The Academy Awards are a dazzling show full of fun and entertainment that I watch with eyes glued to the television every year – or, at least the first 20 minutes. Bogged down by lengthy acceptance speeches and boring performances, they are usually something I have difficulty sitting through, but the 79th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night proved to be different. Within the first hour of the show, I saw many things I never thought I’d see at the Oscars, such as Will Ferrell and Jack Black singing a duet, Ellen DeGeneres (the host) playing the tambourine with a gospel choir and Al Gore.
Considering I had seen only two of the nominated films, and one of those was “An Inconvenient Truth,” I was in for an interesting night. But as soon as the show started, I was impressed. All of the nominees were acknowledged at the beginning of the show, which is something you don’t usually see. There was hugging, kissing and many handshakes exchanged as the nominees stood up to a thunderous applause and the night got underway.
DeGeneres hit the ground running with her witty humor and told the audience that ever since she was little she always wanted to host the Oscars, not win one like most people. She joked to all the kids watching that that should be a lesson to them – “aim lower.” She then expressed her opinion that “if there weren’t blacks, Jews or gays, there would be no Oscars, nor anyone named Oscar,” and then encouraged us to really think about that – which we did. DeGeneres managed to pull off a great show with creative jokes throughout the evening and notably stayed in the single digits with her costume changes.
The performances of the evening were very unique and included a dance troupe that used their bodies to create wall shadows, portraying images such as the Oscar statue and a shotgun. James Taylor, Celine Dion and Melissa Etheridge were just some of the musicians who performed songs from nominated films. Etheridge, who ended up winning for best song, said backstage that the Oscar was the “only naked man that will ever be in my bedroom,” which, along with Martin Scorsese’s “Could you double check the envelope?” were two of my favorite quotes from the evening (Scorsese won his first Oscar for best director for “The Departed” after being nominated seven times previously). My runner up for best quote was Robert Downey Jr.’s, “Visual Effects: They enable us to see aliens, experience other universes, move in slow motion, or watch spiders climbing high above the city landscape. For me, just a typical weeknight in the mid – 90’s.”
As for the fashion, it was mostly the usual with the men looking rather identical to one another and the women going overboard; personal favorites of mine were Kate Winslet, wearing a pale green Valentino and Jennifer Hudson, wearing a chocolate brown Oscar de la Renta; both managed elegance and simplicity with their gowns. Meryl Streep fittingly wore Prada to match her nomination for best actress in The Devil Wears Prada, which was cute. No really, it was.
Big winners of the evening included Forest Whitaker, best actor for “The Last King of Scotland,” Helen Mirren, best actress for “The Queen,” Alan Arkin, best supporting actor for “Little Miss Sunshine,” Jennifer Hudson, best supporting actress for “Dreamgirls,” “An Inconvenient Truth” for best documentary feature, “Babel” for best music (score), “Pan’s Labyrinth” for cinematography and “The Departed” for best picture, which also won best editing and writing for an adapted screenplay.
But enough about gowns and awards, what would an article on the Oscars be without a list of cheers and jeers? Cheers to the 79th Academy Awards having the most international Oscars ever nominated. Jeers to Al Gore for tricking us into thinking he was running for president – so not funny. Cheers to displaying costumes by acting out scenes from the movies from which they were nominated. This helped keep us awake for once during this often slow part of the show. Jeers to cutting off David Marti’s acceptance speech. Cheers to Fairport, NY native Philip Seymour Hoffman making an appearance to announce the winner for best actress. Jeers to Meryl Streep’s intimidating glare at co-star Anne Hathaway (really just part of the act). Cheers to Jack Nicholson sporting the shades indoors, and Jeers to Jack Nicholson sporting the shades indoors.
The best acceptance speech of the night was, by far, Forest Whitaker’s, whose moving words included “It is possible for a kid from east Texas, raised in South Central L.A. in Carson, who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with his heart, to touch them and to have them happen?when I first started acting, it was because of my desire to connect to everyone. To that thing inside each of us.” He then thanked everyone from his ancestors to his family members to the people of Uganda. On the other hand, the most awkward moment of the night was Ferrell and Black’s duet (along with the help of actor John C. Reilly) that ended with “Helen Mirren will be coming home with me.” Mirren seemed very humored by it, though.
Yes, at the end of the evening, I was somewhat bitter that young Abigail Breslin from “Little Miss Sunshine” didn’t win, but after such a great show I really couldn’t dwell on it – there’s always next year.
Kraus is a member of the class of 2009.</i.