Well, at least the women looked good — and host Stewart was in fine form

Karen Heller
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

Miley Cyrus arrives with a guest during the 80th Academy Awards

at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, Sunday,

February 24, 2008. (Daniel A. Anderson/Orange County Register/MCT)

"In case you're wondering what we all do here during the commercial breaks," Jon Stewart said Sunday night at the Oscars, "mostly we just sit around making catty remarks about the outfits you're wearing at home. That's right, it cuts both ways, people."

No, Jon, it doesn't, and that's our job.

In his second turn as host, Stewart escaped all cattiness by being fresh and in fine form, after taking off last year. As far as we're concerned, he can host everything every year.

Best actress Marion Cotillard, who looks wonderful in almost anything, almost didn't in a white mermaidesque Jean Paul Gaultier gown complete with scales. But there is something to be said for a soupcon of questionable taste.

So much good taste, all those strapless gowns chosen by so many stylists schooled in the same fashion sense, all those beautiful pregnant women, all those borrowed jewels, can lend a certain sameness to the festivities.

Red was certainly the color of the evening. Katherine Heigl wore a one-shouldered red silk georgette Escada gown, 15-year-old Miley Cyrus arrived in a demure Valentino, Anne Hathaway looked amazing in a one-shouldered Marchesa column with rosettes, last year's best actress Helen Mirren shone in a splendid Georges Chakra garnet gown with white lace sleeves, Ruby Dee glowed in brilliant satin, and Julie Christie stunned in a ruby knee-length dress, one of the only short ensembles of the night.

Christie, at age 66, should put to rest the idea that Hollywood doesn't create roles for older women.

Scratch that. "Away From Her" was an independent Canadian movie. And Cotillard won for a French movie.

Everybody's favorite friend-o, supporting-actor winner Javier Bardem, had rid himself, blessedly, of "one of the most horrible haircuts in history over my head" that the Coen brothers forced him to sport in "No Country for Old Men" and thanked his mother effusively in Spanish.

If Bardem went through tonsorial rehab, Daniel Day Lewis appeared with messy, flying-buttress hair, double gold-hoop earrings, floppy tie, and brown boots, perhaps the oil-stained boots he wore as Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood."

Of course, when you're a genius, you can wear whatever you want.

Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen's appearance proved, once and for all, that Judd Apatow is the current cinematic overlord and that a guy can look like any guy and get some McLovin in Hollywood, but a woman has to look like Halle Berry or Katherine Heigl.

In other words, like no real woman, at all.

Among the winning ensembles were Cameron Diaz in a pale pink strapless Dior by John Galliano and Renee Zellweger with very short blond hair in a silver strapless Carolina Herrera with a fishtail train and thigh-high split, though she did look a tad undernourished.

The evening included too many montages: best nightmares, best binoculars/periscopes, and best bees, bringing back the supremely irritating Jerry Seinfeld in animated form, whom we've wished to swat on more than one occasion.

In addition to cutting some of the montages, the Academy needs to severely trim its member rolls. Gary Busey, a nominee for "The Buddy Holly Story" three decades ago, was a red-carpet crasher, disheveled and rude. He accosted beauteous Jennifer Garner and almost ruined her side-swept, just-out-of-bed hairdo that took stylists hours to achieve. And she hadn't a clue who he was.

We are tired of the host playing to the "legendary" Jack Nicholson. Actually, we're tired of the myth of Jack. Why does he merit a front-row seat after making something as execrable as "The Bucket List"?

If there is justice, some intelligence among television programmers, Ryan Seacrest won't be back next year. He was dreadful in the pregame festivities, having the temerity to ask a very pregnant Jessica Alba in a strapless claret-colored Marchesa if she planned to breast-feed. Manners have died. Or perhaps he was continuing the trend Isaac Mizrahi launched two years ago when he fondled Scarlett Johansson's breast.

Best to tread the shoals of the red carpet with understatement, like Johnny Depp. When asked what he was wearing, the independent sartorialist and actor answered, simply, "Clothes."

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