Pre-mommyhood, I used to see practically all the movies before the Academy Awards aired and felt almost as if I had a personal stake in who won. Oscar parties with ballots were also a yearly event. I’m still a movie buff, but now the Oscars are more of a barometer for what I will have to catch on-demand or DVD, because it’s just not always possible to go out to see a (grown-up) movie.
The show trotted Oprah out about halfway through to present the documentary award and she delivered the old saw about how when times are tough we go to the movies. But that simply is no longer the case and it hasn’t been for quite a while. It’s not even a choice between the movies and TV. Or the Internet. It’s everything. All of the above. On-demand. Netflix. Hulu. Wii. Some of us still go out to a movie regularly. Maybe even one that isn’t IMAX or 3D. Some people even go out and do stuff in the real world once in a while that doesn’t require a screen of some kind. So why try to perpetuate the “movies are our great escape” myth? But that out-of-touch air permeated this octogenarian-plus-three Oscars. And the not-so-dream-team hosts couldn’t remedy the staleness.
The much-touted James Franco/Anne Hathaway duo seemed surprisingly Little Rascals-ish to me. They didn’t help the overall amateur-hour feel of the show. Oh well, maybe next year we’ll get Hugh Jackman back. Or Steve Martin. Or apparently, Billy Crystal or a virtual Bob Hope. But if they’re smart they’ll just get the comedy team of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law to read all the awards. They were the only fresh moment in the show. Franco and Hathaway really just didn’t work. At all. If Hathaway “Whooo!!!”-ed one more time I was going to reach into the screen and throttle her. Note to Anne: whooping like a cheerleader doesn’t add freshness to an event like the Oscars.
What people wore has always been a fun part of the show, but last night it was almost the only reason to watch, except for Colin Firth. Just a few quick red carpet and fashion thoughts. Papa Gunn was visibly nervous. ScarJo’s dress was granny-hideous. Loved RDJ’s white tux shirt and tie with suit. He’s always very natty. Colin Firth looked amazing. Natalie Portman’s dress was so dull. What happened? Gwyneth looked amazing head to toe. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem as ice cream men—nuh-uh. James Franco looked tired like most college students, but was it Franco as Marilyn or Franco as Madonna as Marilyn? Why was Reese Witherspoon in practically the same dress and hair as Julia Roberts from ten years ago?
The Oscars are always subjective, and anyone can have an opinion about who coulda or shoulda or woulda won. This particular Oscars held few surprises, but I was able to add to my movies to-see list. I only really cared (as I suspect, did most people) about a few awards, which I’ll briefly recap here.
Actress in a Supporting Role (with a torture/comedy presentation by Kirk Douglas):
Amy Adams may be my very favorite actress these days, but Melissa Leo was a given. Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech was my coulda woulda shoulda. I love her when she’s with her significant-Burton, but it’s such a kick to see her do something “straight,” too. Keep stretching, Helena.
Actor in a Supporting Role:
Christian Bale winning was so predictable it was interesting to see him a tad flustered. Must be the sheer size of the auditorium, lights, etc. I’m sure he definitely deserved his award, but I still don’t really want to see this movie. I wonder what Steven Spielberg was thinking watching Bale give his acceptance speech, who he first directed as a child (Empire of the Sun)? I know that’s when I first saw him. Wow. Time flies.
Actress in a Leading Role:
I’m totally good with Natalie Portman winning for Black Swan, but had to admit I was rooting for my coulda woulda shoulda Annette Bening.
Actor in a Leading Role:
Colin Firth in The King’s Speech was my coulda woulda shoulda and the obvious choice. I love me some Jeff Bridges and will eventually catch True Grit, but I’m in no great rush. Ditto Biutiful Javier Bardem. James Franco is also a favorite, but I doubt I will ever spend even two hours watching him gnaw off a leg. Or is it an arm? Don’t ever need to know. Colin, I hope you are wrong and that your career hasn’t peaked, but continues on its steady rise.
Possibly the biggest surprise for me if the night was when Jill Clayburgh’s photo flipped past on the stars we lost segment. I’m not sure how I missed hearing about her. My dad took the whole family to see An Unmarried Woman when it came out. He must have had a big crush on her and my mom and I walked out of there in love with Alan Bates. She was a great actress, very empathetic.
Animated Feature Film:
Why only three nominees? Apparently there was Oscar math at work. But I still couldn’t help but wonder where the hell was Tangled, Shrek, Despicable Me? Alice in Wonderland was practically an animated film, not that it was a good one. Couldn’t that film have helped push the category into a more proper and competitive number of slots? In this half-assed attempt at a category my pick to win was The Illusionist, lacking Tangled and Shrek.
Most of the technical awards were easy to predict. Costume Design went to Alice in Wonderland, definitely the best thing about that mess of a movie. Sorry, Tim & Johnny. I really didn’t care about the make-up category, but I do want to see The Way Back and got a kick out of the fact that the silly The Wolfman was nominated—Rick Baker aside, whoda thunk it would actually win? I also loved presenter Cate Blanchett saying what everyone was thinking watching the film clip of Benicio Del Toro’s wolf-transformation, “That’s really gross.” As much as I’m not a fan, Randy Newman said it—only four songs nominated in his category, but five cinematographers in theirs? Must be more Oscar math. And ten movies? It’s a crock, people, but still we watch.
Directing was a bit of a surprise, because sometimes they give it to someone whose movie doesn’t win any other big awards, but Tom Hooper got it forThe King’s Speech, which made things almost a royal sweep. And of course, if you managed to stay awake, and stick with the show to it’s conclusion, Best Picture also went to The King’s Speech. A month ago I would have predicted The Social Network, but it was clearly The King’s Speech all the way last night, ten nominees or not.
Congratulations to everyone. I tell myself every year that this is it, the last one I’ll sit through, but then another year rolls around and I usually find myself watching. Here’s hoping for a Downey/Law team effort next time out. Really, it could work.