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Friday, March 10, 2006

Crapfest Revisited! A Look Back at the Oscars Show

As you can probably tell, we're still recovering from the (self)lovefest that is the Academy Awards and our Live Blog of the event (see below for details). I myself am still working out a pulled eyebrow and a sprained rib from the event.

Oscar night was a profound disappointment. First, Jon Stewart was nowhere near the kind of risk-taker people hoped he would be. Other than slightly irritating George Clooney, who responded with the kind self-important, indignant, and mock grandiose acceptance speech that we humourists live for (Thanks George!), and inspiring Tom Hanks to expletives - admittedly no mean feat there - Stewart was largely in awe of his audience. I kept expecting him to stop during a segueway and ask for either Jack Nicholson's autograph on his cummerbund or a laphug from Keira Knightley. At least there were a few nice video pieces with convincing commentary from Stephen Colbert.

The show itself was frankly bizarre. Dolly Parton's musical number was sparely staged and wisely reliant on her boisterous personality and still-gravity-defying busom...the woman looks like she has two moons in geostationary orbit around her. However, the next song, The Love Theme from Crash, was staged on what looked like a rejected scene from Robert Wilson's production of Death Destruction & Detroit. The smoke, wrecked cars, street people, and flames had all the ambience of Beiruit, circa 1985. Finally, the staging of It Ain't Easy Out Here for A Pimp, looked like it was thrown together about midway through Stewart's opening monologue. It was like The Little Rascals deciding to put on a show, only in the 'Hood and without almost any trace of melody or harmony. Naturally, this song won the Oscar.

The rest of the show was dreary on-stage banter (Ben Stiller's mildly amusing bit, and the one joke makeup award notwithstanding) punctuated by lengthy and only mildly logical film respectives. Even the annual tear-jerking look back at all the film people who'd snuffed it in the prior year felt lifeless (no pun intended). Still, even the nearly random collage of great film clips was better than watching actor after actor stumble up to the stage and fake their way through the insipid prescripted patter. Lauren Bacall brought one moment of sympathy when she seemed unable to read the autocue. I think after a moment people realized she wasn't halting and squinting at the lines because of poor eyesight, but because she was thinking to herself, "They want me to read this crap? If Bogie were alive, he'd crack their pelvises in half with a pool cue!"

In the end, the only drama was what little the awards themselves provided. Crash's victory over the wildly trumpeted sheep-herders-with-a-difference drama Brokeback Mountain was a genuine shock, if only because the vast majority of film critics and observers insisted it would win because "Hollywood loves gay cowboys!" Clearly, the realisation that these blokes were merely randy sheep ranchers soured the Academy, who promptly sheared them of the award.

So the stage is set next year for a comeback. Who will host? I'd say Stephen Colbert has the lead right now, followed by the insidious SpongeBob Squarepants. Jon Stewart, a genuinely funny person, has been relegated to the David Letterman and Chris Rock retirement home for talented one-time Oscar hosts who didn't suck up enough to the film big-wigs. The trouble is, Jon pretty much did.


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