Monday, March 24, 2003

You Can Catch More Flies with Sugar than with Vinegar

In my own annual tradition (started, more or less, by my friend, Mike, who hosted a party every year at his place), I watched the Academy Awards last night, in their entirety. And once again, I was amazed by how much filler there was, even though they went to great lengths to ensure that the show would be three and a half hours long exactly. The meet-and-greet past Oscar winners dragged on and on, like it always does, in a glammed-up mockery of a public-school class picture, with risers and all. There were tiresome, teeth-grinding "comedy" monologues by Steve Martin, looking even more desperate for a cheap laugh than he ever has (I felt sorry for the guy when he went to the lengths of suggesting that he had done the dirty with Ernest Borgnine. Funny, but man, where's your self-respect?). And, as always, I disagreed with a few of the calls on who got the little naked gold guy. C'est la vie.

For me, the highpoint was comparing Michael Moore and Adrien Brody. Essentially, they had the same message (war is bad), but their approach was different and they elicited a vastly different response. Michael Moore took the angry, confrontational, "Shame on you, Mr. Bush!" approach while Adrien Brody took the sensitive, moderate, "whoever you believe in, if it's God or Allah, may he watch over you and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution" approach. Essentially, they said the same thing, but one of them got booed and one of them got a standing ovation.

Of course, delivering Moore's message took a lot more balls, that's for certain. "Anybody who's got both the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against them is not long for the White House!" he shouted, as a long cane hooked him off the stage. Brilliant line, and kudos to you, Mr. Moore, for taking a stand.

And kudos to Adrien Brody for backing him up with a more PC, Moore-lite message. Oh, and also for playing tonsil hockey with the supa-yummy Halle Berry in front of what the network was calling "a billion" viewers. My new hero.

On a personal note, I was very, very happy that Adrien Brody and Roman Polanski won (in what was called an upset by some critics, on both counts) for their work on The Pianist, which, in many respects was my pick for Best Picture -- even though I would've hit the ROOF in joy if The Two Towers had taken home the gold. I was also really pleased that Chris Cooper and Nicole Kidman were recognized.

But MAN, do I ever feel bad for Julianne Moore. Two nominations for the night and a pile of past nominations, and still nothing to put on her mantelpiece. And what was up with Michael Caine? I mean, I understand if he's pretty upset he didn't win, but he's an ACTOR! He really shouldn't have made his displeasure so obvious. Every time the camera flashed to him, he looked like somebody had just finished strangling his puppy. And how about those technical awards recipients where the first person would take 30 seconds, then next takes 15, and the third can only get an "ababba-jibbaaa!" into the microphone before it was whisked away from them? I half-expected reports of fistfights backstage.

The Lord of the Rings took home two Oscars. Here's to Return of the King getting Peter Jackson his Best Picture Oscar to go with all the rest!


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