We love the movies. That’s why we watch the Oscars.
Did I mention that we love the movies? And did I mention that Billy Crystal loves the movies? Oh yeah, we love the movies, the old classic ones that aren’t all really classics, but some new ones too that definitely aren’t classics but people might actually recognize.
But rather than show you how much we love the movies with actual funny jokes or parodies, we’ll just tell you how much we love the movies and play it real safe all night. That way you’ll watch next year so long as you didn’t completely hate us, right? And how could you hate us when we all love the movies so much?
Sunday night’s Oscars were eye-rollingly mediocre, and part of the reason for that was an adamant position on not doing anything that might be too risky, too offensive or even too gaudily awful of a joke or skit that might alienate people from changing the channel.
It also didn’t help that, despite a surprisingly terrific and controversial Oscar race in even deciding who would be nominated, it quickly became horribly predictable who would win each category, save for a few shockers throughout the evening.
“The Artist” and “Hugo” each took home five Oscars, with “The Artist” winning Best Picture, and I walked away with possibly my all time record of 20 of 24 correct predictions. I don’t necessarily chalk all that up to my expertise. Rather it goes to precisely how generic and tame the ceremony felt.
The big shocker of the evening was Meryl Streep winning over Viola Davis. Perhaps the reason it’s such a big shocker for me is that “The Iron Lady” took home two awards altogether, it’s other for Makeup. Even Meryl’s acceptance speech seemed to signal how much she felt she didn’t deserve it and that her movie was kind of terrible. I know Viola Davis will get another shot at an Oscar, but then again, I know Meryl Streep will get another shot at an Oscar, so did she have to win it for this one?
“The Tree of Life” was generally ignored at the Oscars this year. The movie’s too polarizing, and to even think to make jokes about it would be crossing a line into unsafe territory. “If we don’t understand it, we won’t even bother,” the Academy seemed to telegraph. And the fact that it lost its much deserved Best Cinematography Oscar to the also quite excellent 3-D work in “Hugo” helps prove that.
This goes without saying, but the most interesting moments at the Oscars were the ones that crossed the line the most. Chris Rock’s presentation for the animated feature category comes to mind, or during the Red Carpet, Sacha Baron Cohen hilariously dumping Kim Jong Il’s ashes on Ryan Seacrest was another gem. The rest were too few and far between, and Billy Crystal needed a bad Kevin Eubanks sidekick to help him out on all his horrible puns and zingers.
I think even the reaction to the In Memoriam montage reflects a general passiveness with the Oscars. Unless you were really calling for the snub of Ryan Dunn, the montage touched on all the right bases and did so without an elaborate photography routine to show the screen from a weird angle or with segments giving more weight to some deaths over others.
It was classy, which is what the Oscars need to be, and by removing almost all of the external performances and lengthy presenter speeches, it clocked in at just over 3 hours, which must be something of a record.
Is there a middle ground between being a short show and doing surprising, memorable things that make the show better than tolerable? I’m not sure, but the Oscars have finally come and quickly went, and now we can start talking about 2012.