If you care at all, we thought the Oscars ceremony last night was a thing of nearly flawless beauty, virtually devoid of blemish. Clean, shiny, artfully designed, and professionally hosted. There was humor, stylish top-shelf gown after gown, celebrity heaped upon celebrity, and a remarkable efficiency of execution. In other words, duller than usual. Itzhak Perlman at the Oscars?
The awards were evenly distributed, spotty, no one film hogged them all. That Crash won Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain is being called the biggest upset in Oscar’s history, though hadn’t it been a fait accompli for weeks that one or the other would win? No one spoke out against the government; in fact, Susan Sarandon was nowhere to be seen. Host Jon Stewart, usually snarkily antiestablishment, had but one radical joke: “Björk couldn’t be here tonight; she was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her.” (He’ll do better next year.) Jennifer Garner tripped on her way out to present, but she recovered nicely: “I do my own stunts,” she said. Lauren Bacall, seemingly racked with joint discomfort, embarrassed herself tripping over the TelePrompTer’s introduction to a reel of film noir clips and didn’t recover, nicely or otherwise. (She’ll do better watching it on TV next year.)
The legion of show-haters were put out by its overabundance of clips, like the noirs, the gay cowboys, the dead people, et al, but we could watch clips all night, especially when they’ve been compiled by Chuck Workman. (But was there not enough time to add Don Knotts to the memorial tribute?) And yes, Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep’s overlapping-dialogue introduction to Robert Altman’s long-overdue lifetime achievement Oscar was inspired, but the award itself seemed insulting. Oh, and Ben Stiller was funny again. And there was plenty of George Clooney, certainly the handsomest, truest movie star since Cary Grant. And Three 6 Mafia, who brought the house down (or raised its roof) with “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow, which later won Best Song, was the only winner of the night to thank Jesus for the statuette, apparently mistaking the Oscar for a Grammy in the confusion.
But what we found inexplicable in all the layered pleasantness of the ceremony was the sourpuss face of Diana Ossana, co-author of Brokeback Mountain‘s adapted screenplay, which won the Oscar in that category. She could not have been more sullen, while her writing partner, Larry McMurtry, in baggy jeans, was filled with old-school joie de vivre and looked like he might dance an Ashlee Simpson jig. Later, when being interviewed by a local anus in a post-Oscar segment, an unsmiling Ossana, who looked as if she’d got a whiff of a bad smell, said her win was “bittersweet.” Is there something we can do to help?
(Now read Cintra Willson’s take on the show, at Salon.)