The Telecast

Reza
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Postby Reza » Tue Mar 01, 2011 4:31 am

83rd Annual Academy Awards: Television Review

1:08 AM 2/28/2011 by Tim Goodman - Hd Reporter


Was it a bad idea to have actors host? No, it was spectacularly bad.

In what could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history,
a bad and risky idea -- letting two actors host -- proved out in
spectacularly unwatchable fashion on the biggest of all nights for
the film world.

Despite an overall rewarding of brilliant performances and no truly
shocking didn't-see-that-coming upsets, the 83rd Annual Academy
Awards will likely be remembered as the night James Franco couldn't
act like a host.

It was not a great night to be on the Internet if you were one of
Franco's trusted advisers, as the likable, quirky actor was torched
on Twitter and pimp-slapped across the web for his lifeless
performance. He had no business agreeing to host the Oscars, and his
resulting pratfall in front of -- what, a billion people? -- must
have made David Letterman gleeful, as his stint will no longer be
pointed out as some kind of nadir. Anne Hathaway at least tried to
sing and dance and preen along to the goings on, but Franco seemed
distant, uninterested and content to keep his Cheshire-cat-meets-smug
smile on display throughout.

What was the point, Academy? What did Franco bring to the table? His
appearance played more like one of his performance art pieces than an
actual attempt to be host. At least Hathaway can sing and dance and
be funny. After a strong, humorous
pretaped
opening where Franco and Hathaway both held their own (being inserted
into the best film nominees along with, at one point, both Alec
Baldwin and Morgan Freeman) they lost their way quickly. As did the
show. Hathaway did a song that was supposed to be a joke about Hugh
Jackman canceling his duet with her at the last minute. And Franco
appeared
in drag for almost no reason (and to little humorous effect). But
other than that, theirs was a dull attempt to either be safe or prove
that anybody can host the Oscars. What the Academy will learn -- if
they read the reviews or listen to viewers -- is that big stars are
not enough. You need to be entertaining. (And, no disrespect
intended, but Franco and Hathaway are probably not, in the heart of
this country, considered big-name stars.)

Somewhere Ricky Gervais is laughing like a school girl. If Franco
thought Gervais "bombed," he'd better not get on the Internet on
Monday. Or, for that matter, the next several weeks. It wasn't just
that he didn't actually host -- meaning, do more than just introduce
presenters but actually entertain viewers and guide them through the
night's proceedings -- he often looked bored or like he was back in
Pineapple Express.

Worse, it was as if the show's producers were looking to undermine
him by featuring Baldwin and
Billy
Crystal and fond memories of Bob Hope. Yes, those people are hosts
(in fact, the Oscar's star-filled audience jumped to its feet for
Crystal, as if it hadn't seen a real host in 127 hours). Baldwin,
Crystal know (and Hope certainly knew) that a host is there for a
purpose -- to entertain. If you're going to have a 3:30 minute
broadcast -- which went nearly 20 minutes over -- and hours of
red-carpet coverage beforehand, you'd better deliver the audience
something exciting. Nobody wants to sit on the couch for that long
and not be rewarded for their devotion. A little self-effacing
humor, perhaps a skit or two interwoven with moments of riff-heavy
humor. That might help. Also, the ability to shift gears toward
something with more gravitas, so that emotional or important moments
can be conveyed to the viewers at home.

Franco looked like he was too cool to be there half of the time and
like the lights were too bright for him the other half, forcing a
squint that made his tight-lipped smile look more like disdain.
Hathaway tried to help, but the duo didn't have even an ounce of the
chemistry that Baldwin and Steve Martin had last year. And besides,
Hathaway -- a wonderful actress and all-around talent -- simply isn't
the person you'd pick first to carry a show. The duo joked that they
were brought in as a lure for the younger demographic, but they must
have forgotten that many in that group have the attention spans of
small birds or wiry little dogs.

Here we are now, entertain us, indeed. Besides, a lot of people watch
awards shows and multitask at the same time -- on the Internet
mostly. No doubt "Oscars suck" or "Franco is bombing" were trending
topics at some point through the ether.

Of course, all the blame can't go to Franco and Hathaway. The
telecast was leaden from the start and fell victim to the one thing
that kills most awards shows -- a bloated middle. Yes, the awards are
for everybody in the industry, not just the stars and the producers
and writers. But the fact is, many people outside of the industry
just don't care about sound or lighting or editing or makeup. Some
attempt should be made, then, to perk up the presentation somehow.
Because what invariably happens is that all the big awards people
want to see at the end either come on too late or get rushed in some
mad dash to end on time.

Few awards shows ever learn that lesson or get the mix right. And to
be fair, this Oscar telecast lacked spark from start to finish
despite an impressive number of fine films and acting performances --
and the hosts can only be blamed for so much. These Oscars were a
bore-fest that seemed to drag on relentlessly but listlessly. Perhaps
next time more thought will be put into actually making this a good
television event. You can trot out all the big-name actors or
directors you'd like, but nobody at home paid $11 to watch. The
Academy Awards may be about movies, but it's a TV show. Nobody feels
any regret walking out or snapping off the set if you don't entertain
them. A good host is invaluable.

This year, the Oscars hit a new low. Like it fell into a hole.

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Postby HarryGoldfarb » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:47 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I guess these days it's hard to come up with the preferred profile -- Oscar winners who are also big stars -- but couldn't they at least try Julia Roberts or George Clooney? Who else would anyone suggest?

It's not that hard to find deserving people to do the honor. It's just the producers are lousy.

Previous classic winners, maybe a couple of winners from the 60's like Julie Andrews and Cliff Robertson or Maximilian Schell. Or maybe Julie Christie and Sidney Poitier. Even Barbra alone! (instead of putting her to present Best Song! She's iconic enough to present Best Picture!). Or even Maggie Smith on her own too (with a short but elegantly edited montage of her films showing her from Othello to Harry Potter...)

Or maybe some veterans from the 70's like Gene Hackman with Jane Fonda. Even a couple made of Hoffman and Field would be classy enough for me... better than this craziness of Tom Hanks (or Tom Cruise presenting Best Director!)
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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:12 pm

dws1982 wrote:Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep would be good choices, but they might be a little bit old since the Academy is trying to court the young viewers.

Sadly, they probably would look at it that way...although it's hard to imagine a more perfect presenter than Morgan Freeman: a near-universally revered actor who's been in (and continues to be in, at least in subsidiary roles) major blockbusters.

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Postby dws1982 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:02 pm

Read somewhere that they had asked Mo'Nique to present, but she wouldn't, for whatever reason. I believe Waltz is filming in Europe.

Didn't know of anywhere else to put this, but has Kevin Spacey really fallen so far that he's introducing song nominees? I know he was probably going to be there anyway (executive producer of The Social Network and all), but it was surprising to see a two-time Oscar winner reduced to introducing some songs.

Julia Roberts and George Clooney are good suggestions for Best Picture presenters. Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep would be good choices, but they might be a little bit old since the Academy is trying to court the young viewers.

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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:58 pm

I noticed Clooney's overall absence within ten minutes (as did my wife, who then resorted to teasing me about it), and I suspect Roberts would hijack the announcement for some self-serving little aside like her "go to bed kids" comment from the Globes a couple of years ago.

Why not Charlie Sheen? He's in a perfect storm of media hype right about now, I suspect the ratings would have benefited from that kind of publicity.

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:47 pm

Two questions, requiring no opinion on The King's Speech or The Social Network:

Did anyone ever put forth a reason why Christoph Waltz and Mo 'Nique weren't there to present? Conflicts, or were they deemed not impressive enough for the duty? Mo 'Nique's absence was especially notable, given her appearance announcing the nominees. (Speaking of which -- what do you say to Melissa Leo filling that job next year? I assume when hell freezes over...)

Has the universe of people with the stature to present best picture so shrunk that we have to have the same people in rotation? Since Hanks' first time on the job in 2001, Denzel Washington is the only fresh face to be given the assignment (there were some tag-on new faces -- Kirk Douglas and Diane Keaton -- but they were clear undercards to repeaters Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson) I guess these days it's hard to come up with the preferred profile -- Oscar winners who are also big stars -- but couldn't they at least try Julia Roberts or George Clooney? Who else would anyone suggest?

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:51 pm

Chiming in late, as always (I had to watch the tape to catch alot of the show; our party always takes alot of my attention away, this year even moreso than usual). So, all my thoughts will be here:

The fact that people are pining for Billy Crystal -- who was soundly reviled the last time he hosted -- tells me that the Oscars-as-show is simply a losing proposition for hosts. As someone once wrote in comparing two untalented actresses, whichever one you're watching at the moment seems the worst. People are just always going to complain. I will say the people at our party all thought it was a terrible show, but I didn't have that strong a reaction.

To the awards...

I have basically the same take as fellow Fincher-rooters (or even just Fincher-bettors): the early sequence of awards -- starting with the one-two punch of art direction/cinematography -- suggested The King's Speech was not the juggernaut some Hollywood-ites and bloggers have claimed, and the (to me) surprise win for Social Network under score made it seem the film was not the black sheep others thought. Going into best director, Inception was actually the prize-leader, but Social Network led King's Speech 3-1. All this made the director awarding a moment of genuine tension...but then the name was called, and the evening, for me, went horribly flat. (It didn't help that two pro forma -- if decently deserved -- acting winners intervened before we got to a thoroughly anti-climactic best picture prize) King's Speech ended up with a fairly small haul, given the alleged abounding love for it, and Social Network didn't go home ignored. But, Italiano is right, by Joe Moviegoer standards, there's no contest which film triumphed at this year's Oscars.

And that's largely the story of the night for me. I could deal with King's as best picture, but best director going to such a non-entity was a Ron Howard moment for me, and a deal-breaker.

Otherwise...

The voters led with surprises, but then retreated to predictable at the bigger moments, which is where a stunner would have more impact.

I thought the major speeches were fine, except Leo's bizarro-land ramble. Though even she seemed in-focus compared to Kirk Douglas, whose appearance was one of the more bizarre in recent memory. (Kudos to Justin Timberlake, for the funny "you know..." take-off later on)

Tim Burton's reign in art direction continues, and he finally wins a costume award as well (actually, once art direction went to Alice, I assumed costumes was in the bank).

Roger Deakins goes home empty-handed once more. I'm with those who'd be happier to see him win for something more top-tier...but then, I'm not a True Grit fan at all.

Same with Desplat. He's contributed so many great scores in recent years; he deserves to win for more than cribbing Beethoven.

Weird how foreign film and documentary -- which used to be wild cards -- have become so predictable in recent years.

Thanks to the online posting of the shorts opening the films to us peons, perhaps my favorite award of the night was the one given to The Lost Thing.

I guess Kathryn Bigelow was a big enough story last year she was fit to give out an Oscar, but only if escorted by a star.

And speaking of that moment...the best actress winners of the past decade were well represented last night: Berry, Kidman, Swank, Witherspoon, Mirren and Bullock all in evidence (as opposed to only Bridges among he decade's men).

So, Randy Newman has two Oscars, and both were won because no one much cared for any of the nominees. There's some lesson there. (His speech was dependably funny. Also enjoyed Downey Jr./Law. ON EDIT: And Sandra Bullock, who put a nice spin on those getting-laborious actor tributes)

If I think of anything else later, I'll post it. I will note commentary seems less verbose this year from many.




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Postby Damien » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:43 pm

From Variety:


Politics at the Oscars: Tame But Not Lame
By: Ted Johnson
Published: Sun, February 27, 2011, 9:22 PM
| Comments ( 1 )
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Unless you interpret James Franco's hosting gig a stealth endorsement for cannibis legalization, this was an Oscars of mild controversy.

With no comedian hosts, missing was much of any topical humor. Save for the documentary categories, few nominees carried a message, also the eco-theme in last year's "Avatar."

Nevertheless, there was an indirect reference to Wisconsin and Gov. Scott Walker's effort to end collective bargaining for government union employees.

There were references to the fact that so many winners were members of unions. Wally Pfister, winner of best cinematography for "Inception," thanked his union crew. “I think that what is going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now,” Pfister said backstage, per ABC News. “I have been a union member for 30 years and what the union has given to me is security for my family. They have given me health care in a country that doesn’t provide health care and I think unions are a very important part of the middle class in America all we are trying to do is get a decent wage and have medical care.”

Charles Ferguson, winner of best documentary for "Inside Job," about the Wall Street financial crisis, started his acceptance speech by saying, "Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail and that's wrong." It was a point made in the movie --- and that he has made at many screenings and in many interviews.

There also was a brief cameo by President Obama, in a taped segment in which he said his favorite movie song was "As Time Goes By" from "Casablanca." Political columnist Dave Weigel wryly Tweeted, "BREAKING: After seeing Obama appearance, GOP defunds #oscars."

An Oscar appearance by a sitting commander-in-chief is not unprecedented. Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the Academy Awards banquet in 1941 via a direct line radio from Washington. Ronald Reagan taped a segment for the 1981 Oscars. That ceremony that was delayed for two days after Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt.

In recent months "The King's Speech" stirred some debate over historical accuracy, but its win for best picture also is likely to put a new focus on the British government's decision to ax the UK Film Council, which partially financed the movie, as part of austerity measures.

The reviews? Republican political strategist Mike Murphy, via Twitter: "Painful Oscar show. Next year, try Mubarak. He's available."
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby Damien » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:31 pm

From Grossbloger:

Oscars So Awful, DA Will Seek Indictments
By Lewis Grossberger | Grossblogger.com

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said today he would see if there is any legal basis for prosecuting the producers and hosts of Sunday night’s Academy Awards show.

“This was not just the typical Oscar stinkeroo we are all used to,” Cooley told reporters. “This was so hideous it falls under the rubric of criminal behavior.”

Co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco were reportedly in hiding following the appalling program. The ABC Network was swamped with millions of complaints and death threats from citizens in 83 countries and countless viewer suicides were reported.

In Libya, embattled dictator Muammar Qaddafi went on national television and told his countrymen: “And you’re shooting at me? Are you watching this shit? Did you see that cringe-athon with Melissa Leo and Kirk Douglas? Oh my God. I almost lost my falafel!”

Cooley said he and his staff were up all night poring over the law books in a desperate attempt to find a felony offense to charge the Oscar producers with. “There must be something,” he said. “Maybe endangering the public’s mental health. I’m sure any grand jury we convene will be receptive to that.”

He said he had talked with President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner and in a rare show of unanimity, both national leaders had advised him to go ahead and prosecute “for the good of the nation.”
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby HarryGoldfarb » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:06 pm

I'm, not quite sure how to chime in... but the word that comes to mind when trying to explain my disdain about the show is "uneventful"...

No excitement about the winners considering the countless precursors, not a truly touching homage to classic cinema (instead we had some random mentions of known to death films), not a single freakingly funny moment, and a lot bad lines delivered with no emotions. No one seemed affected by their wins and no controversial moment (even the winner for the documentary award made an apology before his own timid critic).

And when the show is to be rememebred it is for some tasteless or simply bad things (the nice but unnecesary song-moment by the otherwise likeable Hathaway, the tasteless and out-of-charisma Franco in drag, the stunned-but-not-witty Franco through the whole night, the WTF video of auto-tune picking on some commercial films (what the hell was that??) and on top of all that the kids (THE KIDS) in the end singing the most oversung song ever from a film!

Kinda hated the show but I don't get to that point because I felt pretty emotionally unattached to this year race but specially to the award itself... last year I said the Academy NEEDED The Hurt Locker to win in order to mantain a little bit of respect as a "specialists" organization and it all ended right (though with some over-reaction in the love-giving to THL). This year I guess the Academy and specially the show needed some shaky things to make it at least memorable. I haven't seen some performances, but if you have some meritory contenders, how come there was no wild card? A Steinfeld win, even a Rush win that could have been explained by both quality in the performance and love to his film, a win by Benning or a shocking, very shocking win by Bridges... even my expected split Fincher/TKS would have been welcomed actually!

One thing is a badly produced show... another to see your predictions becoming garbage. But a gray show, one that is not necessarily broing but this insipid and excitement-deprived is more umbearable and sad and discouraging. The whole thing looks irrelevant...
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Postby Damien » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:03 pm

Anyone who would give Billy Crystal a standing ovation should have his/her legs cut off.
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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:54 pm

Greg wrote:The part of the ceremony I hate the most, and, in fact is the single thing I hate the most of any Oscar show I have ever seen, is the elimination of individual clips for the Best Picture nominees and instead just showing a mash of soundless clips from the nominess with the The King's Speech speech heard in the background. Also, when Speilberg read the names of the films, he either neglected to read or was rold not to read the names of the films' producers, who are the individuals nominated to receive the Best Picture award. It came across incredibly disrespectful for the films other than The Kings Speech. It also came across that they were trying to save time by eliminating the individual Best Picture clips. If you want to save time, cut down on things like lame attempts at humor form the host/s. The last thing you cut down on is the Best Picture category.

The producers' names were shown on screen along with each film's title.

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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:31 pm

Sabin wrote:Great introduction to Best Picture by Steven Spielberg.

It did add a moment of levity to the whole thing, but he should have assembled a different list of movies for "the winner will join;" movies like Crash, or Around the World in 80 Days, or Chariots of Fire, or Braveheart, or The Great Ziegfield, or Out of Africa. Then the movies that didn't win might have included Do the Right Thing, or (yes) Raging Bull, or Pulp Fiction, or Network, or Singin' in the Rain, or All The President's Men, or Crouching Tiger, or on and on. Italiano, I think the Social Network should hold up fine in years in come, and become one of the Great Misses on Oscar's long list of them.

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Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:39 pm

Great introduction to Best Picture by Steven Spielberg.

I feel like '09, '10, and '11 cap a trilogy of "Trying New Shit Out". And hopefully next year, they have a better idea of what works and what doesn't work.
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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:36 pm

I wonder why. I mean, why do Oscar ceremonies today feel so rushed, so shallow? In the past, even the recent past, it wasn't like this. They may have been in very good taste (the Schindler's List year) or in atrocious taste (the Rain Man year) but you always felt that you were watching an important event, the most important film event of the year, something unique, almost magical. And it's not like, despite the fewer existing precursors back then, one didn't know in advance that Rain Man was going to triumph. We knew it, so it's not about predictability or the quality of the winners. And not about time either - 3 hours may be fast, but not THAT fast. It's more, I guess, about attitude - they seem to wish to close the thing down as soon as possible. It may be because there are now too many film awards shows in the US, but it's a pity, and especially as we in Europe get to see only this one - which is still objectively the main one, or should be - a big disappointment. It's careless, unfocused, mechanical. Not what it used to be, definitely.

And don't be fooled by those three awards to The Social Network. They are just a question of (guilty) conscience. Those awards in themselves aren't minor, but the Academy perfectly knows that they are perceived as minor if not by film buffs, by everyone else. Not only on today's newspapers, but in history books - and the Oscars are, with probably the Golden Palm, the only awards which "make" film history - The Social Network will be, as far as the Academy is concerned, completely ignored - it won't have its seal of approval. Citizen Kane didn't have it either, of course, and it's still considered a work of art, and the same can be said of many other American movies which the Oscars didn't embrace - only time will say if The Social Network will survive even without the Academy's help.




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