Oscars 2011: Final Thoughts

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved that Oscar season is over. All the hype and excitement and almost 24 hours after the ceremony it disintegrates into “time for a break.” That’s why you won’t see my early 2012 Oscar predictions this week. I have some, but seriously, enough already.

This year was remarkably different from last in many ways. The hype for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards trumped last years by the number of quality candidates for Best Picture. However, the accoutrements this year paled in comparison to last year. The producers threw together a schizophrenic show to say the least with two unfit hosts that on all accounts failed to honor the range of nominees.

Anyway, hopefully if you’re not a big movie buff you at least got a few names of some movies you want to check out.

Below are some of my thoughts on the various elements of the show and some superlatives. Also, I address the poll question results for the first ever MMR poll! Thanks to all who voted!

The Awards

Whereas last year “The Hurt Locker” walked away with six, the awards were more spread out this year. Until the later categories were announced, “The King’s Speech” was not cleaning up and gave the show some needed excitement.

Interesting to note that most of the technical awards went to blockbusters this year, which I don’t believe has happened very often. Other than “The Social Network” winning Best Editing, “Inception” won four technical awards, “Alice in Wonderland” took two and “The Wolfman” nabbed the last. In a year with generally poor blockbusters but great smaller films, this was a bit surprising, but then again, these categories are not about overall movie quality.

I think a lot of movie fans out there legitimately thought “Inception” would walk away empty-handed (based in part on my poll results) with exception of maybe one award, so tying for the most with four should be something to celebrate. It does have to bother you, however, that all four of those winners so graciously thanked Christopher Nolan for letting them be a part of the picture, yet the man doesn’t get a Best Director nod. He probably got more thank-yous than David Fincher did for “The Social Network” and Fincher was the biggest snub of the night.

Lastly, I feel as if I must apologize to “Alice in Wonderland.” Sometimes, its easy to dismiss a film’s technical achievements based on its overall quality. I was not too big a fan of the movie and it clouded what I should’ve seen as an obvious win for Best Costume Design.

As many of you predicted in my Oscar Poll, (thanks to the many of you who voted!), “127 Hours” and “True Grit” both came away with zilch, especially wowing for “Grit” because it had ten nomineations. Those two films accounted for 61 percent of your votes with “Hours” getting the most (40 percent). Ten of you voted for “Toy Story 3” which won two awards and “Inception” and “Black Swan” had seven votes each, so 10 percent. “The Fighter” received five votes.

The Hosts

Where to even begin? Anne Hathaway and James Franco were chosen to appeal to a younger audience, hence the joke Hathaway made about Franco looking quite appealing tonight to a younger demographic. That decision, among other adjectives, was misguided. The Oscars are not for young people. They don’t need to be entertained. Ratings for the ceremony each year are strong and will keep improving so long as bad decisions like this don’t get made.

I like both these actors, but I’d give their hosting duties a failing grade and mostly through no fault of their own. They should have never been there in the first place. A taped opening using green screen and some impressive inserting of the two into this year’s notable nominees made sense for them as they had a chance to act and not be nervous. When their first few jokes received little reception, they became uncomfortable and both responded quite differently from each other, which created a really weird dynamic. Hathaway kept pushing on with the charisma and “gushing” at the big-name presenters. Franco seemed to think “the hell with it.” He also looked stoned out of his mind, but I think that was partly combined with nerves. He couldn’t have cared less about being funny or cute after a certain point. Either way, I don’t think that “overexcited teen and stoner” was the dynamic the producers were hoping for.

It was almost cruel to invite Billy Crystal to present a bit on the old days of the Oscars and talk about then-perennial host Bob Hope. Crystal came out to a standing ovation. That’s crazy. If nothing else, it proved that the ceremony’s producers had completely forgot that the host of the show is also there to entertain the nominees and guests and make them feel at ease. Franco and Hathaway didn’t even come close.

The Show/Programming

The goal with the show was completely scattered. On one hand, you had this “Oscars History” educational component. On the other, you had stuff like the funny but completely out of place “auto-tuned movie musicals” bit. It featured movies that appealed to younger people, of course, with “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” being used. If the message was to celebrate the Academy Awards, most of that was lost.

With a three-hour show, a lot of decisions have to be made. The decision here was to sacrifice showcasing the nominees for these history lessons and random things like Anne Hathaway’s “Les Miz” parody sung to Hugh Jackman for not coming on stage to sing with her. I like when the films and the nominees get attention. With the exception of the return of Best Song performances, the showcases were all weak. I’m especially bummed that they retired the thing where some famous Oscar-winning or nominated actor or actress comes out and says something about each acting nominee.

This is the second year where the ten Best Picture nominees were mostly neglected. There wasn’t even some 30-second bit talking about why the film was nominated followed by a short montage. Nothing. Who would even think to see “Winter’s Bone” after this despite the two acting nominations? No one. I thought that was supposed to be the point of the expanded field.


Best Presenter(s): I’m going to move away from the humor here and thank Steven Spielberg, who offered some consoling words to those of use with favorite films of 2010 that didn’t involve dead monarchs. If you were bubbling over with anticipation to the point that you didn’t listen to what he said, he explained that one of these ten films would join the ranks of “The Deer Hunter,” “West Side Story,” etc. and then said that the other nine would join the ranks of “Raging Bull” and other classic films that didn’t win the Oscar. That’s the truth right there. If you think your favorite film not winning means it will be lost in the annuls of cinema history, you’re dead wrong. His words were true and took a not-so-serious jab at the whole ceremony, a nice reminder not to take this show so seriously.

Worst Presenter(s): Nothing particularly poignant to say, but Matthew McCounaghey and Scarlett Johansson looked awful and completely disinterested. At least no young teen starts were brought into to look uncomfortable this year.

Most Awkward Moment: Any time Anne Hathaway was on stage. Seriously. More so than Melissa Leo saying the f-word and the two people who made fun of her for saying the f-word.

Funniest Acceptance Speech: Randy Newman. I don’t even remember what he said, but it was along the lines of “wow, Academy, this is awesome. nice of you to think of me a second time this 20th time around.”

Worst Moment: Where to even begin? Well, for me it was David Fincher losing Best Director. The rest of the show got by on my anticipation for this category to arrive.

Best Nominee Showcase: Best Song got a good treatment this year. The man-on-street way of recalling past amazing movie songs include President Obama’s “appearance” was a bit weird, but too often we forget great movie songs. We also got to hear actual performers of the songs performing their songs. This category also wins by default because the other showcases were lame.

Worst Nominee Showcase: What a middle finger right at the end of the ceremony with the Best Picture montage. They set the whole thing to Colin Firth’s speech at the end of “The King’s Speech,” which basically said “everyone knows this movie is going to win so we’re making it the focal piece of this montage and drowning out the other films.” It was awful to not see some of my favorite films of the year get equal credit.

Best Overall Acceptance Speech: I think its hard to argue, even with some heartfelt speeches, against David Seidler’s speech for winning Best Original Screenplay for “The King’s Speech.” His story is certainly moving given that he had a stutter himself, plus at his age to be awarded an Oscar for the first time is something special. He also had a sense of humor about it, so points on all ends.

Biggest “Accidental” Spoiler: In one of the nominee showcase montages, one of the decisive turning points in “True Grit” was completely spoiled. I hope those yet to see it weren’t paying attention.

Best Dress: I’m disqualified from this category for two reason: my gender and my love for Natalie Portman.


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