Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Aftermath: The Winners and 15 observations about the show

I'm a movie nut, of course, so I like the Academy Awards simply as an awards-delivery device. But that doesn't necessarily mean I always delight in the ways said device operates. Usually, the day after an Academy Awards show, I'm the only one defending it as nothing more than just such an operation. But last night's show displayed so little real entertainment that I'm forced to make these observations:

1) Is is just that James Franco, with his crinkly eyes, always looks stoned? Or was he baked for real? The gibberish he was talking during the pre-show interview made me think adult refreshments had been consumed in the limo on the way to the show.

2) Anne Hathaway is incredibly adorable, always, in whatever she's wearing. I love her pale skin and big, dark eyes. Good comedy chops and a great singing voice, so she gets out pretty much unscathed.

3) Given that the show was supposed to appeal for a younger demographic, I suppose that's why they gave Kirk Douglas the stage--to show everyone how clueless, lascivious, and egomaniacal old people are. His appearance was less inspiration and more perspiration---embarrassing.

4) Just as embarrassing: Melissa Leo's overperforming during her on-stage appearance after her win. Ugh. Get over yourself. The whole show, in fact, was filled with awkward pauses, bombing jokes, and jaw-dropping moments of discomfort. And by the way: do we really have to have people like Bridges and Bullock go into soliloquies about the nominated performances? Ugh! Just show us clips from the movies, please.

5) The star of the show was the digital proscenium. The effect of bringing us into the movies, literally, was better than 3D. Now that I think of it, was this a tribute to the power of 3D to get asses in the seats, at inflated prices?

6) Can we PLEASE discontinue the song category? Those were some hideous choices. Why does Randy Newman get two Oscars for subpar Pixar songs? (I liked his cheeky speech, though.)

7) Credits designer Kyle Cooper did an excellent job with the graphics and special montages. The Best Picture montage was superb, even though it contained a spoiler by treating us to Colin Firth's climactic, stutter-free missive from The King's Speech.

8) A lot of the show's writing felt like gibberish. Timberlake and Kunis? Downey and Jude Law? They were stuck in the middle of the Pacific on a leaky boat.

9) New York provided two of the brightest spots of the night: Brooklyn's Gregory Brothers auto-tuning the movies, and the lovely PS 22 singing "Over The Rainbow." Even so, both were infected by the Academy's indomitable squareness--something which the organization is obviously laboring to overcome.

10) That said, though it was cool to see the night's award winners take an extra bow at the end, with that legendary song as backing, it must have made the night's losers feel even worse.

11) I was surprised by the tech awards most: art direction and costumes for Alice in Wonderland, photography for Inception, and score for The Social Network (the last one really got me giddy; I love that Trent Reznor is an Oscar winner now).

12) Yay for Inside Job winner Charles Ferguson, who provided the only political moment of the night by calling for the jailing of Wall Streeters. Preach it, brother.

13) Jennifer Lawrence, Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johannsson: HOT!

14) I was glad there wasn't a true sweep for The King's Speech. The awards were evenly parsed out, with both Speech and Inception winning four, The Social Network three, two each for The Fighter, Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland, and one each for Inside Job, Black Swan, and In A Better World. Not exactly fairness in the strictest sense of the word, but good enough.

15) I say: get Ricky Gervais to host next year, Hollywood egos be damned.

Okay: just to be a completist, here are the winners of the 2011 Academy Awards. Asterisks are beside the awards I predicted (I got 14 out of 24 correct):

*BEST PICTURE: The King’s Speech (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin)
*BEST ACTOR: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
*BEST ACTRESS: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
*BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale, The Fighter
*BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
BEST DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
*BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: David Seidler, The King’s Speech
*BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
*BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: In a Better World (Denmark)
*BEST ANIMATED FILM: Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Inception (Wally Pfister)
BEST ART DIRECTION: Alice in Wonderland, (Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
BEST SONG: “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3 (Randy Newman)
*BEST DOCUMENTARY: Inside Job (Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs)
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT: God of Love (Luke Matheny)
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Strangers No More (Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: The Lost Thing (Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann)
*BEST EDITING: The Social Network (Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter)
*BEST SOUND EDITING: Inception (Richard King)
*BEST SOUND MIXING: Inception (Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick)
*BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Inception (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb)
*BEST MAKEUP: The Wolfman (Rick Baker and Dave Elsey)

Now our new movie year can truly begin. My prediction for next year's winner: Terrence Malick, of course, and The Tree of Life.


J.D. said...

Yeah, bring on THE TREE OF LIFE! The Awards were predictable and ho-hum but I agree with you on most of your points... "Academy Award winner Trent Reznor" does look good, doesn't it? That was probably the highlight for me.

Also, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law's "banter" - they should get them to host next year... or hell, just Downey. The man could carry the entire show but I also would love it if Ricky Gervais did - you know people would watch and the ratings would go through the roof.

Still pissed that Fincher didn't get Best Director but he didn't campaign hard like Hooper/Weinstein did so it's not surprising that he came up empty. Oh well... And Natalie Portman was incredibly adorable.

Lisa said...

Love your take on things, though I do disagree about those singing kids -- hated them! I thought Douglas was like your deaf Uncle at Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't have been there, but it went on WAY too long. As you said, many awkward moments and the songs were awful (except for Rahman's which didn't win, at least for weirdness) including the one that won but Newman was at least funny in his speech, though the song stunk. It was a weird show but Anne Hathaway is luminous and I can't wait to see her as Garland. Oh, well, at least it's over!

Jane said...

OK, I have post Oscar depression now. It happens every year. I get so pumped up in anticipation, and then the obligatory disappointment when I predictable, how dull. It seems each year the show gets smaller and smaller. I blame the network, and post 9-11 security measures. They are so afraid that someone is going to have a "malfunction" of some sort, and consequently it becomes too sanitized. I hate to say it, but the Golden Globes are a much better show now. They're fun and irreverent. Also, I'd rather have a drunk crowd than a stoned host.