Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2006, Part Five
Will Smith, he who of old was the symbolic image of cool among film-lovers, hosted Best Foreign Language Film --- when Gavin Hood was summoned to the podium to be honored for his inspiring script and direction of Tsotsi, he started worrying about the fact that, despite having written a list of those he wanted to thank, he had exactly 38 seconds to get 'em all in. So Gavin invited us, live, to check out Tsotsi.com, where you may meet stars Presley Chweneyagae and Terry Pheto ("Put the cameras on them, please! I've got 10 seconds!") and recall the reasons why Gavin had to remind us --- super-fast, mind you --- "Our stories are the same as your stories; they're about the human heart and emotion. It says please wrap. Thank you so much."
We come now to Best Film Editing, and the exotic Ziyi Zhang, as she introduced us to another party Crasher, in the person of editor Hughes Winborne, whose comments upon winning included a salute to his dad on his 83rd Birthday, and his own girlfriend Looloo, who had gotten him through the past three weeks. Next, Hilary Swank introduced the Best Actor nominees before summoning the press' favorite, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
"I'd like to thank Bennett Miller, and Danny Futterman, whom I love, I love, I love, I love," said he. "Y'know, the Van Morrison song, and he keeps repeating it like that --- 'I love, I love, I love, I love.' And my mom's name is Marilyn O'Connor, and if you see her here tonight, I'd like to congratulate her for bringing up four kids alone --- 'Oh, I'm at the party, Mom, y'know?' --- and she took me to see my first play, and even stayed up with me to watch the NCAA Final Four. And her passions became my passions --- and, y'know, be proud, Mom, because we're here tonight, and I'm proud of you, and it's so good."
Jon Stewart asked Bill Conti to stand while the audience saluted his 18th year as Oscar's bandleader (will he still stay there, I wonder?); then introduced Travolta. The category this time: Best Cinematography; the victor: Dion Beebe for Memoirs of a Geisha; he thanked the usual: director (Rob Marshall); producers; the Sony Pictures crew; wife, "who is over there, and who is my inspiration and my muse;" and young Axel, who was born during the making of Memoirs.
Next was Jamie Foxx --- and thank goodness, he's now busy these days worrying about a singing career. Well, when Reese Witherspoon was announced as the winner, she knew in one moment that her career was only just beginning.
"People used to ask June Carter how she was doing, and she would always say, 'I'm just trying to matter' --- and now, I know what she means. You know --- I'm just trying to matter, and live a good life and make work that means something to somebody. And you have all made me feel that I might have accomplished that tonight," Reese concluded in her remarks. Y'know what? Right there, dear friends, that is the very essence of your Dragonmaster's basic mission --- to live a good life, and make adventures that mean something to someone. And if I have done that, even in these chronicles, well, I guess I've done my job. But I digress. On to the Screenplay portion of the night!
Last year's Oscar show had Dustin Hoffman on twice: first, to narrate the Prelude, which concluded with Chaplin's Little Tramp and the world's favorite ogre, Shrek, walking off into the end of the film; then, Dustin was live on stage with Streisand to present Best Picture. Now, Dustin was presenting Best Screenplay Adaptation --- and two of Brokeback Mountain's populace, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, were named victors. "The duty of art," Diana reminded us, "is to send light into the darkness of men's hearts." Larry, meanwhile, found his writing partner guilty of the following: "Smarts, guts, drive, good judgment, tenacity, loyalty and generosity. That's the kind of virtues you need in the rough strife of moviemaking." Larry even gave a few props to the booksellers of the world: "Remember, Brokeback Mountain was a book before it was a movie. From the humblest paperback exchange to the masters of the great bookshops of the world, all are contributors to the survival of the culture of the book --- a wonderful culture which we mustn't lose." I, who, as always, simply cannot live without books, certainly agree, Sir Larry! Huzzah!
Then came Uma (no, I will not do the damn Oprah/Uma thing. I refuse to be slapped in the mouth by so beautiful an actress!). Her segment was Best Original Screenplay. And two more Crashers invaded, writers Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco. "Just before the commercial break, my sister walked up to me and gave me my mom's ring," Paul said to those assembled. "It was her way of saying she's here with us. And she really messed me up, so thanks a lot, Jo! Tonight I just wanna thank those who take big risks in their daily lives, when there aren't cameras rolling. When there aren't people there to applaud. And when there are people out there who stand up for justice, and peace, and against intolerance." Oh, I think he means folks like your humble Dragonmaster! Heh-heh!
Well, nothing left but Best Director and Best Picture. When a more serious Tom Hanks took to the podium, his announcement was that director Ang Lee, as all had expected was chosen for Brokeback Mountain. His thoughts:
"I want to thank Ennis and Jack, who taught all of us who made Brokeback Mountain so much --- not just about the gay men and women whose love is denied by society, but also, just as important, about the very greatness of Love itself," said Ang, who also acknowledged the passing of his father during the filming of his saga. But then, the force that IS Jack Nicholson was the last presenter. And his was the biggest surprise of all --- "and the Oscar for the Best Picture of 2005 goes to --- Crash!"
Cathy Schulman did the most talking here: "We are humbled by the other nominees in this category," said she. "You have made this yeaar one of the most stunning, and breathtaking maverick years in American cinema. Thank you." Well, oddly enough, Gil Cates and Louis J. Horvitz were so confident in having gotten everything in that they even went to commercial before Jon Stewart had the chance to properly close the show, which he eventually did by saying: "Hope you had a nice night. Get home safe. Good night." And though we'd now at last been through 4 hours and 5 minutes --- at least, by my estimation, the official time of sign-off being 11:34 pm Eastern time --- there was time for one last encore, in the form of Bill Conti's 2001 adaptation of the famous disco version of Also Sprach Zarathustra (cool!).
And there you have it in five epic parts, Mortals: Blackwolf at the Academy Awards! Let's hope that Oscar 2007 is just as maddening and just as exciting! (Whew!)