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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Few Thoughts on the Oscars

That opening bit, with all the nominated actors coming out on stage to wave at the crowd? Weird and random.

Neil Patrick Harris' opening number was a pleasant surprise. If there was internet scuttlebutt suggesting he'd be there, I missed it. NPH is always welcome.

 In case you were worried, George Clooney's sourpuss act throughout the show was just that: an act. He was in on it, and knew ahead of time that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin would be picking on him.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed the Martin/Baldwin pairing. But the funniest bit for me was Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. espousing the differences between writers and actors, particularly when Downey Jr. referred to writers as "mole people" and Fey explained that writers hope actors will one day be replaced with computer constructs they can order around.  

Mo'Nique's thanks in her speech to the Academy Awards being “about the performance and not the politics” was a reference to some media buzz earlier in the season suggesting she wasn't making all the requisite appearances (film festivals, dinners, etc) of an Oscar Nominee. Backstage, she said that some reporters wrote "someone needs to teach Mo’Nique a lesson. Someone needs to tell her how this game is played." She elaborated on her comment saying, " I am very proud to be part of an Academy that says, ‘We will not play that game. We will judge her on her performance and not on how many dinners she attended and how many pictures she took. It’s on the screen.’” *

*Thanks to Entertainment Weekly for the quotes

 The woman who won the costume design award was kind of a bitch. I mean, she probably intended to come off as self-deprecating and nonchalant when mentioning this was her third Oscar, and she probably meant well when she dedicated the award to all the costume designers working on non sci-fi/period movies that never get recognition, but in the end, she just came across as spoiled and ungrateful.  

I'm a film score nut, so I enjoy any excuse for the Oscars to play a montage of all the nominated scores. If they want to have people dance to those scores instead of watching the orchestra play or clips of the movies, it makes no nevermind to me.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the woman who pulled a Kanye on the winner of the Best Documentary short subject was "Elinor Burkett, a journalist who worked on the film but left after creative differences." Apparently she retained a producers credit on the movie, which is why she was at the awards, and there's apparently a fair amount of bad blood between her and the guy who went up to accept the award.

Not that it's her fault, but I thought it was kind of funny that Kristen Stewart, introducing the tribute to horror films, said that horror has been absent from the Academy Awards since "The Exorcist" in 1978. Said tribute then included scenes from "Silence of the Lambs", which won the "big five" Oscars in 1991.

On the one hand, repeating last year's schtick of having co-stars/friends of nominated actors introduce each nominee was kinda fun, and by limiting it to the lead actors, seemed less tedious. On the other hand, it was a bit disingenious to the supporting actors and remains kinda odd, particularly when they have to stretch to find people that relate to the nominated actor. Bottom line, I think I'd just rather see clips of the nominated performances, or at least have the introducers speak more specifically to the work of the actor being recognized.

Dr. Bitz discovered an article suggesting the meaning behind Sean Penn's mad ramblings before announcing the winner of the best actress award. It seems he was referencing his ex-wife Robin Wright Penn, whom he failed to thank after winning his Oscar last year, and who turned in what some felt was a nomination-worthy performance last year that the Academy overlooked. Overall, it still doesn't make much sense, but that's Sean Penn for you. 

Sandra Bullock probably had the best acceptance speech, managing to be funny, grateful and heartfelt without it feeling overly long or tedious. 

There was some meaning behind Barbara Streisand's presentation of the best director Oscar: she was considered a shoo-in for a nomination (and a front runner for winning) in that category for directing "The Prince of Tides" in 1991 but failed to receive a nomination in what was considered one of the more blatant showings of the Academy's bias. So I'm fairly certain that, in a year with Kathryn Bigelow almost certain to become the first woman to receive a best director Oscar, the producers sought out Babs to present the award.

The much-discussed ratings? They were the highest in five years, with 41.3 million viewers, up 14% from last year. Was that because of the Best Picture expansion, or because the highest-grossing movie of all time was one of those best picture nominees? We'll never know for sure, but neither certainly hurt. Expect to see ten best picture nominees for the foreseeable future.

20 comments:

  1. That opening bit, with all the nominated actors coming out on stage to wave at the crowd? Weird and random.

    Yes! ...and now we will all walk to our seats. Hehe.

    The woman who won the costume design award was kind of a bitch. I mean, she probably intended to come off as self-deprecating and nonchalant...

    I agree, I bet she is regretting it.

    Not that it's her fault, but I thought it was kind of funny that Kristen Stewart

    Ugh, I *really* don't like her. Her whole affected "I am so chill; I am a slob at all times no matter what because, like I said, I am soooo disaffected by all this" shtick drives me crazy. Her scratching her neck in the middle of her intro was so typical. Have you seen her interview with Letterman? Ha!

    I agree - I thought it was pretty good and I was thrilled with Mo'Niques's and Kathryn's wins

    Eat it, Avatar :D

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  2. we only caught the middle bit of the show, starting with best documentary and ending sometime after the in memorium, or best score whichever one was later.

    I really enjoyed the dancing and hope they do it again next year

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  3. @Joan: I find myself saying this an awful lot (especially considering I have no strong opinions about her) but I've read in a few places that Kristen Stewart is terribly shy and hates speaking in front of people, so sometimes I chalk up her disaffected schtick to that as much as to her maintaining an image (so it's like 70/30, image/shyness).

    Of course, depending on how true that is, acting might not have been the best career choice...

    @Falen: Some people have said they HATED the dancing, but I think those people are just generally opposed to dancing, or are so concerned with the ceremony being short that they just want it to be award-award-award-award-done and hate anything else(in which case I wonder why they're even watching).

    Personally, I thought the dancing was pretty cool, but I was enjoying it more as opportunity to hear all the nominated scores.

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  4. introducing the tribute to horror films, said that horror has been absent from the Academy Awards since "The Exorcist" in 1978. Said tribute then included scenes from "Silence of the Lambs", which won the "big five" Oscars in 1991.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that.

    Speaking of montages, everyone has their panties in a bunch that Farrah Fawcett wasn't in the death montage. I didn't think it was THAT big of deal. Of course, then I heard this was a conscious decision by the academy because Farrah was better known for TV than movies.

    Ummmm...if it's movie stars you're looking for...why was Michael Jackson in the montage?

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  5. How does everyone feel about HURT LOCKER?

    I was of course thrilled that BLUE SURFY CATS IN SPACE directed by Douchebag McGenius didn't win but it seems like no one is really spouting the merits of the BEST PICTURE.

    Personally, I thought it was one of the most intense and unique movies I'd ever seen in the theater. There were long drawn out scenes where NOTHING happens but your tingling with anticipation.

    The director was rightfully awarded the Oscar, not because she was a woman, but because she managed to make an intriguing film with an unique voice.

    However, I still can't decide how much I liked THE HURT LOCKER. From memory, I enjoyed UP IN THE AIR far more.

    Also, WTF was Miley Cyrus doing out of the trailer park?

    Sandra Bullucks speech was by far one of the best in oscar history.

    Jeff Bridges - one of the worst for a best actor. I read someone that he's EXACTLY like THE DUDE in real life. Unfortunately he seemed to prove that but was lacking the charm of THE BIG LEBOWSKI.

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  6. Okay first off, I did not watch the Oscars so thank you for this!

    I love NPH.

    FYI, "The Silence of the Lambs", though full of horror-like things, is not a horror movie, it is a suspense/thriller. So it shouldn't have been in a horror movie tribute. That's like saying "Kiss the Girls" is a horror movie...which it's not. And yes, I am holding my nose up as I type this snotty comment.

    I hate Sean Penn.

    I am also extremely glad that "Avatar" did not win.

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  7. Oh and after reading your blog, my eyes always go all buggy.

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  8. @Dr. Bitz: yeah, the death montage thing is just weird. It seems so arbitrary as to who is left out and who is added. It seems to me the Academy or the producers (I'm not sure which decides who goes into the montage) should pick a set of criteria for inclusion, tell everyone what it is, and stick to it.

    @Boots: Hurt Locker was a hell of a suspense movie, and for that alone Bigelow deserved the Oscar. I particularly enjoyed the way suspense was created without falling back on gimmicks like fake timers or dummy explosions. I certainly have no qualms with it being awarded Best Picture.

    That said, I probably enjoyed Up in the Air more, as well as An Education. I'd be more likely to pop either of those in to watch again over the Hurt Locker (which isn't to say I won't watch Hurt Locker again, it's just not the kind of movie I'm likely to reach for to wile away a Saturday night).

    Also, WTF was Miley Cyrus doing out of the trailer park?

    Not standing up straight, I can tell you that much, because it was driving me nuts!

    Jeff Bridges speech started out nice, thanking his parents in his own Dude way, but then he just started rambling, and thanking his agent, and...enough already.

    @Palindrome: I agree that Silence of the Lambs isn't a horror film, but someone involved with the production thought it was, so it was kind of funny that they included it in the montage then wrote an introduction to that montage which seemed to ignore its inclusion.

    Oh and after reading your blog, my eyes always go all buggy.

    Um...sorry? I'll work on that?

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  9. Hurt Locker was good. But frankly, I'm not sure where all this Avatar hate comes from. I'm not saying the movie was the apex of film making, but it was good. Although it probably didn't deserve Best Picture.

    Then again, I was just glad to see that Inglourious Basterds didn't win.

    Although, part of me can't get behind Katheryn Bigelow winning Best Director. To me, the stink of directing Point Break can never be washed away.

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  10. The stink, or the awesome?

    I think you mean the awesome. ;)

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  11. I think Palindrome is referring to the fact that you have white text on a black background for the blog. It makes my eyes want to explode from time to time also especially when reading long posts. I have mentioned it to boots~ and he says he prefers it that way. Design choice obviously so it's up to you gentlemen. I should say something about the oscars I guess but don't really have anything to add. You just seemed confused by Palindrome's comment. :)

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  12. @Opalnan, Palindrome: Well, I have this old Native American remedy for you...

    Seriously though, I see what you mean now. Personally, I'm with boots and like the white-on-black, but then, it doesn't bug my eyes, so of course I like it.

    I've been pestering my artistically-inclined brother to design a new banner picture for us for awhile (to replace the one I cobbled together using some random Photoshop-esque software I found for free on the internet), but it sounds like he's getting closer to actually doing it. Maybe a general site re-design will be in order once he's done with that. We shall see.

    In the meantime, we'll just have to have to include more pictures to break up the blocks of text. :)

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  13. LOL! I like the white on black. It's just most pages are the opposite and when I read yours and then go back to the bright light, my retinas burn a little. Keep it going!!

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  14. But did you win the Oscar Pool?

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  15. I suppose it's up to me to point out that black backgrounds with white text is more ecologically sound since it uses less energy. At the very least it'll drain your laptop battery less.

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  16. Didn't there used to be a black google that did the same thing? Use less energy that is.

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  17. It's called blackle.com.

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