The Bagger sensed he might be onto something while working the red carpet at the Independent Spirit Awards. James Schamus, the head of Focus Films, which put out "Brokeback" and ran a vigorous campaign behind it, chided him on camera for crushing on "Crash." But after the camera dimmed, Mr. Schamus leaned in and said, "I think youâ€™re right."
It was an extraordinary Oscarcast for several reasons. Not just for the quality of the winners, not just for Jon Stewart‘s triumph as emcee, but for the legendary director Robert Altman‘s startling revelation that he had a heart transplant more than 10 years ago. In an industry where rumors of bad health can end careers, it was a statement of unusual courage, typical of Altman.
The overall tone of the Oscarcast was – well, the word is joyous. Perhaps keyed by Stewart’s own high spirits and the infectious grins inspired by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Ben Stiller, Lily Tomlin, Three 6 Mafia and Dolly Parton, the evening was warm and upbeat, and more relaxed than many Oscarcasts.
This was the most incoherent, inchoate Oscar telecast in recent memory. Nothing flowed, everything jarred, cut ins and cut outs weren’t preceded by necessary segues. Added up to a butt-ugly broadcast that even the biggest film buff had to gag through.
Stop the misery. End this hell on earth. 365 days is too little time before the next torturous show. Mondayâ€™s certain-to-be-dismal ratings will tell the Academy exactly where to shove Oscar. Alas, tonight, they kept jamming it down our throats.
Dan Glaister at the Guardian:
Not the first Oscar host to discover that confronting the fixed faces of the Hollywood elite is not the same as the intimacy of late-night TV, [Jon Stewart] died several small deaths. His best – and worst – moment came when the Oscar broadcast returned from a commercial break to find Stewart mid-sentence: "And that’s why I think Scientology is right not just for this city but for the country," he said, to silence. Whether he will get invited back to the Oscars seems unlikely; whether he will ever work in this town again must also be in doubt.
The real highlight of the evening was the delicious moment during the adapted screenplay awards, when ABC captioned a shot of two handsome gentlemen in tuxedos as "Tony Kushner and Eric Roth," the writers nominated for "Munich." In fact, the image was of Tony Kushner and his husband, Mark Harris, a New York entertainment writer and editor. Meanwhile, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana were taking the stage to accept their award for taking gay love into the American mainstream, at least as long as said love is depicted as guilty, miserable and unfulfillable.
8:23pm: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! God help us all. The sky has opened, Beezlebub has dumped his infernal payload of obvious evil on an unsuspecting Earth. Life as we know it is over. Drive to the desert and start a new civilization, hoping that our horrible, horrible mistakes will not be repeated. This is the end, friends. See you in Hell.
WORST. OSCARS. EVER.
The set design looked like Mel’s Diner from the Universal backlot. But worse, the giant TV screen on the top operated in direct opposition to the endless â€“ and unnecessary â€“ message that seeing movies in a theater was the best way. It really said, "Go to the movies and watch your iPod while the movie is going on." And even worse, there were lights on the base of the set, down on the floor in front of the first row of seats, and the upward lighting made the actors look like vampires.
The only really embarrassing moment, besides Stewart making fun of Best Song Oscar winners Three 6 Mafia for being boisterous, was that "Crash" musical number that looked like "Night Of the Living Dead: The Musical." But an Oscar telecast would not be an Oscar telecast without an embarrassing musical number, and this one was the silliest since Rob Lowe sang "Proud Mary" with Snow White.
Hank Stuever at the Washington Post:
They’re all predictably thrilled, prepped, dressed, posed. They’re all tiny but somehow huge. They toss little standard vignettes about their moods, their day. They smile, and you smile. All you remember from those few seconds, all you really have, is some small and useless detail rendered huge in your mind: the blue vein barely noticeable on Meryl Streep’s cheek, or a glimpse at her dental work when she’s leans forward to speak into a TV microphone. The slight and brilliant crinkle of crow’s feet and dusting of gray around Eric Bana‘s temple. The warm embrace between Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman when they spot each other — and they seem to need the warmth. Bullock keeps putting her hands in the pockets of her vintage ’50s gown.
"Crash’s" biggest asset is its ability to give people a carload of those standard Hollywood satisfactions but make them think they are seeing something groundbreaking and daring. It is, in some ways, a feel-good film about racism, a film you could see and feel like a better person, a film that could make you believe that you had done your moral duty and examined your soul when in fact you were just getting your buttons pushed and your preconceptions reconfirmed.
We went on to discuss the mystifying momentum of "Crash"; Edelstein said he had watched the film with Armond White, who spent portions of the screening just laughing.
Are there no capital-N Narcissists left in Hollywood? No wonder box-office receipts are so grim. No obnoxiously starlike stars are allowed on campus anymore. I guess the honchos now regard such egocentricity as too problematic to deal with. To be a Hollywood success these days, you have to be reasonable and polite. It really makes me pine for notorious tyrants like Vincent Gallo and Faye Dunaway — sure, they’re impossible, tantrum-throwing wack jobs … that’s the same mental illness that makes them preternaturally fun to watch.