Monday, February 28, 2011

The Best and Worst of the 83rd Academy Awards

Okay, I was keeping score on last night's Academy Awards. That's because I had entered MUBI's contest to name all the winners. Anyway, I did as well as I usually do when predicting the Final Four at the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Which means I stunk. And trust me, I had help with Entertainment Weekly's picks which are usually correct. So this being an awards show, it's time to hand out my awards for the program.

1. Biggest Tease- Anne Hathaway. Hey, get your mind out of there, it's not what you think. During the middle of the program she sings a song making fun of Hugh Jackman for not doing a musical number with her like they did two years ago. Now you think Hugh will change his mind and they'll break out into song and dance. But noooo... By the way, has any producer thought about putting the two in a musical? Both are attractive and clearly can sing and dance.

2. Biggest Mistake Repeated Over and Over- Future programs must stop the performances of the best song nominees. They usually kill the momentum of the show. And if you eliminated them, the show would end on time. I mean they don't play three minutes of movie scores. This is a movie awards program. But that leads us to...

3. Biggest Surprise- Nope it's not "The Lost Thing" winning best Animated Short Film. It was the fact that Zachary Levi ("Chuck" from Chuck) can sing. And I mean he can sing well. Okay, it may not be a secret to you but I don't follow his career.

4. Worst Hair- What was up with Scarlett Johannson's hair? It looked like she just got out of bed. Frizzled and sticking out.

5. Best Fashion Comeback- Helena Bonham Carter. It wasn't a complete success. A little too Goth for me but it was much better than that disaster she wore at the Golden Globes.

6. Best "Up Yours" Moment- Tie. Randy Newman describes that at the awards luncheon, winners are told they should not have lists in their speech. Then proceeds to list his gratitude. He also blasts the Academy for having only four nominees in the song category.

Melissa Leo. After winning the award for "The Fighter" she was genuinely relived. Probably because of the cleavage bearing campaign she put on. During her speech, she dropped the "F" bomb. Cool. And hey, it's use in "The King" was important.

7. Going in the Wrong Direction Award- Tie. Last year the Academy opened up the Best Picture award to ten films to make the show more popular. This dilution is a big mistake.

Hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco. In another effort to be increase the ratings, the show's hosts were two young people designed to appeal to the younger demographic. So we had a bored James Franco and the lovely but vanilla Anne Hathaway. Even the open was lame. In the skit, they go into the dream world of Alec Baldwin ala "Inception" to find the secrets of hosting. Alec Baldwin?! How about Billy Crystal? Did anyone ever think of Robin Williams? Having these two host the show is just cheap pandering. And it didn't work.

The big ending. In an effort to show that the magic of film crosses all demographics except old people, the show had public school kids perform "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Then all the winners came out on stage. It was a big ending. Sigh. But the show has gone on for over three hours. Just have Anne and James say goodnight. Cue the "Hooray for Hollywood" song. That's how it should end. We're all tired and want to get drunk.

8. Best Presenters- Tie. Oprah Winfrey was just great. Her speech about the need for documentaries was inspiring. And it brought a seriousness to the film industry. It's not just commerce. It's art. It's a message.

Sandra Bullock. Her jokes about the best actors worked. Oh and by the way, having one actor summarize the performances is much better than last year's pal actor introductions.

Steven Speilberg. In one short introduction, he tells you one movie will win but notes that all the films are great. He says the winner will join the ranks of films like "The Godfather" while the others will join the ranks of films like "Citizen Kane."

9. Best Acceptance Speech- Tie. David Seidler won for Best Original Screenplay. If you look at his IMDB page and Wikipedia page, you realize it's been a long road for this writer. And it was poignant to see and hear him reach the pinnacle.

Christian Bale won Best Supporting Actor for playing Dicky Eklund in "The Fighter." There's always an element of danger for Bale, so you sat on pins and needles as he started to speak. First, you find out that he's not that bad of a guy. He directed attention to the real Eklund sitting in the audience. Second, you find out he's got a sense of humor. He talked about his co-star's Melissa Leo's "F" bomb and noted he's been know to use that word. It's a reference to his meltdown on the set of "Terminator: Salvation." (2009)

And the final award...

10. Best Moment- Kirk Douglas' presentation of the Best Supporting Actress Award. Douglas who is ninety four and has suffered a stroke still has it. The old coot hammed it up. He had fun. And who knew he had such great comic timing. Yeah, he kept the nominees waiting. So what? The man's a legend and was a riot. Great to see him.

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