Monday, February 28, 2011

Black Sheep on The Oscars

The 83rd annual Academy Awards began with a riveting montage of the fantastic batch of films that make up this year's Best Picture nominees. As Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's now Academy Award winning score from THE SOCIAL NETWORK triumphantly backed up the incredible imagery from these films, it felt like it was truly going to be the movies' biggest night. What followed was three hours of missed opportunities and lame ideas that amounted to an evening that didn't even seem the least bit concerned with the films it was meant to honour.

I was hopeful for Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts. Yes, it was obvious from the start that the Oscar producers, Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, wanted to draw in a younger demographic. I'm surprised they didn't just enlist Justin Bieber to get the job done. At least he would have been awake for the whole thing, which is more than I can say for Franco. This is a man who clearly prides himself on walking his own line at all times. Why anyone ever thought he would be ideal to host one of the most mainstream events on the planet is beyond me? A number of people I spoke with wondered just how stoned he was, but all i could see was the look on his face that suggested he would rather be anywhere other than there. Maybe he was nervous being nominated but he had no chance of winning. A smart guy like Franco should have known that.

I do think that Hathaway has a very winning and inviting personality. When she sings, she is enchanting and when she jokes, she is adorable. But when she had to work double time to make up for the lack of personality in her co-host, it seemed to turn her into this combustible energy ball that could potentially implode at any moment, taking all of Hollywood with her. She did still come across as an appreciative person, humbled by the position she held for the night. It was endearing and I just really felt bad for her, having to endure through this clearly misguided adventure.

As awkward as they were, the transitions and pace of the rest of the show was infinitely more clunky. I thought they got the awards out fast enough but they kept singling out past Oscar winners to exemplify the categories that were about to be announced. The virtual screens that I read so much about before the big night ended up being a completely unnecessary distraction. A background is just that; you are not supposed to draw attention to it but yet we did over and over again and for what? To focus on films of yesteryear instead of actually allowing the films of 2010 to adorn the screens, perhaps allowing them to shine on their own night.

There were other choices too that were just too obvious to be ignored. No actor was ever played off by the orchestra, no matter how long they rambled on about self-important nonsense or pretended to be surprised by the win. Apparently actors could swear, quite obviously on purpose, and that would be fine too. Anyone else was fair game. The winners didn't really listen to the orchestra though and just kept going but maybe they wouldn't have had to if we didn't spend so much time listening to lengthy trips down memory lane from random, iconic actors - some were more enjoyable (Kirk Douglas) than others (Billy Crystal).

The producers cut the montages that apparently everyone hates but somehow found time to highlight previous Oscar telecasts and other random moments in Oscar history. This leads me to another major Oscar confusion this year. The show was constantly referred to as the young and hip Oscars. There was no continuity to this theme though. Tom Hanks would be presenting one moment and then Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, the next. And if they were clearly trying to be so modern, why did they feel the need to spend so much time looking back instead of looking at all the fantastic movie magic that is happening right now? After all, wasn't that the reason we were there?

In the end, the tug of war between old and new also spilled over to the awards themselves, with THE KING'S SPEECH, a period piece about overcoming adversity in a historical context, triumphing over THE SOCIAL NETWORK, that rare film that taps directly into the pulse of of our current experience. By the time the announcement was made though, everyone knew what was coming and everyone just seemed to want it to come.

My suggestion for next year, fire Cohen and Mischer, and hire me to produce.

Here is the full list of Academy Award winners ...

BEST PICTURE


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Colin Firth in THE KING'S SPEECH

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Christian Bale in THE FIGHTER

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Melissa Leo in THE FIGHTER

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING

Tom Hooper for THE KING'S SPEECH

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

IN A BETTER WORLD

CINEMATOGRAPHY


EDITING


ART DIRECTION

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

COSTUME DESIGN

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

MAKEUP


ORIGINAL SCORE


ORIGINAL SONG

"We Belong Together" from TOY STORY 3

SOUND MIXING


SOUND EDITING


VISUAL EFFECTS


DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

INSIDE JOB


DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

STRANGERS NO MORE

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

THE LOST THING

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

GOD WE LOVE

2 comments:

Multiplex Slut said...

I skipped the intro for this and thought they were your (extraordinarily prescient) predictions! Damned shame that Roger Deakins didn't win for cinematography.

Film Conqueror said...

I agree with you about Franco...he just looked awakard up there...which is sad, because I was so rooting for him to do well...