The Fix

Moore blasts Bush; a sex-crime fugitive wins for best director; and the stars find different ways -- from dove pins to hybrid cars -- to protest. Plus: Oscar follow-up -- ratings low, analysis flows and the Brits have their own show.


Karen Croft
March 24, 2003 8:10PM (UTC)

Anyone wanting a respite from the news Sunday night didn't get a lot from watching the Oscars, which was dominated by controversy. "Chicago" won for best movie -- no surprise. But Michael Moore bashed Bush and the war (to a round of boos), other stars more diplomatically criticized the military mission in Iraq, and the best director Oscar went to fugitive Roman Polanski, "who had to flee the United States 25 years ago after having sex with a 13-year-old girl." (New York Post)

To see a complete list of winners, click here (New York Times)

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Anyone in need of a reminder of Polanski's crime, the graphic grand jury case file has been unsealed. (The Smoking Gun)

Also winning for "The Pianist" -- in perhaps the biggest surprise of the night -- was Adrien Brody, who at 29 became the youngest man ever to win the best actor award. (The Times) Brody stormed the stage and planted a big, dramatic kiss on a semiwilling Halle Berry, then soon crumbled, giving a long, emotional acceptance speech. "My experience making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people in times of war, and the repercussions of war," Brody said of the Holocaust film. "And whether you believe in God or Allah, may He watch over you, and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution." Backstage, he told the press he would continue to "feel for the suffering that exists in this world."(E!Online)

When she won her Oscar, as expected, Nicole Kidman said: "Russell Crowe said don't cry if you get up there -- and now I'm crying" before adding, "I'm standing here in front of my mother and my daughter. My whole life I have wanted to make my mother proud. Now I want to make my daughter proud." She also made generic statements in support of peace, without directly criticizing the war. (Daily Mirror)

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Moore won for his documentary "Bowling for Columbine," and immediately launched into a rant (which you can watch for yourself here) that referenced "fictitious election results that elect fictitious presidents" and going "to war for fictitious reasons" -- which prompted a hearty round of boos from the crowd. The documentary, by the way, has been criticized widely (see here) for playing loose with the facts.

After Moore's wild speech, host Steve Martin returned to the podium with perhaps his best quip of the night: "It was so sweet backstage. The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo." (Yahoo)

Moore's lines, by the way, were virtually the same as those he made just a day before, at the Independent Film Channel's Spirit Awards. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

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Most of the political statements were received warmly by the crowd. Gael Garcia Bernal, one of the young stars of "Y Tu Mamá También," said, in introducing a nominated song from "Frida," the movie based on the life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, "The necessity for peace in the world is not a dream. It is a reality, and we are not alone. If Frida was alive, she would be on our side, against war." Pedro Almodóvar, who won for best original screenplay for "Talk to Her," said, "I also dedicate this to all the people who are raising their voices in favor of peace, respect of human rights, democracy and international legality, all of which are essential qualities to live." A number of stars -- Dustin Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Jim Carrey, Ben Affleck, Michael Moore and Kirsten Dunst -- wore Artists United to Win Without War buttons. Chris Cooper, winning the best supporting actor award for "Adaptation," wore a dove pin, too, but only said, "In light of all the troubles in this world, I wish us all peace." (MSNBC)

Hollywood's favorite couple on the left, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, flashed peace signs after arriving in their low-gas hybrid car. (Washington Post) But when it was Sarandon's turn at the mike to introduce a best picture nomination, she kept her politics off the podium. The day before, at a march protesting the media's coverage of the war at CNN studios in Los Angeles, she had said, "How can I not speak out about what's going on in the world today? It's frightening. It's tragic. If I can make an impact by saying something I will."(The Times)

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The quieter, gentler Moore, Julianne, had a rough night of it, losing in both the supporting and lead acting categories. An even bigger loser: Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York," which went 0 for 10. (Yahoo)

If the biggest winner of the night was Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein ("Chicago"), it was only because he managed to avoid the latest little scandal to erupt in his studio's ham-fisted attempts to woo Oscar (in this case, with no success, for "Gangs"). (Los Angeles Times)

Looking for a loving rehash of Martin's performance? Keep your eye on this message board, for devout fans, on the wild, crazy guy's own Web site.

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(Morning report compiled by Kerry Lauerman)

Afternoon report follow-up:

The TV audience for last night's Academy Awards was the smallest since 1987. About 37 million people watched "Chicaco" win the best picture award, compared to last year, when almost 42 million saw "A Beautiful Mind" win the Oscar. (USA Today)

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The analysis of the Hollywood night of nights continues, with Kurt Loder criticizing Michael Moore for his "spittle-flecked ululations," and praising Meryl Streep's eloquent introduction of Peter O'Toole ("He has a light in his eyes as if he'd swallowed a pale-blue moon"). (MTV.com)

Moore warned the press after the show: "Don't report that there was a split decision in the hall because five loud people booed." (Toronto Star)

Reporter Bob Thomas remembered another wartime Oscar ceremony, which he covered, in 1945. It was a subdued affair, he says, with men in business suits and women in suits or cocktail dresses. The year's best actor award went to Bing Crosby for "Going My Way" and the show lasted 90 minutes. (MSNBC)

The war is affecting programming at MTV, with certain violence-laden videos off the playlist for now -- including U2's "Miss Sarajevo" (it contains images of buildings blowing up) and Radiohead's "Lucky" (war footage). It seems they are also sensitive to any videos with the words "bomb," "war" or "missile" in them. (Jeannette Walls)

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Some of Roman Polanski's fellow directors in Poland surmised that his win might have been because of the timely subject matter. But, said Andrzej Wajda, "The story alone isn't enough. If Polanski hadn't made such a wonderful, masterful and coldly objective film, this film would not have received such recognition." (MSNBC)

With war the biggest reality show around, the networks are pulling out all the stops to compete. After stunningly high ratings in February they will continue in May -- with ABC keeping "All-American Girl" and "The Bachelor," CBS with "Survivor" and "Star Search" and the big winner, Fox ("Joe Millionaire"), will show the finale of "American Idol." (Entertainment Weekly)

The Brits were having a show of their own last night. It was the "London Concert for Peace" and drew 1,200 to a West End theater to hear Dame Judi Dench sing "Cabaret" and Sir Ian McKellen read "Suicide in the Trenches" by WWI poet Sigfried Sassoon. Joanna Riding, whose run in "My Fair Lady" had just ended, sang "I Could Have Danced All Night." She said: "It may seem a strange choice, but this is a song about joy in life, and that's something worth seizing." (Evening Standard)

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Karen Croft

Karen Croft is the editor of Salon Sex.

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