A quick and dirty rundown of a surprisingly subdued Oscars.
Winner: Al Gore. Three Oscars for An Inconvenient Truth and a mid-telecast PSA by Al and Leonardo DiCaprio. (Plus the Jeffy.) He didn't announce his candidacy, but he came off as a relaxed, good-natured guy. And Leo clearly had a man-crush on him.
Loser: Eddie Murphy. The supremely confident Norbit star got taken down by Alan Arkin. The producers didn't have the heart to go to a reaction shot of Eddie.
Winner: The Academy. Trying to cover a multitude of sins, they gave America's greatest living director the award they have heretofore withheld. Those "lifetime achievement" things are totally bogus, and they avoided having to cover up their mistakes with one. (This was, by my count, Marty's ninth-best movie and his first Oscar. But hey.)
Loser: Iraq in Fragments. The consensus best doc was steamrolled by the SS Al Gore.
Winner: George Clooney. Jack Nicholson was everywhere, as always, in bald head (?) and sunglasses. But it was Clooney, who in one very brief appearance--when he announced the winner for Supporting Actress--reminded us who is the actual big dog.
Loser: Babel. Up for six awards, it took home one, for Original Score (yippee!). See what happens when your movie only makes $33 m?
Mixed verdict: Host Ellen Degeneres, whose quiet, unobtrusive performance will dodge comparisons to Letterman, but fail to put her in the Billy Crystal/Steve Martin category. (I thought it was a very nice performance.)
Loser: Anyone who hoped to see a major meltdown and/or gaffe. The telecast was packed with fluff and the speeches were short. George Bush's name was never mentioned. But there's always next year!