Saturday, November 26

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A look at the unspoken awards on Oscar night

The 70th Annual Academy Awards have come to a close. As is so disappointingly typical of this awards ceremony, there were few surprises: only once did I leap off my cushions screaming, "What the hell!" and that time it was more in anger than in genuine surprise.

As expected, "Titanic" cleaned house, grabbing the Oscar for eleven of its fourteen nominations, including Best Director (silly looking James Cameron) and Best Picture. Androgynous-bad-acting-teen-heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio was conspicuous in his absence, but after catching a glimpse of his screen counterpart Kate Winslet's breathtaking ensemble, I don't think anybody beyond the entire readership of YM really cared.

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Host Billy Crystal trespassed on "middlingly funny" a few times, but for the most part his stuff was a shadow of last year's, when he actually made me laugh out loud with his ridiculous parody of "Jerry Maguire." Anyway, I now consider it my duty to grant my own personal Oscars for the categories that everyone knows exist but don't receive official recognition. Here we go:

Sentimental Favorite Who Was Most Satisfying to See Not Win: Gloria Stuart for Best Supporting Actress. This is becoming a trend – didn't Lauren Bacall get jacked last year? As much as I hate to bash an old lady, let's be honest: she enjoyed maybe ten minutes of screen time in "Titanic" and delivered some tepid voice-overs throughout the course of the movie. Although I can't say I approve of the actual winner (Kim Basinger), I was sort of glad in a sick way that Mrs. Stuart didn't add more fuel to the "Titanic" juggernaut.

Best Outfit, Female: Gloria Stuart. There are many young and beautiful actresses who would do well to take some style tips from this woman. The dress was simple, blue-greenish, Escada (as I read in The New York Times), and it embodied elegance and class. Runners-up: Kate Winslet, Madonna.

Best/Worst Outfit, Male: A 1000-way tie. All tuxedos look the same to me, which must be part of female humanity's nefarious plan to eventually render men fully interchangeable.

Worst Outfit, Female: tie. Neve Campbell, who looked like a resurrected Queen, and Geena Davis, who had what I think was an endangered species of furry animal attached to her sleeves.

Best Acceptance Speech: This is trite and obvious, but I can't help giving it to Jack Nicholson, who won Best Actor. With the possible exception of Sean Connery, Nicholson was the coolest man in the house, and his flippant, raised-eyebrow-scary-smile remarks while on stage included the only funny "Titanic" joke of the evening as well as utter disrespect for his academy-enforced "time limit."

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Question Burning Most Intensely In Everyone's Mind: What in the blazes is the difference between Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing? And the runner-up: Who in hell cares, especially since "Titanic" won them both anyway?

Most Unpleasant Surprise: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck winning Best Original Screenplay for "Good Will Hunting." Lord, I hate these guys, particularly Damon for shamelessly writing a script which makes his character a near-perfect human specimen. Also, he looks like someone I would just want to smack around if we met. For those who are curious, this was the impetus behind the jumping-up-and-screaming-obscenities-at-the-television incident which I described earlier. With any justice, Simon Beaufoy would have won for "The Full Monty."

Coolest Non-Presentation-Related Event: Hands down, the short dance sequence to the original score for "Men in Black," written by "Oingo Boingo" leftover Danny Elfman. You had to see this to believe it.

Sure Thing That You Hated Seeing Win Anyway: "My Heart Will Go On" from "Titanic," winner of Best Song. This song bothers me on a level so profound that I don't care to talk about it. Even sentimentalists must admit that they felt a twinge of disgust when Celine Dion performed this one live.

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Sure Thing That You Thought You Would Hate Seeing Win But Didn't Really Mind When the Time Came: Oddly enough, this goes to "Titanic" for Best Picture. My foolish heart lay with "The Full Monty," but I must concede that "Titanic" – for all of its pitiful one-liners (recall DiCaprio's gem when he realized that the ship was going to sink: "This is bad"), mostly transparent supporting cast and mannequins hitting giant propellers – was nonetheless a poignant, romantic, undeniably epic piece of film-making, one that I grudgingly admit deserved the most coveted Oscar of them all.

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