Monday, February 23, 2009

"Don't Fall in Love With Me" - The Oscars

Something in my DNA will combust if I don't make some comment on the Oscars, but I'm pressed for time so I will revert to bullet points to speed things up.
  • Hugh: awesome, of course. You were expecting something else from me? The opening rocked and I can't decide if I want to kill Anne Hathaway or become her, but that segment was delightful and I was laughing a ton throughout the whole number. Still, I'll agree with many other critics that his extended absence from the stage in the later half of the show was disappointing. Some of those same critics accrue this to his lack of comedy improv chops, but I'd refer them to Hugh's performance in THE BOY FROM OZ; he worked plenty of improv into that puppy night after night.
  • The length: It's the Oscars, it's always going to be long. I may be glad I'm not enduring this in person sometimes, but I admit that I'd be disappointed for a shorter, less fulfilling program. Take Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for example. Though I've watched the film to death, I still feel cheated by it's demonstrably shorter length and am justifiably worried about what this means for the remaining movies in the franchise that will be made by OOTP's same director. I'm sure I'd feel similarly if they so cut the Oscars. So buck up baby.
  • The five masters' presentations of the acting awards: I liked it a lot and yet the first thing I said when they began with the Supporting Actress category was "They are never going to be finished on time if they keep this up." (Yes, I said it out loud, to myself, because that's what I do.) If I were one of those nominees, I would be in a puddle on the floor to be addressed with such familiarity and grace, and to be given such praise by someone with acting heft like Shirley MacLaine (I'm looking at you again, Hathaway!) So I was moved and touched by the tributes and by the look on the nominees' faces, for the most part they were too. Still, I don't see them repeating it any time soon.
  • The multiple-awards presenters: By far, Fey and Martin were the best. I read one review that likened their banter to a soap opera spoof, but I thought it was meant more to twiddle the Jane Austen motif. I thought Tina Fey made a reference to Austen herself and the look she gave Steve Martin before his priceless delivery (quoted above in the headline) struck me as being more lost-in-unrequited-love-while-bound-in-a-corset related than anything else.
  • The Copacabana set atmosphere: I confess to really enjoying the staging of the night and the efforts that were made to instill a more intimate feeling in the room than the cavernous setting that is the Kodak Theater. It may have been elitist to wall off the top runners in the front gaggle of rows, but visually, it worked. Not having the cameras pan out to the middling crowd helped to maintain it too.
  • The sound awards and whatnot: How are these not technical and thus part of that separate event? Please don't give me the real reason why - I don't really care; I just want to move the ceremony along. Granted, it didn't grate as much as it could have, most due to a self-awareness and brevity (for the most part) among the winners. And to sign off with "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto" shows a man who knows how to play his audience. But please, can we move these off the main ticket?
  • The second Big Number: When you've got a triple threat like Hugh Jackman, you've gotta milk him for all he's worth (Ahem). And I'm not going to complain about something that gives me more Hugh, but I viewed this second song and dance number with puzzled brow and a general feeling of "Oh - Kay." Then I heard that Baz Luhrmann choreographed/arranged it and it made a little more sense. Some of it. It was like a schizophrenic medley up there. Sure it was an amazing technical feat and everyone performed it incredibly well, but, eh. Still, God bless those poor High School Musical and Mamma Mia kids though as they experienced the joys of live theatre complete with torn stockings, missing hats, and entangled bow ties and microphones to finish the number with joie and poise.
  • What was Peter Gabriel's problem?: Look, I understand wanting your Oscar nominated theme song to be heard by itself, in its entirety, on awards night. But I thought the medley of the three nominated numbers was very well done and the blending of the three at the end an act of music wizardry and talent that is very difficult to nail as well as they did. Kudos to John Legend and company for pulling that all off. Honestly it just made PG look like an asshat for refusing to participate. Apparently, they didn't need him after all.
  • Brevity of musical choices: What the hell is up with only three nominated songs? I seem to remember Beyoncé crooning more songs than that back when Jay-Z produced the show and gave his girlfriend nearly all the performances. This only emphasizes the crime that is the lack of a nomination for Bruce Springsteen's The Wrestler.
  • The acting wins - men: Sean Penn - you betcha. He made be a prick of a perfectionist, but the man can act extraordinarily well. After years of getting passed over for damn good work, it's nice to see him picking up an heir and a spare. I did have a hope for Mickey Rourke, but the man has yet to learn from his mistakes as his behavior in the last few weeks demonstrates. You can be weird and odd and out there when you have the talent, backlist of work, and damn good looks of a Johnny Depp. But when you're crawling your way out from the bottom of the heap after deep-sixing your promising career, you have to shut up (and please God, clean up) and play the game. And he didn't. And he lost. Of course Heath Ledger won for Supporting Actor. How can you compete against a dead man who gave the performance of his career? I thought his family's acceptance was very classy and well done. Good on ya.
  • The acting wins - women: You rock Kate Winslet! I was scared to death La Streep would pull it out in the end. Also, I admit I secretly hoped to see Melissa Leo force an upset because she is awesome and undersold, but it was Kate's night and I could not be more pleased. Many people first met her in Titanic - I first saw her in Sense and Sensibility and while that movie has its flaws, she was never one of them. Kate is at the top of her game, one of the most talented, unbelievably skilled, focused and exceptional actresses of her generation (I'd add Rachel Weisz to that group too, but right now can't think of any others). It should never take that stuffy academy six nominations to give this goddess the big baldy, but at least now they pulled their heads from their butts and done the right thing. Huzzah! As for Supporting Actress? Shut up Penelope Cruz. I do not get the obsession with this woman, nor do I care to. She won. Whatever.
  • Not playing off the winners: About bloody time. Again, there's the time constraints to be considered. But these people just achieved the professional pinnacle of their careers. Let 'em talk, for crying out loud.
  • The rest of the awards: It was a Slumdog night and really there isn't much else to say about that. You couldn't find more appreciative, star-struck, is-this-really-happening-to-me? people than the cast and crew present last night from Slumdog Millionaire. 'Nuff said.
  • The fashions: Nobody was horribly attired - at least none of the people that I saw. I thought Kate might be a bit too bronze, but she was stunning otherwise. Angelina's emeralds were so big I wondered if they were glass (shows what kind of eye for jewelry I have). But in general, everyone was very classy (I'm not looking at you Rourke!) I loved, absolutely LOVED, having Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame interviewing on the red carpet. He's a class act, he knows his fashion and his stars and he's just a darling. Perfect choice.
Halfway though the ceremony, I texted my sister and said "this is my favorite Oscar show in a while and I don't mean the award winners. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't but I had a great time watching nonetheless, which is the point, after all, of tuning in in the first place.

And Hugh, of course.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I enjoyed the Oscars, too... In fact, I've never watched the whole show and this year I couldn't turn it off... One forgets just how charming Hugh Jackman is...

    I find posthumous Oscars and Tonys to be very sad... Heath should have taken one home two years ago.