Monday, February 28, 2011

The Young, Hip Oscars: More Meh Than Ever

The Oscars seemed shorter than usual to me. It probably had less to do with the actual length (although they only ran over by, what 12 or 15 minutes?) than with the fact that I let the TiVo go and didn't start watching the show until about an hour in. So I skipped all of the commercials and some of the acceptance speeches. But, really, who cares? I still think it's hacky to bitch about the length of Hollywood's yearly circle jerk--it takes as long as it takes. No one knows what they want from the damn thing, anyway.

Good example: the hosts. People seem to want someone irreverent and who treats the whole thing with the grand importance it supposedly has and kisses the asses of the Hollywood elite. Last night, they took two actors I enjoy and made them look like assholes. Or, probably more accurately, let them make themselves look like assholes. Lots of the kids on Tumblr last night (who take the Oscars waaaay too seriously) were joking about how obviously high James Franco was. But no one said anything about Anne Hathaway's obvious drunkeness, which seemed to get worse and worse all night. They were taking digs at the way this year's Oscars were so desperate to be young and hip, and treated the whole thing like the bullshit it is, but wow, did they just seem unfocused. Like they were blowing the whole thing off. I imagine people hated them and, well, they sucked. Stick to the scripted work, you two. Franco did such a mangle on reading the cue cards I thought he was hosting Saturday Night Live again.

That said, James Franco in a leotard? Daddy likes.

Some other observations on this thing:

:: So, they cut out the montages this year (why celebrate movies on a show dedicated to celebrating movies, anyway?), but the whole look back at Gone with the Wind and Ben-Hur was so heavy-handed and pointless. And added to the classics of epic filmmaking is the winner for Best Art Direction... Alice in Wonderland? The worst movie I saw all year is awarded for its dour, unspectacular art direction. Wow, way to get these things off to an exciting start.

At least it wasn't Inception. Can you believe one of their examples of Inception's art direction was its rip-off of the Hotel Room at the End of the Universe from 2001: A Space Odyssey? (Which, by the way, is a film with the kind of poetry that remains far out of reach of Inception?)

:: Best Cinematography: Inception. It seemed to me that Wally Pfister was really winning for The Dark Knight, the movie that changed the Oscars for the worse. I still blame that movie for having to have 10 nominees for Best Picture, a change the Oscars have yet to justify. So, instead of winning for the lousy, nonsensical The Dark Knight, Wally Pfister wins for the lousy, nonsensical Inception, one of the dumbest movies for smart people to come out of this decade. (Seriously, I saw someone on Tumblr claim that Christopher Nolan movies will never win the Oscar because they're too smart, which is a little like saying that an adult doesn't play with Lincoln Logs anymore because they're too difficult.)

Also, Wally Pfister seems like an ass. His speech was, I don't know, assy.

Also also, this guy beat Roger Deakins' beautiful work on True Grit. What the fuck? How, by Xenu, HOW does Roger Deakins continue to NOT have an Oscar? He should've won this award at least five times by now, and it's insane to me that he keeps not winning. When Becca and I predicted the winners, though, I knew it would be Inception, because I knew the voters were going to look at a bunch of CGI and think Ooh, pretty cinematography... fuckers.

:: Kirk Douglas is one of my personal heroes, and it's really sad watching him deteriorate. I don't want to look at Kirk Douglas and think "God, stop talking, old man!" Uncomfortable. He want on forever and ever, and I just wanted someone to come out with the butterfly net and drive him straight to the home. Oi.

Melissa Leo, however, made me want Kirk Douglas back. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride with her. First, I was sorry because she moved me in Welcome to the Rileys, but instead won her Oscar for simply overacting loudly enough to be noticed over the sea of overacting that is The Fighter. (And it was a predictable win, since this award always goes to whichever woman has the funniest lines and does the best Thelma Ritter impression, anyway.) Then I was irritated because, after the Kirk Douglas Ordeal, Melissa Leo apparently doesn't know what to say. Then irritation became full-blown exasperation that her acceptance speech was as arch and loud as her performance. Then she dropped the F-bomb and had her classless Sally Field moment, all in a dress that looked like it should've been covering a dining table in Alice in Wonderland. And now I just don't ever want to see her again.

Hailee Steinfeld's a cutie. Wouldn't it have been nicer if she'd won? Or been nominated in the category the lead in a movie would actually be nominated in? Just asking.

:: Kirk Douglas holding court and Melissa Leo being annoying was followed by Anne Hathaway's "it's the young and hip Oscars!" giggle fit. I wonder what she keeps dipping into? I picture her as the kind of gal who likes screwdrivers.

This whole show is just embarrassing for everyone involved, including the viewer.

Mila Kunis is a beautiful young woman. But...

...yeah, cocaine's a hell of a drug, isn't it, sweetie? She looks like she was just in the bathroom hitting off an 8-ball with someone. She and Timberlake were just kind of sweaty and awkward. "There's an app for that." Did someone find leftover jokes from the 2008 Oscars?

:: Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing. I sadly only managed to see two of the nominated shorts this year, and this wasn't one of them.

:: Best Animated Feature: Toy Sory 3. No one is surprised. I liked How to Train Your Dragon better. I also liked Despicable Me and Tangled better. Still, though I have yet to see The Illusionist (and I'm desperate to see it), I was really hoping Sylvain Chomet would take home an Oscar. That man is a master.

Two beautiful men in two ill-fitting suits. First, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem come out and dance together, and the director cuts to a long, extended close-up of Penelope Cruz? I know, I know, she's married to Bardem, but it just felt like more Corporate Disney Homophobia to me. Bad enough we have to watch these two great-looking guys in suits that make them look so damn bad. I know they're going for a certain style of the 1920s to fit in with the usual kneeling oral homage to how the Oscars are the most important thing in the history of time, but come on, it's 2011, find these two suits that actually fit.

:: Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network. I think Aaron Sorkin deserved the win. When the announcer tells us this was his first nomination, I'm kind of surprised to realize he wasn't nominated back in '95 for The American President, which is a terrific movie. The music cuts him off. I despise when they start cutting people off--they did that with the Short Animation filmmakers, too--but he keeps going and, honestly, it's still not as embarrassing as Melissa Leo's epic in discomfort.

:: Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech. I'm glad it wasn't Inception, a picture that can't even be bothered to follow the few parameters it bothers to set up for itself. I think The King's Speech is excellent; my favorite movie of the year, so I think the win is nice. And screenwriter David Seidler is fairly concise and gets in a good dig on Melissa Leo. (As did Sorkin, who was less concise.)

Anne Hathaway "hilariously" insults Hugh Jackman and James Franco "hilariously" walks out in a dress. Look, I like you two, but you're making it really hard to be able to say that tonight.

Dame Helen Mirren speaking French? Down, boy.

:: Foreign Language Film: I haven't seen any of them yet, so I'm not really interested beyond the fact that I predicted Biutiful and was incorrect.

:: Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale and what appears to be a fake beard made of pubes. Again, as predicted. In the major categories, this is the most predictable Oscars I've ever seen.

:: Having ABC execs come out and talk about how wonderful ABC is for broadcasting the greatest thing in the history of time and space at the Young, Hip Oscars is like college kids throwing a party and then, in the middle of it, someone's parents come out and beg for recognition for paying for the booze.

:: The Academy loves to pull out those Star Wars and E.T. themes... It was nice to get to hear some of the nominated music for a change (some years they gloss over it even more than they did last night), and the award goes to The Social Network, which had a fine score, but my favorite this year was Daft Punk's incredible Tron: Legacy score. Fantastic stuff.

ScarJo looks pretty, if a bit ratty, but she's never going to be sexy again in the way she was before Iron Man 2, when she was soft and blowsy. She lost all the weight, and it never comes back right. I know, this is all very shallow, I just don't care.

Also, now I know who Mila Kunis was snorting that coke with...

:: Best Sound Mixing: Inception. One of the winners talks FOREVER. It was almost more tedious than the actual movie. Are all of the people who worked on Inception hopeless boors? Now I know why Christopher Nolan's movies are getting worse and worse, and longer and longer. It's the reason why I'm not looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises (and its inevitable sequels, The Dark Knight Bakes at 350 Degrees and The Dark Knight Serves 5 to 8 People). I think about this as I fast-forward past the Best Sound Editing win for fear of having to hear anyone else from Inception ramble on even more incoherently than that damn screenplay.

:: Marisa Tomei was this year's Obligatory Hot Chick at the Nerd Awards. God forbid these guys shouldn't get to pick up their awards with everyone else. Or, in fact, even get their names heard on the show. Go fuck yourselves, I guess. Thanks for the work, but you're not pretty enough for TV.

Cate Blanchett is now an Oscar winner and has apparently stopped trying to look nice. A stunning woman in an uncharacteristically hideous gown. Her assertion that The Lord of the Rings took us to a world no one can imagine is probably as much of a surprise to the Tolkien family as it is out of place at tonight's Oscars. Who cares? The Academy really needs to stop jerking off to its own past. Keep the jerking off in the present, we'll get through this faster.

:: Best Makeup: the CGI from The Wolfman. Well, so far CGI has won for Art Direction, Cinematography, and Makeup. Interesting night. Still, I'm all for Rick Baker winning more Oscars, so whatever.

:: Best Costume Design: the ugly, dour, colorless CGI from Alice in Wonderland. CGI is tonight's big winner. Fuck, I never understand this category, anyway.

:: A movie song montage. So we get one montage, and it's terrible, and it ends with Barack Obama, who apparently had nothing more important to do that day. Is he just a celebrity now?

:: The first two Best Song performances had serious microphone issues. The singers were all buried in the mix. Don't they do a sound check for these things?

The performance of whatever song it was from Tangled also served as a preview for the upcoming Chuck episode "Chuck vs. the Icky Spray-On Orange Tan That Makes Him Look Even More Douchey Than His Interviews Do."

:: I'm not sure if I love Amy Adams anymore or not. When she came out to present an award, my first thought was "Ugh, she was so bad in The Fighter," and my second thought was "Ugh, Julie & Julia was so fucking bad." I fast-forward through the entire Best Documentary Short category. I never see them, anyway.

:: The auto-tune segment is a nightmare. It is such a naked bid for the attention of young viewers, and judging by what I saw on Tumblr, it worked--lots of people wanted a download of that Harry Potter mess. Yes, yes, the kids love auto-tune. They love a lot of stupid things.

"Hiiiiiiiiiiigh." (Not pictured: Anne Hathaway giggling and drinking and giggling and drinking and drinking and drinking and drinking. And giggling.)

:: Oh, Christ, Oprah, just shut up. I will never stop blaming America for making this woman a billionaire.

:: I'm just glad the Best Documentary Feature Oscar didn't go to Banksy. Fuck Banksy. An anonymous guy whose art statements are just defacing private property is pretty much the ultimate snotty hipster hero. You couldn't write better pretension. I got so sick of the last few weeks of "will he show up to accept or won't he?" and whether it would be in disguise or something. I'm sure much of that's the media, but they really painted a portrait of a guy who desperately wanted to sell out but didn't want to give up the gimmick that made his act so bankable in the first place. Seriously, fuck this guy.

:: Billy Crystal livened up a dull evening for a few minutes. Can't he just stay and host the rest of the show? Jesus, at this point I'll even take the ghost of Bob Hope, who pops up to introduce Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. Ghoulish both literally and morally.

:: Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, true to form, mistake bitchy for witty, showing off the forced homoerotic banter and general lack of charm that was only a small part of what made Sherlock Holmes such a trial to sit through.

:: Best Visual Effects: Inception, for wasting their only so-so effects in the trailer, making Tommy from 3rd Rock float, and making Leo DiCaprio look less puffy than usual. Well, not that last one, no one can do that anymore. The acceptance speech is further confirmation that everyone who worked on Inception is a dullard.

:: Film Editing: The Social Network. Which surprises me, because I thought it might be too edgy, even for the Young, Hip Oscars. But after that auto-tune fiasco, who knows anymore?

:: Not having to sit and watch Gwyneth Paltrow sing is the reason TiVo exists. Nice that Randy Newman won; he was one of the few people who was actually funny. Gracious, too. Even self-deprecating.

I found the death roll especially offensive this year, for a number of reasons:

1. If I get famous and die and show up on one of these, please don't let Celine Dion ruin one of my favorite songs, including gratuitous close-ups of this untalented bint, because hey, my death is all about a Celine Dion performance.

2. This year's editor couldn't even be arsed to make a decent montage; they can't throw up an insert shot of Superman when Tom Mankiewicz appears, or something? Jeez, why didn't they just put up a list of names this time around?

3. Apparently Lena Horne is the Most Important Dead Person of 2010, and everyone else is a runner-up. A special tribute to Lena Horne? On the one hand, we got to hear her sing "Stormy Weather" (they should've just played that over the montage, ended it on her, and left it at that--much classier), but on the other hand, we apparently need Halle Berry to put Lena in perspective for us. I get it; Halle Berry won an undeserved Oscar for a shitty movie that no one even remembers anymore, and that makes her Very Important. At least, she clearly thinks so. But seriously, get all of this out of my face.

:: Seriously, is Billy Crystal still in the building? You can stop him before he leaves, right?

Not to take away from Kathryn Bigelow's accomplishment as Only Female Best Director Ever (and announcing the winner among five men this year), but I've always wanted to ball her. Also, what a weird picture, because Best Director winner Tom Hooper (who gave a very nice speech) looks like Bigelow's ex-husband James Cameron shrunk in the wash.

:: Helena Bonham Carter always comes across like that creepy, often-drunk, overly-familiar woman down the street whose house your parents tell you to steer clear of. I find her off-putting. The kids on Tumblr adore her, and I can't figure out why.

:: Then we get the Governor's Award recaps: hey, Coppola, Brownlow, Wallach, Godard--thanks for all of the work, now go away. I'm waiting for the day when they cut out all of the technical awards, too, and do those at a separate ceremony so they can make this thing 90 minutes long. Then they'll simply read the names of the winners. Or they can walk over to where the winner is sitting, dump the Oscar in their lap, and say "Here you go, nice work, now fuck off."

The Dude is one of the more sober people we've been exposed to this evening. I don't know about you, but I don't consider it a good compromise to reduce the gooey, pretentious, unnecessary tongue-bathing of the nominees from five presenters to just one. It's still embarrassing and stupid. They got nominated, isn't that enough? Kevin Brownlow doesn't get to say thank you because we need this instead? I'm getting diabetes just listening to it.

Natalie Portman deserved the win. She's not an actress I'm fond of, but she really deserved the win. Her performance was excellent. (You can see her up there, next to the Dude, caught in the headlights.) She gave the best Best Actress acceptance speech in a decade, because she didn't ramble on about how important art and filmmaking are (Nicole Kidman), try to place her award in the larger context of social history (Halle Berry), or about how the Academy was doing God's work for making this the crowning glory in the life of an over-privileged person who pretends to be humble and fails miserably at it (Julia Roberts). She played make-believe more popularly than anyone else this year.

And it's an even bigger surprise that none of those things happen because this is Natalie fucking Portman. She says some of the dumbest things any human being can ever say. The one who said that, because she has to deal with paparazzi, she knows what being black feels like. She is a moron, and she managed to not be as self-important as any interview shows that she is. And she would've gotten away with it, because everyone would have chalked it up to hormones and being pregnant. Well played, Natalie Portman. I salute you.

:: I fast-forwarded through Sandra Bullock verbally stroking off the Best Actor nominees. It's the worst, most self-involved, most over-congratulatory aspect of the show. Plus, I've had it with Sandra Bullock.

Best Actor: Colin Firth. He deserves it. Having finally seen A Single Man, a film that I felt was flawed, I think he deserved it last year, too. He's been a favorite actor of mine for almost two decades now, and it's nice to see him win an Oscar. Also, if Robert Downey Jr is still in the building, this is an example of being witty instead of bitchy.

:: Steven Spielberg manages to completely diminish winning the Best Picture Oscar; is he still pissy about Saving Private Ryan? Dude, it didn't deserve to win anymore than Shakespeare in Love did. The winner is The King's Speech, which I also felt was the Best Picture, although it really doesn't matter what wins, according to the director of AI, the worst film of the 2000s...

:: I usually make it a point to see all of the Best Picture nominees, but I still haven't seen The Kids Are Alright or Winter's Bone, and based on the clips I saw all night, I don't really want to.

:: And the whole thing ends, for some reason, with an elementary school recital made even more embarrassing by Anne Hathaway's drunken woos and yeahs. Someone put her to bed now, because she's going to be nursing one wicked headache in the morning.

That was a brutal, brutal Oscars. Young? Hip? Only if those are euphemisms for meh. But on the bright side, at least we didn't have to sit through Ben Stiller trying to be funny for a change.

Also: Tallulah Morehead's Oscar Recap.


Roger Owen Green said...

Haven't seen the whole Oscars yet, but two points:
1. I really thought Steinfeld was going to upset Leo, who reportedly ran a crass, classless campaign. also Steinfeld, I hear (didn't see True grit) was really a leading role, whereas Leo's (I DID see the Fighter) was a caricature. She must have won for her Frozen River performance.
2. Blanchette's dress was...not attractive.
3. I do know what you mean re Bigelow.

Roger Owen Green said...

what I meant - 3 points, since I'm only hours in.

Anonymous said...

Next year they should get Lemmy and John Waters to host. I only saw a few minutes and I now deeply hate everyone involved. Franco and Anne were just too precious. I wished the super-villain Fantomas would appear and release a horde of plague rats. The girl from True Grit would be allowed to live.

Kal said...

What a great review. Thank you for watching this unwatchable show for me. I can't stand the Oscars. It was lame 30 years ago and it's still lame today. I can barely stand the weeks leading up to the show. I was pissed that Hailee didn't win and hope she will have other chances in the future. What do you think of the idea of casting her in the 'Hunger Games' movies. I have just started the books and I really think she would be great as the main character.

The thing about trying to be 'hip' is that you immediately become 'unhip' the second that label is placed on you.

Will said...

Great recap.

I think a big problem in ever trying to make the Oscars 'hip' is that, basically, James Franco's sort of nonchalance about the whole thing is basically as 'hip' as it gets in regards to hosting an awards show. Hip doesn't work for this. The year Hugh Jackman hosted was cheesy, but in a winking way that worked better

Drake said...

They forgot a few people in their death roll call like James MacArthur (i know he was best known for Hawaii Five-O but before that he made a lot of movies and that P.R lady was just included because she got murdered and Hollywood loves a good juicy murder)
I hope the Oscars hires a real host next year. It was a High Schoolish production this year and sucked. Well i guess i can finally say i saw Anne Hathaway in something and i am underwhelmed.
Good review.

sanford said...

Ken Levine had a little bit take than you.

What does it say when a man who is 94 years-old and recovering from a stroke is funnier than any Oscar host for the last fifteen years? Kirk Douglas and Melissa Leo’s f-bomb were the two highlights of the 83rd annual Academy Awards.

Levine is a tv writer. Has written for Frazier, Mash and others. His blog is pretty good.

sanford said...

Might as well link to his entire review.

Sleestak said...

I was left wondering who cut out the picture from that frame Cate was wearing.

SamuraiFrog said...

Roger: It's easy to lose track of numbers and time and reality when these things are going...

Bwana: Precious is the exact word. That "Oh, ain't we cute?" attitude was pretty punch-worthy.

Kal: Or worse, when you place it on yourself, which is what this year's producers were trying to do.

I think Hailee would make a good Katniss. Better than most of the choices I've heard. I like Chloe Moretz for it. I'm curious to see who will get cast and if the movie will be anywhere near as good as the books.

Will: It really doesn't work at all. Hugh Jackman was much better, you're right. He was fun and charming, not too cool for school.

Drake: My Mom always loved James MacArthur because she saw The Swiss Family Robinson when she was the right age.

Sanford: I've been reading Ken Levine's blog for years. I love it, but he and I sure disagreed a lot about this year's production!

Sleestak: And you win the comment thread!

Tallulah Morehead said...

I genuinely don't believe the current Disney coprorate suits are homophobic. Walt Disney was. Just ask Tommy Kirk, who was frank about Walt personally firing him when he found out Tommy was gay, only to have The Adventures of Merlin Jones come out and be a big hit, so they had to crawl and beg him to come back for one last film. This isn't rumor. Tommy Kirk told me this himself, face-to-face. Tommy is very open and frank about his life.

But the Disney Corporation has been extremely gay-friendly now for almost 25 years.

I too was livid when they cut away from Javier and Josh also. I thought both were dressed as "Rick" in Casablanca.

Cate Blancette shouldn't let elves design her outfits.

Thanks for the plug and link.

Maryscott OConnor said...

Hilariously bitchy review. Disagree with a few points here and there, but overall, a blast to read. Thanks.

Nathan said...

That auto-tune bit was just painful. And I totally agree on Oprah and Helena Bonham Carter. I did like that, in "The King's Speech," Carter DIDN'T come across as her usual creepy whore self, and was actually playing a role.

Greg VA said...

Spot on! If the O's weren't so overrated and bloated I'd say you deserve one for this review. I think the O's were better when Jack was sitting in the front row like royalty, they seemed to play to him and not want to piss him off...much.
Still laughing about the poor job they did bringing out their dead...Yes! There should have been PIP to accompany the departed, and clearly Lena should have gotten the O for the Death of the year.

SamuraiFrog said...

Tallulah: Every once in a while, I'll see Tommy Kirk on a documentary like the one they made a couple of years ago about live action Disney movies, and I wish someone would make a documentary about him.

Maryscott: Thank you.

Nathan: That was the first role I liked Helena Bonham Carter in since, I think, Howards End.

Greg: Where is Jack now? Does he even show up to the show anymore?

Roger Owen Green said...

Maybe you know this:
Why were there only three Best Animated feature nominees? There were a bunch of movies - Despicable Me and Tangled, which you specifically mentioned - which could have been on the ballot. (Actually, I had to leave the former with the daughter after the iron maiden scene, but Tangled for sure.)

Oh, and Tangled had better songs, the one by the wicked stepmom for one, than the one nominated for Best Song. And there were only 4 noms for that category?

Tallulah Morehead said...

Greg, Jack's only missed this ONE Oscar show. He was there last year. It's not like Jack going was part of an earlier era. Maybe he was ill. He is an old man, you know. Old men get sick from time-to-time. Bet he'll be back next year.

SamuraiFrog said...

Roger: There were only ("only") 15 animated features released in 2010 that qualified for the Oscar. If it's under 15, they only nominate 3. I don't know why, but that's the way they do it.

I have no idea why only four songs, though. Maybe it's something similar. I certainly expected "Mother Knows Best" would be nominated; it was better than the one that did.

Tallulah: Jack didn't miss much. Maybe he and Franco could've gotten high together.