Oscar’s Best and Worst

Dear David,

This was a definitive night of the Sweep. Had Peter Weir’s Master and Commander not received the two kisses for cinematography or sound editing, Lord of the Rings would have been the most Oscared movie of all time, beating both Ben-Hur and Titanic.

There were no meltdowns (Charlize wouldn’t even really cry), fashion disasters, embarrassing speeches, king-of-the-world moments, upsets, or even mild surprises. Hollywood has a new reigning king in Peter Jackson—Spielberg has his work cut out for him. Jackson was humble, happily married to his creative partner, and clearly beloved by his cast and crew, with whom he labored for six long years. No ill will could be felt dripping from the walls of the plastic theater. Many a potentate has lessons to learn from King Peter.

The Bravest Little Spectator Award: Harvey Weinstein, for enduring the awards (given his story with LOTR), having to content himself with best supporting actress and best foreign film—a great one in the latter case, by the way.

Most Repeated Joke: Billy Crytal’s “there’s nobody left in New Zealand to thank” bit.

Most Discreet Political Joke: Sean Penn: “One thing every actor knows—aside from that there were no WMDs.” And then dropping it, in an otherwise elegant acceptance speech.

Most Hilarious and Memorable Moment by Far: Jack Black and Will Ferrell, who sang “You’re Boring,” the heretofore unknown lyrics to the speech-squelching orchestral score.

Funniest Host Moment: Crystal for his ad-libs; they weren’t quite Robin Williams-level, though, with one too many “Mrs. Billy Crystal” jokes.

Most Embarrassing Moment Not Saved by Self-Reflexive Jokes: Ben “Starsky” Stiller and Owen “Hutch” Wilson plugging their film.

Best Gown: Susan Sarandon, for showing that women over 50 are this year’s dolls.

Best Parental Whoop: Francis Ford Coppola, jumping out of his seat and defying gravity for the sake of his daughter—his body seemed infused with helium and joy.

Most Genuine Political Moment Suffused With Self-Congratulations: Errol Morris. Happy the academy finally recognized his documentary-making (as well they should), then dropping that line to point out we are falling down the Vietnam “rabbit hole” in Iraq.

Just thinking, David, it was only last year we were invading Iraq, and the swells were afraid to attend the awards—they thought they would look trivial trying to figure out what to wear while our troops were in danger. With our troops still in danger, now we’re protesting … and wearing great gowns. What a difference a year makes.