the Oscars:
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How we watched them: In the U.S., the Lovely Emily, Friends of Digest Brett and Chris, and I, Cleolicious herself, watched the Oscars at the home of the Vice Associate Editor of Snacks (Em). Said snacks were was the cheap grocery-store booze. (Shhh! Hide the children!) In Croatia, correspondent Vladimir also sent us his reactions as he watched from home--where the show ended at nearly seven in the morning! (That's taking one for the team, folks.) As for me...well, I thought I woke up this morning with a sore throat from screaming like a football fan last night; turns out I've just got a sinus infection.

The red carpet

Best reason to start drinking:
Oh, my God, E! was on the red carpet at 11 am. It’s gonna be a long night, folks. The Oscar Party of Digest was tipsy before the ABC red carpet show even started at 7.

Joan Rivers: Although she made her usual senile mistakes (to Jim Broadbent: “And you’re Australian!” To Elijah Wood: “Did you like your nominee basket?” Wood: “I’m not nominated for anything”), she was, for the most part, shockingly civil. And incredibly drunk. Or high. Or both.

Personal Hero of the Night (Red Carpet Division): Hugh Grant. “Joan, are you drunk?”

Sharon Stone, twirling wobbilously for the cameras in her dress: Also drunk. (Did you see her present that award with John Travolta? She could barely talk straight!)

(Tobey Maguire, presenting Visual Effects with Kirsten Dunst: If that’s not stoned, I don’t know what is.)

Vladimir: Did
Kate Winslet really say this about her dress? "It's lovely, but I just
wouldn't go to pee in it right now?"
Yes. Yes, she did.

Jules Asner:
That’s the million-dollar diamond dress? That’s it? Does it just not photograph well or something? Because—damn.

Observation: How are Nicole Kidman and sister Antonia Kidman related? Seriously—both beautiful, but how do they come from the same gene pool? I’m just wondering.

Best rocks: Laura Elena Harring’s $27 million necklace (the diamond: $25 million; the necklace itself: $2.7 million. Also her million-dollar diamond shoes. A girl’s best friend, indeed.

Worst hair: Jennifer Lopez. What the hell was that? Her hair was going in two completely different directions! And HUGE! What, was she housing anti-terrorist weapons in there or something?

The J-Lo Award for Worst/Least Dress: Oh, Gwyneth…honey…

The show

The Tom Cruise monologue: I'm sorry, but--is it just me, or does Hollywood just insist on making everything about them? I mean, was it that necessary to invoke New York that many times? Really, the New York-in-film montage was all they should have done. And maybe the moment of silence, yes. But the whole "Movies Matter More Than Ever" theme smacked suspiciously of Hollywood nervously insisting that Movies Do, In Fact, Matter At All. (Okay: Turns out it wasn't just me.) That said, the Errol Morris film with people describing their favorite movies was wonderful.

Too much of a good thing: That said, the clips of stars discussing favorite movies right before commercials was just filler; it should have been cut, Benigni's quasi-intelligible "Ruh Neb" bit inclued, given that the show ran over by FIFTY-THREE MINUTES, for a record 4 hours and 16 minutes. Really, we East Coasters care more about going to bed than what Yoko Ono's favorite film is.

Vladimir: WOODY ALLEN COMES TO THE OSCARS for the first time in living memory.
However, the NY tribute contains no visible proof that the Twin Towers ever existed. Hands up if you didn't see it coming.

Me, I don't know. I feel like the interminable Woody Allen monologue shouldn't have happened--I feel like Penelope Spheeris' montage spoke for itself. Also, I just dislike Woody Allen.

Most pleasant omission: Even after Bruce Vilanch promised (threatened?) them—no Enron jokes!

Best costume: Whoopi Goldberg, of course. I’m only surprised she didn’t think of anything for In the Bedroom (you can always smash a plate, I suppose) and Beautiful Mind—thereby breaking the tradition that whatever you dress up as wins Best Picture. (C.f. Billy Crystal, the years Dances with Wolves and Silence of the Lambs won; and Goldberg the year she dressed as Queen Elizabeth—there were two cinematic Q.E.’s that year, remember?)

Vladimir: Moulin Rouge! wins Costume. As if.

Well, I don't know about that...if you've read my
predictions column, you know how torn I am between Moulin Rouge and Lord of the Rings. I still maintain that it's matter of which aesthetic you prefer, the fantastically real or the realistically fantastical.

Vladimir: LotR wins Cinematography! Leave something for the next two films! Lesnie
starts out funny, ends thanking his chief lighting technician, a.k.a. the Gaffer. How appropriate.

The Jacket That Ate the Kodak: What in the name of God was that fringy thing draped over LOTR's Peter Owen? Forget "Best Makeup"--get thee to the costume department! (Seriously, people, the photo doesn't do it justice. You should have seen the way it moved.)

Randy Newman rather acerbically accepting his first win—for his 16th nomination: “I don't want your pity... Thanks for letting me humiliate myself [the fifteen other times]!”. As Friend of Digest Chris points out, he’s basically been nominated for the same song over and over, but it was worth it just to see John Goodman do his thing up at the piano with Newman.

(Dude, was it just us, or was Enya really, really nervous? And did you, too, nearly pass into a coma during “May It Be” as well? It was like that early South Park episode where the grandpa tries to show the kid what being old is like—and turns on “Orinoco Flow.”)

It’s a hell of a lot better than interpretive dance: They need to have Cirque du Soleil come back EVERY year. That was fabulous. I'm glad I taped the show to write this commentary, because I went back and watched that part like five times. You had to, just to catch everything.

Vladimir: The Cirque du Soleil number was the way Oscars should look like every
single time. Tobey Maguire [presenting Visual Effects afterwards] was, however, entirely CG animated in a third-rate FX studio.
See "If that's not stoned," above.

Most unintentionally hilarious moment: Ian McKellen and Maggie Smith introducing Cirque du Soleil, with McKellen’s drag appearance as Maggie Smith last weekend on SNL still fresh on everyone’s minds (“Oh, who cares about Best Picture—I’ll be in the toilet getting high as a kite with Helen Mirren!”).

Vladimir: First twitches of giddiness: seeing Howard Shore win. And a bravo for John
Williams, braving it all from the pit. And hearing all the scores in his montage, need I explain exactly why I collect movie music?

Clip that desperately needs to be retired: In the Bedroom. Tom Wilkinson: “You think I let him get away with—” Sissy Spacek: “EVERYTHING!!” SMASH!!

Clip that was, wisely, retired: Lord of the Rings. Magically, that overly-resonant-to-us-Americans scene of Gandalf explaining to Frodo that “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” was MIA, thank God. Although Lord knows the Oscars took every other opportunity to milk September 11th.

Vladimir: The Coens' introduction to Art Direction: almost as funny as the one for
makeup. They are spoiling Catherine Martin (Moulin Rouge), predictably.

Best Actress in a Scripted Presentation: Halle Berry flies through the tongue-twisters written to introduce the Sound/Sound Effects awards.

Vladimir: Halle Berry for President! She memorised all of THAT! and PERFECTLY! But sound stuff was won by Bruckheimer films. Life sucks.

Biggest upset: Jim Broadbent, bless his heart. Sure, the Denzel/Halle thing was surprising, but we all knew it could happen. Jim Broadbent was the spoiler who came up behind Ben Kingsley, the early frontrunner, and Ian McKellen, the late frontrunner. And, as much as we loved those two, God bless Broadbent, too, who had not one but three great roles last year (Iris, Moulin Rouge, and...Bridget Jones' daddy!).

Best consolation prize: The 32-flavors-of-cute-and-then-some holding hands with Ian McKellen. Yeah, we’re not gonna cry too much for Sir Ian tonight.

Worst consolation prize: Russell Crowe hitting on everything in a skirt during the ceremony (did you catch him making passes at Halle Berry after she'd won? Don't mack on the girl while she's vulnerable, dude!).

Second biggest upset: Amelie losing Best Foreign Film to No Man's Land.

Most sympathetic conductor…ever: John Williams, who as a five-time winner and 40-something-time nominee, I imagine, knew what it felt like to be up there.

Best acceptance speech: Halle Berry “losing her shit” but good, as Fametracker so eloquently phrased it a while back. Berry is famous for accepting awards—shall we say—effusively; I’ve seen her lose it at the SAGs, the Emmys, and the Globes (the latter two for her Dorothy Dandridge role—damn fine movie, that was), but last night, obviously, took the Cake of Losing One’s Shit. Personal hero of the night (ceremony division): Go on, girl.

Best non-winner:
Renee Zellweger, who seemed like she was also going to lose her shit—not because she lost, but because she was so moved by Berry’s speech.

Most biased presenter: “I love my life!” cries Julia Roberts, glimpsing the Best Actor’s name: “Denzel Washington!”

Most conspicuous absence: The camera cut to Will Smith all night…and then, during Best Actor, just showed a photo, suggesting that he’d left. We don’t know if that was intentional or he just “lost his shit” too, as it were, and didn’t want to be there when Best Actor was called (not that we blame him at all), but given his prominence all evening, it was odd.

Most conspicuous presence:
Black actors. And I mean that in a good way. Here, however, is what I do not mean in a good way: By showing nothing but black actors rhapsodizing over Sidney Poitier in the Kasi Lemmons montage, it suggested the exact opposite of what they were awarding Poitier for: his ability to transcend racial boundaries. Instead, you got the sense that only black actors did or could appreciate him. However, I understand that Lemmons was probably trying to show what a gift his trailblazing had been for black actors, and that’s cool. However, they cut to every single black member of the audience in a really—I don’t know, predictable way? And then, when Redford was honored, they cut mostly, if not only, to white people. (Hey, even Whoopi Goldberg noticed this.) Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying, “If you show black people, you have to show white people, too!” Or even vice versa. I’m saying, the Oscar cameras were reinforcing the exact boundaries that the actors honored last night were trying to destroy. As Goldberg pointed out, Redford inspired black people as well (all “The Way We Wuz” jokes aside)—and Sidney Poitier inspired non-black people, too.

Best reason to start drinking (again): The idea that two entire nations—Australia and New Zealand—got their hearts broken when A Beautiful Mind beat Moulin Rouge and Lord of the Rings, respectively, for Best Picture. (A Beautiful Mind, for God's sake!).

Vladimir: Watching the Best Picture win was only made bearable because Brian Grazer looks like a supporting character from Beetlejuice. Well, now that Hollywood has finally proven to everybody that they are totally okay with honoring black people, maybe they will pause to reflect on giving something other than formula melodramas a chance. On the other hand, as long as Dreamworks has exactly that formula up its sleeve next year, fat chance of us seeing a fantasy film get that honor.

Best evidence that Russell Crowe really did screw himself out of a second Oscar:

Best Picture: Beautiful Mind
Best Director: Ron Howard, Beautiful Mind
Best Adapted Screenplay: Akiva Goldsman, Beautiful Mind
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly, Beautiful Mind
Best Actor: Not Russell Crowe

Best producer: Laura Ziskin, who needs to produce this show EVERY YEAR. Even if it did run torturously long (seriously, could Redford have talked any longer?) They can ditch the “my favorite movie” bits and fine-tune the length for next year. Ziskin brought a breath of fresh air to the show by having great writers and directors (David Mamet, Errol Morris, Kasi Lemmons, Buck Henry, the Coens—among many) craft montages and explanatory presenter bits. All in all, Ziskin revolutionized the way they present the nominees—they need to present the Best Film Editing, with the nominee clips in four-cam, like that every year. And I honestly understood the difference between Sound and Sound Editing this year. I think.
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