But first things first...
I have never seen a more obviously stunned and surprised Oscar victor than Tilda Swinton when her name was called as recipient of the Best Actress In A Supporting Role on Sunday night. And if she was acting, then we have a 2008 Emmy winner on our hands.
That she had done a good job as that evil lawyer in "Michael Clayton" was never in question. But I cannot recall a single story in the run-up to the Oscars that gave her the prize. The consensus favorite was Amy Ryan for her portrayal of the all-too-real Southie mom in "Gone Baby Gone," and I confess I was rooting hard for her as a local favorite. That movie was a home team film, all right, and Amy Ryan spit out sparks every time she opened her mouth.
Tilda was regarded as little more than a 16 seed, happy to get into the tournament. No way she expected to win.
Gotta love Tilda, though. Talk about unusual living arrangements. Back home in Scotland the 47-year old actress lives with a guy two decades her senior with whom she has 10-year old twins. Nothing wrong with that. Well, except that she has taken up of late with a 29-year old artist, who has moved in with her and the original guy in a menage-a-cinq of some sort.
In other words, Tilda Swinton is simultaneously a Jennifer and a Cougar. Now that's the role of a lifetime!
There were no surprises in the other major awards. Javier Bardem was a 1-seed as Best Actor In A Supporting Role. It was a very strong category. Many people loved Hal Holbrook for "Into The Wild." I'm sure John McCain did. I was really pulling for Philip Seymour Hoffman, if only to acknowledge that, without question, he was the true Actor Of The Year.
I mean, here's a guy who was sensational in three 2008 releases. He was the self-absorbed prof in "The Savages." He was the despicable loser executing the robbery of his own parents' jewelry store in "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead." And he was the wise-cracking CIA type in "Charlie Wilson's War," for which he was nominated. No actor or actress had a better year. You wish that counted for something.
Like many, ahem, seniors, I had a rooting interest in the eternally hot Julie Christie for her performance in "Away From Her." But how could anyone have a problem with Marion Cotillard for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose?" The only slight problem I have with her triumph is that it continues a recent trend of rewarding people playing real people in biopics. It's almost to the point where that might have to become a separate category. I said "almost."
Daniel Day-Lewis was, of course, the lock de tutti locks in the Best Actor category. Once again, there were some very worthy contenders, but this was not just a 1-seed. This was UCLA in 1968. Lew Alcindor and Friends weren't losing that year, and neither was Day-Lewis in '08.
I knew the Coen Brothers would get Best Director(s), for "No Country For Old Men," but the Academy would have shown me something had they given that prize to Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly," a flick in which he managed to tell the story of a prime-of-life stroke victim (43), able to move only his left eyelid, while somehow making you smile, at least occasionally. The movie is told from the viewpoint of the victim in an ingenious manner. If that's not Grade A directing, I give up.
As has happened far too often of late, there was no picture worthy of the title "Best." Of the nominees, my favorite was "Michael Clayton," but I knew that had zero chance. 'No Country" was the prohibitive 1 seed favorite, and it came through. I'm a Coen Brothers fan, but in case you're unfamiliar with their work, I'm here to tell you this movie was not their best. It's no "Fargo;" I'll tell you that.
My happiest moment came when they gave the "Best Song" prize to Glen Hansard of "Once," not because the song was so memorable, but because "Once" itself was my most enjoyable movie experience of 2008. And bravo to whomever gave the okey-dokey for Marketa Irgrova, Hansard's co-star, to come back after a commercial break and give her sweet thank-you speech to the world after getting the musical get-off-the-stage brush-off (as did many others). She deserved her moment.
By the way, among the many virtues of this superb film was the fact that, unlike 99 percent of modern movies, it actually knew how to end properly.
If you're some, like, you know, Guy, and you want to demonstrate to your Sweet Patootie that you're more than just some slob who pines for Porky VII, rent this movie for her. You will thank me, early and often.
ALL RIGHT, SPORTS, IF YOU INSIST
I'm not used to having a boss who knows and loves college basketball more than I do, but that happens to be the case. The guy even blogs his St. Joes' brains out for us. So I hesitate to offer any opinions on the subject.
But I'll say this.
I won't be shocked, but I might be awed, if some weirdo team wins it all this year. I say that because we now have conclusive proof that there ain't no number one.
Tennessee had it for about an hour and a half, but whoever believed they really were, you know, numero uno? Memphis will now run the table entering the tournament, but we know they're far from invincible. Carolina will be the be the next No. 1, but are you buying that? Kansas? Texas? Duke? UCLA? (maybe). It's not like this is a bad thing. I like the idea of a nice competitive tournament.
Meanwhile, Michael Beasley makes the game look ridiculously easy. K-State may not be a great team, but they're a team you pray gets to the sub-regional you bought tickets to 12 months ago, while also praying your team doesn't draw them in the first round because he could drop 5-0 on you.