Today is the saddest day of the year, as it marks the point at which the next Academy Awards are farthest away. Sob!
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Sean Penn is a deserving winner. He's a great actor, and he was really good in Mystic River. I personally would have preferred to see Johnny Depp win -- I think his performance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl made an otherwise mediocre movie hugely entertaining -- but I can't begrudge Penn his award.
At least I can talk about the awards. What follows is about the winners only. I'll have more general comments about the ceremony itself later.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: As good as Sean Penn was in Mystic River, I think Tim Robbins was better.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: I think a large part of what made Charlize Theron's performance in Monster was her makeup, but I can't deny she turned in a killer performance. So to speak.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: I have no idea whether Renée Zellweger deserved this award or not, because I didn't see it. But I don't have any philosophical objection to Renée Zellweger, the way some people seem to, so she can keep the Oscar.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: I enjoyed Finding Nemo, but I was rooting for The Triplets of Belleville, which I felt was far more interesting and unique.
ART DIRECTION: I think The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King probably deserves this award. The movie is nothing if not a technical masterpiece.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: And you say much the same thing for Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World. I imagine this that the technical challenges associated with shooting a movie at sea contributed a lot to this win.
COSTUME DESIGN: Like most people, I walked out of The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King saying, "what great costumes!" I thought The Last Samurai might steal this one, but it wasn't to be.
DIRECTING: Some people thought Clint Eastwood might win this over Peter Jackson. Those people are completely insane.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Yay for Errol Morris finally winning an Oscar! And yay for him saying as much in his acceptance speech. Bitterness always makes for an interesting speech.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: Chernobyl Heart may be the greatest documentary short ever made. I don't know, because I didn't see it. I'm not sure I've ever seen a documentary short.
FILM EDITING: Anyone who voted for The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King in this category clearly doesn't know the meaning of the word "editing." I shudder to think how many ending it would have had before they edited it.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: I didn't see The Barbarian Invasions. I've seen a lot of reviews comparing it to The Big Chill, which is reason enough for me to continue having not seen it.
MAKEUP: I still think Monster should have been nominated in this category, but I have no complaints about The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King winning.
MUSIC (SCORE): I like Howard Shore, and I certainly didn't find the score to The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King objectionable, but I still maintain that it's a rather forgettable score.
MUSIC (SONG): This was probably the award The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King least deserved to win. I watched the Oscars last night with several intense LOTR partisans, and even they admitted that "Into the West" was far from the best of the nominated songs. But at least it wasn't the worst, so give it credit for that.
BEST PICTURE: Yeah, whatever. Of the five nominated films, I though The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King was second best. That has more to do with my thinking that Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World, Lost in Translation, and Seabiscuit were unusually weak than anything else, but I didn't dislike LOTR, despite its many flaws.
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED): I was really surprised that Harvie Krumpet won. I was sure the winner would be either Destino or Boundin'. I was rooting for the former, because I really really really wanted to see what Roy Disney would say about Michael Eisner during his acceptance speech.
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION): I predicted Two Soldiers would win, so I'm happy it did.
SOUND EDITING: I guess the sound editing was pretty good in Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World, though I confess it didn't make much of an impression on me at the time.
SOUND MIXING: And I could say much the same for the sound mixing in The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.
VISUAL EFFECTS: I thought the visual effects in The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King were good, but I thought the visual effects in Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World were much better. The point of visual effects is to make the unreal look real, and no amount of trickery will ever make orcs and giant elephants look real. With Master and Commander, on the other hand, you actually believed you were seeing real people on real ships firing real guns at one another.
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY): The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King wouldn't have been my choice in this category, but I have to admit that Peter Jackson and his cohorts did a marvelous job separating J.R.R. Tolkein's amazing vision and story from his turgid prose and horrifying poetry.
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY): I was unimpressed by Lost In Translation. To the degree that the movie worked, it was because of the interaction between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. How much of that came from the script and how much from their own natural chemistry with one another is an open question. </ul>