Feb
23

Kelly’s Oscar Thoughts (complete with links galore!)

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A PRE-OSCAR conversation with the husband:

ME: Hugh Jackman? That’s an odd choice for Oscar host.
HIM: He’s actually a song and dance man.

ME: We are talking about Wolverine, right?
HIM: Yes.

ME: Really? Hmp.

An excerpt from a PRE-OSCAR email to a friend:

I watched the SAG Awards last night as I graded my last set of papers since nothing else was on. It was okay. Maybe I’m just over all the awards show fuss. Not even caring that much about the Oscars. Anyway, we finished our Sports Night marathon so now we can get to those screeners!

Me to my class of 8th graders AFTER the Oscars:

“Okay, we must talk about the Oscars! Who watched it?

Yep, turns out the new producers of the Academy Awards got some game and brought showmanship and class back to the tired awards show. Who knew?

Greg and I like movies, so we like the Oscars, and we look forward to watching each year. We’ve even hosted a few Oscar parties complete with Oscar pools. (Greg won’t admit it, but he’s still a little miffed over the year I beat him by choosing “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp” to win Best Song.) We attempt to see all of the Best Picture nominees and as many nominated acting performances as we can.

One of the small successes Greg has had “in the biz” is that he sold a screenplay, (His former boss helped him score a gig to write a re-make of an old horror flick.) and even though it never got made, (not uncommon in Hollywood) it did get him into the Writers Guild (WGA). So shortly before Awards Season begins, many DVDs of films looking for Guild and Oscar nods appear in our mailbox “for our consideration.” Sweet! This year, we got a great selection including all five films nominated for Best Picture, so we got to see them all without setting foot inside a movie theater. It’s okay to be jealous. I have a sneaking suspicion that now with a toddler in our lives, this is the only way Greg and I could or will ever again manage such a feat. God bless the WGA!

Anyway, as you may have gleaned, this year I was pretty ambivalent about the upcoming Oscars, especially since other than Slumdog Millionaire, I wasn’t all that impressed with the other nominated films. Oh, I thought they were good, but they didn’t really wow me. (And I know how that must hurt them and how desperately they were seeking my approval — ha ha.) So I wasn’t even sure I’d be watching. But it was a Sunday night after returning from my brief travels to the CATE conference (update forthcoming, promise), and I was tired, and nothing else was on. Vegging in front of the television and passing judgment on movie star fashion choices and public speaking abilities seemed like the thing to do. What the hell.

Pleasantly surprised was I! Hugh Jackman turned out be a great host, and there were changes made that really worked. So here is a rundown of what I liked and what I didn’t. My award awards if you will. Because, after all, my opinion on this topic is so very important.

Best Host since Billy Crystal: Hugh Jackman

First of all, he’s nice to look at. Very nice. He seemed at ease with the audience and was well-spoken. He was funny, but didn’t try to be a comedian. The opening number showcased his surprising (to me, anyway) talents. The opening number, especially if it’s musical in nature, is something that works or just doesn’t. (Remember Rob Lowe, anyone?) Anne Hathaway was a great sport (kudos to her for taking that risk), and it worked. I wasn’t so fond of the second musical number with Beyonce, but for what it was, it was well done, and Hugh still pulled off a consistently solid and well-rounded performance.

Best New Oscar Show Idea:

This one’s a tie. First, I LOVED how they handled the acting awards with five previous winners each presenting and addressing one of the nominees. The only presenter for these who seemed “off” was Anthony Hopkins. (I was shouting at the television, “Stand still!” I’m not sure exactly how much of presenters’ scripts are ad-libbed, but his address to Brad Pitt was confusing and muddled.) I thought the introductions of the presenters, the staging, the lighting, and the personal touch of the actor-to-actor messages made it fresh and classy.

The second Best Idea Award goes to the person who came up with the idea of grouping the awards and then having one or two presenters announce all of the awards for that group. For example, having Will Smith present all the awards for sound. This strategy helped cut down on time by eliminating the need to introduce and bring out presenters for every single award. Fewer presenters also meant less flat, strained, or just inarticulate presenter banter. Quality over quantity. ‘Bout time!

Best Presenter Pairing: Tina Fey and Steve Martin

Whoever thought of that one gets a gold star! A+ ! Both of these folks are talented, funny writers and are used to performing sketch comedy, so who could have been better together to present the writing awards? While Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black were a good pair too, whoever wrote their material missed the mark. But Jen looked cute and she was still articulate and did the best with what she had to work with — take that, front row Husband Stealer Jolie. (Is just coincidence that Jen was in white and Angelina was in black? Hmmm…)

Worst Presenter: Bill Maher

Memo to Bill: It’s not about you. (Okay, stole that from Greg) But Bill Maher did shamelessly refer to his documentary that was not nominated and dismiss all gods as “silly.” Oh, Bill. When are you going to learn that while you can be funny and make interesting arguments, there’s a time and place for everything. The Oscars — not one of them.

Best Acceptance Speech
:
Kate Winslet and Sean Penn

We have another tie. I could not decide between the sweet shampoo-bottle-as-Oscar childhood image recalled by Kate Winslet (plus, I’m a sucker for British accents and actors) and Sean Penn jokingly calling everyone “Commie homo-loving sons-o’-guns.” Both were priceless and appropriate in their own way. (Sean, tell Bill Maher that if you win, you get to use your time to make political statements.)

Best Dressed Female: Penelope Cruz

One simply cannot write Oscar commentary without mentioning fashion. Penelope’s vintage gown was stunning. Also among MY best dressed list: Alicia Keys and Meryl Streep. (Thank you for being age-appropriate, Ms. Streep. Can you please have a talk with Goldie Hawn and Sophia Loren? Did you notice how Goldie’s’ girls’ were coming out the sides of her dress? Yeah, um, that’s a sign that you’re too old to be shopping in your daughter’s closet. ) I also actually liked the dresses worn by Jessica Biel and Kate Winslet (both have gotten mixed reviews) and even though she made an odd choice for hair and dress, I thought Tilda Swinton‘s look suited her in a strange sort of way. Angelina’s hair and earrings were gorgeous, but I think she just pulled the dress out of her closet. It wasn’t ugly by any means, just a basic black nothing unique dress.

Worst Dressed Female: Whoopi Goldberg

This was close, and Beyonce and Miley Cyrus could have easily taken this one as well. I hate the mermaid or fishtail look. Always have. Combine that with material better suited for drapes or throw pillows, and you’ve got Beyonce. Miley had a sort of fish scales meets glittery doilies kind of look. Me no likey.

Best Dressed Male: Who cares?

Really. A tux is a tux and as long as it fits you well and you’re not doing something too weird (see next award), you’re fine. No one cares about the guys.

Worst Dressed Male: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Was he there to accept an award or pull a heist? (I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who asked this question.) Black on black on black on black? The jury is still out on Mickey Rourke. His getup was weird but kind of worked for him. I think.

Final Oscar Thoughts:

A R Rahman, winner for the Slumdog Millionaire song “Jai Ho” has some BIG ears. I think his acceptance speeches were sweet, but I kept getting distracted. I just had to say that.

Personally, I am thrilled that Slumdog won because it WAS the best picture, and I am also glad that Sean Penn won because his performance was amazing. Heath’s parents accepting his award was touching. It was also about time that the show stopped cutting off winners’ acceptance speeches. Give them their moment in the sun for God’s sake! They just won an Oscar! For the most part, the folks who should have won, won, (although not all that should have been nominated were) and there were no big surprises. So the fact that it was still a memorable Oscars speaks much about the show. Bravo.

Categories : journeys in life

Comments

  1. Minimeltdown says:

    Well, I know you’re just DYING for MY opinion too, so here goes. Mostly, I think you are right on. I totally agree with your analysis, except I have to add that Dustin Lance Black (Screenwriter, Milk) also had one of the best speeches of the night. Way to give hope to all the gay kiddies out there. I believe Sean Penn is one of the greatest actors of our time so I too was glad to see him recognized. I have to say I thought the Baz Luhrman number with Beyonce’ was fantastic. It literally brought tears to my eyes it was so good. And maybe because of my tears I didn’t notice she was lip synching but I find it interesting that people are making such a huge deal of that…all I have to say is to all you haters: you get up there and dance like that and see how well you can sing in the process.

  2. Minimeltdown says:

    P.S. Amen about quality over quantity in terms of the presenters AND not cutting them off during their speeches. Seriously, what does it take to get your moment of glory without being interrupted? You’d think winning a damn Oscar would do it and this year it did.

  3. trogdor says:

    I liked the new format, too, but I heard that it was one of the three lowest-rated Oscars ever, and I’m worried that they’ll revert back to costly, stupid, boring, gimmicky stuff. I agree with what both of you said. Wolverine forever! Woot!

  4. Irene says:

    Well, OK, I know you are just dying to hear my 2 cents worth.
    I thought the Oscars were, finally, worth staying up for. I agree Hugh Jackman, not only eye candy, but did a great job. And while those who won weren’t a great surprise, I actually LIKED Sean Penn in Milk … and I’m not a Sean Penn fan. Winslet was great in the Reader. I absolutely loved the way they handed out the Oscars and gave well deserved nods to each of the nominees. That was really nice. I thought the fashions this year were wonderful. I wanted just about every dress! AND THE JEWELS!!! Although, Kelly, I must admit that Kate Winslet’s wasn’t one of my favs. Of course, there was no real drama this year – no streaking nude men, no swan dresses