Not a bad show, all things considered. I went 12-for-24 in my predictions, which is officially not good, no matter how you look at it. Not that I was particularly crushed by any of it, though I would have liked to have seen Guillermo Del Toro collect that Foreign Film trophy, not to mention the fact that Emmanuel Lubezki really, REALLY deserved to win Best Cinematography. Other than that, I was surprised to see Alan Arkin win, but not unpleasantly so. Among a truly underwhelming set of nominees, he was my favorite. And of course I was happy to see Martin Scorsese win. Good that he's finally got that statue. I still don't think The Departed was anything close to a Best Picture, but it's not an insulting choice. And it's not a typical Oscar movie, so it's nice when they're rewarded.
I thought Ellen was wonderful. Easy, likeable, didn't try too hard. I'd love to see her return. I've seen her take some flak across the internets for being too bland or too uncontroversial, which I think is off the mark. This isn't the comedy event of the season -- though I did appreciate Jerry Seinfeld's foray into stand-up, and even the Ferrell/Black/Reilly number -- it's about keeping things moving and keeping things light and making people forget we're nearing hour five. It was a long ceremony last night but it didn't feel quite as long as I think it might have without Ellen.
In fact, reading the Monday morning quarterbacking, I'm kind of led to wonder is everyone even remembers what the Oscars are like. They're always long. Like, interminably long. That's how it is. That's how it's always going to be. I can understand why you wouldn't want to sit through that, but maybe don't be so surprised that it kept you up past midnight. Also, like, Jessica Biel was a presenter. Deal. Like this wasn't etched in stone all year. Jessica Biel is what Jessica Alba was last year. And Scarlett Johansson was the year before. And Beyonce was the year before. The designated It Girl sexy starlet. That girl always presents one of the below-line awards. This happens every year! Why are we now offended by it? No, she's not a great actress, but for real. It's the Oscars! It's a sham! Have fun with it. Place some side bets on your Oscar pool. How long will it last this time? Will Queen Latifah present Best Song again? Over/under on cutaways to Jack Nicholson. Oh, and those of you who guessed "playing a cancer patient" as to why Jack's suddenly looking like a roll-on deodorant can collect their winnings at the door.
Other thoughts as I try to imagine how many fat suit movies Eddie Murphy's gonna line up as punishment for snubbing him:
-- Loved seeing Melissa Etheridge win. Loved seeing her kiss the utterly fantastic Tammy Lynn Michaels in front of God and everybody. Loved that her win made this as much The Lesbian Oscars as iy was The Mexican-Oh- I-Mean-Spanish-Sorry-Penelope Oscars.
-- I should be clear that I like Al Gore just fine and am all for reversing the effects of global warming, but I couldn't help but think that nothing is going to keep the American public from supporting a sound environmental policy like seeing Al and Leo DiCaprio urging us to go green from the Oscar podium. Though I am starting to like Leo a bit more, I do admit.
-- Was I the only one puzzled by random out-of-place celebrity sightings? Why was Judge Reinhold on the red carpet? Was that...Ed Begley, Jr. sitting a few rows behind Clint Eastwood? Why was Faye Dunnaway sitting with the short film people? I was one Jamie Gertz sighting from having some sort of cognitive dissonance episode.
-- Reese Witherspoon: Yes, she does seem to be getting skinner from award show to award show, and I hope that stops soon, but she once again looked phenomenal. Loved the laters on the dress, loved the hair. She looks alarmingly good with those bangs. She's still the closest thing we have on this planet to a Cylon, and now she's freed from her marriage and looking better than she ever has. We'd all best be careful.
-- Also looking great: Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Ellen's crushed velvet suit, Celine on the red carpet (not so much on stage), Mark Wahlberg, Clive Owen, and even adorable little Abigail Breslin. Not so much: Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (drag queen and drag king, seriously), and Gwyneth.
-- Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce splitting duties on "Listen" was fantastic. I didn't think divas were supposed to share.
-- Abigail Breslin and Jaden "Several Extraneous Middle Names" Smith managed to pull off a "cute little kids presenting" gimmick while not being at all irritating. Well done, kids.
-- I really like how they featured the next generation of male movie stars...and none of them were American. Hugh Jackman, Clive Owen, Daniel Craig, James McAvoy, Gael Garcia Bernal. Kind of makes it lonely on the DiCaprio/Maguire side of the aisle.
-- Most satisfying win of the night: Pan's Labyrinth for Art Direction. That's pretty far down the list for a winner that I really got enthused about, but even still, I managed to enjoy the hell out of the ceremony this year. Even though nobody cursed or announced their Presidential campaign. Good show, everyone. Now can I stop talking about it for a while? Even I'm tired of that little Stallone icon in the corner.