This year’s Academy Awards were almost as predictable as predicted. The two hosts were stale and boring, the expected films generally won. I didn’t expect the ceremony to be as poorly produced as it was, though I shouldn’t have been surprised. In years past I’ve been able to take the show with a grain of salt, not expecting much and watching primarily to find out who wins. But this year I was actually put off by the show. The intro to introduce the hosts was odd, and the opening monologue left me stiff. In the first half hour a total of one award was presented, and all of four awards were revealed in the first hour. And just when it appeared that it might be wrapping up a gigantic interpretive dance routine stops everything. An odd choice, but perhaps still better than having the nominees for Best Song performed. The dance left me cold, but not as annoyed as the introductions for Best Actor and Actress. It might not have been as bad as last year’s introductions, but still managed to take an eternity while making the entire ceremony’s theme almost literally about the butt kissing.
Deadly China Doll (not nominated for any Oscars)
Poor production issues combined to make it a painful ceremony. Poor audio leveling and some bad direction were incomprehensible for the most prestigious awards show in entertainment. There were a couple of high points; I enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.’s bit with Tina Fey, and Ben Stiller’s Na’vi ensemble was entertaining (though it would have been vastly superior with Sacha Baron Cohen as a pregnant Na’vi).
And now for a couple more program notes:
- There were very few surprises throughout the entire ceremony. All of the top categories were picked correctly by just about everyone, including me. The major categories I missed were both screenplays. Inglourious Basterds’ [review here] loss to The Hurt Locker [review here] was understandable once it became clear that The Hurt Locker was going to nearly sweep the table. Up in the Air’s [review here] loss was the most spectacular. That was the one true surprise of the evening for me, and the biggest disappointment. As the best film of the year it was sad to see it lose out on the only award it had a chance of winning.
- Another weird announcement was Avatar [review here] for Best Cinematography. I had picked this one on my personal ballot, thinking that the film would win most of the technical awards (except for The Hurt Locker, which richly deserved Best Editing), but couldn’t imagine that it would actually deserve it. I suppose someone had to frame the Na’vi in the computers, even if it’s not a traditional cinematographer’s work.
- Sandra Bullock’s acceptance speech was rather endearing. She managed to be heartfelt with wet eyes while cracking some of the more amusing jokes of the evening. Referencing her lover was rather enjoyable as well. Even if she perhaps didn’t deserve the award, her speech made her a worthy choice.
- The short subject choices were interesting, particularly Logorama over Nick Park‘s Oscar steamroller. I would have preferred The Lady and the Reaper to win, as it was my favorite animated short, but it’s still nice to see something controversial and somewhat original take home the prize. The most talked about moment of the show happened to be the speech for Best Documentary, Short Subject, when a purple lady suddenly exploded at the microphone. The story behind the incident is also rather hilarious.
On my official Oscar predictions post the only categories I missed were the aforementioned screenwriting categories. I flubbed some of the technical awards on my personal ballot, though they were mostly guesses. My wife managed to beat me handily, correctly guessing 17 of the 24 categories to my measly 14. All things considered, though, it wasn’t a bad year. I was impressed with the quality of the ten Best Picture nominees, and am satisfied that The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow were the big winners. Now there is nothing to do but look forward to next year’s awards and attempt to predict the winners as early as possible. In the meantime we shall have to content ourselves with more obscure and hilarious movie posters.