Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

The Awards for the Best & Worst Oscars Speeches Go To…

posted by kris rasmussen

Last night’s Oscar ceremony showcased the best and the worst of Oscar’s tradition of longwinded acceptance speeches. The one moment of last night’s Oscar ceremony that I was truly dreading was 81-year-old director Robert Altman’s acceptance speech for his honorary lifetime achievement Oscar. Altman is famous among Hollywood insiders and die-hard indie film buffs like me for making inflammatory comments such as, “With Nazis like Bush in the White House, it’s no wonder terrorists are attacking us” and “If Bush gets elected, I’ll move to Paris.” (To his credit, he kept his word, in a way, and moved to London.)

But instead of a bitter, angry tirade, Altman used his time at the podium to utter some of the most eloquent words I have ever heard spoken at the Oscars. In addition to thanking the Academy and his family, he made a special point to honor someone else–a woman in her 30s who, through organ donation, allowed Altman to receive a heart transplant several years ago. Because of her generous gift of life, Altman told the audience, he doesn’t believe his career is coming to a close, but instead that he has another “40 years or more” to keep doing what he loves, making movies. How nice to see Altman recognize, even for a moment, that humility and self-sacrifice accomplishes more than bitterness and hatred any day.

Which is a lesson another Oscar winner, George Clooney, perhaps hasn’t fully learned yet. His Oscar speech, the first of the night, was by far the worst, most self-aggrandizing speech of the evening. I am a big fan of much of Clooney’s recent work, but he truly disappointed me when he began his speech by saying, “There’s a lot of talk about Hollywood being disconnected from the rest of the country. And I think in many ways we are disconnected, and that is a good thing.”

Clooney then went on to give credit to Hollywood for always being the first to talk about tough social issues, while the rest of the country is only “whispering” about them. Really? No one from any “red state” can be credited with leading the way with regard to the social consciousness of our country? Saying that those in Hollywood are better informed–and care more–about social issues than the rest of the country was irresponsible and arrogant. And, in fact, Clooney seemed to recognize the hubris of his comments a few hours later, at the press conference televised on the E! channel. When a reporter pounced on his comments about Hollywood’s leadership in social awareness, Clooney backpedaled, admitting that in some cases Hollywood has actually been slow to tackle tough topics–making him look even more, well, out of touch, with the rest of us.

And When I’m Right..

posted by kris rasmussen

I can’t even remember the last time “Oscar” and I actually agreed on the winner for Best Picture. Last night, however, the Academy decided to listen to me, as well as many other critics, and they named “Crash” the best of 2005, an upset win that I predicted a few weeks ago. (But as my fellow blogger Paul also pointed out to me in an e-mail, I win the office betting pool again because even when I was wrong in my predictions, I was right!) So I hope you’ll indulge me in a brief moment of gloating.

But I have to say I disagree with Paul’s comments on another topic. Earlier today, he wrote that “Brokeback” didn’t win because of some kind of intolerant backlash toward the movie’s gay themes. “Brokeback” probably hurt itself with too much hype too early in the Oscar season–and the film never had the substance or style of a movie like “Crash” to back up the hype. The truth is, “Brokeback” didn’t make the top five (top 10, yes, but not top five) of many critics’ best-of lists, and “Crash” did. For both movies, word-of-mouth caught up just in time for the final vote.

Michelle Williams Won’t Be Speaking at Alumni Day

posted by ellen leventry

Actress Michelle Williams, who first shot to fame as beleaguered ex-bad-girl Jen Lindley on “Dawson’s Creek” and has since been Oscar-nominated for her turn as the beleaguered, heartbroken wife of gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain,” won’t be getting her picture up in her High School’s hall of fame anytime soon

“We don’t want to have anything to do with her in relation to that movie,” Santa Fe Christian headmaster Jim Hopson told the San Diego Union Tribune. “Michelle doesn’t represent the values of this institution. We would not approve of her movies and TV shows (including the teen drama ‘Dawson’s Creek’). We’d not like to be tied to ‘Brokeback Mountain.’”

So Hobson wouldn’t even approve of “Dick,” in which Williams and Kirsten Dunst starred as teen advisors to Republican president Richard Nixon? Tough critic. At least he didn’t get personal, pointing out that Williams, who got her start in Christian Youth theater, and her fiance Heath Ledger recently had a baby.

“I hope we offered her something in life,” Hobson was quoted as saying. “But she made the kinds of choices of which we wouldn’t approve. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ basically promotes a lifestyle we don’t promote. It’s not the word of God.”

We can debate forever what exactly God says or doesn’t say about homosexuality (or any other issue), but what’s not debatable is that Hobson’s school holds a set of beliefs to be true, and his comments are consistent with their message. Gotta admire them for that–most private schools would be sucking up for the big donation.

Even Carla Williams, Michelle’s mother, admits that: “For some people, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is difficult. He has the right to his opinion.” But she also notes that others from the school have contacted her and asked her to pass on their congratulations to Michelle.

Jesus on ‘Idol’

posted by dena ross

Carrie Underwood, country singer and “American Idol” winner, returned to her roots last night, performing her hit single, “Jesus Take the Wheel,” on the show that launched her career.

Although I’m not a big fan of “Idol,” Carrie Underwood, or country music, her song–which spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Country Singles chart, was better than I expected—although I must admit, I did cringe at one of the opening lines: “She was running low on faith and gasoline.” The verse reminded me of one of those stereotypical, cheesy country songs: “My wife left me, the dog’s dead, I’ve lost my job, and the mortgage is due…”

After I got over my initial dislike, I tried to focus on both the performance (which you can watch here) and the rest of the song’s lyrics. Overall, Underwood was very good. She has a beautiful voice and presence and easily outshined most of this season’s contestants. The lyrics, aren’t all that bad either. I particularly liked the verse:

She bowed her head to pray
She said I’m sorry for the way
I’ve been living my life
I know I’ve got to chance
So from now on tonight
Jesus take the wheel…

I anticipate this young star has a long career ahead of her. Which gives me the perfect excuse to dish on another Christian “American Idol” star, Clay Aiken. Aiken has long disputed rumors that he’s gay, and now, according to the New York Post, the National Enquirer has published webcam pictures of the singer exposing his bod to an “online boytoy” in a bid to solicit sex. This, of course, has gotten his fans–“Claymates,” as they’re called–in a tizzy. Some are even considering a class action-lawsuit against the singer and his record companies, RCA and Song BMG, claiming he was promoted as a “virgin” and “asexual.”

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