Hooboy. That was a rough Oscar Night.
In the end, the final score was Doug: 13, Oscar: 7. That's a shameful 65%. I put too much faith in The Wrestler and Benjamin Button and too little faith in Slumdog Millionaire and The Countess. And next year will someone please stop me from making official picks in the Foreign Language category?!
Even worse than my average was the show itself. I can see that they were trying to shake things up and do it a little different, but what was supposed to be "innovative" ended up as time-consuming and tedious. Here are three examples:
1. The awful song-and-dance tribute to movie songs organized by Baz Luhrman. Giant waste of time and energy and an embarrassing throwback to the cheezy ceremonies of the '70's and '80's.
2. The whole presentation of the acting awards. Instead of showing clips, five past winners took turns eulogizing the nominees. It was just too much talking and it took what felt like an eternity to get to the award. This was a worse idea than having all the nominees on stage at once or making presentations in the audience, like they did a few years ago.
3. Hugh Jackman's opening number. God help him, he tried SO hard. But the song-and-dance part could have been a lot shorter and his second monologue after the medley should have been cut entirely.
That's just the start. I still feel that the Technical and even some of the Artistic categories should be relegated to the un-televised Sci-Tech Oscars. That would really move things along nicely. Overall, the show dragged on and there was too much of a gap between interesting things. Also, we were treated to the most boring red carpet in ages. On the plus side, no one rambled too long on their acceptance speeches and there were a few highlights. Here are some superlatives:
It's Not a Shampoo Bottle: No, Kate Winslet. It's not. Besides a bit of silly rambling, she had the most heartfelt, honest (and therefore, best) acceptance of the evening. Runner up: The tightrope-walking subject of Best Documentary Feature "Man On Wire" balanced an Oscar on his nose. I also enjoyed a lot of the Slumdog winners, who were genuinely surprised at their own wins and as starstruck as fans.
Biggest Upset: I was surprised that Sean Penn won (though his performance was great) and that anyone takes Penelope Cruz seriously enough to give her an Oscar, but for me the biggest surprise was that the Sound categories split. Seriously - since time began, Best Sound Editing and Sound Effects Editing have (almost) always gone to the same film but this year, Dark Knight took Effects and Slumdog took Sound Editing. It just left me slack-jawed.
Best Presenters: A great year for presenters! Steve Martin and Tina Fey were hilarious, gently ribbing celebrity solopism and taking a veiled crack at Scientology. Well done. Ben Stiller was also great as he lampooned Joaquin Phoenix's bizarre recent behavior and Jack Black, who revealed that the key to his financial success is to do a movie for Dreamworks each year, take the money to the Oscars, and bet on Pixar. I also enjoyed the Pineapple Express video bit where the stoners watched movies. Especially James Franco watching himself in Milk.
Best Dressed: Can I take a pass this year? Not only was there no "zowie!" fashion moment, but the red carpet was so dull it almost wasn't worth it. Just about every dress was black, white, or washed-out neutral. Zzzzzzzzz. Those who did wear color, like Amy Adams or Kate Winslet, weren't really exciting. If I have to pick a standout, I'd say it was Taraji P. Henson, who looked great in white and was beaming and effusive the whole time.
Worst Dressed: No Bjorks this year, but did you see Miley Cyrus? Her silver sparkley gown was painful to look at. Like a wrestler's title belt. Or like a matador exploded all over her. And I don't accept "she's just a kid" as a viable excuse - everyone on the red carpet has handlers and stylists who are paid big bucks to tell them what to wear and what not to wear. Plus, Miley Cyrus is backed by one of the biggest entertainment corporations in the world. You'd think that someone from Disney would meet with her to make sure that one of their most bankable assets looks presentable.
Not the best year for my picks, but there's always next year to vindicate myself. I hope you had as much fun reading these posts as I did writing them. I'll go back to blogging about music for now, but check back next January for my take on the 82nd Academy Awards!