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Monday, February 20, 2006

The Academy Awards 2005

March 2, 2005

The Academy Awards Sunday on ABC may have been the shortest in years, but I swear it seemed endless. Even the fashion was dull, not a swan frock or ballerina ensemble in sight.

I had high hopes for the show when Chris Rock signed on as host. But, overall, it will go down as one of the most unremarkable ever.The slow opening set the pace. Instead of a splashy-upbeat musical number or funny film clips, the show began with a montage of historic film scenes.

Even the first award of the night didn’t spark the much-needed energy to get the show going. The award was for best art direction. That’s right, art direction. Were they trying to get people to change the channel?

Chris Rock’s opening monologue was funny, but not exceptional. It felt like he was doing his typical stand-up routine. It wasn’t Oscar-special. I wanted to see Rock joke about the films nominated, or perhaps even show a couple clips, considering most of the movie-going public hasn’t seen them. Rock did take some risky shots at the Hollywood elite, including a dig at Jude Law, which prompted Sean Penn to rise to Law’s defense later.

Things started to pick up when Robin Williams hit the stage. He did a hilarious segment impersonating cartoon characters with actor’s voices. His portrayal of Jack Nicholson as Bugs Bunny had me rolling.

But the rebound was temporary. The show seemed to limp toward its three-hour-plus conclusion. Here’s a rundown of some of the best and worst moments:

  • Best acceptance speech: Jamie Foxx. He sang a line from a Ray Charles song, perfectly impersonated Sidney Poitier, and gave a shout out to his daughter, his deceased grandmother, Oprah, and Halle Berry. The speech was funny, genuine and touching, one of Oscar’s best ever.
  • Best ad-lib: Actor Jeremy Irons responding to a surprise loud bang in the theater, while he was introducing a category. The noise sounded like a gunshot, prompting Irons to deadpan “I hope they missed.”
  • Too much of a good thing: I enjoy hearing BeyoncĂ©’s lovely voice as much as the next person, but did we really need to hear her perform three of the five nominated songs? She even sang one in French. Where’s CĂ©line when you need her?
  • Most awkward moment: Sean Penn informing the audience, and host Rock, that Jude Law is one of the finest actors of our time. Penn was responding to Rock’s previous joke that Law was a B-list movie star and overexposed.
  • Best gag: Rock’s mission to prove that the Oscars don’t reflect the public’s tastes. He visited a theater and talked to moviegoers about the films they thought were the year’s best. It was hysterical hearing the people’s picks, which included Alien vs. Predator and White Chicks.
  • Worst gag: The bit where Adam Sandler filled in for a supposedly absent Catherine Zeta-Jones. The forced banter fell flat and simply wasn’t funny. Sandler could have scored bigger if he’d read one of his notorious humorous poems.
  • Funniest joke: Rock’s declaration that some Oscars would be awarded in the parking lot next year. He was making reference to the show’s new timesaving strategy of presenting some awards in the audience this year.

    Originally published 3/2/2005 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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