for anything. How does he keep his clout?

On the other hand, there was no sign of Tom Hanks, other than an appearance in a video segment. Did he choose to forgo the party? I would think that he's just as well entrenched. To think that Tom wasn't invited to be a presenter, but Keanu Reeves was is a bigger leap than my mind can manage.

As we would have expected, gay cowboy jokes were pretty common. There was a video segment of old cowboy movie shots that could have been taken as gay, which was great. It started with one cowboy looking down at another's nether regions, and asking, "Mind if I look at your Winchester?" That's good comedy.

I also liked the very beginning, where a camera zoomed in on the Brokeback Mountain tent, as an announcer introduced Billy Crystal as the host. Crystal stuck his head out of one side of the tent and said, "Um, I'm busy right now." Then, the other side of the tent opened, and Chris Rock said, "I'm busy too."

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Brokeback Mountain, but damn near nobody has seen it. Well, I went and watched it, and really, all of the hype is because of gay cowboys in the 70s. Suppose you swap out gay cowboys for the same story, but make it interfaith or interracial or some other reason why society didn't want them to hook up. What you're left with is a slow moving movie where you feel moderate pity for the characters. It's a yawner. But the scenery is really pretty, if that makes it worth your seven bucks.

I think the real reason that people are afraid to go see it was expressed by Larry David, in this article.

I just know that if I saw that movie, the voice inside my head that delights in torturing me would have a field day. "You like those cowboys, don't you? They're kind of cute.... You can't fool me, gay man. Go ahead, stop fighting it. You're gay! You're gay!" Not that there's anything wrong with it.

As you certainly know by now, Crash actually won the Best Picture award, and it was a far better movie. It was pretty interesting, written from the template of Traffic, which was better yet. I do like movies where a lot of stories are loosely tied together. It makes you pay attention a little more. In my opinion Capote might have been a little better, and Munich was definitely more exciting. If they had lopped the first hour of King Kong down to about 10 minutes, that would have been an excellent, excellent monster movie, which is one of my favorite genres.

The only award that I thought was bad was Reese Witherspoon's Best Actress. I haven't seen the other movies in that category, but she wasn't nearly as good in Walk the Line as she was in Election. I figure that your Best Actress award should come from your best performance. I don't really understand how Election didn't turn into a cult hit, along the lines of Napolean Dynamite or The Big Lebowski (where, incidentally, you can spot Best Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in a bit role).

The "moment to put Walt's corpse in motion" was during the performance of "It's Hard to be a Pimp," which later won the award for Best Musical something or other. Back when I used to pimp for spare income, I always knew I should make up words about my experiences.

I haven't heard much talk about Jennifer Garner nearly busting her ass as she walked to the microphone to give an award. She had the perfect opportunity to drop a line that Electra would have said after administering an ass-kicking. Something that only the coolest comic book nerds would have gotten, but everyone would have had to laugh and pretend that they knew what she was talking about. But she missed her chance.

I haven't really blogged about all of these movies as I've seen them, so there's one more note that I feel compelled to mention. In Good Night and Good Luck, the amount of cigarette smoking is absolutely astounding. It's hard to imagine that they actually smoked cigarettes on the air back then. Every character always had a smoke going.

I understand that people really smoke this much back in the 50s. At Antione's in New Orleans, there is (or was before Katrina) a dining room with portraits of old important guys from that era. Almost all of them are posed in their photos with a lit cigarette held thoughtfully over their breast bone. If you picture a wall full of photographs of your grandfather and his buddies, and all of them in suits, and all of them with cigarettes, you get the picture.