Entertainment

The Tyee's Own Oscars

Who really won? George W., dresses and lesbians, among others.

By Dorothy Woodend, Steve Burgess and Shannon Rupp 26 Feb 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Dorothy Woodend and Steve Burgess are The Tyee's culture and entertainment critics. Shannon Rupp was a Tyee contributing editor. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at)shannonrupp.com. 

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Long live the ageless Oscar queens.

Oscar Wieners by Dorothy Woodend

To bowdlerize poet Wallace Stevens, there is often a big difference between the “be” and the “seem.” And at the Oscars, the divide between fantasy and reality becomes terribly clear. There is the build-up -- the fashion, the stars, the glossy sets, the screaming fans in the street, the three hours of on-camera red carpet scrum -- and then there is thing itself. What makes the entire thing bearable are the small moments when the hysterical glamour falls away, and you see some little person looking uncomfortably like they have to pee. For all its excess, the televised Oscar ceremony is often hokey, clumsy, and filled with embarrassing moments. You gotta love it (and hate it).

It's An L-World After All Award

Somewhere, Sappho is smiling. The lesbian ladies came out in full force this year and it was a great. Ellen did her thing, looking like a pretty blond Elvis, and Melissa Etheridge got to thank her wife and kids as she picked up the award for Best Song (from An Inconvenient Truth). Much ado was made about the fact that this was the most inclusive Oscars ever, but it was Ellen who quipped that without blacks, Jews or gays, the Oscars wouldn't exist. You can add large black women, and Mexicans to the list.

Oh God, Not Dance! Award

It wouldn't be the Oscars without a bad dance routine. In years past, it was pimps and hos, but this year human shadow puppets took the prize. Although many of their creations looked like giant misshapen genitalia, you have to give them credit for trying. The runner-up award for really bad dancing is given to segment featuring the films nominated for Best Costume Design, in which tableaus of desperate actors were dressed up and forced to wanly gyrate behind the backlit screen. Look away.

Don't Hate Us For Dion

Canada's Torill Kove won for Best Animated Short Film, and more than deserved her award. The Danish Poet is a lovely film, one that will make you happy to be Canadian, or Norwegian or even Danish, although that's hard to believe. It almost makes up for the fact that Celine Dion is also Canadian. Almost.

Writers are Weird Award If you meet a writer in a dark alley, run! The montage of film clips depicting writers as either psychotic, alcoholic, or simply deeply strange, was backed up in the flesh by the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay. William Monahan, who won for his American remake of the Hong Kong original Infernal Affairs, was large, shaggy and weird. He looked like the world’s biggest geek-done-good, which in the case of the Academy Awards, he probably was.

ARRRGH Award

It wouldn't be the Oscars without someone being robbed. In this case, it was Guillermo del Toro and Pan's Labyrinth, which picked up awards for Best Cinematography and Art Direction but lost the Best Foreign Language Award to the infinitely silly suck fest The Lives of Others. The more I think about The Lives of Others, the more I dislike it, not only because it's maudlin, corny, manipulative and often really dumb, but also because people seem to like it. I know people like silly things sometimes, but this film deserves to have its ass kicked critically. It's sentiment in art's clothing. A pox on its house!

I Wish I Knew What They Were Saying Award This isn't so much an award, as a simple desire. The Oscars is peppered with weird cut-away moments, shots of the crowd, looking bored or restless or drunk. Of these, the one that made me wish I could read lips was the shot of Sacha Baron Cohen and his girlfriend bitching up a storm. I swear I saw some f-bombs being dropped, if only I could be certain.

The What the Hell? Award

Somewhere a publicist’s head doth roll. The narration that ran over top of the awards was goofy, nonsensical and often wrong. The highlights: saying The Departed was based on the Japanese film Internal Affairs (it's actually from Hong Kong), and blithely announcing that Scorsese said The Departed was the first film he ever directed that had a plot.

Speech That Started Out Well, And Then Became Terribly Scary Award

There is always much cant about following your dreams at the Oscars, so much so, that Ellen made a joke about it. I don't think Forest Whitaker got it. After winning the Award for Best Actor, Mr. Whitaker began well by talking about growing up in LA as a little kid with a dream, which is all very nice. But then things started to go seriously loopy. There was much talk of God, meandering acknowledgments of ancestors, ending with a scary glare, and the brandishing of a big gold statue like he wanted to bean someone with it.

Special Oscars by Steve Burgess

“Look what God can do,” said Dreamgirls Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson last night.

That’s right -- he can take you from the American Idol reject pile to Academy Award glory as Best Supporting Actress. He can snatch victory from the jaws of Eddie Murphy and hand it to Alan Arkin instead. He can also make ferries capsize with hundreds of people on board, but nobody ever mentions that in acceptance speeches. Not enough time, I guess -- that piano music starts pretty quickly.

Most Influential Person Award

He’s the man who gave the Dixie Chicks a Grammy sweep, and on Oscar night he handed Best Documentary to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Best Song to Melissa Etheridge for the documentary’s theme. He is President George W. Bush. Wouldn’t it be nice if Americans hadn’t waited so long to start voting against him?

Most Pissed-Off Winners Award

Time to hand out another technical category, say visual effects or sound mixing, the kind that go into newspaper ads generically (“Winner of Two Academy Awards!”) Four men troop to the stage, each clutching pieces of paper with names of colleagues and loved ones. Guy #1 steps to the mike and says, “Wow…gosh…well…what an honour…I want to thank Bob and Jim and Tom and Al…”

And then the piano music starts and the four winners -- three of them wearing very tight smiles -- are marched off stage. Mr. Mike Hog will be hearing some speeches backstage very soon.

Best Time-Release Oscar

Martin Scorsese creates some of the best films of the 1970s and 80s. His Best Director Oscar arrives in 2007 for a competent remake of a Hong Kong cop thriller.

Best Evidence that Barbara Walters Guessed Wrong Too

She booked Eddie Murphy, surely a lock for Best Supporting Actor, on her post-Oscar show. If Alan Arkin bet on himself he’ll have a lot more gold than just the little statue. Murphy’s LoserCam reaction was probably the most honest of the night -- which is why the producers cut away so quick.

Oscar Snark by Shannon Rupp

Quick: tell me who won best actor last year? How about best picture? Don’t remember do you? But I bet you still recall Gwyneth Paltrow’s too-big Pepto Bismol pink dress the year she won for…was it Shakespeare in Love? Oh, and Halle Berry in that fab full-skirted copper number with the sheer top embroidered with flowers?

Exactly.

Did I watch the academy awards? Does anyone? It’s boring. And that’s what Associated Press is for -- to tell those of us with money riding on this thing who won. Other than that, the show is merely a backdrop for a meeting of the Girls’ Guild and the annual dissing-of-the-dresses.

To be honest, no one lets me review films because I tend to notice the costumes and sets to the exclusion of things like, oh, the directing. But I’ve always thought there should be awards for red carpet performances, and here’s who-would-win-what if I were in charge.

The Scott Fitzgerald Award (for the best celebrity performance in the role of showing us that the rich really are different from you and me)

Hands down this goes to Nicole Kidman, who got a confused look on her face when one of the roving mike-stands on the red carpet greeted her as if they knew each other. Turns out it was Ryan Seacrest, host of American Idol, whom Kidman had obviously never heard of. She may even be lucky enough to be oblivious of the whole wretched Idol franchise. In that moment, I felt just like Fitzgerald: deeply envious of her privileged life.

She also takes the award for the Chiropractors’ Favourite Fashion Statement. Usually this goes to the actress in the most memorable shoes, but Nicole Kidman wins this year for that gargantuan bow at the neck of her otherwise gorgeous red sheath. She spent the whole time with her head crooked at a painful angle to prevent it taking out an eye. Hers, or someone else’s.

The Un-American Award (for the best foreign actor in the role of showing contempt for Hollywood)

With so many foreigners in the running, this was a tough category, but I give the nod to Brit, Kate Winslett who made a big point of correcting some dimwitted mike-stand when he pronounced the name of her friend, comedian Ricky Gervais, as Ricky JAR-vis. Good for her: it’s about time someone reminded the networks that even celeb reporters should be more than hair and teeth.

The Star Trek Award (for an actress wearing an outfit only Captain Kirk could love)

Jennifer Hudson was the odds-on fave for best supporting actress so why-oh-why did she opt for that ensemble with the boob-length gold lame jacket, with Joan Collins shoulders and an Elizabeth I collar? Garish jewellery, big hair in ringlets, and her hands stuffed in the pockets of the stretchy brown gown finished an outfit that just screamed, Time to shoot the stylist!

Unfortunately she won for Dreamgirls, which means she’ll be haunted by that god-awful ensemble for the rest of her life. No Oscar is worth that kind of humiliation.

Also on the list of stylists being fired today: Anne Hathaway’s apparently blind advisor who put her in a narrow, white strapless with a black…something…on the front. Was it meant to be a bow? A vest? It was bad, and made the sylph look like a Jenny Craig candidate. And the injudicious soul who put Naomi Watts in a pale yellow strapless sheath that looked suspiciously like the work of an ambitious home-sewer -- weird drop sleeves and a black band at the empire waist. She looked better after a night with King Kong.

But among the highlights was proof that:

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© Shannon Rupp. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at)shannonrupp.com.  [Tyee]

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