Oscar 2001

The Oscars were last night.  Oscar 2001, complete with appearance
(via satellite from Sri Lanka) of author Arthur C. Clarke, whose
short story "The Sentinel" was adapted by the late, great Stanley
Kubrick as a certain millennium-themed movie about a computer called
"Hal."  (Hint: it's opening is parodied in Mel Brooks' HISTORY OF
THE WORLD, PART I.)  This "space theme" also *opened* the telecast
with a live (live?) greeting from Space Station Alpha (boring name,
there, NASA), complete with floating cardboard cut-out of one Steve
Martin.  The comic-turned-actor-turned-author was this year's emcee,
replacing near-perennial play-by-player Billy Crystal.  And, as ex-
pected, Martin was nice, normal, and exactly as funny as he should
have been.  Also as expected, Martin neither appeared in a series of
Best Picture clips nor sang any song parodies parodying same.  Nope,
nothing cheesy, embarrassing, or even eye-rolling.  Just an all too
comfortable opening to what would be an all too comfortable (read:
boring) evening.

Though certainly classy, the novel non-edginess wore off within two
or three commercial breaks.  Oh, Martin's material was good-enough:
topical humor (Afghan statues, tax cuts, etc.), topical *movie* hu-
mor (sky-high ticket prices), celebrity in-jokes ("and Russell Crowe
*still* hit on her"), and the first Charleton Heston joke in ages
*without* an NRA punchline.  But, as the host humorously noted, the
ceremonial emphasis *this* year was brevity.  Witness the harried
presenters, each of whom spent more time *walking* to their podiums
than speaking at them!  The likes of Nicholas Cage, Morgan Freeman,
and Ashley Judd were paraded before us, but with nary a crack, quip,
or spontaneous rant between them.  (Ben Stiller tried to get off a
good one about presenters getting off good ones, but he just looked
liked George W. at a press conference.  e.g., deer in headlights.)

At least the outfits were interesting, notably the many breast-en-
hancing female fits.  Swelling the ranks of the well-rounded were
Halle Berry, Hilary Swank, and a prominently pointing Jennifer Lo-
pez, to name a few.  (Didja notice that the camera never strayed be-
low Puffy Girl's neck?)  Sometimes, too, the "whole package" was
stunning.  Catherine Zeta-Jones seemed back "in form," Annette Be-
ning looked as lovely as she ever has, and Best Supporting Actress
winner Marcia Gay Harden looked like an eerie variation of actress
Lara Flynn Boyle and barely resembling the character she played op-
posite Ed Harris in POLLOCK, which is okay.  Review forthcoming.)
And there was the curious sight of Tom Hanks' upper-lip, adorned
with what appeared to be either (a.) a moustache or (b.) leftover
mold from Wilson the Volleyball's water scenes in CAST AWAY.  (Or
did he have a *stunt* ball?)

Alas, as I caught myself tuning out-- opting to converse, browse the
Web, and pick up a pizza-- I can't advise on the raw number of dance
numbers, dull montages, or boring Best Song performances.  Only Jul-
ia's adorable acceptance speech sticks in my mind.  And that Bob Dy-
lan looked 100 years old.  And that the laughable awarding of Best
Picture (GLADIATOR) makes perfect sense, when you remember that last
year was arguably the *worst* year ever.  So everyone's off-kilter.
I mean, how else to explain the inclusion of CHOCOLAT?  And at least
*it* didn't win.  Thank God...  Memo to the Academy: bring back Bil-
ly.  Or Whoopee.  Or even Mr. Letterman, easily the driest of the
past decade's hosts.  Really, all is forgiven...  Bonus question:
what's *your* favorite Steve Martin movie?  Comedy or otherwise?  In
order of liking: PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987, John Hughes
d.), BOWFINGER (1999, Frank Oz d.), THE SPANISH PRISONER (1997, Da-
vid Mamet d.), and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (1988, Frank Oz d.).  And
don't forget GRAND CANYON, Lawrence Kasdan's 1991 comic drama and
the source of Martin's most memorable of memorable quotes:  "All of
life's questions are answered in the movies."  True, true.

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

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