Monday, March 8, 2010

Final thoughts on the The 82nd Annual Academy Awards

- Having two hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin didn't quite work.  Their timing wasn't always on, and it was obvious they were often reading when they should have been looking at each other as they spoke.  Fortunately, the camera kept its distance so it wasn't so distracting as it is on, say, Saturday Night Live.

- The best tandem presenters were Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. who pretended to exaggerate the importance of writers and actors respectively.  Their exchange culminated in Fey saying, “what do we look for in actors? Memorizing. Not paraphrasing.” Downey replied, “it’s a collaboration. Between handsome gifted people and sickly little mole people.”

- I was very pleased with the wins for The Hurt Locker, which I had predicted last month.  It was also one of my top 10 films of the year.  I was disappointed that my other top 10 pick which was a Best Picture nominee came away empty-handed.  Up in the Air was a favourite to win Best Adapted Screenplay, but was beaten by Precious.  I suspect that the smear campaign against Up in the Air early on did have an affect after all.

- I was not pleased that they gave such a lengthy tribute to an insignificant filmmaker, John Hughes.  His films have nostalgic value, and nothing more.  His only adult film was Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  Otherwise, his output was juvenile and racist. His character Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles ensures his place in the fiery depths of Hell.  Eric Rohmer should have been the one to get a major tribute.

- In another strange reminder of 80s racism, Fisher Stevens who played the black-faced South Asian Ben Javhri from Short Circuit won an Oscar as the producer of Best Documentary winner The Cove.  He spoke too long however, thus denying director Louie Psihoyos an opportunity to speak. Documentary subject Ric O'Barry then dropped a banner which read "Text DOLPHIN to 44144" and only got it up for a second before they were played off.

- The black man vs. white woman battle that took place in the Democratic leadership race (Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton) happened again repeatedly last night.  The Best Director and Best Picture race allowed for the possibility of it being the first chance for those awards to go to a woman director (Kathryn Bigelow) or a black director (Lee Daniels).  The woman won.  The Best Documentary Short went to Music By Prudence, a film made by a black director and a white woman producer.  In the evening's most awkward moment, she "Kanye'd" him, talking over him and cutting him off by saying, "Let the woman talk."  She rambled until they finally got played off. You can read about the nasty backstory on Salon. Sandra Bullock's win for The Blind Side (white woman helps black man) wasn't really a battle. But Michael Jackson was included in the memorial section, whereas Farrah Fawcett wasn't.

- The dance routines to the score nominees were overlong and dull. I didn't care for the opening number by Neil Patrick Harris either but that happened early on so it didn't feel like it dragged as much.

- Jeff Bridges is a great actor, but that was a terrible acceptance speech.  He was expected to win too, so there's no excuse.

- Sandra Bullock indeed made history by becoming the first actor to win a Razzie and an Oscar in the same year. That tells me she won her Oscar for being a nice person and dedicated campaigner, since her performance and the film The Blind Side were ordinary at best.  She referred to this in her acceptance speech when she said, "Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?"

-  The Academy makes it obvious who they want to win by choosing presenters that aren't neutral, as they did with having Spielberg, Lucas and Coppola present an award to Martin Scorsese.  This year, they had Barbara Streisand present the Best Director Award, clearly indicating that they wanted and expected Bigelow to win.  It would have been awkward then if that didn't happen, but fortunately that worked out.

- Steve Martin's closing zinger was good: “The show has been so long, ‘Avatar’ now takes place in the past.”

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