Perhaps Clint Eastwood said it best when he mumbled ”big surprise” before anointing director Steven Spielberg the star of the 66th Academy Awards. Even before the director walked on stage to accept his trophies, Spielberg’s pictures had dominated the night, with Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park receiving 10 prizes in all. Among the evening’s hits and misses:
Whoopi! There she was! Her elegant appearance (at least during the first half), her uncharacteristic restraint (she didn’t cuss), and her ability to make it funny (despite the very somber speeches) made the ho-hum telecast worth watching.
Just kidding: Scurrying up to the stage, awestruck 11-year-old Anna Paquin– somewhere between giggling andhyperventilating-stood mute for 21 seconds before rattling off her thank yous. And suave 13-year-old Elijah Wood’s presentation gives Kit Culkin-who yanked Macaulay off the show at the last minute-something to worry about.
Classic Rocker: Best Song winner Bruce Springsteen was a favorite. At the Governors Ball, Clint Eastwood was overheard telling him, ”You were great. They had you lit real well.”
The Nancy Kerrigan This-Is-Corny Award: Lip-readers tell EW that after Springsteen delivered his speech, Tom Hanks was stumped by the Boss’ nickname for wife Patti Scialfa. Hanks asked his wife, ”Pats? Who’s he?” Spielberg, meanwhile, accepting the Best Picture trophy from Harrison Ford, said, ”This is absolutely incredible. This means the world to me.”
Why Tommy Lee Jones should win every year: On his way to the pressroom with Paquin, Jones told her, ”I guess now you’ll get the part in the school play.”
And why Hanks should as well: Delivering his poetic and passionate acceptance speech, he evoked Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He wasn’t the only one moved to tears.
Whoopi! There she wasn’t! Sure, she didn’t curse, but her insults packed plenty of venom. Whoopi took potshots at Nancy Reagan, the Los Angeles Times, and as much of Hollywood as she had time for-proving she was, as promised, ”an equal-opportunity offender.”
That opener: Bernadette Peters‘ number, ”Putting It Together,” was a mix of indecipherable coos and clips-even featuring a sly jab at Arnold Schwarzenegger, who bragged, ”Last Action Hero was the best script I ever read,” while Peters tweetered, ”Art isn’t easy.” No kidding.
AIDS: In a year that saw Philadephia win two Oscars, the word AIDS was never mentioned in an acceptance speech-not even in Hanks’.
The Oscar theme: This year the Oscars dumped glitz in favor of a ”behind-the- scenes” peek at moviemaking. The cameras! The editors! The key grips! Next year, spare us the dorky tribute to the great gaffers of film history. We want stars!
-Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Jeff Gordinier, and Anne Thompson