Oscar Roundup '06
1. Jon Stewart, for repeatedly poking a pin in the pretensions of the Hollywood crowd. As the night wore on, the audience seemed to warm to him -- and he, in return, seemed to exude more and more contempt. His best moments came after two of Chuck Workman's haphazard collections of movie clips. After a ridiculously self-congratulatory batch of excerpts meant to illustrate Hollywood's history of taking brave stands for social justice -- I kept waiting to see the Klan riding to the rescue in Birth of a Nation, but for some reason they left that one out -- Stewart said sarcastically, "And none of those issues were ever a problem again." And after a montage of clips purportedly taken from "epics" (since when are E.T. and West Side Story epics?), he gave us a look of supreme boredom and said, "What's next: Oscar's tribute to montages?"
2. 36 Mafia and that terrific reanimation of '70s soul, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." In a radical break with tradition, the Best Song award has actually gone to the best of the nominated songs. I would have been happy to see Dolly Parton win it too, partly because she's Dolly Parton, dammit, and partly just to beat back that godawful schlock from Crash.
3. David Cronenberg, because now a bunch of people are going to rent his Crash by mistake. And the Academy thought Brokeback Mountain might stir up a backlash!
4. Gay-themed jokes. Especially Academy President Sid Ganis's crack about the pleasure of sharing experiences in a darkened theater. He's right: Watching a DVD just isn't the same.
5. Wallace and Gromit. It was the best movie I saw last year, and I'm glad it managed to win something.
The biggest loser: TiVo. When we bought this thing last fall, our friends told us one of the advantages was that that you could start watching something late then fast-forward through the dull parts. There must have been a lot of dull parts this year, because we caught up pretty quickly.