Blackwolf @ the Oscars, Part Five
Roger also paid tribute to the 6 Board Chairmen and 7 heads of production who were employed during his quarter-century's association with MGM, "who either backed up our endeavors or weren't exactly sure what we were doing, but let it all happen anyway. And then came Ted Turner and his cohorts in Atlanta, who understood the importance of all this and kept it going when the funds were pretty short." Today, it's not just the studios who take on the responsibilities of fighting for the cause of film preservation: it's organizations like MoMA and Eastman House in New York; UCLA and the Academy Archives in L.A. --- and especially the Library of Congress.
Mr. Mayer concluded his short remarks by referring to his wife of 52 1/2 years: "They say nothing lasts in Hollywood. Well, love really does. So does 'Taking Care of Our Own.' And so too does the art of film, if we can properly preserve it." Wise words, indeed. I only wish that they had not had to serve as prelude to the telecast's lowest point, in which Annette Bening introduced Yo-Yo Ma. His performance of one of Bach's unaccompanied suites for solo cello served as musical backdrop for the annual Oscar Necrology. Here was the most foolish segment of the entire show: The repeated applause during Maestro Ma's solo was, quite simply, uncalled for! You call THIS respect for the dead?
Making his Oscar debut as a presenter --- and (ick!) allegedly "keepin' it real" for the brothers was that odious Sean (Puffy) Combs. He had the task of introducing the evening's last nominee in the Best Original Song category, Believe, from The Polar Express. That blarsted Beyonce sang the song again (Oh no!), this time teaming up with Josh Grogan, who'd recorded the original solo. Stop Beyonce before she croons again! your Dragonmaster was thinking. At that point, Prince, (long live "Batdance!") was called upon to recap the five nominated songs; as previously noted, Jorge Drexler's Al Otro Lado del Rio (The Other Side of the River) from The Motorcycle Diaries was the winner. Senor Drexler didn't bother thanking everybody --- he just crooned an excerpt from his song, and said thank you before leaving the stage.
Sean Penn next took to the stage, grunting that he wanted to answer "our host's question about who Jude Law was." When he did, he then presented Best Actress to Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby. This girl from a trailer park will obviously be a force to be reckoned with for some time to come. Then Gwyneth Paltrow came along for the Best Foreign Languge Film Oscar, which was given to Spain's entry in this category, The Sea Inside, the story of, in Alejandro Amenabar's words, "a man who, despite his desire for death, spread so much life around him." It is the 4th major Oscar winner in this category, and the 20th consecutive nomination as well. Ole!
And then, "the black Jedi Knight that's a sex machine to all the chicks, Mace!" --- er, Samuel L. Jackson --- showed up to give out the Original Screenplay Oscar. Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth won for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but Charlie was not too thrilled, I don't think, about his triumph. He actually wanted to leave the stage? Well, I guess that solved Louis' problems for the night! Just do Actor, Director and Picture and then we're outta here!
Charlize Theron was first to take the stage. Just as the Planet had wished, Jamie Foxx won for the title role in Ray; I'm not even gonna bother reliving the damn moment about his grandmother. Let's face it, we all speak to our parents in our dreams; your Dragonmaster is no exception to this. Suffice it to say, Jamie becomes the 10th actor to be nominated for Oscars both Lead and Supporting Roles in the same year. Penultimately, there was Milady Julia (Julia Roberts, that is!); and, of course, 'twas old Clint Eastwood, successful in this, his 8th Academy Award nomination.
Blarsted Malpaso Company! They win EVERYTHING! Clint even thanks his now 96-year-old Mom for, among other things, her genes. "To make a picture in only 37 days takes a well-oiled machine .... I watched Sidney Lumet, who is 80, and I figure: I'm just a kid, and I've got a lot of stuff to do yet." Oh goody!
Well, that left only Best Picture --- and Dustin Hoffman, who started this little adventure in voice-over, now joined by La Streisand. "So happy to give this to you again," quoth beloved Yentl --- "Clint!"
For me, the more significant comments re the triumph of Million Dollar Baby come from the film's co-producer, Albert S. Ruddy. "It's the 3rd award ceremony we've gotten to in this category," said he. "I'd tell you every time I started going to this thing, I'd say I'm gonna enjoy myself, whether I win or lose. But believe me, as Arnold said, 'It's better to win!' I'm gonna sit down, get a piece of lemon pie with the real filling, I'm gonna look at this, and then I'm gonna die and go to heaven!" Hooray for you, Albert!
And at last, mercifully, Chris Rock wrapped everything up thusly: "Hey, that's our show for tonight. I hope everybody had a good time. Yo: goodnight, Brooklyn! Yo!" And by the official time of sign-off, at about 11:45 pm Eastern time, we had battled through 3 hours, 40 minutes --- probably the shortest Oscar telecast in recent memory! Seems to me that Gil Cates made good on some of his promises, while most of them did not exactly work out as planned. As far as I'm concerned, gimme Billy or Whoopi any day of the week. Oscar fans, you have until Sunday, March 6th, 2006 to see what happens next. Maybe by then, ol' Gil will get back to directing for the big screen!