SADDEST DISPLAY OF ”SHOW MUST GO ON” TENACITY Barred from kibitzing with Nicole and J. Lo on the red carpet, E!’s Joan Rivers stood on a swatch of red fabric in a hotel suite interviewing Shirley Jones. In 2004, Joan will stand on a magenta bath mat in a broom closet grilling Ann B. Davis.
LOOSEST DEFINITION OF THE WORD CLASSIC A preshow montage of movies that exemplify the spirit of America included snippets from Backdraft and Big Daddy. What about that Yankee Doodle favorite American Pie 2?
LOUDEST WAKE-UP CALL TO FRANKIE MUNIZ Mickey Rooney, seated in the far corner of the auditorium.
CLEVEREST END RUN AROUND ACADEMY’S ”THANK ONLY FIVE PEOPLE” RULE Instead of acknowledging his mother by name, Chris Cooper thanked ”the womb that bore me.”
MOST INCREASINGLY TIRESOME IMAGE ENHANCEMENT Jack Nicholson’s ”bad boy of Hollywood” dark glasses. Remember how sad it looked when Fonzie was pushing 40 and still wearing the leather jacket? Just a thought.
BIGGEST, HAIRIEST SHOES TO FILL Sean Astin, the only hobbit there, was shown after every Lord of the Rings reference.
BEST HOMAGE TO RUSSELL CROWE Nicole Kidman, who upon winning Best Actress said that Crowe told her not to cry. She wisely chose not to follow more of his advice and smash a bartender over the head with her statuette.
BEST HOMAGE TO RUSSELL CROWE (RUNNER-UP) Salma Hayek, who sat unsmiling through all of Steve Martin’s jokes.
MOST DEFENSIVE ACTRESS Kate Hudson, who, on introducing the scientific and technical awards, said their work made filmmakers’ jobs ”easier. Not easy, just easier.”
SIX WORDS YOU’LL NEVER HEAR IN ANOTHER OSCAR SHOW From Twin Towers director Robert David Port: ”Thank you, Maury Povich, for everything.” Somewhere, Gordon Elliott weeps, shout-out-less.
BIGGEST COMEBACK Winning comedy team Kirk and Michael Douglas, whose self-deprecating bit made that god-awful omnipresent trailer for It Runs in the Family almost forgivable — almost.
MOST BEWILDERED BY THOSE DAMN KIDS TODAY Best Song presenter Barbra Streisand, who may never have had to utter the word Eminem before. Oh, for the way things were.
MOST INTIMIDATED BY THE AWESOME CONDUCTING POWER OF BILL CONTI Even before the orchestra started playing him off, Best Original Screenplay winner Pedro Almodovar said, ”Time’s up, I’m sorry,” and hurried off the stage.
DRAWER OF THE SHORTEST STRAW Jennifer Garner, forced to copresent with Mickey Mouse.