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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Live-Blogging the Oscars, Part 1
Oscar night? Is there a more exciting evening in the entire year? This time last year we were in Amsterdam, and thanks to the joys of jetlag, watching the telecast in the wee small hours (I think they ended around 5:30 or 6 a.m.—just about when I’d’ve been getting up if I hadn’t been on vacation), and, boy, does the memory make me grateful to be in the US of A. Not only do the so-far-infrequent ad breaks provide an opportunity for live-ish blogging; they also serve to remind me how awful Jonathan Ross and his crew of overdressed nobodies were last year. (The BBC showed the U.S. telecast, but when ABC cut away to ads, the Beeb cut away to inane—and how!—chatter; it should be compulsory viewing for anyone who assumes that all British television is better than the American equivalent.)

Chris Rock? So far, so fabulous. He seems not to give a crap about offending people, which actually gives the jokes a bit of naughty heft. (When the host really is buddies with the folks he’s poking fun at, or aspires to be in their circle, the punches get pulled and the laughs are pretty superficial.) Still, some of the digs seemed a bit unfair. I loved the “If you want X, don’t settle for Y, wait for X” riff—especially Chris Rock’s offering up of himself as a poor substitute for Denzel Washington—but it seemed too hard on Jude Law. Sure, he was in too many movies this year, but he also happens to be a far better actor than Tom Cruise—the guy producers were supposed to wait for when they were tempted to hire Jude—which made the joke seem undeservedly cruel. (And was it just me, or was the laughter canned at that point—I don’t think actors would laugh at full-on digs at their comrades. Some of the actors who were getting close-ups while Rock was speaking—Kate Winslet, for example—are good pals of JL’s; I’m sure it wasn’t coincidence that there were no audience cut-aways while CR was working that vein of material.)

I loved Rock’s riff about how “there’s no acting at the Oscars,” but the dig about Nicole Kidman’s reaction to Halle Berry’s win seemed too hard. Am I just being too Seattle—I like digs, but only if they’re at people that I don’t like? Perhaps. I certainly had no qualms about the swipe at Michael Moore wishing he’d directed Supersize Me—after all, he’d done the research.

The presenters have all been good so far—though Halle Berry looked like she was trying out for a role as a Catalino Sandino Moreno lookalike, and Renee Zellwegger look way too skinny—that corset seemed to haved pulled her eyebrows up on an unfortunate angle like someone who’s had too many facelifts. She did her job well, but I hated Cate Blanchett being up in the cheap seats while announcing the makeup nominees—apart from anything else, it was just way to hard to know who the actual nominees were because they were sitting with their dates, and it just feels rude to have them give their speeches up away from everyone. I don’t care how long the telecast lasts; I want the winners to give their speeches on the stage.

Morgan Freeman was brief and very gracious. I loved The Aviator’s art director’s pronunciation of “Arvey Westeen.” Robin Williams needs help for his Attention Craving Disorder—when he suddenly interrupted his lame ramblings (gay cartoon character jokes; how original) to ask, “What are we talking about?” I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who had no idea.

Chris Rock is doing a lot of “black” material, but as was NOT the case when Whoopi Goldberg last hosted, it’s absolutely appropriate. His riff about the black version of The IncrediblesThe Aiights—and his story of Cate Blanchett giving such a convincing portrayal of Kate Hepburn that Sidney Poitier went to her house for dinner last night were right on. He made a dig at Halle Berry for Catwoman 2; I hope he’ll poke at Beyonce for that rather off-key version of the very lame Best Song nominee from Les Choristes. (If ever a category needed to be retired for lack of decent nominations, surely Best Song is it.)

OK, back to the action …

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