A Rock and a Hard Place

“Is there an award for sitting through an entire Oscar show?”

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click to enlarge HOST WITH THE MOST: Chris Rock upped the Oscars' appeal with an edgy opening monologue. - Scott Harrell
Scott Harrell
HOST WITH THE MOST: Chris Rock upped the Oscars' appeal with an edgy opening monologue.

I have never seen the Oscars in their entirety.

I mean, I "watch" the awards show every year, while cooking or checking in during some other show's commercials or drinking at somebody else's house. But despite both my own love of film and Peaches' intent to assimilate pop culture in its entirety (she recently printed out the magazine-length total of Paris Hilton's hacked Sidekick info, and put it in its own designated folder), I've never endured it all the way through, examining it in an obsessive run-to-pee-during-the-breaks sort of way. To do so, I suspected, might be preferable to having a car battery hooked up to my testicles, though not by much. That's what's great about Oscar parties - you don't actually watch the show, you just smoke on the balcony and ask the person who came through the sliding-glass door most recently what happened.

This year, however, I was intrigued by the Academy's fairly hip choice of comedian Chris Rock to MC, and by the wildly hyped new format changes intended to make the broadcast more ADD-friendly. I also wanted to see if I could actually sit through the whole thing just once, without clicking over to Fox's umpteenth screening of Independence Day or a new episode of Carnivale or killing myself.

It may have been my toughest research regimen ever - and I had to get mugged twice to write one column. But I persevered, thanks in large part to Rock's provocative mouth (and the fact that the format changes, such as having presenters in the crowd and nominees for some awards already onstage when their categories rolled around, shaved a half-hour from the show's usual running time). And I found myself with a new respect for awards shows.

To that end, allow me to present some Oscar-centric awards of my own, the Oscars for the Oscars, if you will.

Category: New Slang

And The Oscar Goes To: Oprah Winfrey

It may just have been a slip of the mic, but during E!'s pre-show red-carpet coverage, Winfrey appeared to call Star Jones "gorge," in a new and extremely unfortunate truncation of "gorgeous."

Category: Joke Delivery During an Award Presentation

And The Oscar Goes To: Mike Myers

The comedian's juxtaposition of famous directors' most poetic definitions of what motion pictures mean, and the fart-in-the-mud scene from Shrek 2, was masterful.

Category: Making Randy Newman's Performances Seem Transcendent in Comparison

And The Oscar Goes To: Antonio Banderas

Sure, Counting Crows' love theme from Shrek 2, "Accidentally in Love," sucks. But not even Carlos Santana can save Banderas' excruciatingly overwrought version of The Motorcycle Diaries' originally marvelous Best Song nominee (and category winner) "Al Otro Lado del Rio."

Category: Failed Attempt to Look Eccentric Rather than Attractive.

And The Oscar Goes To: Johnny Depp

Not even dressing like a flamboyant he-she Justice of the Peace from some planet populated by androgynous, pastel-bedecked Southern dandies can dilute his hotness.

Category: Marrying an Oscar Tradition to a Racial Stereotype for Laughs

And The Oscar Goes To: The Accounting Firm Bit

Instead of the usual white-bread Price Waterhouse Cooper accountants that are trotted out every year, Rock is joined by two huge, thuggish African-American heavies; he says they're the guys who get his money, by any means necessary.

Category: Resemblance to Clint Eastwood

And The Oscar Goes To: Warren Beatty

Does that guy even have eyes anymore?

Category: Lack of Resemblance to Clint Eastwood

And The Oscar Goes To: Clint Eastwood

During his acceptance speeches for Best Director and Best Film, Eastwood smiled, expressed sincere joy, spoke eloquently and at length without sounding like pissed-off sandpaper, and didn't point a gun at anybody.

Category: Shameless Emotional Manipulation in Advertising

And The Oscar Goes To: General Motors

A commercial I've never seen before is filled with children telling their parents that by not buying a car with the OnStar support system, they're basically condemning their children to death.

Category: New Industry Heavyweight Appearing Endearingly Out of His League

And The Oscar Goes To: Brad Bird

The man behind The Incredibles wears a too-large tux that makes him look like a kid in grown-up clothes, and cutely stumbles his way though his acceptance speech for Best Animated Feature.

Category: Lack of Sense of Humor

And The Oscar Goes To: Sean Penn

While presenting the Best Actress award, the notoriously serious actor feels compelled to respond to comments about Jude Law made in jest by Rock in the host's edgy opening monologue.

Category: Turning a Real-Life Experience into a Movie Moment

And The Oscar Goes To: Hilary Swank

Before getting down to thanking those who helped her win for Million Dollar Baby, the two-time Oscar winner's eyes go big, and she says, "I never expected this to happen - I was just a girl from a trailer park with a dream."

Category: Mistaking The Oscars for the Golden Globes

And The Oscar Goes To: Dustin Hoffman

I'm not saying he's loaded as he presents the award for Best Film with Barbra Streisand. I'm just saying, damn, he's sure acting like he's loaded.

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