Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars: A Dud, A Bore, Asleep

Against my better judgment, I began to watch the Oscar telecast last night on ABC. It was being touted as something so new and different and ABC was going out of its way to keep everything under wraps to try to build excitement. Since there wasn’t much of anything else on, I decided to turn on the telecast when it began at 8:30 and see if it truly was going to be different. I always avoid at all costs the half hour lead in show on the red carpet. Unfortunately, I turned on ABC about three minutes early and if those three minutes of the red carpet show were any indication of the content of the entire half hour, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time watching that segment.

Try as he might, Hugh Jackman is no Billy Crystal. I knew I was in for a rough evening when Jackman performed his song and dance tribute to the nominated movies. It was forced and uninspiring, and I actually felt a little bad for Jackman having to perform such a mediocre number. Little did I know it would be all downhill from there.

When Whoopi Goldberg, Tilda Swinton, Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn and Angelica Huston trotted out to present the Oscar for the best supporting actress, I had a feeling of dread. It turned out to be confirmed when all five actresses seemed to be delivering somber and syrupy tributes to the nominees, more fitting for a funeral than an award ceremony. I was concerned; if it took this long to announce just one major acting category, this would certainly be a long night. By the way, Tilda Swinton may be an Oscar winner, but frankly she looked more like she was trying for the lead role in a remake of “Mannequin” – as a mannequin.

Afterwards, we have Tina Fey and Steve Martin presenting the awards for screenplay and adapted screenplay. Steve Martin made me uncomfortable with his forced humor. He ceased being funny to me a long time ago, and I am still reeling at the thought that he actually was given the role of Inspector Clouseau in 2 Pink Panther movies. (Sacrilege!) Anyway, their presentation of the awards was another overblown several minutes of sheer boredom.

The horror continues with Jennifer Anniston and Jack Black presenting animated movie awards. Jack Black has to be one of the most overrated person in the movies right now. He wasn’t entertaining one bit, and I couldn’t wait until he was off the stage.

Despite the fact that the Kodak Theatre had the expensive and dazzling Swarovski Crystal curtain hanging about the stage – the best part of the telecast I thought – the show continued with its recession themed version of the stage props. When Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker come on to present art directions and costume awards, the setting around them looked like a prop warehouse. But it was completely overshadowed by Parker’s overwhelming cleavage, which looked so pushed up I felt as if it was coming all the way from her thighs. I am sure that she was being held in by tons of double sided wardrobe tape, still, I worried that something as going to pop out any minute.

I started to get a little sleepy as Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried (who are they? I asked myself) came out to present a montage of romance movies from the year. But I was momentarily awakened by Natalie Portman and Ben Stiller presenting the cinematography awards, with Stiller in costume doing his best Joaquin Phoenix impersentation. I actually felt terrible for those nominees, as they deserved better than Stiller doing his act, where he tried to keep the focus on HIM rather than the nominees. A pity for the cinematographers, really.

I looked at my husband, he looked at me, and we both said that was enough. Probably only about one hour into the show, we called it quits and went to bed.

If the Oscars are looking at ways to bring some excitement to the show to draw in more viewers, first and foremost we need to have a better stable of movies that more people have actually seen. I am sure there are many Oscar-worthy performances that are overlooked because they are not dramas. The Academy also seems to frequently shun films for awards that are enjoyed by the highest number of viewers. It’s that “snob” factor – and the Academy has to learn to get over themselves. Sure, this is not the “People’s Choice” awards, but sometimes the top movies deserve more recognition than they get.

But the real problem is the pace of the show. It’s still dreadfully slow and plodding. They need to quit trying so hard with the presenters. Get them on the stage, announce the award, and get them off. The presenters need to realize that they are not there to make themselves look good, they are there to help honor those who have been nominated. As far as the host of the show, I know it is a hard gig with a tough live crowd and massive TV audience, but Hugh Jackman was the final sanitizing of what used to be a role that provided some edgy content that often made the whole show worth watching.

In my opinion, the only winner of the show was the dazzling Swarovski Crystal curtain, which sparkled constantly and kept me mesmerized. It’s almost as if it were saying to me…”Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain.” It was the only thing that shone brightly on this 2009 Oscar snooze fest.

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samfan said...

Totally agree. I watched a little bit of the beginning, but it was so boring! Plus I really wasn't interested in the nominees to begin with. The only thing that I was hoping was that Jennifer Aniston was presenting Angelina with an award. Hey I couldn't help to hope for a cat fight/ WWE Smackdown on stage!

I Like to Watch TV said...

You're right samfan, I would have stayed awake to see that!

Anonymous said...

I watched til a little after the nominated song montage which was absolutely horrific. Last year, we were able to see The Swell Season perform "Falling" from the movie "Once" and it was such a treat to see them do the FULL song, not a medley. Heck, Bruce Springsteen wasn't even nominated for "The Wrestler" and he had won every single other award from the Critics Association to The Golden Globes. The Academy Awards have certainly lost a lot of credibility over the years. This year was no exception.

How I yearn for Billy Crystal!!! He really was fantastic.