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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Few Thoughts on the Oscars

I'm one of those (apparently rare) people who enjoys the Oscars as much (or more) for the pomp and pageantry of the ceremony as the announcement of the winners. So while normal people grouse about montages and overlong shows, I tend to just enjoy it.


That said, this was a pretty terrible Oscar ceremony. Anne Hathaway was enthusiastic (and gorgeous) but didn't have the best material with which to work, and James Franco looked more or less stoned throughout (which is just how he is, but doesn't make for the most dynamic host). The whole "history of the Oscars" schtick (which felt random in the 83rd Oscar ceremony) amounted to very little, featuring brief snippets of classic films so far upstage they lost any sense of immediacy. Clearly, the producers realized they weren't working, and they got downplayed. But then, when bits came up which relied on the theme (such as Billy Crystal's routine), the whole thing felt even more out of place. I'd have just preferred some montages.

Honestly, it was one of the worst telecasts I've ever seen, and I am generally very forgiving of these things. If nothing else, the Oscars should be a celebration of movies. This one failed to even do that (which is astonishing considering it explicitly set out to celebrate the history of movies).

And I swear: I'm not just down on this year's show because I lost my Oscar pool for the first time in five years.  

Other thoughts:

The best bit from the hosts (other than the "host inserted into the best picture nominees" routine, which is always good for some laughs, and this year was no exception):

James: You look so beautiful and so hip.
Anne: Thank you, James. You look very appealing to a younger demographic as well.
 
Funny cuz it's true. But the ratings were still down from last year, apparently.


Kirk Douglas presenting the Supporting Actress award was like a Family Guy bit; it went on so long it stopped being funny, then looped back around to being funny.

More on the whole "History of the Movies" routine: Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gliebermen praised the technique, saying, "This year, the enforced nostalgia that few in the audience are old enough to feel anyway was reduced to a handful of back-projected images of landmark films and events (Gone With the Wind! Titanic! The first Oscar ceremony in 1929!) that felt sketchy and perfunctory but went down easily, without making you feel as if you were breathing the musty pages of a film-history coffee-table book." The problem with that analysis (aside from the fact that you could easily argue they did NOT go down easily) is that I WANT it to feel like I'm breathing the musty pages of a film-history coffee-table book. That's what makes it feel like history! 

Melissa Leo's bleeped out F bomb was probably the highlight of the show. Which is saying something. 

The producers brought back the performances of the original songs, then split them up across several awards, making the whole thing feel longer (there were only four songs, after all).

One notable improvement: the jettisoning of the terrible "five actors praise each nominee" schtick. Unfortunately, Best Actor and Actress presenters Sandra Bullock and Jeff Bridges were asked to do all the praising themselves, which wasn't much better (though at least Sandra Bullock's Roast-style presenting was funny).

Another improvement: during the In Memoriam montage, the producers kept the camera focused on the death reel and not on Celine Dion, though they cut the audio in the theater so we couldn't play the "who got the most applause" game at home. Which is probably for the best (turns out the audience was asked to hold their applause until the end).

I was also glad they brought back the montage of the original scores playing while the nominations in that category were read.

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. should totally host the Oscars some year. Their banter whilst presenting the Visual Effects award was funny and effortless, the way banter should be.

I liked Spielberg's bit about how one of the best picture nominees would join the ranks of other accomplished winners, while the losers would join the ranks of equally-accomplished films that never won Best Picture. 

In terms of the awards themselves, an evening with potential for upsets fizzled, with the only major upset coming from Inception taking Cinematography from True Grit's Roger Deakins, a nine time nominee who many felt was a lock to finally nab an Oscar (The Social Network nabbing Original Score from The King's Speech was another, albeit minor, upset). Otherwise, Melissa Leo held on to win Supporting Actress and DGA winner Tom Hooper bested David Fincher for Best Director (and the producers of the show more or less killed any suspense from the end of the show by announcing Best Director, the last category with any buzz around it, before the acting awards; once Hooper was announced, any thought that Social Network might eke out a Best Picture win was snuffed; once Hooper won, everyone at my house started totaling their ballots since the last three categories were all foregone conclusions).

Speaking of Best Picture, the final montage cutting together scenes from all the Best Picture nominees was very well edited, though as one of my friends pointed out, it was funny that the closing speech from The King's Speech played over them all, considering it was the favorite to dominate the category.

23 comments:

Dr. Bitz said...

I dunno, I didn't hate Anne Hathaway and James Franco as much as other people. At least James Franco can make me laugh simply by appearing on screen. The two had some funny bits but were awkward at other times. Which pretty much felt like every other host I've seen.

This year's Oscars was rather boring aside from a few bits that made me laugh...pretty much like every other Oscars I've watched.

So, overall, this year's Oscars seemed on par with every other Oscar ceremony I've watched.

Teebore said...

@Dr. Bitz: At least James Franco can make me laugh simply by appearing on screen.

Yeah, I have to agree.

This year's Oscars was rather boring aside from a few bits that made me laugh...pretty much like every other Oscars I've watched.

So, overall, this year's Oscars seemed on par with every other Oscar ceremony I've watched.


I'm usually excited by/interested in the non-funny stuff that bores everyone else, but this year there either wasn't enough of it or what was there bored even me, which is why this year's show, for me, was a step down.

Joan Crawford said...

I haven't finished reading this but I had to tell you: I heard the f-bomb! There was no bleep; it was amazing! I couldn't believe it slipped by... ever since Janet's nipple, um, slipped by, I had thought that "live" now meant "30-second-nipple-delay-live".

I thought the show wasn't too bad, what irked me more than Franco (he may be a sweet man and great actor - I don't think I've ever seen a movie of his - but there's something about his face that makes me distrust him. I'm an Old Man about this stuff: I don't like the cut of his jib!) was Hathaway. I loved her in Rachel Getting Married and she's really cute on SNL but I thought her overly giggly sctichk was weird. Like she was selling herself short... maybe she felt obligated to do something, anything, while Franco was being too cool school.

While were on it, you know who else I hate?

Diablo Cody.

Jeez, I should stop being such a Dumpy Darlene...

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

OMG Joan! I'm totally with you in regards to James Franco - there's just something about his face that makes me think that sometime, most likely soon, he'll fuck up majorly with a drug charge or a DWI or something.
I then i feel like a bitch

Teebore said...

@Joan: I heard the f-bomb! There was no bleep; it was amazing! I couldn't believe it slipped by... ever since Janet's nipple, um, slipped by, I had thought that "live" now meant "30-second-nipple-delay-live".

I'm jealous! They must not have gotten to the Canadian feed fast enough or something. I read that there was a five second tape delay, and there was some concern that they wouldn't be able to bleep it fast enough, but they did (at least in my market).

maybe she felt obligated to do something, anything, while Franco was being too cool school.

I think that was it, and more than anything, I blame the producers/writers. I mean, we all know Franco looks like he's stoned all the time. That's why he makes us laugh. His entire schtick is "too cool for school". So why not keep that in mind while writing for him?

I did love his (obviously ad libbed) line after the cutaway to the Science and Technical awards: "Congratulations nerds!"

Jeez, I should stop being such a Dumpy Darlene...

Is that like a Debbie Downer? :)

@Falen: he'll fuck up majorly with a drug charge or a DWI or something.

I don't really see that. I can totally see him getting busted for pot possession or something, but nothing more serious than that. He just seems too stoned and goofy most of the time to get in real trouble.

Anne said...

I hear tell a lot of people think Sandra Bullock should host sometime.
In the In Memorium montage was there anyone that you had forgotten had died(or didn't know they had died) and were all sad when you saw them?
Also, did i tell you i missed the money on my work Oscar Pool by 1 point? Fuck You Alice in Wonderland!

Teebore said...

@Anne: I hear tell a lot of people think Sandra Bullock should host sometime.

Yeah, I've heard that too. It seems like whenever a presenter does a better-than-average job with their bit, there's a faction of people who decide they should host. Heck, I said the same thing about Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.

In the In Memorium montage was there anyone that you had forgotten had died(or didn't know they had died) and were all sad when you saw them?

You know, there really wasn't. Well, the composer John Barry, I suppose (I didn't know he had died) but he hasn't done much work lately, so it was more of general "sad that an accomplished talent passed away" thing.

We actually joked at my party that it was an unremarkable year for deaths, and that Hollywood really needs to step it up next year. ;)

Also, did i tell you i missed the money on my work Oscar Pool by 1 point? Fuck You Alice in Wonderland!

That blows! Just one more thing to blame Alice for (aside from being a crappy movie...).

Luckily (??) my lose was by a wide enough margin that I can't kick myself over any one thing. I needed to go all in on more categories, but at least my picks weren't too bad.

Joan Crawford said...

Yes, I too say "Fuck you, Alice in Wonderland!"

*shakes fist at sky* as Anne slowly walks away saying "I don't actually hang out with her... she's just always here."
And I'm all "Check ya later, Bestie, I'm outie 5,000! Whoomp, there it is!"

Teebore said...

@Joan: I've said it before, but I'll say it again: never change. Never change.

boots~ said...

James Franco seemed an odd choice to begin with. I thought Justin Timberlake and Hathaway would have made a much better and even more "youth" oriented match.

Glad to hear others agree that Alice in Wonderland was not a good film. Along with Sweeney Todd, Alice makes my faith in Tim Burton plummet.

I didn't mind the show this year. It had some funny bits, brought some films to my attention ( such as 127 hours and Inside Job) and gave us all something to talk about.

Also, Hathaway's song to Hugh Jackman was awesome! That girl has some pipes!

Teebore said...

@Boots: I thought Justin Timberlake and Hathaway would have made a much better and even more "youth" oriented match.

That could of been fun. In fact, I'm curious if the producers asked JT at some point and he turned them down (apparently, the host we get are RARELY the producers' first pick).

Also, Hathaway's song to Hugh Jackman was awesome! That girl has some pipes!

It was indeed! That was one of my favorite parts of the show. I'm surprised we haven't seen her sing more often, since she's clearly got, as the kids say, some skillz.

Hannah Kincade said...

I wasn't bothered by Anne or James. I think they were both being themselves or at least, how they are in almost every interview I've seen them in. That being said, I think they were the wrong choice for the Oscars.

I thought the Kirk Douglas bit was horribly sad. It was like being forced to visit strangers at an old folks home. Awkward.

Melissa Leo's F-bomb was deeeelightful. I love when pretty women swear.

If only Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law could carry some of that chemistry to the next Sherlock Holmes because the first one was severely lacking.

It's about time Colin Firth won an Oscar. I love him.

Anne said...

wasn't that fairytale movie that Anne Hathaway in a musical? what the hell was that called...

@Joan- if i could stalk you, i would

Hannah Kincade said...

@Anne -Ella Enchanted. I loves it.

Teebore said...

@Hannah: I thought the Kirk Douglas bit was horribly sad. It was like being forced to visit strangers at an old folks home. Awkward.

Kirk Douglas' bit has been wildly divisive; I know people that hated it and people that that it was hilarious.

I thought it was a little of both: funny at times, but definitely painfully awkward too.

If only Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law could carry some of that chemistry to the next Sherlock Holmes because the first one was severely lacking.

Huh. I thought they had good chemistry in Sherlock Holmes.

Hannah Kincade said...

Maybe it was just the story, either way I was extremely disappointed in Sherlock Holmes.

Teebore said...

@Hannah: Maybe it was just the story, either way I was extremely disappointed in Sherlock Holmes.

Huh. That's too bad. I quite liked it.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

yeah i agree with Austin. Sherlock Holmes was great. Hannah's just an old fogey.
I mean, RDJ had his shirt off. That automatically jumps a movie up in awesomeness

Hannah Kincade said...

True. The eye candy factor was enough to keep me watching but honestly, I didn't care...about any of the characters. Usually there's a twinge of something but I just felt dead inside while watching and I laughed once.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

*shakes head sadly*

Blam said...


I see we're on the same page, as usual.

Honestly, it was one of the worst telecasts I've ever seen, and I am generally very forgiving of these things. If nothing else, the Oscars should be a celebration of movies. This one failed to even do that (which is astonishing considering it explicitly set out to celebrate the history of movies).

My sentiments exactly...

Kirk Douglas presenting the Supporting Actress award was like a Family Guy bit; it went on so long it stopped being funny, then looped back around to being funny.

I've watched almost zero Family Guy but I agree with your conclusion.

I liked Spielberg's bit about how one of the best picture nominees would join the ranks of other accomplished winners, while the losers would join the ranks of equally-accomplished films that never won Best Picture.

Ditto!

I'd been thinking that I didn't comment on this post right away because, as often happens, my WiFi was out at the time, but now I'm wondering if it was because the only notes I jotted down offline were one-word endorsements of your analysis. 8^)

VW: angrater — Kitchen aid for shaving Japanese red-bean paste.

Blam said...


@Teebore: I'm jealous! They must not have gotten to the Canadian feed fast enough or something

I read something about the five-second delay not converting properly to the metric system. 8^)

@Anne: Fuck You Alice in Wonderland!

Y'know, I was saying that almost the whole time I was watching the actual movie.

@Teebore: @Joan: I've said it before, but I'll say it again: never change.

Rumors are that, sadly, she doesn't.

My own Oscars post inadvertently became a running exercise in brainstorming future hosts, which is a commentary on how unfortunate this year's situation turned out to be. Aside from Billy Crystal, my musings turned to Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. (who presented together humorously last year), Fey and Tom Hanks, another go with Ellen DeGeneres, and Justin Timberlake (who'd definitely need someone to play off of, like Tina Fey or even Amy Poehler). I gather that Fey has been asked and turned the gig down, as Crystal often does. One can also only hope if not assume that Hugh Jackman was asked to co-host with Hathaway before Franco. Sometimes folks are nervous about taking the job on or (if they've done it before) repeating themselves too soon, and sometimes they're just busy.

Teebore said...

@Blam: I read something about the five-second delay not converting properly to the metric system. 8^)

Oh, those crazy Canadians and their "logical" "metric" system. :)

Sometimes folks are nervous about taking the job on or (if they've done it before) repeating themselves too soon, and sometimes they're just busy.

Yeah, I've heard it's hard to get TV people because the schedule is so much more demanding, whereas movie people, if the timing works out, can more easily fit it into their schedule.

Which means, apparently, as much as I'd like to see Tina Fey host or co-host, it probably couldn't happen until after 30 Rock goes off the air and she's no longer responsible for writing, starring in and being the face of a 22+ episodes-a-season TV show.