Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Oscars 2007: The Academy Gets It Right (Mostly), and People Still Complain

Posted by CinemaPsycho on February 27, 2007

Well, now that the smoke has cleared, it’s time to dissect the annual train wreck that is the Oscars. I use the term “train wreck” with affection of course, as I fully expect it to be a complete mess every year, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Yes, the show was very long this year. It runs long every year – I don’t know why this is a surprise to people. What I don’t understand is that the longer the show goes on, the more commercial breaks there are! It doesn’t make sense. Don’t they sell ad space for a certain amount of time? Surely they don’t plan to run long…do they? You would think that if they were worried about time, they wouldn’t cut away to commercials after, I don’t know, 3 1/2 hours or so. Maybe it’s just me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – get rid of the stupid “red carpet” fashion show (save that nonsense for the E! channel, which covers it all day long) and start the show at 8:00! Even if the show runs long, people could still possibly be in bed by midnight. For that matter, why not just give in and make it a 4-hour show? Schedule it from 8 pm – midnight. That would give the producers time to schedule everything they want to throw in there (and possibly some extra time if they need it) as well as give audiences fair warning. It should be obvious by now that three hours isn’t going to cut it. I can’t remember the last time the Oscars actually ended perfectly on time. I don’t know if it ever has, at least in my lifetime. So why not just accept the fact that it’s a long damn show? Why is that so difficult?

Anyway…I actually thought this year’s show was a class act for the most part. Ellen DeGeneres made for a decent host, managing to be witty and genial without crossing the lines of good taste the way Chris Rock did. I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when she said that the night was about “celebrating the nominees” – yes, Oscar producers, that’s what the show is all about! It’s their night! That’s the whole point of the ceremony, and it’s about time that was the focus again.

So let’s just throw out some random thoughts about this year’s Oscar show:

How did Chris Connelly become the official “personality” of the Oscars? No one even knows who the hell he is! This is the same guy who said (on his old MTV show in the early ‘90’s) that Unforgiven would be dull and a huge flop. I’m reminded of that bonehead call every time I see him. Every year that he’s nominated, Eastwood should get to smack him upside the head on camera. If you’re going to hire a movie-industry journalist to be the face of the biggest event in Hollywood, at least find one who knows what the hell they’re talking about.

I don’t want to hear any bitching about Scorsese winning, OK? We’ve all been waiting for this for years now, and now that it’s finally happened, people are complaining that it’s not for his best film! Well, he should’ve won for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas, but that didn’t happen. He’s not competing with his past films, he’s competing with the other films released this year. And The Departed was the best of the year in my book, so there’s no reason to consider it undeserved. No one’s saying it’s his best film. If his past artistic triumphs (and Oscar losses) played a part in his winning this year, I’m fine with that. If the Academy collectively threw up their hands and said, “Ah, let’s just give it to Marty this year and get it over with”, I’m fine with that too. But he didn’t just win Best Director, his movie won Best Picture as well. If the Director award was simply a consolation prize for the guy, they didn’t have to give the movie the big award as well. But they did. The truth is, The Departed rocks hard, and audiences and critics both love it. So why shouldn’t it win? Because Scorsese has lost so many times in the past? What kind of sense does that make?

I think we all know that Forest Whitaker, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Hudson had their awards locked up from the start. It’s almost not worth speculating on whether they were actually the best in their categories, because their winning was as close to inevitable as these things get. Not even divine intervention could have prevented those choices from happening. I would’ve liked to see either Abigail Breslin or Rinko Kikuchi take Supporting Actress (and they have just as impressive a body of work as Hudson, let’s face it), but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. For such relative unknowns, even getting nominated at all is a victory. So good for them. As for Hudson, I still haven’t seen Dreamgirls, so I can’t speak to the quality of her performance. But the idea of anyone involved with a reality show winning an Academy Award frightens me deeply. I’ll let it go this time, but don’t let it happen again, OK? Seriously though, given how ubiquitous Hudson was in the media even before her nomination, I think there would’ve been riots in the streets if she had lost. Oprah would declare a national emergency. I just don’t want to someday hear the words, “And the winner is – Nicole Richie!” This sets a dangerous precedent, that’s all I’m saying.

The big surprise for most, of course, was Alan Arkin winning over Eddie Murphy in the Supporting Actor category. I actually had a feeling that it could happen – the wind seemed to be blowing away from Murphy in the weeks before the show. I thought it could go either to Arkin or to Wahlberg, but most likely Arkin to give Little Miss Sunshine something in the major categories (Original Screenplay was a lock for the same reason). I love the movie, but I never thought it had a shot at Best Picture, though it would’ve been a nice surprise. I don’t have anything against Murphy personally; I practically grew up on his SNL season, his comedy albums and stand-up movies, not to mention the Holy Murphy Trinity of 48 Hrs., Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop. But it’s no secret that Eddie’s not incredibly well-liked in Hollywood. Jeffrey Wells has practically declared jihad on him since his nomination, and the reports of Murphy being an egocentric sellout dick for the past two decades have spread throughout the media. He’s had his supporters as well, but it didn’t help that Norbit was stinking up cinemas this month. If they’d only released that thing a month later, Eddie might have his Oscar. I honestly think that this was another Burt Reynolds/Boogie Nights situation here – as worthy as the performance might have been, the Academy members just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the guy. And, like Reynolds, Murphy didn’t play the game of shaking hands and kissing babies, so he didn’t give them any extra incentive. Arkin’s a veteran actor who’d been nominated a couple of times before and lost, he’s in a movie that a lot of people loved, and he was damn good in it. Looking back on it, the choice seems obvious now. Will Murphy ever have another chance? Well, not if he keeps making movies like Norbit and Daddy Day Care. What’s Burt been doing lately? Nothing? Exactly. Will Eddie squander the chance for a career renaissance the same way? You tell me.

Helen Mirren wins Best Actress – now she has to embarrass herself by starring in a big, bad action spectacle. What’s it going to be Helen, Tomb Raider, Catwoman or Aeon Flux? I kinda like the idea of Helen Mirren kicking people’s asses. Did anyone see Shadowboxer though? Yikes! Any anti-Mirren contingent could’ve squashed her Oscar hopes simply by distributing copies of that piece of crap to the Academy members. I did see The Queen, and I thought it was a decent HBO movie that somehow made its way to the big screen. Mirren is very good in it, but come on, let’s get real. At her age, you slap a wig on her and she passes for the Queen of England. I was put off by the guy who played Prince Charles, because he looked nothing like the man. It didn’t help that 1/3 of the movie was news footage – it was like watching an old videotape of CNN from 1993. This is what passes for great cinema now?

What was up with those freaky shadow dancers? How can they possibly see what shape they’re making? Loved the Snakes on a Plane reference though. It’s so unhip that it’s hip again. I was hoping they’d do a tribute to Brokeback Mountain.

The sound-effects orchestra…interesting in a “what the hell is this supposed to be?” kind of way. Could’ve easily been cut for time, and probably should have been.

Loved the “Comedian at the Oscars” number. They should’ve gotten Bill Murray to sing it though. No, wait, that’d be too sad. Wonder how Eddie felt about it – oh that’s right, he hasn’t done a good comedy in years anyway. It doesn’t apply to him.

Hotness of the Year – Penelope Cruz. Damn that woman looked good! Too bad Salma wasn’t there to cheer her on.

Brad Pitt didn’t show up. Did anybody notice? The media sure did.

Nicholson and his bald head! For a minute there I was like, “how did Michael Chiklis get invited?”

Downfall of the Year has to go to Dreamgirls for losing Best Song despite having 3 entries in the category! And they lost right after performing them, which was priceless! The producers obviously thought one of those songs would win, hence they scheduled the songs right before the award. Oops! Guess not! The fact that they lost to Melissa Etheridge, a talented singer who writes her own songs, was not lost on me. Sorry Beyonce, but your caterwauling just didn’t cut it. Why do people think the song won because of its message? No one votes for Best Song because of a message. Just ask the Grammy voters.

Tribute to Ennio Morricone – great! Celine Dion singing – not so great! What were they thinking? There are no Italian singers out there?

The Death List – please tell the audience to be silent until the end! This shouldn’t be a popularity contest. We all know that actors get much more love than, say, screenwriters or editors or cinematographers, even in death. But that’s not what this show is supposed to be about. Either save the applause until the end, or cut the damn audio. It’s offensive to those of us who actually care more about cinema than celebrity. And where the bloody fuck was Adrienne Shelly? Acclaimed actress and writer-director, thank you very much! I hope she’s flipping you all off in the afterlife.

Michael Mann’s Tribute to America in Films – he was being sarcastic, right? Fucking Reservoir Dogs? Scarface? Yeah, that’s some real patriotic stuff there.

Nancy Meyers’ Tribute to Writers – maybe they should get someone who doesn’t just recycle old romantic comedies to do this. Like Nora Ephron…kidding.

Al Gore – good thing he made a documentary, so Hollywood had an excuse to kiss his ass. Where were all these people 7 years ago, when it might have mattered? They should’ve had a Bush impersonator run onstage and steal his award. Never mind that Al’s wife is one of the most pro-censorship people on the planet. That apparently doesn’t bother all the free-speech loving liberals in Hollywood. Not that he still wouldn’t have made a better President than the fuck-up who stole the election from him… I can only wonder what the millions of Chinese people watching might have been thinking. “Who is that guy?”

Melissa Etheridge refers to the woman that’s she’s practically married to as her wife! Shocking! Scandalous! Well, some people might think so, but those people probably aren’t watching the Oscars anyway.

Peter O’Toole – maybe next year, buddy!

So that about covers it for this year. Nice to see Pan’s Labyrinth get a couple of well-deserved awards. Would’ve liked to see Babel get more recognition, but you can’t have everything, right? Seems like the Academy was actually watching the films this year, which is a good sign for the future. There’s really nothing to complain about as far as I’m concerned. No major travesties that I could see. When it comes to the Oscars, that sounds like progress to me. So everybody quit bitching!

I’ll be back soon, with more reviews and stuff. See you in the funny papers. Now I have to go return Caged Heat to the video store. Later!

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