Finally, Carole has come up with another topic I like: 10 thoughts on this year’s Oscars. So, without any delay (“we’re running over time, folks!”), here goes:
- If I never have to see Billy Crystal host the show again, I’d die happy. Seriously, the man never really hit his stride. The “insert Billy in movies” bit is tired. The medley of Best Picture nominees morphed into showtunes was mostly flat. Most of his jokes were dated (as in “this is the early-90s calling – we’d like our material back.”). And when he started to pick up steam in the third hour of the show, he deflated all goodwill with a totally dated and off-color quip about the French. Perhaps we can get Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Neil Patrick Harris or Ricky Gervais to host next year.
- I’m happy that The Artist won for Best Picture. Let’s face it: I loved the movie. Loved it. Was engrossed the entire time (unlike Sarah or sprite), and felt it to be a wonderfully-executed study of the transition from silent film to “the talkies.” Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and Uggie were superb, as was the supporting cast of well-known Hollywood types. Châpeau!
- That said, I was also rooting for Hugo to win for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Hugo is a glorious film, a love letter to cinema, youth and embracing life, and had it won Best Picture, I would have cheered just as much as I applaud The Artist‘s victory. The cast is superb, the imagery vivid, and the use of 3-D is spot-on and essential to the total enjoyment of the film. It’s the first 3-D film I’ve seen where I can say, without reservation, that it is an essential element to the entire piece. This is a better film, by far, than The Departed, the film that won Scorsese’s only Best Picture statue. I’m happy that it won almost every technical Oscar for which it was up, but it deserved more.
- AMPAS still has a bias against movies aimed at children. That is why, to my eye, Hugo didn’t get any hardware outside of technical categories. It’s a shame, really, but it reflects the voting membership of AMPAS: folks who don’t really care what the public thinks and, if anything, abhor the opinions of the “unwashed and uneducated.”
- I would trade all of the “stars reflect on why they love the movies” bits for live performances of the two nominated Best Original Songs. I mean, it was two songs! Why were there so many pre-recorded bits doing the passive-aggressive “really y’all should go to the movies, chumps” bits, instead of performances of the pair of nominated songs. That would have been, what, 6 or 7 minutes of singing, with maybe a little dancing? That would have been far better than what we got.
- However, the Christoper Guest & crew Wizard of Oz focus group bit was top-notch! Indeed, it was one of the funniest moments of the evening.
- The acting winners were all class acts, and all were deserving. From Baron von Trapp finally winning, to Octavia Spencer’s shell shock, to Meryl Streep’s ease and honest surprise, to Jean Dujardin’s bilingual excitement (and short soft-shoe), all four winners were gracious in victory and deserving of their awards (and no, I haven’t seen The Help, Beginners or The Iron Lady… yet).
- The sound mixer for the microphones should be taken out back and subjected to a sonic bombardment of songs delivered by an over-amped Speak & Spell. Honestly, the digital compression artifacts were bloody awful. Some in the Twitterverse compared it to having a modem connecting constantly in the background, and that wasn’t far off the mark. The initial, official excuse was “well, the satellite is doing that,” but that’s bunk, as the pre-recorded bits were crystal clear and quiet. If the Oscars telecast gets nominated for an Emmy, then I’ll truly know that talent is no longer a requirement for reward – a sad, sad state of affairs.
- I love that the robot known as R.Y.A.N. C-Crest was completely unnerved and unhinged by Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Dictator.” Yes, it was a cheesy PR stunt, but as usual, Cohen’s delivery was deadpan and fantastic. That he spilled the “ashes” of Kim Jong Il all over Seacrest was a bit of brilliant absurdist art, and totally ruffled the feathers of a person who is very cautious to always appear uniformly “together,” with whitened-and-capped teeth gleaming, suit pressed to perfection, and not a hair out of place. It certainly made me giggle, and if that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
- Some little details made me very happy. I loved seeing Sheila E. in the house band. Chris Rock as a presenter was brilliant. Same goes for Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne breaking out the mini-bottles of vokda to play “The Scorsese Drinking Game.” The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a worthy winner of Best Animated Short. Penelope Cruz’s lavender gown and 1930s ‘do were elegant and, it seems, misunderstood. Cirque do Soleil was impressive, but didn’t really have any relevance at an award show for film (again, they could have performed one of the nominated songs here). Emma Stone’s comic turn as a presenter was witty, and she towered over the tan-from-a-bottle head of Ben Stiller (he was giving John Boehner a run for winner of “Best Orange Complexion”). Esperanza Spaulding’s performance of “What A Wonderful World” was brilliant (even if, as somebody pointed out, the sentiment of the song doesn’t apply to the deceased, does it?). And who knew that, for Hollywood types, 64 degrees Fahrenheit is “freezing?” I sure didn’t.
So: are there any things you found great – or lacking – at the 2012 Academy Awards? Let me know in the comments!