Crystalized


I'm sure that the world doesn't need another Oscars analysis. And while that hasn't stopped me the past couple of years, real-life concerns have me too distracted right now to forge ahead with any prolonged insight; neither my head nor my heart is in the game.



Billy Crystal's return as host was more triumphant in terms of his professionalism than truly rollicking humor, but that's probably okay. We had some good, yet not much bad or ugly — mostly things were perfectly fine but unremarkable, unless that was just my mood — and it's the controversy, the unexpected, the WTF moments where quick-minded emcees (with backstage writers at the ready for good measure) like Crystal shine. I noticed and appreciated his ease at moving the show along, perhaps due to the particular contrast with recent hosts, even while wishing for some wittier material.

My dislikes, mild though they were, included...

— the first montage. I'm a fan of montages, but they have to have some point beyond simply "the wonder of movies". We've seen all these clips anyway. Perhaps since the Oscars were notably international this year someone could've switched things up by playing us familiar scenes as dubbed into other languages. Otherwise I really don't need to see a moment of Forrest Gump or Titanic (or really even Jaws) in such a bland overview again.

— the absence of any sort of on-stage duel between the dual nominees for Best Original Song.

— Lead Actor and Actress presenters speaking to each of the nominees, a new tradition that's well-intentioned but ill-realized. Unless they can rework their lines into their own words somewhat and get off the teleprompter — as Colin Firth seemed to do when honoring Meryl Streep — it's not worth the time and discomfort.

— the robotic undertone to the microphones.

— Viola Davis losing out to Meryl Streep, even though it's kinda fun for that to screw up so many Oscar pools.

— the fact that Hugo lost out on the big prizes to The Artist. I enjoyed The Artist a great deal, as I wrote last month, but as I wrote the month before last Hugo was a superlatively enchanting experience to me. Academy members who felt that Marty Scorcese finally got his gold for The Departed and may well be up for the honor again, preferring to celebrate an outsider's celebration of old Hollywood, okay, I guess; those who didn't even bother seeing Hugo because of some mistaken belief that it was a kids' movie (and a belief that even if it was it was therefore not worthy of Best Picture prestige), shame on them. Hugo was deserving of far more than just the so-called technical awards it took home, not that I belittle the artistry of that work in any way.

— Emma Stone's dress.

My likes included...

— Emma Stone, who actually had me worried for a moment that she wasn't doing a gag. Acting!

— the opening film, again directed by Troy Miller, whose contributions I mentioned yesterday. I thought that it started much better than it ended, but it's always fun.

— some choice bits of Crystal's monologue, which sadly was mostly flat, especially the inside jokes like the reference to the venue as "The Chapter 11 Theater" (formerly The Kodak Theater, but currently nameless due to that company's business woes).

— the recurring first-person film of actors talking about their formative movie experiences.

— Jim Rash of Community mimicking Angelina Jolie's weird leg-out-her-dress-slit stance when picking up the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

— the Wizard of Oz focus-group film co-starring and directed by Christopher Guest, with Bob Balaban, Catherine O'Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, an almost unrecognizable Eugene Levy, and just enough but not too much of Fred Willard ("Was one green or was I nuts?").

— most of the categories' simple but bold backdrops and the creative sequences put together for awards such as Editing, Writing, and Music.

— the Danny Elfman / Cirque du Soleil piece.

— Chris Rock's bit on animated features, especially the line about how "if you're a black man you can play a donkey or a zebra".

— the beautiful rendition of "What a Wonderful World" sung by Esperanza Spaulding for the "In Memoriam" film. I actually found the film itself to be about as tasteful and lovely as it's ever been, in fact.

How about you?

A full list of nominees and winners is at the official Oscars website.

4 comments:

Teebore said...

Once again, we find ourselves in agreement on many things, including the general affability of Billy Crystal (who I've read get dinged by some on the internet).

I'm a fan of montages, but they have to have some point beyond simply "the wonder of movies".

I'm such a sucker for montages, I didn't mind it. I too would have liked a greater variety of films, but I can't get upset about even as general a theme as "the wonder of movies".

the absence of any sort of on-stage duel between the dual nominees for Best Original Song.

Either cut the category or treat it like every other. Drives me nuts.

the robotic undertone to the microphones.

For a show as well-produced as this, I can't believe it went on as long as it did.

Emma Stone's dress.

Haha! Agreed. Stupid big bow...

the recurring first-person film of actors talking about their formative movie experiences.

I also really liked those. An effective but different way to celebrate the movies.

the Danny Elfman / Cirque du Soleil piece.

I was fairly indifferent on that one. It was an amazing performance, but I don't know that I'd have missed it if it wasn't there (as opposed to performances of the original songs, which I did miss).

Chris Rock's bit on animated features, especially the line about how "if you're a black man you can play a donkey or a zebra".

His whole bit was very funny. Some have referred to his presentation as an audition for a return gig hosting, but I don't think it'll ever happen. He's too pointed for the Academy. He can get away with that kind of stuff for a few minutes. Over the course of a whole show, the stuffy Academy gets antsy.

Joan Crawford said...

Things I didn't like:

Gwyneth Paltrow


Things I did like:

Gwyneth Paltrow proving me right.

Teebore said...

@Joan: I have another friend who shares your opinions re: Gwyneth. I think you'd get along well. :)

Arben said...

I think that Jim Rash standing there making fun of Angelina, with the Oscar poised as a stand-in for his schvanze as a bonus, was my favorite thing the whole night.

Some of Billy Crystal's material did fall flat, but I'm not sure why so many of the postmortems of the show are giving him crap for being Billy Crystal.

Hugo should've taken one or both of the big prizes.