I'm sure that the world doesn't need another Oscars analysis. And while that hasn't stopped me the past couple of years, real-life concerns have me too distracted right now to forge ahead with any prolonged insight; neither my head nor my heart is in the game.
Billy Crystal's return as host was more triumphant in terms of his professionalism
than of rollicking humor, which may be what the doctor ordered. There was some good, yet not much bad or ugly — mostly things were perfectly fine but unremarkable, unless that was just my personal mood — and it's the controversy, the unexpected, the WTF moments where quick-minded emcees (with backstage writers at the ready for good measure) like Crystal shine. I noticed and appreciated his ease at moving the show along, perhaps due to the particular contrast with recent hosts, while at the same time wishing for wittier material.
My dislikes, although they were mild, include...
— the first montage. I'm a fan of montages, but they have to have some point beyond simply "the wonder of movies". Not to mention that we've seen all these clips. Perhaps since the Oscars were notably international this year the producers could've switched things up by playing us familiar scenes as dubbed into other languages. Otherwise I really don't need to see a snippet of Forrest Gump or Titanic or really even Jaws in such a bland overview again.
— Viola Davis losing out to Meryl Streep, despite it being kinda fun for that to screw up so many Oscar pools.
— the absence of any sort of on-stage duel between the dual nominees for Best Original Song.
— Lead Actor and Actress presenters speaking to each of the nominees, a new tradition that's well-intentioned but ill-realized. Unless they can rework their lines into their own words to an extent and get off the teleprompter — as Colin Firth seemed to do when honoring Meryl Streep — it's not worth the time and discomfort.
— the robotic undertone to the microphones.
— the fact that Hugo lost out on the big prizes to The Artist. I enjoyed The Artist considerably, as I wrote last month, but as I wrote the month before last Hugo was a superlatively enchanting experience to me. Academy members who felt that Marty Scorcese finally got his gold for The Departed and may well be up for the honor again, preferring to celebrate an outsider's celebration of old Hollywood, okay, I guess; those who didn't even bother seeing Hugo because of a mistaken belief that it was a kids' movie (or a belief that even if it was it was not worthy of Best Picture accolades), shame on them. Hugo was deserving of far more than just the so-called technical awards it took home, not that I belittle the craft of that work in any way.
— Emma Stone's dress.
My likes include...
— Emma Stone, who actually had me worried for a moment that she wasn't doing a gag. Acting!
— the opening film, again directed by Troy Miller, whose contributions I mentioned yesterday. I thought that it started much better than it ended, but it's always fun.
— some choice bits of Crystal's monologue, which sadly was mostly flat, especially his inside jokes like the reference to the venue as "The Chapter 11 Theater" (formerly The Kodak Theater, but currently nameless due to that company's business woes).
— the recurring first-person film of actors talking about their formative movie experiences.
— the Danny Elfman / Cirque du Soleil piece.
— Jim Rash of Community mimicking Angelina Jolie's weird leg-out-her-dress-slit stance when picking up the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
— the Wizard of Oz focus-group film co-starring and directed by Christopher Guest, with Bob Balaban, Catherine O'Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, an almost unrecognizable Eugene Levy, and just enough but not too much of Fred Willard.
— most of the categories' simple yet bold backdrops and the creative sequences put together for awards such as Editing, Writing, and Music.
— Chris Rock's bit on animated features, especially the line about how "if you're a black man you can play a donkey or a zebra".
— the beautiful rendition of "What a Wonderful World" sung by Esperanza Spalding for the In Memoriam film. I actually found the film itself to be about as tasteful and lovely as it's ever been.
How about you?
A full list of nominees and winners is at the official Oscars website.
Related: Oscars Beat • Silent Treatment • Ghosts
in the Machine • Slow Globes • Pre-Oscars Post