Monday, February 27, 2012

An Oscar Recap for the Easily Distracted

"Billy Crystal, hosting his ninth Oscar show, seemed to be overseeing a cruise ship dinner show designed to appeal to the over-50 travel club. Early on, it hit the rocks and started to list. Almost everyone drowned."---Hank Stuever, The Washington Post
     I was bullied into watching the Oscars.
My husband, visiting relatives, pestered me on Facebook until I joined some friends on Twitter to watch 'together' and provide a running commentary on the proceedings. I had no intention of watching them; seeing people congratulated for their work on movies I hadn't seen (and this year, for some reason, I managed to not see a SINGLE ONE of the Best Picture nominees) didn't strike me as a good time. I should have followed my instincts.

     The tedium started straight away. It is marginally fun to watch actresses (because, really, a tux is a tux so who cares about actors) cruise the red carpet and see the pretty dresses they bought, the jewelry they rented. Its a bit like an abbreviated parade. Penelope Cruz walks by. You say, "Oooo." And then promptly forget why. Because look, more tulle and sparkles! Do I, Jane Q. Citizen, need to hear a distracted mini-interview about who she is wearing? I do not. I bought one expensive dress in my life, it was white, and I only wore it once. Stop, turn, wave, smile, and move on.

     Apparently there was some issue last year with the hosts being poor choices. They are both people I like to see in movies, perhaps they were unfunny, I have no idea. I didn't watch it last year. So heads got together, dug deep, and decided that someone who seems to do his best work when you don't have to look at him (Cars, Monsters Inc) should be the face we have to look at for three hours. There was an interminable montage in which his relevance was argued. I don't think the Academy did itself any favors joking about how they had to work hard to convince Billy he had 'enough jokes' to host again. Billy has plenty of jokes. He helpfully lets you know when he's telling one by laughing at it himself.

     I don't know if this was a new thing or not, but the banter has changed. Gone is the 'witty' exchange between some lovely actress and random self deprecating actor, the fake flirting and then finally getting down to business, though the formula for this time-honored bit of nonsense was rightly lampooned by two presenters (I should remember who they were. If I cared, I would.). Instead, each presenter was compelled to read a scripted ode to each nominee that was as lame and unbelievable as it was irritating. There has to be a way to present awards without sounding so forced and awkward. Watching people pretend to laugh because there is a camera on them, and looking progressively less convincing over the course of three hours, is not at all entertaining. The close-in audience shots were like watching the less invested relatives of talentless children endure a terrible dance recital.

     The ode to fabulous movies of the past was predictable and unnecessary to anyone who has ever seen it done better in an AFI Top 100 Films special. Watching Cirque du Soleil elicited the usual response; worrying that someone would fall, hoping they would, concluding that I am a terrible person. Though I am grateful that they dialed down the usual trippy creepiness several notches.

     An awards show is what it is; wealthy people patting each other on the back. I don't argue that the actors in films shouldn't be recognized for their hard and often brilliant and inspired work. I'm just not sure I need to watch. If it is a herculean effort to make the proceedings interesting and entertaining, maybe it is time to admit that despite best efforts, they simply aren't. 


MikeWJ said...

I managed to see three of the nine (nine!) best picture nominees this year: The Descendants, which was well written and filmed, but depressing; Moneyball, which is a terrific film even though it's about baseball; and Midnight in Paris, another of Woody Allen's ruminations on love and death that I love because, well, Woody's smart and funny and pretty good writer despite that business about shacking up with his sort-of teenage daughter.

I've studiously avoided most of the rest of the films -- with Hugo being a possible exception -- and particularly The Artist. If I want to watch old-style films -- I don't -- I'll watch old films that were made when color, sound, decent plots and realistic acting apparently weren't an option.

As for Billy, I think the best thing one can say about him is that he was both available and safe. My dream host for the Oscars would probably be Sam Kinison. Sadly, he's dead.

P.S. -- That line about the Cirque is brilliant, Kim.

Anonymous said...

I am so, so sorry that I roped you into that via Meleah. I thought it would be worth the mockery but sadly, as I just told, Michael (Whiteman-Jones), it mocked itself. However, your commentary was right on target.

meleah rebeccah said...

Yes, this was definitely the worst Award ceremony I've ever watched.

However, reading your tweets all night had me rolling on the floor with laughter - so thank you for providing the much needed entertainment.

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

I love this "So heads got together, dug deep, and decided that someone who seems to do his best work when you don't have to look at him (Cars, Monsters Inc) should be the face we have to look at for three hours."

I honest to God don't get it. They talk about him like he's the Oscar god and he's the best he can get? They keep coming back to him. Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't practically anyone in the theater be able to do it? They're actors, right? Geesh.

I recorded the show, but I read everything I want to read about it online today, so now I'm just going to delete it and save myself the grief.

Great review, Kim. And great writing, as always.

nonamedufus said...

To paraphrase that Alka Seltzer commercial "I can't believe I watched the whole thing". It sucked. The one movie I saw was The Help - a great movie, and the woman that won the supporting actress award certainly deserved it.

There were a few chuckles here and there but overall it was 3 hours out of my life that I'll never get back.

Good review, Kim.

Lin said...

I knew I was smart not to watch it! Although I did enjoy your re-cap. :) When are we going to stop pandering to these fools we call "celebrities"? Please, make it stop.

Nicky said...

"Watching Cirque du Soleil elicited the usual response; worrying that someone would fall, hoping they would, concluding that I am a terrible person. "

Yes, but you're not the only one.