Monday, March 08, 2010

The Oscars: Mostly happy with the awards, not the show

It is very late as I type this, and that's only inevitable after watching the Oscars - so forgive me if any of my thoughts seem less than lucid.

I was mostly pleased with the way the awards went. The biggest surprise and disappointment for me was Up in the Air losing Adapted Screenplay to Precious. I thought Precious was very powerful, but perhaps too punishing for its own good. Up in the Air was better crafted all the way around and moved me even more than Precious did. It saddens me that my pick for best film of the year went away completely empty-handed.

On the other end of the scale, I fully expected it to happen, but I was absolutely delighted to see Michael Giacchino finally win an Oscar. He was robbed when he wasn't even nominated for The Incredibles, and I was thrilled to see him get his due for his superb score for Up.

And, with writer-director Pete Docter winning for Up, I am delighted to be able to say that I have met and interviewed an Oscar winner.

But the Oscar show itself? The opposite of Up is Down.

Last year's  telecast was one of the best in years - and I have to say this was the worst since the 1989 debacle with Snow White, Rob Lowe and Co.

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin did what they could, but their banter seemed too frenetic, and their material was not up to scratch.  The show's producers claim year after year the show runs too long, yet they keep finding ways to extend it needlessly.

That bit with Ben Stiller in Avatar getup? Maybe funny for the first minute. The other 39? Not so much.

Good idea: Bringing in Neil Patrick Harris. Bad idea: Having him do essentially the same thing he did on the Emmys, I'm told. Worse idea: Surrounding him with all those dancers with the feather boas. For a second I thought Allan Carr came back from the dead to resurrect his 1989 show.

Bad idea: Ditching the best song nominees. Worse idea: Killing time instead with a completely pointless horror montage. Dumb idea: Including Beetlejuice in a horror montage.  Worst idea: Having dancers perform a "What the hell was that?" routine to the Best Score nominees.

The show was even technically slapdash. The director mistimed several shots, and the use of "I Am Woman" when Kathryn Bigelow won was so on the nose, the musical arranger might as well have been Pinocchio. Would they have played James Brown's "Say It Loud" if Lee Daniels had won?

Even the stage decor was tacky. As my friend Mike put it on Facebook: "What's the deal with using the Home Depot lighting department as an Oscar stage backdrop?"

All in all, the Oscar telecast was an unfocused mess - much like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. But more on that later. For now, tell me what you thought of the show, and the awards.

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