Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars 2008

I hate them. They're obnoxious and arrogant and overblown... but the Academy Awards are like a car accident. Actually, no. Because not only can I not look away, I celebrate them, hold parties, have the Oscar pool... I guess I overlook the glitz so I can enjoy celebrating the movies, even if I didn't think the best films were nominated in the right categories.

Last night's award show was a pleaser, I thought. Hugh Jackman carried off the hosting duties with aplomb. He was funny, gracious, and dashing ("I am Wolveriiiiiine!!!") I actually really liked the way they presented the acting awards, though my husband thought it went on way too long. Yes, I could have done without that giant overblown number with Beyonce (GAWD...) and a few of the montages, but the evening had a LOT of highlights:

-James Franco and Seth Rogan doing their bit about comedies. When they're dying with laughter while watching Doubt and The Reader, I was laughing just as much.
-Ben Stiller. I'm sure some people will say that was unsympathetic and awkward, but I thought was hilarious. And I'm one of the people who feels very sorry for Joaquin Phoenix. If you didn't know what he was riffing on, go here.
-The Japanese man who accepted his award and said, "Domo arigoto, Mister Roboto." HA!!!
-Tina Fey (LOOOOVE!!) and Steve Martin (LOOOOOOOOOOOVE!) presenting the Oscars for screenplays. And their riff on Scientology. Since it's not a real religion, it was funny, unlike Bill Maher (see below).
-the guy from Man on Wire balancing the Oscar on his chin
-Sean Penn's acceptance speech. WOW.
-Jackman's recession-friendly opening number. When he was moving the little plastic baby's arms, I was killing myself laughing. It was topped only by the electronica song that accompanied The Reader, which was baffling until he explained he hadn't seen it. HAHAHA!!
-the Ledgers on stage accepting the award on behalf of their son. What a valiant thing they had to do. I don't know if I could have done it.
-the Slumdog Cinderella story. This is a film that less than a year ago had no distributor and was about to go straight to DVD. Could you imagine? Although, I love that the feel-good film of the year involves child prostitution and severe physical abuse... yet I practically danced out of the theatre. What other movie could do that?

-Bill freakin' Maher. HOW I HATE YOU. Hate hate hate hate. This is one of those annoying, talentless people who exists only to stir up the hatred and anger and vitriol in others. I hate that I've taken the bait (he would be laughing if he read this, I'm sure) but when he referred a year ago to breastfeeding mothers as narcissistic dogs, I had no more time for him. Asshole. I couldn't believe he brought up religion like that. Notice the silence in the room when he said it? Way to bring down the happy tone of the night. Could the Academy please make sure he is never invited back??
-for a moment, Mickey Rourke not winning best actor. I was so upset. I wanted him to win it so badly. Sean Penn was brilliant as Milk, but he was even better in Dead Man Walking, and Rourke will probably never be better than he was in The Wrestler. It was a career-topping role. But then Penn got up, said what he did about the protesters (which I didn't even know about, and found that very sad) and Prop 8, and then gave props to Rourke, and I loved him. I'm so happy he won.

Questions: Where was Jack Nicholson?
Why so much screen time to Zac Efron? The guy's adorable, but... the Oscars? Really?
Was Beyoncé lip-synching? This was a big discussion in our house.


Anonymous said...

I thought Hugh Jackman added a lot of humour and life into an otherwise pretty drab show. Unfortunately he did not get much screen time.

I was very touched by the speehces by both Sean Penn and the screenwriter of Milk. It is utterly sad in this day and age that there still exists so much discrimination and outright hatred against gays or any alternative lifestyle for that matter.

Heath's family was the epitome of class. What a bittersweet moment for them. Heath established himself as one of the great actors of our time. It is mind boggling to think what he COULD HAVE done if he had lived.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Nikki, I clicked on anonymous by mistake, my name did not come through, anonymous is me above :)

Chuck Power said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Power said...

Beyonce was lip-synching....and badly. That whole musical number was a waste of time for me, especially since it had to follow the great opening by Hugh Jackman. I thought he was a great host. I was also rooting for Mickey Rourke but was happy for Sean Penn, his speech was perfect. I also enjoyed DeNiro's speech about Penn, it was genuinely funny. Bill Mahr is a Super Tool!!! I really wanted to see Religulous but I don't really want to support anything that he does. Enjoyed the show overall. Thought it was still too long, but what's new.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was done shedding tears for Heath Ledger. I was wrong... that was just a beautiful moment with his family.

The one thing I like about the Oscars is that I feel it's a chance to get a glimpse of real emotion from these huge stars. When they have genuine smiles. When they're eyes are misty. When they have a real laugh. It's really the only time of the year that this happens.

humanebean said...

I understand what you mean about the Oscars as car accident (in slow motion, usually) but they are a big deal in our house since we are movie buffs. You spend most of the evening waiting for the one or two genuine moments in the show where you (feel you can) relate to the artists involved. Overall, I felt the show was very well done this year - and would totally agree with your criticisms. Too drawn out in key spots, musical number throwaway with Beyoncé (and yes, I think they were both lip-synching) and I was also rooting for Mickey to win (and give his 20 minute acceptance speech to try to outlast the tape delay ; ]

Despite the fact that I like Bill Maher (well, his comedy, anyway), I felt his presentation fell flat and came off as self-congratulatory. This schtick works more effectively in his standup and on his (very enjoyable) show, Real Time, on HBO. He is opinionated and edgy, and often deliberately provocative but usually funny and picks interesting targets. Now, humor is intensely subjective (and I'm not familiar with the specific comment you mention) but I find that I can appreciate his take on things while regularly disagreeing with his point, or even his presentation of it.

Too, I was glad to see Penn's acceptance speech, cheered for its message and was happy to hear the shout-out to Mickey for a fantastic, career performance in The Wrestler. Fun night, overall- I love, love LOVE Danny Boyle - and since I've been following his (and the producer's) efforts to help the community in Mumbai, I was very gratified to see this wonderful film receive the accolades it so richly deserved.

High point for me: seeing Penelope Cruz win for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Fantastic actress, wonderful role and an excellent film - Woody Allen's best (and arguably, only seamless) film since Hannah And Her Sisters. Bravo, Penelope!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I thought this was hands-down the best Oscar show I've ever seen. Hugh was the perfect host (and I loved the big musical number), I got to see Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan on the Oscar stage, and AR Rahman not only win but sing. I loved the way they presented the acting awards, giving each nominee a moment in the sun.

But I would have given best supporting Oscar to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Joshua said...

I swore off the Oscars when they gave Spielberg and Co. the doubleshaft for 'The Color Purple' and 'Empire of the Sun' in 1986 & '87. Note to the Academy -- a 12-year-old never forgives!

Austin Gorton said...

I loved Hugh Jackman and would have liked to see more of him. His opening number was fantastic, and I thought he had a great rapport with the actors front and center as well.

James Franco/Seth Rogen and Tina Fey/Steve Martin were definitely the non-Hugh highlights of the show for me as well.

But I guess I'm an Oscar traditionalist (I love the ceremony) and was disappointed in some of the much-ballyhooed changes this year.

While having past acting winners come out to present the award was a nice nod to history, I missed seeing clips of the nominees' performances. I'd have much preferred that than having performances described (though I did enjoy some of the genuine moments of emotion displayed by some of the nominees upon hearing their performance lauded by a great actor).

I love me some montages (and counting them is one of the things we do at my Oscar party-there were 11 last night) but the faux montage that surrounded the screen when a past winner was describing the performance of a current nominee prominently featured a poorly selected clip from Kung-fu Panda. Nothing like seeing a kung-fu panda stick out his tongue for food while Kate Winslet's performance is being lauded.

There were other little things as well I missed, like having the music of the winning film played when the award acceptor is making their way to the podium; instead, they just played generic music.

I don't know how I feel about the set pieces behind them, but I did like the way they grouped certain awards with the same presenters, instead of having a new set come out for every award.

As for Jack, we too noticed his absence. He might have just been out of town/working on something, but we speculated that perhaps the lack of constant Jack cutaways was another change from previous years, one with which we didn't disagree :)

In the end though, while I missed some of the old ceremony's style, I can't complain too much; Hugh Jackman did great and I won my Oscar pool!

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with everyone, Hugh Jackman made my evening with that opening musical act. The part when he sang about the Reader floored me!

Also, did anyone else feel uncomfortable when Jack Black was deranged looking and indirectly slamming Pixar/Wall-E. I guess he was a little peeved that his movie Kung Fu Panda wasn't gonna win. Even Jennifer Aniston looked kinda irritated with him... embarrassing!

Anonymous said...

I, too, loved the opening. Hugh Jackman is great, and that "I am WOLVERIIIIINE!" line had me chuckling for ages. But I just couldn't watch more than half an hour of the ceremony. I'd occasionally switch back from what I was watching (ST: Voyager, incidentally), but I just couldn't do more than five minutes at a time. A three and a half hour program with only three or four genuinely funny moments just didn't seem worth my time.

I was bitterly disappointed that the original screenplay award didn't go to 'In Bruges'. I'm sure 'Milk' was great, and I love Sean Penn, but 'In Bruges' was my favourite movie of the last year, and the script was just incredible. If you haven't seen it, do so now. I was on a high for days after seeing that film.

Daniel Larsh said...

I thought it was a really good show!

Nikki-!!! You forgot to include the In memorandum part, when the cameras kept moving too fast and you missed half of the names. lol.

I also thought it was great when Kate Winslet asked for her father to whistle. She's so real and genuine, and I love that about her.

HATE HATE HATE ZAC EFRON AND HIS BIMBO. lol I don't get why they were there, and as you mentioned, Jack Nicholson wasn't.

One highlight for me... even though many people won't find it funny... is when there was this asian man with TERRIBLE, GROSS Buck teeth shown on a video, and then was spotlighted in the audience. The REAL Highlight was seeing Queen Latifah laugh her ass off in the front row at the sight lol!

I really liked how they had 5 of the previous winners come out for the best awards. That was brilliant... although it took so friggen long. I thought it was a great ceremony.

I wish I could have been in the production room seeing the faces of the director and producer after they went 30 minutes over. O.o

Austin Gorton said...

You forgot to include the In memorandum part

Yes! I totally forgot to rant about that too. It drove me nuts. I loved the idea of having someone perform a song while the montage played, but it seemed like the camera operators were told to create for the viewers what the attendees were experiencing, which meant a constant cutting away from the screens to Queen Latifah or to other screens.

It resulted in a disorientating experience and in many cases, it was entirely too difficult to read who was being remembered. Memo to the producers: just fill our TV screens with the memorial images and let us hear the song; I don't need to see her singing it.

Nikki Stafford said...

Danny: You're right; I actually said at the beginning: "Check it out, the camera operators are so confused they don't know if they should zoom in or focus on the images around the main image or look at Queen Latifah."

However, for the record, I need to say that I LOOOOOVE Queen Latifah. Love her. She's classy, assertive, and awesome. :) But yes, the in memoriam section should just have the close-ups and nothing else.

Oh, and as for the teeth... my husband was cheering on the movie he did (Betrayal, I think?) because he said, "Maybe if he wins the Oscar he could melt it down and pay off a dentist to redo his teeth."

Yeah, there were some snipey moments there. The teeth were pretty unbelievable. I could tell you some other things that were said, but they're probably inappropriate for this blog. ;)