Monday, February 27, 2012

And The Oscar Goes To…

As I write this the Oscar after parties are just about over. It was an interesting night for Hollywood. The 84th Academy Awards Ceremony was one of the better ones I’ve seen.

Billy Crystal was very funny. His running joke about the renaming of the theater because of the Kodak company’s filing for bankruptcy was very clever.

His opening film was a bit long. Kissing George Clooney reminded me of his days as Jody Campbell form “Soap.” I told you Hollywood loves gay guys.

His ad libs were witty. His musical number (the only prominent segment that featured music the whole night) was clever and really brought the audience into the show.

I thought the film clip montage that ended with the infamous line from “When Harry Met Sally” was a subtle but fitting tribute to Crystal’s contribution to the movies over the years.

At the end of the clip he acknowledged that the woman delivering “I’ll have what she’s having” was the film’s director, Rob Reiner’s, mother but the subtext of that moment was what really stood out for me.

You see, that line was not originally in the script. Rob Reiner added it to the end of the scene at Crystal’s suggestion. That’s something that notches Billy Crystal’s place in movie history.

The “In Memoram” portion of the show was a bit different this year. The montage included video and audio clips of the people it was honoring and there was a live performance of the song “What a Wonderful World”. I thought it was a nice touch but the song choice was a bit strange.

The live performance provided a bit more reverence. It gave the segment the dignity that it deserves. The reactions by way of applause were not there but it didn’t matter. The audience’s silence was a much more appropriate tribute to all those the segment honored. I hope they continue to present it that way.

The only thing that the ceremony lacked was music from the nominated movies. The original scores and the two nominated songs were not given any air time at all. With only two songs it would have been very easy to do some kind of dueling performances before the award was announced. But that didn’t happen. I thought that was a bad production decision. Also the absence of a full orchestra in the orchestra pit in front of the stage in favor of an ensemble set up in the lodge boxes left something to be desired.

I found the performance by Cirque De Soleil to be very entertaining but it left me scratching my head, I always enjoy watching most any Cirque performance but I what did their number have to do with movies? Why didn’t the producers do something a bit more appropriate? To me, it was a decision by the producers to let someone else do their work for them.  

The most “uncomfortable” moment of the night was the acceptance speech of the Iranian guy who won for best foreign language film. It was a bit political in nature but basically conveyed this message. Despite the tensions between its government and the rest of the world, the people of Iran are just human beings who appreciate cultures of other countries and love movies just like everyone else. I’m not going to comment on that here.

Of course the acceptance speech of the night was by Octavia Spencer when she won for Best Supporting Actress. She was truly overwhelmed by the experience.

The most memorable moment of the night was Angelina Jolie’s dress and pose. Her right leg is now part of Oscar show history.

The running surprise of the night was the dominance of “Hugo” in a lot of the minor categories. It tied with “The Artist” for the most wins of the night, 5.  Of course 3 of awards “The Artist” won were: Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. That makes it the “big winner” of the night. But Martin Scorsese and his crew have nothing to be ashamed of.

The single surprise of the night was Meryl Streep’s win for “Best Actress.” Everyone expected Viola Davis to win. You could feel the shock and surprise the moment it was announced. The fact that she had won for the first time in 20 years had a bit of a “Susan Lucci finally winning an Emmy” feel to it. I think Streep won for her career not because her performance in “The Iron Lady” was better than Davis’ in “The Help”.

My personal favorite moment of the night was the fact that “The Muppets” won an Oscar. It made the whole night worth the while. It means that I now have one more award winning Disney song on my Ipod.

Overall I really enjoyed the Oscar broadcast. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst.

Now for an update on my predictions. I was right on 5 out of 6. That “Best Actress” surprise kept me from a perfect night.

Congratulations to all the winners. Now it’s time to make it a point to see all the winning films I haven’t seen yet. In addition I look forward to going heading out to the multiplex to see the movies and performances that are going to be among next year’s nominees. Why don’t you grab some popcorn and meet me there?

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