Random, Shallow Oscar Commentary!
I decided to post all my random thoughts, including the kind of shallow commentary on fashion which I usually consider beneath me. So, veering into Full Shallow Mode, let's start with...
Fashion: I'm not what you would call a fashion expert. I've been known to wear Mickey Mouse t-shirts. So, I'm the least qualified person to discuss Oscar fashion. But I'm writing this blog, so what are you going to do about it, punk?
Good fashion - Selma Hayek (always GORGEOUS, but especially stunning this night), Hilary Swank, Ludacris (Dude, his all-black suit looked awesome!), Jennifer Garner (well, I might be saying this about her b/c she got an abundance of good vibes from me after nearly tripping on her way to the microphone and quipping "I do all my own stunts". I love self-deprecation.).
Bad fashion - Charlize Theron (what the heck WAS that on her shoulder? A couch pillow?).
Jon Stewart: Interesting that he's getting post-Oscar raves. I was initially unimpressed. After a hilarious intro involving all the past Oscar hosts turning down the chance to host and Stewart dreaming about Halle Berry and George Clooney, his opening monologue fell flat. There were far too many jokes that elicited only sympathy laughter from 1/10 of the audience. (On Munich and Schindler's List: "I know I speak for all Jews when I say I can't wait to see what happens to us next!" Mild laughter. "Trilogy!" Milder laughter.) I don't know. Perhaps that was just my impression. Some lines I remember falling flat sounded more successful when I heard them on the morning radio.
Stewart picked up the pace as the show went on. A lot of his off-the-cuff remarks were great. ("For those of you keeping track at home, that's Martin Scorsese - zero Oscars. Three-Six Mafia - One." "I can't wait for the Oscar montage on Oscar montages!" "If you're trying to escape a burning car, I don't recommend you move in slow motion." last one's a paraphrase). And the "political ads" for Best Actress nominees was drop-dead hilarious! My laughing corpse was then jolted back to laughing life by the "political ads" redux for Best Sound Effects editing nominees.
Dance: I henceforth declare a moratorium on all interpretive dance at Oscar ceremonies! Especially when they re-enacted scenes from Crash while Kathleen "Bird" York sang "In The Deep." You do NOT re-enact a scene of a cop molesting a woman in slow-motion interpretive dance! That was wrong! So wrong. So very wrong.
The dancing veered from pretentious/very, very wrong to ridiculous when the Three-Six Mafia and Taraji P. Henson sang "It's Hard Out There For A Pimp." What is this? Hustle & Flow interpreted through the lens of Guys and Dolls?
Songs: The Oscars are not the Grammy (sp?) Awards and you can usually tell through the song selection for best movie song (or whatever they call it). This year I was pleasantly surprised by 2 of the nominees.
First, the bad - "Into the Deep"....actually, I need to listen to this again. I just didn't pay much attention to the song because I was too annoyed at the very, very, very wrong interpretive dancing.
Second, Dolly Parton's "Traveling Through." Dolly's appearance remains bizarre. She evokes images of Barbie - complete with the freakishly impossible figure and the face that appears to be made out of plastic. But somehow she made it past this handicap. It certainly helped that she wasn't backed by interpretive dancers. But it was more than that. The moment she came on stage shouting something like "straight from Dollywood to Hollywood, y'all!", the infectious enthusiasm of her performance charmed me. She just strutted back and forth across that stage and sang her charming little ditty with gusto. I can't deny that the openly Christian nature of the song may have influenced my opinion...but even Christianity cannot make me like, say, the last decade's worth of work by Michael W. Smith.
Third, the Oscar winner and oddly joyful "It's Hard Out There For A Pimp" from Hustle & Flow (think of the movie as Rocky for pimps who are wanna-be rappers). The content of the song is straight cliche gangsta rap...not my favorite style. So why do I like this song? Perhaps the catchy chorus, sung by Taraji P. Henson from the movie. (Who cleans up nice from the somewhat homely character she plays in the movie.) Perhaps it's just the fact that a rap song won an Oscar. (Although that's not actually a first. It's just that Eminem never showed up to the ceremony for "Lose Yourself".) Whatever the case, I still find myself humming this song to myself and I also loved the enthusiasm with which the Three-Six Mafia accepted their Oscars.
George Clooney: Some people liked his acceptance speech for being political yet classy. To me, it just came off as self-congratulatory, elitist, and self-righteous. And I AGREE with Clooney's politics!
Montages: You want to know how to reduce the length of Oscar ceremonies? Not by rudely playing off the winners enjoying their spotlight. (Okay, some get too annoyingly long. But come on! They started playing music before the thank yous even began! They played off the best picture winner, fer cryin' out loud! Poor "Crash" producer Cathy Schulman got so nervous she thanked her husband AND her wife!)
You can shorten the Oscars by eliminating the doggone montages! They were so damn pointless. Yes, I really wanted to know about all the biographical pictures that have been made. Thanks so much for contributing to my life Mr. Montage Person. That had everything to do with the current awards and all! Stewart was right...I'm waiting for the montage on montages.
I would allow the "people who passed away this year" montage. It's a touching tribute. But that montage led me into another movie geek rant. When the showed that writer/producer Debra Hill had died, the movie they associated her with was Adventures in Babysitting. Adventures in freakin' Babysitting! Hey Mr. Montage Person....if you are going to recognize a relatively unknown writer-producer, how about pointing out her greatest contribution to pop culture: Halloween! Yeah,that's right, Halloween. She co-wrote it with John Carpenter and produced it. Halloween's only the movie that every teen horror flick for the past 27 years has been trying to copy! It's also one of perhaps half-a-dozen of those flicks that is actually good. (Though its impact is sadly reduced by being de-sensitized to all the scares and cliches that it invented.) Seriously, Montage Person, just for that mistake you should be forced to watch Adventures in Babysitting 2010 times. One for each time I would like to kick you for such a stupid mistake, plus another 10 times as punishment for making an Oscar montage.
Oscar speeches I found touching: The South African guy who won for Tsotsi. Philip Seymour Hoffman (finally recognized for the genius he is!) thanking his mom. Reese Witherspoon thanking her parents.
Altman-esque: Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep (2 members of the old guard of fantastic actors among the generally young presenters) did a great job of simulating what a Robert Altman movie is like. They meandered and talked over each other a lot. I'm not a massive fan of Altman, but I confess I haven't seen his full work. I've seen Nashville (which I think I would like if I saw it a 2nd time and was able to keep track of the 20-30 main characters and make out what they were saying), Cookie's Fortune (yawn), and Gosford Park (which I enjoyed but which also was by far his most conventional flick...so I'm told). Altman's known as the pioneer of large casts. So if I have Robert Altman to thank for the works for Paul Thomas Anderson, I guess I'll be thankful.
Ok, that's all I have for now. It's probably too much. Comment away.