If you don’t remember, last year’s Oscars were hosted by Ellen, following Hollywood’s lack of appreciation for Jon Stewart’s deprecating performance in 2006. One of her “gags” was juggling host duties with janitorial duties. Fortunately, if Ellen had anything to do with Oscars this year, it was strictly janitorial. Jon was back in full sarcastic force in 2008 for the 80th Academy Awards, helping keep the self-congratulatory, celebrity back-patting in perspective so that nobody took themselves too seriously. His opening monologue (below) hit everything from the writer’s strike to politics. Of course, some people in the audience were visibly not laughing. Oh well, it’s not Stewart’s fault they think of themselves more highly than they ought, or that their comedic comprehension doesn’t extend beyond a pratfall, or Country-Fried Home Videos. yeah, there’s your sign.
You can watch the opening monologue below:
Who really won? No Country for Old Men walked away with four Oscars including Best Picture. One of my top 10, The Bourne Ultimatum, walked away with three. For the full list, click here. Optimus Prime totally got snubbed, however, when best Visual Effects went to The Golden Crapness (er, Compass) instead of Transformers. Maybe the effects were better; after all, how would I know? Looking at box office revenue, Academy voters were the only ones who SAW The Golden Compass. Come ON, Academy. It’s true Michael Bay made us sit through Pearl Harbor, but he produced the best looking battlin’ robot movie he was BORN to make. Still, the “push your buttons, Academy” film I thought would win several Oscars wound up with nada. They apparently missed the importance of the Atonement… or maybe, in the movie’s case, it really didn’t have any.
Best speech moment? I think the Coen Brothers win for the best speech, in that they hardly said a word. Joel mused for less than 30 seconds, and Ethan didn’t even try, stepping to the microphone and saying “We, uh… (smirks) thank you very much.” No, thank YOU, Ethan, for saying all we really want to hear and not giving shout-outs to all the people somebody decided you were contractually obligated to name-drop. Marion Cotillard was also so honestly thankful it was refreshing, thanking “life” and “love” in a moment of true joy winning the Best Actress award for La Vie En Rose. Other great moments went to the presenters… like when a jaded Jack Nicholson couldn’t help but snicker over his own teleprompter-ed lines, when commenting that movies are the common link that “touches the (heh-heh-heh) ‘humanity’ in all of us.”
Still, I think Tilda Swinton stole the show when accepting her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Michael Clayton. She took the glorious moment to remind the world that co-star George Clooney – despite all he may do demonstrate incredible acting ability – once sported a bat-suit with bat-nipples.
Finally, a word of praise for the Oscars for putting honor where honor is due. Even big stars were chased off by the “wrap it up!” music throughout the night, but when 98 year old Production Designer Robert Boyle received his honorary Oscar for more than 65 years of work on films from North by Northwest to The Thomas Crown Affair, the elder statesman was given 6 whole minutes to speak, and was done when HE was done. The show subsequently ran a little late into the obligatory Barbara Walters special, but at least a town who usually loves the young and the photogenic gave the most time to an enduring talent behind the screen.
A hint of humanity, perhaps? If they invite John Stewart back to mock them again and honor the longsuffering, perhaps I’ll tell Jack he’s a bit overly cynical.