When this year's Oscar nominees were announced at the end of last month, I thought I would decide to share some of my favorite memories from past awards shows. And even though I obviously haven't seen every awards show there was since 1928-29, I've been able to watch various videos on You Tube as well as recall what I remember most from the shows I watched growing up. "Heeeeeeeeeeere's Oscar!"
1998- The first time I remember watching Billy Crystal as host. The above quote occured in a hilarious opening montage with parodied nominated films from the year 1997, including Titanic, As Good As It Gets, and The Full Monty. Crystal did hilarious impressions of Sammy Davis, Jr., Jack Nicholson, and a whole bunch of brilliant gags, as well as a great stage entrance on the deck of the Titanic!
1999- Flik and the gang from A Bug's Life presented the award for Best Animated Short Film (which went to Chris Wedge's "Bunny").
2000- Crystal is host once again, and in another opening segment he's virtually incorporated in a montage of many, many films from the beginning of cinema. Parodying verything from Taxi Driver to The Godfather to West Side Story, and my favorite, E.T.
- Crystal and best supporting actor nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) presented Woody and Buzz Lightyear (whose Toy Story 2 was nominated for Best Original Song). Add Duncan's John Coffey effects and some great gags from the Toys themselves, and you have another enjoyable Oscar moment.
2004- "The Return of the Host". Just as he did in the last two shows he hosted, Billy Crystal delivered arguably his best Oscar show yet, with another hilarious opening montage (and spoof) of various 2003 nominated films, despite a few risque moments. And let's not forget that this was the year that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was every single award it was nominated for, tying with 1959's Ben-Hur and 1997's Titanic as the most Oscar-winning films. It was also the year when the show was moved a month earlier than generally aired.
- "There is no greater weapon in a director's arsenal than a strategically-placed song." Jack Black and Will Ferrell delivereda brilliantly-funny send-up to the music that is typically played in the case of a winner's very long acceptance speech. "Did you know it actually has lyrics?"
2007- Black and Ferrell returned to the stage (again, through song), only this time humorously criticizing the Academy for not considering box-office comedies as Oscar contenders. They even considered "fighting the nominees," from Leonardo DiCaprio to Mark Wallberg (Ferrell's future co-star from The Other Guys), and even poked fun at Best Actress contender Helen Mirren-until John C. Reilly interrupted, joined in, and convinced Black and Ferrell that a solution to an Oscar recognition was to do dramas and not just comedies.
2010- The year 2009 was, in many ways, a redeeming year. There were interesting movies that came out, many of which I haven't yet seen. And considering complaints over films that were snubbed the previous year, the Academy decided to expand the nominees for Best Picture from five to ten. One of the nominees in the category was Disney-Pixar's Up, which also became the second animated film in the Academy's history to receive this accolade. (1991's Beauty and the Beast was the first.) They even expanded the number of animated films that year from three to five. All five films (Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up) represented different forms of animation--stop-motion, hand-drawn, and and CGI--making 2009 a very special year for animated feature films. (The year 2010 was no exception as well.)
- Co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin delivered, in my opinion, the best Oscar show since Billy Crystal last hosted in February 2004. The opening segment in which Martin and Baldwin riffed on just about everybody in the room (one which ignited a comical stare from George Clooney) provided a unique approach to a unique year.
- The acceptance speeches from top winners Monique (Best Supporting Actress, for Precious), Jeff Bridges (Best Actor, for Crazy Heart), and Sandra Bullock (Best Actress, for The Blind Side) were very big standouts, as well as enlightenments in their own special ways.
It's been a few years since I've watched an entire Oscar telecast (since 2007, to be exact). This year has another interesting list of nominees, some of which will be no-brainers, while others may be surprising. More news coming soon after the telecast tonight.