2012 Post-AA Ramblings

Saturday March 3, 2012

THE SHOW (* 1/2)

Clocking in at 237 very tedious minutes (I think even my stop watch fell asleep), this year's edition was barely a half star better than last year's utter fiasco.  With apologies to Sergio Leone, this breakdown will pretty much sum up the event through this reviewer's eyes:

The Good
-The performance by Cirque Du Soleil, performing to a score from multiple Oscar nominated composer Danny Elfman, was nothing short of spectacular and was close to being the highlight of the night.  That being said, when a circus/acrobatic act is the main highlight of cinema's version of the Super Bowl, then, as stated in "The Music Man", you got "trouble right here in River City".  
-The opening montage was, again, abundant with CGI and special effects, plopping host Crystal into the nominated films.  It was its usual dazzling old self.  Old because, unless you were new to this show, you might agree that it is finally time to change it up a tad and finally try a fresh approach next year.
-Presenter Emma Stone's shtick overacting her role as a first time presenter (with a dead pan Ben Stiller) was amusing-even if it went on a couple of minutes too long.
-The "Bridesmaids" presenters were on their game-especially Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig.  Their bit comparing short films to the male anatomy was witty and hilarious while also providing a much needed edge to the stodgy proceedings.
-Notable presenters included Tina Fey, Chris Rock, and Zack Galifianakis with Will Ferrell clashing large cymbals directly in front of Jolie and Pitt.  Any of these folks made me hope that they will be considered hosting upcoming AA's.  And, how cool and daring would it be to have the irreverent Sacha Baron Cohen do the honors?  His stunt on the red carpet before the show, accidentally pouring, what supposedly was Kim Jong II's ashes on Ryan Seacrest, was hilarious.    
-Angelina's leg and then Jim Rash's mocking her stance immediately afterwards while accepting the adapted screenwriting award.
-The skit with Christopher Guest, Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, and Jennifer Coolidge as a pre-screening focus group for "The Wizard of Oz" brought the most laughs (although Fred Willard's repeated references to the flying monkeys had some folks labeling it as racist humor).
-"The Artist" practically cleaning up the major awards as I correctly predicted back in early December.  It was clearly the best film of the year and deserved to win its five Oscars:  Best Picture, Director, Actor, Original score, and Costume Design.
-And speaking of costume design, did J. Lo, wearing a VERY plunging neckline, actually have a wardrobe malfunction on stage?

 The Bad
-Billy Crystal.  After trying to raise the younger graphic numbers last year with Hosts James Franco and Ann Hathaway, the Academy went the opposite direction with a 60ish comedian who, for the most part, was the only one laughing at his lame borscht belt-type comic lines.  You had to wonder what it would have been like to have the edgier Eddie Murphy hosting with his pal Brett Ratner producing.  Too bad Ratner had to open his mouth which led to his firing 3 months before the telecast. 
-The cutting off of the only moving acceptance worth hearing:  Octavia Spencer winning the Best Supporting Actress Award for "The Help".
-The feedback from the main stage mike-heard by any viewer with  good hearing.  Was the sound guy asleep like the rest of us?
-How many times are the same tired movie clips going to be shown in montages.  Case in point:  the restaurant scene from "When Harry Met Sally" with Rob Reiner's mom delivering the "I'll have what's she's having" line after observing Meg Ryan scream a fake orgasm.
-The tired montage of actors pontificating how the magic of movies  changes lives.
-Presenters Robert Downey Jr. (as a documentary film maker) with Gwyneth Paltrow fell embarrassingly flat.  

The Ugly
-When Crystal was a regular on Saturday Night Live in the 80's, one of his recurring characters had him in black face impersonating Sammy Davis, Jr.  How inappropriate was it to drudge it up and present in the opening in these sensitive PC times?
-Equally awkward was Crystal, after Spencer received her Best Supporting Oscar, referencing the lack of black women in Beverly Hills.  
-The totally unoriginal idea of placing the camera on audience faces with a voice-over proclaiming their inner thoughts.  Who wrote this stuff??
-Leaving out Bubba Smith, who memorably played Hightower in the "Police Academy" movies, as part of the In Memoriam segment, was puzzling and disappointing.

Although not a tremendous surprise, Meryl Streep getting her 3rd Oscar after 17 nominations. Viola Davis appeared gracious but she has to wonder what she needs to do to finally make it to the podium.

The lame jokes by longtime host Crystal and the lack of originality that permeated the majority of the telecast.

Despite Crystals lame material (see above), he did deliver the best line of the night: "Nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires give each other golden statues."

T.J. Martin, a member of the team that won Best Documentary for "Undefeated".

Best Actor Jean Dujardin who got away cleanly when he used the French word at the end of his speech. (I knew those six years of French would come in handy one day!)

The Independent Spirit Awards held the night before. (By the way, a much more entertaining show where the audience sits at tables drinking liquor throughout the night. "The Artist" cleaned up there as well.)

Robert Downey Jr. is on an unfortunate roll. He had this honor last year as well. The boy needs a new writer.

Sacha Byron Cohen on the Red Carpet.

Like last year, I had 10 out of 11 correct of my major award predictions- missing out on Best Actress.