Monday, March 3, 2014

And the Oscar Goes To . . .

This year’s Oscars were as bad as this year’s Super Bowl. Lots of excitement leading up to the big show, but almost immediate and total crushing disappointment once it got started. I’m talking about Ellen.

Look, she seems like a lovely woman. Obviously, with a talk show that survives on celebrity guests, she wasn’t going to make fun of them on a Sunday and then try to book them on a Monday. I get it. However, she was so far from biting wit that she was nothing more than a toothless mutt gorming wetly onto a blanket. Give me a song and dance number, or some mean-spirited jokes, or anything that shows the host prepared, even a tiny bit, for the evening. Instead, we got selfies and pizza. That is comedy?

Other lowlights included the gallery of dead people montage. I believe this section is officially called In Memoriam and while those in attendance have finally figured out that they should not clap when their favorite person is shown on the screen – as this is essentially a wake, not a popularity contest – it still leaves the audience at home scratching their heads trying to remember if they knew such and such was dead. It is the perfect time for a potty break, refills, etc. This year, they did the entire bloody thing and THEN had Bette Midler stride out in all her glory and belt out Wind Beneath My Wings. Um. What? Couldn’t she have sung during the montage and killed two birds with one warbling stone? Did the slowest, most boring part of the evening have to be TWICE as long?

This was an especially bizarre choice because they also let Pink sing the entirely of Over the Rainbow in appreciation of Judy Garland. Let’s parse this problem out slowly. Judy Garland’s own children were in the audience. One of those children is Liza Freaking Minnelli. This is a woman who already owns an Oscar for singing in a musical. She has pipes (and an EGOT, but I’ll get back to that.) So why, exactly was she sitting in the audience watching someone else salute her own mother? It’s a mystery.

There were just so many strange choices. They brought out big name celebrities to rush through three best picture choices at a time, barely showing scenes or moments or even title cards. The best song choices got to sing at best, half of their songs. That left plenty of time for a montage of heroes (conspicuously free of any heroines) another one of animated characters, and the aforementioned shout out to the very dead Judy Garland. This type of producing drives me crazy. Focus on the essentials – the actual shit actually nominated. Then, if you have time, throw in some bonus stuff, but make it relevant and make it entertaining.

The presenters were also problematic. It felt as if someone wanted old Hollywood represented so they raided the closest old folk’s home to see who they could dig up and throw onstage. I am not disparaging the acting ability of Kim Novak or Sidney Poitier. However, she was an advertisement for The Joker’s makeup line and he was the textbook definition of doddering. While it was nice to see how gently Matthew McConaughey and Angelina Jolie dealt with these poor souls, I honestly felt they both should have been left wrapped in blankets, with a nice cup of tea back in their own homes. 

And then there was John Travolta. Jesus Mary and the oft-forgotten Joseph. I don’t know if he was channeling the Crypt Keeper, dead Elvis, or Castor Troy, but dear God, whatever they stuck on top of his head was terrifying. He had one job to do – introduce Idina Menzel. Now I realize that is an unusual name. However, I know they ask the actors to show up the day before to practice. For those who announce nominees, they actually pre-tape the names so that they don’t mess them up (which is why they always cut away from the actors on stage to show clips.) What John Travolta did to her name was a travesty. He got up on stage, seconds before she had to belt out the frontrunner for best song, a song beloved by millions of children, a song many people had spent the entire show waiting for – and he called her Adele Dazeem.
Uh-deen-a          does not equal                  Adele.
Men-zell              does not equal                  Dazeem.


There is also such an obvious cool kids vs non-cool kids vibe during the telecast that I thought things got weird. The first three rows are the cool kids. They get the pizzas. They get to dance with Pharrell. They are the ones who get to walk onstage. The rest of the audience, even those up for awards? Relegated to the cheap seats. A man won an EGOT last night. I yelled so loud in triumph that my husband, sound asleep on a nearby chair, almost fell off it in shock. An EGOT! Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony! One guy, all those awards! That is something worth shouting about. But did it get any more than a passing mention on the telecast? Nope. Because he is a songwriter, so no one gives a shit. There are only 12 EGOT winners in existence. If Bette Midler had won an Oscar and earned her EGOT, balloons would have poured down from the ceiling and a marching band would have come out. But it was just a song writer (even if he is the youngest person in history, at 38 years of age, to have accomplished this) so the show just went on.

I am not going to discuss the awards. I haven’t seen most of the movies, so my opinion is invalid at best. I did like the general bitchy vibe of Cate Blanchett’s speech and the goofy earnestness presented in Matthew McConaughey’s. He managed to throw out both a “Just Keep Livin’” and an “alright, alright, alright” so he’s still aces in my book. I still wish Channing Tatum didn’t insist on wearing clothes and wish some of the actresses wore more of them (bras, for starters), but overall, they were all no doubt deserving and hopefully were gracious in defeat.

One day, I am going to throw my own Oscar party. But until I have some skin in the game and it is a race for Matt vs. Ben, or a project I loved, or actors I can actively root against, I’ll just have to keep bitching on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.