Monday 23 February 2009

My Problem With The Oscars Ceremony

I haven't seen many of the films that were up for nominations this year (except for "WALL-E", "Man On Wire", "The Visitor", "In Bruges", "Tropic Thunder" and "Kung Fu Panda"), but I still watched the Oscars. I missed my friend's Oscar party for the first time in roughly 15 years unfortunately, but I was still looking forward to the telecast. Yes, it's long and self-serving, but I always liked how it was a 3-4 hour celebration of film.

But it didn't feel like that tonight. Yep, they had some of the previous winners on stage for presentations and did mini-chronicles of 2008 films within a couple of high level genres, but it all felt removed somewhat...

Part of it was due to the way they were presenting clips of the nominated films. Either the live camera was roving across another screen showing the clip or a backdrop had several different smaller screens or stills. I don't think it was until the very end when they had that montage of previous films cut in with the year's top 5 did the clips actually fill my entire screen at home. The films just seemed to be after thoughts.

And the acting presentations...The actors were nominated for their "acting" - could we see some of it? Nope. Instead we got 20 different personal tributes from other winners. So it appears that The Academy's strategy for getting more peope to watch is to make it about the "stars" and not their performances or the films themselves. Well, so be it I guess...I know the ratings have taken a tumble or two the last few years (particularly last year I think), so go crazy with your special half circle seating area for the "stars", the lack of any celebration of the films of yesterday (except that final montage) and the multiple bumper announcements about "the most talked about award this year" (ie. stay tuned as we hope there will be tears over Heath).

But did you have to screw up the In Memoriam too? The camera woozily moved in and out and back and forth to the screen showing the faces and names of those who passed away - so much so that I expect some people would not have even been able to even read who some of those folks were. And seriously - could you mute the freaking audience microphones? Do we always have to hear the applause meter to see who the crowd liked the most (Pollack over Minghella apparently). And only one clip with actual audio (for Newman)? I guess you couldn't have heard over Queen Latifa's LIVE singing anyway...Geez.

I know, I know...Big whoop. Some good things though:

  • Kate Winslet's request for her Dad to whistle so she could find him. That was great.
  • I know some people find Philippe Petit (the focus of Best Documentary winner "Man On Wire") to be annoying, but if you could balance the Oscar upside down on your chin in front of hundreds of millions of people wouldn't you do it too?
  • The classiness of the Ledger family.
  • The woman who won for Best Documentary Short ("Smile Pinki") had one of the best thought out, timed and honest speeches of the night.
  • Jerry Lewis' speech was mercifully short.
  • Yay WALL-E!
  • I got 18 of 24 in my Oscar Pool. Don't if that was enough to win yet...


Ryan McNeil said...

About halfway through the show I asked myself "I wonder if Bob is missing the montages tonight?"

Guess I got my answer ;)

James Yates said...

I was reading the other day about suggestions for "livening up" the Academy Awards.

Know what the problem is? People do not have attention spans anymore, plain and simple. And it always irks me to no end when a film or performance with a nomination is considered a long shot because "voters might not have seen it."

Excuse me? If I had the honor of voting for an Academy Award, I'd have my butt in a movie theater every night, or be pouring over screener DVDs to fully prepare.

James McNally said...

Have to agree with you here. I was annoyed not to be able to see any clips from the films, although SOME of the tributes worked (I liked Shirley Maclaine's address to Anne Hathaway - it seemed she was telling her "you're not going to win tonight, but you're good and one day, you will." Very sweet and moving).

The In Memoriam thing was a disgrace. I'm not sure why they didn't fill the screen for all the montages, as I'm sure they've always had those backdrop screens for the live audience anyway.

Bob Turnbull said...

Heh, I guess I may have mentioned that before, eh Hatter?

I gotta say I don't fully understand the attitude many voters have - if you're voting do some due diligence. If the only thing you've seen is that one movie which was sent to you as a screener - don't vote!

James, thanks for agreeing...I was thinking this morning that perhaps I was a bit cranky in my comments. And you're right - Maclaine's comments were quite sweet. I also liked De Niro's comments to Penn. It's the most animated and happy I've seen De Niro in years...