The 2012 Oscars – A Look Back

Posted: 2012-02-29 by ilmozart in Movies
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Considering the amount of time I spent thinking about it, this past Sunday’s Academy Awards should have been the highlight of my cultural year. Between the time spent watching the movies, reading the reviews, parsing the many online articles, dragging friends into long conversations over who and what would be nominated and whether or not they deserved it… Heck, I sat through two full day marathons to see all the Best Picture nominees.

You could say I was a bit invested.

But it was an investment that really didn’t seem to pay off.  While Billy Crystal had a few “real” moments of humor, such as the “what are they thinking/mind reading” segment, mostly he just felt – and looked – tired.  The opening of “Billy Crystal inserts himself into the nominated films” followed by the “Billy Crystal puts the nominated film titles into a song medley” aren’t new. They might be beloved in theory, but in practice, much like his jokes, Mr. Crystal has gotten old. Which is OK! That’s what happens. People age. And clearly so does their comic sensibility.

Then, as per usual, for the most part, the presenters were awkward. JLo and Cameron Diaz – yes you have nice asses. Posing with said asses to the audience isn’t really a joke.  Especially when it fails. And then especially when you recognize said fail in order to turn it around. Which then does work.  And speaking of poses…. Angelina Jolie? Enough. Just enough. Stop it. If not for Jim Rash’s impromptu physical humor, I would be really annoyed. All glory to Dean Pelton.

And as much I really really love Robert Downey, Jr., that whole “The Presenter” thing just didn’t work. Gwyneth isn’t a good comedic partner and the crowd just wasn’t with you. Plus, the “meta” thing really didn’t come through. We were all too wary after James Franco basically did the same thing.

But the night wasn’t totally devoid of memorable moments:  Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis’s tuxedoed cymbal playing. The focus group for The Wizard of Oz featuring all the players from the world of Christopher Guest – I too feel we could lose Dorothy and “that rainbow song” . The performance by Cirque du Soleil was pretty solid. I was originally skeptical of this; I’d seen them in Vegas and was blown away, but I just wasn’t sure that the spectacle would work here.  However, I was glad to be proven wrong – they kept it short and sweet and visually interesting without going too long.  Though the constant cutaways to George Clooney weren’t really necessary.

Most of the awards weren’t surprises. The Artist and Hugo pretty much cleaned up. Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer were a lock.  Hazanivicius had that first time sheen going for him. Only real almost surprises were Meryl Streep over Viola Davis and Pixar losing Best Animated Short. But overall, things were predictable. Which is really all right as I don’t watch the show for surprises. I watch to be entertained. Thing is that last night, I just wasn’t all that entertained.

So where does this leave us for next year? The Oscars brought in the highest rated show of the week, but The New York Times reported that the ratings were flat and that has Hollywood worried. Despite opening up the Best Picture category to up to 10 films, nothing that was nominated could be considered a “populist” film.  Would the ratings have improved if something like Bridesmaids or Harry Potter 8 had been nominated?  Possibly – but I think the show might have been a bit more interesting overall.  Think about it — what was better than Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy doing a shot when someone from the crowd yelled out “Scorsese”, following up on the drinking game they started at the SAG awards.

As for next year’s host? Not sure I really want to watch Crystal struggle for another year, nor do I want to want Anne Hathaway and James Franco muck things up with over/under/trying and flop sweat.  I love Jon Stewart but I don’t think the audience is the right audience for him. Neil Patrick Harris? He seems to do well with the Emmys and the Tonys, so wouldn’t this be the next logical step?

Regardless of who emcees, regardless of which films are nominated I’ll be there, snark at the ready.


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