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Sunday, February 29, 2004


The Obligatory Oscars® Post, Now With 33 Percent More Obligatory

Many Will Blog the 2004 Oscars®. But the documenting of major pop culture events is often overwhelmed by snarkiness, negativity, and schadenfreude. I've been guilty of this in the past, taking the coward's way out and shunning charity and reflection in favor of the easy joke.

Tonight, I'm going to break with tradition and embrace the positive in the telecast of the 76th Annual Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I'm finally taking to heart the oft-repeated mantra of my parents and schoolteachers, a slogan that's haunted me from the embroidered pillow that's mocked me as it rests on my couch: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." With that in mind, here is bunsen [dot] tv's new and improved coverage* of what was almost certainly not the most boring ceremony in the history of the Oscars®.

Good Times on the Reddest of Carpets:

*Joan and Melissa Rivers are perhaps the finest mother-daughter team to ever work the red carpet. Joan's unique talent for failing to recognize first-time nominees and her neglect for doing basic research on old favorites is refreshing in our celebrity-obsessed, media-saturated culture. She's a throwback to a simpler time!

*Elijah Wood has piercing blue eyes, and is industrious enough to have invented an entirely new accent based on Elvish, Hobbit, and Malibu Cabana Boy in honor of The Lord of the Rings's multiple nominations. Kudos to Elijah!

*Scarlett Johansson, despite being snubbed by Academy voters for breakthrough performances in both Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring, has avoided the alcohol dependency and sexual promiscuity issues of awards-season staple Tara Reid. You go, Scarlett!

*Former Oscar® winner Michael Douglas is no more than four decades the senior of his wife, former Oscar® nominee Catherine Zeta-Jones. And props to CZJ for her total lack of fear of marrying the wealthy, shambling undead!

*I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Every time Jude Law appears onscreen, I'm turned gay in nine-second increments. Luckily for the women of Hollywood, Law had no chance at victory for his fine work in Cold Mountain.

*Amazingly, a two square-inch patch on the back of Joan Rivers' left knee has escaped the scalpel of her cosmetic surgeon. The very definition of courageous.

*Best Actress nominee Diane Keaton was wonderful as a more-than-passable drug-addled, queer take on the Charlie Chaplin iconography.

Better Times Inside the Historic Kodak Theatre:

*The naked body of Billy Crystaldigitally inserted into this year's nominated movies instilled a powerful urge to insert a digit in the back of my throat to alleviate the queasy horror of his plucked form. Nice Botox and face lift, certainly didn't make him look like a middle-aged, fading starlet.

*Longtime fave and actors' actor Tim Robbins went home with the Best Supporting Actor statue, stopping to thank partner Susan Sarandon and one of his children on the way to accept his award. Staunch lefty Robbins exercised his right to free speech by neglecting to acknowledge his other child, a registered Young Republican. Huzzah for free speech!

*Best Supporting Actress winner Renee Zellweger continues to valiantly struggle with the massive weight gain mandated for the reprisal of her acclaimed, Oscar®-nominated role as Bridget Jones, bravely spilling out of her low-cut gown as she mumbled her acceptance speech through bloated cheeks. Good luck on the treadmill, Ren!

*Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks delivered a moving tribute to frequent Oscar® ceremony host and deceased legend Bob Hope, who received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award. Next year's moving tribute to deceased, frequent Oscar® ceremony host Billy Crystal will be delivered by City Slickers co-star Bruno Kirby.

*Former celebrity John Travolta did not swallow the head of fellow former celebrity Sandra Bullock, a wondeful show of restraint from two of Hollywood's formerly brightest lights.

*Robin Williams

*Let's put this controversy to bed: A commercial for Lay's Stax potato chips once and for all dispels the spurious myth that they are nothing more than Ghetto Pringles.

*Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller (fabulous despite an apparent wardrobe malfunction resulting in his donning of his Starsky and Hutch duds) proved themselves to be the best Oscar® comedy one-two punch since the legendary Travolta-Bullock pairing of 2004. That uptight nebbish/loosey-goosey surfer boy schitck is just as fresh now as it was with Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez in 1990's Men at Work!

*The annual "recently deceased" montage offered a moment of much-appreciated levity as rare, self-shot documentary footage of Leni Riefenstahl cavorting with her fave poodle, Mengele, broke up the morbid procession of clips of those cinematic giants no longer with us.

*Hollywood scion Sofia Coppola took home the award for Best Original Screenplay for her deceptively-underwritten, seemingly-improvised Lost in Translation. The shy, favored offspring of the Coppola clan bedeviled the Oscar® audience by wearing a long gown obscuring her footwear, leaving us to wonder "heels or flats?" and demurely mumbling her way through her acceptance speech, leaving us to wonder if Spike Jonze knows that I may have played a part in the breakup of their marriage.

*I think everyone can agree that there's nothing quite like a French guy using a bicycle as a makeshift xylophone during a performance of a Best Original Song nominee from an animated film involving both French guys and bicycles. Comment propos, Triplets of Belleville!

*Giving credit where credit is due: Monster make-up wizard Toni G. strikes again, making dumpy, toothy, mottle-skinned Charlize Theron into a total squirrel-eyed, shiny-faced knockout for her Best Actress acceptance speech!

*Best Actor Sean Penn, in a supremely classy move, acknowledged fellow nominee Bill Murray by offhandedly memorializing the recent firing of his agents and the tragic suicide of his personal trainer in his speech. Improvisational comedy geniuses Billy Crystal and Robin Williams drive home the point with an impromptu pantomime depicting the discovery of the trainer's body by shocked family members as Penn moves on to describing how gratified he is in finally being recognized by his peers.

*Steven Spielberg, esteemed executive producer of the smash-hit motion picture *batteries not included, caps off an incredibly memorable night by announcing the final (and record-tying eleventh) Oscar® win for Best Picture for Peter Jackson's opus Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. So dominant was this third installment of the LOTR saga that if the Kodak Theatre had been visited by extraterrestrials during the three-hour, forty-five minute ceremony, they would have no choice but to conclude that Hollywood was run totally by corpulent, unkempt spouses from New Zealand rather than by corpulent, unkempt brothers from Miramax.

Hats off to Jackson and the birds entangled in Fran Walsh's hair for truly making the 76th Annual Academy Awards a night to remember, only for positive reasons!

[*This post was simultaneously blogged in Latin and Aramaic, but tranlated into English for the convenience of our audience.]

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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