Night To Remember As Oscar Show Gets Its Act Together

Here is something extremely rare for me to write on the morning after an Oscars telecast: The show was great.

So many great moments: Brendan Fraser and Jamie Lee Curtis winning Oscars, John Travolta's raw emotion when he paid tribute to his lifelong friend Olivia Newton-John, Lady Gaga (wow!), the Indian dancers Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj (double wow!) and so much more.

Ratings were not yet available at the TV Blog's deadline yesterday, but the news about viewership may actually be very good for “The 95th Oscars” on ABC.

Lady Gaga sang “Hold My Hand,” the Oscar-nominated song from “Top Gun: Maverick” and in the process, reminded us all of her otherworldly talent.

The Indian dance troupe was from the same Best Song category. They performed in support of the nominated song called “Naatu Naatu” from the movie “RRR," which was made in India. This dance number was a showstopper. And the song won.



The glue that held it all together was host Jimmy Kimmel. He was sensational. His demeanor was right on the money -- the comedian who positions himself as a wry observer on the sidelines of Hollywood's biggest night when, in fact, his day job as L.A.'s undisputed late-night star places him at the very center of the action.

He took just the right tone in his gentle jibes at some of the A-listers in the audience such as Stephen Spielberg -- Best Director nominee for “The Fabelmans” -- and John Williams, nominated for composing the score for “The Fabelmans” and Spielberg's collaborator for decades. (They both lost.)

His writers proved that they are a top-drawer ensemble. Kimmel was obligated to address Will Smith's assault of host Chris Rock last year, which he did without having to mention Smith by name.

“If any of you get mad at a joke and decide you want to get jiggy with it, it's not going to be easy,” Kimmel said at one point, referring to the movie Academy's new crisis-intervention team stationed at the awards.

The reference to Smith was clear to most: It was the name of a Fresh Prince hit from 1997, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.”

Later, Kimmel made another reference to Smith at the onset of the Best Documentary Feature award segment.

“[This], as you may recall, is where we had that little skirmish last year. Hopefully this time it goes off without a hitch. Or at least without Hitch,” he said, referring to the Will Smith movie “Hitch” from 2005.

"The 95th "Oscars" ran for well over three hours Sunday night on ABC, but unlike so many other years when the show seemed interminable, this one seemed to roll merrily long, for the most part.

Nothing is perfect, of course, and neither were these Academy Awards. The lowlights were scarce, however.

For example, the TV Blog was puzzled by the one song performance that did not exactly light up the auditorium -- David Byrne with hot dog fingers, accompanied by Son Lux and Stephanie Hsu, performing the Oscar-nominated song “This Is A Life” from “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

The song lost to “Naatu Naatu,” and it reminded me -- I never did get the hot dog finger thing in that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” movie!

As everyone everywhere knows by now, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” was the big winner at the Oscars -- seven statuettes for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Lead Actress (Michelle Yeoh, above photo), Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Editing.

Other touching moments included Jamie Lee Curtis, the offspring of Hollywood royalty, referencing her parents in her acceptance speech when she won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “Everything Everywhere.”

She did not even name them -- the late Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis -- for the simple reason that nobody needed her to.

Brendan Fraser's Best Actor win and grateful, emotional acceptance speech was another highlight. He won for the role of a severely obese man in “The Whale.”

It was a triumph for Fraser, 54, because his career has taken a number of twists and turns since he first became a star more than 30 years ago.

His win was reminiscent of other actors who won a Best Actor Oscar who may never have dreamed of ever winning one, such as Ernest Borgnine in 1956 for “Marty” and Art Carney for “Harry and Tonto” in 1974 (over other nominees Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and Albert Finney).

Fraser’s competition was Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Austin Butler (“Elvis”), Bill Nighy (“Living”) and Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”).

The Oscars had star power, emotion and charm to spare. One example of star power was the annual “In Memoriam” segment, which featured Lenny Kravitz -- aka The World’s Coolest Human -- singing and accompanying himself on piano.

Millions were no doubt deeply moved when the wife of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny spoke on behalf of her husband when the documentary “Navalny” won the Oscar for Best Documentary. He is now imprisoned in Putin’s Russia.

“My husband is in prison just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for defending democracy,” said his wife, Yulia. “Alexei, I am dreaming about the day you will be free, and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love.”

Elizabeth Banks appeared alongside Cocaine Bear, star of the movie of the same name, “Cocaine Bear,” that she directed.

And Kimmel shared the stage for a few minutes with perhaps the most charming guest on the entire show -- Jenny, the miniature donkey from “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Hee-haw, this Oscars had it all.

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