The tuxedos were suave. The carpet was royally red. Joan Rivers' fashion fangs were bloodthirsty. And the cleavage deliciously breached its levees.
Yet something was missing from Sunday's 78th Academy Awards. Ahem, where was sports?
Sure, host Jon Stewart played soccer at William & Mary University, and a boxing flick (Cinderella Man) got nominated, and former Mavs coach Don Nelson sat a couple rows behind George Clooney, and Mavs owner Mark Cuban had two balls in play at the Kodak Theatre. But c'mon, the show itself was more boring than best-of-seven charades between Buck Showalter and Helen Keller.
Clearly, it's time to merge screenplays with, um, screen plays.
It's a natural confluence of sports and the silver screen, two of America's primary pastimes. Unfortunately, Hollywood's biggest night suits up in black tie rather than eye black. You tuned in to watch Wedding Crashers' testosterone football scene take home some hardware but instead got a douche and a loofah from nominees sporting gay cowboys, a gay writer and a gender switcheroo.
Pass the quiche: The Oscars were one sensitive step from deteriorating into the Tonys.
Stewart was effectively irreverent, but wouldn't it be even more refreshing to see the Oscars hosted by Gamble or De La Hoya or Robertson or even Madison? The only sports movie went 0 for 3, and Cuban, who hasn't lost anything in his life outside virginity, came home empty with an 0 for 7. Even worse, the eternal nonconformist conformed. Cuban, whose Dallas-based 2929 Entertainment produced Good Night, and Good Luck and Enron, headed for Los Angeles after the first quarter of the Mavs-Suns game not in a tuxedo T-shirt but an actual tuxedo.
The night's only whiff of sports even stank. Rappers Three 6 Mafia momentarily gang-banged the Oscars into NBA All-Star Saturday Night with its rendition of "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," but since when did "pimp" start rhyming with "rent"?
Before the stuffy, self-important ceremony drowns in drab, it needs a morphing of super scripts and superstars and an injection of subtle sports subplots that would dramatically improve movies' final scores.
After all, wouldn't it be better if the Oscars went to...
Walk the Line--After peeing at a middle school and leading police on a slow-speech chase, inebriated Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton slumps and slobbers during the simplest of motor-skills tasks.
The Constant Gardener--With an affinity for big bongs over Super Bowls, former NFL star Ricky Williams finds solace wasting his life tending to a pot farm off the coast of Bora Bora.
Best Groundbreaking Screenplay
Brokeback Mountain--Seemingly unable to quit each other and blind to the fact their relationship is as unsavory as it is unsuccessful, canoodling Cowboys Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones agree to stay together another two years in hopes of giving each other a happy ending.
King Kong--Both empowered and paralyzed by the sudden popularity of his team and school, University of Texas football coach Mack Brown recruits a really strong monkey to pull the Longhorns' bulging bandwagon. Preceded by an equally astonishing fairy-tale short: Anna Nicole Actually Steps Foot in the Supreme Court.
Pride and Prejudice--In his long-awaited climax to box-office smashes Money and Fame and Fame and Power, San Francisco Giants asshole Barry Bonds completes the stirring trilogy by continuing to rank his priorities.
The Squid and the Whale--Bored with their "accidental" human targets, huntin' buddies Bobby Knight and Dick Cheney don wetsuits and begin blasting away at underwater endangered species.
Best Special Effects
A History of Violence--Dallas Stars captain Mike Modano tearfully reflects on a prehistoric NHL in which players actually made physical contact with each other.
Best Human Short
Memoirs of a Geisha--Rummaging for Power Rangers comic books to complement his Ninja Turtles collection, baseball boy wonder Jon Daniels fishes through Chan Ho Park's old locker and discovers a sake-stained diary containing the secrets behind the pitcher's suck-ass stay in Texas.
Best Investigative Documentary
Cinderella Man--Tracked and traced by FBI and NHL officials, Wayne Gretzky assumes the identity of wife Janet Jones and places $99 million in wagers on the Arizona Cardinals to win the Super Bowl, 99-1 horses at Lone Star Park and No. 16 seeds during March Madness.
March of the Penguins--Embarrassed by their miserable showing as rookie NASCAR owners, disillusioned deities Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman first tackle the running of the bulls in Spain before downsizing to a colder, calmer challenge at the South Pole.
Best Chick Flick
Good Night, and Good Luck--Believing she has somehow contracted both cooties and cancer, Lance Armstrong presents ex-girlfriend Sheryl Crow with a rubber yellow bracelet inscribed with an extremely casual farewell.
Syriana--Her confidence growing since the big coming-out party, leaping lesbian Sheryl Swoopes holds a press conference to introduce her life partner using only a mysterious Men's Club stage name.
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Capote--Grilled relentlessly by a House judicial panel seeking explanations for his giant muscles and inflated home run totals, Rafael Palmeiro instead tries to cunningly deflect issues and confuse accusers by singling out yet another culprit to blame for Hurricane Katrina.
Crash--In a gripping portrayal of a Gen-X slacker teetering on the edge, Bode Miller flops indifferently in Italy and voices his support for Pat Robertson before downing a barrel of George Dickel whiskey and falling asleep on the couch for nine days.