Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Wrap

As I did two years ago, I weighed doing another Academy Awards live blog last night, but honestly I don't think my hands have the stamina -- nor did I really have the interest -- to pull it off, so I let my DVR do the heavy lifting. That way, I could watch the entire three hours in hop-skip-jump mode in just under an hour-and-a-half. First, as far as the winners, this year marked one of the rare times when I watched a whole two of the ten Best Picture nominees -- Inception and The Fighter -- and since neither really had a shot at the top prize, I didn't have much invested in whether it would be The King's Speech or The Social Network (FYI, it was the former). I was glad to see Colin Firth take home the Actor prize, and also Christian Bale for his transformative (if a bit showy) Fighter role.

Now, much of the commentary I've seen in the past sixteen hours has surrounded the iffy hosting by the demo friendly pair of James Franco and Anne Hathaway, with the emerging consensus being that while their selection to emcee the show was an interesting, quirky way of doing something different, it backfired pretty spectacularly. Franco seemed to have trouble hiding his disinterest in the proceedings, while Hathaway, as if attempting to fill that void, seemed to become increasingly manic as the show went on. It's a very telling sign when Billy Crystal, an Oscar-hosting MVP for his eight times at bat in the last two decades -- got a standing ovation from the crowd about halfway through the show, as if they were calling out in one voice and saying, "Billy, save us!"

That said, I have to wonder what possible outcome the show's producers were expecting from their unorthodox hosting selections. Unlike Jon Stewart, whose comic stylings are known to millions via his Daily Show platform, or Hugh Jackman, whose stints hosting other award shows gave some inkling of what he'd bring to the table, or last year's Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, both of whom are practiced hands at this sort of thing, Hathaway and Franco's hosting bonafides basically begin and end with the several times they've headlined Saturday Night Live. Given that, it's not especially surprising they performed the way they did, with the real humor coming from Hathaway flailing desperately the more Franco's detachment grew (is it just me, or did it seem like he pretty much disappeared from the second half?).

For anyone to think that because the Oscar team brought in these "hip" and "fresh" hosts, it would signal some great sea change from the stodgy, stultifying experience the Oscars have always been is to place, I think, a whole lot more faith in their abilities than I think was warranted. If Chris Rock couldn't shake loose those cobwebs a few years back, it sure wasn't going to be that girl from The Princess Diaries.  Echoing my feeling that James Franco seemed to be enjoying some private joke of his own that we in the audience weren't privy to, Devin Faraci has posted his thoughts on the ceremony, and he's convinced that the whole thing was an elaborate piece of performance art from the former Spider-Man actor. After reading Faraci's take, I think he may just be onto something.

1 comment:

Ian Sokoliwski said...

So many things are better if you view them as being performance art rather than people being serious. Such as the folks carrying crucifixes and other Christian paraphernalia around downtown Winnipeg during the summer!