Don't get me wrong. I think Adrien Brody, Roman Polanski and Pedro Almodóvar deserve to win. But I didn't believe the Academy would think they deserve to. Knowing the Academy's habitual patterns when it comes to awarding Oscars, it made perfect sense. They prefer older more-nominated candidates, which Brody isn't. The DGA winner often wins the Best Director award, but Polanski did not win the former. And the Academy almost never award a foreign language film or any of its filmmakers outside of the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Brody had said in his acceptance speech, "there comes a time in life when everything seems to make sense and this is not one of those times." How right he is.
Still, I'm please with the three winners even though they were neither my picks nor my predictions of the Academy's picks. Brody's win marks him as the youngest Best Actor winner in the history of the Academy Awards at the ripe young age of 29. He also set another distinction by doing what every warm-blooded man dreamt of doing but dare not: french-kiss presenter Halle Barry. Almodóvar's Best Original Screenplay win makes his film the first foreign language to receive the award. As for Polanski, the Academy is no stranger to scandals. After all, they did present Elia Kazan an Honorary Oscar in 1999 to the ire and outrage of the film community who did not forgive him for naming names at the HUAC hearings way back when.
In Michael Moore's words, the Academy should have expected it. He delivered his scathing anti-war message, most of which heavily criticizing America's beloved leader George W. Bush (maybe 'beloved' isn't the right word to describe him), with his fellow nominees in tow. Brody, Best Supporting Actor winner Chris Cooper and Best Actress winner Nicole Kidman made references to the conflict in Iraq, but with a touch of compassion than with venom.
Is anyone surprise that Chicago is the big winner? Only those who think it inferior when comparing it with the 'live' musical version. Its 6-award sweep includes one for the regal Catherine "the Great" Zeta-Jones for Best Supporting Actress and the big Best Picture. All of its wins are in categories in which it is most deserving. Ms Zeta-Jones has never looked more divine.
Second place big winner (surprise, surprise) is The Pianist, with all of its 3 awards in major categories, including Best Adapted Screenply joining Brody's Best Actor and Roman Polanski's Best Director. Yes, I was one of the brief doubters that Chicago may not get Best Picture in favor of The Pianist since Best Picture wins are often tied to Best Director wins.
Who can forget the biggest surprise? No, it's not Eminem winning Best Original Song, or presenter Barbara Striesand being excited about it. Nor is it Nicole Kidman's win "by a nose" (it was a close fight between her, Renee Zellweger and Julianne Moore).
The Pianist not being shut out is in itself a surprise. But that is little compared to Gangs Of New York being shut out completely. Weinstein's biggest pet project lost in every category, including Best Song, Best Actor and Best Director. Everyone was hoping this would be Scorsese's. It looks like that time will never come. At least there is renewed hope that the Academy can smell an Oscar-winning film, and Gangs Of New York ain't one.
On a personal note, the Japanese anime epic Spirited Away won Best Animated Feature Film. Every Disney film should not only look like it but also be in the likeness of it. And I'm very pleased that The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers won more than one award. But I'm doubtful if the One Ring will rule again next year.
This year's Oscar ceremony seems to have more drama and intrigue than last year's. Right now, I'm too intoxicated by it to be clearly objective about it. Though a few of choices of winners deviated from the Academy norm, they are deserving of the awards at least on merits. I too, would like to offer my thanks.
One, for the brief acceptance speeches, which is always a good thing. Only Adrien Brody and Lifetime Achievement recipient Peter O'Toole exceeded the time limit. Two, to Michael Moore for reminding the Academy how proud he is to be an American as opposed to the multitudes of Oscar winners reminding us how proud they are to be superficial. Three, for Steve Martin's monologues being full of substance. This is the first time in a very long time that I wanted to hear what an Oscar host is going to say next. Four, for the parade of past Oscar winners, a sheer déjŕ vu. It's nice to remember them, and nicer to remember the movies they won for. Five, to Adrien Brody for that impromptu french lip-lock on Halle Barry. Will Eric Benet be jealous? He should be, if Brody turns out to be a better kisser than Benet is a better husband.
See ya next year. And one more thing, the awards tally.
Chicago - 13 nominations, 6 wins
Gangs Of New York - 10 nominations, 0 wins
The Hours - 9 nominations, 1 win
The Pianist - 7 nominations, 3 wins
The Lord Of The Ring: The Two Towers & Frida - 6 nominations, 2 wins
Road To Perdition - 6 nominations, 1 win