Did the Oscars Get It Right?

Hollywood's biggest celebrities took time out of their busy moviemaking schedules last Sunday to attend the most glamorous prom on the face of the planet. While stars like Nicole Kidman and Tom Hanks strolled down the red carpet in their haute couture forcibly twirling about for the gauntlet of paparazzi, average Joes (like myself) glued our butts to couches to witness this escape from reality and determine who is the "best" in Hollywood for ourselves.

Despite the annoying Joan Rivers wannabes attacking the red carpet, this year's Academy Awards was succinct, semi-enjoyable and had an excellent roster of worthy films. It didn't seem as long and drawn out like I have remembered. Being a "serious" watcher of this must-see awards show for the past decade, it's nice to see that the novelty I thought it lost is finally coming back.

In a nutshell, Jon Stewart kept things interesting at the event with his witty, less-political-than-usual, banter and even though it was a bit "edgy" for the Academy Awards, dirty south rap group Three Six Mafia nabbed a Oscar for best original song, "It's Hard Out There For a Pimp" (as heard in "Hustle and Flow). I'd never thought I'd see the day when the word, "pimp" would be correlated with "Oscars." Nonetheless, we'll bypass all those other technical, less exciting Awards and go straight for the jugular. Did the Oscars get it right? (And by "right," I am referring to my own, rational choices.) Who won and who really should have won this year?

Best performance by an actor in a supporting role:

- George Clooney, "Syriana"
- Matt Dillon, "Crash"
- Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"
- Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"
- William Hurt, "A History of Violence"

Who won: George Clooney, "Syriana"
Who should've won: Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"

Although he did play a decent racist bastard in "Crash," Dillon wasn't a big favorite here. Mr. Gyllenhaal wowed by default and William Hurt is merely a filler for the category. Clooney may have gave justice to the oil-based political drama, but he's been given more credit than he deserves. Giamatti should've won. He's a great character actor and although "Cinderella Man" wasn't his best, I was rooting for him to spite Clooney.

Best performance by an actress in a supporting role:

-Amy Adams, "Junebug"
-Catherine Keener, "Capote"
-Frances McDormand, "North Country"
-Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"
-Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain"

Who won: Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"
Who should've won: Catherine Keener, "Capote"

There isn't much discrepancy in Weisz's win, but I still have to stand by my choice of Catherine Keener. Keener did a powerfully subdued Harper Lee in the Truman Capote biopic. With Philip Seymour Hoffman delivering a brilliant performance as the resilient soft-spoken author, Keener just added more texture to the already compelling piece of cinema.

Best performance by an actor in a leading role:

-Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"
-Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"
-Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"
-Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"
-David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Who won: Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"
Who should've won: Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"

Yes, I know that I said that Philip Seymour Hoffman performed brilliantly, but there was just something more than spectacular about the gritty performance delivered by Terrance Howard. For years, I have seen him jump off the screen in various supporting roles. He stole the show from 50-cent in "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" and he even stood out in "The Best Man." Without a doubt, his craft fights toe-to-toe with Hoffman, and it should've given him that golden bald man. His character in "Hustle & Flow" contains elements of the human condition that more of us common folk can relate to.

Best performance by an actress in a leading role:

-Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"
-Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"
-Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice"
-Charlize Theron, "North Country"
-Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"

Who won: Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"
Who should've won: Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"

In going in line with Hollywood's "what's gay is good" theme, Felicity Huffman should've snatched this one from Reese "Legally Good Girl Blonde" Witherspoon. Mrs. Witherspoon's portrayal of the great June Carter was praised by her peers, worshiped by millions, and when she accepted the award, she gave one of the most down-to-earth acceptance speeches. She may have proven her ability to step outside of her romantic comedy box, but Huffman was a woman acting like a man who is turning into a woman -- she should get something for that.

Best achievement in directing:

-Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"
-Bennett Miller, "Capote"
-Paul Haggis, "Crash"
-George Clooney, "Good Night, and Good Luck."
-Steven Spielberg, "Munich"

Who won: Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"
Who should've won: Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"

I was about to change my decision once Ang Lee gave his acceptance speech. He looked at his statuette and attempted to emulate James Cameron's "I'm the king of the world!" speech by saying, "I wish I could quit you!" Even so, I was more than sure that Lee's redemption from "The Hulk" would give him the credit he deserves. Lee's direction was undeniably beautiful and delivered with the utmost passion.

Best Picture:

-"Brokeback Mountain"
-"Good Night, and Good Luck."

Who won: "Crash"
Who should've won: [Fill in your choice here]

I am still reluctant on "Crash" receiving the best picture award. The blatant film about race relations is a timeless topic, but its subject matter doesn't qualify it to be "the best."

Each film in this category brought a certain amount of social panache to Hollywood's bland palette of two-dimensional movies. Even though it had a cover theme of gay cowboys, "Brokeback" transcended barriers in cinematic romantic dramas, while "Good Night" and "Munich" brought important issues that unashamedly affect political climates. "Capote" went against the biopic grain, and it boiled over with gentle intensity as it told the story of one of America's greatest authors.

Each film has something that the other one doesn't have. "Crash" may have won, but that doesn't necessarily make it the best picture of the year. Among all of these choices, it is the weakest link in a powerful cinematic chain. So, feel free to take your pick in this one. I am too ambivalent when it comes to this. What do you think?


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