Jon Stewart's Stellar Oscar Performance
Posted on March 6, 2006Jon Stewart did an excellent job hosting the Oscars last night. It's a thankless task, really (other than the nice paycheck, of course). Hollywood stars don't really like to be made fun of (think Chris Rock's disastrous performance as host, for example), the show is entirely too long with all the absurd montages about film noir and movies that "really should be seen on the big screen." But Stewart managed to pull it off. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper gave Stewart two thumbs up, noting that he reminded them of the best Oscar host ever: Johnny Carson. I quite agree. Here were some of the best bits of the night:
- The opening short film in which the previous Oscar hosts all turned down the job. The first scene showed Chris Rock and Billy Crystal peeking out of a Brokeback Mountain tent saying they were "too busy" to host the show. Whoopi Goldberg closed the door on the producers answering ("Oh, Hell no!"), David Letterman and Steve Martin both declined so they could spend more time with Martin's (fictional) children "so they won't grow up weird," Mr. Moviephone was "unavailable." Mel Gibson turned the job down while speaking in the ancient Mayan dialect that he's using in his new film.
- Stewart's jab at the media: while discussing best picture nominee Capote, Stewart said, "Capote, of course, addressed similar themes to Good Night, and Good Luck. Both films are about determined journalists defying obstacles in a relentless pursuit of truth. Needless to say, both are period pieces."
- The one Dick Cheney joke: "Bjork couldn't be here tonight," Stewart said, referring to the singer's infamous swan dress. "She was trying on her dress and Dick Cheney shot her."
- The series of Swift Boat Veteran-style political attack ads for the feuding Best Actress Nominees, created by Stewart and The Daily Show team and narrated by Stephen Colbert. In one ad, British ladies each discussed why Dame Judi Dench shouldn't win: "She once punched me in the eye during a bar fight," one confided. Keira Knightly looked completely confused during her own fictional campaign ad against Charlize Theron in which she accused Theron of simply "hagging it up" in movies to win. Perhaps they don't have political attack ads in England, where Keira Knightly grew up...but somehow that seems unlikely. The ads were quite clever; on the last screen each ad said "Paid for by the candidate's mother" or by some shadowy organization.
- Looking over his shoulder at a giant, 40' Oscar statue, Stewart wondered "If we pulled that statue down, do you think democracy would flourish in Hollywood? Maybe James Caan could then hit Oscar in the face with a shoe."
- Returning from a commercial break, the camera catches Stewart ranting to the audience: "And that is why I think Scientology is right, not just for this city, but for the country" before he realizes that the show is live again. The Scientologists in the audience may not have thought that was funny, but I thought it was absolutely hilarious.