The Academy Awards of 2006 will be remembered as the year Scorsese finally won his Oscar and the year of evenly handed out Oscars and little real surprises. It's never fun when one movie completely dominates the awards, this really wasn't the case this year. The awards were evenly handed out and there was no big winner, although "The Departed" of course won the most important awards. But perhaps the biggest winner of the evening was the Mexican/Spanish movie "El Laberinto del Fauno", that took home 3 awards though not the most important (Best foreign language film) one. Nevertheless I think that Guillermo del Toro went home extremely satisfied.
Lets face it, 2006 wasn't the greatest year for movies. Sure there were some great movies released but not exactly the type of movies that will grown into becoming classics. There also wasn't really one movie or person this year that I hoped would win. I didn't really felt much for any of the nominations this year, with perhaps the exception of the more 'smaller' awards, like best visual effects.
The ceremony also wont be remembered as the most hilarious or legendary one. Nevertheless it's good to see that they brought back the show-element and the entire ceremony felt less organized and scripted. The ceremony felt like one big whole this year and was more personal and natural, with presenter Ellen DeGeneres actually walking between- and talking to the stars and taking part of the show elements, without feeling the constant obligation to constantly talk after, between and before the handing out of every single award. Normally there is a tense atmosphere, this year it was more relaxed, which was i think due to the presenting skills of DeGeneres and the flow of the entire show. Normally the comedy of the show is more of a spoofing caliber, it now felt professional and well thought out, with some fun moments with comedians Will Ferrel and Jack Black. But of course that all doesn't mean that DeGeneres also doesn't take time to make fun of some of the stars. I love the Oscars for that, it's the only time of the year you can say anything straight into the face of those persons, knowing that you can get away with it.
The award presenters were all good. None of them really did their best to make a lasting impression, which I take as a positive thing. I mean after all, this is THE evening of the nominees, not of the presenters. Most memorable the duo Jaden Smith and Abigail Breslin, with Smith messing up his lines but still staying cool and funny under it and continue with presenting. Not bad for an 9 year old, who obviously has his parents talents. Also fun was Robert Downey Jr. who wasn't too embarrassed to make fun of his own drugs past. Clint Eastwood seemed very nervous presenting and messed up his lines, which was odd to see from a person of his caliber and acting past, though he would claim it was because of he forgot his glasses. It was good to see that the old American Zoetrope-gang, Lucas, Spielberg and Coppola were the ones to hand out the best director award, which went to their old friend Martin Scorsese. It was the bald(!) Jack Nicholson that had the honor of presenting the award for the best movie of the year.
The evening didn't had that many big surprises. The acting awards went to the most predicted ones, with the exception of the best supporting actor award that went to Alan Arkin instead of favorite Eddie Murphy. No big surprise that Helen Mirren won an Oscar, which was perhaps the most in advance predicted winner of the evening. Same goes for Forest Whitaker who did the best speech of the evening, though he of course was also the one that could prepare himself the best, since it almost was a formality for him to pick up the award.
There were some memorable events the evening, such as Ennio Morricone getting an Honorary Award. Just like Scorsese, he should already had won an Oscar years ago for at least 3 of his works but nevertheless it was great to see that he finally got the recognition he deserved from the Academy before his death. Because lets face it, the guy is almost 80-years already and he has his best years behind him, though he himself would probably disagree with me. Morricone wasn't too happy in advance that he received this Honorary Award, claiming that it would look like as if his career was over already but nevertheless he seemed emotional and touched by this honor when he stood on the stage, next to his friend and interpretor Clint Eastwood, since Morricone himself (still) doesn't speak a word English.
Another highlight was Scorsese getting a standing ovation, not necessarily for his win for "The Departed" but more for his career and the fact that he finally won an Oscar, after being nominated 7 times already. Of course "The Departed" is not his best or most influential works, so it's sort of a double feeling that he won his long deserved Oscar for this movie. For him "The Departed" obviously was a movie for 'in between', who could had ever thought that this would be his movie for which he would win the biggest awards. But on the other hand I'm of course glad that he now will always be remembered as Oscar winner-Martin Scorsese instead of 8(+ probably) time Oscar nominee.
Too bad that the ceremony turned a bit too political at times with a too prominently present Al Gore. It was also weird to see Gore holding an Oscar, though the cause he fights for is of course a good one. Nevertheless, politics and Oscars should never mix in my opinion.
Not the best year for the Oscars but a memorable enough evening nevertheless.