Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014 Oscar Wrap Up

Loose Thoughts

I'll start out by saying I'm in the pro-Ellen camp. A lot of internet murmuring during and after the Oscars was that the show was unexciting. Well then I guess unexciting is for me. I didn't need a big song-and-dance number which, let's face it, have historically flopped except when Neil Patrick Harris is involved. And did you want Ellen to insert herself into clips of movies? Come on, that's played out. She's a comedian and talk show host, so she told jokes and talked to celebrities. And that was good.

And good is great! Because, in my memory, it didn't go well the last time Ellen hosted. It was slow and boring and most of the bits fell flat. (Something involving a vacuum cleaner, I think. I don't know.) But this year, even when things weren't great, there was just an overall sense of fun.

Take for example the most talked about bit of the night: the Record-Setting Most-Retweeted Selfie. Staging a selfie -- hell, even using the word "selfie" -- is an eye-rolling, kind of desperate attempt to act young and current. And it took way too much screen time to get it organized. But once the nearby celebrities started getting into it, it was fun! And the picture is actually pretty nice. And they successfully crashed Twitter. It's tough to argue; that was a success. Even if it was nothing but product placement for Samsung.

In other news, I didn't really think the night's theme of "heroes" came together. Why do the Oscars need a theme anyway? The theme of the Oscars should be "movies = good." The montage was muddled, bouncing between different aspects of heroism. Jack Sparrow, Doc Brown, and Captain America are three different kinds of heroes, and I don't think the montage communicated that. I probably shouldn't care. But, as noted before, I love a good montage.

It was cool that they didn't cut off too many acceptance speeches this year. What was even cooler was that the speeches, by and large, were worth leaving on, even if sometimes a little too rehearsed.

Thumbs up on the song performances. The internet seems to be complaining about those as well. Are you kidding? Pharrell's performance was the single biggest infusion of energy the whole night. (If the producers had known that, I'm sure they would have scheduled him in the second half of the show to liven things up.) U2 did their usual U2 thing. The stripped-down performance of "The Moon Song" from Her was lovely. And for "Let It Go," you don't need anything more than Idina Menzel alone on a stage. What do you want, interpretive dancing?

As for the awards themselves, things basically went as predicted in the major categories; although I'll bet if we had access to the numbers we'd see how easily best picture could have gone to Gravity. What is surprising is the complete shutout of top nominees American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, and Wolf of Wall Street.

Following up on last year: I definitely did not crack the Shorts code. I completely tanked on those predictions this year. I don't know what to say. I mean, obviously I'm not happy. I just… I don't know what happened.

And finally. I'm not gonna finish up here without joining everyone else in pointing a finger at John Travolta. This was just too good. There's not much I can add to the conversation that the internet hasn't already covered, but I just want it on the record here. My favorite part is how completely he committed to it. He doesn't seem confused or uncertain about what he's saying. He definitely intended to say the words "Adele Dazeem." Perfect.

My Score Sheet

I continue to improve year-over-year, despite completely tanking in the Shorts categories. (I mean, seriously, what the hell happened in those Shorts categories?) Of the 23 categories I placed guesses in, I got 16 right this year. That's a 69.5% accuracy rate. If this pattern holds, I'll be a B-average next year! Stay tuned.

In Summary

It was a good show this year. I feel like the people calling it boring were watching it too closely. The key to enjoying the Oscars is to only half-watch them. And these days, it's easier than ever to half-watch the Oscars. Back in the day, you used to have to go to a party or something. Today, you can just kick back with your favorite internet-enabled device and load up your favorite social media. My point? If you didn't like the Oscars this year, you were probably doing it wrong. Grade: solid A.