Oscars 2010: 24 Hours Later


So I thought I would take the day to think back on the ceremony and give my thoughts on how it went both in terms of awards and the telecast itself as well as hand out some superlatives. An awards show is always one of the trickiest things to produce, in my opinion, not that I can speak from experience. There’s very little about it that’s “good television.” Everyone tunes in out of habit each year or because there’s at least one to a handful of pieces that each person is invested in.

I’m an anomaly when it comes to the Oscars as are all film buffs. I understand what all the categories are about and I have thoughts and feelings about nearly every one of them, but that’s a slim percentage of the millions of viewers tuning in. They want to see who wins, they want it to be a good story and they want the person winning to validate their own opinions and more importantly to deserve the award.

Well, you’re getting my take on the Oscars, so expect something a little less traditional.

The Awards

To start with, I’m pleased with how things turned out. Do I feel like an achievement such as Avatar deserves to walk away more than just three awards? Sure. It wasn’t, however, the best film of the year and while I’m not so quick to endorse The Hurt Locker either, it certainly was as deserving. True, you couldn’t pick two films further apart from each other conceptually and in terms of how they were made. I mean, one earned the most of any film ever and the other just became the lowest-grossing Oscar winner. I think looking at both overall films, you marvel at them for different reasons and “Locker” had more Oscar-worthy reasons.

The Academy Awards is not a ceremony to honor films that make the most worldwide or break the most ground. Their goal is to reward the best film and “Locker” was simply better. Avatar was great because it was one of the greatest spectacles to ever be released and under groundbreaking circumstances. “Locker” was the more innovative in terms of story and themes. Avatar recycled them and tricked them out in a way that blew our minds. Both great achievements, but different achievements.

Moving on, I was most disappointed by Up in the Air not receiving a single award. That goes hand in hand with the biggest surprise. Geoffrey Fletcher’s win for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire I did not feel was as worthy. It’s a great story being the first black man to win in that category, but as far as his work — as great of an adaptation as “Precious” was — just isn’t as evident in the film as Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner’s ability to turn Walter Kirn’s novel into something that resonated so well with its audience. Considering I felt it was the best film of the year, it saddens me that it came away empty-handed.

Everything else was by the book and I can’t say I complain. I think I can say all the acting winners were deserving, even Sandra Bullock. I am definitely at peace with her win. When someone defies your expectations (like Mo’Nique even) with a performance that simply impresses you, that you didn’t believe the actor had inside him or her, I think that’s Oscar caliber. As long as history maintains a healthy balance between rewarding those like Meryl Streep or Jeff Bridges who do consistently great work and giving them their due and honoring those rare great performances from actors who might not appear ever again on the Kodak stage in an expensive piece of clothing, I’m cool with it.

The Hosts

I enjoyed Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin’s co-hosting job. I think part of the problem with the hosting gig before was that one man or woman simply can’t be as funny as two, especially two older nuts like those guys. They didn’t go for the big “knock-em dead” jokes, but they bounced sarcasm off one another that gave the impression that they were just glad to be there. I think it’s important to have seasoned and respected individuals up there because they know best how to handle the Hollywood crowd. As funny as Jon Stewart was that one time, for example, that’s not his crowd and you could tell he was so uncomfortable. These guys just did their thing, made fun of themselves just as much and set a nice tone for the evening. B+


Best Presenters: Tina Fey in some strange animal dress and Robert Downey Jr. with his powdery teal bow tie (as he later called it on Jimmy Kimmel Live) awarded original screenplay to Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker and made a heck of a duo. Some producer saw that and said “we need to get those two together for something one day.” In fact, looking at the blogosphere a lot of people thought that. The two joked about what writers hope from their actors (not ad-libbing) and what actors want from their writers (films set in warm weather locations). Heck, these two were good enough to host next years Oscars, although they would probably decline.

Worst Presenters: Adam Shankman desperately tried to reach a younger audience by asking Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Amanda Seyfried, Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron to present in the ceremony. A wasted effort. They all looked uncomfortable. One day, maybe we’ll see a couple of them in those seats because they earned their way into them, but not yet. Particularly Cyrus and Seyfried were nearly painful to watch.

Most Awkward Moment: I don’t think anything was more strange than when Music By Prudence won for Best Documentary Short Subject and producer Roger Ross Williams was cut-off abruptly by co-producer Elinor Burkett who stole all the speech time. In reading up on this later, apparently the two had recently gotten in and over a spat over the film and only one person could speak, so both rushed to the stage. Apparently,  Williams got up their first because his mother impeded Burkett with her cane. That’s crazy.

Most Beautiful Presenters: Stop my heart with a combination like Rachel McAdams and Jake Gyllenhaal who presented Best Adapted Screenplay.

Funniest Moment: I laughed loudest when Steve Martin went to discuss Christoph Waltz’ performance as Col. Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter,” describing him as a man who spends his time looking for Jews. “Well,” Martin said, gesturing to the crowd, “here you are.” I might be biased, but there were not that many laugh-out-loud moments in the show.

Worst Moment: I love Neal Patrick Harris, but the musical number opened a show that was completely untheatrical in nearly every way possible. Martin and Baldwin couldn’t have been less showy, the stage elements were gorgeous but kept tasteful and the focus was on the awards. Looking back it was really the only thing that didn’t work. That and the announcer saying basically that Avatar, “Blind Side” and “Locker” were the favorites to win Best Picture and that everyone else would be “a surprise.”

Best Nominee Showcase: Introduced last year, I absolutely love the idea of having an actor or someone speak about each nominee. This I think is such heartfelt and natural way to honor the five performances in each category. I think the actors appreciate them and I also think it’s the best way to celebrate the category as opposed to merely the winner. A close second would be the sound categories being introduced with a little featurette on what these people do and why it’s extraordinarily important. Right there with that, however, was the interviewing of the main characters from the animated features.

Worst Nominee Showcase: The Academy proved that the 10 Best Picture nominees was all about money and ratings when they more or less gave these films the could shoulder. I know you can’t make the ceremony that much longer, but at least do something that truly honors every film if you’re going to bother to give away that many nominations. I felt like District 9 and A Serious Man were hardly a part of the ceremony, for example. I also didn’t so much like the dance crews doing the Best Score nominees, although they were quite talented.

Camera Magnet: The cameras couldn’t help but keep showing George Clooney and how much he wanted to mess with everyone watching the ceremony. He can never just take things as is and he made enough awkward faces at jokes by presenters and the hosts about him. Goes to show what happens when you get sick and tired of hearing about how every woman in the world wants your pants.

Best Overall Acceptance Speech: I really thought Sandra Bullock’s speech was the most heartfelt and meaningful of the evening on the whole. She took the time to thank who she needed to and talk about what mattered in her life, but to her it’s about what the role means and why she’s honored she got to play it. I don’t think speeches should be overrun with thank yous as there’s always time afterward for that or to call those people, etc. so it was nice to hear her focus on what really matters: the value behind the storytelling.

Best Acceptance Speech Moment: You always have your touching moments such as one of the technical award winners (was it Star Trek?) who overcame an illness once thought to be terminal, but there were two other parts of speeches that stood out. One was definitely for multiple Oscar-winner Sandy Powell (The Young Victoria), dedicating her award to those who work on costume design for movies that don’t involve dead monarchs or glittery musicals, whose work is constantly overlooked by the Academy voters. You might say she should still be thankful or humble, but when you win awards, have given other speeches and other great designers aren’t getting recognized, you feel a bit obligated I might imagine, to give a shout-out to them. That’s like giving a shout-out to fellow nominees.

I also liked Michael Giaccino’s (Best Score for Up) bit of advice to kids out there who love doing the arts and film, encouraging them and telling them that these hobbies of theirs are not a waste of their time. That kind of speech is indicative of someone who’s truly honored by their award. You never know if one day you’ll be lucky enough to hold an Oscar, so keep exploring and who knows what will happen.

Most Random Set Element: Anyone else wonder why those lit lampshades kept descending from the ceiling? I couldn’t for the life of me figure that one out.

Best Dress: Ha. I’m not going here. I will say of all the big winners, Sandra Bullock looked the best.

Most Underrated Joke: Ben Stiller managed to not totally fail going on in full Na’vi make up despite the possibility that he in fact could’ve been seen as the worst joke of the show. I think he pulls off all his presenting duties well despite the limb he usually goes out on. You have to applaud the irony of doing an Avatar joke for the Best Make Up category considering the film was all CGI.


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