The 83rd Annual Academy Awards: Snoozefest?February 28, 2011 —
Well, that wasn’t too exciting, was it?
It seems that every year, we walk into the Oscars kinda knowing how it’s all going to turn out. We desperately want there to be a surprise or two, but in the end, the awards for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences happen so late in the season that we clearly know how things will end up. We knew it would be The King’s Speech, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo, and Christian Bale. And listen, I am no fan of The King’s Speech. Period-British dramas are most certainly not my cup of tea. But you had to be completely delusional to think that the Academy would not go bananas for it. There was a slight chance that The Social Network would edge it out, but director Tom Hooper’s win sealed the deal for the tale of speech therapy/World War II. Hell, even the “Best Picture Nominees” final montage had Colin Firth’s final speech in the film playing in the background, in case we didn’t get the point yet.
So when the winners are so obvious, it’s up to the hosts to make a fun, exciting show. So how were Anne Hathaway and James Franco in their first gigs, you might ask?
Not so great. I understand the Academy’s attempt to appeal to a younger audience by having these hot young stars host, but this just didn’t work. In fact, it was terribly awkward. Although Anne has a lovely voice and presence and James is simply a likable guy, maybe the Academy should hire some real comedians next time. Perhaps it was the writing, but their attempts at humor fell a little flat and they seemed out of place on that stage. Not to mention the best parts of their segments didn’t even involve them (thanks Morgan Freeman, Alec Baldwin, Anne’s Mom, and James’ Grandma). I felt a little bad for them, putting so much energy into hosting with such meager results, but they seemed just the wrong fit entirely. It was really sad when host-veteran Billy Crystal stole the spotlight from them for a few minutes and you ended up wishing he stayed the entire time. At least an in-drag Franco got a good dig at Charlie Sheen, and Hathaway got to sing about “Hugh Jack-ass.”
The only exciting series of unexpected moments were when a 94-year old Kirk Douglas said really funny, old-man things before announcing Best Supporting Actress. Melissa Leo won, dropped an f-bomb, took Kirk’s cane, and ran offstage with him. We already kne Melissa Leo is freaking insane (http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/02/watch_melissa_leos_1985_catfig.html) and that she would probably win, but who knew she would curse and laugh around with a Hollywood veteran. If the show had more moments like this, instead of the awful scripted banter between presenters, it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting.
It was painfully obvious that the Academy was trying to be young, cool, and hip. With these hosts, “cool” visuals, and even a strange auto-tuning segment about Twilight, the producers felt the need to attract viewers through what they believed was “young.” In the end, the Academy is really just a conservative bunch of old dudes who love The King’s Speech. People do not like being told what is “cool;” we know what it is when we see it. So a lesson the Oscar producers should learn for next year: be funnier, embrace the spontaneous, and try a little less hard to be “cool.”
Some other observations:
- What was up with those strange visual segments to older films that just left us with an awkward silence for ten seconds each? Someone is getting fired for that.
- Though a lot of people were predicting David Fincher to win Best Director, recent The King’s Speech obsession and Tom Hooper’s recent Director’s Guild of America made this “upset” kind of obvious in the end.
- Gwyneth Paltrow. Ah, I like you. I really do. But you were Country Weak tonight. Even though you closed your eyes, we could still see and hear you crack those notes! Plus, that disco-style white microphone didn’t help you either.
- Celine Dion scares me. I don’t know whether it is the fake teeth or whenever I think of her I imagine a boat sinking, but please do not let her sing during my “In Memoriam.”
- Christian Bale = great speech!
- Best one-liner: In response to The Wolfman, Cate Blanchett says, “That’s gross.”
- Marisa Tomei, when will you ever start looking old?
- Oprah…you are old.
- Let the “Was James Franco Stoned?” debate commence!
- Someone please hire me Jennifer Hudson’s personal trainer. Thank you.
- Sandra Bullock might have won an Oscar for the worst performance of the decade in The Blind Side, but she is so nice and funny, it’s hard to be mean!
- Best dressed of the night: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Hailee Steinfeld, and Jennifer Lawrence
- Worst dressed of the night: Cate Blanchett in a tablecloth, Helena Bonham Carter looking expectedly like a vampire, and Anne Hathaway somehow looking horrible in every single one of her forty-three outfits.
List of Winners (in ceremonial order)
Art Direction – Alice in Wonderland
Cinematography – Inception
Supporting Actress – Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Animated Short Film – The Lost Thing
Animated Film – Toy Story 3
Adapted Screenplay – The Social Network
Original Screenplay – The King’s Speech
Foreign Film – In a Better World (Denmark)
Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, The Fighter
Original Score – The Social Network
Sound Mixing – Inception
Sound Editing – Inception
Makeup – The Wolfman
Costume Design – Alice in Wonderland
Documentary (Short Subject) – Strangers No More
Live Action Short – God of Love
Documentary Feature – Inside Job
Visual Effects – Inception
Film Editing – The Social Network
Original Song – “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3
Best Director – Tom Hooper The King’s Speech
Best Actress – Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor – Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Best Picture – The King’s Speech