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Oscar Playoffs: The Winners

3/24/03 (see the winners; see our predictions)

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The place: House o' Digest. The crew: Friends of Digest Brett and Valerie and me (Cleolinda). The Oscar pool? Doing very, very badly.

"Well, I'm glad they cut back on all the glitz," he cracks, eyeing the towering statuettes and massive stage. "You probably noticed there was no fancy red carpet tonight. Well, that will send them a message!"
(E! Online)

Opening monologue: Steve Martin starts out well—the “What is a movie star” bit is great (“The movie star can be straight [cut to Harrison Ford]…or gay [cut to Jack Nicholson]”), but the Brady Bunch-style “Movie stars who have slept with me” is even better. And I forget why Martin brought out the giant Nick Nolte DUI photo, but I hope he and Nolte are tight, because—wow.

“Writers… directors… actors… if we're stuck here tonight and we run out of food, that's the order of whom we eat.” Cut to a surly Calista Flockhart.

Beware of falling objects: Did someone chuck a cell phone at Steve Martin near the beginning? (He joked that he dropped his, but it made much too much noise to have simply fallen down, it was more of a skittering-across sound.) And if so, why? (Ah.
EW has answers.)

Best Animated Feature: Yay! I cannot BELIEVE Spirited Away actually won this! I was so convinced that Disney had been such a bunch of bastards about promoting their own Lilo & Stitch (a fine movie on its own) over a Japanese masterpiece they were just, you know, distributing, that Spirited Away was a goner. But apparently some of the voters actually saw the movie, so...

Best Visual Effects: Ah, the Gollum Award. Wow, Keanu Reeves looks really sharp tonight. Dude. The LOTR boys take the stage to accept.

Commercials: Sharon Stone will find a way to be at the Oscars, even if she has to f--- the AOL icon to do it. Also: Why is Beyoncé Knowles doing a Pepsi commercial all Carmen-style when she did that movie for MTV years ago?

Best Supporting Actor: Well, pregnancy definitely agrees with Jennifer Connelly—yay! It’s Chris Cooper! I had Christopher Walken down on as my pick because hell (oh, me of little faith), even Cooper said he voted for Walken, but I was really hoping Cooper would win. Also: “In light of all the troubles in this world, I wish us all peace.” Peace count: 1. Peace accessory: Dove pin.

Best Art Direction: I had Gangs of New York down for this, but Chicago takes it.

Friend of Digest Brett: “And so the streak begins.”

Presenter: Jennifer Lopez. Peace Accessory: I don’t see one.

Best Song performance, Chicago:
John Travolta—who says he now regrets turning down the Richard Gere role—comes out to introduce Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah, who’s filling in for Renée Zellweger, who is present, but apparently too skinny to sing. Unfortunately, our pizza arrives about this time, and so I miss a lot of the performance. Dammit.

War update: Why have this? Especially since Peter Jennings doesn’t even have anything new to say? Is this just so ABC can feel better about itself?

Brett: “You know this must be killing Peter Jennings, because he’s
so anti-war.”

Best Short Animated Film:
Oh, God, poor Jennifer Garner—they’re making her do that ghetto “present with a cartoon character” crap. Mickey Mouse rifles through his pockets, pulls out a gold ring--"The Ring? Thanks a lot, Frodo." No, thank you, Mickey, for BEING A YEAR BEHIND ON THE LORD OF THE RINGS JOKES. Two Towers is like the proverbial redheaded step-child at the awards this year. And I always wonder what that’s like for the live audience, who can see only that Jennifer Garner is talking to herself.

Friend of Digest Valerie: “I really don’t know anything about all this. I just chose things based on liking them, or you know, liking the way the name sounded.”

Winner: The ChubbChubbs!.

Valerie [checking off win on pick list]: “Yay!”

Cleo: “Dammit, you jinx!”

No peace accessories as far as I can tell.

Best Costume Design: Blah blah blah Mira Sorvino an embarrassment to the name of Oscar. The winner: Colleen Atwood, Chicago. Yay! I like her. (Whoa, why is it that costume designers always show up in the weirdest outfits?) But her speech is short and compact and well-executed. Good job.

Best Picture clip, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Brendan Fraser is coming out to present.

Cleo: "Hey! Sean Astin actually showed up! Why not let him present?"

Valerie: "I thought there was a rule that you couldn't present your own movie."

Anyway, Brendan Fraser--

Cleo: “Ha ha!
You’re not Superman!”

Brett: “Well, he’s definitely got the jaw for it.”

Cleo: “But he so doesn’t have the hair, it’s not even the right—“

[Close-up of Fraser. We all burst into laughter. It’s not even the right, let's just put it that way.]

Also: There were other characters in that movie besides Gollum, you know. Why does everyone else get a nice montage?

Best Song performance, The Wild Thornberrys:
Huh. The Paul Simon song is actually pretty nice. I still cannot believe a Nickelodeon cartoon movie got a Best Song nomination, but there you go.

Best Makeup: Nia Vardalos, blah blah blah Greeks invented cosmetics, blah blah blah incredibly played out. And don’t even get me started on the nominees. Thank God: Frida wins, making the best of a bad situation. Winners John Jackson and Beatrice De Alba accept in tandem, trading off every other sentence.

Valerie: “I can’t believe there was no makeup in, you know, any other movie.”

Cleo: “—and you know, Salma Hayek said that she just shaved her own lip and brow and the hair grew in, it’s not like it was even really that much makeup—“

John Jackson:  “For all of our sweat and tears, we just wanted to give Salma her dream.”

Beatrice De Alba: “And then we fell in love. Thank you.”

Cleo: “Do what now?”

Best Supporting Actress: Oh… oh, dear. He's... ruffly.

Valerie: “Oh, why, Sean Connery?”

Brett: "I'll take '
The Rrrrrrapists' for 500, Alex."

Catherine Zeta-Jones wins, and the Oscar pool of Digest cheers.

Best Picture clip, Gangs of New York: "And a healthy evening to all of you," says Matthew McConaughey. What?

Steve Martin returns. "I was backstage trying to convince Jennifer Lopez that the best way to remove double-faced tape is with saliva." Jennifer Lopez's reaction--turning to B. Aff with an open-mouthed look of shocked indignation--is priceless. (Cut also to a shot of Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein lolling in the audience like Jabba the Hutt in a tuxedo.) You know, I don't know why Empire Online has complained about Steve Martin not being funny two years running now. I think he's doing a great job.  Moving on: "You know, they always get a beautiful young woman to present the awards to the science and technology people... it's Hollywood's way of taunting them with something they'll never have," says Steve Martin. Burrrrrrn.

Cleo: "But you know, it's true, they always have hot young starlets give those out."

Kate Hudson, who is actually clothed this year,  appears to run down the previously awarded... awards. Shut up.

Best Original Score:
Renée Zellweger and her thinness (but what's up with the red face?) present Best Score to... Frida's Elliot Goldenthal. Huh. He's won previously this season, but I wasn't expecting a repeat win. The orchestra plays a jaunty Mexican-themed selection from the winning score.

Brett: "This music makes me feel like prancing!"

(We all prance in our seats for the duration of Goldenthal's speech.)

"For you, Mexico!" cries Goldenthal. You know, it's a relief to hear someone get vaguely political about something not war-related.

Montage: Julie Andrews, moments from musicals. Not much to recap here, really. However, it is interesting to note that this, the 75th Oscar ceremony, is shockingly light on extraneous crap. No interpretive dance sequences, in other words. Although Cirque du Soleil last year ROCKED, so AMPAS should feel free to bring them back any time they feel like it.

Best Foreign Film: Salma Hayek presents. (Peace Accessory: the green and blue Artists United Against War pin.) Happily for my performance in the Oscar pool, Nowhere in Africa takes it.

Best Sound: Julianne Moore appears to present, and gets much applause for her trouble. I think the crowd feels guilty for not voting for her--either time she was up this year. (Peace Accessory: AUAW pin, on her purse.) We decide that Chicago, being a musical, will probably take this one, and it does.

Best Sound Editing: So nice, they let Moore present twice. We try to figure out how this is different from Sound, and the best thing we can come up with is that, you know, for LOTR, they had to mix animal sounds to get the roar of the troll. And stuff. Fittingly, LOTR takes the award.

Cleo: "What the--does he have--?"

Brett: "Tourette's, yeah."

Cleo: "Awwww." 

Best Song performance, Frida: Gael García Bernal comes out to introduce "Burn It Blue." Now, I've read people freaking out all over the place about how hot this guy was, but... I don't know, there's something too babyfaced about it. Doesn't really do it for me here, I don't know. Oh, and García Bernal adds, "If Frida were alive today, she would be against the war." Um... okay. Actually, knowing Kahlo, I'm pretty sure she would be, but... why does that have anything to do with the Oscars? (Sorry, that's my stance: "You got your politics in my frivolity!")

The song itself is also really good, and the female singer (it's a duet), Lila Downs, actually looks like Frida Kahlo in her costume for tonight. Good job.

More war. Seriously, people, I'm begging you: Don't cut in unless you have something to actually tell us. I don't even mean because it's Oscar night--this is why I've stopped watching TV news and started getting all my info off the internet, because I can't stand just being needlessly freaked out on an hourly basis. Tell me if you have something to tell, okay?

Best Picture clip, The Hours: Here's Hilary Swank, a woman who apparently looked at Lara Flynn Boyle, and said to herself, "You know, the problem with her tutu was that it wasn't long enough."

Best Documentary Feature:
Oh, sweet Lord almighty.

[IM conversation, Monday morning]
Cleolinda says: I'm writing up a recap of sorts--having to look back at the speeches for a "Peace" count
Valerie says: soooo many
Cleolinda says: you know, really? I've only found one so far. It must have really kicked in later in the show. And I don't have presenter speeches either, I guess. I may drop the peace count...
Valerie says: yeah, after like the first hour or so it got pretty common
Cleolinda says: well, I'm about to get to the Michael Moore speech
Valerie says: ick
Cleolinda says: seriously. Apparently they were just delighted by it on Fametracker but--and maybe this is because we're good, well-mannered Southern girls--but I found it to just be the height of tackiness
Valerie says: yeah, I did too
Valerie says: I just think that the Oscars ought to have had nothing to do with all the political stuff

Cleolinda says: exactly
Valerie says: cuz, that's just not why the show exists or why anyone is watching

Here's what Moore (Peace Accessory: AUAW pin) actually says when he takes the stage ("That's an awful lot of people he's got up there with him") to a standing ovation:

"Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to — they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. [The boos start up, although they are mixed with more applause.] We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. [The booing obscures the next sentence.] And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much."

"The Pope and the Dixie Chicks"? Sigh.  Also: "The fictition"?

Oh, and Diane Lane looks lovely.

Fictitious count: Six.

Best Documentary Short: Jack Valenti (grrrrr, He of the Toothless MPAA Ratings Board) gives it out to Twin Towers, but not before he says something rather pointed in his presenter speech. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was, but he stressed some word or other and it was totally directed at Michael Moore.

“It was so sweet backstage, you should have seen it,” Steve Martin says afterwards. “The Teamsters were helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.”

Best Cinematography: Julia Roberts comes out, looking good in her quest to make yet another award all about her.

Valerie: "I have Far from Heaven down for this one...."

Cleo: "Yeah, but, see, the Road to Perdition guy just passed away recently."

Valerie: "Dammit! See, this is why you do better on these things."

The late Conrad L. Hall's son, Conrad W. Hall, does indeed come out to accept for his father.

Montage. Kathy Bates presents "What Winning an Oscar Did for Me." I end up having to take Lucky, Dog of Digest, outside, so I miss a lot of this, too.

Best Song Performance, Gangs of New York: Colin Farrell gets up (Peace Accessory: AUAW pin, or so I heard) and rambles on about something, I don't know, peace, war, all I know is he lamely adds, "It's all in the movie," so whatever.

Cleo: "Bono's gonna pull something, I know it."

Brett: "Ohhhhhh shit."

Bono does not pull any shit. Well, he appears to have a seizure onstage, but that's it. We are greatly disappointed. (Yeah, I know. Half the time we want them to shut up and half the time we want them to act out. Mixed signals, I tell you!)

Best Film Editing:
Geena Davis. I hate her dress. Anyway. Chicago wins, and I had Gangs of New York down--it's funny, because GONY turns out to be completely and utterly shut out, 0 for 8. In retrospect it seems funny that we thought GONY was a potential threat--it must have really gone down badly with the voters.

The Memorial Death March: Oh, Lord, here comes Susan Sarandon, flashing a peace sign. You know, I almost think Gil Cates put her on death duty on purpose, because that would effectively silence her--you can't speechify right before the Death March, you know.  Peace Accessory: Dove pin.

[Sarandon fixes the audience with a sultry stare.]

Cleo: "Okay, porn lady. Dude, she's totally eye-f---ing us."

Brett and Valerie: "Hee, she is!"

Cleo: "No means no, Susan Sarandon!"

Afterwards, Steve Martin: "That memorial tribute was so wonderful...gosh, I hope I'm up there one day!  Later, we're doing a montage of people you think are dead but are not." Yeah, you laugh, but you haven't seen the 75 Years of Oscar Winners segment yet.

Best Actor: Holy crow, they're giving this one out early. (At this juncture, I haven't seen the 75 Years of Oscar Winners yet, either, and therefore don't know why the actor awards are coming out so soon.) Although, I have to say, this is my favorite moment of the evening, hands down. I have Daniel Day-Lewis down on as my pick, now that Jack Nicholson's buzz seems to have faded, and the Oscar goes to--Adrien Brody?

The look on his face is priceless. I hear now that, if you replay the tape, apparently Brody and I both said the same thing: "Holy shit!" I was totally unprepared because I had gone in thinking that GONY was the potential upset movie, not The Pianist--although the clues were there all along, people kept saying that Brody was a strong dark horse, and I think--I think I was too upset over the recent Smoking Gun documents to take them seriously. But none of that is Brody's fault or problem, and he's adorable running up there to accept, and--holy shit, he just mauled Halle Berry! (She emerges from this kiss about fifteen minutes with just the funniest look ever. A lot of people on Fametracker, after they thought about it, got indignant because they decided that Brody "mouth-raped" Berry, but in the press room afterwards, a reporter asked him if Berry kissed back. "Oh, yeah," he said. Take that as you will. I thought the look on her face was more "That was outrageous!" than "That was an outrage!," but then again I don't know.)

For comparison, here's some of Adrien Brody's speech:

"Whoa! I bet they didn't tell you that was in the gift bag. Oh my God. Thank you.... you know, there comes a time in life when everything seems to make sense and this is not one of those times. What I do know though is that I've never felt this much love and encouragement from my peers and from people I admire and from complete strangers. And it means a great deal to me. And if it weren't for the insomnia and the sudden panic attacks, this has been an amazing, amazing journey. I have to thank — they're already flashing time's up. I have to thank my mother and father, most importantly, for all the creativity and encouragement and they've been just real strength. They've given me a great deal of strength. What can I say? This film would not be possible without the blue print provided by Wladyslaw Szpilman. This is a tribute to his survival. I'd like to thank Roman Polanski for the role of a lifetime. And for those of you who have seen the film and have sat through the credits, you know there are too many people to thank individually. I would not be there without all their efforts. And I thank them. And everyone worked extremely hard to make this film. And I have to thank Focus Features for getting us out there. ....And you know, wait one second! One second, please, one second! Cut it out, cut it out! I get one shot at this. I'm sorry. ....This is, you know, it fills me with great joy, but I am also filled with a lot of sadness tonight because I am accepting an award at such a strange time. And you know my experiences of making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people at times of war. And the repercussions of war. And whatever you believe in, if it's God or Allah, may he watch over you and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution. Thank you. And I have a friend from Queens who's a soldier in Kuwait right now, Tommy Zarabinski, and I hope you and your boys make it back real soon. God bless you guys. I love you. Thank you very much."

The kiss aside, I feel like Adrien Brody outclassed Michael Moore by hundred miles. Although I am pretty sure that "class" was not what Moore was working towards anyway, so I guess everyone's happy. Except the Academy, and producer Gil Cates, who probably had a heart attack backstage.

Best Picture clip, The Pianist: Again, I do not remember what Dustin Hoffman said while introducing it, but it seemed to be pointed in an anti-protester fashion.

Best Song: Okay, this is a pretty great moment as well: Barbara Streisand comes out and is forced to say, after a gasp of surprise, "And the Oscar goes to... Eminem." I was vacillating between GONY and Chicago for this one, and finally decided that Chicago might pick it up in a sweep, but I am honestly pleased as punch by this. I like "Lose Yourself," and I think it was the best song this year, although I'm not a fan of the "bitches and fags" stylings of Eminem in general. I just cannot believe the Academy members actually voted for it.

I'm pretty sure Eminem is at least as shocked as I am, given that he neither performed nor attended.

Honorary Oscar, Peter O'Toole: Meryl Streep is so incredibly high. I do not know what her problem is, but it's a big one. Hey, Jack Nicholson's been making weird trout faces all evening--think he shared his stash with her? Or did Chris Cooper slip her some more of that powdered orchid when he hugged her before going to accept his statuette? Dude, she can barely get an entire sentence out.

Brett: "Wow, Peter O'Toole looks

Cleo: "Well, I'm pretty sure the booze is preserving him."

He's a great holdover from that line of elderly British actor-gentlemen--hellraisers in their youth but dry dignified wits in the autumn of their lives, though:

"Meryl Streep, members of the Academy, distinguished guests, viewers, ladies and gentlemen — always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot. I have my very own Oscar now to be with me till death do us part. I wish the Academy to know that I am as delighted as I am honored, and I am honored. The magic of the movies enraptured me when I was a child. As I totter into antiquity, movie magic enraptures me still. Having already bagged this baby, as it were, and so spared uncertainties prior to the opening of an envelope, I'm able to think. I think of our colleagues, our old friends now gone, who played their parts in this ceremony. I think of the sumptuous talents alive and well and with us now. I think of the astonishing young, the gifted and able young men and women who I meet practically every time I go to work, and from whom I grab energy in handfuls. I think of the United States and of the loves and friendships I've known here for more than half a century, and of how much the nation has given to me both personally, privately and professionally. And I am deeply thankful. And now, at this last, you have given me this delightful shock. You're very good. Good night and God bless you."

Hey, you know what I just realized? There's only one honorary award this year. Wow.

Best Actress: Oh, silly Denzel Washington, working that "by a nose" in there. Yay for the Oscar pool! I'm a little underwhelmed by Nicole Kidman's dress--it looks like a second choice, a "Let's tone down" choice, honestly, but she still wears it well, as usual. (But why is it seemingly made of old black pantyhose?) I'm also not sure why she feels compelled to drop Russell Crowe, but all right. It's good to see her win, although I wish Julianne Moore weren't going home empty-handed (again). Ah, well--awww! Her daughter and her mom came!

Montage: Previous Academy presidents. Why?

Also: I cannot
believe Frank Pierson addressed comments "to the Iraqi people."

Valerie: "Uh, I think they' re a little busy fighting right now, but thanks for the thought."

75 Years of Oscar Winners:
Olivia de Havilland! Damn right, y'all get on your feet! Wow, Steve Martin was right--I had no idea some of these people were still alive. Luise Rainer? Jennifer Jones? Hell, Martin favorite Mickey Rooney? Wow.

Best Picture clip, Chicago:
Richard Gere presents.

Valerie: "Hey! I thought you weren't allowed to present your own movie!"

Best Adapted Screenplay: Marcia Gay Harden presents. Ronald Harwood wins for The Pianist: "When I was last year here 20 years ago — I'm not making a habit of it, don't worry. Shirley Maclaine got Best Actress. When she got the statue, she said, 'I deserve this.' Well, I wish I could say that, but I can't. Roman Polanski deserves this. He's a great director and a wonderful colleague." And a wonderful rapist. Sorry! I know, the artist and the man should be kept separate. I'm just having  a really hard time with it.

Best Original Screenplay: B. Aff presents. And... wow, Talk to Her wins! I kept hearing it could happen, but I didn't believe it. That's so cool.

Valerie: "I picked it, I picked it!"

Cleo: "Shut up."

"I want to dedicate this award to all the people who are raising their voices in favor of peace," says writer/director Pedro Almodóvar. Peace Accessory: looks like a dove pin. Peace count: Awww, hell, I gave up on that, didn't I?

Best Director: Harrison Ford--has he started getting Botoxed, or is he just high, or sick at his stomach, or all three? He looks bad. (Also, he and Calista Flockhart apparently arrived in a hybrid car as a form of protest. Sigh.) And Best Director goes to... HOLY SHIT, ROMAN POLANSKI.


Brett [laughing]: "Oh my God, look at her face!"

The sad thing is, I think Polanski probably really was the most deserving of the five this year, with the exception of maybe Almodóvar. Which makes his win even more shocking.

Best Picture:
Aww, Kirk and Michael Douglas present together.

Cleo: "I am so afraid that The Pianist is about to win. I am serious. I think it could really happen now." [Note: I was "afraid" because of the Oscar pool, not because my Polanski feelings are that strong. Although they probably are. But it was an amazing movie, by all accounts. Anyway.]

Brett: "I'm pretty sure Chicago is going to win."

Cleo: "That's what I thought, too, but after Polanski... seriously, the only think that could have surprised me more would have been Peter Jackson winning."

Valerie: "You mean, mostly because he wasn't nominated?"

Cleo: "Exactly."

Kirk Douglas rips the paper in half so they can share it. All right, enough with the cuteness, please. Ahh, finally: Chicago wins. Producer Martin Richards is up there leaping around like a coked-up leprechaun, probably because he knows that Honcho Harvey won't put him in the Miramax dungeon now. And I'll be damned if the show doesn't end on time.

The after party: Catered by Papa John's and beer. The Lovely Emily was not present to accept her cookies, so we accepted hers for her. "Well, we've reached the halfway point," says Steve Martin. Oh, don't you even start.

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