You know what I love about the Academy Awards ceremonies? They provide insight into the personalities of so many of our favorite Hollywood stars. There was a great, although short, interview with Anthony Hopkins in the pre-show event, where an obviously star-struck reporter asked him how he did what he did and whatnot, and Hopkins responded simply, `Well, that's what they pay me to do so I do it.' There's something really refreshing about knowing that even such gigantic stars as Anthony Hopkins are really just regular people like the rest of us.
Steve Martin, not very arguably the greatest host the Academy Awards have ever had, hosts the show this year, delivering some of his less effective but always amusing comedy. In the ceremony for the 2002 Oscars, Martin was absolutely hilarious from beginning to end, but I thought that this year he had a few jokes that were a little too dry or tasteless and weren't as effective as his brand of humor generally is. This year he kind of reminded me of the heavily rehearsed and almost universally flat humor of someone like Dennis Miller, although not necessarily quite THAT bad. Nonetheless, I still think that Martin is the best host that the Academy Awards have ever had.
Russell Crowe certainly seemed upset or angry or something this year, which rather amazed me since he had such an enormous presence at the ceremony, not the least reason for which was his spectacular role in Gladiator. Obviously, Björk had the most memorable outfit, showing up and performing in what looked to be a swan draped over her neck, but she is an eccentric and artistic person, and at least it's nice to see someone who didn't just show up wearing a $20,000 dress like everyone else at the ceremony. There comes a point where even the most ridiculously expensive attire becomes repetitive and boring. Notice, for example, that her outfit may very well have been made by Björk herself, and yet it's the one that was the most talked about.
Björk's performance was also one of the highlights of the evening. It's so weird that she can deliver such a good performance when she is so obviously terrified, but she is definitely one of the more talented musicians working today, and has also proven her skill as an actress in the excellent (although more than a little depressing) Dancer in the Dark. Best Picture went to Gladiator, obviously, just like we all knew it would. This year was particularly strange in that category, since you could tell that Gladiator would win Best Picture just by looking at its cover. It's an epic film and it is amazingly well made in every category. I also thought it was strange that Crouching Tiger was in the Best Picture category, since it kind of defeats the purpose of having a Best Foreign Film category at all. If that's the way they run it, they might as well just combine the two categories.
On the other hand, I think it's very important to have a Foreign Film category separate, because it allows for more focus on foreign films, which tend to be the best films. And besides that, Crouching Tiger, if any foreign movie, deserves to transcend the Foreign Film category and participate in the most anticipated category of the evening.
So now that we actually have an Academy Awards ceremony where there is not too much controversy over who won the big awards (at least not as much as there was in the ceremony in 1999), it's still disappointing that no one has done anything about the streams of celebrities that come onstage to deliver wooden speeches about the next category. If these are sometimes multiple Oscar winners, why do they read their introductions as though they're reading it for the first time off an index card?
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