Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar impressions

Admitedly, there was a time when I watched the entire Oscar ceremony from start to finish. I loved the spectacle, the speeches, the superiority of knowing that a movie I had seen had won a major award. But, in recent years, my enthusiasm for the Oscars has waned. Let's face it -- the host's jokes are usually funnier in retrospect than they are on the air. A lot of the bits fall flat entirely. And the fashion and speeches are far less outrageous in this press-savvy age.
Plus, I'm married now, with a husband who is far more interested in watching NASCAR than in knowing who won the Best Supporting Actress Award. However, we did watch some of last night's Oscar ceremony -- enough for me to give at least some of my thoughts on the show. Here are the highlights:
* Hugh Jackman's opening number. OK, all can agree that singing, dancing movie star Hugh Jackman -- best known for the kind of big-budget superhero flicks that will never be recognized at these kind of shows -- seemed like an odd choice for the Oscar host. But given how ill-received recent choices, such as Chris Rock and Jon Stewart have been (not by me -- I liked them both), maybe going with a non-comedian and Hollywood insider was a smart choice. After all, Jackman was pretty good. He had the energy, charm and presence to hold focus. And you know what -- that opening Oscar number was pretty cute, especially when he brought in Anne Hathaway to play his Nixon in a "Frost/Nixon" tribute. Maybe it wasn't a showstopper, but in the words of the immortal Mary Richards, it was not awful. It was really not awful.
* But those panels of past winners who announced the nominees for certain categories? That was awful -- a total time waster, and often a reminder that the winners on stage really hadn't done much since they took home the gold. And what was up with Goldie Hawn and that boob-squishing dress during the best supporting actress presentation? It totally looked like her butterflies were longing to be free.
* Penelope Cruz won for Best Supporting Actress, for "Vicki Cristina Barcelona," a movie that, like many of the nominated films this year, I haven't seen. But Penelope is very the point where she actually starts HYPERVENTILATING ON STAGE!!! Pen, I know you never dreamed that your career would survive that whole Tom Cruise thing, but calm down! Luckily, Goldie and her breasts are on hand to escort Penelope off-stage without incident.
* This is around the point where I was in and out of the Oscars (though Fox kept helpfully showing the names of the winners in crawl throughout the NASCAR race). But I did see a few funny bits, such as Jack Black saying that the best way to make money from voicework in animated films was to do a Dreamworks movie, then go to the Oscars and bet your whole salary on Pixar. Tee hee. Though, seriously, the man will never work for Dreamworks again.
* Did see the best supporting actor presentation, though we all knew the late Heath Ledger would win. Still, his dad gave a touching speech, and a few people in the crowd did look genuinely moved. A nice moment, if a predictably one.
* The NASCAR race ended not too long after that, but my husband and I opted to watch the episode of "Big Love" we taped instead of the middle section of the Oscars. It was a good choice -- did you see Big Love last night??!! It was crazy! See, that's why dysfunctional families shouldn't go on road trips together.
* Big Love is over, and it's back to the Oscars. Hey, we're already at best director! Cool. Danny Boyle wins for "Slumdog" (which I actually did see) and jumps up and down like Tigger, which he promised his kids he would do if he ever won. Judging from the fact that his kids don't look like they're at the Winnie the Pooh age, I'm imaging that Danny has been looking for a win since "Trainspotting." Which is kind of sad.
* The tribute to those who passed is appropriately tender and heavy-handed, but the rendition of "I'll Be Seeing You" by Queen Latifah was lovely, and she looked nice. And, as a Connecticut girl, it was nice to see the tribute montage capped by some clips from the great Paul Newman.
* Kate Winslet won and, even though I didn't see "The Reader," her enthusiasm and sheer lovability made me happy she won. When she made her dad whistle, it was one of the cutest Oscar moments ever.
* More proof that Mickey Rourke deserves his comeback. After all the buildup for his performance in "The Wrestler," when he lost to Sean Penn, Rourke looked genuinely gracious. Yes, I was hoping he'd throw a chair. But the fact that he could compose himself speaks well of him.
* "Slumdog" wins best picture! It was the only nominee I saw, so yay! Also, I'm now glad I didn't waste time or money watching those four other losers!


Bill Scurry said...

I have to say, the panel effect of having five past winners present was a nice touch. It added a bit of history and gravitas to have, say, Shirley Maclaine tell you how good you were that year.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with wife and I both thought the telecast was much better this year and loved the five past winners presenting....made the whole thing much more intimate. Other than the tribute to the deceased people being done so poorly I thought it was the best show in years.