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Some Random Thoughts on the Oscars

Some Random Thoughts on the Oscars

| On 04, Mar 2014

Did broadcast TV shut down Twitter, or was Twitter needed to make the Oscars relevant?

I had every intention of not watching the Oscars on TV. The Sunday night ritual is usually reserved for the latest episode on HBO or Showtime. But the kids were wired and “Shameless” did not air a new episode, so the Oscars it was.

We save “True Detective” when there are no distractions, so it was DVR’d.

Ellen DeGeneres kicked off the show and delivered a very strong monologue, then had some pizza delivered in an overlong, failed bit. Hey look, Brad Pitt is passing out paper plates…”he’s just like one of us.” Ellen ceded control to the readers of gossip sites, and we went along for the ride.

But at times, she was edgy, as edgy as Ellen can be. Picking on Amy Adams for not going to college in front of a billion people certainly qualifies as embarrassing, even for a five-time Oscar nominee. Pointing at the real Liza Minnelli exclaiming she was the “best Liza Minnelli Impersonator I have ever seen,” felt calculated, but it worked.  

Then came the Tweet seen around the world. Nice setup by the marketing hacks at Samsung. Did Kevin Spacey get paid a little more than Meryl Streep for that photo bomb? All of this while wandering throughout an uncomfortable audience desperately looking for anything interesting to say. Without a script, most of the crowd doesn’t have anything interesting to say. Improvisation bits are best left to the masters, not the stand-ups; Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I always admired Ellen and like her comedy, but when gets out of her comfort zone, it shows.

And how did Spacey’s Frank Underwood reference from “House of Cards”, a streaming-only Netflix series, get more laughs than some of Ellen’s jokes on a night the film industry is congratulating itself?

I long for the days when Trey Parker and Matt Stone came in full evening gowns, declaring the Oscars were irrelevant. And they still are very irrelevant and very predictable.

“12 Years a Slave” won best picture and best adapted screenplay, and nobody was surprised. Because of the dual wins, we learned of the feud between screenwriter John Ridley and director Steve McQueen. A new internet gif with McQueen’s unenthusiastic seal applause may be the pop culture legacy of this Oscar night, not the Tweet/selfie.

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen ‘enthusiastically” applauds John Ridley’s win for Best Adapted Screenplay for “12 Years a Slave.”

“Gravity” was shot entirely in an enclosed hanger, controlled lighting grid with digital technology and wins Best Cinematography.  Hollywood has acknowledged its plastic bubble by reinvention and replacement.

OK kids, just get a green screen backdrop and you too can be Haskell Wexler.

Who?

Don’t worry, he’ll be on one of those “In Memoriam” tributes soon enough, and film students still won’t understand.

And wasn’t Dennis Farina in movies? Guess his family needed better publicists. The ‘death” tribute should be part of the Las Vegas odds along with Best Actress.

No surprise Cate Blanchett won, although it was probably more a sympathy vote for the harsh backlash she received thanks to the Salon.com and the Ronan Farrow publicity tour.

That’s why there was online chatter for months concerning Woody and a 20 year old closed case. Will Ronan Farrow get a bump in the ratings on MSNBC? Will anyone notice?

Cate Blanchett should of thanked Mia Farrow as much as Woody Allen for her award. The Farrow’s unwittingly was part of Blanchett’s PR team. Suck it Julia Roberts!

How about the muted applause when she dared mention Woody’s name?   You know, the writer and director responsible for her part and subsequently her Oscar. The silence was deafening, but the ones who sat on their hands will be the first to answer Woody’s call for a project.

All right, all right, all right. Matthew McConaughey is on a creative roll in two mediums and no franchise money. Marvel will be calling soon, but my bet is McConaughey will stick to his impulse and not become a superhero or super-villain. But his speech was the night’s winner, predicting his greatness 10 years before it happens in a beautiful self-fulfilling prophecy that finally reached its pinnacle Oscar night.

Will we remember Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o in a year? Cuba Gooding Jr. got some work on a Pepsi commercial during the telecast, so all is not lost for the Best Supporting awards.

The cast and director of “American Hustle” got the best seats in the house in the center of the front row, but walked away empty handed. At least Amy Adams got to dance with Pharrell and his Dr. Seuss hat, so all was not lost.

We love Jennifer Lawrence and not because she is a klutz, but because she is the only decent young actress Hollywood is betting on these days. The forgotten female leads of the past 10 years came out to present, but maybe they should focus on better roles than what to wear during awards season. Remember when Naomi Watts, Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson were the acclaimed, trending women on film? Yea, neither do I.

I was surprised that “20 Feet from Stardom” won best documentary, beating out more socially conscience films. Then I learned Harvey Weinstein and his PR machine backed the film, so nothing will ever change in Hollywood.  

Congratulations to Adele Dazeem for a fine performance of “Let it Go’’ from the film “Frozen,” easily outshining the other musical performers thanks to a lazy John Travolta and his-soon-to-be fired hairdresser.

Bill Murray snuck in a tribute to Harold Ramis, twenty years after their feud broke up one of the best comedy collaborations.

And thank you Darlene Love for bringing down the house. You were my highlight for the evening.

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