Another year, another Oscars. And my, but this one had some things to talk about. (And yes, beyond Will Smith deciding to Make Duels Great Again.) As usual, we turned the evening into a small party, and this year we even went for a themed event, having everyone dress up as a character from an Oscar nominated movie. (I was Guy from Free Guy, Tomas was Shrek, Denisa was Amy from Little Women, Daniela was Luisa from Encanto, and MC was Anna from Frozen.) We also had treats that were Oscar movie-themed: Devil Wears Prada’ed eggs, Chocolat covered strawberries, Grapes of Wrath, and others.
And, of course, there was the yearly competition for the Oscar the Grouch hat. (You’ll be relieved to know I defended my title, getting 17/23 right. Daniela was in second with around . . . 13? It’s a blur.) The party around the Oscars was a lot of fun, but how was the event itself? I have Thoughts:
- First off, let’s get the MMA fighter in the middle of the room out of the way. Will Smith and Chris Rock. This was honestly shocking to watch unfold live. At first, we were all convinced it was a schtick, because there are so many of them, and so many of them are in poor taste. But then the screen froze and things went wonky, and we all headed to Twitter to find out what was going on. And even then, we kept rewatching the slap seen round the world to figure out if it was real or not. And yes, it was real. Should it have happened? Definitely not. I really worry about normalizing violence, and when an actor of Smith’s caliber decides slapping someone who insults his wife on national television is a Good Idea . . . Although then there’s the “Chris Rock making fun of someone with a legitimate medical issue,” which is clearly in less than poor taste. And then there’s the “Will Smith trying to explain why he did it, without directly addressing it, and also thanking people for his Best Actor award.” All in all, it was a big mess.
- However, it was also one of the few really memorable moments from the evening, since other than that and a few things, the show was pretty yawn-inducing. The three hosts were almost uniformly cringey, the opening number with Beyonce was . . . boring. The show famously decided to sideline 8 (eight!) of the awards, shunting them off to brief edited snippets, inserted at random throughout the night. The argument was they would replace those “boring” awards with more interesting things, and that way the show would be able to stick to three hours. Instead, the show went over by around 40 minutes anyway, and the junk they crammed in instead just kept me thinking about how I would have preferred to see the actual awards.
- And while I’m at it, can I just complain in particular about the We Don’t Talk about Bruno number? Because going into it, the Oscar folks were making a big deal about how they were going to perform the song live. And because I’m a big fan of the song, I was looking forward to hearing it. And then it came, and they sang the first “verse,” and then . . . turned it into a big Oscar number, with none of the original lyrics, and none of the stuff that made the original song such fun. It was terrible, with a capital T. Ugh.
- Also, I understand the reasoning in not letting the same movie get multiple nominations for best song, but when the songs they end up picking are arguably significantly worse than many of the songs they could have had if they let Encanto double (or triple) dip . . . I wasn’t a huge fan of any of them. Maybe I’m just getting crotchety.
- What was up with the “fan favorite” polls? Whose bright idea was that? They were clearly steamrolled by Zach Snyder acolytes. In what universe is the Flash’s whatever scene from Justice League in the same zip code as the Avengers Assemble scene? And Army of the Dead? And Minimata? Live action Cinderella? These were just a joke.
- Some of the reunions for the presenters were interesting: The Godfather and Pulp Fiction stood out. I would have loved to see a bit more of actually digging into those some, instead of the brief time they got. (Though if they did it in the vein of James Bond’s 60th anniversary, that would be less than good. A series of clips, none of which really tied together, to the point that I kind of felt like I could have done a better job in about an hour on my iPad).
- Seeing Liza Minelli was bittersweet. Yay Liza, but getting old stinks, folks. It was nice to see Lady Gaga look out for her.
- Everything about CODA was a big thumbs up, however. Truly inspirational, with great acceptance speeches, and it helped make the show somewhat memorable for something other than assault.
- The In Memoriam approach this year was . . . strange? On the one hand, I liked having people actually reminisce about some of the people we’ve lost this past year. On the other, they had a gospel choir singing and dancing, and showed the actual In Memoriam piece behind them, to the point that the focus was very much on the dancing and singing, and not on the people being honored.
Honestly, who produces these shows year after year? Because you’d think that in an industry that can make so many really good films, you’d have enough talent to cobble together a good three hour award show. Instead, the Oscars seem to be still continually searching for “what should we be?” They bemoan the lack of viewers (though Will Smith’s slap will no doubt generate far more interest in the Oscars than anything else that happened this year), but they seem to want to blame it on anything other than what’s clear to so many. Honor movies. Honor film makers. People love movies. You can even highlight some of the great movies that came out that weren’t nominated for Oscars.
Last year, I complained that all they did was hand out awards and let winners ramble on for far too long. This year, they brought a lot of the schtick back, and clearly that’s still not doing it. There’s no way I would tune in for an hour of Amy Schumer et al making lame jokes about Hollywood. So why do they assume I’m going to want to watch that in the middle of my Oscars show? In my book, everything in the show should be something worth watching. Stupid routines by presenters? Nope. Lame tributes that are poorly put together? Come on.
Just give us something watchable. Heck, you could even do a “Thirty Years Ago” segment each year, where the show looks back at 30 years ago and talks about what went on. I don’t know. There seems to be tons of great things they could focus on.
Instead . . .
But my party was fun, so there’s that. And I got to read my agent’s liveblog of the evening, which I always enjoy. (Even if there were no updates on what desserts he was eating this time, which was a bit of a letdown. Come on, Joshua! How am I supposed to enjoy delicious noms vicariously??)
Anyone out there watch the show? What did you think?
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