The Oscars

Much ado, as usual. Lots of suggestions about how to improve the show. Ones which make sense, to me:
1. Use approval voting. It makes sense for multi-candidate competitions and is used for political elections in many countries. In approval voting, you get to vote for one or all of the candidates, any that you like a lot. The one who gets the most votes wins.
2. Choose a better host. Half of Whoopi's jokes about how bad her jokes are. She recycled half her jokes from the last time they had her host. "C'mon, people, work with me," she'll say after she gets modest laughter for her previous joke. That's one of the oldest crutches in comedy. C'mon Whoopi, work harder. Steve Martin brought a nice cerebral, satiric humor to the show last year, and Billy Crystal's dance numbers were amusing. But Jim Carrey would be the best of all. Even Chris Rock. But it will never happen.
3. Combine the acting categories. Men and women all in one pool. No other category all night is divided between the sexes. Why is acting any different? Just so they can give out a few more trophies. Don't they need to shorten the show? Wouldn't it be more exciting to see 10 men and women compete for one acting award? That would be fun. It will never happen.
4. Let the presenters for each award write their own speeches. The Academy, worried about folks like Richard Gere freelancing and urging us all to free Tibet, write canned speeches for the presenters that sound limp and stilted as read off the teleprompters by the stars. C'mon, let's see more presentations like Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller's lead-in for best costume design. Or do actors always need someone to give them their lines? If they're the best actors in the world, why can't they memorize their lines and deliver them convincingly as opposed to reading them like robots? Do we really need to hear why editing or makeup or visual effects are important to a film? Seriously, it's ridiculous to explain why a director is important to a film.
I actually don't mind the length. Really, if everyone minded the length so much it wouldn't attract a billion viewers. The show isn't in that bad a shape--for what it is, which is a big party for a small, elite, priveleged cadre of our society, it is can't miss TV for a huge portion of the world's population year after year. We all love to see what those damn good-looking, rich, crazy people are wearing, what they'll do when they win, what they'll do when they lose. Everyone's patting each other's backs, the rest of us in the world can sit like jealous flies on the wall and wish we were attending the post-parties. I'm reminded of watching the homecoming queen selections during high school.
My other notes on the evening:
What's with J.Lo's big hair? She has a split personality. In music she's kinda trashy, hanging out with the hip hop dudes, wearing green dresses that show the cleavage. In movies she's sedate, wears conservative gowns, and now she has big hair. Would her hip hop buds let her get away with that? Smart move for her movie career (look what happened to Mariah Carey), but still seems
I was cringing the whole way through Halle Berry's speech. It was great to see some black actors and actresses honored during the evening, but I'm not sure the situation is much different than it was before. Halle Berry's part in that movie was specifically written for a black woman, and it was still a fairly small indie film. Her roles in big films--Swordfish, for example--haven't exactly been meaty. We'll see if any real progress is being made in the years to come.
Denzel's speech, on the other hand, was smooth. As is Denzel. Classy, not overly emotional. Act like you've been there, and in his case, he had. Glad to see him win--he was great in Training Day. The way he speaks--wouldn't you love to have Denzel, Harvey Keitel, and Morgan Freeman chatting away as your poker partners? Distinctive American dialects all around.
Julia gets away with a lot. She's getting a bit carried away with her status in Hollywood. First of all, did she call Bill Conti "Tom Conti"? She disrespected him last year by calling him "stick man" and now she gets his name wrong? Bill Conti is an Oscar winner himself, Julia. Give the man some respect.
And what's with Julia's obvious bias for Denzel? Not that he didn't deserve it, but the other nominees must have thought Julia would said "Oh shit!" if one of them had won instead.
Watching who gets to present specific awards is a cue as to the pecking order in Hollywood. Tom Cruise getting to give the opening speech is acknowledgment that he is prince. Kevin Spacey was given the honor of talking about the mourning over Sept. 11 and the ones who had passed as he's the duke of Hollywood, the one who respects its history (yes, he loved Jack Lemmon) and has a formal training in the craft of acting. Julia presents best actor to her friend Denzel--that's the queen honoring a friend witha knighthood. Mel Gibson presents best director. He's the maverick turned lovable veteran. The goofy uncle of the family. And Tom Hanks gets to present best picture--he's king. There you have it--the reigning ruling class of Tinseltown.
Tom Cruise actually was the dark prince this time around. His speech was a bit corny, but his delivery was almost malevolent. With his 4 day beard and halting delivery, it was all a bit melodramatic.
I thought Jennifer Connelly was going to curtsy at the end of her speech. She has a frail persona. Her speech was polite, or as a writer described her in Salon, "evocative of a shy fourth-grader doing an oral presentation on the solar system."
I enjoy the segments that show clips from lots of movies, or clips from soundtracks--that's the magic of movies that we care about.
No crazy outfits this year. Conservative pink or black dresses on all the women, the men in their same old boring tuxes with black bowties or the solid black silk tie. Where's Bjork when you need her?
Okay, someone has to know the answer, why do British singers sound American when they sing? There must be an actual phonetic principle at work. I intuitively understand why, but I want the technical explanation.
Amelie didn't win best foreign pic, so perhaps there is some hope for Academy voters after all. No Man's Land was a better film.
I love the Oscars. Someday I'm going to get mine on stage and I'm going to talk and talk, past the time when Bill Conti cues the music until they send Russell Crowe out to go Gladiator on me and drag me off the stage.