Josh Wolk offered his insights live from L.A. on the Oscar telecast:
4:30 p.m. It’s on to ABC, where Billy Bush talks to ReeseWitherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, who seems to be doing a ChristopherWalken impression. But as long as nobody asks him what he’s wearing, hecould be doing Daffy Duck for all I care.
4:44 p.m. Oh, Chris Connelly. You asked Felicity Huffman whomade her dress. If she starts talking like Christopher Walken, I won’ttolerate it this time.
4:46 p.m. The Desperate Housewives send tapedencouragement, but they do it separately, Teri Hatcher and NicolletteSherdian first, and then Eva Longoria and Marcia Cross. Felicity startscrying when she sees it, not because of the sentiment, but because sheknows that this segregated thank-you will mean her possible Oscar winwill be drowned out by deafening gossip about which of her four costarsaren’t speaking.
4:47 p.m. Jake Gyllenhaal says he’s a little tired aboutquestions about kissing a guy. His interviewer then rolls her eyessympathetically… and then asks about his show-biz family, a questionhe’s been answering long before he made Brokeback Mountain.
4:49 p.m. Cynthia Garrett says that this year’s nominees proves that “America is ready to think.” Considering she’s now on ABC, home of Wife Swap, her bosses better hope that’s not the case.
4:56 p.m. Billy talks to Sid Ganis, president of the Academy,who, when asked for his prediction, says it’s going to be “a greatshow.” Is he really the best spokesman for a razzle-dazzle industry?
4:59 p.m. Some final fashion chatter from the ABC bunch; theyare breathless over the outfits, as am I… technically — in that I amletting out a series of deep, aggrieved sighs.
5:01 p.m. Graphic montage mixing great movie characters of the ages, and their computer generation makes it look like “Sims: Movie Nerds.”
5:05 p.m. Very funny opening, with old hosts saying can’t do it; plus, Mel Gibson rediscovers his sense of humor, albeit in Mayan.
5:06 p.m. Bonus: Stewart makes it through the whole thing without doing his collar-tugging, “Oooh!” thing.
5:10 p.m. Tonight’s “night of glamour” better than lastyear’s “night of 1,000 sweatpants.” Cut to stone-faced Charlize Theron,who will not have fashion mocked.
5:12 p.m. Charlize Theron has bow on her dress that is the size of a gift-wrapped Jonathan Lipnicki.
5:16 p.m. Stewart introduces Western clips to prove thatWesterns have always been gay, and all the footage is pretty suggestive– caressing guns and whatnot. But the effect is subtle, especiallycompared to a bit on Conan last week where they interspersedfootage of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood that made them look like theywere having grunting sex.
5:20 p.m. George Clooney wins for Best Suporting Actor, and,as usual, he is self-depreactaing, charming, and impossible to dislike.Then he hails the Academy as a group he’s proud to be a part of, sincethey’re ahead of its time in progressiveness. And just like that, AnnCoulter stops swooning.
5:30 p.m. Ben Stiller gives best visual effects to King Kongwith a very funny bit with him thinking he’s invisible in a greenscreen suit. And all I can think of is: Very funny, but as soon as hehands off the Oscar, he’s just a guy wearing a green unitard slinkingoff the stage.
5:32 p.m. Orchestral version of “I Walk the Line” played forReese Witherspoon’s entrance is what Johnny Cash would be hearing if hewent to hell.
5:35 p.m. Wallace & Gromit wins for animatedfeature film, and co-directors accept wearing silly bow ties. This whatyou think is a good idea when you spend a lot of time alone in a roomhuffing clay.
5:38 p.m. Dolly Parton sings song from Transamerica, wearing different wig than the one she walked the red carpet in. If she wins, she’ll accept wearing dreadlocks.
5:43 p.m. Nice zinger at the Baldwin brothers! It doesn’tmatter how infrequently Stephen Baldwin works, he’ll always be workingin the punchline industry.
5:46 p.m. When Martin McDonagh wins for best live actionshort, the camera cuts to some woman in bleachers crying. Who is she?Who is Martin McDonagh? What is his movie about? Was Steven Baldwin init?
5:49 p.m. Uh-oh. Animated characters are presenting. For theaudience, this must be like watching a precocious 6-year-old do a tapdance at a family party. Not funny or entertaining, but everyone has tobe polite.
5:51 p.m. Jennifer Aniston always looks like she’s slightlyflinching, as if she’s expecting someone to yell: “So what about Bradand Angelina?” from the audience.
5:52 p.m. Memoirs of a Geisha wins for Best Costume Design. Now it can be advertised as an “Oscar-winning movie,” and still no one will see it.
5:52 p.m. And why do costume designers always show up in uglydresses? Are they daring people to criticize it? “You think this isugly? Really? Because my Oscar says it’s gorgeous.”
5:58 p.m. Russell Crowe introduces montage of biopics. Noticethey don’t let him present, because that Oscar statue makes a hell of aweapon.
6:01 p.m. Chronicles of Narnia wins for best makeup. Star Wars can’t even win in categories that don’t involve crappy writing and directing.
6:03 p.m. Rachel McAdams’ hair is the exact same color as herdress and as the Oscars behind her, and none of it is a color found innature. Now that is a technical achievement.
6:07 p.m. Rachel Weisz wins for Best Supporting Actress, and the announcer cites her work in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. And even in her most shining moment, a little bit dies inside of her.
6:12 p.m. Morgan Freeman, rocking an ascot! Did the monocle break on his walk out to the stage?
6:17 p.m. Lauren Bacall has had chemistry with many costars. The TelePrompTer is not one of them.
6:19 p.m. The film-noir montage reminds us all of many greatmovies. What it does not remind us of, however, is any reason whythey’re doing a film-noir montage.
6:20 p.m. Pimps are “an agent with a better hat.” Oh, howeveryone laughs — and then still hands over their 10 percent. Who’sthe joke on now?
6:23 p.m. Loved the Best Actress campaign-ad bit. Jon Stewart is doing a great job at using Daily Show political humor without being overtly political. And anything that pre-empts Bill O’Reilly from complaining is okay with me.
6:25 p.m. March of the Penguins wins best documentary,and the producers come onstage with stuffed penguins. Thank goodness aHolocaust documentary didn’t win this year, because nobody wants to seea 4-foot-tall stuffed Hitler.
6:27 p.m. For the performance of the nominated song from Crash, extras walk behind singer Bird York in front of burning cars. Better that than shouting racial epithets.
6:34 p.m. Wow, Sandra Bullock’s makeup job is not all that different from Will Ferrell’s.
6:36 p.m. Memoirs of a Geisha wins again, for art direction! Now there are two reasons you think you should see it — but you still won’t.
6:39 p.m. People must have been warned about droningspeeches, because no one’s been thanking agents, lawyer, andpublicists, and the audience is the better for it. I’d thank theproducers for making this rule, but that would ruin the point.
6:41 p.m. Now we’re getting a montage of political films. Butwhy? I guess the reason for these greatest-hits collections is thattonight is Hollywood’s one night to remind everyone what good,talented, thoughtful people they are, and have been for years. And thenon every other night they go back to making things like The Hills Have Eyes and Ultraviolet. Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson, the presenter of this montage, is working on… Snakes on a Plane. Where’s that montage?
6:43 p.m. Keira Knightley has been seated next to Jack Nicholson. (I’m just saying…)
6:47 p.m. Yitzhak Perlman solos through Best Score nominees. Will he be coming back out for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”?
6:52 p.m. Brokeback Mountain wins for Best Score. Which means that all those online parodies that use the song are now Oscar winners, too. Congratulations, Brokeback to the Future!
6:54 p.m. Wow, I think I just saw Jake Gyllenhaal’s heart stop in the middle of his awful patter.
7:00 p.m. This whole evening is anti-DVD propaganda.Ironically, they are proving this by showing old movies that are onlyavailable on DVD.
7:04 p.m. Jon Stewart started the evening making jokes aboutHollywood, but all with respect. But now, in hour 2, he seems to belosing his patience. Like with that joke about the montages. By the endof the evening, he’ll be calling Steven Spielberg a hack.
7:06 p.m. Meryl Streep seems to have antennae sticking out of the back of her dress. Who is controlling Meryl Streep?
7:12 p.m. The montage introducing Robert Altman’s honoraryOscar is a testament to how vital his work has continued to be –unlike last year, when Sidney Lumet’s reel began with Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico, and ended with Gloria, Guilty as Sin, and his new movie with Vin Diesel in a bad wig.
7:20 p.m. M. Night Shyamalan’s American Express ad airs, and it is a very successful ad for M. Night Shyamalan.
7:23 p.m. During “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” the singersare surrounded by dancing whores and pimps. Randy Newman nearly wentthis way for the Toy Story song, but cooler heads prevailed.
7:24 p.m. The singer has substituted “witches” for “bitches.” As if that’ll help. There was a group of people who protested the Harry Potterbooks because they didn’t like their kids learning about the occult. Itjust goes to show that you can never childproof the world enough.
7:26 p.m. Holy frappe! “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” won! That is ducking unbelievable! I just about twit my pants.
7:27 p.m. When Jon Stewart made the joke that “it just got alittle bit easier out here for a pimp,” show director Louis Horvitz cutto Jamie Foxx. Didn’t we just see a montage praising Hollywood forbeing progressive?
7:29 p.m. Jennifer Garner is nearly topless. Jennifer Garneris also clearly breastfeeding her new baby. These observations are notrelated, but I’m just keeping you all up to date on Jennifer Garner.
7:30 p.m. There’s something ironic in the fact that the winning King Kong sound editor could barely get a word out.
7:34 p.m. Applause-o-Meter time: Who’s this year’s favorite dead celebrity?
7:35 p.m. Pat Morita takes an early lead… but here comes Vincent Schiavelli! Who didn’t love Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Oh, Sandra Dee! They should have shown John Fiedler on The Bob Newhart Show;he would have gotten more applause. Schiavellis’s still ahead. ChrisPenn! Applause, but they were showing a thinner Chris Penn. A heavierChris Penn might have been more recognizable.
7:36 p.m. Brock Peters making a good showing… and ShelleyWinters takes the lead! But wait, down goes Winters for Anne Bancroft!Good show by Eddie Albert, but he’s no Bancroft. And not even RichardPryor can beat Anne Bancroft! It’s Anne Bancroft!
7:37 p.m. But the biggest tragedy? Where was Don Knotts?
7:42 p.m. Tsotsi wins for Best Foreign Film! And theproducer is sitting in the last row! So begins his long trek to thestage. But he makes the most of his 38 seconds, demanding that thecamera show his actors. I’m sure in the control room they were saying,”Actors? That movie has actors? If it ain’t out of Hollywood, I justassume it’s a film strip.”
7:44 p.m. Crash wins for Best Editing, and the winneraccidentally walks away from the microphone. But it’s okay, they canjust edit that out. (Ba dum-bum.)
7:51 p.m. Philip Seymour Hoffman wins Best Actor, but he doesnot bark like a dog as he told David Letterman he would have to if heever won an Oscar, as part of a bet he made with childhood friends.Instead, he pays a touching tribute to his mother. Tribute, schmibute– he’s a friggin’ welcher!
7:55 p.m. John Travolta appears to be wearing his favorite hair helmet.
7:57 p.m. Memoirs of a Geisha wins for bestcinemotraphy. Wow, this really must have been the most gorgeous dullmovie ever — like a rambling history professor wearing a really prettyhat.
8:05 p.m. When Reese Witherspoon thanks her parents, thecameras start to zoom in on her husband, Ryan Philippe, assuming she’sgoing to thank him… but she doesn’t. She does finally give him lipservice, but not as passionately as she did her parents. Mabye if he’djumped out of his chair like he did at the Golden Globes, he’d haveearned some bigger props.
8:12 p.m. The writers of Brokeback Mountain scriptwins again, and Diana Ossana looks like she’s been summoned to juryduty. Larry McMurtry, on the other hand, looks lke he’s just beensummoned from a deep sleep. I can’t wait to see the fashion gurus takehim to task for not getting dressed up, and I can’t wait for him not togive them the satisfaction of caring.
8:14 p.m. Torch up the cars again! Crash wins for best original screenplay.
8:19 p.m. Haggis’ cowriter, Bobby Moresco, steps up to themike just as the music starts, and it’s sad to watch him still try totalk as the orchestra drowns him out… and then continue as even thespotlight dims. Someone oughta make a movie about how some people willkeep trying to talk to an audience that can’t hear them… just to try toconnect.
8:21 p.m. Ang Lee wins, and makes a “quit you” joke. Shouldn’t he have been the first guy to get sick of that joke?
8:23 p.m. Jack Nicholson: making the Academy Awards all about him since 1985.
8:27 p.m. Wow! Just as I was bemoaning the lack of surprises in this ceremony, Crash wins. Not that everyone wasn’t talking about this being a dark horse, but still, it looked like nothing would stop the Brokebacktrain. It’s exciting, but mostly because it wasn’t obvious. Now if JonStewart would come out at the end and tell everyone that he wouldn’t dothis again if they asked him, that would end the evening on a doublysurprising note.
8:28 p.m. Uh-oh — Paul Haggis’ producing partner CathySchulman is thanking financiers. We were so close to an evening withoutmoneymen being thanked. I guess in the end, Oscar night wasn’t sosurprising after all.