The 77th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), took place on February 27, 2005, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST / 8:30 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as the Oscars) in 24 categories honoring films released in 2004. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Gil Cates and was directed by Louis J. Horvitz. Actor Chris Rock hosted the show for the first time. Two weeks earlier in a ceremony at The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, California held on February 12, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Scarlett Johansson.
The Aviator won the most awards of the night with five. Million Dollar Baby won four awards, including Best Picture. Other winners included The Incredibles, and Ray with two awards, and Born into Brothels, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Finding Neverland, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Mighty Times: The Children's March, The Motorcycle Diaries, Ryan, The Sea Inside, Sideways, Spider-Man 2, and Wasp each with one. The telecast garnered over 42 million viewers in the United States.
The nominees for the 77th Academy Awards were announced on January 25, 2005 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, by Frank Pierson, president of the Academy, and actor Adrien Brody. The Aviator received the most nominations with eleven; Finding Neverland and Million Dollar Baby tied for second with seven nominations each.
The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on February 27, 2005. At age 74, Clint Eastwood became the oldest winner for Best Director in Oscar history. With his latest unsuccessful nomination for directing The Aviator, nominee Martin Scorsese joined Robert Altman, Clarence Brown, Alfred Hitchcock, and King Vidor as the most nominated individuals in the Best Director category without a single win at the time. Best Actor winner Jamie Foxx became the second actor and tenth individual overall to earn two acting nominations in the same year. By virtue of her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn, Best Supporting Actress winner Cate Blanchett was the first performer to portray a previous Oscar winner. "Al otro lado del río" from The Motorcycle Diaries became the second song with non-English lyrics to win Best Original Song. The first to achieve this feat was the titular song from the 1960 Greek film Never on Sunday at the 33rd Academy Awards.
Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double dagger ().Sidney Lumet — In recognition of his brilliant services to screenwriters, performers and the art of the motion picture.
The following individuals, listed in order of appearance, presented awards or performed musical numbers.
Opting for a younger face in an attempt to increase viewership, while renewing interest with the nominated films, producer Gil Cates selected actor and comedian Chris Rock to host the 2005 ceremony. Cates explained his decision to hire Rock for the telecast in a press release saying, "I am a huge fan of Chris Rock. He always makes me laugh and he always has something interesting to say. Chris represents the best of the new generation of comics. Having him host the Oscars is terrific. I can't wait." By virtue of his selection, Rock became the first African American man to solo host the gala.
Nearly a month before the ceremony Rock told Josh Wolk of Entertainment Weekly, "Come on, it's a fashion show. No one performs; it's not like a music show. What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one." Political blogger Matt Drudge later reported that several anonymous AMPAS members wanted Rock fired from his hosting job as a result of the comments. Nevertheless, producer Cates issued a statement defending the host saying, "Chris' comments are meant to be humorous digs at a show that some people, obviously including Chris himself, think may be a bit too stuffy." Furthermore, Wolk dismissed any controversy regarding Rock's comments and that Drudge exaggerated the host's comments. GLAAD Executive Director Joan Garry also issue a statement in light of the controversy stating, "Chris Rock isn't making fun of gays – he's poking fun at the Oscars." Rock appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno the Monday before the ceremony to clarify his comments. When Leno asked about the statement, Rock replied "I did not say that. I said only gay people watch the Tonys." However, he reiterated, "I really don't know any straight men who aren't in show business that have ever watched the Oscars."
Notable changes were made to give the ceremony a sleek, interactive look while shortening the length of the ceremony. Cates announced that in certain categories, all five nominees would be up onstage prior to the announcement of the award. In other instances, the actor or actress would present the award in the audience. In addition, production designer Roy Christopher designed an technologically ambitious stage for the telecast that both saluted the past while look toward the future. The set prominently featured 26 high-definition video monitors floating over the first twelve rows of the audience and a 40-foot LED screen situated beneath a layer of plexiglass on the stage floor. Both screens were used display images of previous Oscar appearances as presenters took the stage or random film clips during several commercial breaks. A gold rod featuring 23 different life-sized Oscar statuettes spiraling upward was placed at center stage.
Several other people were involved with the production of the ceremony. Film composer and musician Bill Conti served as musical director of the ceremony. AMPAS graphics designer Brett Davidson designed the official ceremony poster consisting of a profile of the Oscar statuette in front of four neon-colored squares. Freelance producer Cochise and media firm Dig and Media Island released a trailer shown in movie theaters nationwide promoting the ceremony featuring clips from past Oscar ceremonies against the four squares backdrop in the aforementioned poster. The trailer featured the song "Hey Mama" by The Black Eyed Peas. Two-time Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman narrated the opening montage highlighting the evolution of the movies.
When the nominations were announced on January 25, the field of Best Picture nominees did not include a bona fide blockbuster at the U.S. box office. It was the first time since 1986 that none of the five films in that category were among the top ten releases in box office prior to the nominations announcement. Furthermore, before the ceremony, all five films sold the lowest cumulative number of tickets sold since 1984. Ray was the highest-grossing film among the Best Picture nominees with $73 million in domestic box office receipts. The film was followed by The Aviator ($58.4 million), Finding Neverland ($32.7 million), Sideways ($32.4 million), and finally Million Dollar Baby ($8.4 million). The combined gross of the five Best Picture nominees when the Oscars were announced was $205 million with an average gross of $41.3 million per film.
Among the rest of the top 50 releases of 2004 in U.S. box office before the nominations, 44 nominations went to 14 films on the list. Only Shrek 2 (1st), The Incredibles (4th), Shark Tale (11th), Collateral (22nd), Ray (37th), and The Aviator (49th) were nominated for Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, directing, acting, or screenwriting. The other top 50 box office hits that earned the nominations were Spider-Man 2 (2nd), The Passion of the Christ (3rd), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (5th), The Polar Express (10th), I, Robot (12th), Troy (13th), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (18th), and The Village (20th).
During his monologue, host Rock joked, "Clint Eastwood's a star, OK? Tobey Maguire's just a boy in tights," He also added, "You want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law? Wait. You want Russell Crowe and all you can get is Colin Farrell? Wait. Alexander is not Gladiator." In response, Sean Penn rebutted Rock's remarks praising Law as one of his generation's "finest actors". Over a year later, Law expressed his anger toward Rock in The New York Times telling columnist Craig Modderno, "At first I laughed because I didn't think he knew who I was. Then I got angry as his remarks became personal. My friends were livid. It's unfortunate I had five or six films come out at the same time."
Robin Williams initially wanted to sing a humorous song written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman during the presentation of the Best Animated Feature award satirizing the controversy regarding Focus on the Family and a music video sponsored by We Are Family Foundation featuring animated characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants singing the song "We Are Family". The song contained lyrics such as "Pinocchio's had his nose done! Sleeping Beauty is popping pills!/ The Three Little Pigs ain't kosher! Betty Boop works Beverly Hills!" However, Cates and ABC officials deemed the song overly vulgar and offensive for the telecast and was dropped altogether after writers Shaiman and Wittman had trouble rewriting more appropriate lyrics. Williams eventually presented the Best Animated Feature award as scheduled, but silently mocked the debacle by entering the stage with duct tape over his mouth before speaking.
The show received a mixed reception from media publications. Some media outlets were more critical of the show and Rock's performance as host. USA Today television critic Robert Bianco wrote, "Loud, snide and dismissive, he wasn't just a disappointment; he ranks up there with the worst hosts ever." He also called the decision to have several nominees of several technical categories stand on stage embarrassing and disrespectful. Columnist Robert. P. Lawrence of the San Diego Union Tribune commented, "It was a frustratingly average, three-hour-12-minute exhibition of mutual admiration in the inimitable Hollywood style." He later said that despite Rock's edgy and provocative opening, his humor and energy diminished as the night wore on. Vince Horiuchi of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote of Rock's performance, "He was bound by stale jokes (none of the winners "tested positive for steroids"), a rigid opening monologue (he didn't even make reference to his prior controversial comments about the Oscars), and tired comedy bits (Rock playing like Catherine Zeta-Jones with Adam Sandler)." In addition, he also described the cast and production of the ceremony as "moribund" and "clumsy."
Other media outlets received the broadcast more positively. Film critic Roger Ebert noted that Rock "opened on a high-energy quick-talking note" He also added, "Chris Rock hit a home run with his opening monologue, which was surprisingly pointed, topical, and not shy of controversy." Television critic Frazier Moore commented that Rock's performance was a "needed pick-me-up, presiding over the broadcast with saucy finesse." He added, "In sum, the broadcast felt brisk, though not rushed. It felt modern and refreshingly free of chronic self-importance." Brian Lowry of Variety gave an average review of Rock but remarked, "For all the hand-wringing about the awards descending into the muck, the 77th Academy Awards proved a classy affair, with precious little red meat to satiate Hollywood bashers."
The American telecast on ABC drew in an average of 42.14 million people over its length, which was a 3% decrease from the previous year's ceremony. The show also drew lower Nielsen ratings compared to the two previous ceremonies with 25.4 of households watching over a 38 share. In addition, it also drew a lower 18–49 demo rating with a 15.1 rating over a 34 share among viewers in that demographic.
The annual In Memoriam tribute was presented by actress Annette Bening. Musician Yo-Yo Ma performed during the segment.
A special tribute to five-time host Johnny Carson was presented by host Chris Rock with previous emcee Whoopi Goldberg discussing Carson's legacy to television and the Academy Awards in the segment. Later in the broadcast, Best Actor winner Jamie Foxx briefly eulogized singer and musician Ray Charles, who died in June 2004, during his acceptance speech.