Re: a look back
I'm just watching the highlights now.
The best actor presentation was interesting for two reasons.
Sir Ben Kingsley was announced as Sir Ben Kingsley, but Sir Anthony Hopkins was announced as plain Anthony Hopkins. I wonder if Anthony Hopkins had to give up his knighthood when he took American citizenship?
Also, Michael Douglas praised Frank Langella's performance as Richard Nixon saying it "eclipsed all others", when Anthony Hopkins, who played Nixon in "Nixon", was also on the stage. I wonder if the scriptwriters took that into consideration?
Although it wasn't as embarrassing as her acceptance speech at the BAFTAs, I was disappointed with Kate Winslet's breathless gushing. Most un-British.
Re: a look back
Overall, a good show. It got off to a good start, things moved along quickly, and I thought that for once it wasn't going to be so long... until it slowed down at the halfway point and bam, it's three and a half hours long again... but I've just now realized that's because of the frequent and endless commercials. Hardly any surprises, but honestly, the Oscar doesn't have surprises anymore, with all the previous award shows and speculation and rumours and press, the winners are pretty much a given months in advance. My thoughts:
- Hugh Jackman did a good job. The man had energy to spare, he looked like he was having fun, he could sing and dance, and he was funny without going overboard. I may be in the minority here, but I thought it was a fun change of pace from always having a comedian around cracking endless jokes.
- Having past winners come on stage to honor nominees was a nice touch and made for some good moments: Whoopi's line about playing a nun, De Niro making fun of Sean Penn, and, in general, the recipient's emotional reactions (Anne Hathaway must have been happy). They're supposed to be honored by their peers, so it makes perfect sense.
- Kate Winslet finally wins her Oscar, one of the best actresses working today (now the Academy can ignore her for the next three years without feeling guilty).
- Funny bits: the skit with Franco and Rogen (best part of the show, easily), Ben Stiller mocking Joaquin Phoenix, and Steve Martin actually being funny ("Don't fall in love with me.")
- Heath Ledger wins Supporting Actor. We all saw this coming a mile away, but still, great perfomance and he deserved it. The sincere speeches from his family were great.
- Danny Boyle laughing and smiling throughout the whole show like a little kid with a new toy. You could tell the man was incredibly proud of his work and happy to be there (My sister thought he was adorable).
- Slumdog was a nice choice for Best Picture (haven't seen the others except Benjamin Button, though). You know how people always complain the Academy always goes for the safe, conventional choice in winners (see Crash over Brokeback Mountain), I think they went the other way with this one, and I'm glad. And everyone involved with the film seemed genuinely happy.
- I actually liked those "genre" montages (Romance, Action, etc.) A nice way to "honor" EVERYTHING shown in a year, and I actually feel it's appealing to the casual moviegoer. When's the last time you saw the Transporter movies at the Oscars? Still, where was the Horror montage?
- I wanted Mickey Rourke to win; would have been the crown on his comeback trail. Sean Penn is great actor, that I won't argue. But, while he made some valid and important points in his speech, did he have to be (mostly) so humourless? Seriously, does he ever have any fun?
- The "In Memoriam" montage was garbage. How about actually letting us read the names?
- Having the Best Song nominees performed in tandem; either give us the songs in full or don't do it at all. I was expecting something great for "Jai Ho" (it was awesome in the film), but was underwhelmed.
- Benjamin Button winning visual effects. What a crock! To me that was more of a makeup job than anything else. Really, Effects are the only way a blockbuster as fun as Iron Man can be recognized at the Academy Awards, and they couldn't even let it have that!
- The vapid, useless, time filler that is the red carpet preshow with those screechy ass-kissing presenters asking the stars what they're wearing and such. Will they ever get rid of this?
Other random thoughts:
- One of the winners (sadly, can't remember who) looked so much like Steve Carell I actually thought it was him up on stage.
- Meryl Streep is Hollywood royalty.
- Look at David Fincher's face when his nomination is announced: that is the face of someone who knows he has no chance in hell of winning (He looked so serious and sad it surprised me)
- No random shot of Jack Nicholson grinning in the front row in shades.
Overall, a decent show, but there's massive room for improvement in the future. And of course, there's zero suspense, but that's nothing new.