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Top 5 Oscar Moments from 2008
It seems a bit strange to talk about this one night of television in terms of how much it entertained us when the focus really should be on the nominated movies themselves. So, before we dive into what we liked and hated about Sunday night's Oscars, let's get one thing out of the way.Screw ratings. Who cares if they were low? Should the Academy nominate crappier movies with bigger box office so that ABC can sell more ads during the ceremony? All I have read about this telecast is how poorly it did in the ratings. And all I care about is that the two least mainstream and most challenging movies of the year, "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men," got the hottest spotlight in Hollywood for one night, which proves that the Academy's taste is more sophisticated than most people give them credit for. Now maybe they'll reach as many people as the $309 million-grossing pirate movie. A boy can dream, can't he?As host Jon Stewart said, "Even 'Norbit' got a nomination, which I think is great. Too often, the Academy ignores movies that aren't good."With all that in mind, here are my five best/least favorite moments of the night:5. Who's that guy with the puppet? And did Steve Carell just say "shit"?You bet your anus he did. Doing a little bit with Anne Hathaway (who showed perfect comic timing, by the way) about how he had the completely wrong category booted up for his introduction, Carell played embarrassment like only Steve Carell can. Maybe he was supposed to say "sheesh" or something like that, but he threw his head in his hands and clearly uttered "shit!" Cursing on live TV is one of the few tried-and-true formulas to always put a smile on my face. Later, Hugh Welchman wins Best Animated Short and brings a special little friend with him. He says something about it being "only the beginning for Peter," referring, I suppose, to the wooden puppet he's cradling in his arms. I guess it's a good thing Brad Bird's rat was only CGI.4. The "How We Vote" short filmAMPAS President Sid Ganis seems like a nice guy, but as befitting the producer of "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," "Big Daddy," "Mr. Deeds," and "The Master of Disguise," he produced the worst picture of a night that was full of stinkers. No doubt the writer's strike forced the show to stockpile a hefty batch of recycled Oscar moments, but did they have to use them all? Worst of all was Ganis narrating a piece describing the Oscar process. It's actually nice to know how some of this works, but Ganis tried to spice up the mini-doc with stale jokes and too much self-impotance. What's worse, he ended the short with a horribly unfunny bit where he, the president of the Academy no less(!), gets shut out of the super-secret tallying room and turns to the camera, mock-stunned. It was so bad that host Jon Stewart, dripping with sarcasm immediately following the bit, remarked, "That was amazing."3. Halle Berry and Dame Judi Dench...couldn't be here tonight, goes the joke, so Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen filled in for them at the last minute. Sure, it's a silly set-up, but watching Hill and Rogen exchange petty one-ups about which of them gets to "be" Halle Berry was twisted and hilarious. Freud would have a field day with this conversation. The funny thing is, you can imagine that these guys have probably already had this conversation. Even as they were announcing the first nominees, they were acting like children, still trying to get the last word in. "I'm Halle Berry," Hill says again as he leans into the microphone. One of the "Bourne Ultimatum" sound award winners proved he's no slouch at one-liners either when he quipped after taking the stage, "Would it be alright to kiss Halle Berry now?" These sick Hollywood perverts.2. Ethan Coen is really uncomfortableHow great was it to see Joel and Ethan Coen finally get their due after years of terrificly weird little movies? Those two strange-looking brothers from Minnesota? Oscar darlings? I would have never believed it. Joel's wife Frances MacDormand could barely believe it. She was exchanging private glances with Joel and beaming from the audience like a proud mother (and looking a lot like Mrs. Miller from "Almost Famous") every time the brothers were onstage. Joel had some great lines about making films since childhood and being allowed to make films in their "corner of the sandbox," but Ethan had a plastered-on smile and looked right through presenter Martin Scorsese like he wasn't even there. Some people deal with high stress situations differently, and I'll bet Ethan can't wait to get back to what he does best--making movies. His first speech, in its entirety: "We...uh...thank you very much." His second: "I don't have a lot to add to what I said earlier...Thank you."1. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova"Once" was the little indie movie that everyone loved, but didn't know where to show it. Thank God it was nominated for Best Original Song. During a night filled with three over-the-top songs from Disney's "Enchanted" (although Amy Adams' performance was a nice throwback to old school musicals) and that awful "August Rush" faux-inspirational mess, Hansard and Irglova, stars of "Once" and songwriters of its signature tune, saved us from a night of musical hell. Not only did they perform a beautiful version of "Falling Slowly" with Bill Conti and the orchestra, but they had the most memorable speech of the night, and arguably created the one truly memorable Oscar moment. I'll let J.D. talk about Irglova's speech, but Hansard was genuinely in shock and as refreshingly humble as can be while at the microphone. When they walked off the stage there was this glowing feeling coming from everyone in the building. Enter Jon Stewart with the funniest, most shocking line of the night: "Wow, that guy is so arrogant." It took a moment to register and then there was huge laughter from everyone. Please bring Stewart back next year.