The other night Hollywood experienced the annual butt kissing awards...The Oscars. I've watched every Academy Awards Gala for the last 20 years (that's about three days worth of glitz and glamour and speeches about people I have no hope of knowing. More like four if you count the pre-show interviews) so I have the time investment needed to comment on the show.
I'll start at the beginning and then veer off in all directions. The opening montage with Billy Crystal was one of the best I've seen. Jim Carrey is right; no one is safe now that they can morph Billy into the English Patient cave scene. Are you as tired of that scene as I am? By the end of the show I was hoping Mr. Fiennes would just whack her upside the head with his stupid book. Did you notice it took a while for the camera guy to cut away from Jim Carrey when he started playing with his ass? If I were in charge, you better believe I'd be prepped to get away from him at a second's notice. You just can't trust comedians.
This year was definitely the year of the little independent blockbuster. Let's face facts here, The English Patient was a classic Hollywood film with out the usual studio attached. After all, the producer, Saul Zaentz, got a lifetime achievement award in the same year his movie won best picture. He is Mr. Mover and Shaker in that town.
Is it me or did anyone else notice how chummy Zaentz was with Juliette Binoche, winner of the best supporting actress award? That had to be the only surprise of the evening. Everyone, even Juliette, knew Lauren Bacall would finally get the tap from Oscar. I'm not one to shoot conspiracy theories around, but I'm thinking he arranged for his little French gal pal to get a little gold.
Special kudos go to Celene Dion, another French speaking person, for singing Barbra Streisand's song. Now, once and for all, Natalie Cole was schedule to sing because Barbara hates the Academy and the feeling is mutual. Barbra wasn't even expected to show . Nat got sick and Barbara said she'd do it if they couldn't find anyone else. Celene was either asked or she volunteered for the duty. She got Bab's blessing because Celene has got the best set of pipes around, according to Ms. Streisand. Celene did well, even with the slight French-Canadian drawl that sounds like she belongs in country music.
Last year the overwhelming theme was "it's just fine to be damaged." I'm not ashamed to admit it; Christopher Reeves and Kirk Douglas both made speeches that moved me to tears. This year the Academy was definitely courting the young crowd as well as, I think, trying to make it up to black actors. Beavis and Butthead presented the sound effects award, Chris O'Donell, got face time as did that chick from Romeo and Juliet. I guess they are trying to tear the under 20 generation away from The Web and Nintendo. Good luck.
As for the African American showing, it was pretty impressive this year. The absolute highlight, no questions asked, favorite part of the show was Cuba Gooding Jr. He did Sally Fields one better! Instead of telling us that we like him, he told us he LOVES everybody in Hollywood, even the show's director who had to do a hatchet job to Cuba's speech with the music. Will Smith got camera time with two time Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones. They showed Dennis Rodman quit a few times, including in the Billy Crystal Oscar Song. And the young woman from Secrets and Lies, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, (Not African American but black from England) was nominated. All in all a spectacular showing from the highly pigmented side of the tracks.
I did notice that there seemed to be NO Latinos, except the one who introduced Celene Dion, in the whole affair. I'm not so pissed at the lack of Latino's but the fact that there was no La Raza demonstration . Once again, Latinos are in the middle and shoved to the side. VIVA BEIGE POWER!!!!
Copyright 1997 by Laura Jiménez.