My Oscar Ritual didn’t quite pan out this year…
…but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating a year in which I saw all but 10 of the nominated films in every televised category. That’s a record, I do believe! Unfortunately, I haven’t made it to the theaters to see the top, top winners yet, but I loved seeing Clint Eastwood walk away with the big prize. The older I get, and he gets, the more I enjoy seeing his films. I’m not such a fan of his acting work as I am of his film-making, but I can’t deny the appeal of his grizzled characters and I celebrate with him each year he chooses to find that “one great story”. His Best Picture award, coupled with Best Actress and Supporting Actor recognitions for his cast, just make me want to celebrate his choices all the more. And I really have to find time for Million Dollar Baby.
There wasn’t a lot left in the Oscar telecast for me to celebrate since my favorite, The Aviator, didn’t run away with any major prizes (excluding Cate Blanchett who more than deserved the Supporting Actress award for her embodiment of Katharine Hepburn), but I did find a few enjoyable moments in the ceremony.
1. Antonio Banderas sings! Carlos Santana accompanies! Or rather, Banderas sings to the Santana performance. It was my favorite moment of the broadcast, despite not understanding one single word in the entire song. So what?! It had more passion, more feeling than anything else that evening. Except maybe Jamie Foxx’s speech for Best Actor. But nothing can top that, so why try?
2. Sean Penn “corrects” host Chris Rock. I was already bored with Rock when he had only just begun his opening monologue, but he did himself in (with me) when he said, “Who is Jude Law, and why was he in every single movie I saw this year?!” Had Rock simply said the last portion of that statement, it would’ve been a hilarious comment. [I had the same thoughts this year as Law turned up in film after film after film.] But to negate Law’s presence as an outstanding actor of this generation was overstepping the joke. To have Sean Penn come to Law’s defense during the last portion of the show was brilliant and much-deserved: “Jude Law is one of our finest actors.” I felt vindicated… by Sean Penn! This was my biggest surprise of the evening.
3. No Oscar for Natalie. There were so many actors I wanted to see rewarded for the work they did this year, but one of my favorite moments was seeing Natalie Portman not win for her role in Closer. I’m not denying it was a gutsy performance, but I still can’t believe she could possibly be considered better than Blanchett in this year’s nominations. There is just no contest, so I was happy to see the Academy award on merit and not “daring choices”. I was also happy to see that no actresses who “got ugly” for a role were given a chance to compete. That’s the most ridiculous standard for acting recognition I’ve ever seen.
All in all, I enjoyed this year’s ceremony, and I really don’t believe any of the films were unworthy of being recognized. In a year that was constantly berated for having a lack of good films, I felt the nominees were fantastic and exactly what films ought to be. There was a great emphasis this year on storytelling and character, and it was so nice to see the Hollywood group honor that. They even, finally, found Clive Owen! My world couldn’t be better. Unless Kate Winslet, Leo DiCaprio, and Johnny Depp can finally win, and then all will be perfectly balanced.