Sunday, March 18, 2007

I was going to make expresso!

And I was going to blog the Oscars. Well, best-laid plans. It's probably just as well, because I dozed off about an hour in, and when I woke up Darren McGavin was exclaiming, "It's a leg!" right in the middle of the Tribute to the Fallen.

Quick: who went home with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award? Because the movie industry, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, is really about the humanitarianism. Does anybody in the Academy under 70 know Jean Hersholt from Jean Simmons? Or for that matter Gene Simmons? I think I do, but I can also hum the TCM theme music. A new century calls for new awards. How about a small statuette of John Barrymore for the actor right on the verge of complete liver failure who can still bring it when the director says "Action"? Then Peter O'Toole wouldn't be overlooked every time. (OK, Venus creeped a lot of people out, but what about the other seven roles?) Did you know that cue cards were invented for Barrymore because he wouldn't (and later couldn't) learn movie lines? No cue cards, no Saturday Night Live. Think about it.

Yes, Helen Mirren gave a polished speech, but she's had so much practice. I preferred her acceptance at the British version of the Oscars, concluding with a graceful tribute to Ian Richardson, who had died a few days earlier. It's good that Americans are becoming aware of actors like Mirren and Judi Dench in their golden years; it's a pity they still know Richardson best as the man in the Grey Poupon commercials. His New York Times obituary was a disgrace.
The guy who wrote "Tequila!" got more enthusiasm.

Will Forest Whitaker go on to a whole series about extravagantly mad African dictators? Mobutu Sese Seko, Robert Mugabe, Bokassa I of the Central African Empire/Republic? Is it vaguely colonialist even to suggest such a thing? Whatever, he should steer clear of Nasser. Remember how angry some Egyptians were when Louis Gossett played Sadat? I thought he was good. Whatever became of Gossett? Suggestion for next year: a musical extravaganza featuring all the winners who never equaled their Oscar successes (F. Murray Abraham, Joe Pesci, Luise Rainer if she's still alive).

Somebody looked at all those "foreign" names and decided it was finally Martin Scorsese's year for Best Director. Then the producers arranged for it to be presented by the other three hot-shot Americans of his generation. At least Scorsese continues to make interesting, often compelling movies (I liked The Aviator, damn it). Coppola is in the wine business, Lucas has finally run out of things to tell us about that galaxy far, far away, and Spielberg apparently is in pre-production for Indiana Jones and the AARP.

So what won Best Song? Is it about pimps? When did Nicholson start shaving his head, and why? Did food poisoning take out all the hosting candidates except Ellen DeGeneres? I suppose I can go look these things up. After all, tomorrow is another -- oh, the hell with it.


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