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What I Watched Last Night - Oscar Edition

ABC continued its tradition of delivering the most astoundingly lame programming into America's living rooms with a vengeance last night as it presented the 79th Academy Awards. If you come across a bunch of surly co-workers today, cut them a good bit of slack. Not only did the Oscars kill any hope of any of them getting laid at a reasonable hour, but it killed any plans they might have had for watching Tora! Tora! Tora! was on American Movie Classics.

On the bright side, Nielsen ratings history was made when a mass exodus of viewers was noticed emigrating to WTTW. Unfortunately for the folks at Channel 11, it wasn't a pledge night. They won't make that mistake next year.

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The 2007 Oscars. Yeah. The night of 1,000 stars - and 999 showed up in the most hideous dresses anyone could possibly invent. This was a night that totally begged for the astutely rude commentary we've come to expect and enjoy in the past from Kathy Griffin on E!'s Live From The Red Carpet pre-show. Instead we got a taste of how much tedium lay ahead with E!'s decision to have Ryan Seacrest do the honors.

The top offender was Penelope Cruz, wearing something that 500 pink poodles were sacrificed to make. Runner-up was little Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), doing her best to look like a Baskin-Robbins peppermint ice cream cake-topper decoration.

Later, during the actual Oscars show, the adage that the nation's mood is directly reflected by the height of dress hemlines is brought home by presenter Jennifer Lopez, dressed in a something caught painfully between Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra and one of those dreadful things bridesmaids get stuck wearing in rural Texas. If the hemlines bit is true, George W. Bush is more incredibly fucked than he could ever imagine.

The best dress belonged to Reese Witherspoon, hands down. Honorable mention to the dress of Best Actress winner Helen Mirren for making an old chick's rack look incredibly awesome.

*

Host Ellen DeGeneres deserves some sort of consideration for her tux cobbled together from red velvet movie theater ropes and the very disturbing pair of white shoes stolen from the corpse of Pat Boone. Unfortunately, she makes a better talk show host than an Oscars host. "A billion people" watching, she says - and every single one of them wondering, "Whatever happened to that nice Billy Crystal boy?"

*

In one of the most glaring examples of precaution since American schoolchildren were ducking and covering, the Academy insisted that Jack Black and Will Ferrell be spayed and neutered in order to appear together on live television. "A comedian at the Oscars is the saddest, bitterest, alcoholic clown," sang Ferrell. Um, not exactly - just the ones who aren't funny.

*

The night's only funny moment, which clocks in at an excruciatingly late 9:45 p.m., happened when Jerry Seinfeld - the only celeb presenter working without a net - showed up to award the Best Documentary Feature. Capping off the night's only funny bit, he introduces the nominated documentaries as "five incredibly depressing movies."

The most incredibly depressing movie, of course, was Al Gore's infomercial-like An Inconvenient Truth.

*

Gore's film also won Best Original Song for Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up." Indeed we did, because the show was a snooze, and every Melissa Etheridge song for the past 10 years has sounded exactly the same. If I hadn't been so fucking bored and started to do other stuff at the same time, I might even have bothered to read all the Save the Earth stuff scrolling by on the big screen behind her. "Write to Congress," implored one of the suggestions. Sure. Maybe I'll write to Santa Claus, too.

With all the time devoted to Al Gore and social commentary, I can only imagine that past socio-political activist presenters like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon (Haitians imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay naval base), Vanessa Redgrave (treatment of Palestinians), and Richard Gere (freeing Tibet from Chinese control) were doing their best not to grind their teeth down to stumps. They were doing politics at the Oscars way before it was cool, and it got them nothing but ridicule But Al Gore - he's the King of the World!

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If we should be writing letters to anyone, it should be to the Academy to outlaw the contrived witty banter whenever two or more presenters are at the podium. These people are professional, award-winning actors; you'd think they'd be able to pull off natural-sounding witty banter, for chrissakes.

*

The commercial's all wrong: What happens in Vegas doesn't really stay there. Clearly in need of cash for a new deck and bathroom renovations because a bazillion dollars in royalties from Titanic doesn't go as far as it used to, the Academy dug up Celine Dion from the Nevada desert to premiere a song twice as droning and dull as the Titanic theme.

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Presenting the Best Foreign Film category, Catherine Deneuve looked amazing for someone who everyone thought died a long time ago. Up for next year's "thought you were dead" foreign celebrity presenter: Rula Lenska.

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Clint Eastwood was pressed into duty to translate the acceptance speech - all in Italian - by composer Ennio Morricone. The task made Clint seem slightly confused or uncomfortable, because he flubbed the real translation, which was: "Does anyone here realize what time it is? Two and a half hours from the beginning and only one Best Actor award! What's wrong with these fucking people? Don't they know there are old people who need to get up early tomorrow?"

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Lord help the show the year Jack Nicholson dies and there's nobody left in the audience who knows how to take a joke. It wasn't clear, though, whether Jack showed up with his head shaved in support of Britney or because he lost a drinking bet.

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More Beachwood Oscars coverage:

* "I Want To Thank God And My Manicurist."

* Geeks Who Won.

* Our Oscar preview package, including The Oddscars, fashion predictions, and why the Best Song wasn't going to win.

And more of what Scott Buckner watched last night.



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Posted on February 26, 2007


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