Monday, February 23, 2009
Playing to the crowd
I'm only doing this by special request from CI Photog.
My take? In a word...
I'd say worst ever, but that's a judgment reserved for anytime Whoopi Goldberg or Ellen DeGeneres host. And for the time Teri Garr flew in dancing like a drunken Rockette on the wing of a fake airplane in 1986.
Still, Hugh Jackman's lame, lame, lame opener sucked. Nine out of 10 nominees sucked. The winners sucked. Bill Maher sucked. The lack of suspense sucked.
Even the In Memoriam segment, for which I'm usually a sucker, sucked. Memo to the Academy: next time how about fewer shots of Queen Latifah's full-figured booty and more steady camerawork on, y'know, the faces we're supposed to be remembering? (Seriously. If you were movie buff enough to know the faces from a distance, chances are you still couldn't read their credentials with all the swooping camera action. I only recognized Syd Charisse by, what else, those unmistakable legs.)
The few "highlights" were Tina Fey and Steve Martin doing the writing awards. I believe the last year the Oscars were watchable was the year Martin hosted. And I did like the new format of that bit and most of the show in general.
Even so, Ben Stiller serving up a hilarious slice of Joaquin Phoenix was the only time I actually laughed. Ditto (almost) for Jack Black's "I get my paycheck from Dreamworks and bet the money on Pixar" line.
Patrick Goldstein in the L.A. Times thought it sucked, too. Predictably he refuses to acknowledge the real reason it blew chunks. Too stodgy, not edgy enough, he says.
Really. Not edgy. As someone on Big Hollywood pointed out during the show, this marks the first time in Oscar history we saw more clips of men sucking face than scenes of boy meets girl. And I'm sure that really pulled in the ratings.
Come on, Paddy... We all know nobody watched this abomination because nobody watches any of the movies that get nominated anymore. (Slumdog Millionaire notwithstanding. Gotta see that one.)
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Hollywood was once loved because movies were considered the art form of the masses. Now they can't even give the technical awards -- until now the only honest awards in the bunch -- to big events like The Dark Knight and Iron Man.
Heath Ledger's family inadvertently summed it up by accepting the award in memory of Heath's reason for working: "validation from his peers."
Whoops. Not supposed to say that out loud, mom and dad.
Or as Will Smith put it by announcing the montage of action films as "movies with fans."
Things haven't always been this way. And it wasn't that long ago. Gladiator was best picture in 2000. The Lord of the Rings trilogy became an awards franchise not long after.
Of course it all comes down to politics too.
What else to conclude when Charlton Heston's memorial clips are met with all but crickets, while lesser names immediately before and after enjoy big time applause and whistles?
Dark Knight was afire with Oscar buzz when it hit theaters. Best Picture and Director for sure, they said. Then it not only became one of the top-grossing movies of all time but word also got out that it was subversively right wing.
The reaction was predictable...
"Nominations revoked, Batman. Oh, and that obligatory visual effects nod? We're giving it to a three-hour melodrama starring Brad Pitt in makeup that looked better when it was on Biff in Back to the Future 20 years ago. That'll teach ya."
Only thing last night taught me (besides the fact Hugh Jackman sings like Ethel Merman) is that the Oscars are now about as meaningful as home run stats from the steroids era.
And next year we get to look forward to Oscar's nipples "exploding with delight" for Che.
Let me put it this way. I haven't missed an Academy Awards show since the mid-80's, when my love of movies really took hold. Even during the Whoopi years I still tuned in.
But last night our DVR only recorded up until near the big awards at end. It went blank at the exact moment they were announcing the winner for best actress. My reaction...
And I clicked on over to sports.
Posted by Splash at 1:13 PM