The 82nd Academy Awards

I’m not a fan of award shows. I never have been. I feel that anyone who can accomplish the things that I can’t deserves accolades and that isn’t something that can be quantified. Yes, there are bad movies and musicians, but they have done something that I haven’t, so good for them. To have their faces rubbed in the fact that someone else did things better than they have is just mean.

Regardless of this, my girlfriend made me watch the 82nd Annual Academy Awards last night. Strangely, I enjoyed the experience more than I thought I would.

Don’t get me wrong. It was an overly excruciating experience. But there were a few highlights.

Watching the tag-team comedy of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin was painful. Alec Baldwin just seemed to be in a fog through the entire show. Steven Martin proved himself capable to host the show alone, so I question the inclusion of Alec Baldwin. However, I did laugh harder than I expected to at their Paranormal Activity spoof. Between that and Ben Stiller dressed as a Na’vi from Avatar were about the only two things I laughed at. But not the entire Ben Stiller act. The premise was amusing, but got less funny each time he mocked himself. It wasn’t until his outburst with the special effects guy controlling his tail that I really cracked up. After that, though, it all went to hell.

It’s a well known fact that the Oscars have issues with time. More often than not, the show runs over its intended time slot, due to the number of speeches, tributes, and “comedy” acts that they work into the show. Well, this year, a lot of that was cut out, including the full musical numbers for the Best Song category. Yet it somehow managed to last until midnight, making it a half hour longer than it was intended to be. And they ended it abruptly, with jarring results.

Prior to the announcement of the winner in both categories of Best Actor and Actress , a short tribute was given to each of the nominees from people close to them. While this was very touching in a unique kind of way, it was also unnecessary. It used up so much time that when it came down to Best Picture, the category that most people care about and the one that means the most, in my opinion, Tom Hanks literally came on stage and read the winner. There was no introduction or recap of the nominees. It was basically “I’m Tom Hanks. And the winner is…” What? Granted, they did take time throughout the show to showcase each of the nominees in the category, but over the course of 3 plus hours, I had completely forgotten who was in the running. I think, also, the decision to include 10 nominees in the Best Picture category was definite overkill. Let’s face it; most of those chosen had no chance. So what was the point? To say that it’s the first time since 1943 that 10 films were nominated? Clearly, there’s no precedence, so clearly there’s no need.

I was glad to see that Avatar did not win Best Picture. In fact, it won fewer awards than I expected it to. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen Avatar and I really have no intentions of doing so. I am probably one of the few geeks on Earth who will say this, but I’m really tired of James Cameron. From everything I’ve read about it, Avatar is nothing original. It seems like a CG remake of Disney’s Pocahontas and really unnecessary. For it to win the Best Picture award would have been a travesty. I’m glad our society hasn’t come to that.

A couple of shockers happened as well. Sandra Bullock won Best Actress. Who saw that coming? While I don’t necessarily think she deserved it, a claim I can’t make not having seen her performance, I’m not mad that she won. I may not be a fan, but Bullock is a hard working actress and all I have to say is good for her. I was also surprised to see Sean Penn at the Oscars. In the past, he avoided the Academy Awards like the plague, so to see him there was quite strange. Has his opinion of the academy changed over the years? More than likely, he lost a bet to someone. We will see next year. Also, why wasn’t Farrah Fawcett part of their ‘In Memoriam’ tribute? Michael Jackson was included, and he isn’t known for his acting skills. That was an unforgivable mistake.

Other than that, the Oscars were pretty much what I expected. I hated the dance sequence for Best Original Score. I felt it lent nothing to the music and actually detracted from the fantastic scores it was meant to pay homage to. There were enough self aggrandizing speeches, such as Sandy Powell’s proclamation of “I already have two of these…” after winning for Best Costume Design. She did her best to back-pedal by trying to dedicate the win to all of the costume designers who get overlooked every year, but the damage was done.

Two things really stuck out and moved me in a way that I couldn’t expect from the Academy Awards. The first was the tribute to John Hughes, presented by Matthew Broderick and Molly Ringwald. The honor they bestowed on Hughes was very sweet and sentimental. After a short video homage, Broderick and Ringwald were joined onstage by Jon Cryer, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, and Macauly Culkin. They each related a memory of Hughes, and it was almost heartbreaking to see Macauly Culkin on the verge of tears. But my favorite moment of the night was Michael Giacchino’s acceptance speech after winning Best Score for his work on Up. He told a short story about how his parents never told him his hobby of movie-making when he was younger was a waste of time. He relayed this message to everyone who doesn’t have the same support system that he did. His point was that if you love what you do, then it’s not a waste of time. I thought this was the most touching and self-sacrificing acceptance speech that I have heard in years.

I don’t regret watching the Oscar’s. However, I probably won’t be doing it again; at least not of my own volition. But I am glad that there was very little that morally offended me. Granted, most of the show’s winners were fairly obvious, but the few that came out of left field were enough to shake up the academy. And it’s about damn time.
Images courtesy Newszine and Huffington Post. Click images to visit respective stories.

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