A Few Observations on the Oscars

I am definitely not in the camp that thought yesterday’s Oscar show was lame. I’ve read a lot of that today, and everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion. It does, at times, feel less and less like it is aiming to please a wide audience, and that the Oscars has become little more than an insider’s “you pat my back, I’ll pat yours'” schmooze fest. But, It’s still the Academy Awards and the 84th installment was more than watchable.

Great to have Billy Crystal back at the helm. His opening montage placing himself in the nominated films is always a blast. Not sure we needed his Sammy Davis, Jr. in the back of the Midnight in Paris carriage with the Beebs, but a minor complaint. The kiss with Clooney made up for it.

Speaking of Clooney, just me or has he taken over the throne Jack used to sit in? If that’s the case, nothing against George, but I miss Jack.

While we’re on the subject of Clooney, after all these many award shows, year after year since he blew up, have we seen him with any one companion twice? Just wondering if I missed something. What a cad. To quote Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be King.”

Hugo’s wins were warranted, and I’m a big Robert Richardson fan, but the film was in 3-D, and that should have a slight penalty built-in to the scoring system. Years from now scientists will prove with a study that repeated use of disposable 3-D glasses causes glaucoma. Or at least mild migraines. Not sure what the next technology will be but I hope it has nothing to do with mandatory eye wear.

Octavia Spencer was genuinely moved during her moment of acceptance. She is yet another example (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ernest Borgnine, Brenda Fricker, John C. Reilly), that character actors are just one role away from pay dirt.

Along those same linesThe Descendants award-winning adapted screenplay was co-written by two local L.A. actors who have been roughing it in the trenches for years. Pretty amazing to see Nat Faxon (an actor whom you’ve seen in over a hundred tv commercials over the years) and Jim Rash (yet another Groundlings Improv. graduate) up on stage clutching Oscars. Way to go, guys.

As much as I wanted Brad Pitt to win for Moneyball (partially cuz I also loved him in The Tree of Life), it was appropriate to give the statue to Jean Dujardin for an inspired and memorable performance in The Artist. There were a handful of moments that really gave me that great goosebumps feeling that we all look for in art. The scenes between Pitt and his daughter (Kerris Dorsey), both in the guitar store, and the final scene with him tearing up to her recorded song in the car, were incredibly touching. Equally sweet were the moments between ‘George Valentin’ and ‘Peppy Miller’ in The Artist. One, where he gives her the beauty mark he says will separate her from the pack; and then watching the two of them dance in the film’s finale. Big ol’ smile on my face. Good stuff.

The Wizard of Oz market research group was classic. Who knew Fred Willard liked monkeys so much? Something tells me the idea came from Christopher Guest.

I enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil bunch, but at what point should the producers examine the night’s scheduled events and make the wise decision to not cut off an acceptance speech. I suggest they start looking elsewhere to crunch the ad numbers and make it work. Who knows how many memorable moments we’ve been cheated out of over the years by artists who finally got their validation and were on the verge of a genuine recognition of it all, only to be rushed along like some poor slob at a Sizzler buffet. Trim the gags, let ’em speak!

But some of the gags were good. Will Ferrell and Zach what’s his name on the cymbals could have lasted another minute in my opinion.

Meryl Streep deserved to win for her outstanding performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. I even loved her acceptance speech, might have been the best of the night. But I find it a little inconsiderate when actors take on roles of real people and then don’t acknowledge them in the least in their speeches. Felt the same way when Charlize Theron got all uglied up and won the Oscar playing real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Not a peep.

All in all, very pleased with the way the night unfolded, and with the films and folks who won. Getting together with friends, talking about movies that moved us, comparing notes on actors and directors, music and muppets, artists we’ve lost and others who have arrived – count me in next year. And the year after that.

2 thoughts on “A Few Observations on the Oscars

  1. Lars, I agree with your review, especially the remarks regarding George Clooney and Meryl Streep. As for Clooney, he is a cad, but in a way that you almost HAVE to love him. Every woman on the planet has been forwarned that he is not the marrying kind….he has never been a “one woman man”; and on average his relationships expire around the 18 month mark. Rarely do any of his former girlfriends have negative remarks about him….”eyes wide open”. Finally, as he has aged he has become so much better at his craft, choosing pictures and international issues that are often timely, opening our hearts and minds to things that we might not otherwise considered.

    And Ms. Streep, the greatest actor of our generation after Hepburn. I was not suprised that she won. Since Sophie’s Choice and Kramer vs. Kramer she rarely misses in perfomances that are so spot on that I have often lost myself and fogotten who she was……..Thanks for your great review. And yes, let the winner finish their acceptence speeches, they have earned it!!!!

  2. Thanks, Terry. I agree that Clooney has come a long long way, both in his acting and his choice of material. And yes, by all accounts, a swell fellow. Curious of your thoughts on The Artist? Have you seen?

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