It was kind of a weird Academy Awards tonight and not one that people are going to remember because of the production. The reason to watch tonight was definitely because of the historic win for Directing awarded to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. The rest of the show was kind of a mess, ranging from sound issues to strange acceptance speeches.
I had a bad feeling for the evening as soon as the opening number with Neil Patrick Harris got underway. It seemed like this year’s ceremony was trying to capture the magic of last year’s musical opening with Hugh Jackman. The segment just seemed so random, especially since Harris wasn’t the host for the evening. It also seemed a little under produced.
Overall, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin did an adequate job hosting, but also seemed a little unnecessary to the ceremony. Having co-hosts was a novel idea, but they came off more as a two-man stand-up routine rather than as actual hosts. Their opening dialog was on the corny side and if the idea was to skewer the nominees they should have really gone for it rather than just poke fun. That way George Clooney’s reaction would have been funny instead of just weird. What was going on with that guy, anyway? He barely cracked a smile.
Regarding the sound: Am I crazy or was the sound just going haywire the whole evening? I could have sworn I heard a constant hiss or a high-pitched whine or sometimes random tapping. Whatever it was it was terribly distracting.
What was up with that tribute to horror movies? That was kind of random. Why not highlight action movies since they’re the tent poles that hold up the studios? What about comedies? Aren’t those important too? And why was Edward Scissorhands in that montage?
The interpretive dancing for the Original Scores was very disappointing. When the dancers started pop locking for The Hurt Locker I had to guffaw at the idea for a mashup called The Pop Locker. The dance numbers could have been so much cooler. I liked the contrast of b-boys and ballerinas, but their moves barely represented the films. Imagine how much cooler The Hurt Locker number would have been if the dancers surrounding the solo dancer exploded outward like, I don’t know, a bomb? Is that too on the nose? The whole thing reminded me of the joke dance number at the beginning of the 2009 Oscars when Hugh Jackman and company make up some silly dance because he hadn’t seen The Reader and didn’t know how to represent it.
The best presenter for the evening was Ben Stiller. It almost verged on crashing and burning, but his full commitment saved the day. Furthermore, the whole lo-tech fishing rod gag was beautiful irony juxtaposed with Avatar’s hi-tech visuals. Overall, Ben Stiller sold the bit and he was one of the few highlights in the evening.
The worst presenter was Cameron Diaz. She looked a little flighty and couldn’t sell the comedy even with Steve Carell helping her along. Runner-up for worst presenter was Elizabeth Banks who seemed a little too excited to be on stage. As a side note, the winners for technical awards totally got the shaft this year with their 5-second clip and group photo-op.
Acceptance speeches were adequately good, with Kathryn Bigelow delivering the most genuine of them all for her win in Directing for The Hurt Locker. I’m glad Sandra Bullock won for Leading Actress. She’s one of those journeyman actors that have never seemed to get that role that lets them really show off their chops. It’s nice to see her finally get a strong role and knock it out of the park.
I’m also happy to see Jeff Bridges win for Leading Actor, but his acceptance speech was all over the place and lasted way too long. It seemed like even he got bored of it when he sighed somewhere near the end. Someone needs to explain to me who that woman was that pulled a Kanye West during the acceptance speech for Music by Prudence. I didn’t even know what she was talking about and the poor guy she hijacked the microphone from did a great job controlling his disbelief and anger at losing his moment.
I will say that I’m very impressed that Avatar didn’t win Best Picture. I’m not complaining, of course, since Kathryn Bigelow is a stunning woman and I’d much rather see her on stage than Cameron.
Update #1: I can’t believe I left them out, but I really enjoyed Tina Fey’s and Robert Downey Jr.’s presentation for Original Screenplay. As an aspiring screenwriter I look forward to that conflict with front-of-the-camera talent. Also, since I’m getting a lot of hits from Google searches for “oscars bad sound” and “weird George Clooney” I see I’m not alone in my opinions.
Update #2: I’m hearing that the reason for the weird Kanye West moment during the acceptance speech for Music by Prudence is that there’s some kind of producing dispute. I’ll update again if I find out more.