by Ginger Marin
The Oscars, in years past, have been alternately boring, crass and downright dumb. Not this year. With Steve Martin as host of the event, it was one smart show that zipped along with just the right amount of humor and eloquence.
We may all have missed Billy Crystal’s song medley or his best scene sketches with him playing one of the leads, but I am now convinced that these two Crystal specialties are the reason the show ran long year after year, that and the use of double presenters. I guess they figured that well prepared single presenters was the way to go. As for Martin, a good quip was worth its weight, but in this case, less was definitely more. I applaud him for his good sense (or the producers’ – whichever applies). Now to the show…
Prettiest Dresses: Renee Zellweger’s yellow chiffon and Halle Berry’s sparkly number – classy all the way! Berry never lets us down. She is, by far, the most elegant woman in show biz, even if she can’t drive.
Funniest Line: Steve Martin’s commentary that coming up “We’re going to vote someone out of show business.” I kept hoping it would be Kate Hudson.
Best Speeches: Russell Crow’s acceptance speech for Best Actor (Gladiator), Steven Soderbergh’s for Best Director (Traffic) and honorary recipient for screenwriting – Ernest Lehman. Crowe sounded so sincere and Soderbergh, instead of thanking people involved with the film (he said he would do that privately) urged people in all aspects of the creative arts to continue their work and extend themselves. Nice! Lehman really gave the industry the boot when he said that screenwriters have been treated poorly for too long – then he went on to thank his dearly departed wife and his new one too!
Lousiest Presentation: Goldie Hawn flubbed big time then made an even bigger ass of herself trying to cover for it.
Fastest Speech: Peter Pau, winning the award for Best Cinematography (Crouching Tiger…), spewed out a massive list of people to thank, many with what we might hear as tongue-twisting Chinese names … all in record time!
Best Played Music: Itzhak Perlman and Yo Yo Ma on violin and cello performing a medley of Oscar nominated original scores. A winning moment, to be sure. I did, however, hope that Rachel Portman would have gotten it for Chocolat because I love the music. Tan Dun received the award for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Best Supporting Actress: Marsha Gay Harden got the nod for Pollock. All I can say is thank God they didn’t give it to the undeserving little bimbo nominee whose first name begins with Kate. I can live with Marsha getting this award from the list of nominees, although I’d really like to know why Kate Winslet (Quills) or Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) never were selected in the first place. Those were far superior performances, I think.
Best Supporting Actor: I would have preferred Joaquin Phoenix for Gladiator but Benicio Del Toro for Traffic did a nice job in what I thought was a fairly lousy film.
Best Song: Bob Dylan got the award for Things Have Changed from Wonder Boys. What a shocker, especially when they described the sharp-shooting lyrics. Who would have known? You couldn’t understand one word that Dylan sang.
In Memoriam: Sadly, a touching reminder of the wonderful people we have lost in the past year.
Best Actor/Actress: Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts both deserved their awards. Special mention goes to Geoffrey Rush for Quills and Laura Linney for You Can Count on Me. Crowe was eloquent in his acceptance; Julia needs to calm down, speed up and think “decorum”, but I love her!
Best Screenplays: Boy did I disagree with the selections for original and adapted screenplays. Almost Famous for original screenplay (Cameron Crowe) – I hated the film and found it largely boring. I found it particularly ironic that Cameron Crowe thanked actress Kate Hudson for her participation in the film but not the star, Patrick Fugit, who played Crowe himself in his autobiographic film. You Can Count on Me should have taken the award, hands down. As for Stephen Gagan getting the adapted award for Traffic – no way – I just didn’t think this movie was very good. My choice would have been for either Chocolat or Wonder Boys.
Best Director: Same complaint – Steven Soderbergh gets it for Traffic. The only thing I liked was his acceptance speech. Ridley Scott deserved it for Gladiator.
Best Picture: Gladiator. Hooray! Too bad the producers get to accept all the credit here. And what’s with that one moronic producer thanking everyone involved for “not screwing it up”? Talk about a back-handed compliment.
Reviewed March 26, 2001