Steve Martin introduces Tom Hanks as "Mr. Easypants," which is solidified forever in the public consciousness if the public is made up entirely of me. How -- HOW -- could anyone think Billy Crystal is funnier than he is? Or is it "EZ Pants"? We shoot over to via satellite to Sri Lanka, where Arthur C. Clarke predictably awards the best adapted screenplay to Traffic. Please don't ask me about my disturbing, inexplicable, clinically psychotic crush on Steven Gaghan. He looks like a bio-engineered David E. Kelley. But with writing talent. You don't have to tell me that. But, awwww. Tom Hanks reads the nominees for the original screenplay award, and, to me, this award is the one evil sham of the night. I believe I've already referred to You Can Count On Me as "the best movie of the year" twice. And the reason it was great (besides Mark Ruffalo, but even bringing that up is a losing battle, so moving on) is because it is one of the most smartly written movies I've ever seen. If you watch really close, there's a moment in Matthew Broderick's office where a boom mic gets away from a grip and literally bobs down into the frame for just a moment there. The technical artistry of the direction isn't what made that movie fly. And it's not that I hate Cameron Crowe. Far be it from me to malign the man who should have won three separate Oscars for screenplay, soundtrack, and director simply for penning the time-honored classic "Joe Lies (When He Cries)." But Almost Famous wasn't good enough to win this award. It coasted on nostalgia, and it was saccharine and it was cloying and it was self-conscious and it wasn't as genuine as too many critics made it out to be. The stage direction "sings 'Tiny Dancer'" does not a brilliant screenplay make. I'm pissed about You Can Count On Me and playing the rest of the Oscars under protest. See that movie. It's "Golden God Free." I promise. ["Amen. Lonergan got robbed." -- Sars]
Nary a Tom Cruise joke all night is quickly debunked by the very presence of Tom Cruise himself, wearing his Days of Thunder hair and handing out the best director Oscar to…Steven Soderbergh! Cool as hell. Soderbergh thanks people who create art. "I don't care if it's a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theater, a piece of music." How about if it's a recap of the 73rd Annual Academy Awards? Which heralds your very brilliance? Is that okay? Hey, you guys? I was totally thanked in Steven Soderbergh's speech. Stage direction: "People look surprised." I'll bet Cameron Crowe couldn't have come up with that one.
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J.Lo looks at the monitor at song's end and laughs nervously like someone's just played a really elaborate practical joke played on her. She recaps (hands off the recapping, sister) the five performances for best original song, and we get to hear clips of all five nominees again, which is acceptable only in its reminder to the population of this planet Earth that there is a song that exists that is worse than "I Love L.A." And that Susanna Hoff knows all the words. Well, half of them, anyway. Björk. Crazy. Sting. Gay. Moving on. Bob Dylan wins the Oscar, and Björk wins this year's second annual Fiona Apple Bratty Youngster Award when she purses her lips in annoyance. At least she waits until she thinks the camera isn't watching her anymore. Even Bob Dylan's speech is remarkably linear and succinctly delivered. What's going on? Steve Martin delivers a bowl of dip to Danny DeVito, who's moved back into prop comedy and pulls out a piece of celery from his lapel. Or maybe it's John Candy. With the sunglasses, well, it's almost impossible to say.
Steve Martin: "At the end of the night, we're going to vote someone out of show business." I thought that joke was a little played, but the room of people I was sitting in collectively lost it.
Steve Martin: "A homosexual poet, a drunken artist, a man who has a relationship with a volleyball, a sexual deviant, a guy who likes to wear gladiator outfits. But enough about me." It sounds so damn facile on paper, but it's so vintage. Steve Martin. Keep him around.
Hilary Swank. Lose her forever. I'm not sure this sleek little pageboy hairdon't is that much of an improvement over the mullet prowess she displayed in The Gift
. She recalls a role that seems so lost in time that I can't believe she won for Boys Don't Cry
only a year ago, as at this moment she tells us, "Last year, much was made about someone that I forgot to thank." That someone is now starring, along with his wife, in a short film called Boys Don't Care
. Pop culture moved on, Hilary. Get to it. It's BEST ACTOR, for crying out loud. Get to and get off. Oh, and flesh-colored plus sequins isn't a wise fashion choice, dear. Your stylist hates you or you're being blackmailed by Bedazzler. What do the Bedazzler people know about you that you're so afraid to tell the world?
This was not my favorite category this year. The performances were mostly one-dimensional and, well, I just didn't like Cast Away
. Tom Hanks allowed himself to have a perfectly serviceable performance ruined by acting in the same congressional voting district as Helen Hunt for an entire half of the film, and if that's not his fault, I don't know whose it is. So it may be because I thought he was the best of the five or maybe it's just because he was my pick for the Oscar pool, but I was glad when Russell Crowe won. He didn't go so far as to dedicate the award to trailblazing Aussie actors who came before ("Paul Hogan and Yahoo Serious are how to speak Australian for actors, mate!"), but he finally thawed enough to flash the world a smile. Gotta give him credit; he really did look shocked. The random seat-filler blonde next to him was happy as well. Way to toss the word "adrenalized" into your thank-you speech, by the way.
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