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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Oscar wrap-up: George yes, Jon eh, Naomi no

Thank You, Jesus — I’m Humbled

Hollywood, sometimes I wish I could quit you. Crash? Crash? It’s a fine film, but the best of the year? Not hardly. I have to admit, I had no idea Ryan Phillippe was this powerful, though I’m not sure that whatever he did to ensure Crash’s win will be enough: I think he’s going to learn that being part of the ensemble of the Best Picture does not trump the Best Actress win for his wife, Reese Witherspoon. He’s still going to have to take the traditional route and divorce her before the year is out in order to maintain the illusion of his superiority.

Still, one of the night’s best moments may have been the look on Phillippe’s face as Witherspoon kept failing to mention his name in her acceptance speech. It was almost as good as Larry McMurtry showing up on the podium in jeans — sure, it’s maybe okay for Three 6 Mafia to accept their award in their T-shirts and sideways ballcaps cuz that was, you know, costume for their performance of “Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” McMurtry just didn’t give a shit… or else the cleaners lost his tuxedo pants.
Jon Stewart’s commentary on McMurtry’s getup was one of the few moments when the new host showed a bit of his typical attitude, but can you blame him? His opening monologue made it clear that the crowd would not appreciate his brand of humor — Stewart might just be too New York for Hollywood. And that crack about the Oscar score — “Martin Scorsese 0, Three 6 Mafia 1” — might ensure he does not get invited back: no one likes to be reminded how inconsistent they are. I mean, yea for Three 6 Mafia — who’da thunk a rap song could win this, even if they had to tone down some of the lyrics lest little old ladies in Peoria be shocked — but Scorsese’s never won an Oscar? Crap. The Academy will do for him what it did last night for Robert Altman: twenty years from now, they’ll go, “Oh man, Scorsese’s about to kick and we never gave him an Oscar. Quick: an Irving Thalberg!”

A few questions: Wasn’t Will Ferrell’s name misspelled on the “marquee” when he and Steve Carell were introduced to give the makeup award? Why the music over the acceptance speeches? (It sounded like everyone was being hurried off the stage before they’d even begun to speak.) Why did John Travolta’s tie match the Oscar statues? On what island had Naomi Watts washed up, who rescued her and rushed her to L.A. just in time for her to walk the red carpet still in her castaway rags, and why didn’t someone congratulate her on her bravery?

But, really, more pressing matters: Memoirs of a Geisha winning all those design awards? Am I the only one who noticed that they seem to have filmed the movie at Epcot Center, which is not exactly known for its extraordinary design? Isn’t it cute how the adorable nerds who win the Sci/Tech awards get to bask for one night in a little Hollywood glamour, this year in the form of Rachel McAdams? Did the Wallace & Gromit guys and the March of the Penguins guys independently come up with their prop shticks, or did they conspire to be so funny and self-deprecating?

Speaking of self-deprecating, the Best Speech of the Night award goes to George Clooney. In its entirety:

Wow. Wow. All right, so I’m not winning director. It’s the funny thing about winning an Academy Award, it will always be synonymous with your name from here on in. It will be “Oscar winner George Clooney, Sexiest Man Alive 1997, Batman, died today in a freak accident at a– Listen, I don’t quite know how you compare art. You look at these performances this year, of these actors and unless we all did the same role, everybody put on a bat suit, and we’ll all try that. Unless we all did the same role, I don’t know how you compare it. They are stellar performances and wonderful work, and I’m honored, truly honored to be up here. And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it’s probably a good thing. We’re the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects. This Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I’m proud to be a part of this Academy, proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch. And I thank you so much for this.

George’s got it all (as even Jon Stewart noted, hilariously, in his opening sequence): he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he’s graceful about the unique soapbox he has for himself, too. Predicting that Clooney would take the opportunity of a win to make a political speech was hardly going out on a limb. But that he’d be so thoughtful about it… Well, I should have expected that, but it was a pleasant surprise nevertheless.



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