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(Review originally written at 23 March 2006)

Not only was this is a good show to watch, also most of the winners were surprising. No movie swept away the awards and the 'big' Oscars were evenly handed among the favorite movies of the evening. It made it a very unpredictable evening and because of that it also was fun to watch. It's never fun to see one movie just win all of the 'big' Oscars, especially when the movie is not deserving enough of it. So, for the more neutral and unbiased viewer, like myself, this was a great awards show in which the Adademy Awards, for me, regained some of its credibility and respect.

The show was fast paced and there weren't any slow or distracting moments. All of the presenters were good and didn't try to be forced funny all the time, like often in the past was the case. As for Jon Stewart, he surprised me. I never really had been a fan of him but he was a great presenter of the evening. Unlike the other presenters from the past, he stood there as a presenter that told some fun jokes in between and not as a comedian who tried to make the audience laugh with basically every single sentence. Stewart never overdid things and because of that he was a great presenter that also was fun to listen to.

A bit disappointing however were the montages. I normally always enjoy the montages during the Oscars but the montages used this year contained some weird and unimpressive movie choices at times. It also got a bit tiresome after a while when they kept repeating to the viewers that they should watch movies in theater's rather than home on DVD or on portable-DVD. It felt like one big, unpaid for, advert that in my opinion also was just totally pointless.

As for the winners...Like I said before, it was a great evening for the neutral movie-viewer. It was a mostly unpredictable evening, with some great and also some surprising winners. The Oscars were handed out extremely even and fair this year. "King Kong" took home 3 Oscar, as well as "Memoirs of a Geisha", "Crash" and "Brokeback Mountain". "King Kong" won the most important technical awards, "Memoirs of a Geisha" the most important visual awards and both "Crash" and "Brokeback Mountain" won the 'big' important awards. So, it was a very balanced evening for most movies.

Not all of the awards were a surprise though of course. Most movie buffs already knew that it was simply bound to happen once, that Philip Seymour Hoffman would win an Oscar for best actor and it really was no surprise to anyone that he won this year for his role in "Capote". It also was fairly determined that Reese Witherspoon would receive the Oscar for best actress, which she also did. Judi Dench already had received enough nominations and credit, plus she already won an Oscar once, Charlize Theron already one won recently, Keira Knightley will almost certainly still win an Oscar later within about 5 or maybe 10 years, the way her career progresses at the moment. She's young, talented and beautiful, so she'll get there. And Felicity Huffman...yeah right, like she even had a chance. So no, also Reese Witherspoon was surely no surprise, also because she already had won many other big awards this year for her role in "Walk the Line". Also no real surprises were; "La Marche de l'empereur" for best documentary feature, "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" for best animated feature film and George Clooney for his supporting role in the movie "Syriana". Clooney was nominated two more times, first best screenplay and directing for "Good Night, and Good Luck.". Three nominations, so he was almost bound to receive one. For best screenplay and best directing would had been too controversial, so giving him one for his acting seemed like a fair and predictable move. Clooney himself also knew that he wouldn't receive the Oscar for best screenplay or directing after he had one the best supporting actor award.

Of course biggest surprise of the evening was "Crash" winning the best picture award, especially after Ang Lee already had won the best director award during the evening. Everyone basically assumed that "Brokeback Mountain" would win best picture and most of the other important awards of the evening, with maybe "Good Night, and Good Luck." as the most important underdog. Yeah sure "Crash" had 6 nominations this evening but honestly, who would had ever expected it to win so many and important awards. The movie almost didn't seem to make a chance to win against "Brokeback Mountain" and any of the other movies nominated. But yet it won, which is good for the unpredictability, surprise and credibility level of this year's award ceremony.

All in all, "The 78th Annual Academy Awards" was an unpredictable and fun evening with a good presented- and fast show set around it. 2005 was a great and competitive year for the Oscar's. No one will totally agree with the Oscar's handed out this year but for the neutral viewer there was plenty to enjoy.

8/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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