TITLE: The Oscars
DATE: 2/28/2005 11:06:00 AM
Ended up watching at least part of the Oscars last night with my parents. Even I was surprised by how opposed I was to watching it at first; I just had no desire whatsoever to feed into the pretension and avarice of Hollywood anymore, even if only through my eyeballs on the TV screen.
Then again, you have to marvel at how my world has turned around now that I'm more than willing--in fact, even consider it a noble pursuit--to do the exact same for the NFL and Major League Baseball. How is it really any different?
So, I watched. And while I found the red-carpet stuff stultifyingly boring and grating, and while I was nearly overwhelmed with my desire to punch certain actresses, namely Renee Zelwegger and Drew Barrymore, for the most part it was an okay TV-viewing experience.
There were some upsets I found a pleasant surprise, such as Tom Hanks' 1994 acceptance speech for Philadelphia beating out Halle Berry's maudlin acceptance of two years ago on an Oscar.com poll for best-ever acceptance speech, and Morgan Freeman's taking home Best Supporting Actor. I also liked the fact that The Aviator didn't sweep, because a) I hate it when big movies sweep, just because they're big movies and b) it meant that the Academy has apparently kicked their habit of doling out statuettes to movies just because they contain Leonardo Dicaprio (tm) and some form of archaic violence.
But there were also some painful moments, like Adam Sandler's completely un-funny appearance (then again, I still haven't forgiven Adam Sandler for so enthusiastically playing an obnoxious Yankees fan in Anger Management); Hillary Swank's dress; Beyonce's attempts to sing in French; my parents' enthusiasm for Beyonce's attempts to sing in French and my father's comment that "she should stick to real singing like this instead of just throwing her boobs around."
In the end, though, my cognitive dissonance over Super Bowl vs. Oscars was resolved by the fact that watching both with my father makes them practically one and the same experience. For instance, Tom Hanks is my father's sure bet. Every time Tom Hanks is up for an acting award, my father will say solemnly, "Hanks. Hanks is tough."
Last night, for example, when Hanks took the "Best Acceptance Speech" category, my father exclaimed, "Hanks! Hanks! Hanks! Boy, if there's any kind of award to be won, he's gotta be your odds-on favorite."
Later, when the nominees for Best Actress were up, my father looked worried. "I don't have a favorite for this race," he mused.
In my cynicism, I had assumed the Oscar would go to Catalina Sandino Moreno for some movie called Maria Full of Grace, because it was a movie no one saw and an actress no one heard of and would therefore make the Academy look "arty."
Ultimately it went to Swank with her big lips and horrible dress. Good for her. And her speech wasn't a two-boxer like Halle Berry's. No overarching social justice in this particular award--just an actress getting a pat on the (bare) back for a job well done. That's the way it should be.
And that's the way it was with Morgan Freeman, too. While other actors completely embarrassed themselves with pointed ass-kissing in Martin Scorcese's direction (he has never won for Best Director), or took the opportunity to either a) gloat or b)whine passive-aggressively about previous snubs when they got their awards, Freeman was essentially what he is on screen: a dignified, admirable presence, one that makes you ask, whether in front of the camera or not, "why can't all actors be like that?"