Before the Hollywood suits and celebs get too fired up about this year’s Academy Awards, they’d be well advised to take a look-see at the pre-Oscar ruckus on the Web. As Academy voters can discover, netizens worldwide are seriously cranky. Sure, there’s been lots of media hubbub surrounding such Oscar snubs as the non-Best Actor nod for Leonardo DiCaprio’s way-heroic turn in Titanic or the virtual shutout of director Steven Spielberg’s American epic Amistad. But a glance at websites proves that angry online movie pundits are mousing off as much about the March 23 telecast as about Hollywood business as usual.
Take, for instance, the Academy’s conservative decision to reinstall funny guy Billy Crystal as host for the 70th annual awards show. While Crystal has proved himself a reliable, if predictable, ringmaster in his five previous turns emceeing the Big Night, webmasters prefer their own host nominees. The charming if futile Choose Rosie as Your Oscars Hostess in ’98 (www. americaninternet.com/conti/ city.htm) may have the best of intentions, but its boast of 581 signers (since November 1996, no less) petitioning to crown O’Donnell as Queen Oscar is underwhelming. Meanwhile, the Norm Macdonald for Host at the Oscars site (thunder.prohosting.com/~way cool/norm.html) makes a hard pitch for Saturday Night Live’s former ”Weekend Update” anchor, but surely Norm has been warned about Oscar’s hazards by newfound buddy David Letterman, who choked on the gig three years ago.
For those who are already John Q. Fedup with the hype and hysteria of Tinseltown’s Self-Love Parade, the Independent Film Channel’s home page (www.ifctv.com) offers an anti-Oscars alternative in the form of its Independent Spirit Awards webcast on March 21, featuring such indie nominees as Kevin Smith (Best Screenplay, Chasing Amy), Aaron Eckhart (Best Debut Performance, In the Company of Men), and lovely Robin Wright Penn (Best Female Lead, Loved).
A humorous look at last year’s ceremony can be found at the site of a group of USC Oscar hounds, a.k.a. the Thursday Night Gang’s Our Trip to the Oscars (www-scf. usc.edu/~josephcl/thurs/oscars. html). Among the site’s features are snide commentary and grainy snapshots of Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria walking the red carpet in front of the Shrine Auditorium. Don’t worry about saving the URL; just pop the words Oscars + Suck into the search engine HotBot (www.hotbot.com) and the link will come right up.
Perhaps the keenest expression of cyberspace’s anti-Oscar sentiment comes courtesy of E! Online (www.eonline. com). Following up its ’97 Web game Madonna’s Revenge — help the snubbed Evita diva throw pies at Oscar hopefuls — comes the rockin’, suitably mean-spirited Sink the Titanic. Surfers can help a too- irate Spielberg fire cannons at the mammoth liner, helmed by a too-hyped James Cameron.
So while some online movie buffs may scorn Statue Night, in the end, to paraphrase cheese diva Celine Dion, the Oscars ”will go on.” And on. And on.