We Need to Talk About The Oscars
And the Oscars felt no need to talk about Kevin, highlighting only one problem among a multitude of issues. The ceremony provided little respite from the doom and gloom I have felt since the nominations were announced. The Academy Awards do tend to give out at least one surprise, or upset, if you have been following awards season closely. But the “surprise” upset came in the Best Actress category. Where one would have expected Viola Davis or even Michelle Williams. Instead Oscar gives it to the one person you would expect them to favor: Meryl Streep.
I started watching red carpet coverage around 5:30 and watched the awards to their conclusion around 11:40. And although I attempted to live blog it, I mainly followed Twitter reactions; below represents the few moments before and during the ceremony that highlight the lens I watched the ceremony through—to avoid a massive pit of utter disappointment.
6:23 The red carpet provided its first truly interesting moment: Jessica Chastain’s delight at meeting Ryan Seacrest. You could see in her face how initially absurd the moment seemed as perhaps the idea of where she actually was started to sink in. (Although how did she miss him at the SAGs?) I definitely love her. Side note: for the second year in a row, the tie breaker question for Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar pool asked you to guess the color of Michell Williams’ dress. Last year I guessed correctly with white. This year I guessed the same but she showed up in coral. So curious to know if anyone got that.
7:15 Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came before the telecast: Sacha Baron Cohen dumping Kim Jong Il’s “ashes” all over Ryan’s suit. While people are generally describing Ryan’s reaction as “peeved,” I thought he took the entire thing in stride (well as in stride as possible) and I can certainly imagine some people who would have had a major meltdown if the same occurred to them. But as harmless as it was, I do think it was two things 1) Cruel and unnecessary: Ryan was a good enough sport to interview him in character, the dumping (especially during such a formal event) was distasteful, even for him and 2) a cop-out: Ryan was an easy target: very visible yet removed from the main ceremony. He got the attention he wanted, but he went for the easiest and safest target in the area.
8:51 21 minutes into the broadcast I spot Bret McKenzie in the audience. Would have been nice to see him interviewed but then how could the world go without a Nick Nolte interview where he mumbles along confusedly until he realizes the hard hitting question was about his pet crow. Sigh. ABC makes E! look good, and this is the world we live in.
9:09 Christian Bale comes out to deliver Best Supporting Actress and his accent sounds incredibly thicker than usual. Is he going method as usual? I also remembered The Fighter…and how much better the nominees were last year. Couldn’t wait for all of last year’s winners to come out and taunt me.
9:40 Billy Crystal’s jokes start leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I semi-tolerated the one about driving outside of Beverly Hills in order to find a black woman but ageist attacks on Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow? Celebrated actors? Especially with Plummer as the favorite? It definitely came across as disrespectful to me; hopefully as a newly minted Oscar winner (and yes, the oldest ever for actor) these shenanigans did not ruin his win.
9:41 Robert Downey Jr. comes out to present for documentary films with Gwyneth Paltrow. While this shtick wasn’t the best I have seen from RDJ he constantly proves to be an MVP of awards shows: well spoken, good with timing, and generally entertaining. He may be too “movie star” for a hosting gig but we can add him to the list anyway.
10:01 Melissa Leo arrives on the scene to hand out the Best Supporting Actor award to Christopher Plummer. Per usual, Christopher makes special mention of Ewan McGregor, that “superb artist” and even mentions he would share it with him if he had any decency (he doesn’t but that is understandable).
10:18 Bret McKenzie wins for Best Original Song and I rejoice. He didn’t really have stiff competition but the way this telecast was going, it felt like everything was going to lead to disappointment. Hopefully we will only hear more and more from Bret, either through songwriting or acting (preferably before The Hobbit in, gulp, December). Various tweets reported that Jason Segel was crying and/or looked awkward for not being thanked (I say it’s the camera’s fault for lingering on his face as the only other recognizable presence from The Muppets).
10:30 One of the toughest categories (for me) Best Original Screenplay is given out. I had my money on Midnight in Paris (it won) but was secretly hoping for a surprise win for either Bridesmaids or Margin Call. At least I was rewarded with my first glimpse of Zachary Quinto (I guess he was also too unimportant for an interview on the red carpet? And for that matter, I really wish JC Chandor went more recognized for Margin Call).
10:41 Someone shouts Scorsese while the Bridesmaids cast is on stage (they should have hosted jointly! Oscars solved) and surprise airplane bottles of booze appear like magic. Excellent callback.
10:52 Michael Sheen appears on screen during one of the categories where Midnight in Paris is nominated and attracts my attention for a few seconds. Meanwhile I am anxious about how long this will run into the 11 o’clock hour, since I really want to catch some of The Walking Dead. Because obviously I have to watch The Talking Dead or risk missing out on my Chris Hardwick fix for the week. (Don’t worry, I pieced together most of the episode before The Talking Dead came on. Also Michael Zegen from Rescue Me and now The Walking Dead as the new guy was on the show…anyone? So glad I got to watch it live.)
11:12 Patton Oswalt appears in one of the hundred million montages. If he appeared before that clip I totally missed him but he was a refreshing face nonetheless, and a sad reminder that no one even mentioned Young Adult.
11:16 Natalie Portman awkwardly introduces nominees for Best Actor and Gary Oldman’s clip is perhaps my favorite scene from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It also includes Benedict Cumberbatch prominently: the little things are keeping me going during this Oscars.
11:27 Colin Firth (ah, once again I am reminded how much I enjoyed last year’s winners) appears and, while all of his speeches are exquisite, you can tell his clear favorites: he waxes poetic with Meryl Streep about Mamma Mia and I love him for it. And he reminisces about working with Michelle Williams when she was 11.
11:34 I finally decide to notice that Tom Hiddleston was in TWO of the films nominated for Best Picture (Midnight in Paris and War Horse). And Benedict Cumberbatch was featured again in the War Horse clip! “Be Brave!!” Once again, the periphery presence of the likes of BC, Tom Hiddleston and Ewan McGregor help me pretend I am watching an awards show in an alternate universe where all the people I obsess over are being recognized.
11:36 The Artist wins. THE DOG?! (Yes, I know his name is Uggie) joins the producer on stage. I give up on the world. Thus endeth the 84th Academy Awards but not necessarily my Oscar streak: just because I didn’t see Best Picture doesn’t mean I didn’t predict it (like everyone else, seriously it wasn’t a shocker….unfortunately) and I learned that Hollywood loves Hollywood more than race relations. Although there will never be an acceptable explanation for how Crash won.