Oscars 2011 Redux

So I did watch the Oscars after all.

I’d been debating whether to watch or not, since I have never seen most of the nominated films anyway – either because they haven’t made it to Germany yet or because I have zero interest in them. Besides, watching the Oscars tends to make me angry, because I vehemently disagree with some of the decisions, and I usually end up threatening to ram an Oscar up at least one winner’s posterior every time. Finally, watching the Oscars was so much cooler, when there was the thrill of the forbidden connected with it, when you had to sneak out of bed and into the living room and keep the TV volume very very low, so low you could barely make out the speeches, all that you wouldn’t wake your parents. Since I live alone, it’s never been that exciting again.

Still, since I did not have to get up for school early today, I though I’d give it a shot and simply switch off and go to bed, if it got too boring or if I got too angry at undeserving winners.

But I didn’t get angry, except twice. Once when the grossly overrated Aaron Sorkin won for the grossly overrated Social Network. I know that a lot of people love Sorkin’s writing, but I couldn’t stand his work before I even knew his name (that film about the murdering marines, whose deeds are somehow acceptable, because they are committed in the name of honour or some such thing). He seemed terribly smug up there on the stage, too.

I also got angry when some documentary about the financial crisis took the Oscar for best documentary feature. Not at the film itself, it’s probably a very worthy and very dull film, but at the missed opportunity to award an Oscar to Banksy. Because come on, who wouldn’t have wanted Banksy to show up at the ceremony disguised as whatever? Besides, we know that he actually was in Los Angeles, because he left graffiti behind. Finally, unlike all of the other very earnest, very worthy and very dull contenders, Exit Through The Gift Shop was at least entertaining.

That’s actually my main problem with this year’s and pretty much every year’s Oscars. Both the ceremony and the big winners are usually very earnest, very worthy and very dull. It definitely describes the big winner The King’s Speech. Because it’s certainly a worthy film, Colin Firth certainly deserved his Oscar, as did the screenwriter and director and the film itself. Nonetheless, I have absolutely no interest in seeing it. Ditto for The Black Swan. Natalie Portman definitely deserved to win and part of me wishes that we’d seen Black Swan Natalie hook up with Anakin Skywalker to play the Lady MacBeth to his Darth Vader. Her gown was stunning, too. But I have still zero interest in watching the film. Ditto for The Fighter. Melissa Leo’s acceptance speech was immensely likable, f-word and all, and I liked the actress a lot as a local sheriff in an episode of Criminal Minds a while back. But I still don’t want to see the film.

And what is it with Oscars and boxing films anyway? I don’t think of films about boxers as a particularly worthy or intellectual subgenre, yet those things are always nominated for and even win awards. See Rocky (yes, the first film is an Oscar winner), Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, The Champ, The Wrestler (not about boxing but close) and so on.

Finally, what on Earth is Winter Bone anyway? Because the clips I saw gave me no sense of the movie at all, except that it seems to be miserable. I constantly got it mixed up with The Fighter anyway. That’s another problem with the Oscars, many of the contenders have not been shown in Germany by the time the Oscars are awarded, so you lack the necessary background.

I didn’t find the two hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway as dull as most, but they weren’t exactly sparkling either. If anything, they were serviceable. Not as good as Billy Crystal or Hugh Jackman, but not nearly as bad as Ellen DeGeneres or Jon Stewart (sorry, Americans, I know you like him, but as an Oscar host he was awful). Which could sum up the whole show: Serviceable.

Things I liked:

  • Anne Hathaway’s gowns except for that blue thing she wore at the end.
  • Kirk Douglas. He was wonderful.
  • Melissa Leo, f-bomb and all.
  • Christian Bale’s accent slipping during his acceptance speech. By the end he sounded more Welsh than I’ve ever heard him sound.
  • Randy Newman’s acceptance speech. The song was the best of the bunch, too.
  • The guy with the wild hair who won an Oscar for the best live action short. He was adorable.
  • Shaun Tan winning best animated short, even if he did beat out the two German contenders.
  • One of the German animators, while being interviewed on the red carpet, constantly glancing to the side, as if to assure himself that yes, he was really standing next to Nicole Kidman.
  • The many references to unions in the acceptance speeches, the political relevance of which the German commentators completely missed.
  • Chuck from the eponymous TV show suddenly showing up on stage to sing some sappy Disney song with Mandy Moore. I now want to see the episode of Chuck where Chuck, Sarah and Casey are undercover at the Oscars and Chuck is ushered onto the stage and forced to sing.
  • So many superheroes on stage and in the audience. We had Harry Osborne and the future Catwoman presenting on stage, Wolverine and Storm sitting next to each other in the first row (we will forget that Halle Berry was Catwoman, too), looking really comfortable, ruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman also in the audience and we had Iron Man on stage, too, at one point, even if he was pretending to be Sherlock Holmes.
  • The multicultural school choir singing Over the Rainbow at the end.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Gwynneth Paltrow’s dress. It would have looked nice on someone not quite so pale, but she just looked washed out.
  • Halle Berry. She just grates on me. Couldn’t they have gotten somebody else for that (much deserved) tribute to Lena Horne, e.g. Jennifer Hudson? And Halle, you don’t even come close to Lena Horne.
  • True Grit not winning anything, in spite of ten nominations. I’d just made my peace with that film and accepted that it wasn’t like the 1969 adaption which I loathe. In fact, based on the trailers and clips, it might even be funny. Besides, anything is more deserving than The Social Network.
  • No mention of Bernd Eichinger during the “Let us now remember our fallen” montage. Though at least, he was spared Celine Dion’s singing.

As for the gowns – and we all know they are a large part of the reason why people watch these shows – there were very few total failures this year. Even Helena Bonham-Carter looked acceptable. The only big wardrobe failures for me were Gwynneth Paltrow (too pale for her), that blue thing Anne Hathaway wore at the end (too shiny, looked like giftwrap foil), the lavender gown of the woman from Black Swan who is not Natalie Portman (theoretically lovely, but practically her boobs were falling out) and whatever Michelle Williams was wearing (too pale again, made her look like an albino). Everybody else looked decent too great. I particularly liked the fact that there were a lot of gowns in strong colours such as red (Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Kathryn Bigelow, Jennifer Hudson, Penelope Cruz), burgundy (Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway), dark blue (Marisa Tomei, Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway) and purple (Natalie Portman). Because the very pale gowns that usually prevail at such occasions only look good on dark-haired and/or dark-skinned people and washed out on blondes (see Gwynneth Paltrow). And black, while classic and lovely, does tend to get a bit dull. Though I loved Reese Witherspoon’s black and white dress. She looked like a vintage Barbie doll and I mean that as a compliment.

Barbara Ferrer has some images of Oscar gowns and commentary at her blog.

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2 Responses to Oscars 2011 Redux

  1. Estara says:

    It was fun reading your impressions ^^ – I haven’t watched the Oscars in years myself. Maybe I’d do so if they fell during some holidays and I didn’t have to work afterwards.

  2. Cora says:

    They used to be later and often fell into the Easter holidays, but in recent years the Oscars have migrated forwards in time. And I probably wouldn’t have watched either, if Monday wasn’t a late starting day for me and I hadn’t napped in the afternoon.

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