Film I eventually went to bed at 5:30 this morning. It's odd how quickly time speeds past, as though once you get to three you're going to be awake for the rest of the night. Having woken up at 9:30 I'm subsisting on four hours sleep so forgive any typing errors or if I fall asleep at the keyboard. So to present...

The Oscars 2004: A review

The highs ...

- No beating about the bush, but Rings winning everything. Not to draw away from the achievement of the other artists nominated in the technical catagories, but I do feel that Rings deserved to win, not just because I'm a fan but because there seems to have been a lot more innovation going on in New Zealand -- in the costume design for example, everything was designed from scratch, whereas in the other pieces, a real life frame of reference already existed. But I think it was tough on the other films, some of which would no doubt have done very well in other years. But I think the trilogy's main achievement was to break out from a kind of genre ghetto and appeal to a wider audience which wouldn't go anywhere close usually.

- Billy Crystal. The ceremony always seems a little flat when he's not about. Yes his adlibs (and actual script) are very US-centric, but as he reminded us time and again, this is a celebration of Hollywood. The opening montage was particularly good this year even if I wasn't so sure about Michael Moore making fun of his speech last year. Cheapened it a little bit, but I suspect he's been trying to re-affirm his reputation, and we did get to see him trying to film orcs so ...

- The Best Song performances. It's interesting that there has been a definite move away from the 'theme song' which we all know and turn off when it appears on the DVD. No Celine Dion or Leanne Rhymes singing some piece Dianne Warren threw out in her tea break. Instead we find genuine musicians with pieces which are very specifically of a genre, be it folk, old country or jazz. The moment when A Mighy Wind's Mitch and Mickey kissed (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara in character for goodness sake) and the ensuing audience reaction demonstrates how some films carry.

- Jack Black and Will Farrell.

- Sophie Coppola winning something for Translation. I genuinely feel that unlike some of the film nominated this will be something people will be returning to for years to come. Like the forthcoming Before Sunset it was film making for the hell of it. Pity Sophie forgot to thank Scarlett who I forgot didn't receive a nomination at this one. Still she got a Bafta, which is OK for a nineteen year old.

The Lows...

- The BBC coverage. Who decided that Rob Brydon, Ronni Ancona and Alastair McGowen would be the perfect guests. Although initially amusing their interjections just became irritating as time went on, to the point that on a couple of occasion they cut back to the Oscars as Billy Crystal was halfway through a sketch. I know who I was tuning in for. And Jonathan Ross turned up with his comedian head on, not his Film 2004 face, so instead of incisive comment about the films and awards we had the rather repellant moment when he described Phyllipa Boyce from 'as the fat bird from Lord of the Rings'. Just awful.

- The unfair pit orchestra. It really doesn't seem right that the people who create the short films and documentaries who are probably at The Oscars for the only time in their lives and wanting to enjoy the moment are driven off the stage by the music, when the Charlize Therons of this world get as long as they like. One nadir was the Best Song, when Annie Lennox hogged the mic for ages and poor Fran Walsh in one of her few rare appearances in public had to stand her ground waiting for the musicians to stop so she could get a word in and then made to look guilty when she just wanted to do what everyone else had.

- The pre-show. Reducing yet again what is supposed to be a celebration of film to a lowest common denominator fashion show. I'm not surprised Bill Murray hadmuch the same look on his face here as he did in the film when he appeared on the Japanese gameshow. On more than one occasion they simply didn't seem to know much about the people they were interviewing in a way which made Rosie Millard look like Jeremy Paxman. Too many times did the interviewee have a 'necessary evil' glint in their eye.

- Sandra Bullock and John Travolta. I wish that man would go back to the obscurity from wence he came. His chronic ad-libbing here was just unspeakable.

- The ending. It just sort of did. No closing flourish from the orchestra (nice one again guys) and that grouping of Oscar winners. The winner of Best Documentary Short obviously just wanted to go back to her hotel and it was one of the few moments when even Billy Crystal looked uncomfortable. Let's not do that again next year ...

[In case anyone is wondering checking through my predictions, I got 13 right. It would have been more but I kept saying to myself ... 'Lord of the Rings can't win everything.' I like to think that the accademy voted that way just to show yet again how wrong I usually am about most things.]

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