Have your tears dried? Is the champagne back in the fridge? I won't pretend I'm not smarting. I went from being the smuggest person in our front room, with $20 riding on Brokeback at a juicy 9/1, a bet I placed way back in September, to the most dumbfounded. I'm still almost speechless in a way that quite surprises me. How could they? Crash??! I know some people had been predicting it Shakespeare in Love-style, but it still came as a massive, unwelcome shock, as if a mouth-watering banquet had been prepared for us only for it to be whisked away at the last minute. I was almost relieved there were no reaction shots for the BBM team, as they'd have been too much to bear. Watching Ang Lee's little face crumple in disappointment would have destroyed me. Instead we just glimpsed Jake and Heath scowling politely in their aisle seats while the auditorium went crazy.
Crash, no question, was the worst of the five best pic nominees, and for its button-pushing messaginess to win out was depressing beyond belief. But can we agree on some other things? It was a fun night, with some priceless little jabs from a coyly professional Jon Stewart — I think the Scorsese/Three Six Mafia one takes the cake — and some even more priceless George Clooney reaction shots. Clooney's might have been my favourite award of the night, actually, not because I thought he was anything special in Syriana, but because he's one of the few actors in Hollywood who knows what to do with a podium and a microphone. (Contrast Rachel Weisz, whose humility was so frigging acted it felt like arrogance.)
Let's cut to the chase though. All we really want to know is who the hell, who who who, which giggling, drunk, or developmentally impaired prankster, thought those Crash and Hustle and Flow interpretative dance bits were a good idea, as opposed to, say, the single most laughable thing you've ever seen in your whole life. I actually said, in jest, as Kathleen York took the stage to perform the Crash one, that they ought to accompany it with people bumping in to each other downstage, just to, y'know, feel something. And then — heavens above — they actually went and did it. Jaws dropped. Hands were clutched to dropped jaws. Pepsi Max sprayed out of nostrils. How monumentally naff. And if they were going to do it, they might at least have gone the whole hog. I wanted Thandie Newton moaning and crawling around in the wreckage. Couldn't we have had Matt Dillon's dad on the loo? Jennifer Esposito looking terribly intense on a cellphone? Good God it was dire. And it managed to nail what's fatuous, pretentious and fundamentally suspect about Crash better than any single review I've read.
The Hustle and Flow one was almost as bad, in part because the set made it look like a particularly unfunny one-off skit from In Living Color, but mainly because I had no idea who the various people cycling past upstage were meant to signify. A song I quite like became an instant parody of itself. The deserving winner in this category, "Travelin' Thru'" from Transamerica, may not have won, but at least it emerged performatively unscathed. Go Dolly! No one, let's face it, was going to upstage those tits, least of all a whole load of pre-op trannies being wheeled about on gurneys or something.
Some other bombshells:
- Costumes for Memoirs of a Geisha I could live with. Dion Beebe is a good enough cinematographer that him winning over the likes of The New World is only a bit of a travesty. But art direction? The whole thing looked like a kind of Six Flags: Geisha Mountain if you ask me.
- Editing for Crash. Let's face it, anything for Crash, after the above-described floorshow did such a fantastic job of tearing the whole movie to pieces.
- Make-up for The Chronicles of Narnia. Almost as inept and funny as the stuff Will Ferrell and Steve Carell were wearing.
- March of the Penguins. I wish they'd just get over it. This wins, Brokeback Mountain doesn't, and that's the sound of right-wing pundits everywhere chortling with delight.
- Three awards for King Kong, and ones it deserved.
- Gustavo Santaolalla, whose score is the single best thing about BBM.
- Robert Altman's acceptance speech, mainly for the beautiful image about his films being sandcastles swept away by the tide.
- The gay cowboy montage. Didn't everybody? The scoops on dirty Oscar campaigns — good work, Daily Show team. None of the other montages though, thank you very much. Enough with the montages already. Stop the montages! They began to remind me of Nick Apollo Forte's crooning routines from Broadway Danny Rose — "Beautiful faces from the past who are now deceased", etc etc.
- Amy Adams's face, on the other hand, was a joy throughout the night, as she seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and thrilled for every single person who won. She got moist around the eyes for them too.