By Becca Seel
I had such high hopes for the 83rd annual Academy Awards. The ceremony was supposed to be young and hip with starlets James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting. It was a terrific year for cinema, with Best Picture nominees including independent films, animated features, and a movie about Facebook. Alas, what we received was a whole lot of nothing.
The Oscars this year was one of the most boring in recent history. One would think that the diversity of nominees and the array of stars would entice any viewer, but somehow the entire ceremony was a three-hour yawn. I found the local commercials produced by Capital Region businesses to be more entertaining than much of the broadcast.
Every year brings with it memorable moments and this year provided a few highlights. However, they were so few and far between that they barely registered. Perhaps it was rather appropriate that Kirk Douglas was there, because just like my experience watching Spartacus, the realization that I was only two hours into the three hour telecast was nearly enough to bring me to tears.
I would be remiss not to start my commentary without mentioning the hosts. Many an eyebrow was raised by the choice of the Anne Hathaway/James Franco duo, and they were not unwarranted, for it was a strange pairing. Hathaway seemed starstruck to an annoying degree throughout the telecast. After three hours I can only take so much of her goofiness, despite the lineup of fabulous Rachel Zoe ensembles. Also, quite predictably, she sang.
If Anne Hathaway had heart, then James Franco had marijuana. Franco looked like he was stoned throughout the broadcast, but if I was hosting with the infectious Hathaway I also would look into mood-altering substances. I did, however, enjoy him to a disturbing degree in his Marilyn Monroe getup. If he didn’t look good in every color, I would say he especially glowed in pink. I also enjoyed his “Congratulations, nerds,” after the montage of the winners of the Academy’s technical awards. Is a pot/kettle analogy applicable here?
The opening number confused me. Though the Inception portion of the parody was funny, and I always love an Alec Baldwin cameo, the amount of movies they tried to shove into the segment (some of them not even Oscar nominees) was weird.
Their monologue reminded me of something from a mediocre episode of SNL rather than the all-important opening monologue of the Academy Awards. I think the reason why Billy Crystal received an nonexplanatory standing ovation was because of pure relief by the audience at the sight of a real Oscar host.
I did appreciate the fact, however, that James Franco’s grandmother loudly announced her excitement at seeing Marky-Mark. Thank you.
On that note, the winner of the “Do Not Care” contest from the Golden Globes looked marginally more excited to be at the Oscars. That’s the spirit.
I was also baffled by the music cues of the evening. There were several winners cut short, but Melissa Leo, who did everything gauche in accepting her award short of crying and thanking God, had the biggest trainwreck of an Oscar speech that I have ever seen. Actors can get confused and overwhelmed, but her disjointed and obsequious speech belonged at the Golden Globes. At least there she could have blamed it on the a-a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. No one wants to hear you talk that long, especially with such hideous attire. If there ever was an apropos time to play premature cut-off music, that was it.
As far as awards, the night was disappointingly predictable. The Fighter took both Supporting Actor categories, while Colin Firth and Natalie Portman scooped up their biggest awards of the season. The biggest shock of the night was Best Director Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, which all but locked in the film for the Best Picture win. Though debate was heated on the merits of King’s Speech vs. The Social Network, apparently the Academy voters preferred the charming and well-executed British gem over the hip, edgy, Fincher-helmed Network.
One of the biggest problems of the night, besides everything else, was the giant fail of the ceremony to try and “youth” up the Oscars up. Ok, so a movie about Facebook is nominated for a bunch of awards and the host are two very young, very hip actors. However, a Gregory Brothers autotune ripoff, though hilarious on YouTube, is not appropriate for the biggest night in Hollywood. The theme of Hollywood through the ages was undercut by a vain attempt to casually throw in memes.
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the ceremony, and not in a fun way. It was long, it was corny, and it was boring. Not even bursts of originality like the choice of hosts and various segments could salvage what was a dull and disappointing attempt to net viewers into watching for all three excruciating hours.
The Academy Awards balances a fine line. It is an awards show yet it is supposed to be good tv. The attempts at glitz, glamour, and youth were altogether unsuccessful. Producers of the show got it wrong this year, but a successful Oscars is no easy feat.