Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas-Jailbait looks awesome. She navigates her way through the American Gladiator set while her doting husband tries to lift the sandbags his cheeks have become and twist his face into a smile's reasonable facsimile. Catherine launches into some Byzantine speech about cavemen and dreams and multiplexes and the projection of those dreams; Bruce Vilanch stands just offstage in a pair of tattered navy sweats and a faded t-shirt which reads, "Worst. Intro. Ever," rubbing his hands together in a sinister fashion and whispering, "Someday I will rule the whole entire world." Catherine presents the award for best art direction to prepare us for three and a half hours of middling awards that all sound more or less the same. Crouching Tiger takes it, because ninety-nine percent of America forgets that there was ever a movie released this year called Quills. The other one percent of us should be so lucky.
One-time sham winner himself Nicolas Cage, sounding more and more like he's doing an impression of someone who hates Nicolas Cage doing an impression of Nicolas Cage, swaggers his way through the intro for best supporting actress. And, well, you read up on this award and everyone has convinced themselves that the Academy's wont to reward a doomed ingenue (Marisa Tomei, Mira Sorvino) was to become common practice. But Kate Hudson has a foothold in Hollywood, so it's no surprise she rigged this Kiss Of Death category in favor of someone else. I chose Judi Dench to take it, even though she still hasn't completely finished walking away from the podium from her last win, not to mention the fact that Choco-not was the most embarrassing Oscar mistake since As Good As It Gets. So imagine my happy surprise when Marcia Gay Harden swoops in from nowhere to take the award for Pollock. Which is so cool, because she really was the best performance of the five. The movie was blustery and self-important, but damn if she didn't shine. Kate Hudson deserved this award like Yes, Dear deserved an Emmy. Even Goldie Hawn manages to smile broadly through her daughter's crushing loss. Well, well. Imagine that.
First commercial break. Three hours to go. Oh, yeah. I'm rolling now.
Britney's Pepsi debut. Is this commercial a parody? Has Paula Abdul come out of retirement? Is Britney the original cold-hearted snake? Do the dancers laugh? I am riddled with questions.
If you want to know where I live, look at the street scene in this Jerry Seinfeld commercial. It looks just like my house. Anyway, that's where I live. ["Dude, we didn't get these 'good' commercials at the MBTV North Compound. You'd think the pornographic shots of men's torsos getting splashed with delicious, nutritious milk would suffice, but you'd have another think coming." -- Sars]
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He opens with a joke about Afghanistan that I only get because Jon Stewart explained it to me very slowly on The Daily Show
a few weeks ago, then moves on to the Hollywood humor of wondering, "When they asked me back in January if I would host the Oscars, the first thought that came into my mind was, 'Would there be enough time for my facelift to heal?'" A bit of clever visual juxtaposition cuts to a close-up of Michael Douglas, Jowly Joe laughing on the outside but his internal turmoil asking, "Can they do that now? Why, it's like living in the fuuuture! Note to self: find out if Steve's just kidding." Tax cut joke. Gays in Hollywood joke. The crowd applauds Ellen Burstyn. As well they should. "Please, hold your applause until it's for me." Heh. The following subversion is deployed: "Ellen Burstyn did something that not many actresses would do for a role in a movie. She made herself look thirty pounds heavier and twenty years older. And Russell Crowe still hit on her." Small laugh. Monitor shot of Russell Crowe looking stone-faced and unbelievably furious. The laughter grows immeasurably. A long riff on all of the perks of becoming "really famous" is way insider and LA, and no one on this coast cares. To wit: "People say to me, 'Steve, you're a Hollywood actor. You must be so separated from the world. How do you keep in touch with ordinary life?' Well, it is possible and it can be done. Like, the other day, I was having dinner at my house with Mel, Julia, Tom, and Gwyneth." It's a fine premise, but it's belabored for sixty subsequent hours. Mel, Julia, Tom, Gwyneth. At his house. For dinner. The top mast of the U.S.S. Punchline fades into the haze, dips below the horizon, disappears from sight, and is never to be seen again. Still, if this were seven of the last twelve years right now, Mr. Saturday Night would be a mere third of the way through an opening song-and-dance montage, horribly rhyming "Jerry Maguire" with "Spenser For Hire," and I would be underneath the couch, whimpering. This right here is the least of all evils. Hell, this isn't even really that evil. Louis Gossett Junior fails to understand a joke about Crouching Tiger
until he realizes he is on camera, and then proceeds to find the joke quite amusing indeed. A Dude, Where's My Car?
joke hits, and a joke about taking a nine-year-old to see Gladiator
evinces a smile even from Aussie McCrankybloke, relieved that it isn't about him sleeping with Ellen Burstyn. Or maybe he's glad that no one's wrapping up a jaunty ditty in which "Crouching Tiger" and "That Rod Steiger" form some unholy rhyming couplet reunion or how "Erin Brockovich" could "Act like such a…witch!" and I become really glad for the very existence of Steve Martin all over again.
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