Thursday, March 01, 2012

Oscar on Speed

I put Oscar on DVR this year. I forgot that we get the Oscars in real time even here on the West Coast, so the show started at 5:30. I missed the first 15 minutes and lost the last 15 minutes. So I missed the most minor award (Best Best Boy in a Short Film) and the biggest (Best Movie of this or Any Other Year). When I checked the last award on-line, Plantboy heaved a huge sigh and said "We could have just checked on line instead of watching?" I informed him in my most haughty tone, which lasted all of about four seconds, that HE might have gone to bed any time he liked.

Let's get started, shall we?

Over all, this year's show was entertaining and more lacking in that self-important tone it has taken some years. (With the obvious exception, of course, being the lion's share of nominations and awards going to films saluting classic Hollywood and/or the film making process.) I credit the complete absence of Sean Penn for that pleasant turn of events. I won't soon forget the year he was nominated for some (one?) awards and Chris Rock was the host. Chris Rock, the ultimate outsider with his big-money-one-character acting chops and his well . . . blackness. (A recent survey of the "Academy" reports that it is mostly old, white men over 60. Clearly not Chris Rock's peeps.) He made a very funny joke at Jude Law's expense only to be soundly put down by Sean Penn when he finally got his turn to speak. It is clear that Mr. Penn thinks the center of the universe is himself . . . or at least him and about six cronies who happen to be in favor at the moment.

Already digressing? Sorry. NOW let's get started. 

Emma Stone was beyond adorable. I loved this dress, though the keyhole was a bit much. The cast of Wait . . . Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! does a very funny red carpet bit. They said that Ms. Stone was channeling a Lexus on Christmas, but I loved it. Her skit with Ben Stiller may have been the best moment of the whole night, particularly since Ben Stiller usually takes the cake the category in which he always presents. (Costume Design) Emma's snarky jokes about Stiller's past performances were just spot on, especially after he teased her. Also, who knew that Emma Stone was so tall? I didn't have that impression in The Help. Of course, she often was playing opposite Allison Janney or Viola Davis in flat shoes and a smart girl slouch.

It seems like after an "experimental year" (last year's brilliant use of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin as hosts, for example) the Oscar ceremony always reverts to something really classic. The graphics and everything were very subdued and understated. This year's salute to classic Hollywood were these awful popcorn servers. They reminded me of the original playboy bunnies meets airline stewardesses. And do we honestly think that Angie ATE that popcorn in her Prada (or whatever) dress? Though, I have to admit. I wish she would. She is looking pretty skeletal.

See? And this dress made her look like she had a third leg. Or was it just the way she kept sticking it out there like that? At one point, Plantboy mentioned that the entire audience looked spray-tanned; like they showed up naked and just walked through a hose before wardrobe. He may have a point, but if so, then Ms. Jolie took a different entrance. Also . . . should we talk about Brad's hair. For example, why for the love of all that is good and holy is he wearing it like that? I saw him on John Stewart a few weeks ago and he kept slicking it behind his ears. Yuck. Just yuck. 

And while her screenplay might be brilliant . . . I won't ever know . . . do we really have to say "Academy Award nominee Kristen Wiig?"

And "Academy Award Nominee Kathy McCarthy?" Though maybe I can stomach the second better than the first. Her episode of Saturday Night Live might be one of the funniest I've ever seen. If you don't know what I'm talking about, enter "Ranch Dressing Skit" into Hulu. Make sure that you have used the bathroom first.

 I use the above two pictures to talk about clothes at the Awards. J.Lo and Cameron, clearly relishing their roles as the mermaid sex kittens gave the following quote, "A dress should be tight enough to show you are a woman, and loose enough to show you are a lady." I don't think J. Lo quite got past the word "loose." For that matter, neither did Sandra Bullock. And, in case you didn't pick it up, there are too very different definitions of "loose" going on there.

Plantboy lamented the stupid convention of keeping the microphone at Natalie Portman height, making everyone hunch over at the microphone. Then, when I see the (half drunk?) Ms. Diaz leaned over the microphone I think I understand the low height a little better.

Aren't some of the awards ridiculous? What IS the difference between Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, anyway? When Hugo won BOTH awards, given to different people, the exact same clip was used. I say pick up another acting award or two by separating dramas and comedies of giving character actor awards and consolidate some of these that nobody cares about anyway.

How does Will Farrell keep a straight face? Ever? This was nearly as good/better (?) than Emma Stone.

Glen Close. Really? Wikipedia says that she spent years working on getting this film made with multiple re-castings through the process. The end result was a much-lauded performance in a much maligned movie. In addition, Glen Close's old "man" character takes a love interest played by Mia Wasikowska. Who is 22, and brilliantly played Jane Eyre. Now that is just wrong.

The above picture is cute . . . Streep is super matchy with the background, daring people to choose somebody else less Oscar-y toned. Frenchy is so classic and debonair in his tux. His expressions, however, through the night, made me wonder just a little bit if he thinks film is STILL silent and that his face must always speak for him. His face here is saying, "I'm a handsome man." 

But if we are going to talk over-acting, perhaps Billy Crystal is the night's real winner. He seemed so stale . . . so 80's to me. I think his shtick gets old. And I think if I had to hear him laugh at one more of his own jokes I was going to lose it. His best bit was the "what-is-everybody-thinking" thing.  Maybe his ONLY good bit. Especially when he lampooned Nick Nolte. So worthy of lampooning. "Ughhgggughgh."

I'm sure this movie was a lot of fun to be in. At the very least, the cast of Bridesmaids presenting their awards did provide a bit of much needed comic relief. And tackiness. There was some of that too. "Scorsese!"

While it might be true that I won't be seeing Bridesmaids, or maybe even Hugo any time soon . . . I think that maybe I will need to see The Artist. It may be something I have to rent when Plantboy is out of town and watch it myself to appreciate it, but I have to admit to being highly intrigued. In addition, I think the actress in this movie is about the cutest thing I've ever seen. I like that this year's big award movies got more family friendly ratings than is typical.

Colin Firth and his wife looked lovely. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is another movie I wish hadn't gotten an R-rating. It should be noted that last year I posted about whether or not it was "okay" to see an R-rated movie. I stand by the post. (And King's Speech really was remarkable.) My point was that  movie should be judged on its merits. The on-line reviews of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy point to a movie that is simply too rough for my taste. The balance of the great performances there won't make up for the pervasive violence in my book.*

 Did it seem that the French contingent did a lot of kissing? I guess that is what they do in France. Plantboy pointed out, however, that they didn't French kiss. Small favors. 

Now on to some dresses. Of Glenn Close, the Wait . . . Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! folks put it best. On the bottom is looks like a prom dress. On the top it looks like she just won the Masters. Really. Was this the best the fashion team could come up with? A forest green blazer over a mermaid dress?

Ah, Gwenyth.  Thou art the Queen. She was so elegant.  Her bit with Robert Downey Junior was classic; it made me think that they must have a lot of fun on the set of Iron Man. She strikes me as such a genuinely nice person. If you know for a fact that she is not, there is no need to tell me otherwise. I will happily keep this delusion.

Ah! Miss Klum. Didn't anybody tell you that the Oscars are meant to be classier than the Grammy awards? In all fairness, this picture did come from a viewing party instead of the Red Carpet. Still . . . so tacky. And what is going on with that hair?

Viola Davis was wearing a spectacularly lovely shade of green. Her bold earrings and dramatically short haircut made her impossible not to notice. Personally, I think she should have won. I think if Meryl Streep hadn't been upstaged by Sandra Bullock two years ago (she actually didn't get nominated last year), Viola Davis would have taken it. I like sweet Sandy in The Blind Side as much as anyone, but sassy Southern is way easier than Julia Child. The accent alone is nearly impossible to nail, let alone the odd mannerisms. In the clips I've seen from Iron Lady, Streep looks and sounds the part, but she also looks mechanical and stiff. Viola Davis, on the other hand, brought her character so vividly to life in The Help that I'm still wowed even after all these months. In the very first scene, Skeeter asks her how she feels about taking care of those white children while her own are at home being looked after by someone else. . . . the expression on her face as she gazes out that window, unsure what to say to Skeeter, even though she has a thousand things to say . . . well that scene right there is worth the award in my mind. This is where that bias of the old, white Academy comes in to play. Robbed, I say, Ms. Davis. Robbed!

But it is the next gown that had to be my favorite of the night. Remarkable color. Breathtakingly beautiful actress. Truly, tight enough to show she is a woman and loose enough to show she is a lady. A class act.

I've heard more than a few comments about the Hugh Hefnerish smoking jacket sported by Christopher Plummer. Plantboy said "I never heard of that movie," about Beginners just before they announced the winners. I replied that Plummer played an old gay man who just uncloseted himself and is dying. "We have a winner!" said Plantboy. And he was right. Gay performances have taken a lot of awards in the last decade. (And I don't mean that sentence the way a fourteen year old boy might say, "that's so gay.") Looking at the Best Supporting Actor category you might think it was actually the "Best Grizzled Old Man" award.  Even Jonah Hill was serious enough at the Oscars to be a contender.

Miss Piggy and Kermit are always good value. If you really want to see Piggy in her element though, look up their press conference response to the haters at Fox News after the Muppet Movie was released. 

This might have been the show stealing moment of the night. When she first started, I thought they were showing another retro moment--Diana Ross hair and the old school song. But no, this young singer is Esperanza Spalding and beat out the Biebster for Best New Artist Grammy a couple of years ago. With good reason, I might add. She is completely amazing. 

And a last red carpet moment . . . Tina Fey was so cute. I love the picture on the right. That arched eyebrow and snarky smile. She is a woman who knows about breaking glass ceilings. Her look says, "See, smart girls do sometimes come out on top. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise."

In other moments, there were a few great commercials. Ellen is always good value and there is a Matthew Broderick commercial that spoofs Ferris Bueller. There was an ad for the re-release of Titanic (a.k.a. The Most Overrated Movie Ever Made . . . Not Counting Avatar.). Plantboy said, "Oh, look, your favorite movie in 44 Double D!" I told him that even in 3D the lovely Kate would not be so ample. The upcoming Brave looks completely wonderful. Plantboy says he will go to it just for that girl's hair.

I loved the actors telling about their favorite childhood movie moment. None was better than Adam Sandler saying how much he envied Sean Connery's chest hair. It reminded me of childhood nights tucked in with popcorn at the drive in with Sleeping Beauty, Tron and Indiana Jones. Of my crush on Mark Hamil as Luke Skywalker and the old Cinedome in Riverdale, Utah. Of the first time I saw Annie. Yes "Let's go to the movies! Let's go see the stars!" They are ridiculous and human . . . but I still find myself tuning in ever year just to see what they will say and do.

* In a footnote to that post on R-rated movies, I read the rating board's home page regarding their system. They emphasized that the ratings system isn't intended to be a value judgment, but instead a guide for parents regarding whether or not their children should attend. A G movie is unlikely to contain anything that anyone would find offensive. A PG movie is a movie that will contain things that some parents find offensive, and probably should be reviewed before taking children to (We Bought a Zoo and Rango are great examples of this.) A PG-13 movie is one that is likely to contain inappropriate material for young children, though each family should make their own judgement call there. (For example, a movie like Captain America might be heavy on violence and low on sex, whereas a romantic comedy is just the opposite.) R-rated movies contain items that are certainly offensive to some audiences and better viewed through a lens of more adult experience or understanding. I liked her explanation. It is a perspective that certainly encourages families to ask the question, "What is worthwhile for our family?" There are also some great websites that contain common sense parent reviews of movies with details about story elements.

1 comment:

Scully said...

I definitely recommend The Artist. It is fun, especially if you like classic movies.