"Crash" the big Oscar winner: A week after winning top prize at Salon's Liberal Guilt Awards, "Crash" brought home the top prize in the real LGAs, also known as the Oscar for best picture, upsetting critic fave "Brokeback Mountain." (Go here to see Salon reader picks -- and here to read Cintra Wilson's take on the proceedings.) The New York Times is calling it a "stunning twist." Maybe it seems that way to the Times, but the trades and other insiders have been guessing for a long time that "Crash" would carry the greater appeal to Academy voters. Why, you ask? The award for best instant analysis goes to the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan, who saw the "Crash" victory coming, writing: "In the privacy of the voting booth, as many political candidates who've led in polls only to lose elections have found out, people are free to act out the unspoken fears and unconscious prejudices that they would never breathe to another soul, or, likely, acknowledge to themselves. And at least this year, that acting out doomed 'Brokeback Mountain.'" He adds that Academy voters picked "Crash" because, perversely, "it is, in some ways, a feel-good film about racism, a film you could see and feel like a better person, a film that could make you believe that you had done your moral duty and examined your soul when in fact you were just getting your buttons pushed and your preconceptions reconfirmed."
If you have to read just one red-carpet story, pick Hank Stuever's account in the Washington Post. Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, he writes, "whisper all their answers. We don't get a word. They're one of those 'quiet' couples you see on the Metro -- you want to eavesdrop, but it's all soft, shy mumbles, even into microphones." And later: The stars are "all predictably thrilled, prepped, dressed, posed. They're all tiny but somehow huge ... All you remember from those few seconds, all you really have, is some small and useless detail rendered huge in your mind: the blue vein barely noticeable on Meryl Streep's cheek, or a glimpse at her dental work when she leans forward to speak into a TV microphone. The slight and brilliant crinkle of crow's feet and dusting of gray around Eric Bana's temple. The warm embrace between Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman when they spot each other -- and they seem to need the warmth." Stuever even throws in a little Greek reference to class up the affair: "Clytemnestra, in ancient Greek tragedy, put down a red carpet (or purple robes, in some translations) for her husband Agamemnon when he returned from war. She did it because she hated him, and she wanted to trick him into showing arrogance, which would displease the gods. He knew this, but he walked the red carpet anyhow. (Exclaiming as he did: Oh ma gaw!, Jessica Simpson-style.)" Nice.
Here are some other awards of our own: the best Oscar fashion photos, the best backstage report (including Philip Seymour Hoffman complaining, "I literally lost all control of my bowels up there" and a shellshocked Ang Lee) and, from good ole Salon, the best Oscar podcast and the single best Oscar highlight. There. Can we move on?
If there really is some sort of feud between Oprah and Ludacris, we don't think the little guy stands a chance. (Page Six) ... Bono strangely bailed from a pre-Oscar benefit for his One charity, and it became a fiasco, crowded and "so unruly that nominee Catherine Keener was 'slammed into a table of people having dinner and her glass of wine went all over this poor woman.'" (Page Six) ... The New York Daily News got its hands on a book proposal from Jermaine Jackson, who now claims he backed brother Michael at his trial last year because he feared Michael would commit suicide in jail -- but actually thought he had "a thing for young children." Jermaine also writes in the proposal that Michael's "preferred substances" are "Vicodin, Demerol, codeine, Percocet, cocaine, Jack Daniels and wine" and asks, "Does he really know what he does with these kids?" Alarmingly, Jermaine was shopping this book in November 2003 -- months after Michael was arrested, and before Jermaine jumped on the TV circuit defending his little brother. (N.Y. Daily News) ... New 007 Daniel Craig says he's willing to go full frontal in "Casino Royale" (N.Y. Daily News) ... It might sound like aging glam rocker Gary Glitter, 61, got off easy when he was sentenced to three years in a Vietnamese prison for sexually abusing two girls, ages 11 and 12. But according to Human Rights Watch, the country's prisons are notoriously grim, with rampant prisoner abuse, food shortages and lice (The Times, U.K.)
Will ratings for Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" rebound this season? The second show airs on Monday night (NBC, 8 p.m. EST). And the great Beth Orton performs on "David Letterman" (CBS, 11:30 p.m.).
-- Kerry Lauerman