78th Academy Awards


78th Academy Awards

Infobox Academy Awards | name = 78th


date=Sunday, March 5 2006
site=Kodak Theatre
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
preshow=Billy Bush
Chris Connelly
Cynthia Garrett
Vanessa Minnillo
host=Jon Stewart
producer=Gil Cates
director=Louis J. Horvitz
duration=3 hours, 33 minutes
network=ABC
ratings=38.94 million
22.91 (Nielsen ratings)
last = 77th
next = 79th
The 78th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2005, were held on March 5 2006 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart. The ceremony was pushed back from its newly established February date because of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

The nominees were announced on January 31 at 5:38 a.m. PST (13:38 UTC) by Academy president Sid Ganis and actress Mira Sorvino, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters. Ang Lee's drama "Brokeback Mountain" had the most nominations of the year's films, receiving eight. Paul Haggis' "Crash", George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck", and Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha" each received six nominations.

The ceremony was remembered by many insiders and film critics for its nominations of independently financed, low budget films. In addition, the subject matter of the nominated films focused on controversial political and social themes, such as racial relations and racism ("Crash"), homosexuality ("Brokeback Mountain", "Capote"), transexuality ("Transamerica"), McCarthyism ("Good Night, and Good Luck"), anti-semitism and terrorism ("Munich", "Syriana").

This year has become particularly noted for its major upset at the climax of the ceremony. Following a streak of numerous awards, "Brokeback Mountain" was heavily favored to win the Best Picture category, but lost to "Crash", a film that, although publicly and critically acclaimed, had collected fewer previous awards throughout the season. Both films wrapped the ceremony with three Oscars each.

There was also some minor controversy regarding the nomination of "Paradise Now", as Best Foreign Language Film, representing the Palestinian State.

Major winners and nominees

"This is a breakdown of only major winners. For a complete list of nominees and winners, see: 78th Academy Awards nominees and winners"

Feature films

Directing

In addition, previous Academy Awards hosts Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Steve Martin, David Letterman and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as George Clooney, Mel Gibson and Halle Berry participated in a pre-taped comedy skit at the start of the broadcast. Tom Hanks, in addition to presenting an award, was also featured in a pre-taped skit about keeping acceptance speeches within the time limits.

Opening/Montages/Trivia

*The opening featured former hosts who pretended to be declining to host again, with film-based settings including a quick parody of the tent scene from "Brokeback Mountain", with Billy Crystal and Chris Rock; a family room in a house, with Steve Martin and some lookalike kids; a posh hotel room, with Whoopi Goldberg; David Letterman babysitting Steve Martin's "kids"; Mel Gibson on the set of his latest movie, "Apocalypto"; and even Mr. Moviefone. Cut to Jon Stewart being wakened (sharing a bed with Halle Berry) and falling asleep again, realizing it's a dream; then awakening again, sharing the bed with George Clooney, who advises Stewart it's "not" a dream, and to get up and get the show started.
*The montage sequence after the opening shows western films with scenes involving male characters talking emotionally with perceived innuendo, a reference to "Brokeback Mountain". Other montages in the ceremony saluted film noir, epic films, biographical films, and political commentary in film (after the latter, Stewart joked "and none of those issues were ever a problem again"). Stewart later joked that there would be a montage on montages.
*This was the first time Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Luke Wilson, Steve Carell, Eric Bana, and Jessica Alba had ever presented an award.
*This was the sixth time that Jack Nicholson had presented the award for Best Picture.
* Several spoof advertisements were shown, narrated by Stephen Colbert, a former correspondent from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" who currently hosts "The Colbert Report". They attacked the candidacies of various nominees on behalf of other nominees, modeled on famous political ads. For example, in a parody of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, "Dames for Truth" attacked Dame Judi Dench with absurd claims, such as that Dench poked a dame's eye out in a bar fight. The ad was capped with the disclaimer that Dames for Truth was "a shadow organization in no way affiliated with Felicity Huffman". In a parody of the Harry and Louise political ads (1993), an old couple complained about the "foreign" sounding names of the best actress nominees, other than Reese Witherspoon.
*At the beginning of the ceremony, some political remarks were made satirizing and criticizing conservative America and the LBGT taboo (for instance, the montage on "gay" cowboy movies). Host Jon Stewart and winner George Clooney were among those most noted for their somewhat combative political remarks:
**In Stewart's opening speech, he remarked, "Björk couldn't be here tonight... she was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her." This was reference to the Dick Cheney hunting incident and the dress Björk wore at the 73rd Academy Awards.
** As Clooney wrapped his acceptance speech upon his win, he remarked: "And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects. This Academy, this group of people, gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be a part of this Academy. Proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch." Commenting on how Hollywood sometimes break social taboos such as racism, homosexuality, and war. Some conservatives were offended by Clooney's remarks calling them rude and absurd (Clooney had earlier made a joke criticizing Jack Abramoff at the Golden Globe Awards). Clooney's acceptance speech, perceived as being smug in tone by the writers of "South Park", was lampooned several times in the episode "Smug Alert!".
*In her pre-show red carpet interview Jennifer Garner, who presented the award for Best Sound Editing, revealed that she'd had to have her ears pierced specially for the $250,000 diamond chandelier earrings she wore to the ceremony.

Voting trends and reaction

For the second consecutive year, the field of major nominees did not include a bona fide blockbuster at the U.S. box office, with the nominees for Best Picture performing even more poorly than those of one year earlier. This is partially due to the nefarious box office slump in 2005.

None of the five Best Picture nominees was among the year's top 40 releases in box office at the time of the nominations, likely the most disappointing box-office performance of any Best Picture field in history; the film chosen as best Documentary Feature, "March of the Penguins", earned more ($77.4 million) than any of the dramatic nominees, the first such occurrence in Academy history. As of January 31, "Crash" was the highest earner among the Best Picture nominees with $55.4 million in domestic box office receipts, and ranked as the 47th highest grosser of 2005. It was followed by "Brokeback Mountain" at $51 million (53rd) and "Munich" at $40.1 million (67th); "Good Night, and Good Luck." ($25.1 million) and "Capote" ($15.3 million) rounded out the field. (By the time of the awards, "Brokeback Mountain" would surpass "Crash" with $78.9 million, benefitting from its position as Oscar frontrunner.) Of the top 50 releases of 2005 in U.S. box office through January, only "Crash", "Walk the Line" (19th) and "Cinderella Man" (41st) received nominations for directing, acting or writing. The top 18 films in box office received a total of only 14 nominations, with a majority of these in the categories of Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

For the first time in five years, a majority of the Best Picture nominees were rated R (under 17 requires accompanying adult); it had been seven years since as many (four) of the nominees had earned that rating. Of the 85 nominations awarded to non-documentary feature films (apart from the Foreign Film category), a slight majority of 43 went to R-rated films, 25 to films rated PG-13, 16 to PG-rated films and 1 to a G-rated film. There was a remarkable rating-related division among the nominations: R-rated films captured 32 of the 40 nominations for Best Picture, directing, screenwriting and acting, while non-R-rated films received 34 of the 45 nominations in the remaining categories, primarily those in "below the line" areas (the music and editing categories accounted for 9 of the 11 nominations for R-rated films).

Also, the nominations were more widely dispersed than usual; it marked the first time in six years that no film received more than eight nominations. This was also the first time in 17 years that less than 5 songs were nominated in the Best Original Song category.

This year the awards ceremony started at 5:00 p.m. PST, 30 minutes earlier than the previous seven ceremonies. The pre-show was extended from its original thirty minutes to a full hour before the ceremony. The Barbara Walters Special, usually airing before or after the ceremony (depending on time zone) was for the second time, since 2003, aired on different days this time before the actual day of the ceremony, March 1 to accommodate these time changes.

As has become standard practice in recent years (since the ceremony in 2004 following the Janet Jackson Super Bowl controversy), the broadcast aired on a time delay in order to allow the network to censor offensive material. This occurred during the performance of "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" when several words were blanked out at the start of the song, and later one phrase was bleeped during Three 6 Mafia's acceptance speech. One phrase in the chorus that was supposed to be sung as "bitches talking shit" was replaced with the less-offensive phrase "witches jumping ships".

As with tradition, last year's acting winners present an acting award for the opposite sex. Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Actress the previous year but was contractually signed to star in a play in New York City, therefore unable to present the award for Best Supporting Actor; Nicole Kidman was recruited to fill in.

"Gay Oscars"?

Many news organizations labeled this ceremony "The Gay Oscars", [http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=10931] [http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1428918.cms] as movies such as "Brokeback Mountain", "Capote", and "Transamerica" featured prominent gay or transgender characters and were strong candidates for the popular Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress categories.

Tom O'Neill of "InTouch Weekly" declared on CNN Saturday Night, "I think we could have the all-gay Oscars. "Brokeback" for best picture; "Capote" for best actor; "Transamerica" for best actress." ["Gay Oscars" from a transcript of CNN Saturday Night accessed February 18, 2006 from [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0602/18/stn.01.html] ] Ultimately, in these three categories only "Capote" won its potential award.

The label of "Gay Oscars" resembles the "Black Oscars" label of the 74th Academy Awards when two African-Americans, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, won the best actor and actress Oscars, respectively. [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/31/1017206170092.html]

Winners

The awards were unusually divided. For the first time in 58 years, no film won more than three awards, with "Crash", "Brokeback Mountain", "King Kong", and "Memoirs of a Geisha" each receiving that many. "Crash" was the first Best Picture winner since "Rocky", 29 years earlier, to win only three awards. It was also the first Best Picture winner since "Chariots of Fire", 24 years earlier, to not win for its directing nor for any of its performers. For the first time in 49 years, Best Picture, Best Director and the four acting awards went to six different films. For the first time ever, none of these films won for cinematography either. "King Kong" and "Memoirs of a Geisha" became the first films since "The Bad and the Beautiful", 53 years earlier, to win (or tie for) the most awards, without being nominated for Best Picture.

For the first time in 44 years, each of the acting winners was a first-time nominee. With Philip Seymour Hoffman winning for his performance as Truman Capote, and Reese Witherspoon honored for her role as June Carter, it marked the fifth time that both lead acting awards went to performers playing real people. Ang Lee became the first Asian and non-Caucasian director to be honored. Paul Haggis was the evening's only multiple winner, with awards for producing and writing "Crash". "March of the Penguins" was the first nature documentary in 35 years (since "The Hellstrom Chronicle" in 1971) to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

Commentary

*"The New York Times" declared that the selection of "Crash" as best picture was a "stunning twist", due to the fact that "Brokeback Mountain" received the top prizes at other large award shows such as the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards. They also suggested that "Crash" won as the "hometown favorite", being set in Los Angeles, where most Academy voters live. ["'Crash' Walks Away With the Top Prize at the Oscars" from the New York Times accessed March 6, 2005 from [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/06/movies/redcarpet/06osca.html] ] "Crash" was indeed the second Best Picture winner in a row to be set primarily in Los Angeles, following "Million Dollar Baby", also written by Paul Haggis; however, no Best Picture winner prior to the two had ever been primarily set there, suggesting that such a hometown bias has historically played little role in the voting. Also, residents of Los Angeles were divided over the film, some believing it presented an unfairly negative portrayal of the city [http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/03/05/crash_resonates_in_la_on_race_relations/?rss_id=Boston+Globe+--+National+News] [http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/la-me-lopez8mar08,1,1898466.column?coll=la-news-columns&ctrack=1&cset=true] .

*"Los Angeles Times" film critic Kenneth Turan also observed that some Academy members displayed "discomfort" with the subject matter of "Brokeback Mountain". He suggested that these voters might have instead voted for "Crash" so that they could still "feel like they were good, productive liberals", hence "Crash"'s victory. ["Breaking no Ground" from the LA Times accessed March 5, 2006 from [http://theenvelope.latimes.com/awards/oscars/env-turan5mar05,0,5359042.story] ] Two voting members had publicly refused to view "Brokeback Mountain".

*In a commentary in "The Guardian", Annie Proulx—the author of the short story on which "Brokeback Mountain" was based—harshly lashed out at the selection of "Crash", labeling it "Trash" and denouncing Academy voters as "living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city"; calling the attendees a "somewhat dim LA crowd", she stated that "Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver." [http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,1727310,00.html] .

TV Ratings

The ceremony attracted 38.94 million viewers with 22.91 million households watching. This makes this year's ceremony (along with the 58th ceremony) the third lowest viewed ceremony in terms of Nielsen Ratings. This is partially due to the lack of box office hits being nominated. Still, only Super Bowl XL (which also aired on ABC) drew a higher television audience in the U.S., as is typically the case. The ceremony even won an Emmy. [cite news | first=Sean | last=McCarthy | url=http://theedge.bostonherald.com/movieNews/view.bg?articleid=129310&format=text | title=Box Office Blues; Low Oscar ratings reflect lack of blockbuster flicks | work=The Boston Herald | publisher=Boston Herald Inc. | page=003 | date=2006-03-07 | accessdate=2006-03-30]

ee also

* 78th Academy Awards nominees and winners
* Submissions for the 78th Academy Award for Best Foreign Film
* 2005 Golden Raspberry Awards

References

External links

* [http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2006/ Academy 2006 press releases]
* [http://www.comedycentral.com/sitewide/media_player/play.jhtml?itemId=82747 Video: Jon Stewart allows John Oliver to make fun of his hosting duties (1 year later)]


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