By Sheerly Avni
For all its talk of courage, controversy and speaking truth to power, Hollywood chose to play the Academy Awards pretty safe: with elegant but unmemorable clothes, a very circumspect Jon Stewart as MC, and enough aw-shucks modesty in the speeches to make you wish James Cameron would streak the Kodak Theatre, screaming, “I’m king of the world!”
Here are my awards for the 78th Oscars ceremony. (Feel free to submit your own nominations in the comments area.)
Best red carpet misidentification:
Joan Rivers mistaking Lee Majors (“The Six Million Dollar Man”) for Larry McMurtry.
Most offensive comment made by a TV host on the red carpet:
Joan Rivers: “You’re going to be coming home with a little gold person who is not Jackie Chan.”
Joan Rivers: “I thought hip-hop was just a fad!” (speaking to rapper-actor Ludacris, who, at age 28, is only two years older than rap’s first radio hit, “Rapper’s Delight”).
Worst new look:
Jessica Alba, anorexic.
Best comedic sidestepping of an inflammatory political moment while still making jokes about the Holocaust:
” ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Munich’... I think I speak for all Jews when I say I can’t wait to see what happens to us next—Trilogy!”—Jon Stewart
Best reminder that even at the Oscars, Jon Stewart has teeth:
” ‘Capote’ and ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ [are] both films about determined journalists defying obstacles in a relentless pursuit of truth. Needless to say, both are period pieces.”
Most startling omission in a montage of biopics that featured Malcolm X, Patton, Nixon, Marie Curie, Ray Charles, Jim Morrison and more than a dozen others:
Best example of phony Oscar humility:
Best supporting actress winner Rachel Weisz’s shoutout to “people who are willing to risk their own lives to fight injustice. They are greater men and women than I.”
Best acknowledgment (spoken):
“I’d like to thank the Academy for seating me next to George Clooney at the nominees luncheon.” —Corinne Marrinan, co-winner of the short subject documentary Oscar for “A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin.”
Best acknowledgment (unspoken):
“I’d like to thank the Academy for seating me next to Keira Knightley.”—Jack Nicholson
Most audible collective sigh of relief about an acceptance speech not made:
The audience, when “Paradise Now”—the movie about Palestinian suicide bombers—did not win Best Foreign Picture.
Best reassurance that although it is hard out there for a pimp, it is not, in the end, that hard out there for a ho’:
Three Oscar wins for “Memoirs of a Geisha,” the film about a Japanese prostitute who finds riches and true love on the job.
Best proof that for all its self-congratulatory awareness of “the issues,” Hollywood is essentially out of touch with the concerns of the country:
There was not a single reference to the fact that the nation is at war, nor of the 133,000 troops stationed in Iraq, nor the 2,300 U.S. soldiers who have died there.