Monday, March 8, 2010

Review of the Oscars (or ‘82nd Academy Awards,’ if you must)

Okay, so I really am going to blog about the Oscars. But that’s only because I need more time for a post that will do justice to the awesome skiing this weekend. Which really just means I need to download pictures before I post. Because this is going to end up being way longer than the skiing post anyway.

But before I get to the Oscar post, I wanted to mention the surreal experience I had while running at lunchtime today.

When I run during the workday, I run from my office towards City Creek canyon, where I can be on trails within 10 minutes. It’s nice to be on dirt and feel like I’m out of the city even though I’m really not.

My proximity to the city was apparent today when I heard carillon bells as I ran back towards downtown. This struck me as doubly ironic, not that I was hearing bells, but for what they were playing. You see, the first building one encounters at the mouth of City Creek canyon is the headquarters of the LDS church. Across from that is Temple Square, and across from that is the conference center. If one hears church bells in that area, one is naturally left to suppose they came from one of the several city blocks that is occupied by nothing but church-owned buildings.

I was left thinking that someone from the church really has a sense of humor, because the church bells were playing John Philip Sousa’s The Liberty Bell, better known as the theme song to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Obviously church bells playing the theme song to Monty Python’s Flying Circus is a tad ironic. But it becomes doubly ironic when one recalls the church bell sketch. I thought for a second that maybe I had taken the red pill after all.

OK, so that probably should have been its own post, but I still want to mention the Oscars. I realize that the Oscars don’t need me to validate them, but I watched the broadcast, so you get to hear what I thought of the program anyway. Or you can just skip this post entirely and go read something interesting or funny instead.

These are my thoughts. I’m laying my raw reactions on the table, but bear in mind I only saw two of the ten (?!) films nominated for best picture, so my reactions are based on the Oscar ceremony and my hardly objective assumptions more than the films and performances themselves.

Most preposterous acceptance speech goes to: Mo’Nique. The academy is fond of giving awards to films or performances that touch on sensitive political or social issues or that portray the dark underbelly of humanity. Among this year’s supporting actress nominees, Mo’Nique was the only one in such a film. So when she said her award was “about the performance and not the politics” I thought WTF?

I’ll concede that “politics” may have been referring to the active campaigning some nominees do for their awards, but that’s not the vibe I got when I looked at who else was nominated. Even if it was, by saying your award is about the performance, you’re basically rubbing the other nominees’ faces in it. Not my favorite moment.

Lifetime achievement awards go to: Jeff Bridges and Sandy Bullock. Like I said, I saw two of ten films nominated for best picture. So I didn’t actually see Crazy Heart or The Blind Side. I’m sure they are fine films. But best actor and actress in a leading role this year both really smelled more of lifetime achievement. In Jeff’s case, it’s probably legitimate. He’s done some good work, he’s a legacy case (which the academy loves), and this was probably a performance good enough that he could win when the other factors were also taken into consideration.

Bullock is a rom com actress who I think at one point even said regarding the academy awards something along the lines of “that’s not the sort of work I do.” The academy figured it was her one shot, and all the other nominees had either been there before, were likely to be there again, or were perhaps too likely to be a flash in the pan to deserve the win.

Pot calling the kettle black award goes to: ABC and the award ceremony producers. As I mentioned, the Academy doesn’t seem to shy away from social and political causes. So when the award for best documentary was presented to The Cove and director Louis Psihoyos was played off the stage and the camera immediately cut away after the film’s protagonist held up a sign saying “Text Dolphin to 44144,” I thought it was a bit odd.

Sure, the sign waving was a bit gauche, but documentary filmmakers take on these projects because they want to give voice to what they consider a worthwhile cause. And the only time the films get any meaningful voice at all (no, this blog is not a voice—it’s the rantings of a would-be village idiot that you just happen to be reading) is if they win awards. I thought the director should have at least been allowed his 45 seconds of fame before getting ushered off the stage.

How awesome does it feel when the underdog wins? award goes to: The Hurt Locker. Jim Caple perfectly summed up how I feel about this year’s best picture winner. I’ll also go on record saying that Kathryn Bigelow is the hottest winner of best director ever. She’s an attractive woman to be sure, but this has more to do with the fact that I’m not gay, so all the other winners never really did anything for me. Alec Baldwin seemed quite fond of her as well.

Of course it’s awesome that a woman won for best director. Even if she’s apparently eight feet tall. And even if I pissed in the bowl of glass-ceiling-shattering awesomeness that is a woman winning by mentioning that she’s also hot.

What I don’t get, though, is why there were 10 best picture nominees. I didn’t think either of the films I saw were best picture material. Or even close for that matter. Can’t imagine they were the worst two. Or why they needed ten if there weren’t ten in the running.

The Lazarus award goes to: Alec Baldwin. In ten years the guy has gone from Thomas and the Magic Railroad to hosting the Academy Awards. In fact, I would have liked to see more of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. I realize the ceremony always runs long, so they tried to keep it on time this year, but those guys were fantastic. I also missed the best original song performances like years past, but I really only wanted to see two of the five. (Of course I would have only watched two of five thanks to Tivo anyway. Not taking anything away from Ben, but Tivo is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.)

If I hadn’t already reaffirmed my status as a typical (with all the negative connotations that word has come to convey) white, chauvinistic male, my public admiration of Alec Baldwin has sealed it. (His character on 30 Rock is hilarious, BTW.)

So there you have it: my not very politically correct take on the Oscars. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to check the mail, as my invitation to be part of the Academy for next year is sure to arrive any day now.


  1. The Church does not ring bells.

    The bells you heard were coming from the State Capitol, which overlooks City Creek Canyon. They ring the bells mainly at noon and every hour during business hours during the Legislative Session.

    For your needs,the church assumption worked better. Cheers!

  2. I actually find it more fitting that the legislature is playing the theme to Flying Circus than the church. That's awesome.

  3. Good summary of the Oscars, even though I only caught bits and pieces. (Do you really need to watch the whole thing? I think not.)

    Nice seating assignment to put James Cameron right behind his ex-wife who won more awards. I read that Cameron was actually very gracious and cheered when she won - classy. Even more classy if you have a sense for Cameron's sizable ego - the man dreams big.

    I loved the USA Today insert in the Sunday paper touting an article as the ultimate Oscar preview. It only talked about the celebs, what they might wear and other idle gossip. Nothing about the movies. Yeah, that's the ultimate guide alright.

  4. That twitter acct is hilarious. Thanks for the link.

  5. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, for that. I'm a fit of giggles

    "The Shintus don't come here shattering sheet glass in the shithouse, shouting slogans- " That's one of my favorites!

    You know, the great thing about your posts is the treasures hidden in the links. There's always a treasure! Your commentary isn't so bad either.

    As an aside did you Kathryn Bigelow is 58? I want to be her when I grow up.