Oscar 2008 – The Washup

The Washup


Well, that’s it for another year. All the pomp and ceremony of the Oscars, handled with a certain sense of malaise by host Jon Stewart, is over, everybody has their statuette, and the recognition is done.

Was it any good? Well, except for Cate Blanchett not winning one, the ceremony was pretty…well….. boring. Jon Stewart is not a good host, I have to say. His scripted comedy lacks real punch, and his unscripted adlibbing is diabolically flat. I know he’s a pretty popular host of a nightime talk show in the US, but for a worldwide audence he left me feeling a little flat. Some of his “humour” even appeared lost on the audience in the Kodak Theatre, with few laughs generated or audible over the broadcast. Tom Hanks, who was the victim of a particularly awkward introduction by Stewart as he stood on stage to read out the Best Doco films, tried hard not to react…. but by not reacting, this spoke volumes for what he obviously felt was obtuse comedy.

While No Country For Old Men reaped the rewards for the Cohen brothers, it was the lack of massive star power winning awards that had me shaking my head. None of the recipients of the awards were your typical magazine-cover gracing stars. Where were the Halle Berry’s and Tom Hanks of the world recieving their Oscars? Instead, we had Javier Bardem and Tilda Swinton, both complete unknowns here in Australia. And that French chick, in a film nobody has ever seen, winning Best Actress. I guess one should be thankfull that these awards are based on talent and ability, rather than popularity. Trouble with that is, nobody will remember her in six months. Heck, I’m struggling to remember her the day after!

I am sure the people who get nominated for Best Song Oscars must smile in their sleep. Some of those songs were utter crap; cheerfully shallow and almost saccharinely profane in their “look at me I’m an Oscar contender” production numbers. There’s something about being nominated for Best Song, because songs in movies are typically not popular songs on the charts. Alan Menken, who steadfastly refuses to step outside the square (look at the syle of music between Aladdin and Enchanted, and tell me he’s not simply stencilling “Friend Like Me” over the look of Cinderella!) was nominated for three songs, all from the same film! Is there a dearth of musical inspiration in films, or are Academy members unable to broaden their minds?

Personally, I think the best part of any Oscars ceremony is the “get off” moments, where the recipients crap on for their allotted time, get up to the point where they are thanking their dog and cat, and the music comes up. They get that startled look of “oh I knew I should have prepared a proper speech” and finish by simply screaming “thankyou” over the orchestra. Jon Stewarts only saving grace from the show was bringing Marketa Irglova back to the stage after she was cut off in her acceptance speech, and giving her a moment to speak. That showed class. Still, most people are now getting the idea. Nobody watching wants to hear people thanking the entire world. Third grade teachers are really only popular at Oscar time, because thats when overeager and emotional actors decide to thank anybody who made even the smallest contribution to their lives. Of course, the most famous example of this was Gwenyth Paltrow’s speech for Shakespeare In Love, which ended with her thanking her two dogs. After that, calls came for a shortening of the time allotted for acceptance speeches. Now all you get is 30 seconds. Then the music plays. Perhaps all nominees should submit their acceptance speeches beforehand and read them from the teleprompter if they win. Might make things smoother!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s something amazing about the Oscars, the gathering of Hollywood elite in one room, at one time, for a massive back patting ceremony. It’s glitz and glamour personified.

But last night had no zingers, no spark, no controversy. It lacked a foreign director jumping across the seats to get to the stage. It had no male stars inappropriately kissing female presenters in a show of emotion. About the only thing that happened was Colin Farrell and John Travolta slipping up on the same piece of the stage, and nearly falling over.

And Transformers didn’t win a damn thing. Criminal.

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