Cinema News and Reviews for the Rest of Us

Well, the 2010 Academy Awards are in the books, and I have one overriding thought on the whole affair…

The 2010 Academy Awards were terrible.

Not because of who won or didn’t win.  I’ll have more on that later.  But because the whole event was just pretty damn bad.  The Oscars had a chance this year to deliver a really great show.  The producers even promised one all the way to the telecast, and they kind of fell flat on their face.  They made bad decisions all over the place that sucked life out of what really were some very nice moments.

So what did I dislike about the 2010 Academy Awards?  Here’s the rundown:

-What the hell happened with the hosts?  They started out pretty strong, but midway through Alec Baldwin just disappeared and Steve Martin started acting more and more awkward, like he didn’t even want to the be there for the second half of the show.  When Baldwin did come back out, he looked visibly pissed about something.   The chemistry just imploded for these two, and that’s a shame.  The ‘Paranormal Activity’ sketch was great, but most of the rest was just awkward.

-As a matter of fact, the whole show was really, really awkward.  Ok, so you replace the Original Song performances with one long dance number for the Original Score nominees to save time.  Fine.  Lame, but fine.  Then you concoct a dance routine so strange and so awkward that every nominated composer in the audience must have been hiding their faces the entire time.  A guy in a yuppie suit doing the robot to the ‘Avatar’ theme?  Men and women pole dancing to the beautiful and innocent theme music from ‘Up’?  What the hell.

-Apparently the Academy mandated that only person speak for each win, and that the one person should include an important anecdote or life lesson instead of a laundry list of “thank you”s to make their speech more moving.  This is a nice idea, as we all grow tired of those thank you lists, but the result was a bunch of winners not only terrified about getting in front of the cameras for the biggest moment of their professional lives AND saying something profound in the process, but actually fighting over who would be the one to speak.

Of course, people who watched know I’m talking about the incredibly awkward acceptance for Best Documentary Short, when the director of the film was rudely interrupted by a woman who hadn’t been involved with the film for a year.  Apparently she’d separated from the project long ago over creative differences, but the Academy still had her listed as a producer on the nominee list.  She clearly felt shafted by not getting to be the one to speak on behalf of a film she had little to do with polishing into the great final product it apparently was.  And she responded by making a complete ass of herself and probably closing a lot of professional doors in the process. Well done.

-Playing ‘I am Woman’ after Kathryn Bigelow won her Best Director award?  Really?  She’s been dealing with gender questions this whole awards season, hell her entire career, and her great moment when she’s being awarded for her skill as a filmmaker has to be pontificated by Barbara Streisand and ABC’s band of hack ceremony producers?  If she wants to make her win about gender (which she didn’t), that’s her right.  But she doesn’t need everyone else telling her what her award should mean.

-Speaking of song choice during introductions, did I really hear “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” playing when Best Actress nominee Carey Mulligan entered?  By the way, her film ‘An Education’ is about a teenager girl who sleeps with an older man.  Very clever, producers.  Wow, just wow.

-And did ABC really have to go into each commercial break with lead-outs like “Wait and see if the first woman or African-American wins the Academy Award!”  Like it’s some cheap game show where you win by turning over your Prejudice Card and seeing what prize you get.  These Awards did a whole lot to bridge gaps and move the industry beyond old prejudices, but ABC and everyone else associated decided to treat us little kids and make damn sure we knew it at every opportunity.  Classless.

-So apparently we’re not allowing the winners of LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS to take the stage and accept their incredible honor?  Poor Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall were forced to stand by their seats and wait awkwardly while the audience gradually came to their feet, and then weren’t allowed to make any sort of acceptance speech for their LIFETIME OF FUCKING WORK.  Awful.

-And then there’s a movie-of-the-week tribute to the late John Hughes, with Brat Pack alums and everything.  Which is cool.  I love John Hughes.  But it seems kind of strange that he gets an indulgent half-hour ovation while everyone else who died gets their normal one second of face time during the ‘In Memoriam’ segment.  Seems off-balance to me.

Aside from all of this, there really were some special moments at these Academy Awards, but they happened in spite of the set-up of the show and the clumsiness of the producers.  In addition to Bigelow becoming the first woman to win Best Director, which is a huge achievement and a long time coming, we also had the first African American screenwriter win an Oscar when Geoffrey Fletcher won for ‘Precious’.  This was one of the few major upsets of the whole show, and though I loved Jason Reitman’s script for ‘Up in the Air,’ it’s a well-deserved honor.

I’ll post more of my likes in another post, but overall, a very disappointing show.

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