If you're going to go down, go down in flames, right? Out of the pool, I insisted to those at an Oscars party that CRASH was not going to win Best Picture. No how, no way. I didn't buy into the final week buzz of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN being upset, and nothing was going to change my mind. Clearly, I was wrong.
I got 16 of 24 categories correct. Obviously Best Picture was my biggest whiff. Best Cinematography going to MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA was one of the larger surprises, if merely because the critically maligned film's three awards tied it with BROKEBACK, CRASH, and KING KONG for the night's biggest statuette haul. Like it or not--I did--CRASH succeeded because it was well-liked. Word of mouth drove its box office and helped to keep it a viable Academy Awards candidate even though it's spring release date was not to its advantage. I imagine Lion's Gate worked hard on the film's campaign, but I view the win as a sign of broad support rather than a marketing triumph.
I missed all three short subject categories, a likely scenario since I was picking them almost totally blind (or as blind as possible when going by the little info in Entertainment Weekly). I should have known better than to go against KING KONG in a technical category (Best Sound Mixing). Despite my pick here, I nearly changed my mind on my pool sheet and went with TSOTSI for Best Foreign Language Film. Should have done it, although it wouldn't have cost me. The biggest surprise of the night wasn't CRASH winning; it had to be Best Song going to "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp".
As for the show, Jon Stewart did a good job, although it seemed like he got a chillier reception from those in attendance than I expect he did from home viewers. (I don't expect he'll be invited back next year, but maybe I got the wrong vibe.) Stewart wasn't a sycophant, and he didn't settle for the easiest jokes in most cases. The fake negative campaign ads were a hoot.
The show moved swiftly enough, but is there a compelling reason for those themed montages that have no bearing on anything?
George Clooney again proved that he's about the coolest cat in the room. The naked pleas for people to see movies in theaters instead of waiting for the DVDs is too little too late, I fear. The studios' rush to cash in on DVD and the theater owners' inability to manage disruptive customers have marginalized the experience for too many. Robert Altman's acceptance of the Lifetime Achievement Award was a great moment. Let's hope it's not the last time he's seen at the ceremony.
And with that, the awards season ends for a spell.