The show opened with the usual comedic moments and they even got David Letterman in the intro production. John Stewart was probably overwhelmed by the capacity of the whole thing evident from the initial moments of 'comedians brain block'. I would have loved to see Chris Rock back, but then the Academy decides they need a new paradigm for the whole show. I still don't get the Jew jokes JS made but in all he carried the show smoothly scripted. Also new would be the 'lobbying' montages that was very candid. It's a known fact that heavy lobbying goes on in the background of the voting process. Sadly though, the presenters were not funny, save maybe for Ben Stiller over the top antics in his green suit. Where is Robin Williams when you need him...!
Looking back at the winners, George Clooney made everyone happy with his win. I wanted him to win in the other categories, but then Ang Lee stood in his way, its hard when you're supporting too many nominees. Ang Lee's win is a tad bit more important in the industry and Clooney has many more years in him. Rachel Weisz capped the predicted winner tally in the supporting actress category. So far the show went on rather scripted and you had to love Clooneys acceptance speech. Click on his name to read it.
Wallace and Gromit won the best animated feature film category and deservedly so. They have been in the industry for years now. The Hayao Miyazaki feature "Howls Moving Castle" is an amazing piece from the animation genius, and everyone would remember his 'Spirited Away' anime won the 2002 Oscars. It's good to see that non-American art in the form of animation, claymation and CG getting the nods at the Oscars away from the very mainstream American animations from Disney and such.
The winners in the acting category did not surprise much, Reese Witherspoon for her splendid acting in Walking the Line, but Joaquin Phoenix did loose to Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. Hoffman carried the role spiritedly and stayed true to the character he played much attributed to his seniority in the industry while probably the voters decided Joaquin would have to wait for a few more years. Do also wait for Hoffman in MI-3 where he acts as a villain.
Among the few surprises, would be the winners of the original song won by Three 6 Mafia for the movie Hustle and Flow, while Terrence Howard missed the best actor glory for the same movie. It would have been amazing to see him win, he gave a good performance.
Other awards namely in the technical fields such as special effects, sound, score, editing and mixing went to the usual suspects of the year such as King Kong and Memoirs of the Geisha. Read the whole winners list here;[Oscars78]. The Oscars for the science and engineering aspects of movie making was presented in a separate ceremony;[OscarsSciEng]. I'm hopping to write a separate post on short movies and short documentaries as well as documentary feature some other time. These categories are amazing and celebrates the creative geniuses that would go on to inspire other movie makers. March of the Penguins won the best documentary awards as expected and I think everyone should watch the movie to understand the true message of the show.
Probably the best news of the night, and what 'should' have been the clear indicator for the best movie award was Ang Lee's win in the direction category. Here you have an amazing filmmaker that rivals even the bests of the likes of Spielberg, and was just known to the western world through his martial arts flick Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Probably this shows the lack of knowledge plaguing the western movie industry on Asian film makers. We have been watching martial arts flicks for ages now until Tarantione 'discovered' the magic and brought it to Hollywood. Akira Kurosawa was the inspiration behind movies like Star Wars and also Japanese Anime's served as the background for movies like Matrix. We in Asia have an original movie making industry and also serve a wider aundience than Hollywood, but still, the usual stereotyping pushes these geniuses to the back of the line most of the time. I was truly saddened when M.Night Shyamalan lost the best director category for the Sixth Sense for simply being an Asian, but the likes of Ang Lee getting the award, apart for his true genius, for political reasons against China. It was reported that China actually censored his acceptance speech for mentioning Taiwan, but in the end Ang Lee understood more of the influence and also the importance of the industry in forging unity when he closed his speech in Chinese.
Crash won the best picture nod, because America don't like the idea of cowboys being gay. I was a bit apprehensive when Ang Lee asked us to look beyond the gay issue and into the love message that the movie portrayed, but then doesn't the love of a brother to his brother is also true love sans the gay-ism. While the gay topic continues to get mainstream mention in many areas of the media, in my personal opinion, it is better to be controlled as not to get the younger generation hooked on something that's not scientifically proven, but is just a popular culture. Crash also won because, since they cant give it to Brokeback, they don't have much of a choice among the other movies. Giving it to Munich would have sparked critics bashing the politically inclined older voters of the academy, thought I suspect the lobbying would have been intense for this movie. Even though Munich was in the list for obvious reason, I was happy for the first time Spielberg did not win it. Capote stood a good chance as did too Good Night and Good Luck, but they were mere contemporaries among the issues that Crash or Brokeback addressed. It's also interesting and sad to notice that racial issues still mar the 'new' America in the affluent neighborhoods of Los Angeles but then again where else it doesn't.
In the end, it was a good show, extra marks for the production of the stage which was nostalgic, bringing back the noir of the industry as well as glamour. Couldn't stop admiring the curved visual display above the stage and also the giant columns on the stage. John Stewart might not come back next year if the academy decides that fresher talents are needed to usher in what probably would be more quality nominations like the ones we've seen this year. Maybe they would bring back the old favourites like Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg. I reason the whole concept of the show would be better if more significance is given to new talents and also non-American movie makers.
GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK!
P/s: Do visit the blog of Sam Bowker, who just ended his Grand tour through Europe and Asia and wrote it all down in true traveller style;[Sams Grand Tour]