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"I Want To Thank God And My Manicurist"

A review of this year's Academy Award acceptance speeches, in order of acceptance.

Best Live Action Short Film
Winner Ari Sandel (West Bank Story) explains to America the plight of "little guy" filmmakers such as himself, struggling to realize their vision on a shoestring and a prayer. The camera cuts to Gwyneth Paltrow in the audience, whose dangly earrings alone could finance the production of 200 short films.

Best Sound Editing
In the course of announcing the win (Letters from Iwo Jima), Alan Robert Murray is dissed twice, first when Steve Carell reads only his partner Bub Asman's name, and again when the off-camera announcer spouting trivia to kill time as the winners walk to the stage transposes his name, calling him Robert Alan Murray. Murray retaliates by giving the dullest acceptance speech of the evening, read in a monotone voice and leaving his colleague with no time to speak.

Best Sound Mixing
The theme of the evening's speeches is set - pull out your prepared list of Thank You's while uttering "I know you're not supposed to read anything, but . . . "

Best Supporting Actor
As Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) gives a sincere and humble tribute to his film, his fellow actors, and his profession, the Oscars director instructs his roving camerman to fixate on costar Abigail Breslin, dressed like an Easter basket, bouncing around in her chair. Cut to a sustained shot of the Oscar Arkin has put on the floor so he can hold his list of Thank You's. Arkin's moment in the sun is reduced to a voiceover. Nice.

Best Adapted Screenplay
William Monahan (The Departed) speaks for everyone in the room when he says, "Valium does work." Another piece of paper comes out from the coat pocket and the reading of names begins. Shouldn't writers give better speeches?

Best Costume Design
Presenters Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway from The Devil Wore Prada giggle their way through the nominees after a lame skit starring a scowling Meryl Streep in the audience. In the interest of brevity, winner Milena Canonero (Marie Antoinette) thanks everybody who ever had anything to do with the movie. A previous winner for Chariots of Fire and Barry Lyndon, she dedicates the award to her mama, director Hugh Hudson, and Stanley Kubrick, whom she credits as "her great master."

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Chicago girl Sherry Lansing, whose face is one of the better reconstructions in Hollywood, accepts and makes everyone in the audience feel like complete slugs. Get me another beer.

Best Visual Effects
The team from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest treks to the stage. It sucks to accept your award in a crowd. Know this - unless you're the first to step up to the mike, you can pretty much kiss your 15 seconds goodbye.

Best Foreign Language Film
An excited Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, not believing his good luck in beating Pan's Labyrinth, hugs everyone on his way to accepting the award for the German film The Lives of Others and gives the most breathless speech of the evening.

Best Supporting Actress
Chicago's other hometown girl, Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) wins. Once again, Beyoncé watches as the American Idol reject steals her thunder.

Best Documentary Feature
Jerry Seinfeld announces An Inconvenient Truth as the Academy Award winner in the category of "incredibly depressing movies." Al Gore takes yet another opportunity to preach to the converted as everyone in the audience nods in agreement.

Best Original Screenplay
Winner Michael Arndt proves quitting his job as Matthew Broderick's assistant to write the screenplay for Little Miss Sunshine was an excellent career move.

Best Original Song
The Academy votes Green again, awarding Melissa Etheridge a statue for her theme for An Inconvenient Truth ("I Need to Wake Up.") She gives the conservative right even more reason to hate Hollywood by thanking her wife with an onscreen kiss and reiterating Al Gore's message.

Best Film Editing
Thelma Schoonmaker accepts the award for her work on The Departed. She thanks her frequent collaborator, director Martin Scorsese, who looks more moved than she does. Schoonmaker scores extra points for using the word "panoply" in her speech.

Honorary Oscar
After scoring more than 400 films in a long career, the Academy decides they really can't ignore composer Ennio Morricone anymore. Clint Eastwood, the man who got iconic status from Morricone's scores of A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, introduces the winner and translates his acceptance speech from Italian. Morricone's frowsy Italian wife Maria beams.

Best Actress
As expected, Helen Mirren wins. Everyone leans toward the stage, sure that Dame Helen will have something wonderful and witty to say. Those Brits always make the best speeches. She's gracious, crediting her fellow nominees. Cut to Kate Winslet, looking teary-eyed. For the win or the loss? Mirren concludes with a tribute to Elizabeth Windsor and then in an odd note that seems a tad too staged, she strikes a Statue of Liberty pose with the Oscar held high, and pronounces "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Queen." As the camera follows her offstage, a large split in her expensive frock is clearly visible.

Best Actor
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) spans the ages thanking everyone, including his ancestors, and vowing to take this moment with him into his next lifetime.

Best Director
The entire room bursts in a cheer as Martin Scorsese finally wins his Oscar. A huge collective weight lifts off the room as the Academy avoids the embarrassment of leaving yet another legend in the director's chair (think Hitchcock, Kubrick, Altman) Oscarless.

Best Picture
The Departed steals the sunshine from underdog Little Miss when presenters Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton announce the winner. As Scorsese stands in the wings and a bald-headed Jack, looking frighteningly like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, beams from behind his dark glasses, producer Graham King makes the routine Thank You's.


For more Beachwood Oscar coverage:

* The geeks who won Oscars.

* Our Oscar preview package.


Posted on February 26, 2007

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SPORTS - The Truth About Ed Farmer.

BOOKS - A First: Comics Industry Shut Down.


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