The Academy Awards were held this week, and once again I found myself tuning in. Why, I do not know, for if I pause to think about it in the abstract for too long, it suddenly becomes utterly ridiculous. I mean, the whole show is a self-aggrandising, pat-on-the-back kind of affair created by Hollywood, for Hollywood. It is an exercise in shameless promotion, disguised as a night of recognising the past year’s filmic achievements. As a marketing ploy, few have the clout or insidious nature of the Oscars, and this kind of makes me die a little inside. Yet, I continue to watch the telecast each year, and probably will do so for decades to come.
The producers made a smart (if safe) choice in going with co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin this year. For me, comedy is often at its best when performed by a duo or a group. It allows the comedians to work off one another, generally leads to some enjoyable repartee, and creates the straight man/funny man dynamic that has proved so effective. With these hosts, however, neither seemed willing to play the stooge; ostensibly this would be fulfilled by Alec Baldwin in normal circumstances, but whoever cast him forgot about his monstrous ego (and head- his head is enormous, something I’d imagine that would be even more spectacular in person). Martin, that old vanguard of comedy, did manage to land a few soft blows to Baldwin’s ego; in one instance, after being introduced dramatically by Baldwin as “Grammy award-winning, Oscar-winning, one of the most enduring entertainers of all time”, Martin returned the favour by announcing, “And this is Alec Baldwin. Score one to Baldwin.
At some point in the last couple of months, someone running this show decided that having Neil Patrick Harris do a Jackmanesque song and dance routine would be a good way to initiate proceedings. I’m not sure exactly who this was; I just hope they were fired immediately. Watching from the comfort of my leather lounge (yeah, I’m rubbing it in), I could barely hear what he was warbling about, catching only fractions of lame jokes. Why do people think that if you accompany mediocre attempts at comedy with a melody, that it somehow becomes at least eight times funnier? This is my main beef with musical comedians; a lot of them are just stand-ups who don’t have enough quality jokes for a routine, so they stretch them out into repetitious, 4 minute long songs. Why do you guys think that you can repeat the same joke three times under the pretence of using it as a chorus? Stand-up acts can’t just fill out 30 minutes by repeating a 10-minute set twice, can they?
Where was I? Of course, the Oscars. I, personally, was over the moon at Avatar’s failure to win anything of meaning. I’m open to anything that prevents James Cameron from being allowed to give a spiel on just how great he is. James, if you’re so great, then how come your date for the Oscars seemed to be a zombie? Honestly, the woman looked about 73 years old, with sagging upper arms, a multitude of wrinkles just waiting to burst out from underneath all that Botox, and a smile best described as “Evil. Just pure evil” When interviewing them on the red carpet, Richard Wilkins was easily more scared than I’ve ever seen him. Actually, let’s digress to Wilko for a second. Despite having been in the annoying interview business for at least twenty years, his journalistic technique remains as unprofessional and childish as ever. Bumbling his way through a cavalcade of celebrity interviews, he appeared to be starstruck for the most part, asking inane questions and awkwardly discussing the Oscars with people who obviously just wanted to go inside, away from this gnat of a person, and get magnificently drunk. His interrogation of Matt Damon was legendarily ineloquent. Here’s a rough transcript:
WILKINS: Matt! Matt Damon! (Tries the Team America voice) Matt Damon!
DAMON: (Looking quite pissed off) Yeah?
WILKINS: Matt, can you tell us a bit about the next Bourne sequel? What’s it all about?
DAMON: Uh, sorry, I can’t say anything.
WILKINS: (Pleading) Come on! Come ooooooooonnnnnnn!
(Damon walks away)
Great work, Dicky.
Back to James Cameron, though. His loss of Best Director, whilst extremely gratifying in itself, was compounded by his losing to his ex-wife, Kathryn “Deuce” Bigelow. This, along with “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture, was the highlight of the night for me, for I have previously documented (and preached to anyone who will listen to me) my distaste of Cameron’s “epic”.
Other award winners were not as satisfying for me. It seems that the Best Actor award is turning into a pseudo-lifetime recognition award. Sure, Jeff Bridges might have been great in “Crazy Heart”; I haven’t seen the movie, and so aren’t in a great position to comment on it (but I will anyway). The question I want answered is: could another actor have done just as good a job? I’m in the affirmative camp. And I’m a Jeff Bridges fan; if anything, he should have won it back when he was The Dude.
Oh, and Sandra Bullock won. Sandra Bullock!? SANDRA BULLOCK!? The woman had just won a Razzie!