Monday, February 28, 2011

My 2011 Oscar Review

What does it say when a man who is 94 years-old and recovering from a stroke is funnier than any Oscar host for the last fifteen years? Kirk Douglas and Melissa Leo’s f-bomb were the two highlights of the 83rd annual Academy Awards.

It was also the most suspenseful Oscarcast in fifteen years. At least at my house where the power kept going out. As for the awards themselves, there were zero surprises. The producers of THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT didn’t really prepare a speech, did they?

Meanwhile, my thanks to Ruth Zommick for graciously letting me barge in and watch the show at her place. I did see most of it. The only part I missed was the award where an American won.

I thought Anne Hathaway was very winning as the co-host. She got a little too revved-up by the end (high fiving kids and almost launching them into the audience) but she was genuine, bubbly, and you didn’t have to watch the red carpet show this year because she wore everyone’s gown. As for James Franco, it turns out the only thing he can’t do is host the Oscar show. James was a little stiff. Much like the shoulders on Cate Blancett’s gown. When it comes back from the cleaners you take out the cardboard before putting on the dress, Catey.

I know they were going for a younger demographic, but a giant chorus of children from PS 22 in Staten Island? Is the target audience now 9? I did love their “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” finale. In fact, I wish they had sung the nominated songs. Florence from Florence of the Machine must’ve been slipped a roofie five minutes before going on stage. She made James Franco seem animated. And Gwyneth Paltrow? Jennifer Hudson introduced her as “Country music’s newest star”. On what planet? Doing a phony accent and giving colonics does not make you a great country singer. Let Anne Hathaway do it.

I must say, after Gwyneth Paltrow when I saw Scarlett Johansson I thought, “Please God, no. DON’T SING!” Have you heard her CD? It sounds like someone giving a cat a bath.

Before the show there’s always the red carpet show. No one covers it more stupefying than local channel KTLA 5. Your hosts: Footstool to the stars, Sam Rubin, and adding some glamour to the proceedings -- helicopter traffic reporter, Jessica Holmes. Assisting them was their “fashion expert”, Ellen K. whose impeccable credentials include sidekick to Ryan Seacrest on his radio show. Sam is always good for a couple of idiotic questions and remarks. To Russell Brand he said, “You were a big ladies man. Why does Colin Firth have every woman in love with him, even more frankly than you ever did”. Smooth. And then, at one point, a pained Sam asked fashion aficionado, Ellen K: “Is it bothersome that Nicole Kidman is so much taller than Keith Urban or does no one care about this anymore?” Give this man his own show on Fox News!

Speaking of Nicole Kidman, I wanted to ask her “Who did your face?” or even “Whose face are you wearing tonight?”

The fashion themes this year were color, chiffon, and covering up tattoos. Even Helen Mirren, Queen Elizabeth herself, hid her tramp stamp.

Loved the opening movie montage with Anne and James entering the nominated films… and BACK TO THE FUTURE (for some reason). The technology was amazing. If they can insert actors right into films why don’t they just remake every Ashton Kutcher movie with Paul Rudd?

Nice to see that Reese Witherspoon has survived HOW DO YOU KNOW and is still in show business.

Of course TOY STORY 3 won Best Animated Film. How can a Best Animated Film that is also nominated as Picture of the Year not win Best Animated Film?

Ricky Gervais must've been appalled.  The show went almost an hour before a Charlie Sheen joke. 

Helena Bonham Carter was far more conservative this year. Simple, elegant Bride of Frankenstein. Oh sure, there was the Union Jack garter belt, but who doesn’t wear one of those?

In the annual “Worst Dressed besides Helena” category I would have to say Sharon Stone. Grey beaver pelts over one shoulder is not a good look. James Franco in drag was more appealling. Although, what the hell was that pointless bit about? It’s like all of a sudden out of nowhere there’s a salute to Uncle Miltie.

Mila Kunis was an absolute vision in purple! But Jennifer Lawrence in her sleek red dress won my vote for best dressed. If she wore that in WINTER’S BONE I would have gone to see it. Same with Mila and BLACK SWAN. Aw, who’m I kidding? I still wouldn’t see BLACK SWAN.

Aaron Sorkin’s win should give hope to Reese Witherspoon. He came back from STUDIO 60. So can you! It was just one bad movie, Reese.

The guy who wrote all of the King’s speeches, David Seidler, had a lovely one himself for winning Best Original Screenplay. At 73, he’s the oldest writer to win this award. I expect his agency to take out a full-page congratulatory ad then drop him.

The INCEPTION screenplay was hurt somewhat by the fact that it was a confusing mess.

It’s odd to see a film win all the cinematography and special effects awards and not have the director be at least nominated. If just… part of the movie made sense, the first half hour, the opening credits, anything!

Imagine a double bill of INCEPTION and MATRIX 3? Heads would explode.

What was that pillow on the back of Sandra Bullock’s dress? Was she planning on having dinner at Yamata’s afterwards?

I don’t have a great feeling about Christian Bale’s marriage. Forgetting your wife’s name during your acceptance speech in front of a billion people generally is a warning sign.

It was a good year for mothers, though. Director Tom Hooper revealed that his mother found THE KING’S SPEECH project, longtime writer Dave Seidler’s mother always claimed he was “a late bloomer”, and the NYU kid who won for Best Short thanked his mom for providing the craft-services.

Michelle Williams was so pale that her white dress actually added color.

One of the great moments in Oscar history: the announcement that ABC has renewed its affiliation with the Motion Picture Academy. We cheered where I was. I'm sure you did, too.   

I was fine with Trent Reznor wearing a tuxedo, but come on, dude, cover it with chains.

Meanwhile, Randy Newman proves that perseverance does pay off. He claimed his second Oscar in twenty tries. And it just goes to show – you keep writing the same song year after year and eventually it’s going to win.

The Best Short Documentary Award should be re-titled: “Best Short Documentary about inspiring children or the ravages of war”. Do a film actually showing aliens landing on Earth, you got no shot unless it’s in Iraq or the playground of a day school in Harlem.

The Best Feature Length Documentary went to INSIDE JOB, a study of the recent economic collapse. I’m surprised they didn’t thank Bernie Madoff.

How come the winner of the Best Costume Design always looks like a schlump?

Watching Billy Crystal deliver that painfully desperate monologue was like looking at the nude photos of Nancy Sinatra in Playboy that she took when she was 54.

Donald Trump was in attendance – a grim reminder that one year you could be an Academy Award winner and the next you’re on CELEBRITY APPRENTICE manning a lemonade stand with Jose Canseco.

So President Obama thinks “As Time Goes By” is the greatest Oscar winning song. I was so hoping he'd say, “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp”?

I loved seeing one of the Coen Brothers nodding off during Oprah’s speech. Good luck seeing any of their movies on the mighty OWN network.

Why can Jude Law make Robert Downey Jr. drug bust jokes but not Ricky Gervais?

Melissa Leo wore Elvis’ last suit.

Okay, I know there’s something wrong with me but I always look forward to the In Memoriam feature. Come on, you do too. When you watch with a group of people don’t you all go “Awwwwwww” after seeing one person or another? In the group I was with, everyone was also going “Jewish!” “Not Jewish!” “Jewish!” “Definitely Jewish!”

Don’t you also try to catch them omitting somebody? And try to figure out who the big last one is? This year it was appropriately Lena Horne. (Vegas took a bath. They had Blake Edwards 2:1).

I wonder though why they needed Halle Berry to come out and give a tribute to Lena Horne. They could have easily just gone from Celine Dion singing “Smile” to the film clip of Lena singing “Smile”. That said, Halle looked radiant. She may not be the most beautiful woman in the world but she certainly is the most beautiful crazy woman in the world.

If you’ve set your DVR, no matter how late into the broadcast you start, by the last half hour you’ve caught up to real time and have to suffer through the commercials.

I was so hoping graffiti artist Banksy had won for EXIT TO GIFT SHOP. Can’t you just picture it? He comes down the aisle in his gorilla mask. Six officers arrest him on stage. He gives his speech. It’s long. The play-off music begins. He continues talking. He’s tasered. “Coming up next, Anne Hathaway introduces Jennifer Hudson who introduces Gwyneth Paltrow!”

How come no Barbara Walters Special this year? I was really looking forward to her interviewing superstars Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, and Stana Katic.

The Best Actor intros were just excruciating. No one takes themselves more seriously than thespians. In those insufferable introductions I must’ve heard the following words at least five times: depth, journey, courageous, range, love for the craft, love for the art, artist, empathy, extraordinary, inspiration, gift, power, eloquence. Just remember, actors are the only people who watch James Lipton on INSIDE THE ACTORS’ ASSHOLE and don’t laugh.

If ever there was a lock it was Colin Firth. See that Reese? This is a man who was in MAMMA MIA! You can come back!

Are they now going to remake the trailer for NO STRINGS ATTACHED starring “Academy Award Winner, Natalie Portman”?

I found it interesting that for all the hype about trying to make the broadcast younger and hipper, at the end of the day, Kirk Douglas stole the show. Hathaway and Franco and Eisenberg and Adams and Cruz and Paltrow and Gyllenhaal and Gyllenhaal may be movie stars but Kirk is still fuckin’ Spartacus.

(Thanks to Annie Levine & Jon Emerson for providing some of the best lines of this review.)

See you at the movies. Unless I get screeners.

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