Monday, February 28, 2011

oscars 2010: the mediocre, the bad, and the okay...

Well it brings me no pleasure to say that this year's Oscar telecast was sort of a bust.  And I'm not talking about the ridiculously predictable winners (those should come as no surprise to any viewer who's been around for the past few years).  It's the fact that in my 17 times watching the Oscars, this was easily the most uneven, confusing, and poorly put together telecast thus far.  But, let's start with the good moments...

Top 5 Best Moments of Oscars 2010
#5 - Presenters Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law
As most of the hosts' banter went from painfully uninspired to just plain bizarre, it was refreshing to see some more old pros on the stage.  Downey Jr.  was charming as ever presenting Best Visual Effects with Jude Law, and it reminded (hopefully) the producers why you never leave the show in the hands of the kids...

#4 - Kirk Douglas gives the Oscar to Melissa Leo
In one of the more deserving wins of the night (in my humble opinion), Melissa Leo's bad press was superseded by her great performance.  And thank goodness they were able to pull out at least some stops by featuring an actual legend during the telecast.  Kirk Douglas was charming and witty throughout, and Melissa Leo's f-bomb at least provided some surprise for the evening...

#3 - Billy Crystal saves the day
Mr. Crystal (probably the all-time best host, in my book) put the flailing and unfortunate Franco/Hathaway duo to shame by appearing mid-way through the show to talk about Bob Hope.  He has just as much finesse and style as he did the last time he hosted.  The biggest downside to his typically hilarious and flawless appearance?  It just made me wish that he'd been hosting all along.  (Sorry Anne and James - Billy's much more of a natural at this.)

#2 - Jeff and Sandra present the lead trophies
At last the show managed some prestige and some class.  Thanks to the eloquent words of Mr. Bridges and the effervescent charm and humor of Ms. Bullock, it felt like the Oscars again at last.  I'm just going to put it out there - if they insist on hiring celebrity actor duos as hosts, can we go for a Bridges/Bullock ticket next year?  They're so natural on stage, and they've actually worked with many of the audience members.   I think the chemistry would be fantastic.

#1 - Cate Blanchett chimes in
After a series of missteps and odd choices in presentations and blips, Best Makeup provided a surprising breath of fresh air as Oscar vet Cate Blanchett gave her two cents following a particularly graphic clip from The Wolfman - "That's gross."  Definitely caused the biggest laughs of the night at our get-together.

...and the less fortunate portions
As for the reasoning behind the frustratingly hard-to-love ceremony, it seems to rest solely on choices made by the production team.  Where last year's ceremony embraced the allure and elegance of the history of the Oscars with homages and speeches that had dignity and grace, the focus on youth culture this time around was a major backfire.  The Oscars should just come to realize that young Twitterers and Twihards will not be watching no matter what.  But us lifelong Oscarphiles will, so try catering to your demographic.

As much as I hate to say it, as Anne Hathaway and James Franco are wonderful actors, the two were a mess as hosts.  Between the awkwardly written banter and Franco's apparent stoned state throughout, their moments on stage were a little too uneven for my taste.  In fact, as suggested by our roomful of viewers, Hathaway probably would've been better working solo, as her lone bits were far superior.  Franco really missed an opportunity by what appeared to be nerves, perhaps?

Aside from the hosts, who aren't solely to blame, the camera work was a little strange.  Who were those random teenagers that kept showing up on screen?  Were they someone's kids?  Whatever the reason, the night's audience shots became a game of trying to locate any recognizable faces in a given frame.  One particular one had about a dozen folks in it, and the only one I knew was Kathryn Bigelow, tucked away in a corner.  And the Coen Bros. nose-picking fiasco was the pinnacle of the poor camera choices.  The whole night seemed to be going off without so much as a rehearsal beforehand.  All too messy and flaky it seemed.  And I will never forgive them for spending more time catering to kids with questionable taste by spending a good two or three minutes paying tribute to Twilight and then left the lifetime achievement recipients a mere few seconds of waving onstage before rushing to commercial.  That's gross.

**How did you feel about this year's awards?  Was I crazy to think they kind of stunk from a production standpoint?**


Unknown said...

My opinion shouldn't count because I was slightly drunk through most of them.
However yes, Franco sucked. Anne was a natural but France made her try sooo hard that she looked like a psycho sometimes.
Bullock, whose win I loathe, was all kinds of awesome.

John T said...

Franco and Hathaway at least looked great.

I agree about the camera angles as well-was it a secret drinking game of "find the movie star?" I want to say the teenagers were Reese Witherspoon's younger siblings, but I could be way off. The biggest names in Hollywood skipped this year (Meryl, Jack, Julia, Jodie Foster-where art thou?), but that doesn't mean that there weren't come celebrities in the audience-Oprah! Jeff Bridges! Reese! Warren & Annette! Why not more cutaways to them? I know they cut it for time, but think of the opportunities had they had them present the ten Best Pictures-de Niro for The Fighter, Leo for Inception, Judi Dench for The King's Speech-there's your random movie stars to fill the seats.

Dan said...

Superb overview of the show. I was bored to tears but I'm glad you mention that it wasn't solely down to the two presenters and partly down to the production team/script writers. But, for a show that featured a brilliant acceptance speech by actor (not writer) Colin Firth, his skills with words put the Oscar production crew to shame.

Bring back Crystal or Steve Martin or someone who is capable of writing their own material. I don't want to see Anne Hathaway sing (even though she's very good) and I certainly don't want to hear Celion Dion sing! Argh!

The Golden Globes and Baftas were better to watch.

TomS said...

A really nice recap, Luke!

TomS said...

Also..You were SO RIGHT ON in your statement:
"The Oscars should just come to realize that young Twitterers and Twihards will not be watching no matter what. But us lifelong Oscarphiles will, so try catering to your demographic."

I think the writing on the show was terrrible, and made the hosts' jobs really hard.

Franco looked like he partied too hard...and why not? He won an Independent Spirit award the night before...and maybe, like you said, WAS nervous about his first Oscar nominaiton.

BTW...notice how they kept cutting from Bening to Hillary Swank? It was unfortunate...

Luke said...

Jose: Thanks for setting aside your hatred for Sandra for my sake. :)

John: As soon as I saw Spielberg previewed before the commercial break, I thought of you! I knew you'd be pretty bummed. I spent the whole commercial explaining to the room why that choice of presenter sucked.

Dan: It's true - the Golden Globes may've made me uncomfortable, but at least they made me feel something! I truly believe that Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock were the saviors of the show - before them it just seemed like some production they were putting on in someone's basement on the spur of the moment.

Tom: Oh, the Bening/Swank "feud" ... It was like they suddenly realized what a terrible job they were doing and decided to capitalize on something Oscar-centric folk would understand... but it was sort of beating a dead horse. lol

The Kid In The Front Row said...

It was pretty awful wasn't it. Oh well, it's been and gone now, we can forget all about it and get our hopes up for next year :)