The 76th Annual Academy Awards (2004 TV Special)
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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
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!
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.
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?
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.
But hey, at least "LOTR-Return of the King" didn't have any acting nominations. Why do you think that was??? The only one that would have even deserved a nomination out of the 3rd movie was Sean Astin. I was so GLAD to see all the actors that were nominated, and the ones that did win. All the comments so far have hardly mentioned any of them in a positive light. "Mystic River" should have won Best Picture. "Lord of the Rings" should have won some specially made up award for endurance that would have applied to all three movies. I also really, really liked "Master and Commander". I learned a lot about a lot of things. Sword fighting on a small ship for instance. How you can learn from nature and apply it to warfare or anything else. And THAT movie really built a real ship to work on, and had REAL battle scenes that were not computer generated. WOW!! What a novel idea! Oh well, I guess Buster Keaton had that idea first, when he did his own real stunts off of real trains, and clock towers and all kinds of things. And that was in the "silent era" of movies. People were really clever then. NO WAY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH should the final LOTR have won all those awards for all three movies in one year, unless they had asked to be allowed to do that to begin with. Many of those technical awards should have gone to "Master and Commander", "Seabiscuit", "Pirates of the Caribbean", etc., etc. Any other year they would have. Who votes on these things anyway??? Some somebodies need to get a grip. That is all.
A ) Steve Martin was a brilliant host and
B) There were some shock winners
This year`s awards were very boring because ...
A ) Billy Crystal wasn`t as good as Steve Martin and
B ) There were no shock winners
Before everyone writes an angry private message to me I will point out that in no way was Crystal bad it`s just that I didn`t find him all that good apart from his New Zealand one liners and his plea to Bill Murray not to walk out . As for the rest of the jokes during the ceremony can someone please tell Owen Wilson and Jim Carrey they`re not funny.
As for the Oscar awards themselves I was absolutely delighted to see RETURN OF THE KING pick up all the Oscars it was nominated for ( But I can`t help thinking Andy Serkis deserved a best supporting actor nod for Gollum ) and the academy recognising this film for being the masterpiece it is was the closest we got a surprise winner , everything else was so predictable with the only real contest being between Bill Murray and Sean Penn for best actor. Penn won much to the heart breaking disappointment of Murray . I couldn`t help noticing Francis Ford Coppola seemed disgusted with the result , I doubt if Penn`s next starring role will be a Coppola production
In terms of shocks and presentation I do hope next year`s ceremony will be an improvement and we get to see Steve Martin in a cheeky mood
As a footnote we in Britain get to a see a slightly different Oscar show . In the American presentation there`s ad breaks while over the pond we get to see Johnathan Ross interviewing guests for their opinions during the ad breaks . This year his guests were composed of Rob Brydon , Roni Ancona and Alistair McGowan and what this trio`s connection to Hollywood is I have no idea and none of them had either interesting or funny to say . If the BBC insist on flying over guests to LA to talk about movies could they please use people with a passionate interest in movies . There`s hundreds of people who contribute to this site wondering why they weren`t invited
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.
TALENT, COMMITMENT AND INSPIRATION!...Key words! They are the essence of true art; it's like Soderbergh so nicely put it (on winning the much coveted Oscar)that we should first of all thank all those who take a pencil and create a piece of canvas or write a script before thanking friends and relatives.
You can imagine my surprise with last year's Oscar Ceremony:Lord of the Rings won 11 out of 11 nominations... a film that otherwise lacks both talent and inspiration but unfolds as a continuous futile effort to shock and amaze!!
Nevertheless I have to give Peter Jackson credit for his commitment(the only key word that applies for the production)to put an end to this long, long sometimes too long struggle to adapt(very poorly!) a book which conquered the hearts of millions of children and adults worldwide!
But is this the true purpose of The Academy? Do we still have to praise films which are beautifully "dressed" like an artificial Christmas Tree with impressive decorations but eventually lacks branches!
I'm not Minghella's number one fan but "Cold Mountain"was the best of 2004! Not by far though! Perhaps Cold Mountain's best merit would be that it respects truthfully the golden rule of Hitchcock's films: the real villain is never shown! We can sense it in this raw and brutal environment, we can feel the presence of ravens floating above the reddish snow but we are never told precisely what forces govern the destiny of two main characters! (Well done for Law, Kidman and Zellweger)
Anyway here are MY Oscar winners for 2004:
Best Picture: Cold Mountain
Best Director: Fernando Meirelles (City of God)
Best Actor: Sean Penn (21 Grams)
Best Actress: Charlize Theron (Monster)
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins (Mystic River)
Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River)
Best Foreign Language Picture: Good-bye Lenin
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Nevertheless a poor year for the Oscars! My vote for the 2004 Ceremony 7/10
it seemed every other award was won by LOTR:ROTK
i was sick of it
i wanted to see other winners
instead it was all LOTR
take it easy jackson. stop showing off
thank god the lord of the rings is over
it better not happen again with the hobbit
other people want to win awards jackson
the 49,000,000,000th time billy crystal has hosted
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