We here at Mr Trivia’s Tract can’t resist a good awards show. However we could only catch The Oscars last night, so here’s our run down. And we do mean run-down.
The night began with Channel 9’s Richard Wilkins on the red carpet, embarrassing his nation with a string of inane questions aimed at the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio. I was cringeing at the time, so I may not have accurately recorded his interchange with Leo.
WILKO: So we’ve seen you grow from a child actor to a man.
DiCAP: I started getting offered those more quote unquote manly roles.
WILKO: How did you make that happen.?
DiCAP: My pituitary just kicked in, f***wit.
Beyoncé breezed through and revealed that her stylist was her mom. Wilko wasn’t buying it; he suggested that maybe there was an army of fashionistas behind her. Beyoncé didn’t crack. She knew this guy wasn’t serious from the height of his ‘do.
But Wilkins had bigger fish to fry. He extracted from Travolta the secret that he considered Australia his “number one country.” Then he sweated former Vice President Al Gore who reminded Prime Minister John Howard and the people of Australia to sign the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.
Back home in Oz the nation was stunned that the man who was once a heartbeat away from the US presidency knew the name of the man who is our perpetual PM.
Wilko spied two time Oscar winner Jodie Foster and asked her about her frock. But sadly nothing about how we’d seen her grow up from a talented child actress and how she was all womanly and stuff now. And nothing about why such a major talent as herself has been absent from our screens lately. But at least we knew she was dressed by Vera Wang.
The big question still hung there. Would Wilko talk to Helen Mirren and her fabulous hair? No.
Then all too soon, he bade us farewell and we entered the glittering plushness of the Kodak Theatre. From the get-go we were treated to a short film made by documentarian Errol Morris. It was a collection of responses from all the Oscar Nominees. It was funny and rather delightful. And it bears seeing more than once. (Don’t let me down YouTube…) Team Trivia feared the ceremony had peaked too early.
These fears proved to be founded when host Ellen DeGeneres hit the stage. I’ve seen her talk- show and enjoyed her klutzy, mildly humorous comedy. The sweetly oblivious thing is great when she follows it up with a hard one-liner or three. But the Oscar gig is always quite conservative so Ellen went easy. Perhaps a little too much so. Her rating at this stage of the night was 6 outta 10.
Then we were properly into the swing of things. The famous, sexy and talented came at us from all directions. Sometimes they were even one person. Clive Owen. See what I did there? Keeping you on your toes. Although Clive is all that and a bag of chips, I was really talking about Helen Mirren.
Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman appeared like automatons set to kick arse and announce names. Then Maggie Gyllenhaal recapped the Science and Tech awards evening and ended saying that it was “a wild night.” Those nerds…
Things were going swimmingly. Not even the naffness of the Pilobolus Dance Company and their silhouetted interpretations of the Best Picture nominees could slow things down. (What?…okay…they were behind a screen and would do like this shadow puppet thing with human bodies, so, like, they would pretend to be this funky shoe for The Devil Wears Prada.)
No, it took professional comedians Will Ferrell and Jack Black to bring things to a halt. Some wit correctly noted that comedians who do comedies never win an Oscar. Then some fool set this thought to music. Despite the bravura of Mr Ferrell’s, Mr Black’s and later John C. Reilly’s musical stylings, this number seemed like a dead duck until the final repeated lines; “Helen Mirren and Oscar will be coming home with me.” That got a big laugh.
“Funny” more or less eluded the ceremony at every turn. There was a sound effects choir who were very expert at the Michael Winslow style mouth-effects. But it wasn’t funny. Ellen changed outfits but continued with the mild gags. Leo got on stage with Al Gore and they started talking climate change etc. And for just a moment things felt amusing, humour was in the air. But no, they were deadly earnest about their serious mission; unless they were kidding about checking out www.oscar.com for tips on being green. It was self-congratulation at its most oblivious.
But to distract us from the bad-taste of that, we were misdirected with some cultural carelessness. When William Monahan who wrote the screenplay for The Departed got up to get his award, the voiceover announced that his work was adapted from the Japanese film Infernal Affairs. Unfortunately for the Academy, that film was made in Hong Kong.
The long night’s journey into day continued. Giuseppe Tornatoré (Cinema Paradiso) made a clip compile that celebrated foreign cinema over the years. It was a great idea, well executed and possibly made up for the Infernal Affairs gaffé.
Former Paramount star Tom Cruise presented former Paramount head, Sherry Lansing, with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Seeing The Cruiser again made one wonder why we’re suspicious of his Scientology but still embrace Qantas Captain and well-known Hubbardist, John Travolta.
Nancy Freakin’ Meyers (The Holiday) gave us a very ordinary clip compile celebrating the screenwriter. Being a writer myself, I swooned as her predictable choices flattered my ego and demonstrated her customary leadenness.
And slowly, it got blurry, Mike Hammer style. The minutes stretched into hours. The hours into days. How much of this could we take? But then the voice of an angel…
Celine Dion wailed and I stirred to wakefulness. There was a tribute to composer Ennio Morricone, in which I believe Clint Eastwood translated Morricone’s Italian into English. They both appeared to speak quite slowly. Maybe I was still dreaming.
Director Wes Anderson’s American Express ad came up and was kinda funny and kinda expensive – a bit like one of his films, really. I was now critiquing the commercials, so I begged for the end to be nigh.
Ellen changed her outfit for a second time and announced, “that’s our show” right before the final big awards were announced. It was funny. In fact her act had picked up considerably during the void of the show’s third hour. She was pushing an 8 outta 10.
Then it was Alan Arkin, Jennifer Hudson, Helen Mirren, Forest Whittaker. Tears. Thanks. Gracious and otherwise. The Queen was given her props. It was all very good. And did I mention Helen Mirren?
Spielberg and Coppola, were on stage to hand out the Best Director award. Fortunately it was to their pal Marty Scorsese for The Departed. Much deserved, maybe not for this film, but for a brilliant career.
But the Academy said, no dammit! The Departed is Best Picture material. Screw Raging Bull and Goodfellas. They sucked. But this Japanese screenplay you adapted from a Hong Kong movie. Now this is something, Marty. This is really something. Okay we gave you nothing for thirty years, now here’s your second Oscar in ten minutes. Enjoy.
And he did. Scorsese was moved and everybody went home happy.
Except for Eddie Murphy who got diddly-squat for Dreamgirls. Word is he left in a huff. So, sometimes you do the serious picture and you still don’t get to take home Oscar or Helen Mirren.
Elevate The Insignificant!