You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

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.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar's Craptacular Night - A Preview

It's that time of year again, when the glamourous glitterati of high society Hollywood gather together at the Kodak Theatre and rub their wealth and success in the noses of the humdrum moviegoer, by giving one another awards for what is, at best, mediocre cinematic work that would make Kurosawa, Welles, and a dozen other world-class filmmakers shrug their shoulders and pour another glass of Paul Masson.

Add to that the overproduced, underimaginative show that is the Academy Awards, and you can easily imagine an early nap this evening... one that either preempts or is precipitated by the big Oscar programme.

Why do we watch then? Well, normally, we watch in order to make fun of the whole enterprise, live and in real time. However, since Blogger is still set up, so far as we know (because the Blogger Tech Support has yet to answer the help desk request from last year's Oscar blog, the careless simpeltons) to not allow the kind of repeated short term blogging that would let us continue this tradition, we're not doing a live Oscar blog this year. This breaks a three year tradition. Thanks, Blogger!

So, the reasons we watch and you watch are more or less the same: To see what ridiculous things the celebrities and celebrity press will do. The one exception to this rule is for those of you who are seriously interested in what certain people wear to the event, and even then, for 80% of this audience, "ridiculous" is still part of the bargain.

Fortunately, Hollywood loves to repeat itself, even at the awards shows. So, even though we're not doing a live blog tonight, you can still recreate the experience! Simply print out a list of the following lines and then read them out at appropriate times during the red carpet programme and the awards show. It's almost as though we were there with you during the programme! This way you get the live blog experience, and we get to sleep ...erm, watch the programme like normal people for a change.

So, here are the things we expect to see (again) at this year's Oscars. Enjoy!:


  • Can the red carpet reporters just save everyone a little time and physically kiss the arses of the celebrities they're interviewing? This way, we avoid all the inane chat, and the more prurient among us get to see a little tail.

  • Is it me or does the Oscar Red Carpet programme feel like an episode of "The Next Big 'E!' Star?" It's all the people who are too crass and servile to actually qualify for E! What B-movie audition line did they have to raid to find this lot, anyway?

  • They invited Jon Stewart back? I thought they said his hosting stint was predictable, tentative, and lacking energy? Oh, that's right. Those are all pluses for this programme.

  • My, Jon Stewart's looking old. Oh, wait... that's Oprah. Looking good, hon!

  • Sometimes I wonder if Jack Nicholson's smile isn't just botoxed on? I mean, he could be asleep or even dead underneath the sunglasses and so long as someone nudged him to make it look like he was laughing, we'd never know.

  • Quiet, the annual self-righteous George Clooney acceptance speech is about to begin! Pass the limoncellos and earplugs!

  • Is it true that Michael Moore is nominated for Best Documentary each year, not simply because the Academy members love his politics, but because he makes the other Documentary nominees look glamourous by comparison?

  • And now it's time for "Best Sound Editing," also known as the "Refrigerator and Loo Expedition Award, " because that's where everyone will be whist the winner is given their speech.

  • Just once, I wish one of the small category winners would chuck their Oscar at the conductor right after he starts to play them off stage.

  • Is this the dead film star montage? No, false alarm! It's just a montage of a century of dentistry in film. I haven't seen this much expensive porcelain since the lavatory at Shoji Tabuchi's.

  • There's Clint Eastwood, packing heat as usual. No, I meant guns, why do you ask?

  • While I miss, "and the winner is," I must say that "and the Oscar goes to," is much more accurate. It's like saying, "Here you go, you lucky bastard. It's not like you actually deserve this." I must say, the candor is bracing.

  • Sean Penn looks angry tonight. It's nice to know some things never change.

  • OK. this is the montage of film stiffs, right? Nope, just a montage of Hollywood in Education: Three Sidney Poitier films, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off

  • Was that Beyonce' lining up to do an Oscar nominated song? Just make her the bloody host and be done with it.

  • Oops! Susan Saradon tried to give the "peace" sign and got the hand backwards. Bet the British tabloids are loving that one.

  • That last musical number was a show stopper! No, I mean this thing won't end before midnight, now.

  • Now it's time for "Best Animated Short", or as they call it in Toronto, "Canada's last chance."

  • The montage of dead film types this time? Nope, it's just a montage of Billy Crystal's Oscar opening numbers. Why, oh why didn't they start the programme with this?

  • I just read Sir Ian McKellen's lips. He said, "Enough of this boring old tripe! Can we just get to the s***ing Wolfgang Puck buffet?"

  • I'm telling you for the last time, the Coen Brothers are NOT Siamese twins! They're just extremely close.

  • If you're ever at the big Oscar programme, here's a little thing to try. When the Best Foreign Language Film award comes up, start applauding and shouting, "I loved those films! Who saw them? Show of hands!" The advantage of this gag is that the only people who saw them probably can't understand a word you're saying.

  • I thought it was great when The Dirty Dozen won "Best Make Up." The rouge job on Lee Marvin and John Cassavettes was world-class.

  • Enchanted's got three song nominations? What's the over under that the kid from August Rush can beat the crap out of Enchanted's songwriter?

  • Now, for the most dramatic and spine-tingling part of the evening! They're about to explain how the Oscar voting procedure worked.

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