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Monday, February 25, 2008

An Oscar Debriefing

No, this isn't a post to describe why the Oscar statue is naked, except for the strategically-placed sword.

Rather, the highs and lows of Oscar evening deserve a bit of revisiting, commentary, and, where necessary*, ridicule. It was a an Oscar programme like most Oscar programmes, full of self-reverential giddiness, unusual costumes, underwhelming production numbers, and lengthy, boring retrospectives. Let's get to the details:

  • The review of previous winners was poorly edited, but fair enough, except for the occasional moments (How Green Was My Valley**, Marisa Tomei, Titanic) where you found yourself shouting at telly, "Wrong! wrong! wrong!" That and they left out Hitchcock from the winning directors clips. They could fit in Redford, Beatty, Costner, and Gibson, but couldn't fit in "The Master of Suspense." Clearly, the Academy is still jealous that Hitch made all those vastly superior films despite being overweight and balding.
  • I'm glad the Coen Brothers won 3 Oscars. I haven't seen No Country for Old Men yet, but 8 times out of 10 a Coen Brothers film is better than the usual Hollywood awards dreck. I'm still wishing a Coen Brothers film had been up for the award the year Titanic won. Either that or that the James Cameron mega-bloat romance had been livened up by the timely presence of a nail-gun-wielding lunatic. Billy Zane could have done it.
  • Jon Stewart still feels like the guy who got invited to the big party by mistake and is so amazed to not only be there but to be hosting that he spends half the time giggling in shock and looking over his shoulder for the bouncers. No major gaffes for Stewart though. He stayed safe and stayed at the party.
  • Miley Cyrus is Hannah Montana? Who knew.
  • Halle Berry will want to have a talk with her dietician, makeup specialist, hairdresser, etc. Dame Judi Dench, also, although the beard was rather fetching.
  • The Best Documentary Feature winner gave a short, vague acceptance speech that assumed everyone had seen his film. The guests in the Kodak Theatre gave general vague applause that indicated that they hadn't but still hated George W. Bush as much as the director did. Pretty bland by Oscar standards, if you ask me.
  • Jack Nicholson looked shocked at Jon Stewart's suggestion that he might be up to some randy behaviour during the programme. That he pulled this off with his hand up an usherette's skirt is demonstration of his magnificent acting talents.
  • Bill Conti was near rabid, playing off awards speeches at the drop of a hat. This is an Oscar tradition that needs to either end, or be ramped up to the point where no one gets a speech at all. Just give them the statue and walk them off the stage. If you're going to let the Best Actress or Actor speak for 120 seconds on how they were completely unprepared to win, then you should give the third guy for Best Sound Mixing the chance to thank his wife and mother for letting him turn up the stereo at home when he was a kid.
  • It was quite nice that they brought out the second of the Best Song winners to give her acceptance speech. Flogging the programme director for cutting off half-a-dozen others is probably too much to ask.
  • Why on earth was Amy Adams asked to present the first nominee for Best Song onstage alone with the barest of lighting effects? What, no dancing extras dressed as rats, pigeons, and squirrels? No, fake-looking animation to spice things up. The poor woman probably felt naked out there, which was probably the original production idea until she put her foot down.
  • The Writer's Strike had absolutely no effect on the Oscar programme. The on-air banter was every bit as forced and lame as usual. This just proves that writers can turn out drek on the shortest of deadlines.***
*Which would be just about everywhere.
**Good film, but it beat out Citizen Kane for goodness' sake
***Editor's note: If anyone knows this, it's Earl.


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