The 75th Oscars. Yipee. I know, I know, it's getting harder every year to care about them and this war isn't doing anything to revere that. Still I watched, and was truthfully surprised by what a pleasant and refreshing night it was for Oscar.

My thoughts, by subject:

Awards
This is the first year that I wasn't outraged by any of the award winners, except possibly Eminem (did you see Barbra Streisand's face? PRICELESS!) or Nicole Kidman. Kidman's a top notch actress, but The Hours was top notch crap. I believe the original title of that movie was How To Be a Neurotic, Selfish Idiot.

Come to think of it, all of the other acting awards were surprises. Chris Cooper is one of those character actors everyone has seen and enjoyed but few could name. I've always liked him, but must admit I never thought I'd see him on the Oscar stage. I haven't seen Adaptation yet, so I can't comment on the award's deservedness.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is much maligned, but I think she's wonderful. I don't think anyone could sit through Chicago without wishing she had more screen time and just one more song.

Adrien Brody probably gave the best speech. He ordered the orchestra to stop and they actually did. He gave a weepy eyed shout-out to the soldiers and victims of the war that was the most sensible and noble of similar star commentaries that night.

Activism
I was ready to get mad last night. I was ready to yell at the TV as celebrity after celebrity abused their 45 seconds by rattling off the latest hateful catch-phrases of their self-centered crusade against whatever the White House is doing this week. But it wasn't what they were going to say that had me up in arms as much as the notion that they would be abusing an event held in their honor just for free air time to say things we already know they believe.

I was very surprised, even delighted, by most of what went down. Opinions were stated, strong ones at that, and most were eloquent (Pedro Almodóvar), some were touching (Brody) and some were innocuous and silly (like Susan Sarandon's peace sign or Kidman's girlish "There's lots of problems in the world and stuff..." speech). I was shocked that Streisand and Gere remained silent.

There were two participants, however, who spoiled the mood for everyone else.

Gael García Bernal, the hot newcomer from Y Tu Mama Tambien, made a misguided comment about how "if Frida were here today she'd be on our side- against this war." The sentiment about Frida is probably valid, and I don't challenge the thought, but the assumption that every one in the room is on one side, the smug look of "yeah, I just said that!" and the clumsy wait for forced applause made me feel embarrassed for him.

Then there's Michael Moore. Oh, Michael.

Michael Moore
I really dig Michael Moore. His in-your-face everyman antics usually make me grin. His behavior last night was inexcusable in my opinion. To finally be honored after so many years only to betray the Academy by grandstanding during his speech is so low I can't believe he sunk to it. This is a man who could make a film about this war if he wanted to, but instead chooses to whine like a baby after being given the top honor for his craft.

His thank you's were rushed and paper thin, and his language was so hateful, I find it hard to believe that the other nominees, who he invited on stage with him, were in fact "in solidarity" with him as he claimed. These were filmmakers from around the world. It seems unlikely that he could have known all of them before that moment. I have to wonder if any of them were tricked into thinking they were there to share film related honors with him.

This morning Mr. Moore claims that the house was behind him completely, and that only a few loud individuals were booing, but anyone watching would have to agree that at least half of the audience was shouting and booing. I don't find any justice in that, it's just the clear reality of what I saw happening.

Steve Martin
I love Steve Martin. What a class act. Two years ago when he hosted the Oscars, I felt he was off his game or holding back or something. This year, he was dead on. I don't think he told one bad joke. The "What Makes a Movie Star?" segment was classic. He has a knack of exposing the hypocrisies and lies of fame while simultaneously celebrating- even reveling -in them.

Other Highlights
Other great moments included Peter O'Toole's Lifetime Achievement Award and gracious speech, a powerful performance by U2, and a very funny film about past Oscar winners, presented by Kathy Bates.

In the timeline of history, this years Oscars were about as worthless as you can get. As an entertaining break from war coverage and cataclysmic philosophical debates, it was almost perfect.