Okay, a more detailed entry will likely follow as the "rest of the story"-stories about the just-concluded Oscar telecast begin to trickle out, but for now my first impressions are as follows:
Chris Rock's hosting turn was funny and fresh, but not so funny and fresh enough I fear to dispell the notion that his MTV-generation comedy was an awkward fit for the too-stuffy-even-for-VH1 asthetic of the Academy. Rock's best material came in the form of "did he say that?"-deapans (introducing Halle Berry as star of "the highly anticipated Catwoman 2," or Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek as "four of the lovliest images in Hollywood"), while "energy-injecting" exercises (interviewing attendees at the local Magic Johnson Cinema who prefered "White Chicks" to any of the nominated films, an embarassing sketch where he pretended to be a line-reading substitute for Catherine Zeta Jones opposite Adam Sandler) just didn't come off. Nice job overall, though.
The "shakeup" of giving out the lower-profile awards in the seats or by lineup is the worst idea for the show in many a moon. It was awkward, stilted and terribly undignified, and now that those subjected to it have nothing to lose I suspect most of them will be agreeing with me loudly tomorrow. This could not have been a more naked attempt to "speed things up" by further ghettoizing the technical and short-subject categories in order to give the Joan Rivers crowd more time to gawk at the Big Names in Pretty Dresses. Every single award handed out in one of the "new" methods was damned disgrace, no two ways about it.
Holy cow! Julia Roberts with a FIGURE!!?? Wow, thank heaven for those twins... and the two babies that helped make them possible :)
Morgan Freeman is just pure class. Finally able to see his name removed from the "I can't believe he's never won..." list, Freeman's speech is a short, pleasant thank you that spends more time praising the other players in the movie than it does on the man giving it. Well done.
How sweet was it to hear the near-total lack of applause any time "Passion of The Christ" was mentioned for anything? And how much sweeter to see it step up to get beat-down in every one of it's paltry nominated categories? The only thing that could have added to the overall sense of justice-served I felt at this would have been for "Sister Rose's Passion," a biography of the revolutionary Catholic nun who became a champion for purging Catholicism of it's anti-semetic "Passion Play"-era past, to have won the "Best Documentary - Short Subject" award, but this was not to be.
And speaking of "The Passion," how angry do you supposed Michael Medved, L. Brent Bozell and all the rest are that not only did their yearlong campaign to turn the film into an Oscar winner implode, but so did their spiteful Plan-B of destroying the win-chances of "Million Dollar Baby"? Clint Eastwood's film took home four of the six major awards, including Picture and Director, and will now likely be seen by everyone who was previously on the fence about seeing it. In the words of Clint's character, Frankie Dunn, at a point when one of "Baby's" major players scores a decisive moral victory over a gaggle of opportunistic neanderthals who just can't help but remind me of the Medvedites for some reason: "Maybe somebody ought to count to ten."
What was the deal with Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand? Something got said just before they stepped into view, and Hoffman was pulling away from her like she'd just contracted smallpox. Was this failed schtick or was something else going on?
What is Beyonce Knowles doing there? I know, I know, this is more of trying to make the show "hip," but a pop crooner doing middling interpretations of the nominated songs is irritating and obnoxious in the extreme. Just play the damn songs, already.
That's all for now, be back later with more details and more blogging. Lemme know what you though in the Comments section.