As someone who loves the Oscars, movies, and awards shows in general, I have to say that this year's ceremony was the most boring in modern memory. It seemed like the whole night was mired in Billy Crystal's mediocre nostalgia and nothing got to shine, except Meryl Streep, which shouldn't be a surprise at all.
First of all, let's talk about the sound. Apparently host Billy Crystal's hearing aids were causing some sort of feedback so that for most of the broadcast the live sound from the show was creating some kind of aural shadow, like someone's annoying ring tone was continuously going off in the next room. For "Hollywood's Biggest Night," you think they'd have enough technicians on hand to fix such a major and annoying glitch, but no. The Oscars can never fix its major and annoying glitches.
Speaking of Billy Crystal he started off the shows just like you knew he would, just like he did the previous nine times he's hosted the show. First there was a taped segment where he inserted himself into some of the big movies from this year (though how The Adventures of Tintin ranks as a big movie I'll never know) and then with a musical medley where he changes the lyrics from famous songs to be about the Best Picture nominees. I remember back in the day this was fun and a source of at least minor amusement. This time it fell flat. It seemed dated and stale and not only were the songs unrecognizable, but the lyrical changes were uninspired.
Then the ceremony did something even more inexplicable than having Sheila E and some violin lady playing their hearts out in the balcony: it did a montage of movies right after the first commercial break. This is the height of the show, when people have yet to tune out of the broadcast or go to the next room for more chips and salsa never return and we are given a montage just of great movies. In past years they have done compilations of sci-fi or film noir or even trains in motion pictures. This year it was just vague stuff. It was a collection of catch phrases to remind the public at home who is watching a show honoring movies that there are these things called movies that you can go to and they are, often times, really great.
And if that wasn't enough, all night we got famous actors telling us about how much they love movies. Don't you think we know that? These actors love movies so much that they're fucking making them. Everyone at home loves movies too, especially if they're watching the Oscars. Having famous people tell the Oscars audience that movies are great and we should go see more of them is sort of like sending Mormon missionaries to go knock on doors in Salt Lake City.
Yes, we got Cirque du Soleil whipping men about the Kodak Theater (if only one of the wires had snapped sending a man careening into Stacy Keibler, a wrestler who somehow ended up in the front row of the Oscars) and a little sketch by the Christopher Guest comedy crew that was a little winning. We had Emma Stone do a great job as an eager presenter and Gwyneth Paltrow do an awful job upset at Robert Downey Jr's stupid documentary crew. We had the cast of Bridesmaids making dick jokes and Zack Galifiniakis and Will Farrell cymbaling their way to victory. We had former host Chris Rock (and his mini afro) telling us how fucking easy it is to make a million dollars doing animation voices. We had Billy Crystal who was a servicably bland host whose only funny joke was picking on Nick Nolte, who looked like Colonel Sanders the day he fell asleep in the sun or a meth dealer at a retirement home.
As for the awards themselves they went to a bunch of French movies. The deserving The Artist took home five trophies including Best Picture, Director, Actor and a couple of other ones, but all of them French. Hugo, about a young boy who lives in a train station in Paris, also took home five statues, all in the technical categories. Christopher Plummer won for a long career and Octavia Spencer won for what will hopefully kick off a long career (but wither Mo'Nique or Mira Sorvino?). Jean Dujardin won for the only English language film he'll probably ever make (until James Bond needs a French villain) and Meryl Streep won yet again.
Yes, Meryl Streep won. I kind of want to be a little upset about this because The Iron Lady is such an awful movie, but she really is the greatest actress out there and her acceptance speech was so winning and perfect and heartfelt. You can't hate on Meryl Fucking Streep. You just can't.
But like so much in the show, her was was so obvious. It's all so safe. It's all so, well, old. It's like those girls in costumes handing out olde tyme snacks down the aisle during the commercial breaks. It's like trotting out Billy Crystal for another go round. It's like giving all the trophies to Harvey Weinstein and Martin Scorsese and all the other old white guys. It just reminds us that it's the same sad song and dance every year. This year the dance was a lot slower and more boring, but it will be back again next year, when we set up all the same pieces and start to waltz again. We wouldn't know what to do otherwise. And while this year's dance partners will be as quickly forgotten as a mediocre meal, we have to do it again. It's what's expected, it's what we love, it's an annual tradition. Yet again we'll wish the tempo was a little bit more brisk, even though it never is, but even that is a sad comfort from our boring lives.
Here is the list of the winners.
- Best Picture: The Artist
- Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
- Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
- Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
- Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
- Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
- Best Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
- Best Short Documentary: Saving Face
- Best Live Action Short: The Shore
- Best Original Screenplay: Midnight In Paris
- Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
- Best Original Song: "Man Or Muppet," The Muppets
- Best Original Score: The Artist
- Best Visual Effects: Hugo
- Best Animated Feature: Rango
- Best Documentary Feature: Undefeated
- Best Sound Mixing: Hugo
- Best Sound Editing: Hugo
- Best Film Editing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Best Makeup: The Iron Lady
- Best Costume Design: The Artist
- Best Art Direction: Hugo
- Best Cinematography: Hugo
[Image via Getty]