After approximately 10 months of discussion about the Oscars, there’s simply no way that the end result can measure up to the promise—particularly when the promise is that it will be a “journey,” which is clearly ridiculous. But last night’s ceremony had an especially hollow ring to it that could either be read as a winking tribute to a Hollywood that’s increasingly given to letting gimmicks and casting do all the work, or just an awkwardly planned, blandly executed shrug of an ending to months of anticipatory build-up.
Of course, most of the blame has already been laid at the feet of the hosts: While Anne Hathaway pranced and preened and belted and generally behaved like she was trying her damnedest to outshine everyone in her high school production of Show Boat, James Franco acted in his own personal side project about the artificiality of awards shows, his noticeable indifference to the material a wry commentary on the very idea of having “material” in the first place. Perhaps it will all make sense two months from now when Franco compiles the hosts’ televised awkward on-stage banter with the behind-the-scenes digital video he shot of himself polling the PS22 Chorus kids for joke ideas (“Say he made out with her… in a movie!” “Mention Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon!” “Just say ‘Charlie Sheen’!”), combines them with the augmented reality of his non-stop, occasionally on-stage Twittering, and releases it as the 13-hour “It Might Be Bad, or Goodbye L.A.”
Or maybe part of it is just the Oscars’ usual desperation of trying to make the best of a ceremony that’s been rendered all but superfluous by months and months of predictions, build-up, and every guild, critics’ group, and small-town PTA handing out their own awards. Pretty much from the moment Melissa Leo won Best Supporting Actress, all the recent talk of dark horses seemed as silly as all the what-ifs about Banksy crashing the stage in a monkey mask; in the end, maybe the only surprise is that True Grit, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, and Winter’s Bone now all have fewer Oscars than Alice In Wonderland and The Wolfman. True, there were a few moments of spontaneity—Kirk Douglas’ never-ending filibuster, Melissa Leo’s F-bomb, Luke Matheny’s charming acceptance speech for Best Live-Action Short Film—but for the most part the whole thing rambled along as safely and predictably as the sweep for The King’s Speech. And as it turns out, that whole business about this year’s Oscars being a “virtual reality” tour of Hollywood history basically meant a couple of backdrops that reminded us that, hey, Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz were both pretty great once, as well as that bizarre pause from the Oscars to watch another Oscars hosted by the grim grinning ghost of Bob Hope.
Anyway, we covered the whole thing stem to stern in last night’s live blog, and we’re planning a more in-depth piece for later, but for now consider this an open forum for discussion of the show, and then we shall (mostly) never speak of it again.