77th Annual Academy Awards

I had some friends over to watch the Oscars tonight. My goal was to serve only Oscar-best-pic-nominee-themed food, but this year was tough. Sideways was easy: Sanford Pinot Noir, the one featured in the movie. I found a bottle at a wine store nearby. It was so-so, slightly on the bland side for a Pinot. Was that the one that was supposed to have just a soupcon of stinky cheese? I didn't taste it, but thankfully Hannah brought several excellent cheese from famed Murray's Cheese Shop in the West Village. Million Dollar Baby, also simple: lemon meringue pie. I also bought a key lime pie.

Ray was a bit tougher. I went with some fried chicken (soul). Fried it myself. Realized I need one of those splatter guards. By the time I'd finished frying 12 pieces of chicken, my face and hands resembled those of the Ralph Fiennes character from The English Patient.

The Aviator--blue peas or milk containers filled with my own urine. I copped out and went with nuts. And Finding Neverland? No idea. Pixie dust? Peter Pan peanut butter? Couldn't find that at any grocery store nearby. I asked my guests to imagine food in Neverland.

I spent much of the evening shuttling back and forth between the living room and the kitchen (in NYC, that means walking across the room) so I missed some chunks of the broadcast. But some memories stand out...

Chris Rock opening with a bang, dropping the hammer on Jude Law and Colin Farrell and, to some extent, Nicole Kidman. None of them were there, so we were deprived of the cutaway reaction shots. Rock gives major props to Russell Crowe, though, so if Law or Farrell come after him, Crowe may step in and defend him. To keep his insults equal opportunity, Rock stomps on Cuba Gooding Jr., who once was doing backflips on the Oscar stage. Hilary Swank was once the Next Karate Kid. Fortune is a fickle mistress indeed.

Rock also zaps the movie industry for making six Police Academy flicks but almost passing on Passion of the Christ and blasts George Bush. No worries about a diluted Chris Rock--this is his signature stand-up style, scorched earth in every direction.

Halle. Homina. Hot. Holla.

Morgan Freeman is the coolest cat in the house. He wins best supporting actor and gives a Morgan Freeman special of a speech: concise and classy. The man speaks the truth. Word.

Robin Williams schtick, completely expected, reminds me that Jack Nicholson isn't there. Where's Jack? After presenting the "Pixar Made a Movie This Past Year Award," Robin Williams stands in the background molesting one of the eight feet Amazonian escort models. Those women could guard Yao Ming in flats. What's their story? An eager global audience wants to know. In his blue tux, Prince looked like Mini-Me standing next to those giant women.

This was the shortest Oscar broadcast I've ever seen. One of the tactics? Send the presenter out to the audience where all the nominees are forced to sit together in a block of seats, or bring all nominees on stage before the award is announced so that the long walks back and forth to the stage are minimized. They also put a muzzle on Chris Rock after his opening monologue: segues from one award to the next are short and to the point. I miss the long, rambling Oscar broadcasts. These are beautiful people. I want to see more of them.

Scarlett Johansson drew the short straw and was this year's sacrifice for the technical awards, which are relegated to some other broadcast that we're shown highlights of. Where do they hold that, at the conference room of a Holiday Inn? I feel bad for those guys; sounds like they invented some really key filmmaking equipment. Well, at least they send a hottie every year. Ashley Judd and Jennifer Garner have been sent in the past. These award winners could've been visited by Paul Giamatti (who, I agree, was robbed of a nomination).

Scarlett Johansson has great skin.

In my Oscar Party Pool, I went conservative and chose almost all of the award category favorites. I'm ecstatic when Born Into Brothels wins, even though I've never seen it.

Ken asks what women see in Adam Duritz. The rest of us are silent. Duritz looks like the dude from Kid n Play crossed with Sideshow Bob. I should have been a rock star.

During the presentation of the nominees for one of the shorts categories, the camera catches one of the nominees snoozing. The women next to him shakes him awake. When he finds out he's lost, he goes back to sleep.

When Sidney Lumet is on stage accepting his lifetime achievement award, the broadcast keeps cutting to a shot of three women. Which one is his wife? Which one is not like the others? The one in the middle. Her dress deserves a best supporting award of some sort. During that montage of Lumet movie clips, I realize that he's directing some movie starring Vin Diesel as a lawyer. Definitely a good time to claim the lifetime award just in case the Diesel flick muddies the waters. I really enjoyed Lumet's book Making Movies.

Zhang Ziyi...oh wait, she's changed the ordering of her name to the American convention of first name-last name. Ziyi Zhang. She has great skin. Jake Gyllenhaal is bald.

Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek appear on stage together as presenters. I've seen this before, in one of my dreams. I undo one more button on my shirt. Oh dear god I love high-def.

That's what Charlie Kaufman looks like! He exposes a dirty fact--all the nominees are given countdown timers on their teleprompters, and he's been allotted 30 seconds. Only if you win a lifetime achievement award are you immune from the baton of Sir Bill Conti.

Lots of empty seats tonight. I own a black silk tie and a tux, so perhaps I can land a gig as a seat filler.

Whenever The Incredibles is mentioned, the camera pans to Samuel Jackson. Not enough of the world knows who Craig T. Nelson is, I'm guessing.

I always feel bad for the dead people who don't receive as much applause during the dead person's montage.

Sean Penn is here! He takes the Chris Rock bait and defends Jude Law's honor. Not, however, that he doesn't rise to the aid of Colin Farrell or Cuba Gooding Jr. Even Penn has his limits.

Hilary Swank wins her second Best Actress Oscar and remembers to thank her husband Chad Lowe. However, Chad's not her best friend. That would be her publicist. She'll have to a win a third Oscar to make that up to Chad, but something tells me he isn't going anywhere. Swank got so buff for Million Dollar Baby that she split her dress down the back, all the way from the Bronx down to Brooklyn, stopping just short of Staten Island.

The little hand signal from Morgan Freeman to Hilary Swank during her acceptance speech? Merely confirms his status as the coolest man alive. If I ever get married, I'm booking Morgan Freeman to give my best man speech. He doesn't know me from Adam, but I don't think it would really matter.

I picture Thomas Haden Church going out after the ceremony and getting completely bombed. That might be confusing him with his character from Sideways, or maybe not. He was great in Sideways, but this is likely his 15 minutes of Oscar fame, so I hope my mental image comes to pass.

P. Diddy is asked to present the song from Polar Express, and he calls the movie a profound and moving masterpiece of animation, or something like that. Do you believe that P. Diddy saw Polar Express? Yeah, me neither.

When Beyonce sings, her left arm floats up and down like seaweed in water, or like an arm stuck out of a moving vehicle, surfing the airflow.

Prince is so short that the award winner for Best Song has to give his speech with his neck craned sideways. From his knees.

Jamie Foxx's speech is a well-tuned machine by now, and those who've watched the other awards shows this season mouth it silently like fans during the National Anthem at a baseball game. Secretly, I was hoping that just once, when he got to the section about his grandmother whooping his ass, that Foxx would've shook his fist at the heavens and screamed, "Well who's whooping who now you abusive witch!!" No, just kidding, I don't wish that. I've heard Foxx's speech a few times now, and it still moves me. And really, whose party would you rather go to than a Jamie Foxx party? The man was nominated twice, has an Oscar, brought his little daughter to the ceremony, and is an eligible bachelor. Just hand him a puppy dog and he could quite possibly have his pick of any woman in the world right now.

Scorsese loses out on Best Director yet again. The Academy needs to just announce that yes, Marty will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award eventually. It's too painful to watch him passed over again and again.

The Oscar broadcast is highly race conscious. Foxx wins? The camera immediately cycles through Oprah, Halle, and every other black actor or personality of note in the crowd. Motorcycle Diaries wins best song? Quick pan through Salma, Antonio, Penelope.

Fairly predictable Oscars this year. Picking the favorites in each category would've netted you at least 18 or 19 out of 24 categories correct, by my count.

It's always better to have too much food than too little food, but I've seriously overestimated. How much fried chicken and lemon meringue pie can one man eat before he requires angioplasty? I will attempt to find out in my own courageous Bridget Jones binge-eating orgy.