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Hooray for Hollywood

Hollywood_sign Well, the post-Oscar analysis is well underway, with film experts worldwide trying to explain how Academy voters split the best director and best movie awards.

I'll leave that to folks whose actual jobs revolve around films. But since I posted my thoughts on the nominations when they came out (read it here to see how my picks then fared on Sunday night), I wanted to post my personal two cents on the actual awards and the program.

I love Jon Stewart and the show's filmed opening with former hosts, Halle Berry and George Clooney was too funny. Unfortunately, the rest of the night wasn't sustainably entertaining.

Clooney's acceptance speech was a great way to start the show. They usually do the Best Supporting Actress first, but maybe the director figured Clooney was a good bet and they needed someone like him to kick things off. He did the job. He was gracious, thankful for the win, self-deprecating, and unabashedly confident and proud of what he does and why he does it. Way to go, George!

Most of the major nominees (sans Woody Allen, who never goes to these things) were there. Yay! I hate it when they show the nominees and three of the five are head shots because the actors or writers or whoever couldn't be bothered to make time for the ceremony. Forget the TV ratings. It is a big deal! Dress up and go!

Unlike last year, when Beyonce sang every nominated song in the producer's blatant attempt to attract younger viewers, people actually associated with the songs (performers, writers) made it on stage.  And the performance by Three 6 Mafia of "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" made it clear why that's the only way to go.

I am so glad that song won! You gotta love Dolly, but her song just played as "Transamerica" closing credits rolled. And as much as I loved "Crash," I honestly don't remember the song, and I love movie music, with soundtracks making up a substantial part of my CD collection. Plus, Three 6 Mafia was the happiest (to that point) winner of the night! At last, some pure, unadulterated joy that kept the bleep button guy on his toes!

Crash_dvd Finally, a surprise! "Crash" demolishes "Brokeback" dream. Kudos to Ang Lee and crew for tackling a taboo subject in mainstream film, but by the time the final award arrived, things were going so predictably that I was reading the paper and only half paying attention. I was so happy to be shocked.

My first thought: Wow! How'd that happen?

My second thought: Somebody better check that card that Jack Nicholson read! If anybody ever decided to just say something unofficial for the hell of it, bad boy Nicholson would be my prime suspect!

I loved "Crash" -- the huge cast, the day-to-day issues it raised, the actors playing against type, the twists and most of all that it was released when it was ready (in the spring) and not just as part of a marketing ploy. We saw the movie in May, and I still remember it so very clearly ... except for that song!

And I suspect there's one couple that's particularly happy about the "Crash" shocker: Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, since both came away winners, she with her Best Actress statue and he as part of the Best Picture.

Award tax alert: The award for dampening the ceremony goes to the IRS. In the "And the tax goes to" section of this blog entry, I mentioned the pre-ceremony curiosity about the tax implications of goodies bestowed on award show participants.

This weekend, TaxProf cited a Bloomberg story in which the IRS warned Academy Awards performers and presenters that the gift bags handed out during the ceremony are taxable income.

"We want to make sure the stars 'walk the line' when it comes to these goodie bags," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said, referring to an Oscar-nominated film about the late country singer Johnny Cash.

The Oscar bags reportedly contained items such as cell phones and vouchers for massages, dinners and vacations, including a four-night stay in the Vera Wang suite of Honolulu's Halekulani Hotel. One estimate of the value:  $100,000-plus.

At that rate, notes TaxProf, a California gift bag recipient in the top tax brackets (and you gotta figure that includes most high-profile actors) would face around $45,000 in federal and state taxes.


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