@jaredmobarak • Oscar time … congrats to The King’s Speech … why bother with the show when everyone thinks they know the winner?
The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony was quite possibly its worst incarnation the past decade. And things finally seemed to be going the right way. Hugh Jackman was fun; Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were lukewarm, but the show was fun; and Neil Patrick Harris is Neil Patrick Harris. NPH can do no wrong. Much in that vein, I thought the pairing of James Franco and Anne Hathaway for the 2011 show was pretty inspired. The Renaissance man himself with the new guard’s Julia Roberts—it was a match that excited on paper.
@jaredmobarak • oh Morgan Freeman … you’re the man “Alec likes me to narrate his dreams, he says I have a soothing voice”
Two thumbs up for the introductory video too. It was a welcome callback to the great renditions of Miracle Max’s own long run at the helm, (Billy Crystal for you 80s fantasy haters), and utilized DiCaprio‘s elevator of dreams from Inception gloriously. Throw in a hilarious cameo from Morgan Freeman and a mildly humorous one from Baldwin and I’d say the show started off a little left of conservative into zany territory. The opening monologue was sure to build on the momentum, right?
@jaredmobarak • mother Hathaway? really? lame … grandma Franco? lamer …
Wrong. Between Franco’s glazed over eyes, Hathaway’s way-too-chipper smile, and the gag-factor of silvery stage decorations, the trainwreck began. Funny Or Die tweeted some obscure reference to James’s grandmother and a use of expletives in an online video, but of course we aren’t privy to such shenanigans on live, prime time television, (I’m looking at you Melissa Leo). So we get an awkward moment with Mama Hathaway and Meemaw Franco instead, the beginning signs of lameness and an obvious correlation to our male host’s seeming boredom. Maybe the Academy picked these two because they knew they could control them. The night was already neutered.
So, how do we get people excited again? Give an award to a loathsome film. I’m not saying Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland didn’t deserve the trophy, the Art Direction is top notch. It’s just somewhat of a downer when drivel gets any recognition—like Rick Baker‘s 634th win for Best Make-up on The Wolfman. But I’d never want to take away Robert Stromberg‘s moment of glory. The dude deserved it. Honestly, though, did they tell him to speak as slowly and incoherently as he did to foreshadow an almost guaranteed Best Picture win for The King’s Speech? My thought originated as a mean-spirited thought to tweet, but as the show went along, more and more examples speech therapists’ dream clients came out of the woodwork.
@jaredmobarak • I LOVE KIRK DOUGLAS!
First, though, Roger Deakins had to get robbed once more from a Cinematographer notice, allowing Wally Pfister in all his douchebaggery—get the glasses off your head, man—to take the prize. Nine nominations and no glory. Guess Roger will have to wait until that make up Oscar for a piss-poor romantic comedy. Or, better yet, a Lifetime Achievement Award, as though that makes up for decades of snubs. But I guess they had to get some young blood on stage since the win was followed by Kirk Douglas. Yes, Kirk Douglas. Someone is actually older than Michael. And who’d have thought he, in his rough state of physical strength, would be quite possibly the highlight of the evening? Not only did he mock everyone, tell Hathaway he wished he could have gotten a piece forty years ago, and stalled on announcing Best Supporting Actress three times—making all those women stew in their seats to think about their ‘cordial loser’ faces—but he was a joy, making me recall that old Michael J. Fox vehicle Greedy.
Well, ‘coridal losers’ for all except Melissa Leo, of couse, since she was the lucky winner, snatching Jacki Weaver‘s golden bald man away instead of Hailee Steinfeld and her attempt to Tim Hutton the competition. Maybe that self-financed photo of hers that the internet HATED and chastised her for did the trick. I, like a few others, still think it shows more guts to admit she wanted the accolade, (should have had one for Frozen River already anyway), than to fake like she didn’t with the rest of the ‘humble’ masses. If they were really that humble, they wouldn’t show up; you don’t have to be in attendance just to thank God onstage and appear worthy of the praise. However, I would have taken about a twenty minute shorter acceptance speech. Although the f-bomb definitely helped me overlook her tedium.
Hathaway then attempts to upstage Leo with her admission of being a huge JT fangirl, probably with Andy Roddick‘s necklace from Just Go with It on her bedstand at home; The Lost Thing beats a Pixar short and three others I probably will never be able to see—that’s I lie, I have The Gruffalo awaiting a screening at home—for Best Animated Short; and Toy Story 3 showed how five minutes of tear-jerking nostalgia can make people forget a film’s wooden soul and status as worst of the three nominees for Best Animated Feature. Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann looking like DeVito and Schwarzenegger sans fat and muscle was a nice unplanned gag, though, for Short. As was Javier Bardem coming downstage looking like Jimmy Kimmel from afar.
@jaredmobarak • Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for the Sosoal Netwerk … sorry Javier
@jaredmobarak • kudos for the Ben Mezrich nod by Sorkin …
@jaredmobarak • the music is not playing. the music is not playing. the music is not playing!!! – Aaron Sorkin’s mind
@jaredmobarak • David Seidler is a funny guy. good stuff, ‘old man’ …
Poor Bardem and his accent. The Spanish was coming out strong and I couldn’t help laugh at his pronunciation of The Social Network when Aaron Sorkin won Best Adapted Screenplay. A highly deserved award—even if I was pulling for Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini since I felt a kindred connection have interviewed the former—the best part of the pre-show showed how Sorkin was most excited for his favorite, The Social Network. How diplomatic of him. It’s just a shame they gave Leo a half hour to talk and played the music almost immediately during his speech. The dude wrote Nicholson‘s seminal “You can’t handle the truth!” … let him speak! At least The King’s Speech‘s Best Original Screenwriter David Seidler was allowed to talk. The ‘old man’ crack was a crowd-pleaser for its humor and verisimilitude.
@jaredmobarak • ok. Hathaway and Franco are very underwhelming thus far … and Jackman is getting ripped apart tonight.
@jaredmobarak • ok. scratch that. Franco just won the evening.
@jaredmobarak • Russell Brand surprisingly doesn’t get stale …
Wait! There was a steady barrage of funny after all? Leave it to Franco in drag—spewing barbs at Chuck Sheen and his recent Mel Gibson-itis—to catch Hathaway off-guard in giggles and Russell Brand to do what he does best opposite the regal Helen Mirren in order to anoint Susanne Bier‘s Hæven [In a Better World] as Best Foreign Film. Bier’s lack of confidence speaking English rather than her native Danish led to a short and sweet thank you, saving us from anymore flubs and stammers. Until the announcer took us to commercial and completely screwed up his line that is. It had to be a conspiracy or maybe the Academy just took a page from the Hollywood Foreign Press’ book and allowed alcohol at the show. Or maybe Franco was sharing his edibles backstage.
Next up on the docket were bad boys making good. No matter how great John Hawkes was in Winter’s Bone, we all knew it was finally Christian Bale‘s time to conquer, even if he was channeling Jesus with his awe-inspiring beard. Best Supporting Actor—as was a common theme for the evening—went to a Brit. The biggest surprise here, though, was the recollection that Bale was even British at all. When was the last time he acted with his actual accent? Empire of the Sun? Either way, his Dicky was spot-on and that’s what matters. So Bale was able to mock himself out by alluding to his Terminator Salvation tirade; apparently forget his wife’s name; and give a URL plug for his character’s real-life counterpart’s training website. The 21st century had arrived, but not because of the web link, because Trent Reznor looks like an upstanding citizen. So awesome to see the Nine Inch Nails frontman win an Oscar with Atticus Ross for The Social Network‘s Best Score.
I guess Score was as good a segue as any to Inception‘s Best Sound Mixing and Editing category victories, but shouldn’t those have been lumped with the technical awards given out by the beautiful Marissa Tomei, away from the cameras? Does anyone watching at home even know what those awards are even for? Franco is correct in applauding the ‘nerds’—it wasn’t a joke, he was being truthful. I’m just glad the film got some deserved recognition, though, even if the music was mostly an Edith Piaf sample slowed down to an unrecognizable bass … I could have sworn the score was disqualified for exactly that, but there it was on the ballot.
I soon forgot my mild annoyance at Sound adding length to the program once Matthew McConaughey gave Franco a run for his money on the baked look. That and my girlfriend continuously saying “Alright, alright” in her best surfer drawl. Follow it up with Cate Blanchett‘s wowza dress—not for any good reason, that thing was weird—and it was unsurprising Best Costume Design was up next. Also devoid of shock was Alice in Wonderland‘s second win on the night. Damn the Academy for making Tim Burton’s head even bigger and filled with thoughts that his film was a success! Oh, and I hate to be cruel—obviously not enough to hold my tongue—but if you can’t read well, whether nerves or learning disability, DON’T READ OFF AN INDEX CARD! Colleen Atwood, that was painful. I feel sorry for you and hope that the whole incident was a blur and forgotten and that your family at home forgot to DVR it for your viewing horror.
One annoying vocal pattern to another, somehow they let Randy Newman onto the show. I didn’t realize name alone got you a nomination, I thought the quality of the song mattered somehow too. At least we got Chuck and Mandy to belt out a Tangled excerpt before going into Short Film territory with Documentary, won by Stranger No More, and Live Action, by God of Love. And God I loved Luke Matheny and his utter manic surprise and want to ramble. As though the hair wasn’t priceless in and of itself, he had to make mention and mock it at the same time. This is what awards are about, to be given to deserving, appreciative, and truly humble people. I even got a chuckle from Franco’s NYU fistpump towards the newly anointed Oscar Winner once as he left the microphone.
But then why must we be assaulted by auto-tune? It’s an abomination—unless you’re Kanye West or Akon or Charles Barkley—and I wanted to go Van Gogh on myself to make the pain end. The “He Doesn’t Own a Shirt” goof on Eclipse was rather fantastic, though, so at least something came of the torture. I’m just happy movie musicals of today aren’t merely auto-tuned renditions of pre-existing dialogue driven work like these examples. Although I can just imagine the droves of geeks porting their favorite films into suicide-inducing ‘musical’ YouTube clips right now.
And who would have guessed both Oprah and Obama would make an appearance? George Clooney and Angelina Jolie must be producers because I don’t remember seeing them anywhere in the audience—maybe they did their part after all. And what’s with Inception‘s Best Visual Effects winning team thanking the visual effects teams back home? Aren’t they the team? Isn’t that why they won the award? Damn, I’d hate to be poor John at home knowing I created the code for a Best Picture winner yet my boss was yucking it up on stage while I went to bed early, deciding to just read the winner’s list in the morning. At least the Best Film Editing team of Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter were both able to own an Oscar for The Social Network, cause it’s bro-hugs like theirs that make the world go round. Oh, and the Academy hates Banksy … Inside Job gets Best Documentary Feature.
The second half of the Best Original Song nominees followed with A.R. Rahman and Florence Welch (Dido couldn’t make it) singing “If I Rise” from 127 Hours. I thought they’d have been a shoe-in for gold, especially after the Twitterverse was all aflutter with vehement bile towards Gwyneth Paltrow and her Country Strong opus. Not only does the world hate that she’s singing, but they hate how she thinks she can sing country. I’m glad she is because it means I’ll never accidentally stumble upon a song and have to listen myself. If only Rahman were able to play “Jai Ho” and Cee-Lo Green stepped out of the shadows for some expletive-laced goodness. Then I could have stomached the gut punch of Randy f’ing Newman winning the trophy. At least he pretty much guaranteed never getting nominated again by bashing the Academy in his drunken tirade. Maybe good work has a shot again.
I will give Hollywood credit on another classy In Memorium, though, even if they left Corey Haim off the list. I’ve got three words for you: License to Drive. So he OD’d. So did Heath Ledger and Chris Farley. Give the guy his due. Most of the greats are/were on drugs anyway, it’s part of the business for better or worse. And maybe you shouldn’t play music that either was, or was very similar to, the ‘hurry up’ tunes of overlong acceptance speeches when Halle Berry is talking about Lena Horne. It confused the hell out of me, making me think she won something when she hasn’t acted in what, five years?
It was just the lull before the storm, however, as depression gave way to the four awards everyone stayed up way too late for—once the great Eli Wallach got onstage for his Lifetime Award and we were reminded how Jean-Luc Godard gave the finger to the whole event. Tom Hooper shocked David Fincher with his Best Director Award and Natalie Portman thanked everyone she ever worked with in her career for her lack of shock victory as Best Lead Actress. Hell, history might have been made with the first pregnant winner ever at the event. I’m just too lazy to Google and find out. Oh, yeah, and Colin Firth won Best Actor for last year’s role in A Single Man. Javier Bardem earns his in 2010’s Biutiful, but will receive it in the future.
So, with the hoopla almost at an end, after an odd absence of Franco as though they yanked him for being too high—like that’s possible—and with a hopeful finish to the tepid jokes that even Roger Ebert wouldn’t believe were written by Bruce Vilanch, the Best Picture of 2010 was finally announced. I really thought the end of award’s season was a fluke and The King’s Speech had no chance. To me the winner would be The Social Network with a darkhorse selection of The Fighter to quench the Academy’s love for boxing—although we all know Black Swan was really the best, hands down. But, alas, the stammering King was crowned once more, garnering Hollywood’s biggest prize and leaving the Oscars viewers at home feeling as though they were cheated from any and all excitement with yet another ‘safe choice’. I already miss The Hurt Locker‘s amazing upset of Avatar just a short year ago.
@jaredmobarak • really? all the award winners on stage at the finale? Oscars just got lamer … and then Leo made it worse with screaming high-fives …
I just hope someone slipped Melissa Leo a Valium before she hurt herself at the after parties …