Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oscar Thoughts and Reactions

-The two best moments from before the ceremony both came courtesy of the Precious cast, but they were great moments for totally opposite reasons. The “good” great moment was from Precious herself, Gabourey Sidibe, who was bubbly, engaging, and clearly having a great time. When asked about her dress (which she looked great in:, she said “if fashion was porn, this dress would be the money shot.” That was obviously going to be the best quote of the night and the night hadn’t even started yet. The “bad” great moment came during the Barbara Walters Special, while she was interviewing Mo’Nique. When Walters asked her interviewee why she doesn’t shave her legs, Mo’Nique inexplicably hiked up her dress to show off the untamed jungles that she calls her shins. Walters literally looked like she was watching someone get stabbed to death; check it out at the 25-second mark of this clip:

-Between the stage setup and Neil Patrick Harris’ opening song and dance number, it seemed that this year’s producer (Adam Shankman—director of Hairspray) was going for a return to the 1930’s “backstage musical” style of showbiz. Speaking of the great NPH, he was clearly auditioning for next year’s hosting gig, right? I’m good with that as long as he leaves the sparkled tux at home.

-The blogosphere seemed pretty lukewarm on the Steve Martin/Alec Baldwin hosting duo, but I thought they did a good job. They’re no Billy Crystal, but I’d give them a solid B+. I thought they benefited from being able to banter with each other. They’re best moment: telling Christoph Waltz that he had hit the Jew-hunting “motherload” by being in the Oscar audience.

-I thought it was fascinating that in a few cases, the actors who presented the Best Picture nominees had starred in movies that directly competed for a nomination with them (and lost). For example, Chris Pine, star of Star Trek, presented the clip of District 9, the movie that likely killed Trek’s chance at a nomination. Colin Firth presented the clip of An Education, which likely stole many votes from his own A Single Man, and Jeff Bridges introduced A Serious Man, which might have received its nomination at the expense of Bridges’ Crazy Heart. It could have been pure coincidence, but an interesting one at the very least.

-Tina Fey and Robert Downey, Jr. were probably the best presenting duo of the night. It’s just too bad Fey’s dress came from the costume department of Tarzan.

-It’s sad that The Hurt Locker (a movie whose greatness came largely from its suspense, direction, and editing) and Precious (a movie that made its most direct impacts with acting and subject matter) won the two screenplay awards over Inglorious Basterds and Up in the Air, which were both built around some of the best dialogue of the year. I don’t mean to insinuate that the screenplays for The Hurt Locker and Precious were worthless, just that they were less impressive than the movies they beat.

-The John Hughes tribute was fantastic. It managed to do two things: remind you how memorable his movies were, and illustrate how many great actors got their start in his movies (and how many bad actors- yikes!).

-At every Oscar ceremony, there are inevitably a few categories that nobody cares about because they don’t understand them: the awards for animated, documentary, and live action short, and the awards for sound mixing and editing. This year’s ceremony created short videos explaining the importance of those categories prior to announcing their winners, which was very informative and helpful. And getting Morgan Freeman to narrate one of those short videos? Come on… now you’re just spoiling us!

-I saw Ben Stiller’s Avatar riff show up on lists for best moments of the show and worst moments of the show, so people definitely felt pretty strongly about it. I enjoyed it. Anything that makes James Cameron look uncomfortable is a plus.

-Is Best Make-Up a completely dead category? Typically, the nominees in this category created either impressive creature/horror effects (now done predominantly with CGI), or impressive aging/de-aging of actors (also now done predominantly with CGI). If you have to nominate The Young Victoria just to get to three nominees, it might be time to get rid of the category.

-I have mixed feelings on the moving of the honorary awards to a different night. On the one hand, it allows a lot more time and energy to be spent on those awards. More honor, if you will. But on the other hand, it robbed Roger Corman, creator of Attack of the Crab Monsters and Women in Cages, of his chance to give a speech at the Oscars.

-Mo’Nique’s decision to thank the Academy “for proving that it can be about the performance, not the politics” was by far the ballsiest acceptance speech quote of the night, but one that is totally justified. Too often, acting Oscars seem to be decided by a collective feeling of who should own an Oscar, rather than the nominated performance. This year, less so.

-On a night when people with no discernable acting talent like Taylor Lautner and Miley Cyrus were allowed to present at the Oscars, it was refreshing to see a real actress like Sigourney Weaver present Best Art Direction.

-Even though it was clearly only there to pander to ratings, the horror movie montage was nice. A genre unfairly ignored 98% of the time finally got its Oscar moment, and, as with the John Hughes tribute, it reminded us how many great actors have worked in the genre.

-Did the sound guy for The Hurt Locker steal Tom Cruise’s wig from Interview with the Vampire?

-Elizabeth Banks—definitely the best dress of the night: Yowsers!

-The decision to have an interpretive dance troupe perform the Best Original Score nominees was useful but poorly executed. On one hand, it was nice to hear the scores prior to the award so the audience has an immediate opinion on who should win. On the other hand, the dances, though impressive, were too long and way too bizarre. Let’s see a bit of fine-tuning on this segment for next year.

-When Star Trek won Best Make-Up, a snippet of its score was played, reminding me how good it was. Why wasn’t it nominated? Interestingly, the Star Trek score was by the same guy that won Best Score for Up—Michael Giacchino. Not a bad year.

-I enjoyed last year’s advent of having five past winners talk about the acting nominees, but it led to a few non-sequiters (why was Goldie Hawn talking about Taraji P. Henson?). This year kept that great idea but improved on it; instead of past winners, we had people with very personal connections to the nominees. It allowed Tim Robbins to honor his Shawshank Redemption co-star.

-The greatest “life imitates art” moment of the night was the revelation that Jeff Bridges was not only The Dude in The Big Lebowski, but he apparently is in real life as well, man. It’s too bad he didn’t come to The Oscars in a bathrobe and pajama pants.

-Have standing ovations jumped the shark? I counted at least four—for Mo’Nique, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, and Kathryn Bigelow. I’m good with the ovation for Bridges, a beloved actor from a beloved Hollywood family who’s had a great career and earned his first nomination a whopping 38 years ago. I’m also okay with the ovation for Bigelow, who became the first woman to ever win an Oscar for directing. But Mo’Nique and Sandra Bullock? Really? Standing ovations? Mo’Nique’s performance was phenomenal, but it’s really the only impressive thing she’s ever done. And I don’t care that Bullock’s been acting for twenty years… what’s her best movie? Seriously, what’s her best movie? Speed? Remember, a long career and a great career are not the same thing. Audiences at awards shows should be allowed only one standing ovation per night, except in very rare circumstances, when a second one can be permitted. This year Bridges should have gotten the one allotted ovation, and Bigelow received the “rare circumstance” ovation. For the record, here’s the complete list of current actors and directors that I would accept a standing ovation for, given their careers up to this point: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Quentin Tarantino, Bill Murray, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep (for when she eventually wins her third Oscar), George Clooney (for when he eventually becomes the only person to own Oscars for acting and directing) and whoever becomes the first African-American to win an Oscar for directing. That’s it. If you just throw them at anyone, they lose all meaning.

-I went 16/24 on my predictions. I missed one award (documentary short) because I knew nothing about the nominees and just guessed. I missed two awards where I predicted upsets that didn’t happen (original screenplay and lead actress), and I missed five awards that were genuine surprises that went against almost every prediction (adapted screenplay, cinematography, foreign film, sound editing, and sound mixing). Not bad, but not as well as i expected.


  1. the John Hughes tribute actors were referred to as "The John Hughes Petting Zoo" on the Tony Kornheiser show
    Gots to love Mr. Tony....
    And in the Horror tribute they said no horror movie had won since the excorsist but then they showed clips of Silence of The Lambs whitch won in the eirly '90s
    was some one asleep at the switch
    bad form Oscars, not to mention Comedy is the most under represented form at the Oscars

  2. so excited that you are blogging again :)