A few comments on Hollywood's Big Night:
Best Picture: Crash -- You can read this one of two ways. Some of you will say Brokeback Mountain got snubbed because it was about gay cowboys. Nikki Finke of L.A. Weekly says it's because straight Academy members didn't want to see a gay movie. I read it this way: Brokeback had a strong message about love, but Crash had a stronger one about race relations.
Best Director: Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain -- No gripe here. Lee took charge of a film that could've ended up as porn or laughable love story and steered around the mines. That's what a good director should do.
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote -- I haven't seen the picture. But I've seen enough of Hoffman's performance to want to. And now I want to even more.
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon for Walk The Line -- Hooray! (That only approximates the cheer that went up in the newsroom when she won.) Joaquin Phoenix was great as Johnny Cash. But Witherspoon was even better as his second wife. She dissolved into the role so effectively, doing her own singing, I had to ask myself, "Is this the same person who starred in Legally Blonde?"
Best Supporting Actor: George Clooney for Syriana -- Oh heck, another performance I haven't seen in a film I haven't seen.
Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener -- Ditto.
Best Song: Three 6 Mafia with "It's Hard Out There For A Pimp" from Hustle & Flow -- The lyrics were disinfected for TV, I'm told, but I swear I heard the phrase "talkin' s#!t" instead of "jumpin' ship." Shocking, yes. Surprising, no. Remember, Eminem won for "Lose Yourself" in 2003.
Best Documentary: March Of The Penguins -- A pic about cute flightless waterfowl does more than $100 million in worldwide box office. If that isn't worthy of an award, then the Academy's documentary voters deserve all the scorn they've absorbed over the years.
And about Jon Stewart -- He behaved himself a little too much. Maybe he feared becoming red-state flamebait or becoming the worst host since Dave Letterman. But as the night went on, the jokes got better: "Do you think that if we all got together and pulled this [giant Oscar statue] down that democracy would flourish in Hollywood?" "We're out of clips!" If you tuned in expecting The Daily Oscars, you tuned out disappointed.
In all, we'll probably remember (or forget) this year's Oscars for what wasn't there: no runaway winners, no political barbs. Call it boring, but that's showbiz.