Hollywood’s annual gala to celebrate the finest in film concluded Sunday night as the Oscars went off with little surprise, until the final award in the broadcast. Crash upset Brokeback Mountain for best picture, taking home its third Academy Award of the night.
Brokeback Mountain, generally considered the front-runner for the Oscar, based on its strong showing at other award shows leading up to the Oscars, received a total of three awards.
In fact, three seemed to be a popular number during the solid, but unspectacular broadcast, as King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha also took home three Oscars each – all in technical categories. Neither of those films managed nominations in any of the major categories.
Among the acting categories, all four were first-time winners. Phillip Seymour Hoffman won for his portrayal of author Truman Capote in Capote, while Reese Witherspoon received a best actress Oscar for her performance as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. Supporting actor and actress nods went to George Clooney for Syriana and Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener.
Crash and Brokeback Mountain each garnered screenplay Oscars, while Ang Lee was honored as best director. However, other best picture hopefuls, Good Night, and Good Luck and Munich both were shut out in the five categories for which they received nominations.
Jon Stewart from TV’s The Daily Show made his debut as Oscar host, with middling results. The popular comedian had his moments, but the telecast was missing much of the irreverent humor that he and his staff bring to the typical Daily Show episode. Perhaps the show’s producers restricted Stewart’s freedom, but where were any reports from his show’s correspondents? Plus, a golden opportunity to have Stewart reunite with former correspondent Steve Carell was lost, as he appeared as a presenter with Will Ferrell.
One segment that featured a humorous faux negative campaign ad from one of the nominees for sound editing hinted at the funnier direction the show could have gone.
Among the more interesting portions of the evening was the performance from Three 6 Mafia for best original song for the hip-hop number “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow. The song won the Oscar, but was a real departure from the normally stoic and generally boring performances trotted out on stage in that category. Still, Stewart made a funny, yet pointed observation shortly after the group grabbed their Oscar – noting that for those keeping score, it’s Three 6 Mafia - 1, Martin Scorsese - 0.