Monday, February 23, 2009

Will I still respect you in the morning?

Yeah, sure. The Oscars finally had a reasonably tight ceremony, and all of the awards went to reasonable winners. I was right about Sean Penn, wrong about the possible upset. Benjamin Button peeled off a respectable number of awards, good considering how ridiculously many it was nominated for, and my poor Frost/Nixon was sent home with a lump of coal. At least Frank Langella got to hold Hugh Jackman on his lap.

Good points:

Band onstage. More music, always good! I hated winners glaring into the pit all the time.

Hugh Jackman did very little actual hosting. I don't care what anyone says; no matter who the host is, the odds of him being important and memorable are close to nil. I adore Jon Stewart, but the funniest thing he or his team did was putting together a clip of 'gay cowboy' moments in Westerns through the decades. Brilliant opening number, loved Anne Hathaway (who I knew can sing, because I saw Ella Enchanted. Go ahead, judge me).

Sean Penn: "You commie, homo-loving sons of guns." Similarly, a lovely, touching speech from the screenwriter, Dustin Black.

Great performances for the Slumdog Millionaire songs. Might as well not have done the others, regardless of poor John Legend.

Tons of lovely dresses.

And a lovely montage of Paul Newman to end the in memoriam clips.

Bad points:

Speaking of that in memoriam reel, did we have to have the slightly bockety camera angles? Did we also need them just as Jackman went into the opening dance number? Just because we're used to music videos doesn't mean we need the whole bag of tricks all the time, guys.

Getting five winners out to celebrate the five acting nominees is fine, if self-indulgent. I miss the clips, but it's probably more meaningful for the actors. However, it sets up a nasty hierarchy. Who would you rather have hail you, Marion Cotillard or Sophia Loren? And can we make sure that they're all articulate? Was Anthony Hopkins asleep or did he just not give a crap? Plus I liked having the winner of the previous year award the new winner of the opposite sex. It was nice.

Ben Stiller mocking Joaquin Phoenix, fine, it was funny. But can anyone name the Cinematography winner now? I mean, let them have half a moment.

The producer cutting to Angelina Jolie while Jennifer Aniston was presenting. Thanks for going there, guys.

The musicals medley with Beyonce, ehhhh. Did it really have a point? They could have done something like that for the Best Song/Score, and it would have at least tied in. Just because Jackman kicked ass with a medley at the Tonys doesn't mean it's a winning formula.

ETA: The night was about connecting current work to movie history and building a sense of community. I get that. I also still haven't recovered from some of the unbelievable condescension of the scripted intros excluding us from that community. For Reese Witherspoon, presenting Best Director: "For those of you at home, a director is..."

But all in all, a relatively enjoyable ceremony, much less clunky than in years past.

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