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This year's Oscars were a return to normalization as far as I am concerned. The Academy at least had the dignity to "show" where it had been going wrong in the last past years and nominated a bunch of indie movies in all kinds of categories which I thought was excellent and above everything else just! Keisha Castle-Hughes may just have an incredible acting career in front of her and I was actually happy she didn't win. The acting she blessed "Whale Rider" with was simply amazing and although I haven't seen "Monster" yet I thought that at her early age an Oscar would be more of a burden than a blessing. Bill Murray was shockingly the night's sore looser which only proved that even he(who in the past weeks so repeatedly insisted he despised actors who let these kind of nominations get to them and sometimes bring out the worst in them) could make a fool of himself over an award. I love you Bill (although in my mind your performance wasn't worthy even of a nomination, let alone of you having the feeling you were robbed of any award for it) but hey, I thought it was more of an Academy's way of saying "Hey, we don't want to be the stiff and boring ones anymore, so let's nominate Johnny Depp and Bill and Diane Keaton to show people that comedy CAN win". No offense to any of them, it was just too apparent and undeserving to me to have any of these three walk up the isle that night. The person among the acting nominees I missed the most was Alison Lohman for "Matchstick Men". Her amazing performance wasn't even nominated among the supporting actresses which made annoying Renee's Oscar win even more painful to watch. Billy Crystal's return this year was quite good although I remember his opening movie clips actually being funny, hilarious even, and not just a three minute filler. But he commended himself immediately with the funny and silly songs for each of the best picture nominees. Jack Black and Will Ferrell's song also made a strong point and I hope future winners will at least try to be different and not as BOOOOORING. And I've quickly come to the end of it all, nothing left but the grand winner of the night. Perhaps to some it was worth the wait, I say it was more than deserving to pick up every single award it was nominated for. Maybe I'm being short-sighted, but in a couple of decades I still think we won't have the privilege of seeing a motion picture of such grand epic and unprecedented proportions. Next Christmas we'll be sobbing over the end of Peter Jackson's immaculately perfect depiction of Tolkien's work and none of the movies will (perhaps even in the whole of my lifetime) be quite as grand and as big as events as "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. Peter Jackson with cast and crew managed to bring back the true meaning of Blockbuster and their fantastic fantasy voyage will be passed onto generations and generations of movie-lovers without ever loosing a speck of its raw power. I was witness to true movie history in the making and mark my words, these three movies will be talked about for A very very long time so all of the haters should start thinking about moving to lonely remote islands. This years Oscars were a nice start for re-building the culture of past nominees, MAY THE BEST WIN, and not the ones that have the most money or are the most politically correct. 8/10
The 2004 Academy Awards show was was pretty plain this year, with no surprise winners and this year lacked tons of nominations. The Best Picture this year went to the obvious third sequel "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" with eleven wins tying with "Ben Hur" and "Titanic". Billy Crystal was fine as the host, he usually has a good sense of humor, but this year as the Master of Ceremonies probably wasn't his greatest compared to the 1997 Oscar show. The Best Director went to Peter Jackson for "Lord of the Rings", and Sofia Coppola won the Best Screenplay award. Blake Edwards took the Lifetime Honorary Achievement Award for his long career as a comedy director. The acting awards were kind of odd, I was hoping Bill Murray would win the Best Actor Oscar for "Lost in Translation", but he lost to Sean Penn for Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River", Tim Robbins won the Supporting Actor for "Mystic River" and Renee Zellweger took the Supporting Actress award for "Cold Mountain". Charlize Theron won the Best Actress Oscar as real life serial killer Aileen Wuornios for "Monster" the film's only nomination and win. Another odd thing about the acting awards this year was the International stars that didn't win. We have New Zealand born actress Keisha Castle-Hughes for "Whale Rider". Hughes was the youngest ever nominated in the Best Actress category. Japanese actor Ken Watanabe was nominated for "The Last Samauri", African American actor Dijimon Honseu was nominated for "In America" as was English actress Samantha Morton and Iraq born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo for "The House of Sand and Fog". Other known nominees for acting included Diane Keaton for "Something's Gotta Give", Johnny Depp for "Pirates of the Caribean", Alec Baldwin for "The Cooler", Ben Kingsley for "The House of Sand and Fog" and Holly Hunter for "Thirteen". Academy President Frank Pierson did a terrific job at presenting the In Memoriam segment of the show, which was very long this year to pay tribute to the many stars that died this year. They included Gregory Peck, Bob Hope, Hope Lange, Wendy Hiller, Charles Bronson, directors Elia Kazan and John Schlesinger, Buddy Hackett, Buddy Ebsen, Art Carney, Jeanne Crain, Guy Rolfe, Ron O'Neal, Hume Cronyn, Karen Morley, Robert Stack, John Ritter, Ann Miller, Donald O'Connor, Gregory Hines, Michael Jeter and a very special memorial to screen legend Katharine Hepburn.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of all, everybody knew that Lord of the Rings would, and I am
really glad that it did. It is one of the greatest
fantasy/action/adventure films of our time. But there were other good
events that happened on that evening at the Oscars.
Charlize Theron won her Oscar for her brilliant performance in the powerful film Monster. Plus, as a bonus, Sean Penn, Renee Zellwigger and Tim Robbins finally had won Oscars of their own. Plus, Peter Jackson finally won his first Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture. He even said at the podium that he feels that the Academy Awards had completely snubbed his old films, Meet the Feebles and Bad Taste. That was a classic quote.
My favorite moments of the evening were Billy Crystal's comedy sketches where he digitally inserted himself into clips of the years nominated films. He was, by far, the best host for the show ever.
Another cool event was the production number of the song Belleville Rendezvous for the amazing animated film, The Triplets of Belleville! The woman who sang the song with three amazingly choreographed dancing girls behind her was terrific. But I do somewhat wish that the song's original artist, -M-, had actually sang it. The other musical segments were pretty good too.
One of the best highlights of the evening was Sofia Coppola, daughter of the Oscar winning director, Francis Ford Coppola, winning the Oscar for her great screenplay for her outstanding film, Lost in Translation.
Overall, despite a pretty predictable Best Picture winner, the events leading up to it were decent enough.
Since I was never a full-scale "LOTR" devotee - although I will agree
that Peter Jackson directed a pretty impressive trilogy - I have to say
that my favorite moment from "The 76th Annual Academy Awards" was when
Sean Penn accepted his Best Actor award for "Mystic River": he said (I
don't know whether or not this is verbatim) "There is one thing that an
actor knows, aside from the fact that there are no WMDs...". Kudos also
to Errol Morris for repeating the anti-war call when he accepted his
Best Documentary Feature Oscar for "The Fog of War".
I guess that the rest of the show was pretty routine, although I liked what Jim Carrey did to present Blake Edwards with his Honorary Oscar. And although I'm not really a fan of Billy Crystal, you gotta admit that his songs at the beginning were a real hoot (especially the Michael Eisner comment).
New Zealand and South Africa (Charlize Theron definitely deserved her Oscar) both got widely thanked. Which other parts of the world are gonna get that in the near future?
Wow, what a loooooonnnnnggggg ceremony, but still we watch it! I'm personally very glad Billy is back - he is one of the best presenters ever. The video montage at the beginning was very funny, but enough naked presenter already... The speeches were way too long too, I thoroughly agreed with Jack Black's song - "You're BORING..". Does anybody know where to find the lyrics to Billy Crystal's Oscar opening song? I couldn't hear half the stuff he said! There must be a website or somewhere one could find it. Thanks, Marietha
Is it that time of the year already? Well, sort of, they have come a month
early this year in an effort to cut out the whole nasty marketing campaign
that was seen in the last few years. Whether or not this was needed in
year when I suspect no amount of smouzing would have stopped Return of The
King from collecting Oscars covering all three instalments.
As it was, there were almost no real surprises at all - certainly not in the main categories. Each of these were made up of two likely winners and three `the nomination is enough' type nominations (City of God, Johnny Depp, the girl from Whalerider etc). Did anyone doubt that LOTR would get Director and Best Picture? Or that Penn would get actor with Robbins the only sure fire supporting Oscar. Zellweger was not a worthy winner on this role alone but she was always going to get it and with her makeup, weight gain and performance, it was always going to be Theron. The only surprise to me that was that LOTR managed to sweep every single nomination it had.
So as an awards ceremony I didn't really find any controversy or any major talking points, but (thanks to fast forward) I did enjoy the show. Crystal is the best host the show has had in the past decade or so. He is witty, imaginative and very funny. His traditional opening of being edited into films was not quite as good or sharp as it has been before - only Michael Moore declaring the hobbit's was `shameful and fictitious' got a big laugh from me. However, his songs and his gags were all pretty good and only occasionally fell flat. `Seabiscuit' to the tune of Goldfinger was hilarious and singing `Mystic River' in the style of an old spiritual was just inspired. The show is great with him and the host is the main reason I watch it.
Everyone accepted their awards with good grace and everything was pretty clean and obvious; only Sean Penn dropped a little dig about WMD's apart from Crystal's scripted digs. Overall this was a good show despite the usual problems of it being too long and having absurdly long commercial breaks all through it. Crystal makes it worth seeing but it is a shame that the main awards were so very obvious - I tried to get a combination bet on the 5 main awards but no bookie's would allow me to do that combination and the individual odds were just a waste of time (1-16 for Jackson to be director?!). Aside from this it was a good show - but I would never watch it live, I need the fast forward!
It is funny how one of the most predictable Oscar shows in years was
also one of the most fun to watch in years. Billy Crystal was back as
the host and what a tremendous job he did. All of his jokes worked, not
all of them planned, and together with other comedians like Robin
Williams, Jim Carrey, Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller and Owen
Wilson he made sure we had a lot of fun.
The winners themselves were very predictable. I didn't expect the clean sweep for 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' but I thought there was a possibility it would happen. I like the 'Rings'-trilogy, although I am not a huge fan, and I think the trilogy deserved the recognition. Still, I was hoping for a little more diversity.
My personal favorite of 2003, 'Lost in Translation', won for Best Original Screenplay and that as well was pretty predictable. As were Charlize Theron for 'Monster', Renée Zellweger for 'Cold Mountain' and Tim Robbins for 'Mystic River'. Sean Penn deserved to win an Oscar although I hoped for Bill Murray this year and they both had a chance. Adrien Brody announced Best Actress and made a little fun of himself after his kiss last year with Halle Barry. Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing went to 'Master and Commander' (it deserved some technical recognition) probably only because 'The Lord of the Rings' wasn't even nominated in those categories. If it was it would have won.
The Best Foreign Language Film went to Canadian 'Les Invasions Barbares' and the woman who accepted the Oscar had a nice joke being thankful to 'The Lord of the Rings' that it could not be nominated in that category. Of course, being from The Netherlands, I was hoping for 'De Tweeling'. I think both films were good enough to win. Again being from The Netherlands I was also hoping for 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', about Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, in the categories Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction since Ducth persons were nominated. Both went, of course, to 'The Lord of the Rings' although I think Best Art Direction could have gone to 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'. That movie looks so beautiful.
Best Animated Feature was for the great 'Finding Nemo', again very predictable, and Best Documentary was for 'The Fog of War'. The only real competition for that movie was 'Capturing the Friedmans'. Of course the filmmaker gave us some political words but he kept everything pretty decent. Although the category is not very important, I liked the Best Animated Short for 'Harvie Krumpet'. 'Boundin'' from Pixar or 'Gone Nutty' with the little creature from 'Ice Age' were my guesses.
In the end the main thing I liked was the show itself. I had only a couple of my favorites really winning (Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, both Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress and Best Animated Feature) but had a great time as well. I think that is the most important thing. Especially after last year's show where things were a little different because of the war in Iraq I thought it was some kind of a relieve. If next year will be as much fun as this, a little less predictable may be, I will be very satisfied.
It all began so well with Billy Crystal's amazing opening number but
after that nothing spectacular happened. What happened to all the
musical and dance numbers the Oscar ceremony always used to had?
And as for the awards, nothing unexpected happened and it wasn't even tense since all the winners were already as good as known weeks before the ceremony. The only category that was tense was the one for best performance by an actor in a leading role. Bill Murray and Sean Penn were favorites but there also was a chance for Johnny Depp to win. Sean Penn won and most likely he deserved it to win and oh boy, Bill Murray looked mad and disappointing. Billy Crystal responded brilliantly with saying: Common Bill we love you! And he was right at that. Anyway Bill Murray deserved to win an Oscar years ago for his role in "Rushmore" but that's a whole other issue. I just hope he will get nominated again. No doubt that he then will win his long deserved Oscar.
And then the big winner of the night: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". It won 11 Oscars, in other words it won everything it was nominated for. Finally justice will most people say but as a movie critic you can hardly call it justice. Sure I understand why it won, it was a tribute to the ending of one of the best trilogy's in movie history and a compensation for the last two years when the previous two movie hardly won any Oscar's of importance. But I don't think it's really fair to give just only the last movie all the awards, they should have awarded all the three movies since they are all part of a trilogy that should be seen as one big whole movie. And really did they have to win really every award they were nominated for? It wasn't really fair and it didn't do any justice to all the other movies that were nominated and it surely didn't do any good to the tension but at least the fans are happy now.
The presenters were nothing special this year, except for Robin Williams and Adrien Brody that were at least a bit interesting. The "thanks speeches" were as always not interesting and nobody even cried although some came close to. But at least there was luckily hardly anything political said.
All in all; nothing spectacular or exciting this year. And thank God that "Lord of the Rings" will not be a contestant next year! The only reason why it was watchable was because of Billy Crystal, the "in memoriam sequences" and the honorary award for Blake Edwards who in my opinion really deserved it.
Seemingly endless repetition can make things grow rather tiresome, like
when you hear a great song on the radio a few hundred times, you start
to hate it. I still love all of the Lord of the Rings movies and remain
immensely impressed by them, but I have to admit that by the end of the
76th Academy Awards, I was getting a little tired of hearing about it.
I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that the last movie to
sweep the Oscars like that was the ridiculous Titanic, which certainly
deserved some of the awards that it won but it is absolutely ludicrous
to call it the Best Picture of 1997. The second sequel in the Lord of
the Rings trilogy is the third in an absolutely spectacular trilogy, I
guess it just takes away a lot of the appeal of the awards when you
hear the nominees and know immediately which one would win just because
of the simple fact that it was nominated. The only thing more
repetitive by the end of the night were those incessant Cadillac
commercials ooh yeah, ooh ooh yeah.
That being said, I was highly impressed with this year's ceremony. The opening sequence wasn't quite as side-splitting as Jack Black's Lord of the Piercing from last year, although I loved Michael Moore's good-natured appearance during the battle scene from Return of the King, in which he rants on and on about the fictitiousness of that war before being stomped on by a gigantic beast. Billy Crystal, one of the best hosts of the Academy Awards, returns for the evening, making lots of jokes about how long it's been since he's hosted by far my favorite of which was that, the last time he was the host, George Bush was the president, the economy was tanking and we had just finished a war with Iraq.
But overall, my favorite thing about the Academy Awards this year were things like the In Memoriam sequence and the lifetime achievement montage for Bob Hope, because they showed all those clips from all those classic films, and it really reminded me how little I know about movies. It has inspired me to start going back and watching the classics, especially since lately I've been on this weird kick where I've been watching all of the new horror movies that come out, arguably the worst of all movies released. What a waste of time. The presenters, although mostly Academy Award winners themselves, came on stage and, as always, delivered a few wooden lines of speech before naming their respective nominees.
I'll never understand why the ceremony that awards the best of the year's films and film-making is incessantly peppered with dumb jokes and stiff delivery like that, and strangely the one exception was from one of the more controversial winners last year, Adrien Brody (no, not Michael Moore). Last year he gave a teary speech about the sadness of the war in Iraq (a violation of the sort of unwritten agreement to leave your feelings about the war on the back burner during the ceremony), but even more, he planted a not-so-welcome kiss on Halle Berry on stage last year, about which he joked this year. He comes on stage, telling people not to worry because of a restraining order that has been served to him, and then sprays breath freshener into his mouth just before announcing the winner in the Best Female Actor category. I love it when people can poke fun at themselves like that.
As for the winners, Sean Penn was finally awarded the elusive Oscar for his performance in Mystic River, as did Tim Robbins for Supporting Actor in the same movie, Charlize Theron won Best Actress for Monster (silencing cynical critics who credited her performance more to make-up than acting), Renee Zellwegger received a much-deserved Supporting Female Actor for Cold Mountain, and I'm pretty sure The Lord of the Rings won just about everything else. Sophia Coppola, in fact, would surely have been snubbed had the Return of the King been an original screenplay. And then, of course, there are the awards like Best Documentary Short Subject, Best Animated Short Film and Best Live Action Short Film, but I won't get into those because no one's seen them anyway. Where do you go to see these movies? I don't even know where they come from.
Steven Spielberg announced a clean sweep as he opened the envelope for Best Picture and gave the Oscar for Best Picture to The Lord of the Rings, the movie's 11th Oscar of the night. I saw all of the Lord of the Rings movies, and I've been saying since 2002 when The Fellowship of the Ring was nominated but didn't win that if The Two Towers was also nominated and didn't win, The Return of the King would certainly win. I based my prediction on the idea that it was simply too far-fetched for all three films in a trilogy to be nominated and none of them win. I don't think that's ever happened before, but I had no idea how right I would be. I definitely didn't see 11 Oscars headed to The Return of the King, but at least they were granted to a worthy film.
I'm still bummed that Big Fish was so tremendously overlooked though. It may have earned itself the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most underrated films of the last decade or so
At least that's what host Billy Crystal said in the commercials leading up
to the 76th Annual Academy Awards. On the contrary, the 2004 version of the
Oscars was probably the most predictable and surprise-free show in the
Academy's history. The only thing surprising about the ceremony was just
how predictable it would be; in particular, the perfect 11-for-11 award
night for "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King." Even the awards to the
actors were predictable as odds-on favorites Tim Robbins, Sean Penn,
Charlize Theron, and Renée Zellweger took home Oscars. If only there were
any surprises like a Bill Murray, Naomi Watts, or a Johnny Depp win.
Nevertheless, the standing ovation for Sean Penn was nice and respectful
(even though I didn't really care for his jab at the President, but he
deserves recognition for his fine film career).
Despite its monotony, I still somewhat enjoyed the ceremony. Billy Crystal was as good as ever and never lost a beat throughout the three-hour-plus event. His opening video sequence was great also, especially with controversial Michael Moore being squashed in a Lord of the Rings spoof. However, the most hysterical moment went to Will Ferrell and Jack Black as they sang "You're Boring," the unknown lyrics to the music that comes on when winners go a little long on their acceptance speech. Even director Blake Edwards added some humor in his Lifetime Achievement Award, by speeding his wheelchair through a wall and making a very nice speech about all the people that contribute to Hollywood from actors to writers to that one janitor guy!
So the three-hour event did have its moments. There was some good comedy thrown in, some nice music (not exciting music, but nice music), and at least I was able to root for at least one film in each category. Too bad I haven't seen "Return of the King" yet, or it may have been an even better night!
My IMDb Rating: 7/10
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