The Academy Awards show you never saw
What you see on TV is not what you get offstage during the Academy Awards.
Crash’s hit-and-run win
What you saw: Surprise! Crash takes best picture.
What you didn’t see: Backstage workers gasp as Crash wins over favorite Brokeback Mountain. When presenter Jack Nicholson is asked if he is surprised by the win, he says, “I didn’t expect it because you heard so much about Brokeback,” before confiding, “and that’s who I voted for.” But he cheerfully escorted Crash director Paul Haggis away.
Oscar giveth – and taketh
What you saw: Ang Lee becomes the millionth or so person to use the catchphrase “I wish I knew how to quit you,” while accepting his directing Oscar for Brokeback Mountain.
What you didn’t see: Nobody in the darkened wings looks more surprised about Crash’s win than Lee. He silently walks away as the Crash producers begin their acceptance speech, a wan smile on his face.
What you saw: Reese Witherspoon grasps her actress award for her portrait of country singer June Carter in Walk the Line, saying, “I never thought I’d be here my whole life.” She thanks her husband, actor Ryan Phillippe, and their children, “who should be going to bed.”
What you didn’t see: Witherspoon was lost when she came off the stage, unsure where to go next and not wanting to be left alone. Jamie Foxx came to her aid. “I’ll stay right here with you,” and hung by her side until she was helped by Oscar officials.
A thankless situation
What you saw: Philip Seymour Hoffman says he is “overwhelmed” by his best-actor win for his role as the author of In Cold Blood in Capote and pays tribute to his mom, who raised four kids alone and took him to his first play.
What you didn’t see: Much to his chagrin, Hoffman realizes he forgot to thank his girlfriend, Mimi O’Donnell, when he heads off the stage. Presenter Hilary Swank, who famously didn’t thank her husband, actor Chad Lowe, when she won her first Oscar for 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry, comforts him, saying, “You can’t kick yourself over it.” Swank thoughtfully leaves out the fact that she and Lowe are now separated.
Hey, she hustled, too
What you saw: The lively Three 6 Mafia takes the Oscar for It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp from Hustle & Flow, the second rap tune to win best song, after Eminem’s Lose Yourself from 2002’s 8 Mile.
What you didn’t see: Backstage, Hustle & Flow actress Tariji P. Henson, who sang with the four-man crew, teases them after their win. “When do I get one of these trophies?” she asks with a pout.
Accessorizing, Part 1: Birds
What you saw: The French makers of documentary winner March of the Penguins holding stuffed versions of their stars.
What you didn’t see: The filmmakers responsible for March of the Penguins were still clutching their stuffed penguins backstage. Producer Emmanuel Priou said that their distributor in Japan “made them and sent them for good luck. They were right, because we have had a lot of good luck tonight.”
When stars collide …
What you saw: Morgan Freeman struggling to say “demonstrative” while handing out the supporting-actress award to Rachel Weisz of The Constant Gardener.
What you didn’t see: Terrence Howard of Crash and Hustle & Flow, rounding the corner to prepare for his presentation and, yes, crashing into Freeman, who’s waiting in the wings. The two men stop, shake hands for several seconds, then briefly linger eye-to-eye before moving on. Neither says a word.
Makeup, onstage and off
What you saw: A pancake-coated Steve Carell and over-rouged Will Ferrell give the makeup honor to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
What you didn’t see: Diane Kruger of foreign-film nominee Joyeux Noel walking out of the bathroom and Felicity Huffman walking in. Huffman: “You look beautiful.” Kruger: “Thanks, and thanks for lending me your makeup artist.”
Accessorizing, Part 2: Ties
What you saw: A not-so-animated Reese Witherspoon handing out the feature-animation prize. Co-directors Nick Park and Steve Box, the main clay manipulators behind Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, place bow ties that matched their own on their twin Oscars.
What you didn’t see: About those bow ties, Park tells the reporters backstage, “We didn’t know we’d be wearing these.” Just kidding. Blame British designer Paul Smith for the sight gag.
Going ape over geeks
What you saw: Presenter Ben Stiller encased in green Spandex feigns invisibility, thanks to movie magic, before handing a golden banana to the visual-effects guys behind Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
What you didn’t see: Backstage, Weta Workshop supervisor Richard Taylor describes his award “as a celebration of the geeks of the world, which is a good thing.”
Kidman gets hi-Jacked
What you saw: Nicole Kidman, handing out the first award of the night to supporting-actor winner George Clooney for his dumpy CIA agent in Syriana. “Wow, wow. All right, so I’m not winning director,” quips the actor about his nomination for helming Good Night, and Good Luck.
What you didn’t see: Before the show begins, Jack Nicholson prowls the wings. The notorious flirt spies Kidman and turns on the charm. After a brief exchange, Nicholson walks away grinning and Kidman plays it cool. But only until the actor is out of earshot. She smiles giddily, puts her hand over her mouth, and exclaims, “Oh, my God!”
Jon, Jon, he’s our man
What you saw: Host Jon Stewart in an opening film clip, lolling in bed first with Halle Berry, then with George Clooney
What you didn’t see: Four minutes before showtime, host Stewart leaves his dressing room determined to pump up the backstage crew, cheering loudly and clapping his hands. He shouts, “Let’s go, Giants!” Then he tries, “Let’s go, Mets!”
The hygienic Giamatti
What you saw: Paul Giamatti of Cinderella Man, confessing his secret Oscar preparations to E! host Isaac Mizrahi: “I brushed my teeth. I took a shower.”
What you didn’t see: Giamatti on whether he heard from Cinderella Man director Ron Howard and star Russell Crowe about his supporting nomination. “Nooooo,” he joked. “What is wrong with that?” He then quickly added, “They contact me all the time, letting me know I have their support.”
Even losers can have fun
What you saw: Best director Ang Lee on why he felt compelled to make Brokeback Mountain. “I read the short story and I just had to do it.”
What you didn’t see: Directing nominee Steven Spielberg on the carpet, sounding as if he is mentally preparing for disappointment, in a Disney princess sort of way: “This is the royal ball in the world of Cinderella, and most of us turn into pumpkins at midnight, but one in each category doesn’t. It is fun to be honored by the academy, and even on a year when we are not honored, it is just fun to be involved in this celebration.”
Hey, it’s Steve Austin
What you saw: Big-star presenters Will Smith, Will Ferrell and Steve Carell posing on the red carpet.
What you didn’t see: Not-so-big stars Gary Busey, Lorenzo Lamas and Lee Majors milling about. Majors, the former Six Million Dollar Man, says: “I am an academy member and my wife, Faith, had never been here and she wanted to come.”
All Dolly-ed up
What you saw: Best-song nominee Dolly Parton (Travelin’ Thru from Transamerica), pretty in pink and admitting she sprinkled herself with cheap sparkle powder. As for her borrowed earrings, “These cost $1,200,000! It’s like amazing.”
What you didn’t see: Matt Dillon of Crash spying Parton on the carpet behind him and joking, “She’s stalking me again!”
The Academy Awards show you never saw