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The Oscars: A look at 73rd annual back-slap

posted by The W-D Staff on 3/26/01

Another year, another "Academy Awards" swishes by. This year's ceremony was the typical false smiles and sickening backslaps fare. Just like every other year. That's why they have the show, after all. Hollywood needs to stretch a shaky paw and pat its own posterior. It wasn't a particularly memorable show and there were few towering movies to saunter home with the honors, but at least people were dressing more sensibly. Well, Bjork looked like an overgrown toilet holder, but I don't think she's classified as human, so it's all moot. Pamela Anderson, whose presence at the ceremony is as ironic as it is humorous, was dressed accordingly and behaving to type - trailer park trash and wasted on some sort of narcotic ( I hope ). At least Christina Aguilera tries to quash all obvious indications that she's a bim. Sure, she fails miserably, but she doesn't show up to the Oscars in a pair of levi shorts.

The Oscars are renowned for running over schedule and playing host to the grinch that is controversy. Those hip people at the tabloids just love discussing the aesthetic attributes of the rich and famous, drooling like a senile Joan Rivers when one of the "beautiful people" makes a fashion faux-pas. Maybe they should have opted for Valentino or some such shit, but they're probably too busy schmoozing and getting smashed to worry about your anal critiques. So, go sort out your own wardrobe, super critical fashion wannabes! The movie alumni may dress in suave attire and art their fine grooming and fake tans, but as long as we have goofs like Val Kilmer sharing a stage with a horse, or Marlon Brando sending a Native American to collect his best actor award we're always guaranteed a few laughs. Intentional or not. The cringe-worthy moments, such as Roberto Benigni dancing around like a spasticated Ricky Martin, proliferate. Who can forget Christoper Reeves wheeling out and proclaiming, to a packed auditorium of clapping phonies as well as an audience of millions, that he'd one day walk again?! Err, maybe he should take another breath from that straw of his, and leave the bright ideas to people who can actually control their own bowels.

No offense, Superman. I'm sure you'll be walking soon.

Since we're all such movie fanatics, it was natural that all three of us would be crowded around the box watching this most important of ceremonies. This is the most important thing in the movie calender, and we've been praying all week that Julia Roberts would win this award. She NEEDS it. Poor girl only earns twenty-five million bucks a movie, and has her arrogant Hollywood ass kissed on a daily basis. It's clear that someone in her predicament deserves some props. Poor girl.

But now I leave you with our humble opinions on this humble, unpretentious spectacle.

Dave's take on the Oscars

More than just predictions

Well "Oscars 2001: A Lame Odyssey" has come and gone... and what can I say? Well, it was nice to see Hillary Swank for the final time, as her fifteen minutes are most definitely up. At least she remembered to thank her husband Chad Lowe this time, for his stirring portrayal of early 90's HIV/Death victim Jesse McKenna on the hit show "Life Goes On and You Tune in to Make Fun of Corky"... Too bad she forgot to thank her former 90210 castmate, JoeE. Tata, for well.. just being Joe E. Tata.

I thought Steve Martin did a heck of a job as host this year. Of course, when Billy Crystal has been engraved (Get it?? Crystal...engraved. Haha..Ahem..) as the ultimate Oscars host... it's not too tough, in my opinion, to come across as a whole lot funnier.

Mr. Crystal wasn't available this year because he's too busy basking in the glow of his own self-importance, for bringing the story of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris's 1961 season to HBO. Has anyone else seen the promos for this movie, *61?? Don't get me wrong... The chase to break Babe Ruth's home run record is a riveting story... it's just I can do without the promos having Billy Crystal swinging an invisible bat while standing at home plate in Yankee Stadium. Hey Billy, there were a lot of other little unathletic Jewish kids in the stands besides you... so don't make it like you're the only one that remembers Mickey F'n Mantle with fondness. Jerkoff.

Well now that I've vented on that... let's look at the six major awards.

Best Supporting Actress

No matter how much you hear that two people from the same movie being nominated for the same award.. aren't going to cancel eachother out... it usually is the case. Kate Hudson being nominated for this award... is this decade's equivalent of Juliette Lewis being nominated for Cape Fear. People don't know the actress well enough, to know whether or not the character she plays takes any sort of personal range. Hence, people thought Juliette Lewis' portrayal of the "retarded" daughter in Cape Fear was "brilliant".. but didn't know enough about her to realize that she's pretty much retarded in real life. Not a real stretch. What can I say? I was just glad to see Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn brought down a notch. B-List couple hoping Little Goldie could give them the rub up to the A-list. Sorry Kurt... Looks like it's "Big Trouble in Little China Part 2" for you...

"I'm so funny and not in-your-face at all. Hire me! Hire me! That's MY daughter. Hire me!!"

Marcia Gay Harden deserved to win... solely to get Ed Harris' wife fired up. Did anybody else notice Mrs. Harris? She looked like a six year old trying to take a shit when Harden was up there.

Best Supporting Actor

Congratulations to Uglier Raul Julia for winning. Edward James Olmos was heard cheering from the kitchen.. where he was washing dishes... and Lou Diamond Phillips was still celebrating his induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame last week. Way to go Ritchie!!!

Best Director

Ummm... how do you say "robbed" in Chinese? Maybe the Academy saw a picture and mistakenly thought it was John Woo being nominated for "Face-Off" or something... cause Ang Lee deserved that award.

On a totally unrelated note: Pat Morita didn't really know karate.

Best Actress

Anybody that actually saw Requiem for a Dream knows that Ellen Burstyn should have at least been considered a serious contender for this award. I guess it's tough when you're up against Audrey Hepburn: 2001. Julia Roberts was very gracious to have won though... and her acceptance speech actually brought some much needed life to the show, if only to help people stay awake for the Best Picture award. Congrats Julia. Does this mean that Kyra Sedgwick and Amanda Peet get silver and bronze colored Oscars, respectively... just for being the "Poor and Destitute Man's Julia Roberts"??

Best Actor

Well... big congratulations to Russell Crowe. Now when they show Virtuosity on the WB on Saturday afternoon... in between commercials they can say, "Virtuosity... starring Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington.. will return in a moment.". Other than that.. "Proof of Life" has already proven that this guy can't carry a movie without a coliseum of special effects behind him. No Oscar is going to change that...

On a totally related note... when it comes to Australians... Hugh Jackman oozed more natural charisma in a popcorn movie like the X-Men... than Russell Crowe did in an epic starring vehicle like Gladiator...

Best Picture

Honestly... Gladiator was an ok movie. I mean let's face it... it broke no new ground. It was basically somebody coming up with the great idea to do an old school Roman epic.. just with modern day cgi effects. The storyline was ridiculous. I mean c'mon... only one fuckin guy remembered that Maximus was the most decorated general they had?? Nobody in all of Rome knew who he was?? It made no sense. Nevermind the fact that his wife and child were brutally murdered and the guy just laid down and let himself become a slave. Mel Gibson must be turning over in his grave.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon should have won this award... but I guess the Academy members are too lazy to read subtitles.

B's take on the Oscars

Predict THIS!!

The moment of the Oscars:

What's a three-letter word for something Puff Daddy's been in? J-Lo.

The Academy Awards Players with their vocal interpretation of Jennifer Lopez's "My Love Don't Cost a Thing," complete with orchestral accompaniment and opera singers. As ludicrous as it sounds and was, nothing was complete until J-Lo stumbled out onto the stage in a giant grey blanket. Evidently, Lopez woke up naked after a long day of being railed by rap stars and, in a rush, tripped and fell into her drapes.

The worst part of it all is that she's the only Latin woman in Hollywood who men (that aren't currently choking a live chicken in a Tijuana alley) find desirable. So she could show up wearing a full-Nazi soldier uniform with a big foam hat that says "I hate children and puppies" and Joan Rivers would still shit herself over how beautiful she looks. Like anybody's rushing to the print to throw Gloria Estefan on the cover of a magazine. Right behind J-Lo on the "sexy latina" chart is Christian Aguilera, who is whiter than I am. And I'm pretty white. Right behind Aguilera is Beyonce from Destiny's Child and Wayne Newton, both of whom are neither "latina" nor, in one case,
even a woman.

Beyonce should change her name to "Christina Black-ulera."

I can't even get through a discussion on the Oscars without talking about how much I hate pop music, can I? I really suck as a writer. But I LOVED CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON BECAUSE IT IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER AND THEY DO KUNG FU SHIT AND JUNX AND THEY LIKE SPINNIN IN THE AIRZ AND JUNX.

How come Jet Li's "Fist of Legend" didn't ever win an Oscar? I guess they had to give Chow Yun Fat's movie an award because he got through two whole hours without shooting 19 rounds into somebody's chest at point blank range. STONE COLD KILLER.

"Quills" and "Almost Famous" didn't get nominated for Best Picture, which was a dissapointment. However, a movie about Johnny Depp eating candy did. I guess the academy has gone from being a bunch of old guys who love musicals to being Winona Ryder on a rainy afternoon. Stupid academy.

I liked "Police Academy" a lot more, it was three hours shorter and funny! They should let Police Academy vote on movies. Tackleberry likes GUNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paul's take on the Oscars

Wanna see my golden hero?

As host, Steve Martin really hit gold. Unlike that smug midget, Billy Crystal, he didn't rely on hackneyed effects or easy jokes. Crystal always comes off as too self-important, as if he's some sort of acting Zeus. In actual fact, he's appeared in "My Giant"!! Martin, on the other hand, was witty without coming across as condescending. Plus, he's actually a good actor himself. People respect that. When past hosts include Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg and David Letterman, it's a welcome change to see someone who's excelled at the craft.

I think any award show that honors the acting abilities of Benicio Del Toro can't balk when us cynical folk label it "slightly shady". I've watched Del Toro in a variety of movies, and while he's a long way from abysmal, he certainly isn't awe-inspiring. Christ, the guy can barely talk English, and he sounds like Mumbles from "Dick Tracy". Except Mumbles didn't look like he was perpetually strung out. Del Toro has been good in a few movies ( he impressed in "Traffic" ), and he does have a strong presence. Anyone who looks that much like a corpse is sure to have presence. The Academy evidently aren't exactly the brain-trust, so for every deserving winner like Kevin Spacey, there's a Marisa Tomei or a Helen Hunt. They say that often you're not awarded solely on the nominated role, but rather your award pays testament to your strong body of work. Let's look at Del Toro's.

"The Fan"- Got stabbed by Robert De Niro, and didn't speak a single word of understandable English.
"Excess Baggage"- Played second fiddle to Alicia Silverstone. Splutter.
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" - Johnny Depp's, you guessed it, incomprehensible sidekick.
"The Way of The Gun" - Ryan Phillippe's dopey partner in crime.

Very impressive. Such range.

"Zank you for...umm..ughh...ughh....ughh...mumbles...mumbles...thanks.... *applause*"

There were no "American Beauty"-style clean sweeps this year. There could have been, and "Requiem for a Dream" or "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" should have represented the supposed emphasis on daring movies. I thought that last year might have paved the way for the often conservative Academy to open its mind to edgier efforts. With a clearer mind, it's apparent that "American Beauty" only got the push because of its association with Dreamworks. Cliched though it is, but success in Hollywood depends on power, and how much muscle you're prepared to put behind a movie. It would be nice if movies were awarded on their own artistic merits and not nominated simply because a big producer is pushing them. Take "Chocolat", for instance. Not a bad film by any stretch, but patently inferior to the other movies nominated.

Miramax really has the Academy by the short and curlies. Or maybe Weinstein has incriminating photos of some cantankerous old fuckweed doing the voting. Something smells fishy, and Pamela Anderson is nowhere in sight.

"Gladiator" was a good movie. Enjoyable and easy to follow. Great? No way. It was a simple story well-told. A good spectacle. Excepting "Chocolat", it certainly never towered above the other nominees in any sort of artistic way. Compare it with last year's winner and you'll understand the fine line between "popcorn classic" and "classic". This is mere fluff. Several notches below greatness.

But it won. I wasn't disappointed, because I never held out much hope for the more cerebral movies. They always get overlooked when the actual awards are dished out, because the Academy is comprised of old farts who can't engage with innovation or the zeitgeist. That said, it's an absolute travesty that "Almost Famous" and "Requiem" didn't even get a look-in for this award.

"I'd just like to say thank you for realizing that "Battlefield Earth" was a work of artistic genius, and, umm... Wait, this ISN'T the Razzies?"

Russell Crowe excelled in "Gladiator", but it was a good part for a strong actor. I didn't see him doing anything in that that Mel Gibson or George Clooney couldn't handle. Gibson, for sure, could have played the part even better. The whole craze for Crowe is unreal. The guy is brooding, intense and exudes masculinity, but he was the same five years ago. Suddenly, now that he's hit the big time, every Hollywood puss is looking to nail him. Despite looking ordinary, everyone insists he's gorgeous. I don't get it. Probably don't have to. As for his my opinion he was much better in "LA Confidential" than in this.

His acceptance speech was brilliantly low-key, which was a welcome change from all the fake crying and mock surprise. Like Julia Roberts DIDN'T think she was going to win? Talk to the palm.

Her speech was very energetic, but I'm sick of her smug face and phony posturing. Should have given this to Ellen Burstyn since HER body of work is very impressive. Ok, so it's all rooted in the seventies, but still...

"Ok, I'd like to thank Hollywood for spreading its legs to me. Meg Ryan was great, but I didn't want Quaid's sloppy seconds...So, how you doing, Julia? Single? Aww, who cares?!"

Some memorable moments

Joke of the night: "I saw the trailer to Dude, Where's My Car? and it ruined it for me. Maybe that's not fair, because I had read the book."
--Steve Martin, on plot-heavy movie previews

- Michael Douglas looking like he wanted to bone Catherine Zeta Jones right there. Not a surprise, really. This guy used to be a sex addict, but I doubt she's with him for the sex. Ever noticed how fake his face looks these days?

- The obvious sexual tension between "Mr Pretentious" Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Is that another Hollywood scandal I smell? No, actually, because Ed Harris isn't interesting to the tabloids. He isn't interesting. Period. Word.

- Tom Hanks' reaction to being accused of masterminding the plot to kidnap Crowe. Hanks may look like a pedophile these days, but at least he can do improv.

- Catherine Zeta Jones coming out to that chanting background music like a goddess had arrived.

- Danny DeVito taking home the Oscar for Best Dwarf with Heinous Wife.

All in all, the show won't be remembered for years to come. There was nothing particularly embarrassing nor particularly inspiring. And the best movie did not walk away with the prize. That said... overall, this show was uglier than looking at Danny DeVito sitting next to Rhea Perlman... and imagining the two of them having sexual intercourse. It was THAT ugly.

But then, they're never as good as they look in the highlights reel.

Hollywood has a way with image.

The W-D Staff

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