'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Wednesday, March 27, 2002 ]

Okay, I know these days it seems like Buck's been doing more writing in my weblog than I have, but here we go again.

Buck was at our place for the Oscars this year, where we had a minor gathering with friends. He read my wife with his tarot deck, which ended in disaster, sadly. (Next time you do that, Buck, think of me and make stuff up.)

Molly and Eric were also there--Eric and I being the only smokers, during commercials we would go outside and talk about 24.

At any rate, here's Buck's Oscar report, with my comments thrown in from time to time:

First of all, congratulations to John Gustafson of Madison, Wisconsin, for winning my 10th Annual Oscar Pool! John, you have won the baked goods of your choice, delivered direct from my kitchen. Please let me know what you would like.

Tom Cruise looks more artificial every time I see him. Somewhere in his house, I am more and more certain, there is a portrait of him that is getting older with each passing day. Spielberg clearly made "A.I.," about a perfect little robot boy who is unable to feel human emotion, as preparation for doing his next movie with Tom Cruise.

I think Cruise had some work done so that his face makes that cocky, idiotic grin when it's relaxed.

You'll pay for fucking with Woo, Cruise.

Oh, how you'll pay.

Fashion note to Jennifer Connelly--it's okay in Hollywood not to have breasts. Certainly it hasn't done Gwyneth Paltrow's career any harm. But what IS wrong, is wearing a dress with big empty pockets where the breasts should be. It makes it look like you took your breasts off backstage and left them somewhere by mistake, like sunglasses.

Which was staggering and heartbreaking to me, as someone who had no problem with totally gratuitous shots of Jennifer Connelly rollerskating in the movie Career Opportunities. Just rollerskating!

I mean, dear God.

Is there some kind of "big push" going on in Hollywood, for women to be even skinnier than normal?

Yes, I know, for years, it's been this way, but these days, with Lara Flynn Boyle (who I used to have a huge crush on), and Calista Flockhart--I'm just really upset that Jennifer Connolly's now a part of that.

Ho, ca-rap.

Anyway, enough about Jennifer Connolly's breasts. Maybe she just lent them to Uma Thurman for the night.

I'm a big Whoopi fan, and generally I love her to death. But WOO boy, was she off on Oscar night. You could hear the "thud" as each one of her jokes landed in the auditorium.

Nothing like bombing badly, admitting you're bombing badly, then pretending you're not bombing badly.

Did you get all that? Because I don't think I can work for the rest of the day.

Right-wingers are now sputtering mad that there weren't enough 9/11 tributes (i.e. waving flags, firefighter widows, stirring Michael Bay-esque music) on the Oscar show. My opinion is that the tributes they DID have - particularly Tom Cruise's Speech of Ultimate Self-Seriousness, Whoopi's robe at the end, and Kevin Spacey's moment of silence - showed that Solemn Tributes To 9/11 have reached the point of seriously diminishing returns. The sentiment is still a worthy one, of course, but after seven continuous months of Solemn Tributes, Stirring Montages, and Hushed Speeches, they have now officially become "a matter of form." That said, I did like the New York film clip montage. (Coincidentally, the only one of the tributes that dealt with New York in terms of the MOVIES, which are supposedly what the night is all about.)

You know, FUCK the right wing morons. I'm gonna say it because Buck doesn't; so now, it's not enough to mention 9/11, now we have to REALLY mention it?!?!?

How much, exactly, would be enough?

An hour tribute? Two?

I mean, let's not forget that any mention during an Oscar Show is really going to be about Look At Me And How Much I Care. Come on.

I mean, come the fuck on.

And of course right-wingers want more focus on 9/11--to distract attention from The Enron Scandal.

But we all knew that, right?

As Fametracker was kind enough to point out, Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller got more laughs in their three-minute film piece than Whoopi got all night. Nathan Lane also got big laughs in his brief monologue. I nominate either Stiller or Lane (both of whom have successfully hosted other awards shows) for next year's host.

Both good choices. One year, though, should go to John Stewart. That man is a fucking genius.

Did all the presenters look drunk to you, or was that my imagination? Renee Zellweger looked so flushed and giggly, I thought she had just tasted her first glass of champagne.

A while ago, back in the early 90's, a friend of mine was a P.A. for an Academy Awards ceremony. She told me it was kind of Standard Operating Procedure for the talent to get really high before the Oscars.

Sort of like that variety show you do your senior year of high school that everyone knows is bullshit anyway, so why not smoke a doobie behind the school first, because what are they going to do, expel me?

Cameron Diaz? It was nice of you to get out of bed just to come present an Oscar, but next time, would you at least comb your hair first, and put on a dress instead of wearing your robe onstage?

Yeah, Betsy told me that she wants to go to Hollywood to be a hair stylist, because it obviously doesn't take much talent.

Gwyneth Paltrow? Fire your stylist. NOW. It's nice that you admire Courtney Love, but basing your entire "look" on her is just wrong.

Yeah, and I noticed she was doing the whole raccoon-eyes look from Royal Tenenbaums, too.

I liked that they didn't cut off any of the acceptance speeches. But was it really necessary to have a ten-minute explanation and montage before EVERY category? If you're looking to get the show back under four hours, producers, that's something you might want to look into trimming. Everyone always blames the acceptance speeches, but the winners are the reason everyone is there - while there's a definite limit to how many montages we can sit through before they all blur together.

At least no crappy dance numbers to celebrate the history of costuming.

A note to the director: If you're showing something on the big screen behind the stage, do the viewers at home a favor and don't show the big screen in long shots so we can't see what's on it? It kind of defeats the purpose. Time and again, captions would come up on the Jumbotron, which we couldn't read because the director had decided to go to a "dramatic" long shot of the stage.

Another note to the director: Cirque du Soleil is impressive enough in its own right that you don't HAVE to show clips behind it. Seriously. I, for one, wasn't watching the clips at all. If you're going to do that during your one and only production number, why not go all the way and show clips in the background during the entire show? It'd give us all something to watch during the speeches.

Or at least have some negative space so that the performers don't overlap the clips. I get what they were doing--but it would have worked better to have sort of a split-screen thing.

If you're finally going to give Randy Newman an Oscar (which I heartily endorse, by the way), why not at least make it for one of his really good scores, rather than one of his really interchangeable songs? That has "Pity Oscar" written all over it.

Every year, there should be one person who gets the Oscar that is honestly suprised by it, like Randy, here, as opposed to Julia Roberts "No, I Possibly Couldn't Have One More, Okay, Gimme!" attitude towards getting an Oscar.

Ron Howard may not be a good enough actor to convince us that he hasn't dreamed of giving his Oscar acceptance speech, and let's face it, neither is Julia Roberts.

But she's the only actress in the world, so what are you gonna do?

John Travolta has lost a lot of weight and looks great! But he, too, seemed all drunk and giggly. Was someone passing around tabs of Ecstasy backstage?

Indeed, maybe Travolta was the connection.

Now that I'm thinking about it, Jennifer Connolly looked less emaciated in Requiem For a Dream, and she was playing a herion addict.

If an Afghan Hound magically turned into a human, it would look just like Helen Hunt.

Oh, that's just mean.

Why wasn't Jack Nicholson there, holding court from the front rows as usual? My guess is, his family finally signed those commitment papers, and he's currently sharing a room with Warren Beatty at Hugh Hefner's new chain of Playboy Club Assisted-Living Facilities (tm).

His position of Guy We Cut To When Someone Makes A Funny was taken over this year by All Four Black People We Invited.

Right-wingers are also frothing at the mouth because of Halle Berry and Denzel Washington winning Oscars, which they describe as tokenism of the most patronizing kind, which does a terrible disservice to African-Americans. Because, you know, it was so much more thoughtful to ignore black people completely for 60-plus years. And of course, the idea that they might have won because they legitimately deserved an Oscar for their performances is just too absurd an idea for you guys to even contemplate, right?

I can't speak for Halle Berry (since I didn't see Monster's Ball), but I did see Training Day, and thought that it was the best I've ever seen Washington in a film. Wow. Just wowee-wow-wow.

Best moment during Halle Berry's onstage meltdown - Nicole Kidman in the audience, looking bewildered and concerned, as if to say, "Should I be calling an ambulance right now?" You weren't the only one asking yourself that, Nicole.

I'll admit it, I was overtly mean during her speech. And then Denzel got up and accepted, and was so classy, I turned to Buck and said, "Remember when Joe Pesci won for GoodFellas, and all he could say was 'thank you,' and ran off? Sometimes, I think that's the classier way to go."

Worst directing choice of the night - not cutting to Nicole for a reaction shot during Tom Cruise's opening speech. Yeah, this is only the first time they've both been in the same public place at the same time since the breakup - who could possibly want to see that? Except the ENTIRE VIEWING AUDIENCE???? Jeez, there's such a thing as being too "tasteful" for your own good. (As if the Oscars ever had anything to do with "tasteful" in the first place!)

I also suspect that having no shot of Nicole was by Tom Cruise's request.

I think Glenn Close should have done her backstage-announcer role in character as the Marquise de Merteuil from "Dangerous Liaisons," acting as the evil puppet-mistress controlling everything that happened onstage. Remember, Glenn, back when you used to be nominated for these things, instead of sitting backstage apparently selling concessions?

Yeah, what the fuck?

(I'm not gonna pretend I have more to say about it than that.)

Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman still don't have directing Oscars, and Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks never won one, but Ron Howard now has one. Sigh.

Altman will win an Oscar when the Academy starts giving them away. He's pissed off far too many.

As far as Ron Howard goes, I don't think he's a bad director.

Akiva Goldsman, on the other hand...

I was so happy to see Jim Broadbent win - even though I was rooting for Ian McKellan. Broadbent deserved an Oscar for "Topsy-Turvy" a couple of years back, and for "Moulin Rouge" this year. Ian still has plenty of chances - plus, he's clearly doing all right for himself, what with his 20-something "trophy wife" boyfriend.

I just think it's cool that a Black Adder cast member won an Oscar.

And why no shots of Ian's boyfriend? Talk about something 80% of the audience wanted to see!

Okay, you have now heard all five Oscar-nominated songs within the past 72 hours. I challenge you to hum the melody from any one of them.

Hmmph, I thought as much.

Okay, name the TITLE of Randy Newman's Oscar-winning song.


Hell, I don't even remember it, and I'm obsessive about these things. I keep thinking "You've Got A Friend In Me" or "I Love To See You Smile," but even though the melody is pretty much identical, those still don't count.

Give up? It's "If I Didn't Have You." Which is kind of tricky, since that's also a line from "I Love To See You Smile." (Ha! He HAS been recycling the same song all this time!) If it makes you feel any better, though, I had to look it up.

I got it...but I did have to think about it.

It's nice that it went to a funny song this year, though.

Looking at Russell Crowe during Denzel's speech, you would think he was pretty pissed off about losing - except that he looked pissed off for the whole show, so who knows? Last year, he was so nervous about being nominated for "Gladiator" that he constantly looked as though he were desperate for a cigarette - which was probably the case. This year, he just looked sullen. I still love ya, though, Russell! I kid because I love. Now please don't beat me up.

Now here's something weird that no one's mentioned yet: No Russell Crowe jokes. No references to his "threatening" of the producer of that awards show, or his temper, or even Russell Crowe at all.

I mean, Whoopi made a Hugh Grant joke--as Hugh Grant was just leaving the stage!!!

Of course, between those two, it's probably safer to piss off Hugh Grant.

Speaking of which - Denzel's and Sidney Poitiers' speeches made up for Halle's "Acceptance Tantrum" (tm Fametracker) big time. It's called dignity, Halle. Look into it. We understand how excited you were, it was indeed an historic moment, but geez! Beautiful dress, though.

And I voted for her being the "worst dressed" this year! How was I supposed to know that Jennifer Connolly's breasts were gonna deflate?

How could anyone see that coming?!?


As Rob Matsushita pointed out, Barbra Streisand and Sidney Poitier were both there the same night. All we needed was Leonard Maltin and the Cure's Robert Smith, and we would have had a "South Park" "Mecha-Streisand" reunion! Now THAT would have been must-see TV!

Ba-boo-RA, Baaaaa-boo-RA...

Streisand and Redford looked great onstage together, and it was fascinating trying to guess which one has had more extensive plastic surgery. Redford's face looked weird - it just isn't face-shaped any more!

Why do they always keep the audience miked during the "In Memoriam" montage, making for an unofficial "applause meter" with which to judge the popularity of the deceased? Tacky, tacky, tacky.

I wonder if the mikes have ever caught anyone saying "WHO?" during the death montage at the Oscars.

Well, that's about all I can ramble. If I seriously thought the Oscar winners ever bore any resemblance to who "deserved" to win, I'd probably come up with something to get all ticked off about. But if you just look at it as a fascinating study in abnormal psychology, where some of the most spoiled, out-of-touch, messed-up people on Earth have a popularity contest where they vote by a system only they (in their psychosis) understand, then it's pretty fun.

See you next year!

Indeed, kids.


posted by Rob on 12:39 PM | link



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