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The 2004 Oscar Diary

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2004 Oscar Diary

To start, a few ground rules: We will keep a running tally of how many awards Lord of the Rings wins; on my ballot, it’s got nine.
Also, I will continue my long-running policy of not talking about what people wear, except for two exceptions: to point out females who look uncommonly hot, and to point out people of either gender who look laughably ridiculous.
And what’s the over/under on Janet’s boob jokes, and/or lesbian kiss jokes?
Here we go:

8:30: We start with Sean Connery. “Suck It, Trebek.”

8:32: Time for the Billy Crystal-in-the-movies montage- he’s a lot better at these than Steve Martin or Whoopi would’ve been. Billy as Golem, that’s cute – and Weinsteins-as-Orcs, that’s even better. Crystal dragging out his Sammy Davis, Jr. after two decades is enough to make me forgive the appearance by Michael Moore.

Still, it would’ve been nice if they’d gone with my idea of letting Bill Kristol host, or at least given him and Crystal a song-and-dance number together.

8:37: The musical monologue. Does Crystal look any different today than he did in City Slickers? LOTR had “11 nominations- one for each ending” – hah.

I don’t know how Crystal resisted the urge to set the Mystic River song to “Moon River.” And the Seabiscuit’s-head-in-someone’s-bed joke sort of wrote itself, didn’t it?

8:48: The orchestra this evening is conducted by Marc Shaiman who wrote, among other songs, “Blame Canada,” “Uncle Fucka,” and “What Would Brian Boitano Do?”

8:49: Best Supporting Actor time – and it’s Tim Robbins. After a clip was shown of the most nonsensical scene of the movie, in which his previously dumb-as-rocks character suddenly becomes smart and calculating. In the speech, Robbins reaches out to victims of child molestation, rather than bash Bush; Robbins may practice cockamamie politics, but he’s a very talented actor and director, and I’m proud of him for finally winning.

9:00: LOTR wins Best Art Direction (1)

9:03: Crystal starts into “Quien Es Mas Macho,” providing further grist for those nostalgiac for the Saturday Night Live of 1982. Then Robin Williams appears and makes the second Janet joke of the evening; there was one in Crystal’s song.

9:06: Finding Nemo wins Best Animated Feature. I liked the beginning and end, though the middle dragged a bit, and Ellen bugged me.

9:08: A JC Penney commercial dusts off Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy.” Cool!

9:12: Renee Zellweger says “naked people have little to no influence on society.” Hasn’t she ever heard of Ron Jeremy? Anyway, LOTR wins Best Costume Design (2).

9:18: Chris Cooper presents Supporting Actress … Renee wins, and I’m five-for-five on my predictions. But I’d have preferred to see Shohreh Aghdashloo win, even though I really didn’t like that film.

Amount of time it took the director to cut to Nicole Kidman when Zellweger mentioned Tom Cruise – about five nanoseconds.

9:24: Crystal thanks the troops, then Tom Hanks comes out to “Hail to the Chief” – why, he’s not the president? Ah, they’re paying tribute to Bob Hope. Hanks says Hope hosted the Oscars 18 times, without making a joke about the “18 timers club.” For some reason, the Hope montage – consisting entirely of I’ve-never-won-an-Oscar jokes – is scored with the Forrest Gump theme.

9:32: Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson present Best Live Action Short; I claim no expertise about these as I’ve never heard of any of them. But whaddya know – I guessed Two Soldiers, and I was right! 6-for-6 now; I really should’ve entered an Oscar pool.

Best Animated Short is Harvie Krumpet – also a correct guess! – 7-for-7!

9:38: Liv Tyler looks good – I like the geek-with-glasses look, really fits with the whole LOTR thing.

Remember when Sting was cool? He’s veering ever-so-closer to Michael Bolton territory every year. Still, I like this “Scarlet Tide” song. Not enough to actually see Cold Mountain, but nevertheless.

9:58: LOTR wins best visual effects – that’s three, and I’m 8-for-8. Besides, the most special effect in Pirates of the Caribbean was Kiera Knightley.

10:01: I thought I heard something about separate scientific and technical awards that were given out two weeks ago, but I’m not sure; I’m still staring at Jennifer Garner. Even so, they forgot to show the winners’ names.

10:03: Jim Carrey comes out speaking gibberish (or is it Aramaic?) before paying tribute to Blake Edwards. What’s that he’s saying about his sister having sex?

After a montage, Edwards speeds past Carrey in a wheelchair before crashing into a wall. What the hell was that about?

10:15: Here comes Bill Murray to introduce Lost in Translation. If Murray wins, he’ll be the first cast member from Saturday Night Live to win an Oscar. Well, guess it was between him and Jimmy Fallon. When Murray mentions that Sofia Coppola is the first American woman nominated for Best Director, the camera cuts to Jodie Foster … a female director who has not been nominated for Best Director. Ouch.

At least they use the “It’s Suntori Time” clip. Though the hooker thing might’ve been better.

10:18: Scarlett Johansson introduces Best Makeup- and its LOTR! That’s four, and I’m 9-for-9.

10:21: Time for Sound Design: LOTR. Five; 10 for 10. LOTR is not nominated for Sound Editing for some reason, and it’s won by … Master and Commander! I’m 11 for 11!

10:27: Here’s the extremely loathsome Julia Roberts, paying tribute to Katherine Hepburn. At least she’s not saying “I love my life – I got to meet Katherine Hepburn.”

Sadly, I think it’s possible the only Katherine Hepburn movie I’ve seen is The Lion in Winter.

10:39: My lord, Diane Lane is hot. And she and John Cusack are presently the documentary awards. I also correctly guessed Chernobyl Heart for Documentary Short – 12 for 12!

10:42: Naomi Watts and Alec Baldwin do Documentary Feature – Fog of War wins. I guessed it correctly (13 in a row!), but I say Capturing the Friedmans wuz robbed, and this award was given only for political reasons. Still, I met Errol Morris once and he’s a great director who deserved an Oscar a long time ago.

Morris thanks Robert McNamara for participating in the film, before comparing the “rabbit hole” of Vietnam to that in Iraq. Which would be true, if we hadn’t pulled Saddam Hussein out of a rabbit hole of his own.

10:46: Crystal replies, “I can’t wait for his tax audit.” Ha.

10:48: Time for a Gregory Peck tribute – damn, there were a lot of celebrity deaths this year. Good thing they’ll probably save the John Ritter package for the Emmys.

Here’s the rest of the memorials: Elia Kazan is shown and no one sits on their hands; everyone immediately stops applauding once they see Leni Riefenstahl’s name. Funniest moment of the night.

10:53: This really must be Bill Murray’s night – it’s the debut of the Tiger Woods Caddyshack commercial.

10:56: Sting presents Best Score: Howard Shore wins for LOTR, that’s six wins, and I’m 14-for-14. It would’ve been nice to see Big Fish, my favorite movie of the year, win on its single nomination, but what can you do?

11:00: Best Editing goes to: LOTR. 7, and I’m 15-for-15.

11:04: Jamie Lee Curtis introduces A Mighty Wind characters Mitch and Micki (Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara) to sing “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” – this is awesome! Why didn’t I know that JLC was married to Christopher Guest?

11:15: Will Ferrell and Jack Black do a comedic song to make fun of the “you’re cut off” music. It’s funny, but nothing compared to their David-and-Liza thing in Entertainment Weekly. The winner of Best Original Song is … Annie Lennox’s “Into the West” from LOTR – it’s award number 8 for them, but unfortunately my historic unbeaten streak comes to an end, nearly three hours into the show.

11:20: Here’s Charlize Theron, looking great. Which brings up an interesting point: According to today’s Hollywood morality, the best thing a pretty actress can do is look ugly in her movie. And the worst thing a pretty actress can do is look ugly on Oscar night. Anyway, the Best Foreign Language Film is … Barbarian Invasions. I’m back in the win column, baby!

11:23: Uma Thurman looks goofy – she should’ve just worn the yellow Bruce Lee suit from Kill Bill. She gives Best Cinematography to Russell Boyd for Master and Commander, but that’s only because LOTR wasn’t nominated for some reason.

11:28: Sofia Coppola and FFC come out together, as Ride of the Valkyries plays. Classy. As a reader of mine pointed out, it would be really funny right now if Sofia got shot, and then said only “Dad” before dying, like at the end of Godfather III.

They give the Best Adapted Screenplay award to … LOTR, for its ninth award of the evening – yes LOTR now has more Oscars than Norah Jones has Grammys. I had Mystic River, knocking me down to 17-2.

11:33: Tobey Maguire introduces Seabiscuit. Anyone who thought that was better than Big Fish really needs to get their head examined.

11:34: Time for what’s traditionally the most quality-savvy award there is, Best Original Screenplay, and the winner (presented by Robbins and Sarandon) is … Sofia Coppola. Making the Coppolas the second three-generation Oscar-winning family (FFC’s father, Carmine, won for conducting The Godfather’s music).

11:42: Tom Cruise introduces Best Director and a quick cut to Nicole Kidman – gee, why isn’t the award being presented by last year’s winner, Roman Polanski? (Okay, I know why. But how come R. Kelly gets to go to the VMAs?) Peter Jackson wins, in case you had to guess. That’s 10 for LOTR, and my record is 19-2.

11:45: Will Adrien Brody kiss the Best Actress winner? If it’s Charlize Theron, I would … and he makes a joke about it, before spraying Binaca – cute. Charlize wins. The first time I saw 2 Days in the Valley, I knew this day would someday come.

11:57: Best Actor time, the biggest cliffhanger of the night: Penn or Murray? Penn or Murray? It’s … Sean Penn. Damn, Bill Murray deserved that one, he really did. Penn was great, yes – but the film itself was mawkish and insulting. Maybe next year, Bill.

12:01: “If there’s one thing actors know, other than that there weren’t any WMDs…” Good thing it’s not up to actors to know that. Penn decides to go without a prepared speech; for the “greatest living actor,” he sure sucks at speaking extemporaneously.

12:04: Spielberg’s here to present Best Picture. Come back to the nominee list Steven, we miss you! I will eat both my shoes if LOTR doesn’t win. They don’t even bother with the drumroll – LOTR wins Oscar #11 to tie Ben Hur and Titanic. My final record – 20-3, matching my personal best from ’97.

12:10: The show ends 20 minutes shy of 4 hours. A pretty good year – the return of Crystal really helped the show, and it wasn’t boring. Not a whole lot of particularly memorable moments, but still much better than last year.

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About Stephen Silver

  • Mitch and Mickey and “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” were ROBBED!

    I’d like to SMACK the academy for giving the best song award to that crappy Annie Lennox thing. It was the worst excuse for a song all night. Just anything attached to LOTR got the nod. Hell, I’d give an Oscar to Billy Crystal’s parody of Ol’ Man River before that.

  • Jonathan

    Good, there will be no nerd riots this year.
    Hurray for LOTR!

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Steve, we needed this.

    A few thoughts: Billy Crystal was a good host and kept things very loose, but he looks like shit – he’s fat and his face is falling apart.

    LOTR swept as recognition of the series as a whole: coordinating such a momumental task and having it hang together at worst, and be inspired for long stretches (though not much in TROTK) is something all of Hollywood can appreciate and marvel at. That and the popularity.

    I agree the Mighty Wind tune was both a dead-on parody and a great song – very Spinal Tap in its ability to do both.

    I want to see Lost in Translation and A Mighty Wind – DVD purchases await.

    The broadcast was entertaining although not very exciting with the LOTR juggernaut.

    The running joke of the evening was all of the LOTR winners thanking New Zealanders, where there are more sheep than people.

    The clothing was very traditional and elegant – it looks like Joan Rivers really has had an effect.

  • I thought the song from A Mighty Wind was good, but I am a sucker for Annie Lennox. I really love pretty much anything she does.

    Although I was critical of Billy Crystal he really did pull it off.

    Also, Jack Black and Will Ferrell were a complete riot with their song parody of the bump music when speeches go on too long. I was really surprised that they did that at one of the more uptight events of the year.

  • Tom

    I discussed my thoughts on LOTR here

    Basically I didn’t play Magic: The Gathering, and I actually had a prom date, so I didn’t get LOTR.

  • chelseagirl

    Enjoyed your rundown v. much. I agree that t was a bit weird of Bill to recycle old SNL material.

    But I believe Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett wrote Scarlett Tide. Sting wrote the _other_ Cold Mountain song — “My Ain True LOve”. Allison Krauss sang both so fabulously.