Oscars 2009 Wrap-Up

February 23, 2009 at 8:38 pm (Movies and TV)

I have to admit that this year, I watched the Red Carpet with the TV on “mute.”  The things that come out of interviewers’ mouths are just so stupid and adversarial! Did they honestly think they were going to encourage a catfight between Jen and Angelina? Please.

Kate Winslet looked like Grace Kelly, and Frieda Pinto in the blue number was gorgeous. Once again I’m disagreeing with a few of the people on the “Best Dressed Lists,” as Anne Hathaway is way too pale to wear that silver dress and Miley Cyrus’ dress was too old for her, and the tacky wide belt has got to go. But enough about clothes and on with the show.

I am angry with the Post-Gazette’s TV editor for saying Hugh Jackman’s opening number was bad, because I thought it was both clever and demonstrative of the man’s versatile talents. How can you not love that he sang the phrase “I’d crawl through human excrement for you” to Kate Winslet? Hysterical. Hugh’s other best joke…
“Kate Winslet, British woman laying a German woman…nominated. Robert Downey, Jr., American man playing an Australian man, playing a black man…nominated. Me, Hugh Jackman, an Australian man, playing an Australian in a movie called Australia…hosting.”

Overall I thought Hugh did a good enough job to be included again, and really gave it his best, but, he played it safe all night and wasn’t as edgy as some of his counterparts. I mean, I didn’t want him Chris Rock-edgy, but closer to Steve Martin or Billy Crystal in ad-lib-ability would have been nice. I’ve read on various blogs today that his best gag of the night happened during the commercial break when someone passed him a note from his wife, and he read it to the audience, “Babe, you’re doing great, I love you, but I’m hungry.” He then obtained a plate of chocolate chip cookies and brought them down into the audience and passed them to her and to anyone else who was hungry. Reminiscent of the Danny DeVito/dip gag Steve Martin did in 2002, and still would have been funny. Realize that this is all coming from someone who would desperately love to be a comedy writer for the Oscars, and who would be pretty good at it, too. 😉

I’m reading a mixed reaction among bloggers and critics to Ben Stiller one-offing Joaquin Phoenix’s Letterman appearance as too much of an inside joke…which…OK, maybe the 80-year-old ladies in the audience didn’t get it, but, that video has gone absolutely viral on youtube, and I’m convinced it was more understandable than they fear. And it was so funny I nearly peed myself. Clearly the audience also thought so.

The set design will win an Emmy because it was classic and pleasing to look at.  But they should have stopped there when it came to bringing back the classics…ie…I found the big dance number cringeworthy, and Jackman didn’t do the rumours about his sexuality any favors with it. It would have been preferable to axe that entire sequence in favor of letting all 3 of the nominated songs be played; not that I have an issue with John Legend, but I’d have rather heard Peter Gabriel sing his whole song. Speaking of those nominated songs…how catchy is “Jai Ho?” And doing it with Japanese Kodo drummers and an African choir? THAT’s what world music is all about.

I thought I was going to cry when Heath Ledger won, but it was Lance Black’s speech that did it. His was the best and most important speech of the night.

This year I went out of my way to see all the nominated short films, and realized in the end that actually seeing them did not help my ability to guess the winners. The Best Animated Short is AWFUL, even though I forgave its maker once he said “Domo Origato, Mr. Roboto.”

For several years, we have been without one of those iconic Oscar moments, like Roebrto Begnini jumping, like Jack Palance’s one-armed pushups, like the streaker and David Niven, like Adrien Brody kissing Halle Berry. We’ve been overdue. Heaven bless Philippe Petit, the subject of Man On Wire (which by the way is a very cool and deserving film). His Oscar-balancing act has given us a new one. Balancing the Oscar on his chin could not have been easy…the thing weighs 8 pounds.

Lots of people are dissing the manner in which acting awards were dispensed. One blog I read said they thought it was necessary because last year’s presenters were big enough names to make this year’s acting presentations well-watched. Cynicism aside after reading about that…and despite everyone dissing this…this was one of the highlights of the show for me. Someone compared it to the scene in Superman where they are banishing General Zod…I think it’s actually closer to the Borg in Star Trek, welcoming a new member into the collective. I appreciated the fact that they used Oscar legends to appreciate each specific performance, even if some of the accolades were painfully scripted (just ask Seymour Philip Hoffman).

The Pineapple Express number wasn’t as funny as it should have been, and the evening’s “Filmmaking 101” narrative wasted a lot of time. People who are very interested in how movies are made would know these basics anyway. I miss the film montage thing they’ve often done at the beginning of the show, working the host into various movies.

Statistics are saying that viewership is up, but, it was still among the 3 least-watched telecasts. Here’s what they should do to fix that.

  • Stop trying to increase the Oscar viewership and play to the audience who loves it. If that’s females and gay men, SO BE IT. If that means the telecast goes to TBS or another network like that, SO BE IT. The Oscars, though they’re the weightiest awards show, HAVE become less relevant over the years because of all the other awards shows on TV and because the people who go to movies most often anymore are not the type to go see “The Reader” but moreso “The Dark Knight.” So, don’t try to be what you can’t be. Do what you’re good at, and do it well, and if that means smaller numbers, SO WHAT.
  • I’ve said this in past years…Have all nominees submit lists of who they’d like to thank if they win, and have a graphics person generate tickers for every nominee. Then when the name is read, the staff calls up the correct ticker, and we read who they’re thanking across the bottom of our screens and the winners are freed up to say whatever they want, which is less stressful for them than having to think of names most of us have never heard of anyway…and arguably, more entertaining for us.
  • Offer certain stars able to handle it the ability to say whatever they want when presenting. Will Smith and Robert DeNiro could do it, so could many others.
  • Combine the telecast and the Governor’s Ball. That way, stars would be good and drunk and more fun to watch like on the Golden Globes…and they won’t have to go hungry. Win-win.
  • Have Tina Fey and Steve Martin co-host next year, and let me write!
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