An Oscars extravaganza
All of Hollywood's cinematic turnout couldn't beat the drama of this
year's Oscars. Stunning upsets, lengthy but touching tributes, and cultural
breakthroughs made the 74th Annual Academy Awards one of the most memorable
awards shows in recent history.
Even though Whoopi hosted and the whole thing was four and a half hours
long, it was worth wading through the formal slush and prolonged accolades
just to see Halle Berry, in that gorgeous dress of hers, make history
as the first black woman to win the Best Actress Oscar. "This moment
is so much bigger than me," she said (in an acceptance speech comparable
in sheer cuteness to Julia Roberts's from last year), "it's for every
nameless faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door
tonight has been opened."
If that weren't groundbreaking enough, Denzel Washington followed up
by being only the second black actor to win Best Actor-and all this after
Sidney Poitier, his Best Actor predecessor, got an honorary golden guy
celebrating his stunning career. Previously, only 3% of acting awards
had gone to people of color. Is Hollywood now color-blind? "I hope
so," said Halle in a post-win interview. I'm sure we all do.
Speaking of colors, Russell Crowe turned a nasty shade of red after Denzel
pulled that stunning upset. To be completely honest, despite the amazing
night it helped create, Russell did deserve that award. His performance
as John Nash demanded hard-core talent that far exceeded the strains of
Denzel's role in Training Day. But hey-the guy just won last year. And
Ron Howard got a very undeserved Best Director Oscar for directing him
in A Beautiful Mind-clearly a consolation prize. Don't cry Russ. Go cut
your hair and better luck next year.
Other surprises included Randy Newman finally getting his big break:
after 16 musical Oscar nominations over the decades, he finally won for
Best Original Song with "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters,
Inc.. "I don't want your pity," he said once up at the podium.
Well, he got mine anyway. Go Randy.
The rest of the awards followed the Golden Globes example: Jennifer Connelly
and Jim Broadbent took away the supporting awards, and, if you managed
to stay up late enough, you saw A Beautiful Mind take home the last and
greatest statue-Best Picture.
The unusual thing about these Oscars was that no one movie swept up all
the awards. All the acting awards went to different movies, two of which
weren't nominated for anything else. Despite Lord of the Rings's 13 nominations
and A Beautiful Mind's eight nods, both came out even with only four total
This won't be known to future movie buffs as any single movie's year-but maybe they'll say it was Halle and Denzel's year; the year when Hollywood finally recognized that America has different kinds of people with enormous talent and their own stories to tell. The future seems more colorful in Hollywood since last Sunday-studios are realizing that because America isn't all white so neither should be its most popular art form. The doors have been opened. Let's see what comes through.