Mar 3, 2014

Oscars Postmortem 2014

Plus ça change. Funny how the Oscars always manage to be long, boring and predictable, even when one hopes against all reason that something alive and interesting could potentially happen in those four hours of tedium.
The long could be solved with more ruthless discipline and less stupid montages. The boring, ditto. The predictable is more complicated because in order to fix this, the Oscars would have to be the first awards of the season. By the time they roll around, in what is now the most exhausting foreplay in history, all the major contenders have already won all the other awards and are thus positioned to win this one as well. This is the major anti-climax of this show. That it has mushroomed out of control in terms of media coverage does not help it. It makes everything a foregone conclusion.
Ellen started out in good form, but as time seemed to get all Proustian on her, the jokes lost focus. The selfie thing was inspired (and so were the memes right after), but the pizza was not. And the getting money from the audience was icky.
If the idea of Ellen's humor was to make the audience believe that movie stars are regular people, the selfie was the only instance in which it worked. Even Angelina Jolie looked like she was having fun. The rest was a bit strained.
The people who write this show have a really antiquated notion of show business (and this is coming from someone who thinks they don't make anything like they used to).
It is not aging well and it is not glamorous. A perfect example of this desperately wanting to be young and hip and not knowing how to do so is bringing Pink to sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Even worse is the decision to bring out the now tragically ghoulish Kim Novak to give an award for animation. What are these people thinking? The sadness of the plastic surgery nightmares (an almost unrecognizable Goldie Hawn) made me wonder how much better Kim Novak would look with her natural wrinkles. She would probably be still beautiful and alluring, not a freak from planet Hell. Apparently, and note to self, plastic surgery only looks good on the young.
But I digress. Poor Ellen, or anybody else who tries to host this schizophrenic old/young thing is caught between a rock and a hard place. Someone like Jimmy Fallon has a better idea of what is entertaining to people living in the current century, but I think he is indentured to NBC and they won't loan him. :(
Actors tend to be notoriously bad speech givers. Jared Leto mentioned almost every calamity on Earth and his lovely Mom, and learned the lesson of not just talking about his waxing problems, but methinks that trying to become Albert Schweitzer while picking up an acting prize is a tall order.
I love me Matthew McConaughey as an actor and as a Texan accent, and thus was quite disappointed by his enthusiasm for God. If you noticed, very few winners mentioned the Guy, opting to gush on their real creators, their Moms.
Progress -1, Religion - 0.
My favorite part of Cate Blanchett's extended maelstrom of self-absorption masquerading as inclusiveness was when she mentioned each fellow nominee.
About Meryl Streep's atrocious performance she could only muster: "What can I say?". Indeed. She sounded genuine about liking Amy Adams' work; the rest was just hot air. And by the way, Dame Judi Dench does not just have a career. She is God. God doesn't have careers.
I did like Blanchett's dressing down of Hollywood's refusal to make movies with and about women. She was also right, and had no choice but to thank "Woody", (awkward moment!), but I thought her shilling her own theater company was a bit crass. I didn't hear her thanking any agents. This year either everybody seemed to have gotten the memo or I was drinking too heavily to notice, but that was an improvement.
Lupita Nyong'o's speech was the most lovely, spontaneous, graceful, intelligent and moving of the entire night. This girl is a real, bona fide star.  Period.
I am extremely happy and relieved that cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki very deservedly and finally won on his sixth nomination. Next year, it's Roger Deakins or bust! (12 noms, no wins and he is the master of masters).
I'm also very happy for Alfonso Cuarón, who did do a better job than Steve McQueen, in my h. opinion. Payne, Russell and Scorsese were also very deserving, but Cuarón shepherded a seemingly quixotic project, and the movie is visually stunning.

Let me now unleash my fury at last night's montages. Someone with nary a creative thought in their brain decided that this was the year to celebrate heroes. As if Hollywood doesn't foist us with heroes up the wazoo enough. They had not one, but two montages about heroes. So out come the parades of mostly guys, as usual,  trying to impress their dads and save the world from "evil". This makes me extremely tired. Nikki Finke tweeted that this was the only way in which they could include the tentpole spectacles about men in tights that keep the billions of dollars rolling in. Maybe. I think it's sadder than that. Americans really believe in heroes. They genuinely think that's the way the world works. In foreign films, heroes are people who deal with enormous issues in their apartments, without a cape or an explosion in sight (cf. Amour). America likes their heroes supersized. Hence, most big Hollywood movies tell the same story. I don't understand how people don't get tired.
Notice, however, that in most of the best picture nominees this year (except for Captain Phillips, Philomena and Gravity) the protagonists are anti-heroes. This is what makes these movies exciting.
Anywho. I'm trying to figure out if there is a structural, revolutionary way to make the Oscars less tedious and less of an utterly meaningless timesuck. I'll let you know.
Until next year...

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