Oscar Hell

Oscar had a great costume designer this year-- he looked slim, but
his midsection was as flabby as ever.  A longer sit than even THE
ENGLISH PATIENT, the top winner of the evening, the 69th Annual
Academy Awards was a painfully padded parade of songs, clips, mon-
tages, surprise appearances, and tongue-twisting teleprompting; a 
night where every other winner received their choice of (a.) a 
standing ovation or (b.) a thirty-second acceptance speech.  Things 
got off to a great start, though, with Billy Crystal appearing in a
clip from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, followed by a series of Best
Picture bits.  (Talking on the phone to Tom Cruise, getting hugged
by Armin Mueller-Stahl, etc.  And has there been a funnier sight in
five years, than that of David Letterman careening to the ground in
a certain yellow biplane?)

Crystal's Best Picture medley was also very funny.  (Singing about
JERRY MAGUIRE:  "And if you don't score this goal, you still go
home with Nicole.")  Once the presenters took to the football 
field-sized stage, the ceremony started getting strange.  This was 
the night that Sandra Bullock cited Hillary Clinton, Juliette 
Binoche spoke in tongues, Courtney Love behaved herself, and Jim 
Carrey talked with his behind.  Some of the bits were a blast, in 
particular Steve Martin's string of jokes and Kevin Spacey's 
impromptu impersonation of Christopher Walken.  Even Beavis and 
Butt-head behaved themselves-- and wore tuxedos, no less!  (The 
less said about their live-action counterparts, Chris Farley and 
David Spade, the better.)  No sight of Jack nor Jack's sunglasses 
this year, but the fashions were nice.  (Nothing outrageous, just 
the occasional Bad Dress.  Such as what Claire Danes was wearing.)

In addition to Lauren Bacall's loss, the evening offered other sur-
prises.  Debbie Reynolds griped about the quality of the writing,
until her daughter, Carrie Fisher, appeared.  David Helfgott, the
subject of SHINE, also appeared and pounded his way through "Flight 
of the Bumblebee."  Cuba Gooding Jr. started a mini-riot.  The most
touching sight, though, was that of Muhammad Ali taking the stage
with George Foreman, after WHEN WE WERE KINGS won Best Documentary.
And, had that stupid swirling camera not cut away so quickly, the
moment might have been even *more* memorable for those of us watch-
ing at home.  The producers did other dumb things, from the repre-
hensible number of truncated acceptance speeches, to all those 
mind-numbing montages.  I mean, really, a montage about film edit-
ing that includes live dancing?  And how many times were the same 
Best Picture clips played throughout the evening?

Things started getting interesting again at the end of the evening.
Billy Bob and the Coens winning writing awards for SLING BLADE and
FARGO, respectively.  Andrew Lloyd-Weber thanking the fact that THE
ENGLISH PATIENT didn't contain a song.  Kristen Scott-Thomas ap-
pearing as a presenter with natural choice Jack Valenti.  KOYLA
director Jan Sverak's touching speech.  Jodie Foster trying to be
funny.  Best Actress winner Francis McDormand acknowledging the
other winners.  Best Picture producer Saul Zaentz runningeth over
at the mouth.  And presenter Susan Sarandon mercifully skipping her
canned comments in the interest of time.  Thank God for small
favors.  Maybe next year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences will do something *really* radical and scrap the songs and
the repeating Best Picture clips and we'll all get to bed, oh, ten
minutes earlier.

Major-category winners:

  Best Picture            - THE ENGLISH PATIENT
  Best Director           - Anthony Minghella
  Best Actor              - Geoffrey Rush
  Best Actress            - Francis McDormand
  Best Supp. Actor        - Cuba Gooding Jr.
  Best Supp. Actress      - Juliette Binoche
  Best Orig. Screenplay   - FARGO
  Best Adapt. Screenplay  - SLING BLADE

Final count, by my count:  

  THE ENGLISH PATIENT             - 9
  FARGO                           - 2
  EMMA                            - 1
  EVITA                           - 1
  INDEPENDENCE DAY                - 1
  JERRY MAGUIRE                   - 1
  KOLYA                           - 1
  THE NUTTY PROFESSOR             - 1
  QUEST                           - 1
  SHINE                           - 1
  SLING BLADE                     - 1
  WHEN WE WERE KINGS              - 1
  BREATHING LESSONS (short)       - 1
  DEAR DIARY (short)              - 1 

Copyright 1997 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as OSCAR HELL: Was It Ever Going To End?

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros