Celebrating the good, the bad, and the tacky at this year's show

BEST AVOIDANCE OF AN AUSSIE ASS KICKING During Chris Connelly’s pre-show interview with Russell Crowe, ABC ran a crawl containing the entire text of ”Sanctity,” the poem that Crowe read at a British awards ceremony and subsequently went ballistic over when it got cut from the broadcast.

WORST SMALL-TALKER E! red-carpet hostess Joan Rivers, who stunned Jon Voight with the question ”Were you a good father?” Almost makes you wish she’d stuck to her main job: misidentifying celebrities.

BEST MONTAGE Nora Ephron’s ode to New York movies, from Travolta to Tootsie and Pacino to The Producers.

WORST MONTAGE The Penelope Spheeris-produced mishmash was either a tribute to documentaries or the result of going through the History Channel’s storage room while blindfolded.

MOST HEARING-IMPAIRED-FRIENDLY Roberto Benigni, who bellowed about Ben-Hur. Though his English isn’t better, it sure is louder.

BIGGEST GASP PRODUCER Nathan Lane’s joke that ”Up until now, I thought Monsters, Inc. was a documentary on the Weinsteins.”

BEST REASON TO APPLAUD CIRQUE DU SOLEIL Hell, we’ll take French-Canadian clowns swinging from the rafters any time if it means no more interpretive dance numbers.

BEST SUPERSIZING Superbosomy new mom Uma Thurman gave new meaning to the term seat fillers.

BEST DOWNSIZING John Travolta: Newly trim, he seems to have cut his entourage of chefs by at least half.

EVEN BETTER DOWNSIZING Whoopi Goldberg’s diminished emcee duties. She had time for stale Anna Nicole Smith and Viagra jokes but didn’t get to make a ”Clapper” gag.

BEST SPEECH Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes (see page 78), who proved exuberantly cheerful even while saying he was ”mean, moody, and difficult” and concluded with a ”God bless America” that would have been moving even out of wartime.

MOST IN NEED OF A PUBLIC-SPEAKING CLASS Jennifer Connelly, who dispassionately recited thank-yous with her head down as if she were reading stereo instructions.

WORST DIRECTOR’S CUT Whenever African Americans were mentioned, director Louis J. Horvitz reflexively cut to a black audience member. Which was worse: the ham-handedness or that there were only six black people there to be ham-handed with?