Outlining the Oscars: The Highs and Lows

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I don’t want to write another post-Oscar entry out of the hundreds who have already done so, so I’ll make this relatively short since everyone has already said what has to be said.  I enjoyed the ceremony a lot.  Even though it was approximately 3 and a half hours long, it wasn’t painful to sit through.  I don’t know whether it was the shortened commercial breaks or just the pleasant flow the show had… but it passed by quickly.  I loved the opening monologue/musical numbers and think Hugh Jackman should be back next year.  And although the awards were very predictable, it was still entertaining.

Here’s an outline of my thoughts:

The Good:

  • Hugh Jackman.  He showed everyone that he can bring the success he had hosting the Tony’s to The Academy Awards.  He was charismatic, funny, and extremely likable.  Bring him back!
  • Best Acting Awards Presentations – I guess this was the reason why they didn’t announce who would be presenting… because if the names of five past winners were announced the “surprise” would’ve been ruined.  Anyway, I really liked the way the past award winners would compliment and applaud the nominees of their performances.  It made the women cry and the men humble.  Excellent stuff.
  • Ben Stiller as Joaquin Phoenix.  Everyone has seen the disaster on Letterman.  The whole act by Stiller was a bit weird, but still funny.  I never thought this would happen, but for once my eyes were diverted from the gorgeous Natalie Portman.
  • Comedy montage by Judd Apatow featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco from Pineapple Express.  It was hilarious.  Especially when they laughed at The Reader and Doubt.  Oh, and when Franco thought The Love Guru was Slumdog Millionaire.  Very very funny.
  • Steve Martin and Tina Fey presenting the Best Screenplay awards.  It was a great way to start off the night with one of the first awards.  And I loved the way the clips of the nominees were presented with the screenplay captioning over the picture and a voice over.  That should be a special feature on these nominated films for the DVD release.
  • Dustin Lance Black’s speech.  His acceptance speech was definitely the best and most touching of the night.  There was so much emotion inside of him and he was just so gracious for the award.  He talked about how Harvey Milk changed his life and thanked his mom for loving him for who he is.
  • Philippe Petit’s Magic Trick.  The subject on the Best Documentary Feature, Man on Wire, sure is one memorable character.  He displayed that during the documentary and also on stage as he made a coin disappear in front of everyone’s eyes.  I don’t think that has ever happened before at the Oscars.

The Bad:

  • Not enough of Hugh Jackman.
  • The Medley for Best Original Song.  I understood why Peter Gabriel didn’t want to perform his nominated song “Down to Earth” at the Oscars… but after watching the medley I REALLY understand.  Being sandwiched by two Slumdog Millionaire songs with the whole Bollywood vibe, it was just silly.  I really hope this medley was a trial idea and doesn’t happen again.
  • The Musical is Back featuring Beyonce.  Okay, so I guess since they had Hugh Jackman at their disposal, why not do a Broadway number on movie musicals?  Unfortunately it was not very good.  Sure, the musical is back… but it was back and stronger last year.  This year was Mamma Mia and High School Musical.  Last year was Once, Across the Universe, Sweeney Todd, and Hairspray.  Sure, the musical is back but we didn’t need this ridiculous number to remind us.
  • The Best Picture montage.  I did not like the way older films were spliced into the Best Picture montage.  I enjoy seeing clips of the nominees, and that’s it.  Nothing else.  Editing past film clips with the current nominees was just messy and confusing.
  • Too many awards.  I liked the way the Oscars grouped the awards together, but I still think they can do without some.  For example, do they really have to include the awards for Best Short Films in the telecast?  No, they don’t.  And even some awards like Best Costume Design (which always goes to a period film with extravagant dresses) and Makeup I could do without.  And what’s the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing?  Anyway, cut out some awards.

Okay I know I said I was gonna write a short post, but somehow it got lengthy.  Overall the 81st Academy Awards was very entertaining and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  And Slumdog Millionaire winning 8 awards (one short of the clean sweep) was well-deserving.  The ratings were up from an all-time low last year to about 36 million viewers.  Hopefully this upward direction continues next year.

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