Amateur Night

My initial thought was to do a recap of the Oscars in the style of the broadcast itself.  But then I remembered that I kind of actually want people to read this and reconsidered.  So here, in the usual style, are my rambling thoughts about last night’s assault:

  • This year’s Oscar telecast committed the cardinal sin: it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t awkward, it was boring.  At least people are still talking about Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White and “Uma. Oprah.”  No one’s going to be talking about this show much beyond the next couple of days.  Now, James Franco and Anne Hathaway are fine actors, but that doesn’t automatically translate into the skill set it takes to host an awards show.  Nor does being young automatically bring the hipness factor, especially when the jokes were pretty much what we’d have gotten with anyone else hosting.
  • To all the people chiming in with variations on being too cool to watch the Oscars:  wouldn’t the really cool thing be not to go out of your way to make sure everyone knows and acknowledges it?  The same thing happens every time a big TV event rolls around — people have to demonstrate how above it they are by descending into it to tell us they’re above it.  We get it.  You’re not going to run with the masses.  You and millions of other people.  Way to go against that stream, brave iconoclast.  Besides, like it or not, the Oscars are the seismic event in the movie industry.  Even if you don’t watch, you’re going to look up who won.  If for no other reason than to bitch about the next day.
  • That said, too many people seemed to have adopted a scorched earth policy when it comes to the winners.  If their favorite doesn’t win, it’s a travesty, because no other nominee could possibly come close to being worthy.  Take for instance those who are outraged that David Fincher lost to Tom Hooper for Best Director.  Never mind that the Director’s Guild — a group who probably knows a thing or two about film directing — gave Hooper their award too.  No, Fincher was robbed, it’s a conspiracy, and that damn King’s Speech is probably no good either.  Which is funny, because a lot of these same people are the ones who’ll jump all over Star Wars fans who complain about Annie Hall winning in 1977.
  • That said, How to Train Your Dragon was robbed twice last night.
  • All right, seriously, it’s not as bad as that, but I still can’t bring myself to join in on the love fest for Toy Story 3 or Trent Reznor’s score for The Social Network.  In the first case, it felt more like an award for the entire series than this individual entry, which I felt was much weaker than the first two.  And as for Reznor, it seemed like all the buzz was about “In the Hall of Mountain King” playing over the regatta.  Fine, give the award to Edvard Grieg then.
  • Was I the only one who thought it was kind of cruel to make Eli Wallach haul himself out on stage to wave for forty-five seconds?  At least Kirk Douglas got to try out his one-man show when he caned his way out there.  And don’t tell me the show wouldn’t have been immensely improved by a tribute to both Wallach and Francis Ford Coppola.  Yeah, we’ve had some stinkers, but moving the Governor’s Awards out of the main show was a mistake.  The show needs that kind of heft and star power, that kind that can’t be manufactured by reminding us of a bunch of other movies while supposedly honoring this year’s.
  • Speaking of this year’s movies, it seemed really off that we didn’t get clips of the Best Picture nominees throughout the show.  Now I really liked the montage they did set to the final speech from The King’s Speech, but moving to ten nominees has robbed the show of the sense of identity five nominees used to give it.  The five-nominee shows often seemed to take on the character of the Best Picture nominees, and their presence was felt throughout the night.  Last night almost made Best Picture seem like an afterthought.  A sentiment echoed by presented Steven Spielberg, who seemed to be saying, “The best picture doesn’t always win Best Picture.”  And seeing as how he’s sat there watching JawsRaiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., The Color Purple, Saving Private Ryan and Munich all walk way empty-handed, he’d know.
  • The only thing worse than the broadcast is the fact that you can now use “Oscar-winning” and “Alice in Wonderland” in the same sentence.  Maybe if it had been art direction and costuming we hadn’t seen in nearly every Tim Burton movie previously, I might have been impressed.
  • I will give the show credit for muting the auditorium audio during the death montage so we’d be spared this year’s Clap-O-Death-O-Meter.  And I thought having all the winners come out for a curtain call was a nice touch, and a nice reminder of the depth and breadth of the awards this year.
  • Man, that wasn’t nearly as much fun as slagging the show.  I’d better watch it.

So put away the tuxes and evening gowns and pick up the popcorn, because we’re heading into the silly season.  Well, sillier, anyway.  If odds — and history — are anything, next year’s Oscar winners won’t be showing up over the next couple of months.  So I guess we’ll have to complain about our favorite films not being #1 at the box office to get us by.

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