The Oscars: The Morning After

February 28, 2005

The Academy was betting on an edgier, demographically-widened ceremony thanks to last night’s host, Chris Rock. But did they deliver? In one word: No.

Aside from a few feather-ruffling comments and jocular pop culture references, Chris Rock was no more memorable than Whoopie or Billy. The only quasi-controversial comment made by Rock was a slight jab at Jude Law, who was (much later) humorlessly defended by Sean “doesn’t understand the concept of a joke” Penn. Rock kept a steady pace and the Awards were pulled back to a respectable three hours and ten minutes. However, the tactics used to achieve this newfound brevity were, well, questionable.

In their attempt to shorten the show, producers employed two somewhat inelegant techniques in getting the trophies to the honorees. The “have the presenters come to the nominees” delivery was especially awkward. As the potential recipients sat in velvety comfort, the presenter stood to their side, back to the audience, and introduced the category. With a microphone placed in the aisle, the winners needed only to take a few steps, make their speech and then make the short trip back their seat. In a similar move, nominees were presented in what can only be described as a “talent line-up.” The Oscar hopefuls were brought on stage and presented as they stood, that’s right, stood atop their respective works. These more efficient methods of distribution are commendable, but openly diminished the importance of categories not given the traditional Oscar treatment. Way to put the little people in their place, Academy.

If any category needs be brought down a notch it’s Best Song. Too much time was spent introducing and performing the various ditties; a well-produced medley could have shortened the running time considerably.

Winners in the six major categories must have made the majority of informed viewers feel like Oscar oracles; the list was a veritable who’s who of predictability. Martin Scorsese was, once again, deprived of the golden boy and the Best Actress award was given to the artist who most altered her appearance, Hilary Swank. “Body of Work” awards were given to Cate Blanchett and Morgan Freeman, and Golden Globe winner Jamie Foxx was rewarded for his portrayal of the late Ray Charles. Least surprising of all, Clint Eastwood won for Best Director and his film, Million Dollar Baby, won Best Picture. Let’s not forget that a good part of the Academy was born before “talkies” and Mr. Eastwood was the oldest director nominated. Coincidence? I think not.

The ceremony was unremarkable, the Best Song presentation was time-consuming, and the winners were as exciting as seniors’ bingo. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Click here for a list of all the winners (and losers).

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