It might have been the low-expectation thing, but I was pleasantly surprised by last night, and no one fell or wore feathers or thanked an obscure Indian-rights group. I, too, thought Chris Rock was hilarious, even if he is getting roasted in New York. At times it seemed like the Oscar/Hip Hop Awards, and it took a little of the starch out of the whole stiff-haired affair. My worst moment came when Rock warned all the assembled studio heads to wait for a star instead of casting actors, and I feared the movie I am currently putting together would fall apart today.
I agree that Rock was at his best in the Magic Johnson Theater bit and the Bush Gap/Banana Republic piece. Criticizing Bush post-election puts a frisson in a live national audience that almost feels dangerous. Isn't that sad? On Oscar night, Hollywood holds the mike, and Chris Rock used it.
As far as the other great controversy, Gil Cates relegating the technicians to lining up like reality show finalists—or as your wife called it, a firing squad—it certainly sped up the show. Presenters standing awkwardly in corners were cleverly saved by moving cameras, and despite a few moments where it appeared as though losing art directors were being thrown off the island, Sandy Powell still reigned as a queen of costume when she accepted her award for The Aviator, without an imperial walk to the stage.
But it was Clint's night, as local sensibilities prevailed. The lone prognosticating Web site that called MDB as best picture can raise its winning percentage. The only upset I can think of was Ray for sound mixing, and that was a happy, if paltry, victory. The mixing gang was so stunned they forgot to thank Taylor Hackford. As a musical, it shouldn't have been a surprise at all.
Your point about the women in their gowns was well taken. My son thought Scarlett Johansson looked animated, and many of the tightly wound gowns made their inhabitants look like mermaids. I liked the back of Swank's gown more than the front (though the back wasn't really there) and thought every single thing that Randolph Duke said about the evening's fashion on the after-show was wrong, wrong, wrong. But since stylists and designers negotiating their wares for the night has become part of the season's ritual, the event is one big commercial. The only really unique fashion statement last night was made by Prince.
Best speech, I, agree, David, has to go to Jamie Foxx, for letting us in on his relationship with his grandmother. (It is a continuing saga from the Golden Globes.) The continuous cuts to his adorable daughter made it even more sentimental, kind of like the Olympic pieces about the athlete's families. The other fun one, I suppose, was for the winning song, which was sung by its composer, who I read was not allowed to perform during the broadcast in favor of Antonio Banderas. Winning has its prerogatives.
It was sad seeing your fave Bening lose to Swank again. I will predict here that she will win for her next one, as will Marty, as will Leo. Let them all make a movie together; it will sweep.
What about Charlie!? Wasn't that a highlight? I felt like all of the writers in the country were cheering when his name was called, and like I heard you all the way from New York. Didn't you just get a delicious sense of his joy? That impish smile? With all those egomaniacs going on and on, he just wanted to thank his daughter Anna and get off the stage. Save the long speeches for the page, where every other writer's long speeches get cut.
I am off to work, then on a plane. Everyone will be late this morning, and hung over. Figuring out my next movie, the need for a statuette is keen this week. Small movies about issues? I don't think so. Comedies with unsympathetic leading men? Maybe slightly unsympathetic, for a reel or so. Genocide? Definitely not. Check-cashing place? Definitely. Good demographics. And I will probably have to wait for a star, of which there are only four. Thank you, Chris Rock.
Until next year, David …