By Margaret Moser
MARCH 30, 1998: There we were on Oscar Night, the five of us designated as "TV Eye" Oscar watchers. Oh, I didn't say we were watching together. Holly Chacona (HC) was in her lovely East Austin home, Robert Faires and Barbara Chisholm (Babs and Bob) were safely tucked in their South Austin abode, Stephen Moser (SM) was in Seattle but on my speakerphone while I (TVi) sat in my Town Lake condo in front of the TV with Weezer. (Weezer is a little young for this kind of in-depth criticism, still of the age where women showing lots of skin constitutes his notion of good fashion.) Deprived of E!TV's annual Joan Rivers' commentary, I was bitter but SM assures me the only thing I missed (besides embarrassing herself by not knowing Mercedes McCambridge) was when Marlee Matlin called Rivers a bitch in sign language.
Our mission? Rate the Oscars, and you know what for. Who cares about the movies when a hairstyle or dress will make you gasp? And let's face it, when it comes to the Oscars, most of us can assume a kind of blasé, seen-it-all attitude because, well, because we have seen it all. Television places these events in our homes, and sometimes at work. Of course we're the experts! Onward!
Babs: Oh, what a night to be average! Everything is so monochrome, pale. The color of '98: pewter! What, is there a shortage of red lipstick?! And the major philosophical query of the night, after watching women wobble across the stage for almost four hours: Why can't more women walk as well as Samuel L. Jackson? And whoever sang the song from Anastasia -- Major V.P.L.!
TVi: A word about black. You can't go wrong with it. It's the only color that counts. And for Pete's sake, have we forgotten what a bra is for? Fay Wray should have gotten a standing ovation like Stanley Donen.
HC: Is it too cruel to mention Peter Fonda's wife's hair? Somene needs to tell her the Sixties are over. Except in reference to her age.
Bob: Wait a minute... Neve Campbell, Helen Hunt, Mike Myers... Have I accidentally tuned into Battle of the Network Stars? Billy Crystal is really pushing the envelope on that whole lapel width issue. And I'm not too sure about this long-coat tux thing. Some of these guys end up looking like Toulouse-Lautrec. All the white tuxes... I felt like I was watching Cab Calloway and his orchestra. I kept waiting for them to break into "Minnie the Moocher."
SM: The costume award seemed appropriate.
HC: As unexpected as her win, the dress was elegant and gorgeous -- true movie star material. Edith Head is smiling from above.
SM: Well, okay -- she's been at it awhile, though not as long as Gloria Stuart. Kim looked fab.
TVi: Clearly, she did not design this outfit. The frosty green was pretty but was so wrinkled it reminded me of Princess Diana's wedding gown.
Bob: Appropriately humble, but she looks like she's had wa-a-a-y too much coffee.
Babs: God bless Cher for tapping into the undulating talents of who, Bob Mackie?
TVi: Neutral? On Cher? Even with rhinestones, you're no neutral gal. Go for the black, dear.
HC: Cher's Queen of Planet X number rates a mention.
HC: With that wench-fresh-from-a-roll-in-the-hay look, all she needed was straw poking out of her hair. But it's wonderful to see a big, strapping, beautiful lass strut her English stuff.
TVi: The gown was dee-vine. I want one like it.
HC: Matching cummerbund and eyeglass lenses -- the perfect, subtle way to accessorize.
Bob: What a shame he couldn't find a tux his size. Oh, well, judging from the paunch it so enthusiastically reveals, he'll grow into it by next year.
TVi: Lose the sunglasses, Jack. You're a star who does very little and gets away with a lot.
SM: He was Jack Nicholson. He's Old Hollywood.
Babs: Basic column gown, pale face... boring.
SM: She needs a make-over and a really good bra.
HC: Sleek and flawless... Her natural ease warmed the ice blue austerity of the dress.
Bob: With the pulled-back blonde 'dos, the oh-so-tasteful gowns on her and Elisabeth Shue, it's Dueling Grace Kelleys!
TVi: One word, three letters, Helen: b-r-a. The hair was lovely, a classic look, though it could have been softer around her high forehead.
Babs: Paid homage to Sharon Stone's peek at the netherworld.
TVi: Did we see what we thought we saw?
HC: Her Billie Holiday get-up rates a mention -- flowing, fragrant, and sensuous. Of course, the down side would be the full-body wax....
HC: The knee-length tux -- even an Armani -- had a Presbyterian preacher look to it but I admit it's perfect for doing the Groucho walk across the stage.
SM: I was pleased to see Williams win but not for that. He looked very stylish.
TVi: Hmmph. He always plays the same role.
Bob: What a trouper! Came straight to the Oscars still wearing the Brunhilde costume she wears in the Beverly Hills Metropolian Opera production of Gotterdammerung.
HC: I cannot find the words to describe her though I know there are some out there. The Road Warrioress?
TVi: I used to have a nightgown with the same bodice. But what's with the droopy paper curls?
Bob: Could none of these guys find a comb this year?
Babs: Well, they all gave them up for the war effort.
Bob: Oh, is that it?
Babs: Yes, they're all doing it for the boys.
And when it's all over and done with -- knowing we have a year's worth of National Enquirer covers in hand, the voice in the wilderness speaks: There's always next year.
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