My not-so-enlightening, completely random, off-the-cuff musings on Oscar night, as broadcast live from the backstage press room on the Eyepiece Network.
5:22 PM: Watching the first "official" Oscar pre-show here in the press room, like everyone else at home. Is it just me, or does Geena Davis need to stick to her day job? And what's with Celine Dion's hat???
5:32 PM: I love Whoopi's Queen Elizabeth get-up. That was a clever surprise.
5:35 PM: Academy prez Bob Rehme takes the stage. "Royal Whoopi-ness?"
5:41 PM: These montages are cool and all, but they just serve to elongate the show. Get on with the awards already!
5:42 PM: Whoopi's "official" entrance. Her dress isn't as nice as the one she wore the first time ('94), but it's pretty classy.
5:46 PM: Sound check in the press room... missing Whoopi's monologue... audio-wise at least. I'm trying to make sense of what she's saying through her gestures. She would make an interesting star in silent film.
5:49 PM: Can't comment on Whoopi's monologue since I missed about two minutes of it. What I heard wasn't bad.
5:50 PM: Kim Basinger's looking mighty glam tonight... but I can't hear her because there's another soundcheck going on.
5:52 PM: What a shock! James Coburn won! I guess the Academy's back to giving out awards as de facto lifetime achievement ones. I predicted and was rooting for Billy Bob. Don't think I'm going to get many right tonight... Good for you, Mr. Coburn, defying the exit music!
6:00 PM: Art Direction: Shakespeare. The first of what sure is to be many. Nice work, but I much preferred Elizabeth and especially What Dreams May Come. Am I alone in not particularly caring for Gwyneth's dress?
6:02 PM: Now there's a man who deserves an Oscar--Patrick Stewart. Too bad he alternates Star Trek films with garbage like Masterminds.
6:07 PM: Mike Myers is looking uncharacteristically dapper. You go, Mike. Makeup: Elizabeth. For once my personal choice wins. Cate Blanchett at the end of the film... what an indelible image. But where was the nomination for Velvet Goldmine? There was no makeup work more flamboyant--or integral to the story.
6:09 PM: Christina Ricci is looking beautiful. Where is her nod for The Opposite of Sex? Oh well. I love "When You Believe"--the movie version, that is. The diva posturing of Whitney and Mariah obscures all the emotion of the song, which so powerfully shone through in the film version sung by Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky. I'm surprised Mariah is wearing something fairly conservative for her standards. I have to hand it to the diva duo, though--they sound almost exactly like the recording.
6:15 PM: James Coburn is currently in the press room. He's in high spririts, of course. Even though I was pulling for Thornton, it was nice to see the big guy win on his first nod.
6:20 PM: Whoopi costume change #2: Pleasantville. She's having a lot of fun tonight. Live Action Short: Election Night.
6:21 PM: Not another of those cutesy animated presenters. I liked A Bug's Life, but these gags usually just come off as labored. Animated Short: Bunny.
6:25 PM: Nice, if gratuitous, Linda Tripp crack, Whoopi. She's feeling feisty tonight.
6:26 PM: Robin Williams's bowing led me to a realization--he's the closest American equivalent to Roberto Benigni. Good Kazan joke. Why doesn't Gil Cates try to get Robin to host next time?
6:30 PM: Supporting Actress: Judi Dench. I'm not surprised though I thought xenophobia would rule the day and Kathy Bates would win (which would I have preferred). Guess I'm 0/2. My personal choice: Rachel Griffiths, who looked luminous in the audience.
6:38 PM: Chris Rock would certainly make a lively host, but he's probably too much of a loose cannon for the Academy's taste. I guess we'll just have to savor this little taste.
6:40 PM: Nice simple look for Liv. No frills--"Don't pay attention to my dress; just marvel at my beauty!" she seems to say. Nice, if obvious, touch having her introduce her daddy's group's number.
6:45 PM: I hate all these heavy-handed "poetic" intros for the technical categories. Just cut to the chase--we know what sound is! Sound: Saving Private Ryan. My personal pick. Not a surprise at all.
6:49 PM: Oooh, grab thee a razor, Tom! John Glenn--there's an orchestrated "surprise." But I guess I'm not terribly surprised since Tom Hanks generally goes hand in hand with astronauts. Judi Dench just walked into the press room, rescuing us from the "heroes" (or whatever it is) montage...
6:56 PM: Whoopi costume change #3: Beloved. I think this is a clever touch, having Whoopi model the costumes instead of just showing drawings or models. OK, maybe not better than the models.
7:05 PM: Does Sophia Loren ever age? Still stunning. Gotta love that Roberto. I can see how he could grate, but his energy is so genuine--which can't be said about a lot of people in Tinseltown. Foreign Language Film: Do I need to even say? That Roberto. What a character. I get the feeling that this won't be the only time he graces the stage tonight. Hmmm... he's not being played off the stage. Is there a double standard at work here?
7:06 PM: Andy and Andie! Ack! Flashbacks of that dreadful Just the Ticket! I can't believe anything from Patch Adams was nominated. Musical/Comedy Score: Shakespeare. Was hoping The Prince of Egypt would win. I guess animated features aren't a lock in this category anymore. The winners of Best Sound just walked in...
7:09 PM: OH NO! Not a Debbie Allen-choreographed number! Run for the bathroom, now! Luckily we have the Saving Private Ryan guys here in the press room. Geena Davis should have left on her dress from the pre-show.
7:13 PM: OK, at least these guys can dance. But I still think it's kind of odd to have tap dancing to Saving Private Ryan, though. Why is Pleasantville in the drama category?
7:19 PM: Frank Sinatra tribute. Hope the same treatment is given to Stanley Kubrick.
7:22 PM: Best Comedy/Musical score winner Stephen Warbeck just joined us in the press room. I kind of feel bad for the winners of these technical categories. No one really cares what they have to say. That said, I don't really have any questions for these guys either.
7:26 PM: Whoopi costume change #4: Elizabeth. Could Anne Heche have chosen a less flattering dress? Good save, Anne, going to the podium. Not as good as Sharon Stone's "psychic moment" of a few years back, but slick nonetheless. Otherwise, a thankless job done as well as could be done.
7:32 PM: Hmmm... think Jim Carrey is trying to send a hint? Leave it to him to liven up this looooooooong night. Oh, he also presented an award: Film Editing, to... Ryan. No surprise there.
7:34 PM: Renée Zellweger should shoot the designer of her dress. Yikes... Horse Whisperer. I think I'll turn my attention to Nicola Piovani, Life Is Beautiful's winner for Dramatic Score, who just entered the press room.
7:41 PM: I liked Whoopi's costumes better than that ball gown from hell. Norman Jewison... all I can think of when I see his name is that misbegotten adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar. Think that will be excerpted here? I must admit that I did like Only You, though.
7:54 PM: Visual effects: What Dreams May Come. Good job, Academy! Effects that actually supported the story ideas... a grand achievement. I'm just glad that Joe Young's less-than-Mighty effects weren't honored. "Love is groovy"? Now that tops "Royal Whoopi-ness."
7:56 PM: There wasn't a cringe-inducing moment until now. The heart was in the right place, but this whole horsey show with Val Kilmer was an embarrassment. Didn't help that the presence of the equine made Kilmer even more spacey than usual.
8:02 PM: Best Actor: as I predicted (my only correct one so far), Roberto Benigni takes the stage again. I was hoping for Edward Norton, but there was no chance of that. I can't really understand what he's saying, but he's funny as hell. However, I can see how he could be annoying to some. Strange seeing this award come so early. I guess the Academy is giving women some respect for a change. Here comes Norman Jewison into the press room... explain that Jesus Christ Superstar to me now, Norman...
8:08 PM: Whoopi's best costume of the night: dressed as Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in Velvet Goldmine, which I think should win for sheer bravado alone. It'll likely be another period piece taking the prize.
8:09 PM: I say Lisa Kudrow should do a Jim Carrey and complain about her oh-so-wrong Oscar snub. "VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA!" Sorry, I had to get that out of my system (anyone who saw The Opposite of Sex will get the reference). At least they invited her to present. I think I'll listen to Norman Jewison now... Nothing against Peter Gabriel, but I think this song sucks. That won't do. OK, here come the What Dreams May Come effects people.
8:17 PM: I think it's time that Ben dump Matt. Anyway... Documentary Short: The Personals. I like it when the (for lack of a better term) "obscure" people get emotional. It feels more real to me (a coincidence in the Documentary category?). Documentary Feature: The Last Days. Think the Spielberg connection had anything to do with that?
8:19 PM: Brace yourselves... Elia Kazan time. Ah, Marty Scorsese and Bobby DeNiro. Genuflect in awe.
8:26 PM: And the reaction is... a lot of claps and whistles. But are those good or bad whistles? I think the anti-Kazan contingent chose the right way to protest--just simply neither stand nor applaud. The high road. Still, I must say that the protesters miss the point of the award: his work, not what he did during the McCarthy era. He carried himself rather gracefully. Bravo... and to the director of Documentary Short winner The Personals, Keiko Ibi, who's now in the press room.
8:31 PM: Whoopi as Will Shakespeare. I must say, it's the most uninspired costume of the night. But one of the most inspired quips, at the expense of Steven Spielberg and about her The Color Purple audition. Costume Design: Sandy Powell for Shakespeare in Love, not Velvet Goldmine as she should have been. Not to be mean, but she needs to design a better costume for herself.
8:34 PM: Wow... Catherine Zeta-Jones. Ahh... But ugh... Quest for Camelot. I guess it's not an Oscar night without Celine Dion, who wisely dumped the hat before taking the stage. In the press room now... the crew behind The Last Days, winner of Documentary Feature.
8:37 PM: We are already past the scheduled 8:30 end time... and six awards to go. Will it ever end?
8:41 PM: Jennifer Lopez, looking lovely as usual though, I must say, she looked much better last year. Original Song: "When You Believe," The Prince of Egypt. I wonder why Schwartz didn't make it--could it be the whole flap with Babyface over his non-inclusion in the nomination? I don't buy this "he's in rehearsals for a new musical" excuse.
8:45 PM: Where was Stanley Kubrick in the "those who passed on" montage???
8:48 PM: The token Jack Valenti appearance. Yawn. All I can say is that at least Arthur Hiller is no longer the Academy president--we can only take so much bad hair.
8:51 PM: Give it up for Terrence Malick and The Thin Red Line! Am I the only one who loved that film?
8:52 PM: Bravo to Whoopi for the Gene Siskel tribute. Why didn't Whoopi mention The Avengers in the Uma intro?
8:53 PM: Cinematography: Saving Private Ryan, in a ROBBERY from John Toll of The Thin Red Line... NO ONE can honestly say Janusz Kaminski's work, while impressive, was anywhere nearly as extraordinary as Toll's.
8:59 PM: Actress: Gwynnie, Gwynnie, Gwynnie. Anyone surprised? I was pulling for Emily Watson myself. What's with the hair? The dress? But I love the honest emotion of her acceptance speeches. But there's that double standard again... she wasn't played off the stage. That makes only two predictions I've gotten right.
9:09 PM: OK, now we get the Kubrick tribute. Better late than never. Nicely done. Here comes Janusz Kaminski on the press room stage...
9:13 PM: Adapted Screenplay: Gods and Monsters by Bill Condon, as I predicted. That makes three predictions right. I was pulling for Scott B. Smith's A Simple Plan.
9:16 PM: Sorry, Goldie, you didn't earn any points with that rather bubbleheaded comment about James Whale's house. Original Screenplay: Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard's Shakespeare, of course. Personally, I was hoping The Truman Show--a truly original screenplay--would win.
9:18 PM: Kevin Costner presenting Best Director? I guess Jim Cameron's "King of the World" comment last year--and his moment of silence--didn't exactly put him in the good graces with the Academy. Still, what an insult to be replaced by the director of The Postman (Dances with Wolves be damned). And the winner is... Spielberg, of course. No one needs to ask whom I was rooting for... starts with a T, ends with a K...
9:27 PM: Harrison Ford is a god. That's all I have to say. Picture: Shakespeare in Love, as I predicted. So how did I do? I correctly predicted six out of the eight I made predictions for: Actor (Roberto Benigni), Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Adapted Screenplay (Gods and Monsters), Original Screenplay (Shakespeare in Love), Director (Steven Spielberg), and Picture; I got the Supporting Acting categories wrong.
9:32 PM: What's with the wreaths on Whoopi's dress? Well, that puts a cap on the 71st Annual Academy Awards...