Thursday, March 11, 2010

2010 Oscar Wrap-Up

Loose Thoughts

Welcome back to March, Oscars! Historically, the Academy Awards have been held in late March. In recent years, however, too many organizations have gotten into the awards game, and the Academy felt the Oscars were losing their prominence. To get their punch back, they moved the presentation date up to February. But thanks to the Olympics they were pushed back into March this year, albeit the early part of the month. Still, for old time's sake, I was happy to see the Oscars in March again.

I was also happy to see the return of a nice, old fashioned phrase: "The winner is..." Many years ago (22, according to sources I'm finding), the Academy changed the phrasing to the more polite, "And the Oscar goes to..." Because, you know, they're all winners; it's just that the Oscar itself is going to this one particular person. But this year, they returned to saying "And the winner is..." To me, that felt like the way it should be. (More info.)

This year's Oscars were the first real "Twitter Oscars." Even though some of us were Twittering the Oscars in years past, this year seemed to be the moment when everybody had that brilliant notion -- those of us viewing at home, and those in attendance at the Kodak Theater. And thank goodness that was the case. Because when I stop to think about it, yes, this year's Oscars were kind of boring. Definitely too long; but also boring.

But I wasn't bored. Between providing my own Oscar commentary and voraciously reading the comments of professional comedians and various writers, this year's Oscars were fantastic. If you weren't already following them, I suggest following Neil Gaiman, John August, Doug Benson, Roger Ebert, and the Comedy Film Nerds next year.

So, what was boring about the Oscars? It's sort of cliche to complain about how long the show is every year, but it was really long this year. As I noted, if I'd been in the Eastern Time Zone, I doubt I would have made it through to the end. Most egregious time-waster: when those bunches of actors got up on stage and talked about what's so great about this year's actor nominees. Individually. Three minutes per nominee, at least. Come on! This whole night is about the industry congratulating itself. Why do I have to listen to Forest Whitaker talk about how swell Sandra Bullock is for five full minutes? Nobody cares! Just give her the damn statuette! That right there would have shaved a half hour or more off the broadcast.

On the other hand, I need to be cautious about telling the show producers to tamp down the pomp. The pomp is what we're there for. Which brings me to what was possibly my biggest disappointment with this year's show: I didn't get teary at all. Not even once. Folks, I'm a movie lover. I connect with movies emotionally; that's why I love them. I love the stories, and I love the history. So when the Academy runs those clip reels of great movie moments, great Oscar moments, etc., I usually get so swept up that I'm on the verge of crying. This generally happens at least three times per Oscar show; often more. But not once this year. Not even during the John Hughes tribute. What went wrong? I don't know, but they need to fix that for next year.

Can I recommend that the Academy hire the producers of "American Idol" for next year's broadcast? Those people know how to stir a crowd, and they seem to be able to get their business done on schedule most of the time. How about it?

Now, I'm afraid I'm coming off too negative. Those are my complaints, and I stand by them. But those are basically my only major qualms. Everything else was fine. It was a decent show. And, as I said, all the better if you were watching it with Twitter.

Just a couple other notes. First, that really weird moment involving the winners of Music by Prudence. Who would have guessed that one of the most talked about moments of the night would come from one of the least popular categories in contest? If you don't remember the moment I'm talking about, click here. The hard-working reporters at Salon were on the ball and got to the bottom of the story the quickest. Read their report here. And here's a little additional information.

Second, the biggest upset of the night for me was, once again, a category few people care about: Best Animated Short. I actually had the opportunity to see all of the nominees in the category this year. They all had their charms, but the best of them -- and I suppose this is just an opinion -- was easily the new Wallace and Gromit entry. They're basically the Pixar of England. How did they not take the prize?

It's not just that Wallace and Gromit didn't win, it's what they lost to - Logorama. Look, I appreciate the amount of work it doubtless took to put that short together. But ultimately, the movie only has two jokes -- 1, find clever ways to repurpose brand name logos; 2, tarnish these well-guarded corporate emblems by vulgarizing them -- which it repeats over and over again for twelve minutes. Not only was the entire movie comprised of only two jokes, but those are two easy jokes, and jokes we've seen before (going back at least to the original Bad News Bears, if not earlier).

Oh well. It was bright and colorful and fun to look at. But if you want a truly satisfying short film experience, watch Wallace and Gromit.

A final note: Continuing the trend experienced by other award show broadcasts this year, ratings for the Oscars were up - the highest they've been in five years! Perhaps this means the Academy's experiment of nominating ten best pictures was a success.

My Score Sheet

Of the 22 categories I placed guesses in this year, I got 13 right. This improves on last year, when I got 12 out of 21. Need to work on improving my average for next year, though.

In Summary

This year's acting winners represent an interesting diversity. There's an Austrian, an African American, a heartlander, and a Hollywood dynast. Then there was the first-ever female Best Director winner. Perhaps this contributed to the ratings bump - there was a little something for everyone. Or perhaps the ratings were up due to the mere fact that the major category winners were so predictable this year; people love it when they're able to guess these things.

At any rate, it was a decent year for the Oscars. Not mind blowing, but probably more memorable than last year.

I give this year's Oscars a B-; and an A- if you watched it while reading Twitter reactions.


  1. I thought they really messed up the In Memoriam segment. They kept panning to James Taylor, which meant there were several times when I couldn't see who we were supposed to be remembering. Somewhat morbidly, I always enjoy the In Memoriam segment, and I felt like I missed out this year.

  2. They did that last year, too. And many people complained. And they didn't change it.

    It really doesn't make sense to screw some people out of their tribute. But it makes sense to put James Taylor on the screen when you paid all that money to get James Taylor. Solution: go back to using a recorded song! Why do you need a live performance during the tribute? That truly takes away from the people you're supposed to be remembering.


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