Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Post-Mortem

That may be the last time I try to liveblog an award show, or at least the Oscars. I was trying to do way too much last night and it was a bit stressful.

Thoughts on the ceremony...

- It may have been my overexcited state, but I thought Martin and Baldwin did just fine. Some of the jokes fell flat, but since when is that something new? I thought the opening number with Neil Patrick Harris was very fun (I guess he was the surprise that got translated as "secret third host" in the rumor mill).

- I was excited that they were doing a tribute to John Hughes (who never won an Oscar), and it was great to see Molly and Matthew and the other Hughes "kids" on stage, but I thought this was a bit out of place. And since the BFCA Critics Choice Awards did basically the same thing, it felt a little superfluous.

- Did anyone notice the little Kanye moment with the man and the woman accepting for Documentary Short? I wasn't paying close enough attention to what was said, though I did notice that the woman seemed to be interrupting the man. There was apparently some legal drama with their film, and these two had not spoken to each other for a while (not even to work out who was going to speak if they won). And the man's mother held her cane out to keep the woman from getting to the stage too quick, to give the man more time (or perhaps all the allotted time) to speak. Wow.

- I thought the dance number to the nominated scores was HORRENDOUS and a very, VERY poor exchange for what might have been some great musical performances of the song nominees. Odd that the reason given for nixing the performances was that they wanted to treat that like all the other categories. And yet the musical scores got their own dance number. Shenanigans!

- I liked the montages of clips for the acting categories (as opposed to single scenes) - you get a better idea about the overall performance - but I don't understand why they did supporting different from lead (lead nominees being the only people to get the "eulogy" treatment). Nor why they trotted the lead acting nominees out on stage, like those are the two most important categories of the night.

- While I really loved the five previous winners presenting each category last year, I did NOT like the way they did it this year, where five people connected to the nominees came out and gushed about them and THEN the previous Oscar-winner in the other-gendered category opened the envelope. Very disjointed, and the producers clearly did not get what worked or what was so special about what was done last year.

- I made a joke about the Ghost reference being kind of tacky to start the Memoriam segment with, but I'd forgotten that Demi and Swayze were in Ghost together (probably Swayze's greatest performance), and he was the first person to show up in that clip. That was sweet. And I'm very glad that everyone learned from last year's fiasco that what we want to see in this segment is the SCREEN, with the IMAGES and the NAMES. Not someone performing a song on the stage.

- I loved that they did a segment on horror, and I could not care less if it was pandering. I was giddy as a schoolgirl throughout. EXCEPT for the films that were not even remotely horror, notably Twilight (the other one people mentioned was Edward Scissorhands, but that's much closer to being horror than Twilight). Also, fail for the drivel writer who said the Academy hadn't honored horror since The Exorcist in 1973. I don't personally define Silence of the Lambs as horror, but most people do - and, yanno, they used several clips from it in the horror montage. As well as Misery, which the Academy honored the year before that. And The Omen, which won Best Original Score three years after The Exorcist. A little research never killed anyone.

Thoughts on the winners...

- No surprises in the acting categories, of course. I think it's kind of brilliant that Sandra Bullock collected a Razzie for Worst Actress and an Oscar for Best Actress in the same weekend. I'm glad Mo'Nique used part of her speech to address all the hoopla over her non-campaign. Christoph Waltz was charming, as usual. And the Dude abides, man.

- Biggest surprise was Geoffrey Fletcher winning the screenplay award for Precious, making him the first African-American to win a writing Oscar. I'm not sure it's terribly deserved, as the actors are what really make that movie work, but I can understand people going down their ballot and wanting to support the film in another category. I think In the Loop was robbed, though.

- There will be countless debates as to whether Avatar should have won Art Direction and Cinematography, but I suspect in ten or twenty years, the Academy will seem strangely prescient here.

- Very glad that Up took another prize besides animation, a well-deserved win for Michael Giacchino and his loving musical score.

- I still wonder if the seeming incongruity of a woman directing a gritty war film made people see The Hurt Locker (NOT the direction, which is a separate thing) as better than it is. Nevertheless, I do feel that Kathryn Bigelow's directing win was richly deserved. That movie is an absolute director's showcase, and the main reason it works is because it's so skillfully shot.

- While The Hurt Locker is a fine film, I don't think it was the Best. A lot of prognosticators and critics are patting themselves on the back for shepherding this thing to a win, despite its miniscule box office returns. I have to ask one thing, though. Why were these same people whining about predictability, "echo chamber"s, and "safe" choices this year when this outcome that they're so happy about is all three of those things? I would have loved to see a surprise for Best Picture, but I guess those just don't happen anymore. And can't, with the press analyzing every detail and event of the season.

In the final analysis, I have to wonder how meaningful it is to follow all this so closely, as I have this year. Part of me loves having the inside info and knowing pretty much what to expect, but in a way I kind of prefer getting attached to what I want, without that filter of "never gonna happen."

As regards the show, I have to say that Adam Shankman's and Bill Mechanic's efforts were not really a success. The entire evening felt disjointed and there was more stuff that didn't work than did. I liked Steve and Alec more than most people liveblogging, it seems, but I agree that their schtick would have worked just as well, perhaps better, with one host. The best moments last night were the unscripted ones, and maybe there would have been more of those if the orchestra hadn't been so ruthless about playing people off.

Oh, and Best Dressed - definitely Sandra Bullock.

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